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Trump Ends Tough Week With Two-Hour Speech; Sanders Begins Second Campaign for President; Trump Sides with Kim Jong-un Over Claim About Warmbier. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired March 3, 2019 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:20] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): A play to the base and a hero's welcome.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We believe in the American dream, not in the socialist nightmare.
KING: Plus, Bernie Sanders retraces his steps.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you all for being part of a political revolution which is going to transform America.
KING: And a longtime Trump insider stars in a new chapter of big investigations.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: He is a racist. He is a con man, and he is a cheat.
I am not protecting Mr. Trump anymore.
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.
It was a miserable week for President Trump. He could not close a deal with Kim Jong-un and his longtime confidante called him a cheat and a liar whose crimes carried into his presidency. A two-hour-plus speech yesterday left no doubt about the president's mood.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They fight so hard on this witch hunt, this phony deal that they put together, this phony thing that now looks like it's dying so they don't have anything with Russia. There's no collusion, so now they go and morph into, let's inspect every deal he's ever done. We're going to go into his finances. We're going to check his deals. We're going to check -- these people are sick. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Plus, that speech offered telling glimpses into just how the president thinks, mocking the southern accent of his former attorney general, repeating a nickname offensive to Native Americans and this, questioning immigrants in Congress.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have people in Congress that hate our country. We can name every one of them, if they want. It's very, very sad.
Very, very -- and find out, how did they do in their country? Just ask them. How did they do? Did they do well? Were they succeeding? Just ask that question.
Somebody would say, oh, that's terrible that he brings that up, but that's OK. I don't mind. I'll bring it up. How did they do in their country? Not so good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And the big week for 2020 Democrats includes a new candidate promising to make climate change the top issue and the first rally by a familiar face who promises this time will be different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: My experience as a child living in a family that struggled economically, powerfully influenced my life and my values. I know where I came from.
Unlike Donald Trump, who shut down the government and left 800,000 federal employees without income to pay their bills -- I know what it's like to be in a family that lives paycheck to paycheck.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Julie Pace of "The Associated Press", CNN's Phil Mattingly, Toluse Olorunnipa of "The Washington Post", and Lisa Lerer of "The New York Times."
We begin with the president, the biggest source of his anger and the latest remarkable display of his rage. He hugged a flag as he walked on to the stage at CPAC yesterday and then spoke for more than two hours. That he spoke that long is proof that he has a lot on his mind and that he knew it was a place where he wins applause even when what he says lacks taste, truth or tact.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: So now we're waiting for a report, and we'll find out whether or not and who we're dealing with. We're waiting for a report by people that weren't elected. Unfortunately, you put the wrong people in a couple of positions, and they leave people for a long time that shouldn't be there. And all of a sudden, they are trying to take you out with bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED), OK? With bull (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The report referenced there with choice language would be from special counsel Robert Mueller who is said to be near the end of his investigation. The biggest lesson of this past week, though, is that Mueller is hardly the president's only worry. Federal and state authorities in New York are investigating the president's business, his inaugural committee, his charity and maybe more.
And this past week was an eye-opening display of the new world order here in Washington. Democrats are demanding White House documents said to show the president lied when he said he had no role in his son-in-law's security clearance. A clearance granted over the objections of the CIA and others. And Democrats say a half dozen committees now have new threads to investigate because of the scathing day-long rebuke that was the testimony of longtime Trump fixer and attorney Michael Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[08:05:04] REPORTER: Do you believe that the president committed a crime while in office?
REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Based on what -- looking at the text and listening to Mr. Cohen, it appears that he did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Let's start there with the president's mood. And he is incredibly transparent for all his critics, we know what he thinks. Two-plus hours, the longest speech of his presidency and a lot of grievances.
JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: A lot of grievances that I think were built up during this week because he was in Vietnam for the summit with North Korea. So he was on a different time zone, paying attention to what was going on, but this was his first chance to get this all off his chest.
Look, I mean, the Mueller report has hung over this White House for months. But they are now having to come to grips with the reality that once that is done, that doesn't end these legal questions around him. If anything, I think the southern district investigations are his greater problem. It seems to more directly touch his business, his associates and potentially Trump himself.
