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Trump in Paris to Mark Centennial of World War One Armistice; Trump Vows to Expose the Fraud in Florida Election; Warning Signs in 2018 Results for Trump's Re-election Bid; Trump Faces Backlash over Pic for Acting Attorney General. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired November 11, 2018 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:19] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): The suburbs revolt against President Trump flipped the House to the Democrats.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: It was a vote to restore the health of our democracy.

KING: Plus, the late count in Arizona and recount in Florida might erase Republican hopes for big gains in the Senate.

GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election.

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: We believe when every legal ballot is counted, we will win.

KING: And Jeff Sessions is fired, replaced by a Trump ally just as the special counsel and other investigations kicked back into gear.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could end it right now. I could say that investigation is over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a break the glass moment. Our democracy is under attack.

KING: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.

President Trump is in France this hour for events marking the 100th anniversary of the allied victory in World War I. His tense relations with key European allies are again obvious, though the president did try to quiet a fight he himself had picked with France's president.


TRUMP: We have become very good friends over the last couple of years. We have much in common, in many ways, perhaps more ways than people would understand. But we are. We are very much similar in our views.


KING: Back here in the States, the final midterm election verdict still not in. Democrat will retake the House because of an anti-Trump wave, but the Senate balance of power remains in dispute, in part, because of a recount in Florida that also includes the governor's race.


MAYOR ANDREW GILLUM (D), FLORIDA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: I am replacing my words of concession with an uncompromised and unapologetic call that we count every single vote. We count every vote. And I say this, recognizing that my fate in this may or may not change.


KING: And election over means investigations resumed and the headlines not good for the White House. The president's decision to fire his attorney general brings a backlash. And listen, his own words tell you here that he knows the man he named as acting attorney general is already on shaky ground.


TRUMP: I can tell you, Matt Whitaker is a great guy. I know Matt Whitaker.

I don't know Matt Whitaker. Matt Whitaker worked for Jeff Sessions and he was always extremely highly thought of and he still is, but I didn't know Matt Whitaker.


KING: We begin the hour with the president on the world stage and embroiled in yet another controversy. Today in Paris, a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the allied victory in the First World War.

President Trump is at lunch with other world leaders this hour. We're waiting for word on whether he spent any meaningful time with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. Later, the president speaks at American military cemetery. He skipped a similar event yesterday, angering some of his own aides and advisers and stirring scorn and ridicule on social media.

The White House says this is much ado about nothing, that the president could not go, because the weather was too rainy and windy to fly his helicopter. The president spent the afternoon his hotel but the leaders of France and Germany leaders did brave the weather to attend the event. Look here, Canada's prime minister as well paying tribute in the tough elements to his nation's war heroes. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, a retired marine general, took a motorcade to the ceremony the president was scheduled to visit so that they could conduct a wreath laying.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us live now from Paris.

Kaitlan, the president and President Macron yesterday trying to gloss over their very obvious differences, but President Macron today not being shy, shall we say.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, he wasn't. He wanted the ceremony today to be about one thing, and that is the dangers of nationalism. It's a message he has taken on the road this week, and it's a message he had here at that ceremony today. And, John, there was one remarkable most where President Macron seemed to be directly speaking to President Trump.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT (through translator): Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism. Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying our interests first. Who cares about the others? We erase what a nation holds dearest, what gives it life, what makes it grace and what is essential, its moral values.


[08:05:04] COLLINS: Now, President Trump has declared himself a proud nationalist and said he's just putting America first and his supporters say it's about time that an American leader had that mindset about the country.

But, clearly, John, we're seeing a growing difference in ideology between the French president and the American president.

KING: And, Kaitlan, on this trip and on past trips, where the president has done this, the Europeans watch every move, and they think the president doesn't understand, as one diplomat said to me yesterday. NATO is about we, he is about me.

Many of the world leaders walked together into the procession this morning, the event this morning. The president arrived separately. Some perceive that as a snub.

What does the White House say?

COLLINS: Well, the White House is saying through their press secretary, Sarah Sanders, that was simply for security protocols, that President Trump was in the Beast, drove down the Champs Elysee by himself and then the other world leader leaders following in several buses. President Putin, president of Russia, is another leader who also arrived separately.

