Return to Transcripts main page

INSIDE POLITICS

Senator Sanders Not Interested In Hillary Clinton's 2020 Advice; WSJ: Cohen Attorney Asked Trump Lawyers About Cohen Pardon; Former WH Lawyer: Mueller Is A "Justice-Oriented Person"; Prosecutors Tell Judge About Stone's Weekend Instagram; Presidential Candidate Inslee Faces Criticism Over Super PAC Support. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired March 5, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00] MATT VISER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: -- speaking opportunities and she mentioned Stacey Abrams at every opportunity, you know, as one of those candidates who she sees a future for. Talking about the party a little bit, there was an interesting contrast where she gave a bear hug to Cory Booker.

You know there was a warmth between them. When Bernie Sanders got off the stage, it could not be more frosty between them. He sort of briskly walked by, she stopped and said a very brief hello.

But that's, I think, where the party is at. There are some in the party that want her -- they want her advice, they want to hear from her. Bernie Sanders represents the part of the party where it's still a relitigation of 2016 and he wants to be associated with anything but her. And so I think that's sort of where the dynamic may be.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: I want to read how you wrote that because it is very telling. The interaction between Sanders and Clinton, their first since they faced off in a sometimes-bitter 2016 Democratic primary was frosty. While Clinton gave Booker an effusive hug, the exchange with Sanders was brief as he passed by quickly she reached out and initiated a terse hello.

Understandable, understandable they have a hard fought primary campaign. They always say older adult is supposed to move on but to that point it's not just between that the principles. When I was in Iowa a couple weeks ago and there -- you go to these county dinners and the Sanders people and the Clinton people, there is still some bad blood there. We've seen the staff quoted on a number of accounts, still some bad blood there.

Will that play out? Will Clinton people including maybe Secretary Clinton herself try to do anything she can to be anti-Bernie?

VISER: I think the animosity seems to be probably more on the Bernie side than the Hillary side, but I do think that will play out among her supporters. There is still a deep animosity between those two. And I think, you know, there are ways that Bernie Sanders could, you know, be a little more magnanimous to -- sorry. But it's not in him. You know, it's just not in him to do that. MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG: But you know it's a master point about inspiring women. I do think that Clinton's campaign inspiring woman but I think you could also argue her loss in inspiring women as much as anything else.

And when you see a Democratic field that's like half women or maybe in the end it would be a third woman, what happens there is it completely changes the dynamic of what it means to be a female candidate. It's not like, do I run as a woman or not as a woman? I mean, half the people you're running against are also woman.

You know, is it and we're novelty anymore to be a female candidate. That is all completely changed. This represents a different kind of shattering of the glass ceiling when the field itself has room for half a dozen female candidates.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BUZZFEED NEWS: I also think it's easy right now for Hillary Clinton to say, I'm not going anywhere when it's a Democratic Primary and it's very early in the election cycle but closer to the general when Republicans and moderate Democrats who don't feel as comfortable with Hillary Clinton, you know, playing a larger role and when the President potentially starts tweeting about her, starts tying whoever the Democratic nominee is to her. I think there's a large contingent of Democrats who might want her to sort of fade away and not be around as much.

KING: It would be interesting to see, I mean, that's always a convention question. I mean, obviously the Clintons are big brand in Democratic politics, how do you handle when you have a Democratic convention? How do you handle that? Someone ask a nomination first and that's on your list.

Up next, a shark in the shark tanks still circling the waters around the 2020 presidential race.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:37:36] KING: Topping our political radar today, Senator Susan Collins Republican of Maine joining Democrats in opposing one of the President's appeals court nominees. He's faces a procedural vote later today. Senator Collins said as a lead attorney of DOJ, Chad Readler, failed to defend key provisions of the Affordable Care Act that one several states filed suits against it. Unclear right now whether other Republicans will come out against that nomination.

Another billionaire joining with the idea of running for president. Mark Cuban tells the "New York Daily News", he has not decided on anything yet, but said if the circumstances were right, he would run for president as an independent.

