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The Economy Is Soaring But Trump's Poll Numbers Are Not; Democrats Say Trump Economy Is Leaving Workers Behind; Top 2020 Contenders Hold Edge Over Trump; North Korea Claims It Tested Long- Range Rocket Launchers; Trump Contradicts Top Aides On Russian Involvement In Venezuela. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 5, 2019 - 08:00   ET




[08:00:00] JOHN KING, CCN ANCHOR (voice-over): A defiant at attorney general.

WILLIAMS BARR, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The letters of it's -- my decision how and when to make it public, not Bob Mueller's,

KING (voice-over): And this retort from the House Speaker.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: He lied to Congress. Nobody is above the law. Not the president of the United States and not the attorney general.

KING (voice-over): Plus, the instant Democratic front-runner.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We choose hope over fear. We choose unity over division.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I helped lead the fight against NAFTA. He voted for NAFTA.

KING (voice-over): And the booming jobs report means a happy president.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: The economy is unbelievable. Never probably has done as well as it's doing right now.

"Inside Politics," the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters now.


KING: Welcome to "Inside Politics," I'm John King. To our viewers around the United States and the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday. In a moment we'll go live to Seoul for the latest on a North Korean provocation that is testing the limits of what President Trump calls a trusted friendship with Kim Jong-un.

But we begin with a challenge here at home. What you might call the Trump paradox. The American economy is humming, yet the American president, heading into re-election season has an approval rating stuck in the low to mid-40s. Across the country Saturday, headlines marking another big economic milestone.

A hiring surge is how the Orlando Sentinel put it. In Sioux City, unemployment hits a 49-year low. The Arizona Daily Star connecting the dots, hiring surge gives boost to the economy, Trump's bid for second term. In the President's hometown, his favorite tabloid, well, it looked like a Trump re-election ad.

And how did the President spend his Saturday? Well, there were a few re-tweets knowing the good economic news. But the President also took time to lash out at the news media and took a considerable time against Facebook and Twitter for banning controversial voice. And as the President did that, he re-tweeted videos from an InfoWars conspiracy theorist and an account called "Deep State Expose."

Republicans complained such play-to-the-base tweet storms are one of the reasons GOP got crushed in 2018, because they said concerns about the President's temperament and his focus drown out the good economic news.

President Trump doesn't buy that. He thinks 2020 will be different because he's atop the ballot. His chief of staff, well, listen here, Mick Mulvaney has a somewhat different take.


MICK MULVANEY, CHIEF OF STAFF: Hate the sound like a cliche, but are you better off than you were four years ago? It's pretty simple, right? It's the economy, stupid. I think that's easy. People will vote for somebody they don't like if they think it's good for them. And we think that generally speaking, the economy has been good for everybody.


KING: Remember what he just said.

With us to share reporter and their insights this Sunday, CNN's Nia- Malika Henderson, Michael Shear of the New York Times, Paul Kane of the Washington Post, and Rachael Bade also of the Washington Post.

People will vote for somebody they don't like. But that's the President's Chief of Staff. That is not some random Republican from the sideline somewhere. That is the President's Chief of Staff. So is that the Trump re-election message? You may not like me, but you need me. Look at the economy.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, given some credits for being honest at least, about the reality that there are a lot of people out there who are put off by President Trump and his behavior. I don't think that's the message that's going to be a sort of -- as the kind of yet.

KING: You don't think the boss is going to read that script, is what you're saying?

SHEAR: No. They're not going to read that script. But, you know, if they're smart, and some of the people that are, you know, helping to run the President's re-election campaign are smart people. They're going to at least recognize that fact.

And they're going to have to deal with the reality that they're not going to change President Trump. They're not going to change his behavior. He's going to continue to tweet, he's going to continue to, you know, put off people. You know, there's going to be a lot of people in the country that are put off. And they're going to have to, you know, craft a re-election message kind of around that, that both, you know, focuses on the economy if they can and kinds of gets around his tweets.

KING: I just want to show some of the numbers as we have this conversation. This is a site called the Trump Paradox. It's really fascinating. If you look now, look at the President's approval of the economy. Way up here, way up here, 56 percent, that's a great number for any president. Take his name out of the equation, whether you like or don't like President Trump, any president, 56 percent of Americans say you're doing a good job on the economy.

