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Synagogue Shooting in California Kills 1, Injures 3; Biden Frames Race as Battle for "Soul of America"; Warren Hits Biden Over Past Support for Credit Card Companies; Trump Still Defending Post- Charlottesville Comments. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired April 28, 2019 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:23] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Joe Biden makes his 2020 case.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is going to be, who is the best person to lead the country, and that's who it's going to be all about.

KING: Plus, President Trump looks to retrace his 2016 map.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He rejected the failures and betrayals of the past and you took back your country with that great election 2 1/2 years ago.

KING: And a fight to test the power balance in Washington.

TRUMP: We're fighting all the subpoenas.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): Congress has immense powers. And if you want to go to war with Congress, you do so at your own peril.

TRUMP: 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'll get to a big week in American politics in a moment. But, first, the latest on a horrific Chabad shooting at a California synagogue. One woman is dead, several others wounded after 19-year-old gunman bursts into services at a synagogue about 25 miles north of San Diego.


TRUMP: Our entire nation mourns the loss of life, prays for the wounded and stands in solidarity with the Jewish community. We forcefully condemn the evil of anti-Semitism and hate which must be defeated.


KING: The California attack six months to the day after 11 people were murdered at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh.

CNN's Nick Watt is live for us this morning with the latest -- Nick.

NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, that gunman is now behind bars on one charge of first degree murder and three charges of attempted murder.

Now, yesterday, during a service here at the Chabad synagogue in Poway, he burst in and was shouting things that led the mayor to pretty quickly brand this a hate crime. Now, the rabbi was hit in the hand at which point Lori Kaye, a 60-year-old man, jumped in between the shooter and the rabbi. She was hit, she was down. Her husband who was also in the synagogue ran over to help the person who was shot, he didn't realize it was his wife. When he did, he fainted.

Now, The gunman then pointed his weapon which we're told was an AR-15- style assault weapon, he pointed it towards some children. At which moment a member of the congregation threw the doors open, some kids managed to escape. One child was injured, as well as that man who threw the doors open.

And an off duty CBP officer who was in the synagogue then managed to get a weapon and fire at the gunman as he was leaving. He was detained later without incident and is now behind bars.

Authorities are now, they say that they don't have any connection between him and any white supremacist group, but there is an open letter posted on the internet they believe was posted by him. They are looking into the validity of that and looking into a suggestion in that letter where he also claims responsibility for an arson attack at a mosque just a month ago. This right now is a community in shock and in mourning.

Back to you.

KING: Nick watt, appreciate the live reporting. We'll continue to track that investigation. Appreciate it.

Now to the most significant political news of this past week, Joe Biden's entry into the 2020 presidential race. The former vice president went big in his official announcement, leaving jobs and health care and his resume for later. Character, the former vice president says, should be paramount in 2020.


BIDEN: I believe history will look back on four years of this president and all he embraces as an abhorrent moment in time. If we give Donald Trump eight years in the White House he will ever and fundamentally alter the character of this nation, who we are. I cannot stand by and watch that happen.

We can't forget what happened in Charlottesville. Even more important, we have to remember who we are. This is America.


KING: Sniping from activist liberals was immediate and constant. A group of Justice Democrats called Biden old guard and, quote, in near complete opposition to where the center of energy is in the Democratic Party today.

That tells you, yes, Biden faces a huge challenge selling some of his record to a more liberal Democratic base. The volume also tells you, those in the party who don't like Biden, mostly because they support somebody else, view him as a force. Also telling us how much attention Biden announced he received form the president and his party.

We know in private conversations the president views Biden as the most formidable of the Democratic candidates.

[08:05:00] But Sleepy Joe is the nickname the president was quick to tweet and also quick to question Biden's stamina.


TRUMP: I think we beat him easily. I feel like a young man. I'm so young. I can't believe it. I'm the youngest person -- I am a young vibrant man. I look at Joe, I don't know about him. I don't know.


KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, Lisa Lerer of "The New York Times," CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Perry Bacon of "Five Thirty Eight", and Karoun Demirjian of "The Washington Post".

So, a different conversation about 2020 this Sunday, because now the Democrats have their second big name, if you will, Bernie Sanders from last time and now Joe Biden.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: No question. I mean, I think we're going to look at this race BB, before Biden, and AB, after Biden. This definitely changed everything.

