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Trump Criticized for Reaction to White Nationalist Attacks; Twelve GOP Senators Rebuke Trump Over Emergency Declaration; Gillibrand Officially Jumps Into Crowded 2020 Field. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired March 17, 2019 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:25] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): First veto of the Trump presidency. A defiant demand for a border wall.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is definitely a national emergency. Rarely have we had such a national emergency.

KING: And the Democratic field keeps growing. Beto O'Rourke storms Iowa.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The challenges before us have never been greater.

KING: And today, Kirsten Gillibrand makes it official.

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need to remember what it feels like to be brave. That's why I'm running for president.

JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: This is the entire nation. We are all unified in grieving together.

KING: A massacre in New Zealand. Worshippers gunned down at Friday prayers and a global debate about hate.

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.

The senseless massacre in New Zealand stirs a global debate about hate. President Trump condemns the murders but draws criticism for what he didn't say and for ignoring the facts when asked if he sees white nationalism as a rising threat.


TRUMP: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's the case. I don't know enough about it yet. They're just learning about the person and the people involved. But it's certainly a terrible thing. Terrible thing.


KING: Plus, the president ignores a mini Republican revolt and issues his first veto, vowing broad and bipartisan opposition in Congress won't stop him from building a border wall.


TRUMP: Congress' vote to deny the crisis on the southern border is a vote against reality. It's against reality. It is a tremendous national emergency. It's a tremendous crisis. Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution, and I have the duty to veto it, and I'm very proud to veto it.


KING: And the historically diverse 2020 Democratic field keeps growing, including a new official entry today.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand dropped the exploring label just an hour ago.


GILLIBRAND: We need to program what it feels like to be brave. We launched ourselves into space and landed on the moon. If we can do that, we can definitely achieve universal health care. We can provide paid family leave for all and end gun violence, pass a green new deal, get money out of politics and take back our democracy. None of this is impossible.


KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Julie Hirschfield Davis with "The New York Times", CNN's Manu Raju, Toluse Olorunnipa of "The Washington Post", and Lisa Lerer of "The New York Times."

We begin this Sunday with New Zealand's pain and the resulting global conversations about hate and violence. Fifty people senselessly shot and killed attending Friday prayers at two mosques. New Zealand will debate new gun laws now as it also debates as have other communities around the world, how and why.


JACINDA ARDERN, NEW ZEALAND PRIME MINISTER: New Zealand is united in its grief, and we are united in our grief. And so, I convey that message of love and support on behalf of New Zealand to all of you. This is not New Zealand.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: As Prime Minister Ardern leads the healing in New Zealand, she finds herself at odds with the president of the United States.


ARDERN: He asked what offer of support the United States could provide. My message was sympathy and love for all Muslim communities.

REPORTER: President Trump said in the Oval Office a few minutes ago that he does not think white supremacy worldwide was a problem that was rising in any way. Do you agree with him?



KING: The statistics prove the prime minister right and the president very, very wrong and the question of whether far right extremism is in bloom or in decline. And once again with the issue of tolerance front and center, so, too, is the character of the American president. He did strongly condemn the murders and rebuked murder in sacred places of worship.

And so, his aides bristled at talks he again fell short. But the president again passed up a chance to specifically call out white nationalism and none of his statements condemned anti-immigrant sentiment or specifically offered support, what the prime minister called sympathy and love for Muslims.

[08:05:02] And after offering his condolences to New Zealand, the president moved on to the issue at hand for him, his border wall. And in doing so, used a word also found in the shooting suspect's racist manifesto railing against immigrants.


TRUMP: People hate the word invasion, but that's what it is. It's an invasion of drugs and criminals and people. We have no idea who they are. In many cases, they're stone-cold criminals.


KING: And so, here we are in the president's aides say, wait a minute. He condemned it. He reached out to the prime minister.

The president's critics say where was an embrace of Muslims? Where was some act to show that you support Muslims here in America? Why they would say did you use -- the president says he's calling it like he sees it when it comes to immigrations, other say those are code words and he should know better?

JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I mean, it's not only as a code word, but it was a code word that was in this manifesto. You might think the president might steer clear of that word for a day or couple of days knowing that is a term that the shooter used in this case to sort of justify this horrific act against Muslims in New Zealand.