That is usually the tide that lifts this. But in his case, it's not. His approval rating, you see it go up and down, but it's been stuck, essentially since he was inaugurated, been stuck in the low to mid 40s. Is it past time to think, if you're in the Trump re-election campaign, that this good news up here that you've got to love is going to ever pull that up. You just have to -- this is the environment in which they have to operate.

[08:05:07] PAUL KANE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: The Mulvaney point is actually, he was citing the old Clinton campaign that you covered so closely. It's the economy, stupid. And Bill Clinton himself had personal issues that a lot of Americans did not like, but the economy kept going up. And what Clinton did was he really sold that.

Trump is just not the same type of salesman, because, as you noted, he just keeps getting diverted. It's one moment that he's tweeting about the economy, the next it's InfoWars.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: also of the Washington Post: And that's why you see the big difference in those two numbers. I mean, in order to close the gap between his approval rating and how people feel the economy is doing, he's got to talk economy, economy, economy and only economy. Stay on message. Stay on message.

And that's the problem, you know, Republicans had with the President in the 2018 election. Paul Ryan, you know, would call him and say, "Let's please tell this economic numbers, let's talk about anything other than, you know, controversy coming out of the White House, infighting in the White House and --

SHEAR: Caravans.

BADE: -- caravans, immigration. And, you know, they just couldn't -- they couldn't keep him on message. And so, that's always been a challenge for the president.

KING: He likes to fight. He likes soaring up. He likes to fight. And look, it work --

BADE: He does like fights.

KING: It worked for him. And so, let's listen. You have the President of the United States who has a golden age economy. Richard Nixon was president the last time the unemployment rate was this low. I was joking the other day, Doris Day was on a cover of TD Guy (ph). They had such a thing, when, you know, when the employment report was last this low.

So listen to the President here and one of the Democrats, we'll choose the front-runner here, the former Vice President Joe Biden, how do you talk about the economy in this election you were? Look, Democrats have to concede the news for the President is pretty good.


TRUMP: We're doing phenomenal. We have the best unemployment numbers, African-American, Asians, Hispanics, best numbers we've ever had, women, the best in 61 years, unemployment numbers, job numbers, wealth numbers. So I don't know why somebody beats that.

BIDEN: There are $2 trillion tax cut last year. Did you feel it? Did you get anything from it?

UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER (in unison): Of course not. Of course not. All of it went to folks at the top.


KING: Here's the challenge for the President and the opening, if you will, if there is for Democrats even though you have this booming economy, the stock market is up, the unemployment rate is at this historic 50-year low. Here's the opportunity, if you look at this poll here.

This is (inaudible). Look at this, 54 percent of Americans, despite this great economy, 54 percent of Americans, the majority say not much or not at all, have they benefited from it. So that's the opening that even though and that's -- the President has to do a better job selling this economy to people who don't feel they're being lifted up. And that's the opening for Democrats to make the case that, yes, those numbers look great, but how are you doing? NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And I think that's why -- and you saw that bid in 2018 and it's a message that worked. And they talked about the economy, but talked about the economy through the lens of healthcare, through the lens of are you able to pay for your prescription drugs, are you able to pay for your kids going to college and this idea of income inequality, right?

You may have gotten a little bit of a raise. I think wages are up 2 percent or 3 percent or something like that. But if you look at how the top earners are doing, they're the ones that are really benefiting. So I think, you know, it's sort of a more nuanced argument. But it's also how people experience the economy.

It's not just whether or not you have a job. It's how far does that paycheck take you and whether or not you see any economic mobility in your own household.

SHEAR: Yes. I mean, look, I think the question for Democrats is what is going to be whether they -- their message feels dissident with what people's experience is, right? I mean, presidents and candidates always have to factor in, not only what they're saying, but how it's being received. Sometimes presidents will talk about how things are improving when, in fact, things are bad and people don't feel it, and that causes political damage. And so, the Democrats, it's going to be tricky for them.

KING: But they'll focus on how is your healthcare doing, are you working two jobs to get by, how things going with this.


KING: So we'll see how this play. I want to show these numbers. And the fact that President Trump is President Trump tells you, don't put too much fate in this early poll numbers, he was no where.

But just look, the President pays attention to this stuff though. And this is the president, how do you do against Trump? Beto O'Rourke right now beats the President by 10 points, Joe Biden by 6, Bernie Sanders by 6, Kamala Harris by 4, Pete Buttigieg by 3, Hillary Clinton if you her back on the bout would beat the President by 2, you'll see that one. That will cause the internet to break. Elizabeth Warren minus one.