And it is sort of interesting that President Trump and former Vice President Biden are going back and forth over age. They're both in their 70s. The president is 72, Joe Biden is 76.

But what I'm told by people who are close to the president is that the president has been fixated, of course, on Pennsylvania. That is his -- the feather in his cap, if you will, of 2016. They believe Joe Biden can win Pennsylvania.

A top Republican told me this this week. If he would make it to the general election, yes, he's a big problem. How does he survive a Democratic primary?

So, that is Joe Biden's task as he heads out on this. But he benefits from a crowded field. Yes, there are a lot of candidates here, but there also a lot of Democrats who want to win and Joe Biden, that's his central message.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think you can't -- I agree, of course, with everything Jeff said, but I don't think you can fight the last war. Every race was different. It was interesting to me how he made no concessions really to the current Democratic Party warriors.

You have all these candidates that are not talking about Trump because their sense is Democrats want to hear what they're doing for the country. You have all these candidates, a number of them sworn off big donor fund-raisers, Biden embraced it, went all in. He's not talking about policy.

He's refused to really -- he's been apology adjacent as one of my colleagues called it on issues like Anita Hill, whatever your views on those issues and how important they are, that's kind of an older style. You see all these new candidates. They apologize for basically everything, the Democratic field.

So he really -- he made no concessions in this announcement. He's doing it how he's done it for all those decades in Washington. I think it is an open question whether that is what Democrats in this primary race want.

KING: I think it's the open question. I like that term, policy adjacent.

So, let's listen to some of that. You know certain things. Whoever you are, you're getting into the race, you know your strengths, you know your weaknesses, Biden has some.

And you know the big questions, and one is his treatment of Anita Hill, especially now in context of today's Democratic Party, in the #MeToo Movement. So, his first international interview is on "The View." He knew it was going to come up. The question, was this good enough?


JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, THE VIEW: I think what she wants you to say is I'm sorry for the way I treated you, not for the way you were treated. I think that would be closer.

BIDEN: Well, but I'm sorry for the way she got treated. I never heard to say -- if you go back and look at what I said and didn't say, I don't think I treated her badly. There are a lot of mistakes made across the board, and for those I apologize.


KING: Why not a "of course I'm sorry?"

PERRY BACON, POLITICAL WRITER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT.COM: You heard him, I don't think I did anything wrong. I don't think this issue is the killer for him. You look at the

polls. His support is with more moderate Democrats and with Democrats over 50. Those are people, if you look at the polls, who are not -- maybe not as passionate about #MeToo as the younger people.

I do think the base he's targeting maybe doesn't care about these things in he did in the past and not looking for him to apologize. They like the fact that maybe he's not so woke, not so left, not talking about issues -- he's talking about Trump and not the other stuff.

I think right now, this is a feature of his campaign. That interview was not great itself. But his base I don't think cares about these things the way other parts of the party does.

KING: One of the things he does want to do is make more of a personal connection. And in part of that, again, he has some obstacles, weaknesses at his record, however you want to characterize. He also has considerable strengths. Party activists love him. His former association with President Obama helps him a lot with the entire Democratic Party. He also has a story of personal tragedy that allows him to empathize with voters in a way that's hard for candidates. He lost his first wife, and he lost his son Beau last time. In that "View" interview, it was interesting, when he talks about personal loss, it's quite emotional.


BIDEN: When I get up in the morning, I think about -- I hope he's proud of me. I hope he's proud.


[08:10:01] A lot of people, all you folks have lost somebody, they're still with you. They're in you. They're there.


KING: It is part of the -- there's Anita Hill, there's his role in the crime bill. You think of him as a relic of the past, not in touch with today's Democratic Party.

There's a personal side of politics where I'm on your side, I'll fight for you, I get it. That is potentially a great asset.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is a thing about, are you voting for somebody based on the policies they're pitching, the specifics of the policies frankly, because the Democrats are not all that dissimilar or are you voting based on a person that you kind of fall for in some way.

We've been talking this for a while. We talked about it with Beto O'Rourke, we're talking about with Buttigieg. And, of course, Biden has always had that certain something, that's intangible that makes somebody a good politician. Whether that gets him all the way to the finish line, it hasn't in the

past. But he does have -- he occupies a warm spot in many people's hearts. I don't know that necessarily translates into votes. That's always the question.