The NBA owner and Shark Tank co-star says, Democratic gravity in his words is pulling all of the candidates at the same point, he means to the left. And he falls the party for, "Doing nothing to try bring in independents and Republicans."

Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon this morning ending the suspense over whether he'll join the field of Democrats running for president. Merkley announcing his decision in a video posted on his social media websites.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Over the last year, I've weighed whether I can contribute more to the battle by running for president or by running for re-election in the Senate. Today I'm announcing that I am not running for president. I believe that there are Democrats now in the presidential race who are speaking to the importance of tackling the big challenges we face.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Was the party waiting on Jeff Merkley or Mark Cuban?

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think that Jeff Merkley is an interesting character in that he was a potential alternative on the progressive side, but yes, no big surprise there.

I do want to say something about Susan Collins, who had you mentioned that earlier. It shows here the change and that the few Republican gains they made have an impact on these court battles, because previously and there's another Supreme Court nominee at some point, you know, her vote was very important last time. It's a little less important now. They can still do these nominees without her support.

KING: Right, so McConnell does and he -- McConnell won't lean on her as much because she's got a tough race in 2020 so she's allowed to move to the center more than she might be allowed if they had 50 instead of 53.

HULSE: Right.

KING: That's your point?

HULSE: Exactly.

KING: All right up next for us a new reporting about a possible pardon request coming from Michael Cohen's lawyer. But first, a former White House lawyer talks about the President's Russia investigation frustrations.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

[12:40:00] TY COBB, FORMER WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: He doesn't like the timing. He wants this over. But it's never going to be over. I mean, this is going to go through 2020. And if the president is re- elected, it'll go beyond that.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: A new report says a lawyer for Michael Cohen, of course, the President's former fixer and personal attorney, talked with the Trump legal team about the possibility of a presidential pardon. The "Wall Street Journal" reporting those talks happened last April, just after the FBI raided Cohen's home, office and hotel room.

But sources tell the journal, "The president's lawyers, including Jay Sekulow, Rudy Giuliani and Joanna Hendon, dismissed the idea of a pardon at the time, these people said. But at least one of them, Mr. Giuliani, left open the possibility that the president could grant Mr. Cohen one in the future, they said."

Of course we all know a pardon never happen Cohen not helping Federal prosecutors and Congressional Democrats in their investigations. Cohen who is set to testify behind closed doors tomorrow on Capitol Hill had this to say when the pardon question came up Wednesday during his public testimony.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:45:10] MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: And I have never asked for it, nor would I accept a pardon from President Trump. And by coming today, I have caused my family to be the target of personal scurrilous attacks by the president and his lawyer trying to intimidate me from appearing before this panel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: CNN Sara Murray joins the conversation now. I suppose we could be literal and Michael Cohen could say, I never asked the president for a pardon. But that sounds somewhat is ingenious when you look at pretty good reporting tracing conversations between his lawyer and the Trump legal team.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE) and you know lots of lawmakers on that panel had lots of opportunities to follow up and they didn't. Obviously, Michael Cohen will be back on the Hill tomorrow so they can press him for more information behind closed doors.

I think that we're at a fine line here, because it's not necessarily inappropriate that when Michael Cohen's lawyers had a joint defense agreement with the President that they were discussing whether a pardon was ever going to be on the table. But, where the line is, when the President himself has now been implicated in campaign finance violations is also under investigation. I think that's the trickier line to draw.

I mean, was this them saying, look, Michael Cohen is willing to stick to this story if you guys put forth a pardon? Or was it just sort of a broader discussion? And they think that should be what lawmakers are focusing in on when they're trying to determine, was this a sort of quid pro quo? Was this some kind of wrongdoing? Was this, you know, another sort of shot of obstruction of justice?

KING: And an interesting ABC had a podcast with Ty Cobb who was a member of the President's legal team. He left about 10 months ago, if my math is correct. And he talks about the disagreements on the team. He calls Bob Mueller a hero, for example. If you read the President's Twitter feed, President doesn't call Bob Mueller a hero.