Now again, these are very early numbers. And President Trump was nowhere in the early polls and he's the president of the United States. But to the point that when you're heading into the cycle, the Democrats will see that as we still have a chance despite this great economic numbers.

And my bigger question is, how does the President react to that? Especially, if you look at the Warren number, the only person he's winning is Warren. He has attacked her repeatedly, his advisers are now telling him, "Don't attack Joe Biden. Stay out of it. Don't meddle in the Democratic race." If I'm the President Trump, I think, no, it works. HENDERSON: Yes. Because he gets out there early and often trying to frame Joe Biden. And one of the main messages so far is that, Joe Biden is sort of a version of low energy Jeb, he's too old. That's what he's hinting at and it did, apparently, work at least for Elizabeth Warren.

Joe Biden is a very different candidate, obviously, than Elizabeth Warren. He's a man. It's a little, I think, more difficult to attack a man. And we haven't seen Donald Trump go against a person of Joe Biden's stature yet, but we'll see how this work.

[08:10:08] KING: He reads and studies such things.


KING: So we shall see. Up next for us to go to the global stage, it's a big questions front and center. A controversial call of Vladimir Putin and a defiant act by North Korea.


KING: To several pressing global security challenges now beginning with new tensions on the Korean peninsula. North Korea fired a volume of projectiles into waters off its coast Saturday morning. And says it was testing long-range rocker launchers and tactical-guided weapons.

The launches undermined President Trump's argument that his two summits with Kim Jong-un were a big success even though North Korea has done nothing to dial back its nuclear program.


TRUMP: I think there's a lot of excitement toward getting a deal done with North Korea. In the meantime, when I came here there were nuclear tests, missile tests, rocket tests, we got our hostages back. We got remains back and continue to come back from the war, our great heroes that remained. There's been no tests, there's been no nothing.


KING: But now there are some things. So why now in his confrontation now replacing diplomacy? CNN's Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul. Paula, what is the latest here and what is the take on what is Kim Jong-un up to?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, we just got some new information from the Defense Ministry here in South Korea, effectively agreeing with North Korea that it was multiple rocket launches we saw being tested.

[08:15:02] And also the weapons system, the guided weapon system, they believe that that is a new model. Well, it looks as if Pyongyang is actually testing something new.

But clearly, there are many analysts here who are questioning why is the South Korean and US intelligence not mentioning the word missile? They are saying from the images, clearly one of those does look like a short range ballistic missile is being tested.

And of course, it is just a word, but it is very significant because President Trump has said that as long as Kim Jong-un is not testing missiles or his nuclear capability, then he's happy. And clearly the omission of the word missiles has to be noted.

Now, North Korea is showing this as a victory. They have their very famous news anchor coming out to announce this, Ri Chun Hee. She is the one who announced this big tests, big things that Kim Jong-un really wants to show off.

So the assessment here is that Kim Jong-un is trying to pressure the US President into doing something. He has made it clear, he wants him to change his attitude by the end of the year and get back to the negotiations on North Korean terms, but he's not pushing him so far that it could backfire on North Korea. John?

KING: That would be fascinating to watch. And you look at those images released by the North Koreans. Subtle is not the word I would use for what they're trying to point, they're trying to make here. Paula Hancocks live in Seoul, appreciate it, thank you very much.

Up next, for add North Korea to a hot spot list that also includes Venezuela. And add in a curious call with Vladimir Putin. Guess what didn't come up?


KING: Now North Korea, plus Venezuela and Russia all major challenges for the Trump White House and all issues on which what the President says is out of sync, often widely so from what his foreign policy deputies say.

Hours after that North Korean weapons test, Saturday, the President tweeted that Kim Jong-un, "Does not want to break his promise to me. Deal will happen." His national security team, which met throughout the weekend, guess what, considers the promise broken, and the odds of a denuclearization deal near zero.

That team also has been warning about Russian meddling in Venezuela's political crisis. But after he talked with the Russian president, Mr. Trump yet again taking Vladimir Putin's word over his own advisers.


MIKE POMPEO, SECRETARY OF STATE: It's been a long time since anyone has seen Maduro. He had an airplane on the tarmac, was ready to leave this morning as we understand it. The Russians indicated he should stay.