KING: And we'll spend more time on this just ahead as we get to the road for Joe Biden, where he'll be this week, some of the historical trends he hopes to defy, and this week's "politicians say the darndest thing," presidential long shot, math edition.


JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, I look at this optimistically. I used to be at 1 percent, now I'm at 2 percent. I've doubled my support in such a short time.



KING: A big week ahead for Joe Biden as he hits the campaign trail trying to prove he can keep his place at the top of the Democratic pack.

[08:15:06] Let's just look at the week ahead, a big rally tomorrow in Pittsburgh. By the end of the week, Biden will visit the first caucus state, go out to Nevada, he'll touch California, South Carolina and New Hampshire as well, all the big early prizes in the Democratic race.

As he does so, his age is a factor and so is history. Biden would be 78, if he won the 2020 election on inauguration day. Democrats have a history of electing younger candidates, of nominating younger candidates, from John Kennedy at 43, Bill Clinton at 46, Jimmy Carter at 52. Doesn't count Harry Truman and LBJ because they were vice president who came became president.

But Democrats have a history of going younger. Another challenge for Biden is the vice presidential curse you might call it. Al Gore, Don Quayle, Walter Mondale, Herbert Humphrey tried to run for president and failed. George H.W. Bush and Richard Nixon have been successful, although Nixon lost the first time out of the box but later came back and redeemed himself.

One question for Joe Biden because of his past campaigns, can he raise money. He posted $6.3 million in the first 24 hours, that put him atop the Democratic pack. He's doing some things differently. But he did prove he can do something he was not good at in his prior campaign. We'll see if he can sustain that.

Now that he's in the race, the other candidates figuring out how polite or impolite I should be. Elizabeth Warren pointing out in a big debate consumer rights, she thinks he was on the wrong side.


REPORTER: Do you think he's been too cozy to Wall Street to be an effective regulator of the industry if he becomes president?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, our disagreement is a matter of public record. At a time when the biggest financial institutions in this country were trying to put the squeeze on millions of hard working families, there was nobody to stand up for them. I got in that fight because they just didn't have anyone. And Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies.


KING: So now comes the test. He did answer, one of the big doubts -- I remember the '88 campaign, couldn't raise money, couldn't hang in there. At least out of the box he did that.

How much will that become an issue in the campaign in the sense that he is doing more big dollar fund-raisers, most of the other candidates have sworn that off? They're going to try to make him corporate Joe? They're going to try to make him, what?

ZELENY: I think they are, but as Perry was saying earlier, I'm not sure the moderate Democrats, the Democrats who really want to win are going to be bothered by that.

There's nothing wrong with having fund-raisers. It is a time suck for candidates. That's the biggest challenge for him. He's going to have to show up for these fund-raising events.

The $6.3 million is impressive. We thought he would raise a little bit more -- this whole new phenomenon of how much you raised in the first 24 hours is a little bit hocus pocus potentially here because he has three months to raise money. We're not going to see actually how much he raised in this quarter until the middle of July. But it showed that people are interested in him running. He has a lot of fund-raisers out in California as well.

I was talking to a Democrat working for Buttigieg. He said, boy, Biden in the race hurt Buttigieg's ability to raise money because some Obama supporters are now going with Biden. So, I think money will not be his biggest challenge. It's something that he can compete with. His rolodex is still pretty good.

KING: He's going to get labeled as the elite establishment guy, if you will, by the -- Bernie Sanders says it's a revolution.

This is a reaction from some of the candidates. You heard Elizabeth Warren, saying in a fight over credit cards, consumer rights, they thought he was on the wrong side.

Here's Senator Warren: How did Joe Biden raise so much money in one day? Well, it helps that he hosted a swanky private fund-raiser for wealthy donors at the home of a guy who runs Comcast's lobbying shop.

Bernie Sanders: Earlier today, Joe Biden released his first day fundraising numbers. When their campaign got done counting the checks from a $700,000 fundraiser, hosted at the home of a telecommunications lobbyist, he outraised us by just a little bit. Does that work?

