Return to Transcripts main page

INSIDE POLITICS

U.S. Reinstates All Sanctions on Iran; Georgia Authorities to Investigate Hacking Allegation; Trump Jr. and Guilfoyle Make 6 Stops in 5 States Today. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 5, 2018 - 12:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:30:00] STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: Companies around the world need to know we will be strictly enforcing our sanctions.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Now, there is an important loophole. Eight countries get exemptions allowing them to keep importing Iranian oil temporarily. The goal is to get those imports eventually down to zero.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen is on the ground live for us in Tehran. Fred, tell us what is the reaction from the Iranian regime and do they think these sanctions will be respected around the world?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Iranians are actually saying they believe that, John, that it's the U.S. that's being sidelined around the world. However, they to understand that is going to be a big economic hit to all this harbor. The Iranians say they have absolutely no intention whatsoever abiding by these sanctions. They say, they're going to do everything they can to get around them because they consider them to be illegal.

Now, the country's president Hassan Rouhani, he went on television earlier today. I want to read you a little of what he said. He said, quote, I have told leaders of all countries when I met them on the margins of UNGA at the nation's general assembly that we will break these sanctions with honor because these sanctions are unjust and against the law, treaties and U.N. Security Council resolutions.

And so obviously, the Iranians believe that these treaties -- or that these sanctions are illegal and they say they're going to do everything they can to get around them. And, you know, I've been on the ground for the past couple of days, there's been a huge amount of anger towards the United States. Yesterday, we were at a massive anti-U.S. demo where people telling they have no issue with the American people but certainly have a lot of issues with the Trump administration and with President Trump himself. They were burning American flags and effigies of President Trump as well. The bottom line though for ordinary Iranians is that many of them do fear that these sanctions will have a major impact many of them believe the economic situation here could get a lot worse very quickly, John.

KING: A lot worse very quickly. Fred Pleitgen on the ground for us in Tehran. Fred, appreciate that.

Our Military and Diplomatic Analyst Rear Admiral John Kirby joins our discussion. The president promised he was going do this, if you listen to him, and actually let's listen to him a little bit. He's out doing campaign rallies but he brings this up quite frequently. This is a promise from the 2016 campaign, nobody should be surprised. The president says his tougher posture is having the desired effect.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've taken unprecedented action to confront the regime in Iran and we have ended the horrible one-sided Iran nuclear catastrophe.

Has Iran been a differently country for the last six months? Is that incredible? When I came in, it was just a question of how long would it take them to take over the whole Middle East?

Iran is a much different country right now than before it was before I took office. They wanted to take over the whole Middle East. Right now, they just want to survive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is that true?

RET. RADM JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: No, it's not true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Short answer.

KIRBY: And nothing that we can see indicates that. I mean, clearly their economy hasn't reaped the benefits that they thought it would at the end of the deal. And they've been complaining about that.

These sanctions will bite, there's no question about that, John. I don't see anything -- any diminution in their malign activities in the Middle East and Syria and Iraq and elsewhere as a result of any other Trump administration actions.

More critically, John, when you listen to Pompeo talked today, he talks about starving the regime and restoring democracy in Iran. The Iranians think they have a democracy, what -- then you'd be thinking about is, what are the unintended consequences of a lot of the actions that they're doing.

You want regime change? Fine. What are the indications that the next regime is going to any more malleable than this one? And a matter of fact, a lot of this rhetoric and a lot of these sanctions are playing right into (INAUDIBLE) hands and will send Iran on a more revolutionary course likely than what they are now.

KING: And to that point, we've seen -- look, this president rewrites the rules, he's very different and again, that's part of his appeal to his people. Never in my lifetime here in Washington, 30 years now, have I seen a president with a "Game of Thrones" style tweet, sanctions are coming. We saw that from the president over the weekend.

And then a prominent Iranian general, a Revolutionary Guard responding, I will stand against you with a tweet of his own. Is this just the age we live in and I'm supposed to move on or is this something that seems beyond the pale in terms of the threatening nature of it?