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: The Russians like nothing better than putting a thumb in our eye. They're using the Cubans as surrogates. They'd love to get effective control of a country in this hemisphere. TRUMP: I had a very good talk with President Putin. He is not looking at all to get involved in Venezuela.


KING: And about that call with President Putin, the FBI -- the FBI director and attorney general in recent days have said more needs to be done to counter continuing Russian election interference.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, did you address the election meddling issues that came up in the Mueller report with Mr. Putin today?

KING: We discussed it. He actually soon smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain and ended up being a mouse. But he knew that because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?

TRUMP: We didn't discuss that. Really, we didn't discuss it.


KING: A lot to digest here, let's start with that. The Mueller report comes out, read the first hundred pages, let's not have an obstruction or collusion debate, read the first hundred pages about Russian interference and how detailed Mueller's case is about what they did. You have a conversation with the Russian president. We didn't discuss it. What?

SHEAR: Look, I think the thing that like that brings all of those topics together is this remarkable reality that people in the United States government are having to work around the President, right? The people who are frantically trying to make sure that the Russians don't interfere with the 2020 election are doing so without the help of the President, without the support, the active support of the President. North Korea, same thing, Venezuela, same thing, and that is a situation.

I mean, there are always disagreements inside governments, Obama, Bush, everybody sort of, you know, there's always, you know, debates about what exactly to do. But I don't think there's ever been a case where the people charged with actually running these foreign policy programs are having to go around and sort of have combat, frankly, political and bureaucratic combat with the President of the United States to actually get their job done.

KING: And when you -- on the Venezuela issue, that was the Secretary of State and the National Security adviser, not some coffee guy, let me go back to another story.

KANE: Not a deep state. KING: Yes. That's the National Security adviser and the Secretary of State, and president says, "Nah."

KANE: Well, this is why -- Democrats feel like this is one area where, whoever their nominee is, they want that person to be standing up and basically saying, "It's going to be normal again." We're not going to have this sort of dispute where the President doesn't believe any of his advisers. They want to sort of say, "Look, it's going to be a steady hand. Don't worry, America. We're going to try to do away with some of the more crazy parts of this."

BATE: Yes. Just to go back to the point on Russia, him not even bringing up 2020 in his hour and a half long conversation with Putin. I mean, Mueller talked about what happened in 2016. But he also made her a very clear warning and that was the Russians are coming back and they're trying to do it again. And, you know, there's been some talk about that on Capitol Hill.

Of course, it's being totally subverted while people analyze the Mueller report and Democrats, you know, suggest the President obstructed justice. But this is something that you would think politicians would be talking about more and more as we get closer to 2020. But again, the President just want -- wants nothing to do with that conversation.

KING: So you won't have that conversation. He again takes Putin's sides over public words by his own deputies over issues of Russian involvement.

On North Korea, the strange tweet yesterday from the President saying, "I'm with Kim. Kim is with me. We're going to get a deal." Being very like everything is OK when everything is clearly not OK. And so, here's how the President says we're fine. This is Ben Sasse, constant Trump questioner, if you will, to be kind, about connecting the dots here.

Kim's provocation after his submit with Putin tell you all you need to know about North Korea's commitment to denuclearization and about Putin's desire for peace. "These two murderous tyrants have no interest in peace and stability. American must remain clear-eyed about who our friends really are and realistic about empty promises from adversaries."

Implicit in that, is Mr. President, you're nuts. You're wrong. You're on the -- you're just -- you're in a parallel universe. Why are you trusting these people?

HENDERSON: Well, he's been in this parallel universe for many, many months. I mean, you think about the love letters that they've exchanged and his praise of Kim Jong-un, and really elevating the North Korean dictator, this brutal dictator on the world stage.

[08:25:09] The Venezuela policy, it was always so odd because how do you go after Maduro, right, because of what's going on there on the one hand. But then sort of coddle Kim Jong-un which is exactly sort of a dynamic that was playing out. So there is no consistency in terms of foreign policy, no consistency in terms of America's sort of standing in the world as a moral authority.

KING: And if you're Juan Guaido, the opposition leader that the United States recognizes as the president of Venezuela, in trying to figure what to do next as he continues to call for protests. What do you believe? Who do you listen to? Would you listen to the Secretary of State on the other end of authority, watch what the President is saying, we'll see this one, right (ph)?