I mean, so what we have, though, is a president who feels like every time something like this happens, he's going to get blamed. It's not fair, and he refuses to do what other presidents of pretty much either party, any background would have done in this case which is to make sure that they touch all the bases and, frankly, maybe it's not sincere but they'd just make sure they said we are -- this is not something that anyone in the United States agrees with, that we feel solidarity with this community that's been attacked. We feel solidarity with the country.

I think he feels like that would be -- that it's a personal affront to him and he's not willing to do that. In this case, you heard in his comments, he didn't even acknowledge that this was an example of white nationalism. So, we don't know yet. We know pretty much enough about what happened and he knew then by sure. He's the president of the United States. He has access to a lot of intelligence.

It was pretty well-established by then what the motivations of this person were. The fact he wasn't to say that shows he feels this more personally than he does as a president.

KING: He know -- he should know about the specific incident and he should know the statistics which are indisputable. Here in the United States and around the world. And he says, no, not really.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He views everything as a zero-sum game essentially. He believes if he goes after white supremacy, white nationalism, it will take away from his argument against immigration. He wants to be the -- keep the focus on crimes created by undocumented immigrants, downplay crimes created by white supremacists. It's very clear that white supremacy is on the rise. The anti-defamation league said murders more than doubled in 2017.

White supremacists have been behind some of the most horrific killings, in Charlottesville, of course, the Tree of Life synagogue, dating back to 2012, the Oak Creek massacre in the Sikh gurdwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in addition to what happened in Charleston, South Carolina, the church there.

The president has time and again passed up opportunities to go after white supremacists. Instead, he wants to keep the focus strictly on immigrants.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: But I think what's so striking here is the president does call out hate. He just calls out very specific kinds of hate. After the Pittsburgh massacre at the synagogue, he talked about anti-Semitism. When Coptic Christians were killed in Egypt a few years ago, he talked about violence against Christians.

He just doesn't seem to express sympathy when it's Muslims who are killed or immigrants or white nationalists are involved. And it's hard not to see some kind of political argument and political choices being made in those decisions, you know, in terms of what massacres you call out. A lot of bad things happen in the world, of course. And the president is clearly making choices about which groups he is going to express empathy for.

KING: One of the issues, as you mentioned, there are just some things people expect of a president, either because they believe it in their heart or because it's the right thing to do. George W. Bush believed in his heart, I was covering the White House in those days, went to a mosque after 9/11, thought it was critically important to stand with the Muslim community and say, look, these are isolated actors, the bad actors. We're going to find them n get the them, but this is not Islam. Islam is a religion of peace and faith.

The president should know that he has a higher burden because of his history.


TRUMP: If you have people coming out of mosques who have hatred and with death in their eyes and on their minds, we're going to have to do something. I think Islam hates us. There's something -- there's something there that's tremendous hatred there.

You have to deal with the mosques, whether we like it or not. I mean, you know, these attacks aren't coming out of -- they're not done by Swedish people.


KING: Again, Trump's aides will say this is unfair. Why would you this?

It is his history and you have to know your history when you're at a moment of challenging crisis.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, and this is a president who has followed through with those sentiments with public policy. He tried to push through a Muslim ban. He ran on the idea of a Muslim ban.

[08:10:01] He got into office and put -- one his first executive order sort of restricting travel by people from majority Muslim countries. So, this is not something the president has recanted. No reason to believe he still doesn't believe that Islam hates America. He actually makes a number of statements that indicates he still believes that.

And I think that's the way we should look at his handling of this issue and other issues is that he has this deep-seated belief that Muslims hate America, and he said it in the past. He has not said anything to make us think differently, and that's why he finds it so difficult to sort of do what we've seen other presidents do, which is sort of talk about how one isolated event does not mean that an entire religion hates the country.

And I think that's part of the reason why he's being isolated and you're seeing the New Zealand prime minister say she does not agree with him when he makes comments about white supremacy and Islam.

KING: And here's an example. Here's an example of how it could be done.

Pete Buttigieg, he's running for Democratic presidential nomination. He's also the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, wrote an open letter to the Muslim community in his city.