John, regardless of whether it's about security, it did allow for this stunning moment where you could see all the leaders walking side by side down the Champs Elysee without President Trump. He was not there. And it was a moment that was really hard to miss this morning here in Paris.

KING: Kaitlan Collins live in Paris -- Kaitlan, keep in touch. The president again at that lunch now with other world leaders, including the Russian president. We'll keep track of those developments.

With me on studio this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Julie Pace of "The Associated Press", Josh Dawsey of "The Washington Post", CNN's Manu Raju, and "Politico's" Rachael Bade.

The president does seem to relish these moments. I'm going to do it my way. We'll watch what happens today. I want to go back to yesterday. The president was told, you cannot helicopter to an American ceremony where he's supposed to do one of the most solemn jobs of an American president, pay respect to the war dead, 100th anniversary of the First World War.

The president says I'm not going to go, because I'm not going to motorcade. It will be about more than an hour each way. His chiefs of staff and his joint of staff, general, say get us a motorcade. We're not going to let these troops be forgotten. Why?

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I don't think we know the answer to that, but I think that if you look at the way that yesterday played out, there are a couple of things that I think we should note. Yes, the president probably couldn't have taken the helicopter because of weather reasons. That's happened with previous presidents. That's not unique.

But as many officials from other administrations from both parties noted yesterday, there's always a backup plan for a president. I've been on numerous presidential trips, there are bad weather calls all the time, and there's almost always a way for the president to get where they need to go. It might be inconvenient, it might ruin the schedule, it might take away from downtime that's built into a president's schedule, but there's a way to go.

I can't imagine that there's anybody other than the president of the United States made that call ultimately to not go forward with that trip.

KING: The question becomes why. If you looked on social media yesterday, he was being ridiculed by political people and also just by other -- his critics, individuals, voters and the like. This from Chuck Schumer, who will be later today with Jake Tapper on "STATE OF THE UNION". What @RealDonaldTrump is afraid of, one, Putin, two, Mueller, three, rain. The president canceled his visit to an American cemetery in France to mark 100 years since World War I. Even if the helicopters couldn't fly, he could have driven. He must be afraid of a little rain.

This is part of the job. The one, people are going to say, it's one event at a cemetery. This is part of the job. If you've done these trips and you traveled to these cemeteries, whether you're a reporter covering the president, whether you're an American tourist maybe going to remember a family member, they're incredibly solemn places.

Why? Why? He's a president. He may have to sit in traffic for a while. But why? Get me a motorcade. I'm going.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the president who's disengaged from the world stage. I mean, he does not take many foreign trips, not as many as his predecessors. He has canceled some because he doesn't want to be involved in it. He feels personally slighted because of some feuds among some European leaders. Clearly, that's playing into his mind-set.

And he simply does not care about the backlash he may receive by not going to an event like this. Look, the president's politics are very personal and, clearly, he feels very personal about this and he's not afraid if he looks disengaged from something like this.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: I think we should take into account, too, his likely mood. I mean, he lost the House this week. There was a "Wall Street Journal" story talking about how the feds had potentially found evidence that he knew about this hush payment to Stormy Daniels payment.

I mean, it's been a rough week, he has been lashing out at people, he lashed at reporters, this week's press conference, out at his own party, sort of taunting lawmakers who lost elections in these swing districts, specifically Republicans who have lost their district. He clearly is in a bad mood right now.

KING: He is in a bad mood and sat in his hotel room, among other things, sending tweets. They're stealing elections in Florida. There's no evidence of that. I'm going to cut off federal funds to California. You have horrible wildfires, 25 people dead in wildfires that are not all forest fire related, as the president said, but the facts don't matter. He is in a bad mood, there's no doubt about that.

[08:10:01] But he is the commander in chief. I mean, there are families. Some of my families, distant cousins circulating photos of relatives who served in World War I, around the Internet. This is a big deal to a lot of people.

JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I mean, the president did not want to go, clearly. And, you know, you saw the visual of the leaders together yesterday and today, you saw them going to -- hand in hand walking, the president was separate. You saw them all at the different sites. The president was separate.

I mean, it's a thing we've seen over and over on these foreign trips. The president does not do what he doesn't want to do. And yesterday, he clearly did not want to do it.

He doesn't do the traditional grip and grins. He doesn't do the traditional, you know, happy talk with these people. He goes over and basically if he's in a bad move, everything changes.