That doesn't mean there won't be something in the Mueller report that won't be damaging to him. We just don't know. That ultimately is more of a political question probably for Congress. But this is a president I think who is having to come to grips with the fact that the next two years of his presidency are going to continue to look probably even worse in terms of these legal questions than the first two. TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Think
about all the different crimes Michael Cohen alleged the president engaged in. You have bank fraud, you have insurance fraud, tax fraud, campaign finance violations and charity self-dealing. There are a number of areas where Democrats can sort of pull on those strings and decide how much they want to investigate.
And I think that even though -- even after Robert Mueller wrapped up his report and says whether or not there was Russia collusion, they're going to have Democrats in Congress spending months if not years, investigating all of those various areas, getting the president's tax returns, which may provide more information about other things the president might have done as a businessman. So he's in for sort of a world of hurt when it comes to the Democratic investigations.
And what we saw yesterday was two hours of the president really venting, knowing that there's nothing they can do. There are going to be subpoenas flying all over the place. They're going to ask for his most personal records and there's not really too much he can do.
KING: And knowing he was in a place he can twist facts, exaggerate some things, ignore other things. I find it remarkable, to your point and your point, that he focused so much on Mueller as opposed to what most people think is the bigger threat. So, is it either that he makes Mueller the repository of all of his anger about investigations or does he know something we don't know about the Mueller report because his attorneys are trying to keep in touch about that.
But to your point about Michael Cohen, why was the president so mad yesterday? Why is the president so angry at the Democrats in Congress who are investigating him? Because as Toluse knows, the Democrats say they got a lot of leads from this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUMMINGS: Donald Trump wrote you a check out of his personal account while he was serving as president of the United States of America to reimburse you for hush money payments?
COHEN: Yes, Mr. Chairman.
REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: You had a conversation with the president of the United States about your impending testimony before the House Intelligence Committee. Is that correct?
COHEN: That's correct.
REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D-MA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Who were the family members you briefed on the Trump Tower Moscow project?
COHEN: Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump.
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Did the president ever provide inflated assets to an insurance company?
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Is there any other wrongdoing or illegal act that you are aware of regarding Donald Trump?
COHEN: Yes, and again, those are part of the investigation that's currently being looked at by the Southern District of New York.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And so the anger, rage we saw from the president, I guess quasi understandable. Not how he processed it, but the southern district of New York, Michael Cohen says, is investigating things we don't know about.
Several things we do know about. He says those things we don't know about, and Democrats on Capitol Hill say that was a great oversight committee hearing meeting. Now, we're going to farm this out to five or six or seven other committees and you'll all take a piece of that and have other investigations.
LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. This was the testimony that spawned a thousand other topics from potential tax evasions, his Trump organization, to the president -- even to the president's alleged racism. I mean, this gave Democrats plenty of fodder to work with.
And I also think, it's important to remember in these moments that this is a president who feels very invested in personal relationships. And this is a betrayal of one of his most intimate personal relationships. This is not like some low-level guy at the Trump Organization getting up there.
This is his personal lawyer, the guy who, as he points out, was doing his bidding for years and years and years by his side, up there laying out all the dirty laundry that he can lay out in front of Congress and the country, and we don't even know what he said in the private sessions.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I would just -- one of the signs of a productive oversight hearing if you want to talk about Waxman or Dingell, you kind of go back through history, is when you can see and when you know people are laying the groundwork for what's coming next, right?
[08:10:08] It's not necessarily fireworks. It's not necessarily trying to get those headlines. And, yes, there were plenty of them, but I thought the most important points and the most important questions asked were the questions that were leading to answers that are very clearly going to guide the investigations of the Oversight Committee, the Financial Services Committee, the Intelligence Committee going forward.
Now, what that means is, as Lisa noted, tax returns, you can see it from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and several others, the pitch and the push for Democrats in the House to try and use the Ways and Means Committee to get the president's tax returns. That was happening live for everybody to see during that hearing. The president's children, very much now in play because of some of the questions asked.
Allen Weisselberg, one of the most central and key people in the Trump organization, his name came up several times. Elijah Cummings afterwards made clear that he's now somebody that the committee is thinking about talking to. And I think that more than anything else kind of underscored the importance of the hearing. Michael Cohen's testimony was explosive, and any other time it would have been completely surreal. And today, it was just Wednesday.
But I think that's the takeaway from the hearing, is you recognize Democrats, not every Democrat was great, not every Democrat knew what they were doing, but there was clearly staff work and work behind the scenes to try and lay the groundwork for things to come, and those things to come will cause increasing problems for the White House and the White House counsel.
