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INSIDE POLITICS

Attack on Two New Zealand Mosques; Trump Plans Veto; Booker Pledges Support for Nominee. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired March 15, 2019 - 12:00   ET

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


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[12:00:17] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing this busy news day with us.

Hate and terror in New Zealand. Nearly 50 dead, dozens more wounded by gunfire that interrupted Friday prayer at two mosques.

Plus, President Trump ready to issue the first veto of his presidency. This after a dozen Senate Republicans broke from the White House and voted to reject the president's declaration of an emergency at the southern border.

And North Korea says it may end nuclear talks with the Trump White House and go back to the days of missile launches and weapons testing. The regime says it gets along fine with the president, but says his national security adviser and his secretary of state are too rigid.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They flatly accused you of creating an atmosphere of mistrust and hostility.

MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes. Well, first, they're wrong about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Back to that later.

But we begin the hour with shocking deadly hate and worldwide condemnation. At least 49 people are dead today after a terrorist attack on two mosques in the city of Christchurch, New Zealand. Police say a gunman opened fire at a mosque on Friday afternoon local time. Friday, of course, being the busiest day for many mosques around the world, when Muslims convene for Friday prayers.

One eyewitness says more than 200 people were inside. Worshippers scrambling to escape say the attacker just kept shooting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First we hide behind the cars and, you know, under the car, and then when we see the fighting still on, we try to, you know, jump the fence. And then we hide next house to the mosque on this side. And fighting goes on and on, you know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The gunman then drove to a second mosque and opened fire there as well. Police have charged one man in his late 20s with murder. He's expected in court on Saturday morning local time in New Zealand.

Just before the attack, an account police believe belongs to the gunman posted a link to an 87-page unsigned manifesto filled with anti-immigrant, anti-Muslimism ideas and views. The attacker then choosing to streaming his rampage in a graphic, real-time, first- person video. Social media sites now working to remove that footage from the Internet.

New Zealand's prime minister describing this as one of the country's darkest days.

CNN's Arwa Damon joins me live from Istanbul.

Arwa, worldwide condemnation. Put this horrible attack into context for us.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, John, there's just still so much shock out there with people and various leaders really trying to come to terms with this most recent attack. Although, sadly, when you look at the global stage, it does seem to be the sort of violence, horrific violence that is on the increase.

We heard from Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was specifically addressing the rise of islamophobia. And he was saying that even though islamophobia has long been watched and has long been increasing, that with this attack it has gone beyond the line of individual harassment and to one of mass murder. And then he went on to call on the leaders of all nations, but

especially western nations, to take measures against this perilous course of events which threatens all of mankind.

Because, John, at the core of all of this is this sort of fear that can potentially be generated and then manipulated. I was talking to a cab driver on the way over to the bureau who was saying that this kind of violence can only be carried out not by a human being but by an animal. But he, too, was underscoring this notion that we cannot allow this sort of violence, this sort of rhetoric to create fear amongst populations, to create fear amongst people of different ethnicities, of different religions. And there is a certain burden of responsibility on all of us to try to stand against hateful rhetoric, to try to stand against discrimination, to try to stand against those individuals that would try to sew and foment and take advantage of this kind of fear, whether, John, though, the actions of a single individual or the actions of a terrorist organization.

KING: Arwa Damon for us live in Istanbul. It's hard to comprehend sometimes the level of this hatred.

Arwa, appreciate it. President Trump, back here in the United States, responding to the

attacks in a tweet earlier today. My warmest sympathy, the president said, and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the mosques. Forty-nine innocent people have so senselessly died with so many more seriously injured. The United States, the president went on to say, stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!

Joining me here in studio to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Jessica Schneider, national security analyst Peter Bergen and our crime and justice reporter Shimon Prokupecz.

Jessica, I want to start with you. You have been studying and going through this manifesto. We don't want to quote hate on television, but from reading through it, consulting with experts on this, what are the major takeaways?

[12:05:08] JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this was 87 pages filled with hate, anti-Muslimism, anti-immigrant. It talked about his motivations. It also talked about the logistics here.