KING: My question here is, how do his supporters process this? They often, whenever we say things, he's different, and he is different and he has a right to be different. There are some things that come with the job and, I'm sorry, this is one of them. This is one of them.

I remember being in Paris with George W. Bush when Ronald Reagan died. He went on the ceremonies at Normandy. The former president of the United States had just died and the current president of the United States knew as he dealt with that, he to go on to Normandy for the (INAUDIBLE).

Here's Max Boot. Now, he's a conservative writer, he's a Trump critic. So, if you're a Trump supporter, you think, well, this guy doesn't like us anyway. It was the sort of solemn occasion that U.S. presidents have considered an integral part of their duty at least since the Gettysburg address. But Trump couldn't be bothered. It's not as if he didn't sacrifice anything however, odds are his hotel room didn't have Fox News.

So, little snark at the end of that. But Max has a good point about Democrat, Republican, whatever, this is part of being president.

PACE: And Trump, when it comes to the military actually specifically, for all his talk about how much he supports the military, how much better he believes he is for the military, he has skipped a lot of these things that show people how much he thinks of the military, not going to visit U.S. troops in combat nearly two years into his presidency. That's actually quite extraordinary.

KING: It is quite extraordinary. And with the holidays coming up, we'll see if he keeps that streak. I can't show you the details because they were shared with me in privacy, but I can tell you, this is not going well at the Pentagon. This did not go over well at the Pentagon.

As I noted with Kaitlan, I got an e-mail from a French diplomat yesterday saying NATO is about we. Trump is about me. So, again, we've seen this before, but we'll watch it play out.

Up next for us, though, domestic politics, the ghost of elections past as Florida begins -- there it is right there -- another recount.


[08:16:12] KING: Politics now and the big news out of Florida. Recounts underway in three races, Senate, governor and agriculture commissioner.

The president is personally invested in the races for Senate and governor. And Saturday from Paris in his hotel room, sent this tweet, quote: Trying to steal two big elections in Florida. We are watching closely.

There is, for the record, zero evidence of the fraud the president suggests. More on that in a moment.

The math first. This is the Senate map as it pulls in, but I want to switch maps. One of the reasons the president is so upset about this, because think back to the day after the election, his Wednesday news conference. He called this almost a complete victory, the election. It was anything but. It was not.

But when the president was in that news conference, he thought the map of the Senate was going to end up something like this, that the president might get close to 55. During his news conference, he was told, no, the president is not going to win Montana. That one has been called for the Democratic incumbent Jon Tester. That changes the map.

In the days since that press conference, the Republican was ahead when the president spoke on Wednesday. The Democrat has pulled ahead in the late count in Arizona, as that one moves forward. That changes the map.

Now he has the prospect of a recount in Florida. Rick Scott, the Republican, is still leading. You have to put this race for now in the toss-up category as we count it out, which means, assuming that the Democrats -- I mean the Republicans hold Mississippi as we head into a run-off, it's possible that the Democrats take back the House, pick up governorships and Republican seats, but might just pick up one if the Democrats somehow come out of the Florida recount with a winner.

So, the president is mad about this. The recount plays out this week. You'll see votes being counted even today. They're supposed to be done by Thursday. The two candidates for senate, at war with each other.


GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: -- come up with, but this sure appears they're going to keep buying as many votes as it takes to try to win this election.

SEN. BILL NELSON (D), FLORIDA: The governor has decided to abandon the most fundamental of all rights because he fears that he will lose the election if all the votes are counted. He isn't telling the truth, which is votes are not being found. They're being counted.


KING: Florida recount. Words we love to speak.

Here's why I don't get, the president, this is his calling card, fraud, rigged system, there's no evidence of fraud and it's reckless and irresponsible for the president of the United States or any other political leader to say that. Rick Scott has also jumped into that, liberals, illegal, scam. If you look at the margin, Democrats and Republicans in Florida will tell you, it's incredibly unlikely that Rick Scott loses a recount.

What are they nervous about? What's wrong with counting votes?

PACE: It's confusing to understand the strategy for Republicans. For Trump, you get it. This is kind of Trump's M.O. going back to the 2016 campaign when he was trailing. He has a strategy if he's going to lose, or his party is going to lose this or his party was going to lose this, to essentially say the system is rigged. It's dangerous, but we know where he's coming from on this.