Next for us, back to domestic politics, Joe Biden out of the gate strong, Bernie Sanders has noticed, and is dusting off a familiar playbook. And politicians say the darndest things, Hillary Clinton plays the China card dripping with sarcasm.


HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Why should Russia have all the fun? And since Russia is clearly backing Republicans, why don't we ask China to back us? China, if you're listening, why don't you get Trump's tax returns. I'm sure our media would richly reward you. So, hey, let's have a great power contest and let's get the Chinese in on the side of somebody else. Just saying that shows how absurd the situation we find ourselves in.



[08:30:06] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: There are giant risks to being the frontrunner. But the benefits are big, too.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If I'm going to be able to beat Donald Trump in 2020, it's going to happen here. Donald Trump is only president -- is the only president who has decided not to represent the whole country.

We're reminded again that we are in a battle. We are in a battle for America's soul.

Have to choose hope over fear, unity over division and maybe most importantly truth over lies.


KING: President Trump is Joe Biden's singular focus. To Biden, as he moved from Pennsylvania to Iowa and now on to South Carolina this past week, the other Democrats in the race, too many to count, too far back to criticize.


BIDEN: We agree on basically everything, all of us running, all 400 of us.

I'm not going to get into a debate with my colleagues here. We'll have plenty of time on the stage.

I'm not going to speak ill of any Democrat during this campaign unlike some other Democrats now. That's not useful.


KING: Remember that unlike some other Democrats part. CNN polling shows a commanding Biden national lead. He's supported by 39 percent of Democrats and Democratic leaning voters, 24 points ahead of his closest challenger. Bernie Sanders, that challenger, was a distant second back in May 2015, too.

This time, same playbook. But Senator Sanders reading from the attack chapter, sooner.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When people take a look at my record versus Vice President Biden's record, I helped lead the fight against NAFTA. He voted for NAFTA. I helped lead the fight against PNTR with China. He voted for it. I voted against the war in Iraq. He voted for it.

I have understood from day one that our trade policies have cost us -- NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China. Millions of decent-paying jobs, it took Hillary Clinton a long time to come on board that.

I voted against the war in Iraq. Hillary Clinton voted for the war in Iraq.


KING: Sounds familiar. But he waited a little bit longer last time. His decision has been Joe Biden has got to lead, not as big as Hillary Clinton's lead at this point back in the race. But Bernie Sanders has decided to be aggressive from the get-go.

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think that's right. And you saw Biden there, you know, essentially name checking him without doing that, saying I'm not going to be like Bernie Sanders in attacking other Democrats.

Bernie Sanders isn't the only person doing that. Warren is doing it as well because of a credit card dispute they had way back when.

You know, the strength of Biden is because he does well among a broad swath of Democrats, right? He's the one that can go to Pittsburgh, he can go to Iowa, and he can go to Columbia, South Carolina in front of African-American voters and do well. He's doing well in all of those constituencies, important constituencies.

Bernie Sanders found that last time. He did have a pretty solid constituency. It just wasn't broad.

KING: But that's a blessing of being a front-runner. That he does have this broad support. You look into our poll, you could find it online. Supported by liberals, supported by moderates, supported by men, supported by women, supported by African-Americans. That's his strength right now.

The problem is, if he starts to drift, people say a-ha. But to your point, this morning we have some video of Joe Biden. He's at a Baptist church, an African-American church in West Columbia, South Carolina, a very critical state early on the Democratic primary calendar. You see him there, his wife Jill is with him as well.

And he has deep support in the African-American community. And he also, as he campaigns, does not have an endorsement, but he does have a history -- eight years at the side of a very, very popular Democratic president.


BIDEN: You listen to Barack, you think I climbed out of a coal mine in a lunch bucket, always talks about Joe from Scranton. By the way, he's a hell of a guy.

I worked with him for eight years. I watched him. He has enormous integrity. He has enormous integrity. He has enormous integrity. Nobody I've ever worked with is smarter.


KING: It helps when you're allowed to say "Barack", first-name basis.


PAUL KANE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON POST": The voters so far -- there have been a lot of stories about Biden, his record on bussing in the 70s, the Anita Hill stuff. Bernie Sanders is talking about PNTR.

A lot of voters have just sort of pushed all that to the back of their minds because they had eight years of him with "my buddy Barack". And they need to start looking at some other things that he's done more recently to try and sort of check him.