As you gather this evening, I write to tell you that this city is absolutely committed to your safety and well-being. I want you to know that this entire city has its arms around you in love and peace and that we support you as you practice your faith here in this community, our community. This home we share. You are our teachers and our doctors, our neighbors and our friends. We all live here as one.


OLORUNNIPA: That's a pretty straightforward statement. It's hard to find a contrast that would be more stark than what he said versus how the president handled this.

LERER: And Democrats want to seize on this moment to show there's a different way, that there's a way that could be more unifying. I think when the president is making these statements, he is thinking about his base. And it's not that his base is white supremacist. It's that his base -- there is a significant portion of his base that are worried about the changing demographics of the country, that are deeply worried about immigration.

And so, they -- there is some connection there with his political support.

KING: The word is leadership.

Next -- President Trump's first veto. He wants this border wall and is willing to risk a Republican family feud to get it.


[08:16:31] KING: The first veto of the Trump presidency now on the books meaning Congress will not stop the White House from taking money meant for other projects and using it to build the border wall. The courts might yet stop the president. A coalition of 20 states is challenging his declaration of a national emergency.

Their case tracks the separation of powers argument heard from the 12 Republicans who risked the president's ire with Senate votes to reverse the emergency decree.


SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R), OHIO: As we all learned in high school, our government has a system of checks and balances. Congress, not the president, has the sole authority to determine how to spend taxpayer money. SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R), UTAH: It's a question about the balance of

power that is core to our Constitution. This is not about the president.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: We must stand up and defend Congress' institutional powers.

SEN. LAMAR ALEXANDER (R), TENNESSE: This check on the executive is a source of our freedom. This declaration is a dangerous precedent.


KING: The House and then the Senate votes are a rebuke of the president and aides describe him as angry at the Republicans who, his view, forced him to use his veto powers. He flashed some of that anger in tweets this past week, but not at his Friday veto event.


TRUMP: I put no pressure on anybody. I actually said I could have gotten some of them to come along. I said, I want you to vote your heart. Do what you want to do. I'm not putting any pressure.

I'll let them know when there's pressure, OK? I told them that. So, when I need your vote, I'm going to let you know. I didn't need the vote because we all knew it was going to be a veto and they're not going to be able to override.


KING: They're not going to be able to override. So, we'll see how this one plays out in the courts but how significant is the Republican fracturing. Is it isolated on this? And you also had the Yemen war powers more angry at Saudi Arabia than anything else resolution. Is that it? We're done, move on? Or is there a festering fissure in the Republican Party?

RAJU: I think it's issue by issue. I don't think this is part of a larger revolt within the Republican Party. We've seen this happen time and again when there are things the president does and you see Congress come back and push back.

Last year in the way he handled, refused to blame the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, for the murder of the journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Afterwards, the Senate moved forward, passed a resolution singling out MBS for blame, essentially revoking the president. Similarly here, you saw push back on the Yemen vote, to pull back from the U.S. involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The president has to veto that in the coming days.

Here on the wall. Not necessarily about the wall but about the way the president did it. That's what forced Republicans to defect. The 12 who did, did not like the way he -- not the way they believe this does not pass constitutional muster.

Look at who did vote for this. Republican senators in tough races ended up voting for this. Thom Tillis reversed his position. Now, he supported the president on this as did Cory Gardner, Martha McSally is going to be in a tough race.

So, that tells you --

KING: Afraid of losing the Republican base, afraid of having a Republican family feud in a tight election where you need every Republican vote.

Just to that point, Susan Collins the only Republican senator up in 2020. Her state more moderate than most of the others. The only one to vote yes. Everybody else, Thom Tillis who'd written this op-ed, man of principle, I can't vote for this, and then voted for it, seeing 2020 there.

For the Republicans who voted yes, the question is: how much has Trump changed your party? Because a little back in time when Barack Obama was in the White House, this executive overreach was a bad thing.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: I've got a pen and I've got a phone.

[08:20:01] And I can use that pen to sign executive orders and take executive actions and administrative actions that move the ball forward.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Imposing his will unilaterally may seem tempting. It may serve him politically in the short term, but he knows it will make an already broken system even more broken.


KING: Not how democracy is supposed to work, Leader McConnell said then.