For other Republicans, the reason it's confusing is that this is all very transparent. It's written into state law in Florida and every other state across the country what their recount margin is. If the margin gets below half a percentage point in Florida, it goes to an automatic recount. That's just again the state law.

Now, the margins are still large at this point that it's hard to imagine the Democrats overtaking the Republicans. But if you're the Republican and ultimately will want to win, why wouldn't you want all the votes to win and say even with the recount I am the legitimate winner of this race.

RAJU: And really, just under the last several days of under cut the president's narrative, as you were discussing, right out of the election, that this is a big victory somehow, even though they lost the House and suggesting they're going to pad the majority. There's a significant difference in the Senate between a 55-45 Senate and 52-48 Senate, a huge difference, because it will be harder in some ways to get controversial nominees, in particular, confirmed.

[08:20:06] Think about the 2020 map when Republicans will have a difficult time keeping the Senate. If it's 52-48 Senate, you have three Republicans who could bolt and defect on the Supreme Court nominee, not just Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins, but also Cory Gardner, who is up for re-election in state like Colorado, the state that Democrats have done particularly well. So, it's very significant difference between the two, and the president obviously is very concerned.

KING: I get it, if you were competitive in politics, we thought we had this one. But you see in the case of the president, in the case of Rick Scott, even Marco Rubio, junior senator from Florida -- he would be, if Nelson loses, senior senator from Florida, but the junior senator at the moment from Florida, alleging fraud. Now, Broward County has a history of not being particularly competent. But even Rick Scott said he's sending his own state police agency to look at it, they said they have no credible allegation of any fraud. So, let's trust the cops who do this for a living.

But you've seen, "Politico" writes about pressure on Arizona Republicans, start screaming fraud in Arizona, too. I've spoken to senior Republicans out there and they said no, we're counting votes. This is how it works. We wish it went more quickly but calm down.

Why is there this national Republican pressure to scream fraud?

BADE: It's just another example of how Republicans across the country are sort of taking the lead from the president when it comes to sort of combating things that are either negative press or things that are bad for them. I mean, in this specific election, there were two lawmakers have been indicted, for instance, who are now saying the Justice Department has a witch hunt against me even though there's evidence of multiple abuses of funds.

And again, they're adopting President Trump's tactics to hit back. I mean, Broward County does have a lot of controversy. I mean, it's not just Bush v. Gore in 2000 but also, you know, they were accused at one point of sending out ballots that didn't include ballot initiatives randomly. There is a history there and Republicans are able to latch on that, even though there's no evidence. And that's just what -- they're taking the lead from the president on that.

KING: Taking a lead from the president. Let's listen to the president, because again, he's the president of the United States. He ran in the primaries about a rigged system. He talked in the general election about a rigged system. So he's standing outside the White House.

People look to the president. Very close elections. Can we trust them? Here is the president's take.


TRUMP: You notice the votes never go the other way? They hire lawyers and the votes don't ever seem to go the Republican way. Although I hear -- I don't know. You tell me. It's always the Democrats. It's always GPS Fusion. It's always crooked stuff.

There's a lot of bad stuff going on in this country and we're finding out. And I'm getting to the bottom of it. And I've done a hell of a job.


KING: Al Gore would beg to differ, but I digress.

DAWSEY: Whenever you ask the president about voter fraud, we did it last week on Air Force One and he says take a look at it. It's definitely there. What did he see there? You tell me.

There's been no tangible evidence. The president doesn't say yes, in Florida, this happened, this happened, this is why we want to send federal authorities in, in Arizona. It's his slight of hand conspiracy theory that he often promulgates, just like you saw there.

And I think what's concerning about it is he's doing it for political gains, of course. He's doing it as the titular head of the Republican Party, he's doing it to support his own candidates, he's still the president of the United States. If people don't trust that the ballots are safe, don't trust the FBI, they don't trust DOJ, if they don't trust the news media, if they don't trust any of these institutions that he is constantly, you know, taking on and targeting, there's ramifications that he understands at the time.

Not just to say about the voting -- there could be voting problems. There could be -- obviously, there's issues with lots of different institutions. When he does things like that, without offering any evidence, it makes everything in this partisan, kind of muddy game, and that's he clearly likes it.