BACON: Well, I'm not sure it will work -- it captures something real. If you ask Warren or Sanders what is the problem in America, they would say big company, the wealthy, they would say a lot of things plus Donald Trump. Biden would say basically Donald Trump is a big problem.

I think this is what you're capturing, is the divide between the sort of left and the less left about policy and about what the real problems. And I think you're going to see that early on. That's what I'm going to see a sense of. The other candidates, figuring sort of in between where they are. But I think Warren/Sanders versus Biden is the real fight of the party. I think now, Biden will bring it to fore.

KING: It's going to be interesting to watch. I just want to quickly bring up this "Washington Post" poll today. This is the challenge for Democrats, before you pick who you want, what do you want?

Candidate I most agree with, 47 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaders say that's what they want, the candidate they most agree with, 39 percent of the most candidate most likely to beat Trump. The challenge for a candidate is to get a pretty good share of both camps, since you have these two camps there.

All right. Next, the president rallies the faithful in Wisconsin. A look at his 2020 map and the theme he hopes to ride to re-election.


[08:23:24] KING: President Trump's rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin, last night, capped a week of clear and combative markers about his re- election playbook. One of which is to convince base voters the Mueller report is good for him, which, of course, it's not.


TRUMP: The radical, liberal Democrats put all their hopes behind their collusion delusion which has now been totally exposed to the world as a complete and total fraud, the greatest political hoax in American history.


KING: Another is to convince his voters he's delivering on tough immigration policies, though again, the facts, at least as of today, not on the president's side on this point.


TRUMP: Now, we're sending many of them to sanctuary cities. Thank you very much. They're not too happy about it. I'm proud to tell you that was actually my sick idea.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: His bet is his core voters won't believe it when the media says the president is again twisting the facts. His bet is his free- wheeling style will make the same magic as it did in 2016 when he lost the popular vote big time but won the Electoral College by flipping Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin.


TRUMP: By the way, Saturday night, is there anyplace that's more fun than a Trump rally? Can you imagine Sleepy Joe, Crazy Bernie?

[08:25:00] You look at the candidates, right? Can you imagine any of these people up here doing what I'm doing? There'd be 200 people show up if they were president. If they weren't president, nobody would show up. Is that right?


KING: It's entertaining. He's good at that, but it does not make it so just because when he's the president of the United States when he says we're sending people to sanctuary cities, they're not. This is an idea they put out there. The White House tried to knock it down.

But he just says things that are not true chronically.

DEMIRJIAN: Because this is his thing. He likes to massage the facts and present them as it behooves his argument at the moment in time and also as it pleases his audience at the moment. When he's at a rally with his base, he doesn't get challenged, so they keep blowing forth.

KING: Another interesting thing is Joe Biden in his announcement decided to go big with the Charlottesville comparison saying essentially America is at risk with this president, he doesn't share your values, he doesn't understand adversity, he says things that sides with the dark forces. So, the president had a chance to respond to that this week and he decided to double down on his both sides analogy.


TRUMP: Many of those people were from University of Virginia, from all around the neighborhood, the area, they just wanted to protest the fact that they want to take down the statue of Robert E. Lee. Now, there were a lot of good people in that group and you had some very bad people in each group, too.


KING: We talked about Joe Biden's reluctance to apologize, the president will not budge off this and say, look, horrible people on one side.

ZELENY: Without question. I was struck by how Joe Biden was able to draw the president back to this. You know, in a sense usually the president is leading the debate and Democrats responding to him. In this case, it was the reverse. So, the fact that the president is still explaining and refusing to

budge on this which makes even his most loyal supporters cringe. That was one of the lowest moments of his presidency so far. He took the bait.

7KING: Another point that was interesting is, you heard the president all week long, Mueller, Mueller, Mueller, Mueller. A lot of his aides want him to move on, just talk about the economy. Just let it go, just let it go.

But Jared Kushner, his son in law, talking about Russia meddling in one context, the FBI director a very, very different take.


JARED KUSHNER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER: I think the investigations and all of the speculation that's happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on democracy than a couple Facebook ads.

CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: I do think Russia poses a very significant counterintelligence fact. The use of social media, fake news propaganda, false personas, et cetera, to spin us up, pit us against each other, sow divisiveness and discord --


KING: Not a couple of Facebook ads. A big deal.

