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At Least 160 Dead in Sri Lankan Terrorist Attack; Mueller Lays Out Trump-Russia Contacts, Efforts to Obstruct; Top Democrats Warn Impeachment Push Could Backfire; Biden Expected Launch 2020 Campaign This Week. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired April 21, 2019 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:31] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): The president changes his Mueller report tone.


KING: Crazy and B.S. are his thoughts now after an initial wave have happened.

TRUMP: It's called no collusion. No obstruction.

KING: Plus, Democrats demand the full report.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): Congress requires this material in order to perform our constitutionally mandated responsibilities.

KING: And some want to talk impeachment.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And that's a conversation we need to have now. We need to figure out how we're going to hold this president accountable.

KING: And it's Biden time. The Democratic frontrunner is about to join the 2020 fray.

JOSEPH BIDEN, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: We will take back this country. Don't give up.

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


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

We will get to the Mueller report and the president's angry reaction in just a moment.

But we begin the hour with a series of deadly Easter Sunday terror attacks in Sri Lanka. Eight blasted are confirmed at this hour at churches and hotels in three cities. At least 160 people were killed. More than 500 injured.

Statements of condolences and support coming in from leaders around the world, including from Pope Francis, as he led Easter mass at the Vatican.

CNN's Will Ripley is live in Hong Kong with the latest.

Will, what can you tell us?

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know that this attack is clearly coordinated. You're talking about eight explosions targeting Christians and foreigners in Sri Lanka which has become a tourist hot spot in the nearly decade that it has passed since the end of its civil war. Three churches, four hotels, high-end hotels, and a house have all been scenes of these explosions, gruesome scenes being described with body parts thrown around, sometimes out into the streets of these buildings.

We know that the death toll continues to climb, 160 people at least right now, including around 30 foreigners. That's according to the Sri Lankan government. Other says that 560 people have been injured and are being treated at various hospitals. Of course, the timing of this does bear the hallmark of a coordinated terror attack. And authorities right now are going to be looking at a number of different possibilities.

Obviously, Sri Lanka does have small splinter groups that remain after the end of the civil war in 2009. But analysts that I have been speaking with say that the timing of this and the way it was carried out seems to indicate something more sophisticated. The question that authorities are trying to find out now very desperately is, who and more importantly, if there is anyone else in the country, if there are any other attacks that could follow.

We know that there's a curfew in place. Schools are closed for the next couple of days. And, you know, solidarity pouring in from all over the world, including the Vatican where the pope said that he is expressing great sadness and also, you know, solidarity with the people in Sri Lanka, including those Christians who were worshipping on Easter Sunday and were tragically killed, John.

KING: The images are gruesome.

Will Ripley, live for us in Hong Kong, will come back during the hour if we get any new important information. Really appreciate the live reporting.

To the Mueller report now and a question: Why is the president so mad if the report is the total exoneration he and his allies insist it is?

For the record, the president insisting in a morning tweet: I have never been happier or more content.

Those around him though or on the phone with him describe an angry, seething president.

It is true and important that Robert Mueller does not allege a criminal conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians interfering in the 2016 election. The special counsel, though, did find repeated communications between team Trump, Russians, WikiLeaks and others helping the Russians.

Mueller did not say there was nothing to see on the collusion question. What he wrote was, quote: The evidence was not sufficient to support criminal charges.

It is also not true Mueller found no obstruction. In fact, his report says this, quote: If we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the president clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state.

Mueller then goes on to list ten examples of possible obstruction in great detail and how he does so is the source of the president's Easter weekend fury. It is Mueller's report, but the central characters are the president's closest aides and advisers in their owns and through their own notes, describing how the president repeatedly lied, how he asked several of them to lie, and how he constantly looked for ways to stymie or shut down the Mueller investigation.

Nine different aides detail in the report how they refused to carry out the president's requests to interfere with the investigation.

[08:05:02] Those aides include the then-White House chief of staff, his deputy, the attorney general and the director of national intelligence.

The president called it total B.S., though he didn't use the shorthand. The president's attorney says this.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: It's a ridiculous burden of proof. You've got to prove your innocence? I thought we were in America.

They assumed him guilty. If you read that report, that's like a one- sided view as if they proved all that stuff. They didn't prove any of it, Judge. And they can't prove half of it. Half of it is false. Like a lie.


KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Julie Hirschfeld Davis with "The New York Times", CNN's Manu Raju, Michael Shear of "The New York Times", and Rachael Bade of "The Washington Post".

Let's start with Rudy Giuliani and the president's (INAUDIBLE) -- they want you to not read this. And for those of you watching at home, especially if you are inclined to support the president, and listen to him when he says, the media makes stuff, read it yourself.

This is not Robert Mueller. This is not as the president likes to say, 18 angry Democrats. When you read this report, it's stunning the level of detail.

Is Rudy Giuliani saying the president hired a bunch of liars? Did anybody around the president, the president is telling the truth and around him lies?

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, what's remarkable is throughout the investigation, one of the talking points of the administration of Donald Trump was, we are going to be open, we're going to have all of our people talk to the special counsel because when they talk to the special counsel, it will prove that he did nothing wrong, there was no collusion and no obstruction.

And that's exactly the point. Those are the very people who form the basis of those ten remarkable sections in which they lay out exactly the obstruction that the White House said would not be proved by talking to these people.

KING: And this is why, again, the president tweeted this morning he has never been more happy or more content. If you talk to anybody around the president, they say he is angry.

Why is he angry? Because the Mueller report does this. We stole this graphic from "The New York Times." I just want to put it on the screen here.

This is not Mueller. This is a "New York Times" graphic about who is quoted most in the report. This includes the president's former counsel, his former national security adviser, his former personal lawyer, his former communications director, and so on and so on. These are people hired by, employed by candidate Trump, businessman Trump, President-elect Trump, President Trump who if you go through the report in their own words describe a White House that is chaotic, to be kind, but full of a series of lies and schemes by the president to shut this down.

JULIE HIRSCHFIELD, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Right. And I think, you know, one of the big things that comes through in the report while they do say they did not find evidence of collusion, that they couldn't prove that there was obstruction, they do -- the recurring theme is that the president does not want to be seen as illegitimate, he can't stand the idea that people would somehow think that this happened, that they would believe the predicate for these investigations. That's why he pushes back so often. That's why he says at the outset when the special counsel is named that he is screwed, that he is in trouble. These are all the reasons that he seems so worried that something is going to come of this investigation.

And that's the reason now that he is so angry, right? Because it makes it -- it certainly makes it seem when you read all of these accounts of people who lied on his behalf or the lies he tried to tell himself, it looks like an illegitimate president. And that is the one thing that he cannot stand the public to believe.

So I think that's part of the reason why you -- even though he does maintain that this is an exoneration, he still can't stand the idea that people are going to see him as a lying president, illegitimate president, a president who had something to hide.

KING: And this -- again, it's just -- if you haven't read it, you should read it. Don't trust any of us, although we're telling you the truth. But read it. Then decide if we're telling the truth.

It's the president's aides just describing a culture of dishonesty led by the president. You were very kind there.

The Mueller report says this: When Sessions, the attorney general, told the president a special counsel had been appointed, the president slumped back in his chair and said, oh, my God, this is terrible, this is the end of my presidency I'm -- insert expletive there.

Again, you can understand any president being upset a special counsel investigation was underway. But what you can't understand is when you read through all the instances of what Robert Mueller details in the aides' words what he did.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, it reinforces also what we have seen the president do publicly. So, that's why it's so unbelievable. He says full of lies, but the president himself publicly pressured Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself, or to un-recuse himself. He publicly went after Jeff Sessions.

Why would he want him to un-recuse? To be in charge of the investigation, to tamp down an investigation into him. So, we see what -- Mueller laid out all these facts. But the president's actions essentially reinforce what Mueller is saying here.

And, you know, It shows what -- a president that would stop at essentially nothing, even potentially break the law for self- preservation.

[08:10:03] RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: And the ironic thing here is a lot of these aides that you see, Giuliani, and the White House lashing out at -- Giuliani called former White House counsel, well, he didn't specifically called him a liar, but he said his account was inaccurate when he went to the special counsel.

And Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, you know, he specifically detailed things where the president told him to go to Rod Rosenstein, to tell him, fire Robert Mueller. And he refused to do it. And the ironic thing about it is that, if he had listened, that Trump actually -- the president may have been found guilty of something. And the fact that he didn't listen could have saved Trump's presidency.