KIRBY: No, it's definitely unique. There's no question about it to put it mildly. But look, I mean, back to that Revolutionary Guard, I mean, they don't control all of Iran's oil economy, it is largely controlled by the central government. Eighty percent of their government is oil and petroleum but the Revolutionary Guard do control a lot of the smuggling and the illicit activity on the black market of oil and petroleum products.

So, these sanctions, while they will bite, they will not cut off all that flow. And interestingly, four of the countries that Trump designated for waivers, they are the four biggest importers of Iranian oil.

KING: But in this case, we often talk about it and you mentioned earlier in the program saying that the president is outside the box of Republican orthodox deal on trade. He doesn't want to communicate on immigration like many Republicans like him to do. Here, this is a pretty mainstream Republican position to say rip up Obama's Iran deal and get tougher.

[12:35:01] SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. And no -- I mean, Republicans did not support the Iran deal when President Obama negotiated it. They applauded that President Trump getting out of the deal. But also the fact is that foreign policy is generally not a major voting issue in campaigns and this year is not an exception.

We're looking at Gallup polling, looking at what issues are most important to voters. Foreign policy and foreign affairs, they're all the way down to number seven on that list. So that's -- we're not hearing it too much on the campaign trail even in the congressional campaigns in 2016 I recall, the national Republican senatorial committee really going after Democratic Senate candidates whether it was Maggie Hassan or Senator Michael Bennett over the Iran deal and their support for that policy. But it's just been pretty quiet on the campaign trail when it comes to that issue.

ELIANA JOHNSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, POLITICO: I would add, John, not only is this policy supported by rank and file Republicans, there are Republicans who are pushing the president to go further than he has gone on Iran. Senator Ted Cruz preparing to introduce a bill when the Senate comes back in session to try force the president's hand on this. That is supported by Senator Tom Cotton and Marco Rubio, two of the leading hawks in the Senate. But not out of step with their Republican colleagues on the Hill. So, there are Republicans who want the president to be -- go even further that he has gone.

RON BROWNSTEIN, SENIOR EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: But also to be fair, we hadn't ripped up the deal. The rest of the world is upholding the deal. We walked away from the deal. It's a different concept. It's not like the deal doesn't exist anymore so --

KIRBY: There's no indication that this is going to result in a re- negotiated Iran deal.

KING: OK, we'll keep an eye on that one. As we go to break here, sad note, the town of Ogden, Utah mourning the loss of its mayor who died over the weekend while serving his state and his country and Afghanistan. Brent Taylor was a member of the National Guard, killed Saturday in what's being described as an insider attack. Taylor was in his fourth tour of duty overseas. God bless.

He left behind a wife and seven children. Utah's lieutenant governor says, Taylor, quote, always wanted to give back and make the world a better place.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:41:27] KING: Topping our political radar today, a federal court in New York is about hear why the commerce secretary Wilbur Ross thinks the upcoming census should include a question about citizenship. There hasn't been a question like that since 1950. Various states and civil rights organizations say reinstating it would discourage immigrants from participating and then, as a result, lead to under representation and less funding in their communities.

Election Day monitors being dispatched to 19 states to ensure compliance with federal voting rights laws. The Justice Department says its deploying personnel in 35 jurisdictions within states highlighted here on the map. Alaska and Arizona each have four counties or census areas that will be monitored. Most have been -- that's the most of any states. The DOJ says any alleged violations or complains tomorrow can be reported through its website, justice.gov.

And the closely watch Georgia's governor race now turned on its head. At the last minute allegations of hacking a Republican candidate Brian Kemp who's also the secretary of state in-charge of elections. Without any offering evidence, his office now says it's investigating state Democrats for what the secretary of state calls an alleged hack on Georgia's voter registration system. Kemp Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams says, if there was any breech, it's Kemp's fault.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: I think it's wrong to call it an investigation. It's a witch hunt that was created by someone who is abusing his power. Friday, Brian Kemp was notified that there was yet another flaw in the election security system twice before he has accidentally released the information of six million Georgians. This was about to happen again.