LERER: I mean, we know from the Mueller report that Florida was, in fact, hacked, or a county in Florida was hacked during the last presidential. This is a serious problem. You can see an alternative universe, another administration would be a task force or a coalition because these elections are run by a million different local counties and states and there's a lot of coordination that needs to happen to really ensure the security of our election results.

But you have this willful blindness that is hard to see as anything but political coming from the White House that really impedes any kind of effort in that direction. It is for all Americans -- you see Republicans saying this, too -- concerning as we head into 2020.

KING: All right. Next for us, just say no is the White House answer to House Democratic oversight. Big court fights are looming. As the law is tested, it's clear the president loves this political fight.


[08:31:52] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Speaker Nancy Pelosi is scheduled to meet with the President on Tuesday. The subject: infrastructure. The big question, whether the conversation shifts from that potential area of cooperation to a source of unprecedented confrontation.

The White House has issued a blanket no to oversight requests from House Democrats, even ignoring subpoenas. And Team Trump loves this fight -- all but daring Speaker Pelosi to challenge the President in person. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: If she wants to talk about impeachment and not infrastructure; if she wants to talk about dragging down a president instead of drug pricing; if she wants to talk about haranguing the President instead of health care -- that's up to her. I would imagine it would cost her party precious political currency but I'm not in charge of that.

If she's coming here under the ruse of infrastructure and wants to talk about subpoenas, I'll let you know.


KING: The Mueller Report is central to this divide but hardly the only fight. You can see the White House sued to block Congress from getting Trump financial records. It blocked a senior official from testifying about security clearances. It ignored a subpoena related to adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Vowed to fight efforts to question the former White House counsel. And has ignored two deadlines to surrender the President's taxes.


REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D), RHODE ISLANDS: It's not up to the President. No matter how much the President tries to stop it, we will prevail and we will get the information we need to find the truth.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: It's an assault on the constitutional framework of our government. And If it's allowed to stand, frankly the legislative branch will be a pale shadow of what it was intended to be by the constitution of the United States. There's no "we're going to resist".


KING: It is a giant test of constitutional powers. And you even saw Jim Jordan, the leading Republican member of the House Oversight Committee trying now to broker a compromise on one of these issues -- whether the security official, Mr. Kline, will testify on Capitol Hill. That's going to fight out in the courts.

But the glee with which the President, Kellyanne Conway -- they're talking about they like this political fight even though many people question whether they can hold it up in court.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR Washington CORRESPONDENT: They definitely like the fight. In one respect, it draws things out. I mean who knows what's going to happen at the ends of the day here, if Don McGahn is going to have to testify. Probably so.

But you know, there's 18 months to go essentially before the election. So the legal battle could be long and protracted.

So Speaker Pelosi here also has the challenge of keeping her chairmen and others sort of on track and in control. And so far that definitely has been the situation. But an explosive week potentially with the attorney general on Capitol Hill if he shows.

KING: The Democrats don't consider Congressman Jordan a voice of reason. But is he trying to -- is this a legitimate effort to try to broker compromise here? Is he thinking ahead and maybe Republicans retake control someday?

I might be the chairman of this committee, if this president is allowed to set this precedent of always saying no, then I'm going to get it from a Democratic president some day.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes. I mean look there are the longer-term consequences that last beyond the scope of the administration. This has been a constant fight between Democrats and Republicans the whole way that the precedent that you set between whatever party is in charge and whatever White House is there is going to last for a long time.

And everybody in Congress should be pro transparency, pro responding to request, pro having our subpoenas mean something. Otherwise how are we (INAUDIBLE) of government.

[08:35:01] It's always difficult to have anybody though broker anything in the middle because Jordan is a close ally of the President and many in the GOP that are at the tops of these committees have shown themselves to be more sympathetic to Trump than they are to the Democrats' greater cause calling.

But by the same token, Democrats too are not exactly, you know -- nobody's angels here. Everybody is completely sullied by their political bent. It's very difficult to take anybody at their words when it comes to these fundamental issues of are you challenging Trump right now, today or not?

PERRY BACON, POLITICAL WRITER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: These issues -- I mean the (INAUDIBLE) Congress thing is universal here but the issues (ph) are somewhat distinct and Trump is never going to turn over his tax returns. So that's one issue that's very distinct.