KING: Right. Mueller makes very clear in the report that the president's aides, those -- the people he is mad at, saved him. It's clear in the report that Mueller says flat-out in plain English, if they carried out the instructions, would you have clear obstruction. The attorney general doesn't see a case. Congress, we will get to that in a minute.

One of the interesting things here, to that point, we're almost 72 hours since the release of the report. Not one of those aides, not one has come forward in the 72 hours to say they were misquoted or taken out of context by special counsel. So, that's an important point to make.

Go ahead.

SHEAR: And just to add on the graphic that you showed, there are some of those people that were in the big bubbles where they talked a lot who were part of plea agreements or were sort of under legal pressure to talk. But there were a lot of people like Don McGahn who were not. And so, when the president lashes out, you know, he is famous for lashing out at people who were cutting a deal of some kind. But there were a lot of his aides who did this voluntarily and not until legal pressure.

RAJU: And it's important also to remember that these are substantiated things that are said in the report. It isn't just relying on one person's word. And so, when Mueller puts thing -- they put things in there they know they can prove such as James Comey had said that the president asked him for loyalty. And the president publicly denied it.

But that account says they established that he did, in fact, say that. So, that's one thing that the White House has to contend with.

DAVIS: And not only have they not backed down, but in Don McGahn's case, his lawyer put out a statement saying what he said was accurate. He is not backing away from this. This is the true account.

If you look at that report, special counsel spoke extensively with Don McGahn and some of the other people and had a pretty consistent narrative of what happened.

KING: We will get to what happens next. It gets to Congress. Special counsel said he found the president's written answers inadequate. The president, who during the campaign said anyone who says they don't remember -- he was referencing Hillary Clinton. He says, anyone who says they can't remember belongs in jail. That's the president said. You can go back to the campaign and check, he said they are guilty.

The president could not recall hearing about the 2016 Trump Tower meeting in advance, being told that any foreign government wanted to help his campaign, being told of Russian efforts to hack or usual social media, being aware of any communications with his team with WikiLeaks, any discussions about a pardon for Julian Assange or any communications between his attorney Michael Cohen and the Russian government -- he didn't recall.

BADE: Yes, it's interesting because the attorney general came out and said in his press conference, there was no collusion, no obstruction, that the White House and president, they basically Cooperated with this probe, well, Mueller in his own words contradicted him over and over. That was one example saying that Mueller said he wanted to talk to the president but he just -- he felt his answers were not sufficient. He wanted to go back to him and demand an interview.

But he felt he didn't have the power to do so. There was one of the many contradictions between Barr and Mueller.

KING: It's a great point. There are sometimes legitimate differences. You can read something and have a difference of opinion or context or emphasis. To go through what the attorney general said and to read the Mueller report are parallel universes. You can not reconcile the two.

Up next, the Democratic call to begin impeachment proceedings, this one from the 2020 campaign trail. So, will it impact Nancy Pelosi's hope to take a more cautious course?


[08:17:44] KING: The Constitution leaves the question of impeaching a president to the House of Representatives. The calendar, though, leaves it a right question to the 2020 campaign.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Mueller report hands this now to Congress and the fundamental question for us is, is there going to be some accountability here? We cannot be an America that says it is OK for a president of the United States to try to block investigations into a foreign attack on our country or investigations into that president's own misbehavior.


KING: Senator Elizabeth Warren, as you just heard, says the special counsel lays out a compelling case for impeaching President Trump. So, why wait she asks. It is a direct challenge to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her leadership team, which is trying to corral liberal anger and make the case for caution, especially since there is zero evidence of Republican support for impeachment.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): We were elections on issues related to lowering health care costs and infrastructure and improving the lives of middle class Americans and those who aspired to be part of it. So nothing changes that approach. What we do recognize that we have a constitutional responsibility to be a check and balance on an out of control executive branch.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Many of us think the president is unfit for office. But unless that's a bipartisan conclusion, an impeachment would be deemed to failure. I continue to think a failed impeachment is not in the national interest. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The speaker calls them the presidentials, the candidates, they are out there running. Sometimes the influence, the candidates are talking to the base, will there be influence when you have somebody like Senator Warren saying it's your job, start it?

BADE: Not with just one or two. I mean, if this became like an overwhelming, you know, every presidential candidate out there saying it's time to impeach, it's time to impeach, maybe that would be different.