Instead of owning up to it and taking responsibility and seeking a way to fix the flaw, he instead decided to blame Democrats because he does that. He doesn't take accountability.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now we just received word that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation will look into this hacking allegation. We're told those officials meeting with their counterparts in Homeland Security and the FBI this morning.

There are a lot of last minute twists and a lot of campaigns around the country. What's the point of this one?

BROWNSTEIN: I was down there this weekend. Look, it is extraordinarily tense. A really -- so many echoes of the 1960s in the battles over voting access there. So many overlapping concerns about the way Brian Kemp administered his office and what is means for access to the polls.

On just Friday alone, he lost two separate decisions in federal court requiring them to make changes. If this is a narrow win for him in the end amid all of these controversies, just I think we are headed for just really unprecedented disputes in Georgia after the fact. I mean, this is a very vulnerable situation I think given the dual role that he's playing.

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: And particularly in this race where -- because of Georgia's election rules, this could be a race that could go to a recount.

BROWNSTEIN: Yes.

PACE: So we could end up with Kemp run off -- with Kemp actually overseeing that process while he's on the ballot. It's really extraordinary.

KING: Take a note from Jeff Sessions' recusal somewhat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

KING: Somewhere in the back of my mind, I remember recusing.

And one more piece of political news before we go to break. We have a new reporter for the INSIDE POLITICS family if you wait a year or three or 10. Nazarene Elizabeth Bender, look at that beautiful girl born over the weekend. Congratulations to her lucky parents, Ashley Parker of the Washington Post and Michael Bender of the Wall Street Journal. As dad points out, Nazarene's second birthday will be Election Day 2020. She'll be right here with us, I bet.

Congratulations again. She's beautiful. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:49:04] KING: Welcome back.

In these final hours of the midterm campaign, like father, like son. Donald Trump Jr. likes stirring it up on Twitter and at campaign rallies with his girlfriend, the former Fox News personality, Kimberly Guilfoyle at his side. Don Jr. now a midterm campaign staple. Today alone, the couple will make six stops in five states. They've already hit three, West Virginia, Kentucky, and North Carolina. One more stop in the first wide state then they head onto South Carolina, and a final stop in Trump's home state of New York.

The message? Once again, like father, like son.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP JR: When I look at what's going on, I just see winning. The media is never going to give us a fair shake. Ninety-three percent of Trump coverage, 93, negative. Look at what happened with the Kavanaugh thing. I mean, people are starting to realize how vicious the other side is.

Let's not wake up on Wednesday morning with crazy Nancy Pelosi with the gavel.

[12:50:03] Maxine Waters in-charge of finance. Imagine that. Crying Chuck Schumer doing his thing, whatever it is that he does. All right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do we make of this? He is -- he likes it, clearly. He likes it, but he's also in demand. (INAUDIBLE) he's in demand out there.

JOHNSON: Yes. The interesting thing to me is, Trump himself obviously is an enormous celebrity but also the people around him have turned into celebrities an enormous demand on the campaign trail. Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Kellyanne Conway, they're treated as celebrities, they're in huge demand. And obviously, it's been a while since we had a president with adult children in the White House who were willing to go on the campaign trail and argue on his behalf.

Chelsea Clinton, we didn't see do that a lot. George W. Bush's daughters weren't on the trail like this. So I think it is exciting for Trump supporters to see somebody direct blood relation to the president go out and do this.

BROWNSTEIN: The in demand part I think is the real measure here. I mean, after 2016, there was a debate whether the Republican Party was going to move Trump toward their historic kind of positions or whether he was going to pull them. And now you basically see in the collapse of resistance.