McGahn testifying is we're rehearing the Mueller investigation. Trump is going to be very opposed to that I think throughout. I think the census and other questions like that, I think these issues are going to be part of negotiations.

Will the administration block all congressional hearings for the next two years? I doubt it. But on these things that are Mueller or tax related, I do think the White House wants those fights particularly about taxes. I don't think the Democrats are being mean, demanding his taxes. They want that, fine.

Ultimately they -- Pelosi has said we're not going to impeach. She knows parts of the party want to impeach. So I think drawing that debate out and generating lots of Democrats' divided stories is probably what the White House wants as well.

KING: All right. The President is trying to poke them to want to stir up the impeachment because he thinks -- again, that's the fight. To your point, we should not be surprised, I guess, because politics is politics. But if you go back in time, the Republicans at the time said Bill Clinton lied and Bill Clinton tried to obstruct an investigation, he should be impeached. You read the Mueller report. President Trump lied. There's plenty of evidence to at least make the case, if you want to.

You can dispute it if you want but there's plenty of evidence, ten, 12 examples of the President potentially obstructing justice. Republicans say time to move on and I'll thank (ph) you across the seat.

On the issue of congressional power and the value of congressional oversight, here is Lindsey Graham back in anther day saying a president must not defy Congress when he gets a subpoena.


SENATOR LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Article three of impeachment against Richard Nixon, the article was based on the idea that Richard Nixon as president failed to comply with subpoenas of Congress. And the Congress back in t that time said you're taking impeachment away from us, you're becoming the judge and jury.

It is not your job to tell us what we need. It is your job to comply with the things we need to provide oversight over you. The day Richard Nixon failed to answer that subpoena is the day that he was subject to impeachment.


LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": I mean look, I think this shows you what power President Trump has in the Republican Party. You're in election season. You have a lot of -- we're in a primary season. You have a lot of these Republicans watching behind them on their right flank especially.

And President Trump holds great sway in this party. It's part of the reason why when we talk about a primary challenge to President Trump, everyone rolls their eyes a little bit. It's not something that feels particularly realistic. And you see it in Congress, too

ZELENY: Lindsey Graham there, of course, back when he was in the House. Now he's the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But much more important than that he's President Trump's best friend or golfing buddy.

KING: His new best friend.

ZELENEY: His very new best friend. In an election year himself. So does not want to have anyone in his committee talk about it. But the House where he used to serve is controlled by Speaker Pelosi now. So he doesn't have much of a say in it.

KING: (INAUDIBLE). When we come back, the Democratic race not only crowded with candidates, there's a giant list of new policy ideas, including one that caught the President's eye.


KING: There's a vibrant policy debate among the Democrats in the 2020 nomination chase. And it expanded into controversial new territory this past week.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have said that you believe that people with felony records should be allowed to vote while in prison. Does this mean that you would support enfranchising people like the Boston Marathon bomber?

SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the right to vote is inherent to our democracy, yes, even for terrible people.

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think we should have that conversation.



BUTTIGIEG: No, I don't think so.


KING: You can count President Trump among those watching that debate.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I mean you see what's going on. Let the Boston bomber vote. He should be voting, right? I don't think so.

Let terrorists that are in prison vote. I don't think so.

Can you believe it? But this is where some of these people are coming from. And they're the most popular ones.


KING: It's fascinating on a number of fronts. Number one, will Bernie Sanders pull the party even further, again to the left on that issue. Number two, how closely the President -- he looks for ways to get involved and get engaged, even in the Democratic debate.

ZELENY: Sure he definitely does. I mean he's long been following all this very carefully.

The next day Senator Harris came out and, you know, she didn't wait for the conversation. She said I'm a former prosecutor. Essentially, no, that's not a good idea. So she cleaned up her answer there fairly quickly.

Look, I mean Bernie Sanders has been very successful in pulling the party to the left on a variety of issues. Most of the issues being debated right now were his issues, you know, (INAUDIBLE) the mainstream to that's the central challenge for the party.

LERER: Yes. I mean It is striking to see President Trump get involved in this primary, usually sitting presidents are not deeply involved in the other opposing party's primary process and how he throws it off in real time. How he changes how these candidates behave on the Democratic side.