But that's not the reality. The reality is Democrats are very divided on this. And with as many as -- who want to see impeachment move forward and Democrats take up this matter, there are people who are worried about blowback back in 2020. That they could lose the House, that it will undercut their opportunity to take out Trump in the White House.

[08:20:01] And, Pelosi, she's been tamping this down. Her leadership team in the days after the Mueller report, they were all over the camera. You just saw Hakeem Jeffries, and he said specifically: Impeachment is not the answer. The answer is investigation.

So, they have this strategy where they will investigate, investigate, investigate, present all these negative findings about the president to voters and say you decide in 2020. They're not going to touch it.

RAJU: It's a challenging issue for the party because there's such a fervor within the base to do something about what are stunning revelations in this report. What also concerns people is that Mueller made clear he was not going to move forward with any charges in large part because of the opinion of the Justice Department that a sitting president could not be indicted.

So, if you are a Democratic voter who wants to go after the president, why don't we go after the president, because Mueller said he couldn't and he left that question to Congress. But as Rachel said, the leadership is concerned about blow back and Republicans are showing no signs they are willing to vote to convict and remove it. It puts them in a difficult spot.

SHEAR: The dynamic between the people on the presidential campaign trail and the Congress is really so interesting because normally a leader like Speaker Pelosi can insulate her caucus from kind of was going on out in the country, because there isn't that two-way communication. But during a presidential primary, you have that. You have the potential for these candidates to go out to town hall meetings, to events and getting that feedback from these constituents who are the most liberal part of the base.

That's who comes out. Those who shows up at a house party in Iowa. So, if, as you say, that dynamic builds and builds and more of these presidential candidates begin to start calling for this, it's a lot of pressure on Congress.

KING: And the question is, you know, does Elizabeth Warren get traction with it? The candidates have a different approach.

Congressman Swalwell in the House has said we should look at it. You have the Mueller report. It raises serious some allegations about the president. Now what?


JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think it would be perfectly reasonable for Congress to open up impeachment proceedings. We can walk and chew gum at the same time.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe there's room for that conversation. But, right now, what I want is I want Mueller to come before Congress to testify.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not going to be talking about impeachment, because Congress hasn't seen the redacted -- the report without its redactions.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He may well deserve it. But my focus, since I'm not part of Congress but I am part of 2020, is to give him a decisive defeat at the ballot box.


KING: That's the mix from the candidates who all say this is serious and have a nuance of difference how fast you go. Do you just investigate?

This in "The New York Times", Emanuel Cleaver, a Democratic congressman from Kansas City area, if we impeach Donald Trump, he would never be convicted in the Senate and he would campaign all around the country saying I have been acquitted.

Essentially saying there, look, there are no Republicans for this. Therefore, we would do the president a favor, even if he deserves it in the Democrats' view.

Jennifer Palmieri, who worked for Hillary Clinton, who worked for Bill Clinton as well, says: We reinforce his Teflon-ness by buying into the idea that that debate would help the president.

Which is it?

DAVIS: Well, I mean, this is why this is a difficult question. Why Democrats are so divided about this. You don't hear a lot of Democrats saying there's no foundation for impeaching the president, there's no cause. I think almost every Democrat who has talked publically about this would acknowledge that they think that it should happen, that's something that -- particularly now that we have the Mueller report or parts of the Mueller report, they think there's a predicate for it.

What they are arguing -- and, you know, the Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler always says impeachment, he's right, it's a political process. It is a political process. The argument they are making is a mritpolitical one. Would there be blow back with the country -- have a backlash against this?

And that's a legitimate question for them to be asking, but it's fascinating that what's sort of getting lost here is that they are all almost all uniformly arguing this is something that there is a foundation for. This is -- the evidence that they see is an argument for impeaching the president. The only real question that they are divided over is whether that is politically advantage or not, and I think there's a real legitimate divide there.

RAJU: They are pushing impeachment, the story line shifts to impeach or not impeach. Instead, they're investigating and holding hearings. The story line continues about the allegations in here and those become the headlines. So, that's what Democratic leaders hope, they want to point out the findings in the report rather than get into a process debate that could backfire.

KING: And it's a generational divide as well. Those around last time, including Nancy Pelosi, who has the speaker's gavel, Bill Clinton, articles of impeachment passed by the House, he was not convicted in the Senate. Bill Clinton survived, two Republican speakers lost their jobs, in the political backlash. Nancy Pelosi remembers that.