KING: And separate from Cohen because of "New York Times" reporting this week, the Democrats want White House documents. "The New York Times" reported that both the White House chief of staff at the time and White House counsel at the time wrote memos because they did not like the process or result of the president's son-in-law, another family connection, getting a security clearance. Jared Kushner got his clearance over the objection of the CIA and other federal agencies. The president had said he had nothing do with it.
"The New York Times" flatly says if the memos from his top aides suggest otherwise. Remember this from the president. So, Congress is now demanding documents. They want to prove to the American people that this is a lie.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MAGGIE HABERMAN, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Did you tell General Kelly or anyone else in the White House to overrule security officials? The career veterans?
D. TRUMP: No, I don't think I have the authority to do that. I'm not sure I do.
HABERMAN: You do have the authority to do it.
D. TRUMP: But I wouldn't do it. I know that there was issues back and forth about security for numerous people, actually. But I don't want to get involved in that stuff.
IVANKA TRUMP, FIRST DAUGHTER: The president had no involvement pertaining to my clearance or my husband's clearance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Not true. Not true. What the president says is not true, what his daughter says is not true. And now that the Democrats have power, they are demanding that John Kelly and Don McGahn wrote contemporaneous memos raising concerns about this. That again just opens up this new world for the president which I guess maybe yesterday's speech was proof he's beginning to understand it.
PACE: Perhaps. I mean, I don't know how you can read what he was saying there as anything other than a lie if it is true that he did overrule. I also think it's amazing that now we have another top Trump official, John Kelly, who was keeping contemporaneous notes about things that were happening that he thought were not in the up and up. That potentially opens up a whole another avenue. What else did John Kelly see or what else does he have notes on?
But this issue of clearance is Democrats have been on this for a while. They've thought for a long time that there was something fishy in Jared Kushner's clearance process. Now the fact they believe they can link that directly to Donald Trump himself is going to make this I think probably a top priority, maybe top five among their investigations this year.
KING: It's a remarkable moment. We'll come back to the president's speech and some of the political calculations later.
Up next, no Hanoi summit deal but praise for Kim Jong-un that stuns the parents of an American who died just after being released from a North Korean prison.
[08:17:41] KING: The president learned a lesson this past week about the limits of personal diplomacy. Walking away from his Hanoi summit empty handed. No global stage victory, but a big domestic political headache, because the president once again took the side of a brutal autocrat. This time Kim Jong-un about the treatment of American Otto Warmbier in North Korean prison.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't think the top leadership knew about it. I don't believe that he would have allowed that to happen. Just wasn't to his advantage to allow that to happen.
And I really don't believe that he was -- I don't believe he knew about it. He felt badly but knew the case well but he knew it later. He tells me that he didn't know about it and I will take him at his word.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Those remarks caused bipartisan gasps in Congress and this from Warmbier's parents.
We have been respectful during the summit process. Now, we must speak out. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for the death of our son Otto. Kim and his evil regime are responsible for unimaginable cruelty and inhumanity. No excuses or lavish praise an change that. Thank you.
Yesterday, in a speech at CPAC, the president praised the Warmbier family but again did not blame Kim. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We got our great people back. We got our great, great people, and that includes our beautiful, beautiful toto. Otto Warmbier whose parents I've gotten to know, who is incredible.
And I'm in such a horrible position because in one way, I have to negotiate. In the other way, I love Mr. and Mrs. Warmbier, and I love Otto. And it's a very, very delicate balance. He was a special young man, and to see what happened was so bad.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: How is he in a horrible position? Reagan negotiated with the soviets. He didn't say you're really nice people. I don't believe there are people in gulags, leave up that wall. Sometimes you have to call out truths and you have to live in parallel universe to not think the most authoritarian regime on the planet understands what's happening in its presence.
LERER: I mean, I think this lays bare one defining thing about this president which is we talked about with the Cohen testimony. He ran his business for decades based on personal relationships. Oh, we want to buy a building. We'll do a deal with this guy or this guy.
[08:20:02] Now, that's how he views these negotiations.
But, in fact, it's not the same, right? He's not cutting a deal with, you know, his pal Kim Jong-un. You know, he's negotiating on behalf of the United States of America. That's a very different thing and that does require, as he pointed, this delicate balance between, you know, the personal dynamic that you may have with the leader and what's in the best interest of the entire country and the people who elected you to represent them. And that's a distinction we've seen get blurred quite a bit.
