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INSIDE POLITICS

Pelosi, Democrats Declare a "Constitutional Crisis"; Polls: Most Voters Stricter Gun Laws; Trump Facing Global Challenges. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 12, 2019 - 08:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[08:00:20] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): A vote to hold the attorney general in contempt.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): We are now in a constitutional crisis.

KING: Where does this power struggle end?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Trump is goading us to impeach him.

KING: Plus, new tariffs in the China trade war.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Won't back down until China stops cheating our workers and stealing our jobs.

KING: And the 2020 Democrats look to shrink Joe Biden's big early lead.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We need a new kind of leadership in this country.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And I've got a plan for that.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you need a license to drive a car, you should have a license to buy a gun.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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. Happy Mother's Day.

Major global challenges, including an escalating trade war with China in a moment. But we begin this Sunday with a deepening confrontation between President Trump and House Democrats. To them, a constitutional crisis testing America's balance of governing power.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NADLER: It's an attack on the ability of the American people to know what the executive branch is doing and to have responsible government. It is an attack on the essence of our democracy, and we must oppose this with every fiber of our being.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: To him, a vendetta.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: After two years, nothing. No collusion. Now, the Democrats are saying we want more. You know, it was going to be like we want the Mueller report. Now they say Mueller report? No, we want to start all over again.

It is a disgrace. We've got to focus on infrastructure. We have to focus on lowering medical prices and medicine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The courts will decide some of this, as Democrats asked the judicial branch to settle an unprecedented stare-down between the executive and the legislative.

The administration's defiance includes declaring executive privilege to withhold the full Mueller report, denying Congress access to materials former White House counsel Don McGahn shared with the special counsel, blanket nos to other oversight requests, on issues ranging from the president's taxes and his business dealings to White House security clearances and his meetings with Vladimir Putin. More and more Democrats see that list and say the president leaves them no choice but to impeach.

But the top Democrat, the House Speaker, believes that is just what the president wants. And she believes the better course is to lay out the case, but let the 2020 electorate be the jury.

(BEGN VIDEO CLIP)

PELOSI: Trump is goading us to impeach him. That's what he's doing, every single day he's just like taunting, taunting, taunting, because he knows that it would be very divisive in the country, but he doesn't really care. Just wants to solidify his base.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights: Julie Pace from the "Associated Pace", "Wall Street Journal's" Michael Bender, CNN's Phil Mattingly, and "Politico's" Laura Barron-Lopez.

And so, to the speaker's point, the president is trying to goad them. The president certainly is trying to poke them. One of the big questions is, will Robert Mueller testify and when? Another big question, when will Don McGahn testify or will the president try to block that?

The president tweeting yesterday, again, if you're watching at home, read the Mueller report.

I was not going to fire Bob Mueller and did not fire Bob Mueller. In fact, he was allowed to finish his help with unprecedented help from the Trump administration. Actually lawyer Don McGahn had a better chance of being fired than Bob Mueller. Never a big fan.

The president and again attacking his White House counsel. And again, folks, read the Mueller report, it's not just Don McGahn who said the president was intent on firing Bob Mueller, doesn't that only increase the reasons for Democrats to say let's have a chat?

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Yes, absolutely. Don McGahn is so central. You're not, he's not the only one who talks about Trump wanting to fire Mueller, but he's a really central character to the Mueller report. He was in the White House for most of the major episodes that Mueller is investigating, and so, clearly, what Trump is trying to do is discredit him.

But I think you're right, it will have the opposite effect. There's no way that Democrats are going to back off in their desire to get Don McGahn to sit down before those committees.

KING: And the president is already tweeting this morning, you know, grievances about the legal investigation, saying they were spying on him. The fact check machines will have a lot of problem with these tweets but this is constant. This is constant.

So, when will we see Don McGahn and when will we see Bob Mueller? Not settled, right?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, no, it's not. So, on Friday, I was talking to some of the Democrats before they left for the weekend and they said it looks like Mueller wasn't going to come on May 15th, which is that marker that they had set. They had hoped that he would be there to testify.

[08:05:01] Negotiations are still ongoing. But they have no hard date for when they are going to hear from either of them.

But to what Julie said, one of the members on the Judiciary, Jamie Raskin of Maryland was saying, look, the committee chairman and chairwoman are mad, they're upset. We're upset and so, we're not backing down.

Inherent contempt is very much in the air. That's the fining and jailing of potentially of these officials.

KING: Inherent contempt which, you say, what is that? Congress can find you in contempt. Republicans found Eric Holder in contempt and it becomes sort of a negotiating tactic. We found you of contempt, that's embarrassing. Let's sit down and work it out.