Ahead, how is that most Republicans read the Mueller report and see nothing? But next, will it be worth the wait? Joe Biden comes off the 2020 sidelines this week.


[08:29:11] KING: Joe Biden is set to join the 2020 Democratic race this week. And his official announcement will bring the blessing and burden of being a frontrunner.

Two big bets by the former vice-president and his team are about to be tested. One is that Democrats will see him as the best choice to challenge President Trump. Two, is that his early lead in the early polls is not just name recognition. They believe it's a foundation, not a ceiling.

Let's look at the party as Joe Biden prepares to join the race. Joe Biden's first run for president was before this, back in 1988. But look since 1994, the Democratic Party has become twice as liberal, if you will, from 25 percent who describe themselves as liberal in 1994 to 51 percent now.

Biden has lived the evolution of the party. The question is, is he in sync with the activist voters?

Here's another way to look at it. Joe Biden looks at this research about Democratic voters in last year's midterm elections and says, I like this terrain. Sixty-one percent of Democrats in the midterms were white. Nearly 60 percent non-college, a majority over the age of 50 and a third of democrats no-college educated white voters.

[08:30:00] Joe Biden thinks I can play in this terrain. Here's some proof of

that. He leads in Iowa right now. It's very early. But he leads the race in Iowa. We see the other candidates. Where does Joe Biden's support mostly come from?

He does better than of the younger candidates among democrats who describe themselves at moderate or conservatives. And he does better among democrats who do not have a college education. Joe Biden thinks, thinks, we'll see, he has the blue-collar appeal there.

Here's another way to look at it though, he has to prove himself out of the gates. Now this is a zero for Joe Biden first quarter fundraising because he was not in the race. We get the second quarter, three months from now, once Joe Biden gets in he better prove that he can keep up if not lead the pack when it comes to raising money.

The big challenge for the vice president, we've seen him at rallies in recent days. He thinks when he gets in to this race, he can focus on the economy and convince democrats the best way to beat President Trump is with blue-collar appeal.


BIDEN: Workers are not being treated across the board with dignity. They're not being treated like they matter. And let me get something straight with you all, Wall Street bankers and CEOs did not build America.

You build America, we build America, ordinary middleclass people build America. This is morally wrong what's going on around this country. And I've had enough of it. I'm sick of it. And so are you.


KING: And?

SHEAR: Well I mean look, that clip is interesting because even though we know that Joe Biden isn't in the same place from a policy perspective as say Bernie Sanders is. He's tapping in to that same sentiment, right? It's the sort of almost echo of Sanders's empty big bank, empty 1 percent kind of message.

And so the question is can Biden fashion a message that sounds more like where the party is as you showed the numbers while at the same time kind of having a record of over the last three, four decades. That doesn't really match that redirect. And you're going to have 18 other democrats pointing that out.

KING: It's a great point and because I want you to listen, this is -- Joe Biden spoke at the funeral for Fritz Hollings, the late senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina earlier this week. And in this eulogy to Fritz Hollings, you can hear Joe Biden processing people are going to remind voters that I was against forced busing.

I was against ending desegregation that way. I was not at my best shall we say during the Anita Hill hearings. I supported crime bills that are now unpopular with the democratic base. You can hear Joe Biden saying look, people evolve.


BIDEN: He knew how to change as well. He changed. He learned. As he learned, he changed. Recognizing people can change with every breath, we have hope that we can learn from the past and build a better future. Your dad learned from the past and he built a better future constantly. He was constantly evolving.


KING: Their big hope is that democratic voters so like him and so respect him that they will accept that. That he has evolved and he's made mistakes but he's Joe and we can trust him.

RAJU: And what helps him to some regard is that there -- this happened actually to a number of candidates who have said -- who have jumped in the race said well that position that I had ten years ago is not the same as I have now because I have changed.

Kirsten Gillibrand being one of them when she represented a small district, a district in upstate New York and then said that I've became more liberal, she became the full near state -- senator for the full state. So he has that to his benefit. The challenge of course is going to be electability.

Can he convince voters that he's not going to make major mistakes in the general election, could beat Trump is the right person. But the last weeks have not been good for him, so we'll see if he can convince voters of that.