I mean, he is, as we said, running the most -- I can say that it is more overtly appealing to white racial (INAUDIBLE) and I think anyone since George Wallace and it is nary a peep out of, you know, out of Republicans. And in fact, the ones who are most likely to be uneasy about this are the ones mostly likely to lose on Tuesday night which will leave the party even more centered in Trump country and with even more kind of centrifugal force moving it in a Trump-like direction after 2018.

JOHNSON: (INAUDIBLE) with South Carolina was kind of an early indication of that.

PACE: And Trump Jr. has made no secret about his own potential political ambitions which would just further the push of Trumpism into this party as you see now.

KING: And to your point -- and Don Jr. is actually sometimes a more frequent than his dad on Twitter re-tweeting conspiracy theories or re-tweeting some of this racially-tense stuff even more so than his dad does. Look at the breath of candidates. This is everybody, he's not just being asked to go see Freedom Caucus member off somewhere. Dean Heller, the most vulnerable Republican Senate incumbent in Nevada, Martha McSally, House member trying to win Jeff Flake's Senate seat in Arizona. Patrick Morrisey trying to defeat Joe Manchin in West Virginia, and then three of these very contested House races, competitive House races out there. This is across what you would normally say is the ideological spectrum of the Republican Party.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. But I think probably more than anything else, one, those are in Nevada and Arizona the president has been asked not to come more or less his political team has. And also, what Don Jr. provides is kind of a targeted approach in a surrogacy manner. Where the president comes in and it's full blown force trauma in some extent.

When he's going in the Kentucky 6th, when he's going New York 22, when he's going in the North Carolina, these are Trump-held districts, these are a place where the president may not -- maybe doesn't have the time to go into endangered House seats or right on the threshold House seats, Don Jr. can do that and almost bring a similar type of effect. And so the value that he brings particularly when the tears of surrogates on the Republican side particularly aligned with the White House may not be as deep just due to the presidency as it is and the man who's in the Oval Office, there's real value to that to those House members that want a jolt in districts that President Trump won (INAUDIBLE).

KING: I don't know that I can pull this off with a straight face but I'm going to try. He also brings a kinder gentler right because he's "Pooh Bear" or "Junior Mint", those are his nicknames from Kimberly Guilfoyle. But again, I'm playing a little snarky here, however, it's not just -- he is not just the celebrity. If you're a Republican and a Fox News viewer, you're familiar with Kimberly Guilfoyle and she's also an active part of these rallies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE: We will shut down this open border idea that the Democrats want and we will build the wall! Yes, we will. We will get it done. The winning has just started, let me tell you. The crazy Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, crying Chuck Schumer, Maxine Waters, Wannabe Spartacus Cory Booker.

Oh my goodness, just say no to that. We don't respect these people, these kneelers. We kneel in church, OK, but we stand for our anthem and for our flag, do we not?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The historical footnote, there was a time in a state called California long, long ago, where she had better relations with Nancy Pelosi back in another day.

PACE: Well, it really shows the relationship between Trump and Fox News, right. But she's no longer there anymore, but who's going to be headlining a Trump rally tonight? Sean Hannity.

BROWNSTEIN: You know, there are places --

KING: In state T.V.

BROWNSTEIN: There are places where this works clearly. And some of the races that you put up, it's going to work. But I think what's going to be clear tomorrow night is that under Trump, Republicans are trading white collar for blue collar, suburbs for rural, younger for older. And strategists in the Republican Party are going to have to decide whether they think that is the best long-term trajectory for the GOP.

KING: And here's what Don Jr. told Maggie Haberman in the New York Times.

[12:55:00] "There are two things I'm going to help people for, one is they've been exceptionally good to my father, the administration or me personally. And then there's what the numbers tell me." There's a lot of competitive races but as he builds for this year. There's no question, he's also thinking about trying this himself down the road a little bit.

Thanks for joining us today in the INSIDE POLITICS. Come back tomorrow, its Election Day. And don't go anywhere right now. Wolf starts after a quick break.

Have a good day.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)