Biden was one of the top salesmen for TPA, the fast-track trade deal of 2015. And he was going to be a big salesman for the TPP trade deal that even Hillary Clinton backed away from. Maybe some sort of the more recent stuff about Biden would have a bigger impact.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": I honestly don't think that Bernie Sanders' winning slogan is going to be PNTR with China. That said, you know, to John's point, he needs to chip away some of these constituencies.

[08:35:01] And I think what he's hoping to do is to take the sort of the young people and the people who really were affected by trade deals and somehow sow doubt in their minds that Joe Biden is one -- would be working on behalf of them. And if he can do that, what you would think would happen is those numbers -- Biden's numbers would fall and Sanders' numbers would increase. But then there's 20 million other people running, too. So you don't know --

KING: So the question for Biden, number one, can he hold support among constituencies. Some will (INAUDIBLE) at the questions. Some will be about his record. Some will be about if Joe Biden won this election, he would be the oldest president ever elected in the United States. He addresses it heads-on on the trail.


BIDEN: Look, I think it's fair to people to ask about my age. All I say is watch me. Determine whether I have the energy enough to do it. But I have significant experience. I've learned a great deal.

People are looking at my party to lead the country, for someone who can, first of all, win this time and beat Donald Trump. And secondly, the moment they're there, no on-the-job training. They're able to move in immediately and command the world stage.

And so I think my experience puts me in a better position to do that than anyone else.


KING: We beat him up a lot because sometimes Joe Biden's tongue does get out ahead of his brain. He has a history of that. We beat him up a lot.

But this is what to watch because that's pretty disciplined. He deals with the age, significant experience. I've learned a great deal. That gets to your point.

The warts (ph) in his record, the thing that Democrats would we don't like that. He says I've learned a great deal and then he pivots to let's beat Donald Trump. If he can keep in that discipline, it's hard to chip away.

HENDERSON: Yes. I think that's right. And that's his strongest argument, too -- electability. We'll see what the others can do. I think part of that electability is about the constituency. Part of it is whether or not these other people like Kamala Harris can chip away at some of the African-American voters.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": I was just going to jump in and say, it's like he's embracing (ph), you know. Even though people, of course, I think for his age, the fact that he's a white male, this is not the sort of demographic that we thought we would see emerge at the top of the Democratic field.

He's sort of embracing that, you know, I'm older, I'm wiser. I've learned. And, you know, that makes me the better candidate.

KING: And the challenge for some of the other candidates, especially now -- especially if you have a Biden-Bernie battle at the top of the race here. It's got to break through. For Kamala Harris this past week that was a Senate hearing with the Attorney General in the witness chair. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Has the President or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no, please, sir.

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The President or anybody else.

HARRIS: Seems you'd remember something like that and be able to tell us.

BARR: Yes, but I'm trying to grapple with the word "suggest". I mean there have been discussions of matters out there that -- they have not asked me to open an investigation.

HARRIS: Perhaps they've suggested.

BARR: I don't know. I wouldn't say suggest.

HARRIS: Hinted.

BARR: I don't know.


KING: You could see another candidate right next to her, Cory Booker, who is sort of acknowledging Kamala is having a moment here. That was an interesting moment and she's now asking for an IG investigation to say, wait a minute. That was not, shall we say -- if we're going to have an argument about it depends on your definition of suggest. That's not a strong moment for the attorney general.

HENDERSON: And this is how she rocketed to fame to begin with. These kind of hearings and really cross examining folks like Jeff Sessions, folks like Gina Haspel too. And you talk to people in the campaign trail, and that's how they know her -- right. I mean they talk about -- the first word they use when they talk about Kamala Harris is that they feel like she's strong.

KING: Biden will have to watch that to see how this one plays out. And probably the other candidates, you're looking for your moment to break through. We'll see as we go.

Up next for us though, Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she believes that Attorney General, we just showed, she believes he lied to Congress. Now she says if President Trump loses a close election in 2020, she worries he will refuse to honor the results.


KING: The Attorney General faces a Monday deadline to surrender to Congress a full unredacted copy of the Mueller report plus its underlying investigative files. There is little doubt that demand will be ignored and another example added to a mounting list of executive branch confrontations with House Democrats. This already tense test of constitutional powers became very personal this past week after it was revealed that Special Counsel Mueller on March 27th sent William Barr a letter. That letter complained the Attorney General's characterization of the Special Counsel's report was misleading.

Barr and Mueller then spoke by phone about the Special Counsel's concerns. Again, remember, that was late Larch. This is the Attorney General in early April.