OLURUNNIPA: Yes, and Leader McConnell also even more recently said he did not think that a national emergency was the way to go, and he flipped and changed his mind. We've seen a number of Republicans sort of flip within the last few months of saying something a few weeks ago and now saying they're OK with the national emergency declaration. It's clear this is Trump's party.

And even though he said I didn't put any pressure on these Republicans, that's not the case. I mean, he sent Vice President Pence to the Hill. He was tweeting about, you know, how all these various Republicans needed to not think about constitutionality and just vote for the wall. He was putting pressure on these Republicans. He flipped a few of them but it was a big embarrassment for him.

KING: And it is his party. So, let me ask this question and play this from the former Massachusetts governor, Bill Weld, does somebody like this have a prayer in challenging the president, or is it just important for Republicans to -- for Republicans to have this debate about what happens after Trump, whether that's in two years, four years or six years. Does Bill Weld have a prayer?


BILL WELD (R), FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: I don't think the president is knowledgeable on any of these issues. He simply repeats his buzz words. Now, it's not entirely his fault. Before he was elected president of the United States, he was a New York City and Palm Beach socialite judging beauty contests and employed in the reality TV industry. That's no preparation, with all respect, for being president of the United States.


KING: There are a lot of Republicans, whether it's this issue of executive power, whether it's the trade issue, whether it's NATO alliance and issues like that who don't like this president. The question is, you can weaken a president and then become a president with a primary challenge, even if you fail. Is that where we're going?

LERER: I mean, look, I think it's really hard to see a viable pathway for Republicans to primary the president right now. I mean, of course, a lot of investigations going on. There's the special counsel report. Who knows what's going to come?

But part of the problem is not only is the president very popular with the base. It's that, you know, Governor Weld and Governor Hogan who people talk a lot about primarying, they are out of step with where the party is now.

I sat down for an interview with Hogan a couple weeks back. And he was saying that he thinks Roe v. Wade was correctly decided. That's not a view that wears well with the Republican base. So, there's a number of issues there.

But I do think what you are starting to see is Republicans in the party generally those in safe seats starting to think about what a post-Trump Republican Party looks like. And they know that anything that happens now, Democrats will take advantages of.

Jay Inslee, who's running for president, would use an imagine declaration to deal with climate change and that freaks some Republicans out as they look towards the future.

KING: Those are immediate conversation. There's a longer term conversation.

When we come back, Democrats have a brand-new 2020 candidate. Plus, two candidates, same issue, somewhat different answers.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There will be a woman on the ticket. I don't know if it's in the vice president position or president's position, but if I have my way, there will be a woman on the ticket.

O'ROURKE: It's hard for me to think of a reason that I would not do that. I think talking about who I would pick as vice president just feels really premature.




[08:27:51] GILLIBRAND: Will brave win?

Well, it hasn't always and it isn't right now. Brave doesn't pit people against each other. Brave doesn't put money over lives.

Brave doesn't spread hate. Cloud truth. Build a wall.

That's what fear does. We need to remember what it feels like to be brave.


KING: Kirsten Gillibrand of New York making it real just 90 minutes ago, moving from exploring a run to officially in the 2020 Democratic nomination race. The field is crowded and diverse in many ways.

Let's take a look. Number one, just take a look here, historic number of women. You have African-American candidates, you have a gay man, Asian candidates, young and old, as we go through this field.

Maybe you're into political geography. These candidates come from just about everywhere. Every region of the United States.

Tulsi Gabbard from Hawaii, for example. Some in the Northeast. Goes across the country. And more to come.

Another way to look at it, the age of the candidates. We have two candidates in their 30s all the way to Bernie Sanders in his 70s. Joe Biden, if he jumps in, as anticipated, would join Senator Sanders here -- 60s, 50s, 40s. You have age diversity in the Democratic field as well.

How about the question of elected office experience? Two candidates, Marianne Williamson, Andrew Yang, never been elected in politics. Elizabeth Warren, John Delaney and Pete Buttigieg in the five-year area, Bernie Sanders way over at 30 years again, Joe Biden, if he gets in, would be other this.

So, you have age diversity, ethnic diversity, diversity of all stripes here as you look at the field.