They don't have a penalty for it. Nancy Pelosi joked the other day, we do have a jail in the basement. They do have a jail in the basement.

This is Adam Schiff, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, saying maybe than just a piece of paper that says you're in contempt, we need penalties.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We, in fact, do our own judicial proceeding in the Congress, have a little mini trial in the Congress and hold people in contempt and responsible and compel their production without even going to court. Now, it used to be we imprisoned people but we could also fine them $25,000 a day until they comply or some other number. That may be an even swifter remedy if we need to embark on it, and we may have to.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Is this where we are?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What's interesting is this was something that Jerry Nadler in a private phone call with Democrats laid out as something they could do if they wanted to do but was never taken very seriously. And I think over the course of the last couple of weeks, people are so frustrated they're looking for any mechanism to actually get immediate results.

And so, this has become something people have talked about more. I'm still not totally clear that they ever get there or know the mechanisms in terms of how to utilize it, but it just underscores where the Democratic Caucus is right now. There's just extreme frustration with wall-to-wall defiance on all of their requests.

I would not that from a constitutional crisis perspective, this is not that. This is part of the process. What's different now as opposed to negotiations and kind of posturing back and forth behind the scenes to get some document production, to get some people up to testify, they're facing blanket nos. I think that's why you're seeing the frustration and not just on inherent contempt but also on the issue of, is it better for us to go for impeachment.

KING: To that, I think the inherent contempt, which will become the new emoluments clause, sorry, is they're looking for a place to go, leadership, like Chairman Schiff, but more and more Democrats say if the administration says we won't give you the president's taxes, we won't find -- we'll fight Bob Mueller's testimony, we'll fight Don McGahn's testimony, they say, you leave us no choice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DAVID CICILLINE (D-RI): There's no question there could come a point where this level of obstruction by and of itself constitutes a basis for impeachment.

REP. TED LIEU (D-CA): With his actions of simply denying every simple subpoena request from Congress, that may push us to a place that's our only option. REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): What are we supposed to do? We can't

roll over and play dead. We have an obligation to defend this branch of government and our constitutional framework.

REP. CEDRIC RICHMOND (D-LA): Yes, for me, we're inching towards it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: This is where Nancy Pelosi was or has been. She's walked right up to the edge of whether there should be impeachment hearings or not. You're seeing the caucus eagerly line up behind her on that one.

I will say in the White House, people who are involved in these proceedings, involved in these negotiations say the president isn't quite as unflinching privately as he is in public. What they're waiting for is some sign for Democrats that they're willing to narrow their requests. You know, that's easily said in private and anonymously, but we'll have to -- but Democrats have the same complaints about the White House and saying that they're not hearing any give and take on that side either.

Right now, that's where the energy is. You have a young, inexperienced Democratic House. The energy wants action. And you have a White House being led by someone who when he was a private citizen was involved in 1,900 lawsuits, either him or his business. Both sides are moving towards this kind of crisis.

KING: We'll fight it out in the courts and repeatedly, which takes weeks and months, and sometimes longer. Then we head into an election cycle where the president thinks if he can make this all politics that he comes out, OK, it's a wash. Everybody looks and doesn't like anybody.

BARRON-LOPEZ: As long as Pelosi can avoid starting impeachment proceedings, she's going to because she wants to protect vulnerable Democrats. She wants to hold on to this majority. Everyone knows what happened when Republicans went after Clinton on impeachment and suffered the political consequences.

What's going to be interesting to follow is where those vulnerable Democrats are. Some of them winds up winning Clinton district sound as though they could also be inching the way Congressman Richmond said, they could also be inching towards feeling more comfortable with impeachment because they don't want to depress Democratic turnout in their district.

KING: We'll watch this play out as they go. The last impeachment, the Democratic president survived and two Republican speakers lost their job. So, I think that's unpredictable.

Ahead, major global challenges to the president, including an escalating trade war.

But next, another school shooting and the campaign for the gun debate is getting more and more attention. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:13:44] KING: Kendrick Castillo died a hero this past week in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. His town and his school now part of a sad statistic and this map.

You see this -- in 2019 so far, 15 school shootings. Use of guns on campuses in America, Highlands Ranch the latest there.

Forty-five times in 2018, last year. You see them all across America. No geographic limitations here.

Of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in American history, four of them on school campuses, two on colleges, two at schools with younger children. You see them right there.

In this campaign, it's more and more of an issue. Why? Democrats feel it is much safer ground to talk about gun control than previous presidential elections.