He says that he's been planning this, thinking about this for two years now. And in particular for the past three months he's been thinking about this particular attack in Christchurch, New Zealand.

He also talks about specific motivations for this attack. In particular, he says he was in western Europe. He said he was disturbed by the amount of immigrants he saw. And he also was disturbed by two things in particular, two events -- 2017, the truck attack in Stockholm, Sweden, that killed five people, where a truck plowed through a crowd. That disturbed him, that terrorist attack. And then he also talked about -- referenced the 2017 French elections. He said that he was rooting for Marine Le Pen, of course, associated with the Nationalist Party there. And the, of course, Emmanuel Macron won and he lost all faith, as he said. So he really lays it out in disturbing detail.

And one last thing, John. He talks about why did he choose New Zealand? And he said that he wanted the world to know that nowhere was safe. Because, of course, New Zealand hasn't seen a mass shooting since 1990. People thought it would never happen there because of the tight gun control. But it did.

KING: And to that point, before we continue the conversation, let's listen to New Zealand's prime minister, because in the view of the officials there, because it has been so long, because gun violence is not a daily occurrence in a place like New Zealand, it is incomprehensible.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: Many of those who will have been directly affected by this shooting may be migrants to New Zealand. They may even be refugees here. They have chosen to make New Zealand their home, and it is their home. They are us. The person who has perpetuated this violence against us is not. They have no place in New Zealand. There is no place in New Zealand for such acts of extreme and unprecedented violence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The messages from leadership are critical at a moment like this, and the prime minister saying they are us, meaning the refugees, they are us, a direct counter to what you read in that manifesto.

Peter, you understand this better than anybody. What are your major takeaways, a, from how it played out, and, b, from the messages this gunman was trying to spread?

PETER BERGEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you know, one interesting thing is he describes himself. And the person he describes is sort of a loser. He didn't go to university. He describes himself as a kebab (ph) removalist (ph). I'm not really sure what that is. But I presume it's somebody working kind of in the fast-food business.

And if you look at the profile, it's very similar to Omar Mateen, who killed 49 people in Orlando, Florida, at the gay nightclub. And they're around both basically the same age, 28, 29. People going nowhere fast in life. Kind of losers. Hoping to be heroes in their own story. They find an ideology that allows them to be violent and this happens, whether it's jihadism or far-right ideology.

The other point I'd make, John, is, you know, terrorists are becoming their own producers. So every terrorist attack in the future -- we saw this with ISIS in Paris, where an ISIS militant broadcast live on FaceBook when he -- after he killed a policeman and his girlfriend. And so in the future we're going to see terrorists sort of being producers of their own live coverage.

KING: And bringing it home for us in the sense that this has been on the FBI's worry list for quite some time.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Oh, yes.

KING: Peter points to the terrorists being their own producers. This is also the global nature of this. You can track -- no matter where you live in the world, you can track it now and find -- I use the word loosely, friends and allies, if you will, in the cause of hate.

PROKUPECZ: Yes, this is definitely something that the FBI has been concerned about. They study these shootings, no matter where they happen, and they try to figure out, what happened here? How did this happen? Was something missed?

There has been an uptick in domestic terrorism arrests related to domestic terrorism, because there aren't any charges in the federal system for domestic terrorism. So what the FBI has been doing, when they think that they have someone who is potentially about to do something like this, they find creative ways to charge them, whether it's through gun charges. Sometimes we've even seen cases like this where it's child pornography charges. They will do whatever they can legally to take this person off the street, because it's very hard. Someone may be thinking about this doing, right? We know this happens a lot. They may be talking on FaceBook, on social media about doing this, and the FBI may find ways to start monitoring them, but to actually get probable cause for an arrest is always difficult. So they try to find creative ways.

But, you know, as you said, there is a lot of concern here in the U.S. for something like this to happen, and they have seen an uptick in terms of the rhetoric that the FBI has seen. It's certainly concerning for them.