Now, Gillibrand's official entry today comes days after Beto O'Rourke joined the race with a big three-day Iowa swing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) O'ROURKE: No one left behind. No one counted out. No one taken for granted. Does not matter to me, no me importa, where you live, what party you belong to, to whom you pray or who you love. Whether you've been here six generations or whether you got here six days ago, you are my fellow Americans.



KING: So where are we? Let's start with the newest entry, Senator Gillibrand. She was exploring. So, it's not a huge step. But she's now officially into the race. What's her lane?


LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": She's running as a very woman first candidate. She's really embraced this mantle of -- you know, she's made dealing with sexual assault. She, of course, the first one to call for Al Franken's ousting.

So she's really embraced that history and is running as someone who is going to put issues affecting women front and center. And the political argument for that is that women helped the party win the midterms. They were -- there was a record number of female candidates, female campaign managers, women were the volunteers.

So the argument there is that she wants to tap into the power that drove the party to reclaim the House in the midterms and sees a lane there. You know, it's probably a crowded lane but that's sort of where she's played --

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She's going to have to answer for some of her liabilities, too, when she was a house member. She's much more conservative when she represented upstate New York than when she became the New York senator, much more progressive record.

She has made sexual assault a major issue. Now, she's dealing with the controversy in her own office or how she dealt with a sexual harassment allegation. She said that it was handled appropriately. There will be questions about that. Questions about her record and we'll see how the voters ultimately respond.

KING: And it's interesting and you could say while you explored for a few months and you didn't get a lot of traction in the polls, why would you do this? I think a lot of these candidates has the right assumption. Let's try to raise money. Let's stay in the race. We're going to get to the debates. We're going to have a crowded field. We're going to give the debate. Somebody is going to have a breakthrough moment in those debates -- one of the called second tier or third tier -- I don't know how to rank the candidates right now. Somebody will have a breakthrough.

A lot of the focus this past week was on Beto O'Rourke -- former congressman, got in, three days in Iowa. I don't mean this to be snarky. But a lot of people are saying because he's unemployed he gets to continue. And he continues -- he's out in the Midwest, he's continuing to campaign in Wisconsin, Ohio. Some of the others -- you know, the senators have to come back and cast votes and the like.

The reaction to Beto O'Rourke has been really interesting and it's polarized. We were talking before the show. This is Kathleen Parker. I love reading Kathleen Parker. This is in the "Washington Post". If you support Beto O'Rourke you're not going to like this.

"No one in recent memory, save for Donald Trump, has received so much free advertising by simply showing up. When he flails his arms, often in front of his own face he reminds mothers everywhere of the moment when an infant suddenly realizes that the hand bobbing in front of his nose belongs to him whereupon he remains mesmerized until he realizes there's another one." Ouch.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD-DAVIS, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, he does not remind me of my children. But I will say -- I mean it has been interesting how very kind of divided the reaction has been to him. People seem to either really love this brand of almost kind of Obama-esque, you know, performance that he does in front of a crowd. Or hate it and think that it's very self-important and it doesn't really speak to any of the issues that, you know, Democrats frankly want to be getting down to brass tacks on because they want so badly to beat Donald Trump in 2020.

I think that polarization is going to continue. I think the interesting thing is going to be how he fills in some of the blanks Lisa said earlier he's been kind of gauzy about, you know, some of his policy prescriptions.

I think that, you know, Democrats are going to need to see what the specifics are on some of these grand ideas that he's out there talking about in very inspirational ways. And that's part of the reason that people are so taken up with, and I think in his Senate run in Texas were so taken up with who this guy is and sort of like the cult of his personality.

There going to needs to be more of that -- more than that. But I think that's why we see some of the divides right now. A lot of Democrats are really just fed up with this idea that you know, you're going to have this guy making grand gestures, however big or small, and that there's not going to be anything behind that. I think that's the big worry right now.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, "WASHINGTON POST": And he's also shifting a little bit on policy. When he was running for Senate, he said he would be for the Bernie Sanders Medicare for all bill. Now he's talking about a little bit about a different bill that would allow people to buy into Medicare or people to keep their private insurance. So he's sort of shifting on that.

He said before that he thought impeachment was a good idea. He seems to be walking that back a little bit. So it does seem like he's sort of trying to mold himself into a little bit more moderate stance even though he still wants to be seen as a progressive. But it's -- it will be really interesting to see where he lands on some of these policy issues where he's been on different sides.