But Ty Cobb talks about that, when that happened? When the big break happened?

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

COBB: I think the world of Bob Mueller. He is a very deliberate guy and a -- but he's also a class act. And a very justice-oriented person. In my first nine and a half months out of 10 and a half, that I was able to prevent the president from going on the attack as to Mueller. It wasn't really until, you know, Dowd sent out, you know, a critical tweet of Mueller and Rudy, you know, joined the team that yes the onslaught -- I mean, I think the president felt unleashed.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

TALEV: Yes, I mean, look, anyone who has ever talked to Ty Cobb, Ty Cobb has always praised Bob Mueller. Ty Cobb has always given Bob Mueller the benefit of the doubt. And to a great extent that helped smooth or ease relations or make relations possible with Mueller and the White House team and the counsels team in those early months when this is first underway.

But Ty Cobb also was the one suggesting publicly in messages that would get to the President, this thing is probably going to be over pretty soon. Like, it was never over soon. And it's never been entirely clear to me whether he was saying that because he thought that, or whether he was saying that because he knew that it would help keep the president, you know, in line.

But it is absolutely true, as President Obama used to say, it is absolutely true that Ty Cobb's strategy has always been not to attack the professionalism of one of the great boss and, you know, sort of legal personalities of our age. But instead to focus on deciding what is an appropriate request, what is not an appropriate request, how to handle these in a timely fashion, that sort of the truth would set President Trump free. And the President has taken a different political approach to this and under see of it, yes.

KING: Different being a great time people kind word.

One of the issues facing a federal judge is whether to put Roger Stone in jail now because Judge Jackson has been patient with Roger Stone. Roger Stone has said some things. Roger Stone again of the weekend posting this on Instagram, "who framed Roger Stone?" Posting this on Instagram after he was told, stop talking about the case, stop criticizing the judge and the prosecutors.

I think if you intimidating somebody framed you that would be critical of the prosecutors. Where does this one go?

MURRAY: You know, we're waiting for the general judge to make that call. I think she's already found that she has her hands full when it comes to dealing with Roger Stone, and Roger Stone is getting, you know, a very quick lesson that fighting political combat and, you know, fighting in a courtroom are two very different things. And so she really has broad discretion on what she wants to do.

She can issue another warning to him. She can call him in for another hearing. She could fine him. She could throw him in jail until the trial. She could throw him in jail for 24 hours if she just wants to teach him a lesson.

You know, she really has broad latitude and it wasn't just this, it was also the fact that Roger Stone has this book, you know, book coming out that they just sort of forgot to mention in the whole hearing we had about the gag order and, you know, the filings they put about a gag order. I mean, it's very clear this judge is not amused with any of these antics and she made that very clear --

[12:50:05] VISER: You heard Ty Cobb say that they were trying to constrain Donald Trump for a time. And I think Roger Stone current lawyers need to sort of find a way to constrain him.

MURRAY: Right, the need to like change the Instagram password and like not telling what the new one is.

KING: Then if you need to take him out of the grid somehow. I don't mean this to be disrespectful. It may sound disrespectful for some. Don't mean it to be so.

NPR did a fascinating piece and they say there are people who are older who are worried they're not going to live long enough to read the Mueller report. They want to know the Special Counsel's findings. This here is Walter Tendler, who is the son of Mitchell Tendler, who passed away and listen to the son describe his father's last words.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

WALTER TENDLER, SON OF MITCHELL TENDLER: It just was quiet for a little while and then he just sits up in bed halfway and looks at me and he goes, (INAUDIBLE), I'm not going to see the Mueller report, am I? And that was really the last coherent thing that he said.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

KING: I mean it's --

TALEV: Oh my god. I actually feel that way. The person that he was. The wait is killing us all like a little bit. Yes. Rest in peace though.

KING: Right, that's why I said, I didn't mean to be disrespectful but it is, it's an interesting perspective I guess and congrats the NPR for finding these whimsical voices, shall we say.