KING: Right. Just to show some of the stats there, 25 arrests in the first quarter of FY 2019, 900 open domestic terror investigations. That's here in the United States. You already hear, you know, alerts from U.S. officials and around the world, please have extra security at mosques, please have extra security at any religious institutions at this point.

[12:10:06] To the point about the Internet and the shrinking globe, New Zealand does not seem all that far away today, does it, from here in Washington, D.C., because of the power, and sometimes the peril, of social media and the Internet. You can track these things, but in an open society, New Zealand much like ours, you're allowed to say things, you're allowed to say hateful things. We have this conversation, sadly, too often, but what are the answers to that?

BERGEN: Well, there's no easy answer. Obviously in this country there's a First Amendment. But like here, for instance, this video this guy made, you know, child pornography is more or less banished from the Internet because basically all images have their own photo DNA. So now we have this video out there of this guy carrying out this attack. It has its own photo DNA. So, social media companies will share this information and will be able to quickly take this particular video down.

But to the larger question about hate on the Internet, I mean, the guy in his manifesto, which we've been discussing, I mean he specifically said, like, this is where I can go for (ph) all this information. So, you know, stopping that is, you know, it's just not possible. I mean YouTube gets 400 hours of new material every minute, you know? The volume is absolutely -- and, you know, FaceBook's hired 3,000 people to help try and bring down this content, not just terrorism content, but other hateful content. But, you know, it is -- it is a very difficult task.

KING: A very difficult task indeed. And sad we have to talk about it on such difficult days. Appreciate everybody coming in. We'll continue to bring the latest on the investigation.

Up next for us here, though, a shift to politics. The Republican Senate rebukes the president. Is that a bad omen for Trump 2020?

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[12:15:40] KING: The president, today, ready to use his veto pen for the first time amid a big question about yesterday' Republican rebuke. Is it an isolated rejection of the president's policy or a lasting fracture in the GOP family that could be a lingering problem for the president heading into 2020? The president, on Twitter, thanking the, quote, strong Republicans who voted with him. The opposite of strong, of course, is weak. And that is certainly how the president views the 12 Republican lawmakers who broke ranks.

The 12 Republican senators say they share the president's end goal, to secure the border, but they say the president's means to get it done, that national emergency declaration, tips the balance of power too much in favor of the execute.

The president's sources say feels quite differently. View this as a loyalty test and reacted angrily to Wednesday's dinnertime attempt to get him -- find him an off-ramp. White House plans for a public event to deliver that veto message later today means the president also wants to deliver the message.

Let's discuss that. With me to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Jackie Kucinich with "The Daily Beast," Heather Caygle with "Politico," and CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson.

So, you could veto it quietly, issue a paper statement, or you could -- no, you're shaking your head already.

Donald Trump became the Republican nominee by running not just against the Democrats, but against the Republican establishment. Is that what we're going to get here, that there's a piece of my party that doesn't get it?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He wanted this fight. They told -- aides told the president over a week ago, Senator Mike Lee is working on this proposal where the Republicans will side with you on this, but they want you to not do this again in the future. And the president was not interested in that idea at all and he said, until he tweeted yesterday, of course, that he wasn't interested in that. He wanted this fight. He has no hesitation about issuing this first veto of his presidency because he said this is going to be a loyalty test. We'll see who's with me, who's going to buck me, and I'm going to remember that in 2020 and make sure you tell those lawmakers that.

But I think the president, in framing this as a loyalty test, misses a big aspect of this, which is not that these senators who voted against the president yesterday were rebuking the wall or his policies on immigration, but it was a separation of powers thing, and that's why they saw it like that. But the president told them the last week, he said, this isn't about the Constitution, this isn't about president. He brushed off all of those concerns that they had, when that is exactly what they're worried about.

KING: Because he wants it to be about him and what he wants.

To that point, and you walk the halls of Capitol Hill every day, these are not squishes. Let's put up the 12 senators right here. Their percentage of voting with Trump range from Mitt Romney's 70 percent, to Roger Wicker and Roy Blunt in the 95 percent range. And Mitt Romney just got here, so that percentage is going to go up. He's just starting to cast votes. So these -- this is not exactly like people -- Susan Collins may be

the outlier there. She is a more moderate Republican who votes against the president a bit more often. But these are not people who run to the floor every day criticizing the president. They just think, you know, we have a Congress for a reason. We appropriate the money. When we cast votes and you don't get your money, you can't declare a national emergency and got find it somewhere else.