KING: You can dodge the question. You cannot answer the question when human rights comes up at your press conference.
KING: You can just try to steer away and play good cop, if you will. But to stand there and repeatedly say, I don't think he knew about it, I don't think his top people knew about it, that's asinine.
PACE: That I think is different. I mean, there -- you know, in relationships between the United States and the Saudis, for example, you've had presidents of both parties who have meetings with Saudi leaders and simply don't bring up human rights, try to ignore the question publicly.
This president chose, multiple times as you showed there, to say he believes that Kim Jong-un and the regime had nothing to do with this. That is a choice that he made. It goes beyond what other presidents have done in terms of human rights, and you're right. I mean, this is something that angered Republicans and Democrats
because it does seem to go against American values that you couldn't just simply say, they were responsible for the death of an American. How does that disrupt these negotiations? How does that undermine everything else they're discussing? Most feel it wouldn't but that's his choice he made.
KING: His choice and he continued. Again, it's a little bit more, this is in a Fox News interview. The president continues and the negotiations broke down. They said they're going to try to keep in touch. The president says Kim promised, and this is important, promised not to be testing missiles and testing nuclear weapons. That is a better situation. It's not ideal.
Listen to the president again describing Kim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: He's a character. He's a real personality, and he's very smart. He's sharp as you can be, and he's a real leader.
The relationship is very good. He likes me. I like him. Some people say, oh, you shouldn't like him. I say, why shouldn't I like him?
I like him. Get along great. We'll see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KNG: But the issue is what has happened, what has happened. This is Victor Cha writing in "The Washington Post" today, very expert on this issue.
Experts believe Pyongyang may have already made material for as many as eight new bombs in the period between the Singapore and Hanoi summits.
So, the president can say he's a character. We'll see what happens. That is happening.
OLURUNNIPA: Right, the president stroking the ego of a brutal dictator and doesn't have much to show for that over the last year. The president and Kim Jong-un have been trading love letters to one another for the past year, but during that time, yes, we know there haven't been missile tests but the North Koreans have not broken down their nuclear program. They've not allowed inspectors in.
There's a lot of credible reporting that shows that they are continuing to develop their program covertly, and the president is seemingly sort of casting aside all of the intelligence that he gets from our intelligence agencies to listen to Kim Jong-un and just believe or at least try to get the American people to believe he's done what no other president has done. We've not really seen very much progress.
And I think that's why you see this statement from the Warmbier family saying you can't have lavish praise for a dictator like Kim Jong-un, especially if you aren't getting anything in return for that.
MATTINGLY: I will note, going into the summit, there was a lot of concern from Republicans on Capitol Hill the president just wanted a deal. And the president was willing to accept anything. And the president was willing to accept denuclearization for one site in exchange for sanctions relief on all fronts and leaving the capabilities they currently have and the activities they've currently been doing essentially untouched.
And the president's willingness to walk away while it was somewhat clouded over by this statement about Otto Warmbier and Kim Jong-un was something that gave great relief on Capitol Hill for Republicans and hawks and in the administration as well. That he was willing to walk away when he recognized and his top advisers told him this wasn't something he could sign off on. It simply wasn't good enough.
There was a lot of concern going into that that he just wanted the deal, the big headline. Maybe he wanted to shift attention away from something else, and he was willing to do that.
But I think you've made it clear at the beginning. This president is the most transparent you can ever imagine. He's making very clear that this is transactional and he's willing to say whatever he needs to say about somebody who's a brutal dictator because he thinks that relationship will eventually get there.
He may have walked away now. There may be no tangible takeaways at this point, but he believes if he continues with the flattery, it will get them into a better position eventually. The real question is how at this point given what they've already done.
KING: And the slap to the Warmbier family. We'll see as this one plays out.
Next for us here, a big week in the 2020 Democratic race, including a stop by several contenders today at an annual event marking a civil rights milestone.
[08:28:58] KING: Live pictures of a breakfast in Selma, Alabama. It's the anniversary weekend of the Edmund Pettus Bridge crossing. This breakfast, Hillary Clinton to be honored at this breakfast. Several other Democratic candidates in 2020, Hillary Clinton from the 2016 race, several 2020 contenders at this race as well as they mark a key milestone in the civil rights movement.