REP. CHARLIE CRIST (D), FLORIDA: Reports have emerged recently, general, that members of the Special Counsel's team are frustrated at some level with the limited information included in your March 24th letter, that it does not adequately or accurately necessarily portray the report's findings. Do you know what they're referencing with that?

BARR: No, I don't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did Bob Mueller support your conclusion?

BARR: I don't know whether Bob Mueller supported my conclusion.


KING: Speaker Nancy Pelosi says the Attorney General broke the law.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The Attorney General of the United States of America was not telling the truth to the Congress of the United States. That's a crime.

He lied to Congress. He lied to Congress. And if anybody else did that, it would be considered a crime. Nobody is above the law, not the President of the United States and not the Attorney General.


KING: Again, add the context, for the Speaker of the House to say that, not a rank and file member, the Speaker of the House, you have these big constitutional questions. Does the administration have to answer these subpoenas? Does Congress have the right to see these things?

Now you have this personal element of the Speaker of the House telling -- essentially saying the Attorney General is a criminal.

BADE: Yes. Especially when watching sort of how she handles a lot of this stuff. I mean she has put impeachment of the President on the back burner, very much pushed that aside.

[08:44:57] Pelosi doesn't say stuff like this usually. And when she does, she has a calculated reason for doing so. We saw her really escalate her rhetoric when it came to Attorney General Barr this week, but also against the President himself.

You know, there's a lot of members who, yes they were frustrated with the Mueller report. And they feel like the President obstructed justice. But there was a real turning point I feel like last week when the President said I'm going to ignore all the subpoenas.

And then on top of that, you had Barr say I'm not going to give Congress the full Mueller report. You have that episode right there where Democrats felt he was not truthful to them. And then he didn't show up at a hearing last week when he was summoned and was scheduled to appear.

And so there is this, you know, this ramping up we're seeing right now between the executive and the legislative branch right now and Pelosi is at the head of that and we'll just have to, you know, watch what --


KING: Ok . So let's come back to Barr in a minute. But stick with the Speaker for now. Because if you picked up your "Sunday New York Times", or read it on the Internet, you'll see something else from the Speaker of the House that is a bit eye-popping.

This is the story. "Pelosi warns Democrats stay in the center or Trump may contest election results. In recent weeks Miss Pelosi has told associates she does not automatically trust the President to respect the results of any election short of an overwhelming defeat. That view is one of the reason she said that it's imperative not to play into the President's hands, especially on impeachment."

So she wants the part not to give the President a political weapons of saying a-ha, you're just trying to impeach me. But for, again -- she's the speaker of the house, not a freshman from nowhere saying, if this is a close election she legitimately worries the President of the United States is going to say I'm not moving out.

KANE: She also told "The Times" that she was worried about the 2018 midterms, that if it had only been a three or four-seat majority for Democrats, that Trump would throw his hands up and say, no, that race is illegitimate, that race is illegitimate, we really should have the majority.

She wants an overwhelming victory in 2020, and she wants that and fears that driving into a partisan impeachment that ends in deadlock will only sort of gin up everybody's bases and it's going to be a very narrow race. And that's her fear, that he doesn't accept the outcome.

KING: We'll watch that play out. It's a remarkable comment.

So now back to the Attorney General who, if you watched him last week on Capitol Hill, it's clear he has some issues. Let's just say I'm Bob Mueller's boss.


BARR: The letter is a bit snitty and I think it was probably written by one of his staff people. His work concluded when he sent his report to the Attorney General. At that point it was my baby. It was my decision how and when to make it public, not Bob Mueller's.

The President was falsely accused of colluding with the Russians and accused of being treasonous and accused of being a Russian agent. And the evidence now is that was without a basis.


KING: A little bit of a power play there.

SHEAR: Yes. And look, it is clear that when William Barr was brought on to be the Attorney General, that he made a decision that the role that he was going to play was essentially to be the President's lawyer in some fashion, not just the country's sort of leading law enforcement person. And he's demonstrated that since the moment that he was -- that he's been in that office.

And I think, you know, the Democrats, unfortunately for them, don't have anything that they can really do. They can try to hold him in contempt. The process takes conceivably years. They can try to impeach him, that it's not going to go anywhere in the Senate.

So, you know, at the end of the day all they have is Pelosi and others expressing their disdain and, you know, and that will be it.