These numbers tell you why. Six in ten Americans support some new gun restrictions, some stricter gun loss. Eighty-seven percent of Democrats feel that way. That's why Democratic candidates are talking so openly about this. Six in 10 independents also feel that way.

Republicans, only a third support tougher gun laws, but Democrats think this is a good issue for them, as well as an important issue. They believe it's safer this time.

Among the Democratic proposals, Cory Booker, the senator from New Jersey, has the most ambitious and some would say the most controversial plan because he would require a federal license to own a gun. Even some of his Democratic rivals say that goes too far.

[08:15:01] But Senator Booker wants to limit it to one hand gun a month, he wants to have universal background checks, many candidates support this. He wants to ban assault weapons and high capacity magazines and bump stocks. And investigate NRA's tax-exempt status.

Again, he is the most ambitious among the Democrats with a plan, but he's not the only. There's more and more Democrats say we need to do something.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOOKER: I'm going to make sure that gun safety is right there in the center of this conversation.

WARREN: This fight is our fight because it is our moral responsibility to keep our kids safe.

HARRIS: I'm going to give them 100 days to put a bill on my desk for signature. And if they don't get their act together, I will take executive action.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): These kids should not have to learn and fear and moms should expect that their kid is going to come home and they can hug them after school. We need a leader in the White House who's going to make that a top priority.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The first debates now just seven weeks away, all the candidates together on stage. We'll watch as this debate plays out in those debates.

Up next for us here, the president on the world stage. He says he wishes Iran would give him a call and makes a big bet that China will soon blink in a major trade war.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[KING: The president took dramatic action this past week to raise tariffs on an array of Chinese goods, keeping a 2016 campaign promise to get tough which could make his 2020 re-election odds tougher. The tariff hike from 10 percent to 25 percent covers products like household appliances, clothes, handbags, seafood, fruit, furniture and parts that go into your electronic devices like your phone or your laptop.

The president believes the American economy is strong enough to withstand a temporary hit and he's counting on Beijing ready to come back to the bargaining table ready to make significant concessions.

[08:20:09] Just yesterday, he warned China the deal will become far worse if it has to be negotiated in my second term.

If this becomes a protracted trade war, Moody's warns it could trigger a recession early next year, that unemployment could spike to 5 percent or more, and that we could see a global stock sell-off.

Saturday's tweets following about a dozen about China on Friday, urging people, these are the president's words, to just sit back and watch and predicting his friendship with China's President Xi would ultimately bring a resolution.

When the president tweets a dozen times about something and then comes back to it the next day a few times, it tells you it's taking up a lot of his time. He's making a big bet here that China will come back to the table, what they were prepared to sign, the Chinese started to back away, the president said, no, not taking a weaker deal. But he is putting his own political standing at stake if this goes on for weeks or months.

PACE: It's two big bets, that the Chinese will come back to the table and if they don't, that the economy can withstand this.

Part of Trump's calculus is he has heard these "sky will fall" predictions on countless issues, not just on the economy but all kinds of things that he said he would come in and do, and he hasn't seen that happen. So, his belief is that the warnings from places like Moody's or even Republican lawmakers is just scare tactics and that he has a better sense for the economy, he has a better feel for what's going to happen here. It's a huge unknown on something like trade, though. It's massive because of the size of the U.S. economy, the size of the Chinese economy, the cross currents there. We're headed into uncharted territory, and I don't think anybody knows what the result is.

KING: And China has said it will retaliate, it hasn't said how yet. And China has -- again, the White House is banking that China's economy is struggling and make the Chinese won't go big because they can't take the hit, but we don't know.

BENDER: This -- Trump has had success with this so far. They got pretty close. That was the consensus view on a trade team in the White House that is pretty fractured on most aspects here.

But the bet here for Trump is long term and short term. This has been one of the issues that has animated Trump for his entire life. He was one of the rare candidates in 2016 talking about trade so ambitiously.

But the short term here, Trump is heading into the election in a very unusual situation of people generally like what he's doing but don't like how he's doing it. That makes the economy very, very critical. And there's two wild cards here for the Trump administration that they feel they can have some control over.

One is the Fed, which they have done a pretty good job of keeping a lid on. The other is this China trade issue. Trump wants this settled immediately.

KING: And if you look at the map, you're right, the president discounts doom and gloom. But if Moody's is right and if this goes on for months and months, the economy turns down in early 2020, they predict even a possible recession, and then you get to this, if you look at this map, they how these are the states the hardest hit. The darker the color, the hardest hit, there's a lot of Trump here. Those are not all red states when it comes to politics but that is Trump country when it comes to a political map.