Also, a reminder that we're in March now. We are one year away from this, the Democratic contest starts, of course, in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, but in March next year, 26 states vote, including one year from this week, Super Tuesday, a dozen states vote, including a number state of states where the African-American and Latino constituency in the Democratic Party are going to make a huge difference.
Let's look through these states. Majority-minority states: Georgia and Alabama, the African-American vote, huge here. Texas and California, we have Latinos and African-Americans.
Then at least one-third of the vote in these votes: North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Colorado expected to be from the Democratic base of African-Americans and Latino voters. The big issue here is just look at Alabama where you see the candidates today marking the Selma anniversary. More than half of the Democratic electorate in the 2016 primary were black voters. A big deal if you're a Democrat trying to get momentum in the race.
We know how this played out in 2016. The African-American constituency, key to Hillary Clinton in Alabama. She got 91 percent to 6 percent for Bernie Sanders. This is what the candidates are thinking about now in this much more crowded race.
2016 was a two-way; much more crowded now. Who can establish relationships with the most loyal base of Democratic voters? Well, Senator Sanders struggled last time. In his first big rally for 2020 yesterday, he's promising this time will be different.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump wants to divide us up based on the color of our skin, based on where we were born, based on our gender, based on our religion or our sexual orientation. What we are about is doing exactly the opposite. We're going to bring our people together.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It's a very different race this time because you have so many candidates. That's part of it. But there's no question Senator Sanders needs to prove he can do better with voters of color. The question is what is his path? How does he plan on doing that?
LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I mean, I think one thing that political experts, strategists will say when they look at a presidential primary is do the candidates get better over time? Do they learn from their past mistakes?
And part of what we're seeing here is that Senator Sanders did internalize some of the missteps of that last campaign. He knows he needs to woo voters of color. That is how you win a Democratic primary as you so nicely point out at the wall.
He also needs to tell more of his personal story, something he resisted for a long time. You know, Senator Sanders resisted a lot of these conventions of presidential politics. Now he's embracing them.
Whether that's successful is really an open question. As you point out it was a two-way race. Now it's a really crowded field. And it's particularly crowded among progressives, which -- progressives, which is where he defined himself last time and where he places himself in the race now. What is clear is that he'll have the money to go the distance. He's raised an unbelievable amount of money in his first week. So he'll have the cash, does he get enough support? That's the question.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I'm intrigued by the fact that when you look at some of the candidates that have come out early. When it's Elizabeth Warren, when its Bernie Sanders -- they've made clear they recognize the minority vote is huge in the primary. There's a recognition of that. And they've been talking about it.
Elizabeth Warren has made it a key thing. Bernie Sanders within the first five minutes of his speech has been talking about prison reform and kind of the inequities in the country.
There's a recognition of it. What's the difference between talking about it publicly and actually connecting and getting the votes? You see people like Senator Kamala Harris who has got very close connections down in South Carolina and kind of making a play there. Cory Booker as well.
I'm interested with what is the differential between talking about something versus actually closing the deal on a vote in the community as a whole. And I think when the primary is this divided, has this many people in it it's not going to be one candidate figures it out. It's going to be which candidate figures the best way to actually form a coalition and win in places like that.
KING: And whether they can form -- whether it's a national thing or whether, I remember my first race '88 when you had a crowded field sometimes you pick a couple of states. You just try to (INAUDIBLE) for viability to stay alive.
Michael Dukakis had the four corners, they called it in 1988. That kind of sealed the nomination.
Another dynamic in the race that's interesting is the President. You know, yesterday we know he wants to meddle in the Democratic race. One of his favorite targets, and sometimes he uses racially-tinged language doing so, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.
Here's the President and Senator Warren talking to our David Axelrod about how she handles this stuff.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I should have saved the Pocahontas thing for another year because I've destroyed her political career and now I won't get a chance to run against her. I would have loved that.
SENATOR ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Yes, you've got to push. You never let bullies run over you. But we've got to get out there and talk about what we believe in.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: It's an interesting question for every Democratic candidate. How much do you want to engage when the President comes after you? I think her own team would acknowledge she had some missteps early on. The question is can she get her footing back?
TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": There are a number of candidates who are saying, you know, it doesn't really make sense to spend a lot of time talking about the President or just -- you know, make it just a small part of the campaign speech -- but don't allow him to be the focus of the campaign.
I think you saw with Bernie Sanders' speech yesterday, they want to use certain themes that the President has pushed to try to push the idea that the President left behind the forgotten voter that he's said he was campaigning for.
You have all of these billionaires that the President appointed to his cabinet. You have the tax reform bill that really helped a lot of the corporations and the wealthy.
They want to use the President's policies and his rhetoric to convince voters that he did not fulfill his promises that he left behind to voters that he campaigned for.
JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: One thing that was really interesting about Sanders, of course, yesterday is that he actually did talk about Trump.
PACE: I mean a lot of these Democrats as they've launched their campaigns have tried to avoid Trump. They make oblique references to the administration but they don't really talk about him by name.
[08:35:04] Sanders tried a different tack. He basically has tried to make the case that "I can beat Trump". That is what Democratic voters want in this campaign. There will be some, you know, some talk about Medicare for all, policy issues, but ultimately, they want to beat Trump.
And what they're going to be looking at with these candidates is can I see you on stage with Donald Trump in a general election debate and how will you handle him knowing that Trump is going to be deeply personal? He's going to be incredibly aggressive? You know, will you be able to go toe-to-toe with him? Sanders is making the case that he can do that.
KING: It's a remarkable race. It's early on but because there's so many of them, let's get going, I guess.
Up next for us here -- the President unplugged with 2020 and a whole lot more on his mind.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: You know I'm totally off script right now. And this is how I got elected by being off script.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It's safe to consider the President's CPAC speech a test run of his 2020 case against the Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Democrat lawmakers are now embracing socialism. They want to replace individual rights with total government domination.
And take away private coverage from over 180 million Americans.
[08:39:51] But perhaps nothing is more extreme than the Democrats' plan to completely take over American energy and completely destroy America's economy through their new $100 trillion green new deal.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The speech, though, wasn't just about the Democrats. The President also had this for Republicans who disagree with his decision to declare a national emergency so that he can redirect other federal money to a border wall.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We're very concerned about setting precedent. I'm very concerned with having murderers and drug traffickers and drugs and drug cartels pouring into our country. That's what I'm concerned about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: He busted a few fact check machines during the speech. There's a great article in the "New York Times" about that. On CNNpolitics.com you can see another one. I'm sure there are others out there as well.
But we did get a sense of what the President wants to do. This is warming up. No matter who the Democrats nominate, they're going to be socialists.
What else did we learn?
LERER: I mean this is not new, right? President Barack Obama, of course, was tagged as socialist at CPAC. What was interesting to me about CPAC is how much it is the President's happy place. Like some people go to a spa, he goes to CPAC.
KING: Which didn't use to be -- it was not always the case.
LERER: Right. It used to be, as I'm sure you remember -- I was there on Thursday and it really was striking. Used to be this free-wheeling conversation about the dynamics in the Republican Party and it was a place where activists sort of conveyed their views to the establishment.
But now the activists are the establishment. President Trump has, you know, conquered the Republican Party. There's not -- it's hard to see how a primary challenge against him would be successful, although you constantly hear these rumblings of one that could happen. I think it's more wishful thinking.
And he really does have a very firm hold on the party's base. Now whether he can expand beyond that is, you know, the open question.
KING: CPAC used to be -- I've been around a little bit, longer than you guys. And CPAC used to be where the Republicans or conservatives -- they didn't always consider themselves Republicans. Conservatives stood up to dictators, didn't like communism, didn't like deficits, didn't like big government. That's gone.
PACE: The President won't admit this publicly but embedded in all of this discussion about socialism is a real concern that there is a part of the Republican Party, not the base, but a part of the Republican Party is more moderate, more business-minded that isn't happy with what he's been doing.
So his argument to those voters in the 2020 campaign is going to be, hey, you might not like me but those guys are going to be even worse. They're so far left that you have nothing in common with them. You are going to be so unhappy with what they do. So I'm the lesser of two evils.
Now, the challenge for a Democrat in the general election and really in the primary is to say to those voters, hey, you might not like everything about me, but I'm more centrist, more business-minded perhaps.
That's not going to be something that every Democrat is going to be able to argue. Someone like an Elizabeth Warren, a Bernie Sanders is not going to be comfortable making that argument but it does creates a potential opening for a Democrat to pick off those voters. And that could be very dangerous for the President.