Up next, one of the newest Democratic presidential candidates won't close the door on a Super PAC supporting his candidacy.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:56:01] KING: Jay Inslee trying to make a quick impression, early impression in the Democratic Presidential race. He says, he's raised a million dollars with donations coming in from all 50 state just got I the raised the other day. Unlike some other Democrats who disavowed big money from outside groups, Inslee the self-declared climate change candidate happy to have climate based Super PAC on his side.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY ANCHOR: Some people say, this is big money influence on politics?

JAY INSLEE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well as I understand it this is a separate organization for --

BERMAN: It is, it has to be.

INSLEE: Yes and I'm told that they are -- they are climate advocates. They want to fight climate change. I'm not going to speak against them or condemn them by wanting to fight climate change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And no surprised Inslee in Iowa today with several campaigns stops including a solar plant. And a Super PAC commercial is running in the Sate so the next couple of weeks, it's about a million dollar ad by.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jay Inslee, a governor who transformed his state into a clean energy leader with a bold vision for our future. Jay Inslee for president. Sign up at JayInslee.com. Act now and climate is responsible for the content of this advertising.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: This will be a debate among the Democrats because some candidates have sworn off these Super PACs or sworn off the money. I just want to say at the beginning, the governor in the chair there with John Berman as I understand that, the Super PAC is run by a guy who was his aide at the Democratic government association. He knows full well who runs it and what they're doing. Now, he can't coordinate with them but this whole fell out of the sky, give me a break.

VISER: Yes, he's willing to take money that others are swearing off and discouraging. I mean there is a way for candidates say, I do not want help. He is doing the opposite of that.

The fund raising thing is interesting right now where candidates out of the gate are getting pretty sizeable amounts. Kamala Harris did quite well, Bernie Sanders blew everybody out of the water and Jay Inslee, you know he had a pretty good release, and Elizabeth Warren not as well at the beginning, which is one metric and as an important metric especially for someone like Jay Inslee trying to get on the debate stage. Money and donors is one thing that the DNC is going to take into account on that. KING: It's a big challenge in a crowded field especially when -- and it's weird, it used to be governor's, white interesting governors. This seems to be Senate-centric campaign so far.

But will the campaign -- will campaign finance people have tried before to make it an issue, defining issue with voters. You usually fail. With the Democratic base, will it be this time as political headline, you know, Campaign Finance Reformers calling Jay Inslee to Disavow a 2020 Super Pac.

It used to be as a candidate you were grateful. You are grateful at somebody and they're your normally friends. They go in a separate group because that way you can raise more money. You raise for your campaigns, somebody raise it over here raises money in the Super PAC. It used to be that was great because that made you a deeper player.

Now there are some factions in the Democratic base and say, no, that's all dirty money.

PARTI: I think the candidate who took that anti-Super PAC, anti big money approach and turned it into lots of money was Bernie Sanders and now others are sort of taking the page out of his book and using that strategy. But I think what Jay Inslee is really interesting because the fact he did raise a million dollars, the fact he is seems to be OK with the Super PAC and he's not really denouncing it goes to show how big climate is an issue for the Democratic base. And I think the way he's approaching it or strategizing about is that, you know, the people who would be turned off by big money also support climate change and are potentially happy that he's talking about it and bringing this issue to the forefront. So I think that's kind of the calculation that he has made.

KING: And you try to move your numbers up early on. If you're, especially one of the lesser known candidates, you hope somebody is spending ad money for you and you know there are some.

TALEV: Yes, I mean, I think that's really smart. Everyone wants to go viral and have a million small donors and show dozen momentum, but not everyone that kind of get that. Not everyone can do it in the end. You got to pay for your campaign, but if you can do it with a cause that's less offensive or more rallying maybe that would be people perceive this.

VISER: Do you want to be pure or do you want to have some money? That's the question.

KING: There you go.

Thanks for joining us in INSIDE POLITICS. See you back here this time tomorrow. Don't go anywhere Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great day.