DAVIS: Well in that evolution argument is I think an easier one to make with the more than 50 percent of voters who are over 50, right? People who have been familiar with Joe Biden and watched some of this evolution happen in front of their eyes.

I think the bigger challenge will be a generational one with the younger voters who are really driving a lot of the change in the party and really drive the primary in many ways and whether he can convince them that he is today the kind of candidate that they would want to elect.

KING: And to that point, he was Barack Obama's vice president. Barack Obama's very candidacy was about change. I'm younger. I look different. I am different. Let's have difference. And that's one of Biden's challenges, does the Democratic Party want to go with trusted veteran experience against President Trump.

Or do they say we want a new fresh face to represent the change message we want. Listen to Pete Buttigieg here, the South Bend Indiana mayor. Listen to this comparison. This race so far has been relatively polite.

But as Joe Biden gets in, number one he has to deal with that. You trust me, you don't know these guys. But listen to Pete Buttigieg kind of take a shot at Bernie Sanders here.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, MAYOR OF SOUTH BEND IN., PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the sense of anger and disaffection that comes from seeing that the numbers are fine, like unemployment's low, like all that, like set GDP is growing. And yet a lot of neighborhoods and families are living like this recovery never even happened.

[08:35:00] They're stuck. It just kind if turns you against the system in general. And then you're more likely to want to vote to blow up the system could lead you to somebody like Bernie and it could lead you to somebody like Trump. I think that's how we got where we are.


BADE: Yes, I mean he's offering caution against Bernie Sanders, and Bernie Sanders is raising a ton of money right now, he really energizes the far-left wing of the democratic base but the problem here is if je were to win a primary, can he win a general election?

And there's a lot of voters, independent minor voters that the democrats would need to take Trump out of the White House that may not like the president but they hear the word democratic socialism or phrase democratic socialism and it scares them. And they could very well lose those people in a general lection.

KING: Now the Sanders people would say -- everyone said that Donald Trump couldn't win the nomination and couldn't win the presidency and he's president, they were wrong. That's what they would argue, and that's what we have campaigns for.

But they would argue the mood in the country is to not be timid. But its' interesting to hear one of the other democrats sort of without being critical of Bernie kind of saying you don't want to do this.

SHEAR: And it's going to get so much worse. I mean if that--


KING: Yes.

SHEAR: I mean that was about polite -- very gentle. I mean yes he compared him to Trump and what have you, but boy we're going to get to these debates and then as we get closer to the -- to Iowa and New Hampshire, it's going to get--

RAJU: Yes, especially these people in the single digits in these polls.

SHEAR: Right.

RAJU: They need to figure out a way to distinguish themselves. That's when the knives start to come out in these -- it's particularly in the debates we'll see if anyone gets any traction. But that also risks some blowback for them as well as they try to present a positive image.

DAVIS: But he also puts his finger -- Pete Buttigieg does in that moment on a challenge for him and some of the other candidates certainly for Joe Biden, you do have a lot of voters out there who do want to blow the system up.

KING: Right.

DAVIS: Think that this is not working at all. Democrats, republicans, independents, I mean that is one uniform thing that you see across the board. And certainly democrats who are contending for the nomination have to be able to speak to those voters in some way.

Even if he's saying that Bernie Sanders is maybe the wrong way to go. He understands I think and you can tell in that clip that there are those people put there and we have to figure out a way to make them vote--

KING: Right. You better find--

DAVIS: -- for us.

KING: You better find a way to talk to them because you're right. It's pretty hard to argue with the -- it's pretty hard to make the case the system's working, let's put it that way. Up next, the republicans reviews of the Muller report and the question of whether it is no big deal if the president's a liar.


[08:40:00] KING: The politicians are swayed by party loyalty is nothing new. So, we should not be surprised I guess by this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): This investigation could not have been handled in a better way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you describe this as a victory for the president, the outcome that you've seen so far today?

MCCONNELL: Well I think he has every right to feel good about what we've heard today.

REP. DOUG COLLINS (R-GA): Even if it wasn't flattering, if you would say as some have said today it told the truth, it told the truth that there was no collision. It told the truth that there was no obstruction. And I think that's a good day for America.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): No collision, no obstruction so I think it is pretty darn definitive when we look at the full thing and we look at the conclusions.