I think it will be really fascinating to see that story evolve. I don't think we know the answer to that because like so many things in our politics, it's just something we haven't seen in previous races.

DEMIRJIAN: The challenge is going to be also for Democrats. I mean knowing this about Trump and that he's watching, can any of them actually pull him into anything that is now advantageous for him. Because when Trump takes pot shots, he redefines the narrative, he redefines the conversation.

[08:45:00] If Democrats can manage to do to him and that could be -- bring people to rise up --

BACON: Like Biden did on Charlottesville.

DEMIRJIAN: Right. Like Biden did on Charlottesville.

BACON: Pushed (ph) him aside. Donald Trump barely won the election in 2018 (INAUDIBLE). We should not pretend that he's some political genius here. This isn't like -- this is all really nothing is more unpopular than separating children from families. So you'll hear about that.

Or actually Trump brought up repealing Obamacare again this week. Not a smart idea. I don't think that his decisions have been particularly smart so far even if the Bernie Sanders idea was also unpopular.

The question right now, we're hearing lots of unpopular ideas from Trump and from the Democrats. And Joe Biden has a chance to run a campaign of things people are actually for and he should do that.

KING: It's an interesting point. Another Democratic trying to do that is Elizabeth Warren who has not gained any traction, much traction, in the Democratic polls just yet.

But what she's hoping is when you get to the debate phase of the campaign, when they're all in the stage together. And then as voters get more and more involved in this, it's still very early. We're into this every day. Most voters have real lives, if you will.

Elizabeth Warren has put out some detailed plans. You can disagree with them if you want but to her credit, she's put detailed proposals out. She says how she's going to pay them for them -- whether it's universal free college and student aid, childcare, breaking up big tech, corporate tax plans, protect public lands, abolishing the electoral college, a wealth tax, breaking up big tech. You see the big list here.

She's trying to be -- and actually you know, Dave Weigel of the Washington Post tweeted this out from Warren merchandise. "Warren has a plan" t-shirt there. She's trying to be the eye of a planned candidate. She's struggled a little bit so far. What do Democratic voters want? Do they want, you know, semi-colons and a book on the plans. Or they want to fall in love with somebody.

DEMIRJIAN: It's kind of both. Right.

Look, Warren has struggled so far but she has not struggled in terms of setting what the tone is for the rest of the Democratic field. She says impeachment, everybody follows. She says, you know, gives out details of tax plans, health care plans, she brings up new issues, and people tend to follow that, move into that space.

It's the question of is she the messenger the people want for these types of messages? And right now the answer is apparently not, but she's hoping that she gets a chance to change people's minds.

LERER: And I think it's worth remembering that this is a wide open race. "The Post" has a poll out this morning. A majority of Democrats -- I think around 54 percent say they're not decided. Biden is the clear front-runner at 13 or 19 percent.

BACON: It was 17 -


LERER: 17 -- is under 20. So, you know, This is wide open and I think if you talk to the Warren folks, what they say it's slow and steady. Just stay in the game. Those first 24 hour fund-raising numbers are kind of not a great metric for the long haul. Just stay in there. She has a comprehensive world view and see what happens.

The debates very well could -- we're going to start monthly debates in June. That can scramble up a lot of things.

KING: Monthly debates in June. That looks (INAUDIBLE) a lot of things.

And that's -- again, that's the chance you get if. If you view Biden as a the big voice in the race, it's a challenge for him. How much does he say I'm with Obama? Ho much does he embrace some of this new stuff. how does He strike that balance?

ZELENY: And we're about to find out. He's never been in this position before. He's about to prove if he is a front-runner or not. But he is beginning this as a front-runner. That is some good and bad but he'd rather have it if you're him.

KING: I remember the '88 race, I think seven or eight Democrats, they thought that was a crowded feel.

Here we go.

Our reporters share from their notebooks next including the reception the attorney general can expect when he heads up to Capitol Hill this week, assuming he shows up.


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


LERER: Well so his week when I was looking at the 2020 race I was reminded of that old "Real World" slogan, you're going to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real. And what we saw a lot of this week in the race was for months this had been a crowded primary, but a very polite primary. They were at least saying my friend this and, my friend that.

And we're starting to see that shift a little bit. We saw Senators Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, take a shot at Biden. We saw Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the pages of the New York. And this just made some liberal activist in the party nervous.