KING: You can say it doesn't look right. We're on top of it, we're going to make sure that everything is fair count, as opposed to it's rigged, the system, and there's something nefarious happening. But we shall see with that one and the throughout the week, stay with us, deadline Thursday for that recount. So, come see us every day at noon, we'll get through it.

Up next, the big midterm message, the president is toxic in the suburbs, and his Republican is shrinking.


[08:28:42] KING: History tells us, as we try to understand this, Tuesday's vote, not to read too much into a midterm presidential rebuke. Bill Clinton thumped in 1994. Barack Obama shellacked in 2010. Both presidents recovered to go on and win re-election just two days later.

Still, this map does include many warning signs for the president and his party as we move now from 2018 into the 2020 cycle.

One quick point first -- look at the Democrats right now. The Democrats will retake the house. Still some races to call. But they're going to have at least 230.

Here is what we called so far, 225. They're ahead 230. Republicans ahead 205. The big sweep in this election was this, let's show you this, this is the house map of the United States of America. These are the top suburban districts across the country.

Now, we're going to collate this and add 2016 to 2018 flips, meaning Republican seats flipped to the Democrats. Republicans picked up zero Democratic seats in the suburbs. Democrats are leading right now in 23 suburban districts long held by Republicans that are going to flip and we've called 19 of those. So, 19 Democratic pickups in these suburban seats from coast to coast, big change in the base of the Republican Party.

And that number could go higher.

[08:29:50] KING: Again, the Democrats on track to get 30 to 35, 20 or more just from the suburbs, once reliably Republican. Giant warning signs for the President's party because the suburbs are growing. That's where people live.

The rural areas where the President is strong, and he's very strong, they tend to be static. Some of them losing population

Some other warning signs in the 2018 election. Look at the numbers among white women with college degrees. Here's the 2016 presidential campaign. President Trump gets 44; the Democrat, Hillary Clinton, 51.

Democrats did better with this constituency. Six in ten white women with college degrees voting for the Democrat; the Republican Party heading in the wrong direction. Remember President Trump lost the popular vote; won the Electoral College, lost the popular vote.

The challenge is to grow the party. This is shrinking. That's white women. Voters under 30, Democrats again improving. Hillary Clinton won this constituency, Democrats in these House races won it even larger. the Republican Party is shrinking.

Non-white voters, essentially static, you can argue, if you're a Republican, I guess, if you want to see some silver lining here. Hillary Clinton 74 percent with non-white voters, Democrats 76 percent in the congressional election but that's pretty bad.

Your Latinos, Asians, African-Americans in the Republican Party, maybe it didn't lose ground. It didn't gain an inch since 2016 into 2018.

One last as we look at this. Independents always swing midterm elections. The President narrowly carried Independents in 2016. Democrats won them by a big margin in 2018.

So yes, the President is very strong on these rural red areas. But where people live, where the population is growing, where the population is getting more diverse -- his party is shrinking.

So when the President looks at this map -- losing the House, maybe a modest gain in the Senate, wiped out the state legislative level, he sees a complete victory. The Democratic leader of the Senate says nonsense.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Bragged that because he won North Dakota that makes him a national, strong political presence. Especially given in light of what everything else that happened last night makes no sense. If you can only campaign in the reddest states that you won by 30 or 40 points in the last election and no one wants you in large parts of America, that doesn't bode well for your political future.


KING: Now the President looks at that map and thinks he can win again in 2020. That depends who the Democrats nominate. But it is just indisputable that you lose the popular vote, your challenge is to try to grow. The Republican Party is not growing right now. It is shrinking.

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: The demographics of the Republican Party put them in a position where eventually they're just going to run out of voters because the way this country is growing is all towards the Democrats' favor.

I do think there's a difference in having the President on the ballot versus having his party on the ballot. We saw that with Barack Obama in 2010.

KING: Absolutely.

PACE: His party had a shellacking and he won pretty easily in 2012. So there is a difference there. But there are clear challenges for Trump as he heads into his own re- election campaign. These states that he relied when he won Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania -- they were not permanently shifted by his election. He does have a large base of support there but now they have Democrats who are running those states and that provides the Democratic Party really significant infrastructure.