LERER: You know -- and the party is having this very active conversation around race and gender right now. And he is a white guy in the most historically diverse field in American history. So that is something that we've seen him, even the first few days have to deal with and, you know, he's talked about whether his wife -- he's had to already dial back a comment about his wife being home with the kids and you have seen some sort of subtle shade thrown at him by other candidates.

So that is a dynamic here and it really cuts both ways. There are people -- Democrats who really want a diverse ticket. And there are Democrats who really want -- most Democrats really want to beat Trump. And there are Democrats who will quietly tell you -- very quietly, that they're worried that a more diverse ticket would have a harder time because of all of these biases of beating Trump. It's a real issue that people are -- .

KING: And central to that question is, is there a front-runner? And if there is, one it would be Joe Biden. We assume he's going to get in. And he sort of is this a real slip, or was this on purpose?


[08:34:53] JOE BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm told I get criticized by the new left. I have the most progressive record of anybody running for -- anybody who would run. I didn't mean -- of anybody who would run.


KING: That's home in Delaware last night. That's a crowd that loves Joe Biden. That's a crowd that wans Joe Biden to run.

You can see him there. He knows people are coming after things he said in the 70s and 80s because he's been in politics for so long. There are some things he has said that are out of step with today's Democratic Party.

But that was him was saying hey, wait a minute. I was Barack Obama's vice president. I have evolved with the party and the country. If I run, run, run -- what was that?

RAJU: I mean I think -- I mean color me cynical. I think that this was obviously the same --

KING: Let's end the charade, Joe -- is that --

RAJU: He wanted to make it clear that he's going to fight back and try to claim the progressive mantle. And bet suggesting, you know, this was a slip-up he knew that this was probably going to get a lot of attention.

Look that is going to be the fight going forward. Is he progressive enough for today's Democratic Party? He has a lot of things in his past he'll have to answer for. His role in Anita Hill. His role in the 1994 crime bill -- among many other things.

But as you mentioned, he was Barack Obama's vice president. He was out front on gay marriage and President Obama was. He can fight on those issues but the question will ultimately be, is this new Democratic Party ready for that?

KING: To that point, your colleague Jonathan Martin is co-author of a smart piece today about the Democrats -- the age question. Do you want somebody new and young? Democrats traditionally nominate the younger, next generation candidate.

Chris Murphy -- Democratic Senator from Connecticut, smartly quoted in the piece, "I would generally make the case that the Democratic Party should always be nominating the next generation candidate. Except I'm not sure any of the old rules apply."

And that's one of the things. In the age of Trump and after we elected our first African-American president, a lot of people think, you know, this is how it happened well, forget how it happened. We're in a new world. We don't know.

DAVIS: Right. I mean the great thing about that piece is it points out this sort of dilemma that Democrats are having. Do you want to fall in love with someone? Do you want to like love the idea and think that the person is inspirational? Or do you actually want to find someone who you think has the very best chance at beating President Trump in 2020 and maybe that's not the same person, right? And that's --

KING: We'll give every Democratic activist the home version of the magic wall and they can build an electoral map and try to sort this out themselves.

All right. It's a lot of fun. It's fascinating.

Up next -- waiting for the Mueller report and the tweets that tell you who sounds more than a little anxious.


As all of Washington waits for the Mueller report, the person with the most at stake isn't trying to hide his anxiety or his anger frustration.

Friday morning raging from President Trump including calling the special counsel investigation illegal. Robert Mueller, the President says, "Should never have been appointed", and quote, "there should be no Mueller report"

The President's anger related to the Mueller investigation and beyond continues throughout the weekend. Yesterday tweeting this about the dossier and connecting it to late Senator John McCain. Spreading the fake and totally discredited dossier, unfortunately a very dark stain against John McCain. He had far worse stains than this, including thumbs down in repeal and replace after years of campaigning to repeal and replace.

Just moments ago on this Sunday morning, the President continuing, "So it was indeed just proven in court papers last in his class Annapolis John McCain who sent the fake dossier to the FBI and the media hoping to have it printed before the Dems.

RAJU: Wow.