They've been circulating this unified urging with candidates to commit -- basically commuting their tax a little bit. That feels unlikely to happen. This is a crowded race. This is going to be a competitive race. We're going to see a lot of what our friends in the political professionals like to call drawing contrasts.

But we haven't seen a race this crowded in a very long time. The question is going to be whether the tone of this race does weaken these candidates and prevent them from achieving what Democrats really hold oz their most passionate, sacred goal in this thing which is defeating Donald Trump.

So I think that's what a lot of people, including the people at this table, but also a lot of activists are going to be watching as we move forward, particularly as we head towards that first debate.

KING: 20 people in the race. There's going to be some sharp elbows.


ZELENY: Well, Joe Biden, as we've been talking about all morning has long-held presidential ambitions but they have seldom, in fact, never gotten him beyond Iowa. 1988 he stopped actually well short of that in 1987. In 2008, he stopped the day after the Iowa caucuses.

So he heads to Iowa this week on Tuesday and Wednesday for stopping at least four different cities, talking to a lot of activists, Iowa holds considerable importance for Joe Biden. But I am told he's going to be announcing some endorsements when he's out there. There are a lot of people who liked Joe Biden in 2008 and who liked him earlier in the year but then they went with that Obama guy. Of course, he comes back now with that Obama guy with him. So the idea at least in spirit.

So keep an open mind about Joe Biden in Iowa. It's a critical state for him. But hat visit this week will show if he can win the big one, it starts in Iowa.

KING: Stir up some old ghosts but also new opportunities.


BACON: 17 Republicans were in the debate in 2016 at the beginning. As you know, lots of Democrats running this year. So now with Tim Ryan in the race, he's polling well. We have 16 Democrats who qualify at the debate so far.

So the thing to watch, if you want to see more candidates debate which may not be everyone's dream -- the thing to watch next is Eric Swalwell and Seth Moulton. So we might get those two are the next two I think who might qualify and then we'll beat the record the Republicans set in 2016.

KING: We have two split debates. Will we need three split debates?

PERRY: The limit is 20 though so we're only going to have two. Journalists thank the DNC for that.

KING: We think.


DEMIRJIAN: Well, as we're focusing on the continued standoff between the White House and the House over these subpoenas and everything else, we have Bill Barr, the attorney general coming to Capitol Hill. He's supposed to show two times this week although it's unclear whether he's actually going to be present for the hearing that's scheduled with the House Judiciary panel.

But what's going to be really interesting is how Democrats try to hold into account for the public statements he made about the Mueller report, whether he was spinning. Some people think he was lying on behalf of the President.

[08:50:02] And definitely many of the Democrats think he was shilling (ph) for the President and are going to challenge him basically on did you tell us lies intentionally to obfuscate what was in that report.

The tone that is set clearly has implications for the subpoena battle for the redactions. But it also has to implications for everything else that goes through DOJ which is a massive which is a massive portfolio of issues.

If there's no trust between the attorney general and the Hill this early on, that's a problem for a while to come. KING: It's a major confrontation in the week ahead.

I'm going to close with a little follow-up on what Jeff was just talking about here and how the Biden campaign is betting that some old school rules are still worth following. He cannot keep up with some of his rivals when it comes to the big new test in politics -- online, small dollar contributions. But the former vice president is hoping to pressure his rivals with an old school tool, a steady stream of big name endorsements.

There are a handful of prominent New Hampshire Democrats waiting after Biden leaves Iowa to come on board. And New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's support is considered a two-fer by team Biden -- a gateway to a proven fund-raising network and a blow of sorts to New York Senator and fellow 2020 candidate, Kirsten Gillibrand.

If there's a downside, we've seen it before. It is that candidates like Bernie Sanders are very adept at stoking the idea, the establishment elites are trying to put their thumbs on the scale.

But team Biden sees the upside as far greater especially as it tries to quiet that early skepticism, the third campaign will be superior to the first two. Keep an eye on that this week.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you can catch us week days as well. We're here at noon eastern.

Up next, don't go anywhere. Big "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER". His guests include White House counselor Kellyanne Conway and the other Democrats to jump into the 2020 race last week, Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton.

Again thanks for sharing your Sunday. Have a great day.