The president is making a bet that his supporters are saying we're getting hurt by this, our farms, our businesses, but the president is keeping a promise, we'll stick with him and that's his bet?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. So there's research that has shown from U.C. Berkeley that said Republican-leaning counties are the ones the most likely to get hit the hardest by this trade war. So, that not only is a risk for Trump heading into 2020 but Republicans down ballot in the Senate and the House.

MATTINGLY: Yes, I also think it's this calculation that this is the strategy that's animated him forever. It wasn't a secret he was going to do this. The question is always been the end game.

I mean, when you talk to folks, when you talk to lawmakers that represent those states, all of them are very concerned right now. What they hear most from their constituents from the very red states is we support the president, we want this to work, we trust him to make a deal, but this is really hurting right now. And I think one of the questions is, is how long can it sustain if

there is no end game. When it's not just the China deal, it's the national security tariffs on Canada and Mexico and the E.U., trade deals that haven't come to fruition right now, there's so much talk and there's so much kind of suggestion of a potential deal. When does the deal come to alleviate things?

I think the question is will people believe the message if there's nothing to back the message up --

KING: And how long can your loyalty to the president, and again believing this is a fight long overdue. And many do believe that. The president is right that this is a fight long overdue. The question is, if you're a farmer in one of these Trump states and this is what's happened to you in the last year, soybean prices down 20 percent, wheat prices down 15 percent, corn down 12 percent.

If that continues, when does your personal survival maybe influence your political loyalties?

MATTINGLY: Yes, and it's worth noting, particularly on China, there's a lot more support on Capitol Hill on what he's doing in China because everybody knows the I.P. theft is very real. The disadvantage the U.S. has had in trade with China is very real. Somebody needs to do something about it.

[20:25:01] And the president is doing something that's different and maybe different will work this time, but until it does, people are very unsettled given what you're seeing pricewise.

KING: And as part of a broader conversation, David Sanger puts it in an article, here's the headline, Trump said he would tame rogue nations, now they are challenging him. He has a showdown with China. This is about trade right now, but there are also security issues at play, South China Sea, et cetera, North Korea firing projectiles. There's a U.S. carrier group going into the Persian Gulf in a message to Iran.

These are tense times.

PACE: I would even add to that the situation in Venezuela where the Trump administration made this bet that supporting Guaido would be easy and they could push Maduro out. Trump interestingly has found himself in his third year with foreign policy, national security really on the front burner. I think he's finding that some of his tactics, which are public pressure, direct face-to-face negotiations don't always work. And we're going to see I think in this year what's behind that. Is there another gear in this administration on national security, which's has not been a top priority or an urgent priority.

KING: Last Sunday, we were talking about a tweet where he was still standing with Kim Jong-un after the projectile launches. They're missiles. They don't want to use the term because they don't want to upset the White House. And then the other day, he said he's not sure they're ready to negotiate.

So, the president in the course of the past week, his tone about Kim Jong-un, did change.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right, and on Friday, in the case of North Korea Trump, told "Politico" that those missile tests were very standard and he was trying to downplay them. Even though in the last year he said they hadn't conducted some of those tests was a sign they were making progress and a sign these talks were working.

KING: Is it just good cop, bad cop? We see Mike Pompeo and Bolton sounding tough about Iran, the president says, hey, call me, we can talk this through.

You know, there's a disconnect in the tone, which is often the case on foreign policy and the president. I can't figure out if it's a deliberate good cop, bad cop or a difference of opinion.

BENDER: I think there is a difference of opinion and he has acknowledged that and wants multiple opinions around him and wants to pick and choose what he likes to hear. What we're seeing here is all these different fronts. I mean these are all kind of in crisis right now. There's a reason why generals generally don't recommend multi- front wars here. And we're seeing the risk of Trump's kind of, you know, very ambitious agenda.

These are all issues that could take any administration years of singular focus. Regime change in Venezuela, overhauling the economy in China, on and on and on and on. And without more focus, this is what the risk is going to be.

KING: That's interesting. That's interesting time.

Up next for us, back to domestic politics. Numbers that make Joe Biden smile and perhaps signal some worry for Bernie Sanders.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:30:52] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd probably vote for Joe Biden. I love Kamala Harris. I like Bernie. I like Elizabeth Warren. I think Elizabeth Warren is probably the smartest but I'm going with who I think in the long run is going to present a vision.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: As Democratic voters mull their choices, this is clear. The Biden bounce is real. And it gets an important test this week. The former vice president's first 2020 campaign visit to New Hampshire.