HEATHER CAYGLE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": Yes, I think the fact that we had a dozen of these senators voted with Democrats, when they only needed four, sends a significant message to Trump. And that's like, we don't agree with what you're doing here. We want you to think about this in the future.

But then again, you look at who did vote with Trump, and it's almost everyone who's up in 2020 --

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE DAILY BEAST": Yes, exactly.

CAYGLE: Except for Susan Collins, right? Like -- because she is the moderate Republican, so we're not really expecting her to side with Trump.

KUCINICH: Yes.

COYGLE: To your point --

KUCINICH: But Thom Tillis is actually the one who's not on -- pictured there.

COYGLE: (INAUDIBLE). Yes.

KUCINICH: Who probably would have been. He wrote an op-ed less than three weeks ago saying that --

KING: Sounded really proud and principled, didn't he?

KUCINICH: Oh, yes, he did. He did. Until, I guess, it started occurring to him that he might get a primary challenge. And he brushed that back yesterday. But, you know, let's get real here. This was -- this was about 2020. This was about being viable in 2020. And this, whether you're with me or you're against me, that's when -- I mean Ben Sasse also someone who has spoken out about this, not as vehemently as Tillis, obviously, also tried to say that this was a Nancy Pelosi political move. You could say that if your whole party follows that logic. Not if you're an outlier.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes.

KING: And so process has never been a conversation that's smart to have about the Trump White House, right? If you think about traditional process. But Brendan Buck, who used to work on The Hill for a long time, he's just now left and gone to private, makes a good point. He's quoted as this saying in "The Washington Post," this was the inevitable outcome, and it's unclear why any effort or political capital was spent trying to avoid it. There aren't the votes to override, so why bother negotiating? Essentially saying, we have a problem in the Republican family. Let's not talk much about it. Mr. President, you're going to lose. But, Mr. President, they don't have the votes to override you. Just do it, get it over with. Don't jack up the coverage of it and make a bigger deal of it. Just make it move on. But --

[12:20:11] HENDERSON: Yes, I mean, not make a bigger deal of it? I mean that's sort of what the president does. He likes to make a big deal of things like this. He wants this to be an issue in 2020. He wants the contrast not only with sort of what might be called squishy Republicans in the establishment and Washington. He wants that contrast and also with Democrats. So that's what we get here.

I think to Jackie's point, I mean, the idea that Thom Tillis literally spent, you know, hours, maybe, writing this op-ed and then completely flipping tells you everything you need to know about the party. And I think it's actually much more important than the 12 who sided --

KUCINICH: I agree.

HENDERSON: With Democrats.

KING: Yes. Yes. All right, so --

KUCINICH: It shows he has juice.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KUCINICH: It shows the president does have juice with those people.

HENDERSON: And his voters have -- yes, he has voters and Republicans --

KING: And here are the numbers to back up the juice. This is the president's approval rating among Republicans.

HENDERSON: Yes.

KING: And so if you're a Republican, Susan -- Maine is different than most of the country, so Susan Collins, you understand her vote. If you're a Republican, there's the president, in the 80s still. It goes up and down a little bit, but essentially goes between 80 percent and 90 percent right there. So, the president speaks to Republican voters. They listen. So if you're Thom Tillis, you think, well, maybe that's not where I want to be, which gets me to the question, is this -- we saw it in the Yemen vote, too, foreign policy question. You know, you have a lot of members of Congress sick of the civil war in Yemen, sick of the United States support for the Saudi-led coalition. So there's one vote where you lost some Republicans.