KING: Again, read it yourself no matter how many times the president and his allies say the Mueller report did not say there was no obstruction. The president's allies can keep saying no obstruction. That's not what the report says.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney among the few republicans willing to publically challenge that good day for America sentiment, Romney state quote, "I am sickened at the extent and pervasiveness of dishonesty and misdirection by individuals in the highest office of the land, including the president."

Senator Romney went on to say, "reading the report is a sobering revelation of how far we have strayed from the aspiration and principles of the founders." The president then attacking Mitt Romney on Twitter with videos reminding the American people that Romney lost when he was--

RAJU: The videos of you too, John.

KING: Thanks. I have not aged as well as I would've liked perhaps.


But who's right? I mean look, you can argue with Mitt Romney's spin if you want. He does give you a more honest read of the report which says some pretty damming things about the culture and the character of the president of the United States and his White House.

BADE: The case of what happened with Romney this weekend is the exact reason why more republicans aren't speaking out, I mean I can think of maybe two off the top of my head sitting republicans senators who have said that this report showed damaging information about the president.

And the reason again is because the base is behind Trump. 90 percent approve if him. And you have the president using his Twitter account to basically attack Romney and say if he would've criticized President Obama the same way he criticized President Trump, he would've potentially own in 2012.

So this is the reason why you're not hearing more republicans speak out. But yes, it is surprising there are instances of the president lying, clearly trying to undercut this investigation and if this were Obama who had done these things, you know they would be calling for impeachment.

KING: Well, to that point democrats circulating these clips and its fair of them to do so this environment of republicans still in office now for the very different opinion now than they had when say Bill Clinton was the issue.


REP. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He doesn't have to say, "Go lie for me," to be a crime. You don't have to say, "Let's obstruct justice," for it to be a crime. You judge people on their conduct, not magic phrases.

SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): I'm smart enough to know that the president has done wrong, and I want the people to know that. And I want history to know that, that we don't want a president lying in office, that we don't want obstruction of justice.


KING: And we also had the flipside of that 25 years ago, only five democrats in the house voted in favor of articles of impeachment. No democrats in the senate voted to convict the president. So, there's been politics.

RAJU: Yes, no question--

KING: But those two guys are still in the senate--

RAJU: And their overall theme right now is let's move on. The republicans don't want to get in to the details. They say he was in charge of everything, so these investigations happen, let's move on. It shows you how significant it is about elections. A republican led senate is not going to begin a deep dive investigation in to all these allegations.

[08:45:00] The democratic led house certainly is, so while they want to move on, democrats aren't going to let them.

BADE: But even as they're saying let's move on, you have senators I think Grassley specifically saying we need to investigate the origins of this investigation--

KING: Yes, right.

BADE: Republicans are very much still talking about investigating the investigator which is not exactly moving on. It's actually going after the DOJ and attacking law enforcement, and that's what we're going to see in the next few weeks--

KING: And the president to begin to more he say he's never been more content and more happy is now keeps tweeting about this report attacking it. Again the report quotes people who work for him extensively repeatedly over and over again.

DAVIS: Right. He keeps vacillating between I'm so happy, I've been exonerated and I'm so angry that this makes me look bad. And I think the reason that we're seeing republicans sort of step forward and say we need to investigate the investigators is they need to have an answer for this.

I mean democrats many have said are not going to drop this. They're going to keep going at it and keep trying to raise more questions perhaps through new investigations, perhaps through testimony by people who were involved in this one. And republicans have to have something to say other than let's move on.

So that's going to be their answer and that's the answer I think that President Trump has been pushing, is that this whole thing was crooked and corrupt from the beginning. It was a hoax and we need to actually hit back. KING: Therefore it was OK to lie and ask people to shut it down. Got it. Our reporter share for the notebooks next, including more democratic probes in to yes, the Trump White House.


[08:50:00] KING: Let's take one last time around the inside politics table, ask our great reporter to share a little something from their notebooks to help get you ou ahead of the big politic news just around the corner, Julie.

DAVIS: Well this week, this Wednesday is the deadline for Stephen Miller, the president's senior policy advisor.

The architect of a lot of his immigration agenda to respond to a house Oversights Committee request for him to come testify in front of the committee voluntarily about the president's immigration agenda, some of his more controversial moves, the family separation policy, this idea of dumping asylum seekers in sanctuary cities.