KING: So your question is, do you learn the lessons of it, you know. And Bill Clinton and Obama did it just after the election. The President's recipe for this one when reminded, you know you lost a lot of ground in the suburbs was to say "not my fault, their fault".


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You had some that decided to let's stay away. Let's stay away. They did very poorly. I'm not sure that I should be happy or sad but I feel just fine happy about it. Carlos Curbelo, Mike Kaufman. Too bad, Mike. Mia Love. Mia Love gave me no love and she lost. Too bad. Sorry about that, Mia.


KING: That's the leader of the Republican Party.


JOSH DAWSEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": The President's inclination though has not been to broaden and expand his base. It has been to double down at all times on the most dyed in the wool Trump voters.

You saw them (INAUDIBLE) you heard Paul Ryan said let's talk about the economy. Let's talk about more inclusive messages. The President said no. We're going to try to end birth right citizenship. He can't do that. We're going to send 15,000 troops to the border. We're going to make all of this about immigration.

Paul Ryan said we'll get the, you know, crowds outside of your rallies. The President says my rallies are huge. Look at how big the rallies are.

I mean this is a president who, his gut instinct is to stick with exactly what happened in 2016. And his takeaway from this election was what he said at the podium on Wednesday at the White House. Republicans need to be more about Trump.

But then you saw the next day, a lot of the Republicans came out and said I wish he would have criticized us before. That could have actually helped us.


DAWSEY: You know what I mean?

RAJU: Of course, the President ignores the analysis of THE candidates who did attach themselves to the President and did lose. Dean Heller in Nevada, for one, in the very important swing state, rejected his anti-Trumpism during the 2016 campaign, embraced the President. He lost that Senate race there.

[08:35:00] Republican candidates in the House also who aligned themselves including Katie Arrington from South Carolina. She said Mark Sanford had hell (ph) before she beat him in the primary because Sanford was too anti-Trump, she was very pro Trump. She loses that race.

So the President's problems are beyond just some candidates distancing themselves from him. And he knows that too which is why that when he campaigned in the final stretch he went to those very, very red states to campaign for those Senate candidates not the suburban districts where the Republicans were --

KING: And so now what is the question? We're going to have weeks and months to figure this out. But if you watched that news conference Wednesday, there was a lot of fire and fury, a lot of rage from Trump.

There were snippets of I'll even adjust my big tax cuts if I can negotiated with the Democrats on a middle class tax cut. Let's sit down and talk about infrastructure. Maybe we can cut a deal on DACA.

So there was a little bit of the art of the deal guy is back, a lot of rage around it. And then this question, can you get along with Nancy Pelosi if, as Nancy Pelosi says, yes, we're going to investigate this president?


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: We have a constitutional responsibility to have oversight. That's the balance of power.

You can be sure of one thing. When we go down any of these paths, we'll know what we're doing and we'll do it right.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you compartmentalize that and still continue to work with him for the benefit of the rest of the country?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or are all bets off?

TRUMP: No. If they do that, then it's just -- all of this is a war- like posture.


KING: You had a fun time on the Capitol Hill beat.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes, welcome to gridlock in Washington for the next two years.

KING: Are we sure? BADE: You know Marc Short and I were talking about this in the green

room just the other day. He's a former top adviser at the White House and he was saying he really thinks there's a chance that Pelosi and Trump could negotiate together on an infrastructure package.

Democrats want to be able to show voters that they are for something and not just investigating Trump. And so they do have something on the line in terms of trying to pass legislation and get something done but I mean he just fired Jeff Sessions.

This is going to be their number one priority when they come in. The chairmen already have lists upon lists of documents they want, subpoenas that they're going to issue. And Trump is going to want to fight back. He's not going to want to make a deal with the Democrats.


DAWSEY: Well, maybe one day he will and one day he won't. I mean you remember those Chuck and Nancy dinners last year where they would come over, and hour and a half later they would emerge and we don't have a debt ceiling anymore. We've made a big immigration -- obviously that fell apart.

But I mean there were a few weeks there where it seemed like every week he had Democrats at the White House and something big was happening. I mean this guy who -- he can adapt to whatever he needs to do in that moment and is kind of shameless about it. And I think you may see some action that's pretty interesting.