Now you have this, the president's signature issue, immigration. Is that it? Do they just happen to come up at the same time? Or is there a broader disagreement and does somebody, listen to Jeb Bush here, who came out on the losing end in 2016, who says, you know what, this is a president who hasn't balanced the budget, this is a president whose trade views are different from our party. There should be a challenger.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH (R), FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: I think someone should run, just because Republicans ought to be given a choice. It's hard to beat a sitting president. But to have a conversation about what it is to be a conservative, I think's important.

The Democrats now are proposing new ideas, some of which I think are way out there. And if Republicans think they can just say that's bad and not offer a compelling alternative, that could be bad for us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's just -- it's just interesting to listen to him because there's two ways to look at this. Number one, he just ran against Trump. There's still a lot of bad blood. There's still a lot of bad blood, no question. So Jeb Bush wants somebody else to go out there and get chain-sawed on Twitter and chain-sawed in the debates to try -- to try to make the point. But -- but his father lost his re- election campaign when Pat Buchanan challenged him. Pat Buchanan did not beat George H.W. Bush in the primaries, but he wounded him. And so Jeb Bush knows, even a -- it doesn't have to be a successful Republican challenge, it just has to be a Republican challenge that lands some punches, weakens an incumbent.

KUCINICH: I -- I -- in terms of what's going on in the Senate with this vote in particular, standing up for the Constitution is very different than coming at the president's job. And I think to the Republicans, and with the party behind him, the larger party apparatus, I think that's a much bigger deal and a much bigger undertaking than voting against him here or there.

CAYGLE: But this issue is going to keep coming up. Democrats have promised to bring it up every six months, every chance they get, to put Republicans on the spot, as long as this emergency order exists. So, you know, we will keep seeing this test over and over in some way.

KUCINICH: Yes.

HENDERSON: And how much fire could a moderate draw among this kind of Republican Party, right? I mean Buchanan was basically challenging the moderate. He was, you know, he was a fire brand. And he was, in some ways, he was Trump before Trump was Trump way back when. So it's unclear. I mean somebody like Jeff Flake? I mean --

CAYGLE: Radical centrism.

HENDERSON: Yes, yes, exactly. So exciting.

KING: We do not have a lot of history of radical centrism popping up in primaries --

HENDERSON: Yes.

KING: But we shall -- we shall watch and see if Jeb gets his wish. Up next, Cory Booker campaigning in New Hampshire today, trying to fundraise off, guess who, Beto O'Rourke.

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[12:28:24] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Cory, you talk about loving people all the time. Do you love Donald Trump? And I just basically said, look, I -- I'm -- my mom taught Sunday school, OK? And she taught me to love my enemies.

But I'm also a former football player for Stanford University. You put me on the field, and you will have no stronger and harder fighter than I am. And I'm going to prove that in this state by going all over, working from early in the morning until late at night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's Cory Booker this morning in Lebanon, New Hampshire. The Democratic senator turned presidential candidate saying, don't be fooled by all his talk of love, the love mantras, he calls it. He's ready, you just heard him there -- you're laughing -- to go one-on-one with President Trump. But, he says, he's also prepared, if things don't go his way, to be a team player.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you pledge to support whoever does win, should it not be you?

BOOKER: So, yes, I pledge to support them. I saw what happened in the last presidential election where we were too divided to win. So the short answer is yes. And I will be calling on everybody to unite behind the nominee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The personal reflection there in 2016 is interesting since he spent a lot of time campaigning with Secretary Clinton, if you go back to that race, and that was -- he didn't mention Bernie, but his idea, a lot of Democrats believe this, that some Sanders people didn't come out to play, didn't come out in November because of the bad blood.

We're doing this, we spent a lot of time yesterday on Beto. We're trying to be fair to the candidates as we go through this. Booker is an interesting one, as you -- as we watch the race, in the sense that you see an African-American candidate in the race. You say with the Democratic base, that should help. He's got Kamala Harris. Now you've got this -- or you hear this party of women. Then Beto gets in and steals the storm yesterday.

How do the other candidates make their mark?

[12:30:01] HENDERSON: You know, it's interesting because you look at what Beto was saying yesterday, and it seems entirely derivative of what Obama was doing in 2008, and even sort of the social media strategy of Cory Booker.