KING: You may have grievances against Senator McCain but he's a hero. He's been dead for seven months.

RAJU: And you know -- saying last in his class, that's stunning. And also --

KING: Let me stop you for one second. This is a president who has consistently refused to release his own grades. Maybe you should give us yours.

RAJU: Frankly, he's passing out false claims and lies about John McCain on several fronts. Almost making it seem like John McCain was responsible for the Russia investigation. That's not what happened in the way that this -- the involvement in the dossier which is pretty limited to suggest that as the President is suggesting here, also saying that he was responsible yesterday for scuttling the repeal and replace effort.

That's not what happened at all. What happened was that he was one of the Senators who voted against advancing a very narrow replace -- repeal plan of the Obamacare. Very narrow. They were nowhere near on replacement.

They couldn't even necessarily get that narrow plan through Congress because they had to still conference that with the House.

But details aside, he's still going after him and also going after quote, his many, quote, stains. This is someone who has been revered by both parties who was hailed after his death as a war hero. The President can't let it go.

KING: And it will be interesting. Again, normally when the President does this you get crickets from the Republican Party. It would be interesting if somebody stands up and says, really? Meghan McCain did stand up yesterday tweeting, "No one will ever love you the way that I loved my father. I wish I had been given more Saturdays with him. Maybe spend yours with your family instead of being on Twitter obsessing over mine."

OLORUNNIPA: It does sort of beg the question -- what is the President doing all week. And if he's sitting at home in the White House watching TV and getting riled up about, you know, what he believes to be fake news and persecution from prosecutors and why he's not sort of taking a more presidential, you know, approach. I mean this is someone that has access to the best scholars and the

best experts on any issue that you could imagine. And he could, you know, have dinner with the top leaders of the world but instead it seems that he's watching TV and getting, you know, emotional about the Russia investigation and not focusing on the things that matter to the country.

KING: And the anger. Talking about the tweets about Senator McCain which are just incomprehensible. I understand you're mad. He voted against you on health care. Ok -- that's a long time ago. Move on. He was an American hero.

But the Mueller anger -- Again, if it's not new but that it came up Friday --, illegal, should never have been appointed -- there is anticipation the Mueller report could come any day now.

Does the president know more than we know or is that just -- he's trying to again stoke his base so that there's something damaging it. His attituded is done believe it

DAVIS: Well I mean that's part of it, right? But I do think that both in the tweets about John McCain and in this sort of renewed sense of anger and panic about Mueller, what you see is that he really does feel under siege.

[08:45:07] I mean I think part of this is definitely he's talking to the base by bringing up John McCain. I think part of that is talking to the very conservative Republican base that never liked John McCain, that thought that John McCain, you know, threw away an election.

But I do think a lot of it is very personal to him and the fact that he feels under siege and he sees this in very black and white terms. Very simplistic terms that have nothing to do with the actual details of how the dossier came forward. Nothing to with the actual substance of what Mueller is investigating but just very black and white, they're after me, they're coming to get me and I'm hitting back.

And I think that's a lot of what you're seeing here. And he knows, of course, as the rest of us, you know, are gathering that like Mueller is wrapping things up and this is going to be the time when he's feeling most under threat and rightly so.

KING: Saw his former campaign chairman get sentenced additionally, seven and a half years. Paul Manafort will spend time in jail after court developments.

All right. We'll see what happens in the week ahead.

Our reporters share from their notebooks next. Including the House Speaker's next battle, trade. But first, Nancy Pelosi's unique take on today, St. Patrick's Day.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Most of us were in school with Irish Catholic nuns who taught us about the Kennedys and Irish American contribution and St. Patrick's day was a very important day to us. It wasn't important because we were honoring St. Patrick but as an Italian American I was always taught that St. Patrick was Italian.



KING: Let's head one more time around the INSIDE POLITICS table, ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks, get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner. Julie.

DAVIS: Well Senator Mitch McConnell set the stage last week for a debate on the Green New Deal in the Senate before the end of the month. I think we all can stipulate that there is not going to a large new Green New Deal package that becomes law this year but this is going to be the forum for a big politically-charged debate over what the priorities are, whether the two parties think that climate change is real and what we should do about it.