LERER: And most Republicans are happy with some of the things the President has done.
LERER: The tax bill, Brett Kavanaugh.
LERER: And that's really what they're banking on.
KING: And so the interesting part is that he could have a more optimistic message. We have 4 percent unemployment. He could talk about judges. That's more divisive out in parts of the country but good with conservatives.
But he could be much more optimistic based on the economy. You know, it could be a morning in America like a Ronald Reagan.
Instead the President is pretty clear he wants to talk about immigration. He wants to talk about socialism. It's stark (ph), including this. This is the President talking about critics in Congress who happen to be immigrants or from immigrant families.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Right now we have people in Congress that hate our country. And you know that. And we can name every one of them, if they want. Find out, how did they do in their country? Just ask them. How did they do? Did they do well? Were they succeeding? Just ask that question.
Somebody would say, oh, that's terrible that he brings that up, but that's ok. I don't mind. I'll bring it up.
How did they do in their country? Not so good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: It is terrible that he brings that up. He doesn't mind, clearly. But what was that? What was that? You can disagree with people, but what was that?
OLORUNNIPA: Yes. That was the President really digging in on his nativist impulses and showing that 2020 is going to be a sort of knock-down, drag-out fight with the President taking no sense of what's politically correct.
This is -- if you look at what it takes to become a Congressperson, I mean, you have to become a U.S. citizen, especially if you leave your country and decide to become a U.S. citizen. You have to be elected by 700,000 other U.S. citizens who choose you as their representative.
And for the President to say you hate America is really -- it shows how far we've gone from a sense of political decorum with the President sort of leading the way and sort of leading the charge. And he got a lot of applause for lines like that.
KING: You can say I believe in the case of Congressman Omar who I think he's talking about which I don't like her statements. I view that as anti-Semitic. She should be repudiated. You can have that conversation if you want. It's something she said.
But wondering how they'd do in their own country? That's kind of like, what are they doing here? They won elections.
MATTINGLY: For the third time. When you said at the beginning of the show, the President is very transparent with what he's thinking and where his administration is and where his top advisers are and the messages that he thinks work.
[08:45:05] And as Toluse pointed, it got a lot of applause. We saw it throughout the campaign in 2016. Some of these types of approach were very popular. It doesn't make them right. Doesn't necessarily mean they're going to get 50 plus 1 percent in 2020.
But this is where he is. This is where he's always been and it's just the reality of this administration.
KING: It's not morning in America, I'll tell you that.
Our reporters share from their notebooks next, including an interesting demographic twist in the Democratic race for president.
KING: Let's head one last time around the INSIDE POLITICS table, ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks to help get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner.
PACE: So there's a pretty wonky debate starting to happen in the Democratic Presidential primary. And that's over the filibuster. This is essentially a Senate procedure that means you would need about 60 votes to get big-ticket legislation passed.
[08:49:57] You have some candidates like Elizabeth Warren who say, hey, maybe we should consider doing away with the filibuster, going to just a simple majority. Meanwhile there's like Bernie Sanders who say they're not really crazy about trying to change this rule.
So why does this matter? Well, you have liberals who are really trying to set up this filibuster as a test of how serious these candidates are about not just talking about things like Medicare for all or the Green New Deal but actually but actually getting them passed if they became President.
They don't think that these are proposals that could pass with a simple majority and so they're really going to be trying to push throughout this primary for candidates to commit to at least considering doing away with the filibuster if they were to become president.
KING: What would Phil Mattingly do --
PACE: That is a good question.
KING: -- if he didn't spend weeks and months worrying about 60 votes?
MATTINGLY: You're trying to take away my job.
So this past week, House Democrats passed the most substantive gun control legislation in more than 25 years. It's a sea change for the party, one that is one of their priorities and it's also underscored by some of their newer members who actually ran on gun control or gun restrictions which Democrats for years were very wary of doing.
But it's interesting to watch going forward what they do next. As one Democrat told me this was the low-hanging fruit -- expanding background checks and extending the waiting period for those background checks. This is something they could get bipartisan support on.
There's no question, outside of Congress there's been a wave of advocacy over the course of the last couple of years in the wake of some of these mass shootings. And you have people like Lucy McBath, a freshman who lost her son to gun violence, who ran specifically on that issue, who has become a very leading voice on this.