This is his welcoming gift. A new Monmouth University poll shows Biden with a big early lead in the state that holds the first presidential primary. Biden's 36 percent is double the 18 percent support for Senator Bernie Sanders. No other candidate was in double digits.

It's just one poll and the primary is nine months away. But Biden also does ok when New Hampshire Democrats were asked their second choice. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris have a slight edge there.

Again, early on, wide open. So anyone who says, look at Biden's numbers, he's going to win, that's nuts. But that's the position you want to be in and it comes with risks.

But the Biden bounce, I think if you talk to people in the other campaigns and even his campaign was a little bigger and it seems to have sustained itself a little more so than people anticipated.

JULIE PACE, ASSOCIATED PRESS: It's a little surprising to some of these other Democratic candidates. And I think it shows, yes, he's got name recognition for sure.

It also shows that there is a real affection for Joe Biden in the Democratic Party. He represents an era, the Obama era, that a lot of Democrats want to go back to. They feel much more favorably about that era than where we are now.

There's also some certainty that comes with somebody like a Joe Biden. You know who he is. You know what he stands for, for better or worse.

It is very early, though. There is a lot that's going to happen including several debates between now and voters actually going to the first caucuses, the first primaries. And a lot of the Democratic campaigns that I have talked to over the last week that that those numbers that we're seeing are still artificial.

KING: Right.

PACE: That there's a lot of room for Biden to probably fall.

KING: And as he gets out there. And then he's on a debate stage in six, seven weeks. That happens there.

Is it a reflection though, should Senator Sanders be worried? In the sense that in the old days, you know, you ran a campaign, you weren't successful. You run the next time, there was sort of an heir apparent thing. He's not getting that. Maybe because just because of Biden or is it because Democratic voters aren't in love with Bernie?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": I think it's partially because of Biden but I think Sanders also doesn't necessarily want to be in first place like now. He likes that he has Biden to bounce off of and to actually combat with because he still is able to run as anti-establishment and Biden presents that establishment foil for him.

So I think that Sanders likes the position he's in. He still is coming in second, you know, right behind Biden in a lot of these polls. Other candidates like Warren and Harris, Warren is trying to stick to the plan that she originally had, which is roll out policy after policy, really speak to the voters, go places where the other candidates aren't going. We saw her in West Virginia and she's hoping that that's a good long game for her and that she'll eventually win --

KING: And to that point, as we can see in this conversation -- Warren and Sanders very similar that, you know, go after the big banks. They're trying to get the liberal base. Bernie Sanders even though he's in his 70s, at the last campaign did very well with younger voters.

I found this interesting this past week, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, one of the rising young stars of the Democratic Party, did an event with Bernie Sanders on legislation that they are co-sponsoring. She was asked about what the Presidential race, are you going to endorse?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: What I would like to see in a presidential candidate is one that has a coherent world view and logic from which all these policy proposals are coming forward. I think Senator Sanders has that. I also think senator Warren has that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So do you think you will endorse in the Democratic primaries? Is that something you're -- at least leaving that option open?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I'm entertaining but it's not going to be for a while.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now she was a Sanders volunteer in 2016. I think she was a volunteer, not a campaign worker. I've got leverage. I'm going to use it.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE "WALL STREET JOURNAL": Yes. That's telling. And I think if you're Sanders, you have to be concerned about not just being in second place. It's a smart point that he doesn't have to be in first place in all these polls right now.

But in New Hampshire, he had 60 percent of the primary vote against Clinton four years ago. That's got to be concerning. And then that second choice question he falls even further.

And it's definitely not helping Sanders right now Trump's involvement here, right. I mean Trump's people see Biden as the biggest threat.

[08:35:01] And for a lot of Democratic voters, their most important -- their goal in 2020 is to beat Trump. And if they think that Trump is worried about it, that just helps Biden's case along.

KING: And so if you're trying to break through, right now, you know the debates are coming up in June. They start in June. So you're trying to get traction until then.

Elizabeth Warren -- you mentioned, she's rolling out a policy -- she's lapped the field in terms of specific policies. Maybe you don't agree with them at home but in terms of laying out policies and laying out how she pays for them, he has lapped the field. She's on the cover of "Time Magazine", "I have a plan for that" -- that has become her slogan. There's good national press there. She also got pretty good -- she has an opioid crisis plan and was in West Virginia for that.

The political headliner, "Trump backers applaud Warren in heart of MAGA country. The liberal firebrand draws nods and even a few cheers on a trip through rural West Virginia."