It's pretty unlikely that Stephen Miller who has been very much in the background and by preference that way will respond voluntarily to this invitation.

But there is a lot of turmoil at the Department of Homeland Security following the news of the secretary's ouster and some of her underlines being pushed out, forced out after refusing to comply with some of President Trump's more controversial ideas on immigration.

I think we can expect to see congress continue to press to hear from Stephen Miller, to hear from other people inside the administration about what the plans are and what the legal defenses are of those steps.

KING: It would be must see TV, which means that probably won't happen. Manu?

RAJU: John, this week also the house Oversight Committee is going to bring in Carl Kline. He's a former official; he's involved in the security clearance process. He no longer works at the White House. It's all part of the house Oversight Committee's investigation how the security clearance process was handled.

Whether the president improperly overruled the security officials and allowed his son-in-law Jared Kushner to get a security clearance, Ivanka Trump as well.

Now the White House has been fighting this very hard almost every step of the way, not giving the democrats what they want. They are also threatening potentially to exert executive privilege in his testimony this week.

Also this is just another sign that the investigations are continuing, not necessarily all about Robert Mueller and the fallout what's happening there, but a whole set of other issues that'll be controversial and keep the White House -- democrats would hope to paint a bad light on the White House in the coming months ahead.

KING: Another important to see what he doesn't answer and what he does answer. We shall see. Michael?

SHEAR: So, presidents often try to expand their base of political support by going in to the lion's den speaking to people who don't necessarily agree with them. This coming weekend, we will get two pieces of evidence to suggest that President Trump has absolutely no intention of doing that as he faces reelection.

First on Friday, he will go speak to the National Rifle Association to a annual meeting, that's something he's done before. There will likely not be a single mind in that audience that has to be convinced to support the president.

And then the next day on Saturday, he'll go to Green Bay, Wisconsin, hold another one of his big rallies with hardcore supporters, at the same time that the national media is here in Washington holding its White House correspondents' dinner, a sort of diss by the president of the national media.

Now it's no surprise that the president would want to diss the fake news media.

But it is remarkable that even as he's facing election campaign, he just doesn't see any need to try to like repair that relationship or any of the other relationships with his adversaries, his campaign thinks that he can win without doing that. And I guess we'll see in about a year and a half.

KING: Worked once, he thinks it'll work again. We shall see. Rachel?

BADE: Back to house democrat's Oversight, the treasury department has until Tuesday to hand over Trump's tax returns which is a request house democrats have made. They are expecting to ignore that.

But the house democrats are sort of employing this clever strategy to get Trump's financial information by going around the White House and around the administration. They have reached out to a number of financial institutions that Trump worked with as a business man.

And basically they have handed at least one of them with subpoena -- two actually, I should say two. And they may be even doing more and from lawyers that I had talked to, former house counsels that I have spoken with; they actually think that the democrats have a very good shot at getting this information.

Because even though Trump world has tried to threaten these institutions and say do not hand over his -- this information, they do not want to ignore a congressional subpoena and are likely to comply.

KING: One of the many fights, we'll watch that one. And I'll close with some weekend inbox chatter that underscores the pressure on Joe Biden to come out of the gate gang busters. There's no doubt former vice president is well liked, even treasured among democrats. But his bad presidential campaign history and his wait to join the 2020 front are combining to crate quite a bit of skepticism.

[08:55:00] Quote, "Joe's name's not coming up much." That's the take of one Iowa democratic county chairman who says, "the new faces are getting more interest." To that point, the chairman made a point of noting a local bookstore owner lamenting this weekend he sold out of a book by Mayor Pete Buttigieg and acing demand for more.

New Hampshire is second in the calendar. It has a more moderate and blue-collar democratic elector. But it also has two neighbors in the race, Bernie Sanders in Vermont, Elizabeth Warren in Massachusetts. A question to a season democratic operative there in New Hampshire was answered this way.

Quote, "I see both an open lane and a closing window, if that makes any sense." I think it sort of kind of does, we'll see, it's a big week ahead, big challenge for the vice president. That's it for inside politics. You can catch us weekdays as well. We're here at noon eastern.

Up next, don't go anyway, State if the Union with Jake Tapper includes an interview with the president's personal attorney Rudy Giuliani. You don't want to miss that. Thanks again for sharing your Sunday. Happy Easter. Happy Passover.