BADE: What it does is really raise the stakes for what Mueller is going to say, you know. Jerry Nadler says Mueller is going to come testify in the next couple of weeks. And we'll just have to see how he hits back at Barr.

KING: Right. The House wants him in the chair. The Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Republican Lindsey Graham has said Mr. Mueller, if you have any issues, send me a letter.

We shall see. This chapter is not closed.

Our reporters share from their notebooks next including a pretty good clue about how House Republicans view the 2020 political climate.


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

Nia-Malika Henderson.

HENDERSON: Yes. We talked a little bit about Kamala Harris. She's headed to the Midwest today, in fact. I'm going to get on a plane in a couple of hours so I can cover her. She's going to Michigan and basically she's going to talk about electability and try to reframe the debate around electability and argue in front of an audience, an African-American audience, NAACP that electability is broader than being a white male and that she can be competitive in a place like the Midwest.

Of course, this campaign in 2020 is all about whether or not a Democratic candidate can reclaim the blue wall. You saw African- American voters down in a place like Michigan, about 10,000 or 11,000 votes in that state. So it's going to be an interesting argument to see her give that argument and see how it's received among African- Americans. And she'll also be talking to suburban voters as well on Monday.

I'll be there covering it. We'll see what happens.

KING: Can't wait. All the more important with the former vice president in the race.


KING: Can't wait. Can't wait.


SHEAR: So John -- nothing is ever certain but it looks like this might be the week that Jared Kushner finally unveils his big plan to overhaul the nation's immigration system. He had success pushing through some modest changes in the criminal justice system before. And so now he's turning his attention to something bigger.

Of course, immigration is more complicated and more divisive in this country. His plan would raise significantly the number of immigrants who business groups can bring in, while lowering the number of immigrants that can come in through family ties.

Some business groups are happy with this. Anti immigration activists don't think it lowers the overall immigration number far enough. And of course, advocates for immigrants themselves are already lining up to try to fight against it.

All of which had people in Washington giving Jared about the same odds for success as one of his other projects which is bringing peace to the Middle East.

KING: You say controversial and divisive. I say quicksand -- immigration. We'll see. We shall see.


KANE: John -- yesterday Senator Mike Enzi of Wyoming announced he was going to retire at the end of 2020. And now all eyes are on Liz Cheney of Wyoming to see whether or not she is going to give up her House seat and run for the senate. There are other Republicans who have already announced their intentions to retire. And this is a real sign of whether or not they think they have any chance of winning back the majority.

Liz Cheney is already number three in House leadership. She could one day become house speaker, not that far off. But if House Republicans are going to stay in the minority, she might want to jump into the Senate where Republicans have the majority.

KING: Interesting calculation she has to make.


[01:54:59] BADE: Following up off our block about Congress stonewalling Democrats, I've been particularly interested in the GOP reaction to Trump blocking these congressional investigations. I covered the IRS controversy, the Benghazi investigations -- these were investigations run by House Republicans when they were in the majority when Obama was in the White House.

In the Obama administration, they hated these investigations but they allowed a number of people to come in and give depositions. They gave some documents, a bunch of documents, thousands of documents.

And you know, Republicans, I said aren't you concerned about what this does to your oversight in the future in the case where we have a Democrat in the White House again and you do have the majority.

And I have not heard a single Republican say they are worried about precedent here which again speaks to how much Trump has changed this party and how they put loyalty to him above potentially a future problem for themselves.

KING: Buttoned lips. Button lips.

I'll close with this. They would be the most unlikely allies, but there are on the table two potential areas of cooperation between the Democratic Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Republican President Donald Trump. They would be infrastructure and trade.

Agreement on both fronts though could be getting less likely. The President began the week praising Pelosi's target of a $2 trillion infrastructure plan. But a presidential tweet yesterday suggests the President is already retreating to a smaller number.

And she drew a very hard line on the proposed U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement the other. The Speaker says it must be renegotiated on several points. And she says side letters or separate legislation in Mexico are not good enough for her.

That's a blow to the White House and to business groups who are hoping side agreements are enough to win needed Democratic support. Nos some in the business community still see some hope of getting the Speaker on board, but the clock is ticking as the election year gets closer.

That's it for Inside Politics. Hope you can catch us week days as well. We're here at noon Eastern.

Don't go anywhere. Big "STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER" up next. His guests include two Democratic presidential hopefuls -- Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar.

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