So again if you're not Biden and you're not Sanders with a built-in infrastructure, you're just trying to stay competitive and then wait for a debate breakthrough, right?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's right. You're trying to stick (INAUDIBLE), trying to raise money, you're trying to build an infrastructure that it can actually sustain. I think people also probably are paying as much attention to House campaigns which are actually trying to map out the early states on what their strategies are.

I think people have a general sense of things. But when you look at Super Tuesday, when you look at Florida, when you look at South Carolina, like how everybody is actually that. I think a lot of work on that is happening that we probably aren't seeing right now.

I think what I'm most struck by, by Elizabeth Warren is it was three weeks ago when I felt like the big -- all the word was like well, whatever happened to Elizabeth Warren, you know. She never had a breakout moment. What's going on in New Hampshire which is right next door to Massachusetts.

Now she's having that moment. And I think part of that is because there was almost a caricature of who Elizabeth Warren was. And then you watch Elizabeth Warren on the campaign trail and I think people -- reporters who are with her on the campaign trail were talking to people who watched her or when she was on the CNN town hall and thought man, she is far more relatable than a technocratic person who attacked bankers on a regular basis.

And that has started to catch on. And the idea in the Democratic primary that you actually have policy proposals with real teeth, with real bite, that actually took a lot of work to come into I think kind of works more than people thought.

LOPEZ: Yes. I've seen her on the stump. And in the rooms that she goes into, there is a lot of warm affection for her and voters very much respond to the policies that she's putting out there. So whether or not she's able to translate that into a surge or able to pick off one of those early primary states, we have to wait and see. But voters are interested in what she's saying.

KING: And as you watch candidates, one of the fascinating things especially when you have a crowd like this, is you watch who grows, who learns, who gets better as it goes on. Candidates that stay the same suffer, even if they're good candidates. Candidates who learn and grow with the crowds. Kamala Harris is trying to make the case, she's pressing the Attorney General, for example. Did the President of the United States or anybody White House tell you to investigate things? Among the things she wants to know is this from the President.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: John Kerry speaks to him a lot. John Kerry tells him not to call. That's a violation of the Logan Act. And frankly, he should be prosecuted on that. But my people don't want to do anything that -- only the Democrats do that kind of stuff, you know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Again, there's some factual errors in that. But Kamala Harris, she asked the Attorney General publicly and now she's demanding an answer in writing about has the President or anyone around him told you to investigate people?

PACE: That was a really breakout moment for Harris, right at the time when she needed one. She had this really strong launch. And then she kind of faded to the background in part because other candidates got in and sucked up some of the oxygen.

And what she's trying to do is use her position as a senator on influential committees and her background as a prosecutor to show voters what she would be like on a debate stage with Trump.

And that, actually -- when I've been out talking to voters, they bring that up all the time. I want to know who could take it to Trump on the debate stage. That's a very real moment that they want to try to assess as they watch these Democrats.

KING: And so they're going to get a chance to take it to each other. We'll see. Just because of that they want to be polite with each other, but just the idea of the voters out there want to see who stood up here, that's going to add to the spice, shall we say.

Up next, a Republican family feud involving the President's eldest son and what Rudy Giuliani now won't be doing on his summer vacation.

[08:38:53] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Sunday travel update. Rudy Giuliani is no longer planning a trip to Ukraine seeking dirt on Joe Biden. The President's lawyer says he's cancelling a trip he arranged because he fears he was being set up.

One more time, see if you can follow this at home. It was his trip planned by him. The meetings requested by him. The meeting's requested by him. And Giuliani now says he fears he was being set up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP LAWYER: It's all part of one large conspiracy that has about two or three parts to it.

SHANNON BREAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Ok.

GIULIANI: So I've decided, Sharon (SIC), I'm not going to go to the Ukraine.

BREAM: You're not going to go?

GIULIANI: I'm not going to go because I think I'm walking into a group of people that are enemies of the President. In some cases enemies of the United States.

BREAM: Ok.

GIULIANI: I believe I was walking into a bunch of people, one of whom already has been found to be involved in this that I wasn't aware of. And I think this was a setup.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: Don't look at me -- man. I haven't the slightest idea.

KING: Wait -- so he set himself up?

LOPEZ: Right.

KING: Somebody help me here.

LOPEZ: It's stunning. I mean it's really stunning in a matter of days right, that he's changed his tune. When it was his idea, as you said earlier. He told the "New York Times" I want to go there, I want to talk to the people in Ukraine.