KING: And a question there will be the reaction in the sense that he was about to strike a DACA deal and his own base revolted. Now you have a smaller House Republican, more Trumpy on the surface, but if he starts dealing with the Democrats, we'll see how they react. So interesting times ahead.

Up next, the President fires his Attorney General just as the investigations kick back into gear.


KING: The President now back forcefully defending his pick to be the acting attorney general. That, after being caught in a lie claiming Friday he didn't really know Matthew Whitaker despite an interview on tape, yes, last month where he said he did know and that he was a great guy.

Whitaker was named when the President fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. White House aides made no secret -- make no secret the main reason the President likes Whitaker is because of his open disdain for the special counsel Robert Mueller.

Whitaker now oversees Mueller and there are concerns he could try to limit the special counsel's scope or try to bury any final Mueller report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SENATOR MARK WARNER (D), VIRGINIA: It's clear this president is trying to make sure the Mueller investigation doesn't get all its final product out. And the President could have avoided even any of these questions if he had simply appointed the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to be in this temporary position.

Instead, he picked this individual, Mr. Whitaker, who the best asset I can see is he's a big-time Trump loyalist.


KING: Some of this might not be fair to Matthew Whitaker, but the President kind of set up him up, right, for this?

PACE: Well, the President does this quite frequently where he starts to take somebody and elevates them and then suddenly the digging from our fine news organizations happen and sort of revealed either weaknesses on the person (ph) like Ronnie Jackson for sure.

And then the President starts to distance himself. The classic phrase is "I don't really know them".

He did that with Paul Manafort, who ran the campaign. But Whitaker's positioning here is very clear. He's someone who was put in the Justice Department because he opposed the special counsel, to sort of watch what was happening in that office and now he's expected to do the exact same thing in this acting position.


KING: Go ahead.

DAWSEY: One of the reasons the President liked him is he had been in the Oval repeatedly because Jeff Sessions and the President had such a terrible relationship that the President did not even want to see Jeff Sessions.

So he found this Matt Whitaker, who was recommended by Leonard Leo, the Federalist Society president and with George Washington. And he moved him up because two things -- he liked him. He's kind of a back- slappy guy, who Trump likes, big football player from Iowa. And two, he's deeply skeptical of the special counsel's probe.

So when the President had a choice to finally install someone with Sessions out as AG, he wasn't going to pick Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who has been, you know, alleged to have suggested wearing a wire against the President. He wanted to pick someone who he liked and trusted.

RAJU: And this, of course, sets up the first real big fight with the new incoming Democratic majority who has plans to, you know -- come January if he's still acting, he will be asked to come up.

[08:45:04] There will be subpoenas for him to come up and testify. There'll be questions about his role in the Mueller investigation, which he may not be able to avoid. Republicans in the Senate, however, believe that this is just a short- term appointment, that the President will nominate someone in a more permanent place but he could still be in charge of the probe for some time.

KING: Right. For the rest of November -- the rest of November, December, January. Let's just say at a minimum, two and a half -- almost three months there if they move lightning speed on a new nominee. That's probably being too optimistic.

DAWSEY: Those could be critical months for --

KING: At least that. And so Mueller has to go to him for approval. Mueller, which -- if he has a report, hand it to him. Matt Whitaker decides what happens to that. Now Democrats, once they have power, could subpoena and do everything else.

There's also other investigations. The southern district of New York reports to the Attorney General. This from the "Wall Street Journal" just on Friday. "The 'Wall Street Journal' found Mr. Trump was involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreement. He directed deals and phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump's participation in the transactions."

These are payments to Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels that, if this reporting is correct, are direct violations of campaign finance law. If the southern district of New York says what do we do. When we file about the President, what do we put on the public record about the President? The acting attorney general is in that room.

BADE: Yes. I mean he can clearly cause issues for both of these investigations in terms of helping the President. What we have seen on the Hill is that this has sort of reinvigorated the conversation about legislation to protect the special counsel, to make sure that Robert Mueller cannot be fired by Matt Whitaker.

And you know, we have a funding deadline coming up in a couple of weeks and we have heard some Democrats talk already about -- potentially saying we're not going to fund the government, the rest of the government because there's only a few agencies, unless we can attach legislation to make sure that the special counsel can continue to do his job.

And so I think that we're going to that, you know, even more in the next two weeks (ph).