There's obviously a ton of energy on the Democratic side and in the Democratic primary around this issue. And Chuck Schumer, the minority leader has decided to just lean into this. But this is going to be a very difficult debate for Democrats who now have to decide what to do about a plan that a lot of their candidates have embraced but the specifics of which are a little bit more politically difficult.

They're talking about all voting present potentially and voting for -- and to put out a resolution just basically declaring that climate change is real, this is the bare minimum but Democrats are going to have to figure out what they are for before this vote takes place.

KING: That will be lot of fun. A debate worth having. We'll see how it plays out.


RAJU: John -- there is not going to be much bipartisan legislating in this divided congress, but there's one issue that has somewhat of a chance. That's to deal with the revised NAFTA agreement that the President has put forward.

The U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer has been moving behind the scenes and meeting with House Democrats to try to alleviate their concerns.

And the big question going forward is how does Nancy Pelosi deal with this? She's in a closed door meeting last week. I'm told she raised concerns about environmental protections, labor protections and dealing with opioids. She also made -- raised concerns about the President's remarks about walking away from the NAFTA deal in that closed door meeting.

For Pelosi, the big question going forward is, what do you do here? You Get behind a potential bipartisan win and give the President a bipartisan win, something that he could campaign on going into the 2020 elections? Or do you raise concerns and dig in about the issues that you're concerned about and try to fight and take it to the voters going forward?

Still a lot of questions about whether Republicans can get behind it and whether to pass the Senate. A Pelosi decision critical about when she'll get behind, if she'll get behind it or if she'll fight it.

KING: The politics of trade -- a lot of fun. We'll watch this one.


OLORUNNIPA: I spoke to Mayor Pete Buttigieg a couple of days ago. And it was really interesting that he said that he wants to speak more about his religious faith as part of the Democratic primary. He wants to promote that and talk a little bit more about religion.

You're hearing more about this from Democrats including Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kamala Harris, even Senator Bernie Sanders. Going to churches, talking about faith and sort of talking about the 2020 election as a battle for the soul of America.

It gives them an opportunity to draw a contrast with President Trump who gets a lot of support from specifically white evangelical voters but does not sort of personally come across as someone who is pious. And I think Democrats are thinking that they can dig into some of President Trump's support by talking about their own personal faith and talking about how the faith of their personal politics can translate into their policy platform as well.

KING: Another interesting wrinkle in a very interesting Democratic race. Lisa.

LERER: So we spent some time on this show talking about Beto O'Rourke. I'm leaving from this table and going to see another presidential candidate -- Elizabeth Warren, who will be in Memphis and then Mississippi before doing a CNN town hall tomorrow night.

And in a way, she's sort of like the anti-Beto. And the contrast between Senator Warren and Mr. O'Rourke, I think, illustrates a lot of the choices faced by Democratic primary voters. It's generational. He's quite a bit younger than her.

It's policy. She's come out -- she's really led the field in policy specifics coming out this weekend with a plan on housing. Last weekend with a plan on breaking up tech companies.

He's taken criticism for being a little gauzier about where he stands on different policies. And his vision he's really talked a lot about coming together and she's really been focused on naming what she sees as the people holding back progress. The ultra wealthy, big corporations.

So the contrast between those candidates will really tell us a lot about where Democratic primary voters are going forward.

KING: That's what makes the race so much fun, even though it's early.

I'll close with what you might deja vu all over again for Republicans in Alabama. It was a Republican mess you will remember back in 2017 that helped Democrat Doug Jones in his stunning win in a special Senate election. Jones is now running for a full term in 2020 and is the most vulnerable incumbent Democrat.

[08:55:00] Establishment Republicans recruited GOP Congressman Bradley Bern to run and they're betting Alabama will be extra red in a presidential year. But their hope that Bern would get a clear shot is fading.

The controversial 2017 candidate, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is stirring talk he may run again. And the conservative Club for Growth released a poll to Alabama media this past week as part of its argument that conservative Congressman Mo Brooks is a stronger contender than establishment favorite Bern.

One veteran GOP strategist described the Alabama maneuvering as quote, "another clown car". It's a race worth watching and proof some internal GOP feuds predate President Trump.

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 -- a very busy "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. His guests include Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and 2020 presidential candidate Amy Klobuchar.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday with us. Have a great day.