And part of this was because he said that he wanted to gather information on Joe Biden that they would potentially use in the 2020 election. So for him to then come back and say that he was being set up is just ridiculous.

BENDER: Can I take the flip side of this, though?

KING: Yes.

BENDER: What about -- what if Giuliani was successful and used some of the major media outlets in this country to broadcast a message to Kiev that the President's personal lawyer is interested in this investigation. Trip or not, I think that message has been received.

PACE: It's broadcast to other foreign governments as well. It's not just Ukraine.

KING: And to suggest that there's something there. Hunter Biden worked for a natural gas company in Ukraine, which is totally fair game. Did the vice president's son use his dad's influence to make money somewhere in the world. That's totally fair game.

[08:45:01] But what they're trying to do here is say like everybody is a bad actor here. You know, everybody is a swamp creature. Are all these other candidates are horrible. I gave you 3.6 percent unemployment.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And it's so transparent, right, in what they're trying to do. And kind of the oddness of Rudy is acknowledged in the "New York Times" when he spoke about it -- he acknowledged that yes, I'm trying to meddle in all sorts of things right now. I don't think it's illegal but I am trying to meddle.

And I think that was what I was struck by in talking to lawmakers in Capitol Hill. Republicans who were kind of dumbstruck by what was actually going on. Democrats who were very angry and asking for -- wanted to ask actual questions.

There's a wide range of ramifications here. This is a foreign country, we do foreign policy. Is the State Department involved in this? The idea of having the sheen of I'm the President's personal lawyer and what that actually means I think a lot of us had questions about for a long time, beyond going on TV and talking about it. But making trips to foreign countries trying to meet with foreign leaders on behalf of the President, on behalf of the campaign, on your own personal volition just because you want to help those things -- that actually complicates, and this is a country in a part of the world that is a very complicated issue to begin with and has been for the better part of the last six or seven years.

And wandering into that and drying to bring campaign stuff and dirt- digging and all that stuff, it's more complicated than just what the hell is he doing.

(CROSSTALKING)

PACE: But your point is a good one -- John. This is from the overall strategy here. I mean, if you look back at the 2016 election -- Trump, his personal quality numbers were just abysmal. Clinton's were in some cases even worse. And that's how he feels like he won. He was able to just muddy her, make her -- make people question parts of her background. And I think that he knows he's going to go in with his numbers on honesty, trustworthiness just as bad as in 2016. If someone else has higher and people actually say, hey, I kind of like this person.

KING: And Biden is viewed even by Republicans as honest.

PACE: Exactly. Exactly.

KING: They don't like his policies maybe.

PACE: The strategy should not (INAUDIBLE) --

LOPEZ: This is -- the question they'll have to ask themselves -- the question we'll have just to ask themselves is are they ok with the sitting president's lawyer broadcasting that they want information on a political opponent and then potentially using that in an election.

KING: And the question, we have to pick up on our business is that when a guy goes on television and a lot of what he says is simply not true, or maybe in a parallel universe, we need to be careful about A, how much of it we play, and then how much we challenge it.

Let's try to sneak this in before we go. There's a fight over Donald Trump Jr. because the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee agreed to a subpoena to bring him back to testify. That happened after the Senate Republican leader said we're done here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: The special counsel's finding is clear. Case closed. Case closed.

This ought to be good news for everyone. But my Democratic colleagues seem to be publicly working through the five stages of grief. They seem to be angrier at Bill Barr for doing his job than they are at Vladimir Putin.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: A lot of Republicans are mad at Richard Burr, the Republican chairman, for the subpoena. If Mitch McConnell wants to close the page, why is the senate committee keeping an investigation -- a related investigation open? What's the damage here?

MATTINGLY: I think the interesting (INAUDIBLE) if you read the entirety of Mitch McConnell's speech on the floor, and a lot of people have only kind of fixed on the case closed he actually gave props to Senator Burr and the Senate Intelligence Committee for their ongoing investigation.

But all so note that for Republicans rank and file, from the Senate Majority Leader on down, that investigation has been their off-ramp to every difficult question about the President, Russia collusion, Russia obstruction -- all of that type of stuff for the last two years. Richard Burr has been their heat shield because they can just not answer a question and say there's a bipartisan senate investigation going on.

Yes. There's a lot of frustration because there's a lot of pressure coming from the outside of Don, Jr. world about why this is actually happening. But I think from the Senate Majority Leader and kind of top senior, they'll protect their chairman.

KING: Right.

MATTINGLY: They might not be comfortable with this but they'll protect their chairman for the broader good of the conference.