KING: Dramatic stress between now and the end of the year on more fronts than I can count.

Up next, our reporters share from their notebooks, including a midterm change you might call the pink wave.


KING: On this busy Sunday, let's head one last time around the INSIDE POLITICS table and ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks, help get you out ahead of the political news just around the corner.

Julie Pace.

PACE: In addition to the top of the ticket winners in the midterm elections there were some really interesting ballot initiations in states across the country. And one state that stood out to me was Utah. This is an extremely conservative state, one of the most conservative in the country.

But voters there passed two ballot initiatives that tend to be favored by more liberal voters. This is expanding Medicaid to tens of thousands of low-income people and approving medical marijuana use. The medical marijuana practice is going to be actually amended a bit, based on a compromise with the Mormon church, which is the most powerful force in that state.

This is really a fascinating example of two initiatives that were stalled by deeply conservative lawmakers in the state and then it was the voters who ultimately pushed both of these issues over the finish line.

KING: Outside the box.


DAWSEY: So with President Trump, we're heading back to 2020 campaign season already. All of the rallies are now over. They're already eyeing places to go in January. They have $106 million or so that he has in the bank. They're putting together an apparatus. White House aides are leaving.

So for those exhausted by a campaign, I think you're going to see it really begin anew. Even in this past cycle, the President was looking at his numbers in all of these districts where he was going, comparing them to 2016, trying to come up with the schedule for 2020 events that would benefit him. So I think in earnest you will see 2020 begin again in the White House.

KING: $106 million already -- yikes.


RAJU: John -- President Trump is about to get one of his closest allies in a key spot in the Senate. That's Lindsey Graham, who's very likely going to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. We're expecting a decision as soon as this week from the current chairman Chuck Grassley to accepting the Finance Committee gavel, opening that up to Graham, who has expressed concerns about the way the Russia investigation has been conducted, the way the Clinton e- mail investigation has been conducted. We'll see if he brings a counterbalance to the House Judiciary

Committee. This Democratic-run committee next year is going to be very aggressive in investigating the President.

Now, of course, he's going to also be in charge of Supreme Court nominations and all court nominations. One thing though he did tell me after the Kavanaugh confirmation that if there's a vacancy in 2020, he's reluctant to move forward with a Supreme Court nominee, (INAUDIBLE) to the precedent under Merrick Garland in 2016. Republicans didn't move on President Obama's nominee.

We'll see if he ultimately stands by that if that actually happens.

KING: Save that notebook. Save that notebook.


BADE: The midterms have been framed first as a blue wave with Democrats potentially coming and taking over. Then a green wave in terms of money. Now we have a pink wave with over three dozen women coming to Congress, including a lot of young moms.

And so Capitol Hill right now has sort of been rethinking how work- friendly it is for mothers. And right now, they are putting nursing stations around the Capitol. They are talking about putting diaper changing stations in lawmaker bathrooms. And right now they're basically doing sort of a reassessment to make sure that it is a friendly work environment for mothers.

KING: Amen. Call the architect. Good. That's good. Some change is good, regardless of party.

I'll close with this. Back on the 2020 bus with Josh. Forty or more Democrats, 40 or more, now scrambling as this year winds to figure out if they can actually mount a credible campaign for president.

But how many Republicans are asking that same 2020 with question? 2018 has shown us, yes, the GOP has profound problems but no, presidential weakness with the base is not one of them.

There are Republicans like retiring Senator Jeff Flake who view this as a fight that must be fought even though any Trump challenger is most unlikely to win, at least based on everything we know today.

Now, the first potential Trump challenger to pop up on the 2020 map is the Ohio Governor John Kasich, who will be in New Hampshire this week for, of all things, an event celebrating the First Amendment and a free press.

[08:55:05] I spoke briefly with Governor Kasich the other day and it was crystal clear he's already closely studying in fine detail the results of the 2018 midterms. Now, he's not ready to answer definitively about 2020. But he is eager to get back to New Hampshire, see old friends and get their sense of the landscape.

2020, here we go. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Again, thanks for sharing your Sunday morning. Come back Mondays -- weekdays at noon as well. Recount time, always long.

Stay with us on INSIDE POLITICS.

Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER". Don't go anywhere. An exclusive conversation with the Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Thanks for joining us. Have a great Sunday.