But when you talk to people like Mike Thompson, who's the chairman of the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, he's made clear this is a step by step process. They hear what's going on outside. They know people want major changes, but they also know that it's not just a bipartisan issue. It's also inside their own caucus issue.
only so much they can do. They don't want to do anything that's going to lead to a loss. So it will be a step by step process, something they want to keep on the front burner but I'm told right now, you'll probably not going to see any new gun legislation over the course of the next couple of months even as Democrats continue to focus on it in the wake of the violence they've seen.
KING: Yes, next campaign we'll litigate that one some more.
OLORUNNIPA: Yes. So the House passed a resolution of disapproval last week about the President's emergency declaration over building the wall saying there's an emergency on the southern border.
Right now the bill is likely to go over to the Senate where it has to come up for a vote, and right now there are already three Republicans who have broken ranks with the President and said they're going to join Democrats to vote against this. We only need one more Republican to break ranks and this would end up going to the President's desk and being his first veto.
There are several Republicans who have said that they are very concerned about what the President did with this national emergency declaration. They don't think that it was worth it to sort of spark a constitutional crisis over power of spending.
And you are likely see several of them officially break ranks with the President and decide to vote against -- vote against his position on the national emergency. The President sort of hinted over the weekend that those Republicans would be in jeopardy if they did that.
He talked about during his CPAC speech how he's going to be watching to see what happens in the Senate. This is something that's splitting the party right before several Republican Senate members are likely to focus on their re-election campaigns. And several of them are considering whether or not to stick with the President and potentially vote in his favor or break ranks with him and potentially upset a number of his primary -- a number of his voters in what could end up being a primary challenge for them.
KING: Fun times within the Republican family. Lisa.
LERER: So we are exactly 11 months from the first round of voting in the Democratic primary. But we're already in the second round of candidate announcements. The beginning of the year brought this historically diverse field -- six women, African-American candidates, Latinos.
Round two is going to be more of a white man wave. We have Governor Jay Inslee of Washington state, he got in on Friday. We're expecting Governor Hickenlooper of Colorado this coming week. Beto O'Rourke and vice president Joe Biden are getting closer to a decision.
So what does all this mean? And then there is, of course, Terry McAuliffe and Sherrod Brown and you know -- I won't go through the whole list because we'd run out of time for the show.
So what does this all mean? Well, it's going to be a really crowded Democratic primary. We already knew that. But I also think we're going to see a more robust debate over what the Democrats want to be in the Trump era. This wave of candidates, these guys are much more moderate on certain issues. They're more likely to talk about working with Republicans and to see that as an asset in a presidential race as something that could make them more electable.
So we're going to start having more discussion about what Democrats are within the candidates running for president and that's a conversation that will reach ahead or begin to reach ahead in January when we will have that first debate given how crowded it is.
But you know, it's going to be a back-to-back two-night event. So, you know, get your popcorn ready.
KING: We're getting -- going to approach 20, I think.
PACE: I think we could get 20.
KING: We could get 20 -- wow. I'm going to follow up on that a little bit.
It's way, way, way, way, way too early to talk about a campaign crisis. But Senator Elizabeth Warren does have a clear problem close to home. The University of New Hampshire poll released Thursday showed weak numbers for Warren, the Democratic senator from neighboring Massachusetts.
[08:54:57] Now to be fair, only 5 percent of Democratic voters in the state say they have definitely decided on a candidate. And as Lisa noted, the first in the nation primary nearly a year away.
But Warren's numbers are down in several of the polls questions. In August, for example, she polled at 17 percent when New Hampshire Democrats were asked to pick from a list of likely candidates.
In the new poll, she dropped to 7 percent. Plus 13 percent said they would never vote for Warren under any circumstances -- that's higher than any other Democrat. And only 3 percent of New Hampshire Democrats named Warren as the most likable Democratic candidate.
Now, Warren is trying to set the policy pace in the Democratic field with detailed plans for taxes, child care and more. But so far, there's little evidence she's getting traction in the state she likely needs it the most.
That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you can catch us weekdays as well. We're here at noon Eastern.
Up next, don't go anywhere -- "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER". His guests include the National Security Advisor John Bolton and the leading Democrat in the Senate Intelligence Committee, Virginia's Mark Warner.
Thanks for sharing your Sunday with us. Have a great day.