KING: So add Donald Trump, Jr. to the Robert Mueller-Don McGahn list issues we'll try to score in the week ahead.

Our reporters share from their notebooks next, including another Democrat about to get into that yes, that very lean, mean -- no, very crowded 2020 race.

[08:48:54] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's head one last time around the INSIDE POLITICS table. I'll 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.

Julie Pace.

PACE: Hard as it is to believe, the Democratic presidential field is about to get a little bit bigger. Montana Governor Steve Bullock is going to announce his campaign in the coming days. Bullock's been waiting until his legislative session in Montana has wrapped up before making this official.

He's pretty unknown to most Americans and faces a real uphill climb in this big field with a lot of Democratic stars. But he thinks he has a compelling case to make in a primary where electability has been one of the big questions from Democratic voters.

He's won in a red state and he's very comfortable talking to Trump voters, something he has to do in Montana every day.

KING: It'll be interesting to watch. Governor -- we could use more governors. They don't have many.

Michael.

BENDER: We've seen how eager president Trump is to get this campaign started. At a political rally for the last week, he all but crowned Biden the Democratic nominee. Told his supporters he wants this race to start immediately.

Well, the campaign staff is catching up to him. Brad Parscale the campaigner manager has hired a senior staff of political veterans, people with actual experience doing the things they're asked to do this time around. There's a regional political infrastructure being built out of the heavy focus on the Midwest and Florida.

There are plans for 50 communication staffers in battlegrounds. Four years ago I don't think there were five. So what's this tell us? We're seeing a campaign that's becoming more mature around the President, more focused, more organized, more professional.

The question moving forward, of course, is whether the candidate has become one, too.

KING: Yes. That's a good question.

Phil.

MATTINGLY: So there's growing concern on Capitol Hill that the largest and most consequential legislative fight of this year -- a spending deal and a increase in the debt ceiling is already off to a terrible start.

You've had Senate Appropriates Committee Chairman Richard Shelby several times this week say that said people on Capitol Hill just don't understand the stakes here, don't understand how draconian the cuts should be, not just to defense, but also to domestic programs.

Traditionally these deals are made because both sides get something that they want, they waive the caps and they move forward. Here's the problem right now I'm told behind the scenes, the White House has repeatedly told congressional staffers and lawmakers that they're ok with keeping the caps in place. They're ok with those major budget cuts and they believe they can find some other way to address the cuts to Defense the Republicans care about so much.

The reality is and I'm told this from congressional Republicans that is simply implausible. And if the white house doesn't want to come to the table and try and make the deal with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol hill, there's going to be be a major issue, not just because of those cuts, but a potential the fiscal crisis if you don't raise the debt ceiling.

KING: Heading into an election year -- awesome.

Laura.

LOPEZ: So more campaigns. North Carolina's Ninth congressional district. I'm taking a look at the special election there which was called because in 2018 the state board found that election fraud had taken place.

[08:55:01] So Republicans have a primary on Tuesday, they're hoping to avoid a runoff because already it's going to be an uphill climb against Democrat Dan McCready who is running unopposed there. Democrats shouldn't have a chance of flipping this seat which has long been red, but they do now because of McCready's big cash advantage.

And also as we see this special election developed -- both parties are going to be trying to read the tea leaves for where the electorate is at ahead of 2020.

KING: North Carolina -- one of the most competitive states. Keep an eye on that. It's fun.

I'll close by circling back to Montana. One of the country's least populous states but one of its most politically competitive. Julie just noted that two-term Democratic Governor Steve Bullock poised to join the 2020 presidential race. That's just one of several major political shifts for Montana in the year ahead.

Republican Congressman Greg Gianforte, you might remember him for assaulting a political reporter two years ago, he's sending signals he wants to go home and run for governor. And because of that Auditor Matt Rosendale was in D.C. this past week. Rosendale now trying to line up GOP support to run for that House seat if Gianforte does not.

Rosendale you might recall was the Republican nominee for Senate last year. He got 47 percent of the vote but lost to Democrat Jon Tester.

Remembers all those trips to Montana? That race was personal to President Trump and he stewed about it for days after the midterm. GOP groups poured some $20 million into Montana to help Rosendale. Some of them now want to see if other contenders emerge before committing to Rosendale again. Some also say they're waiting to see if the President has an opinion.

We'll watch that one.

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

Up next, a very important "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. An expected conversation with the Democratic presidential candidate Harris.

Again thanks for sharing your Mother's Day with us. Have a great Sunday.

[08:56:43] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)