Return to Transcripts main page


Washington Showdown: President Trump Versus Speaker Pelosi; Trump at Odds with Japanese Hosts Over North Korea Missile Tests; Does Bernie Sanders Have a Ceiling with Democratic Voters? Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 26, 2019 - 08:00   ET



[08:00:26] JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): The president.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm an extremely stable genius.

KING: And the speaker who gets under his skin.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I pray for the president.

KING: Plus, trade tensions, but still, a very friendly visit to Japan.

TRUMP: Prime Minister Abe said to me very specifically, you are a guest of honor. There's only one guest of honor.

KING: And Bernie Sanders back home, adjusting to a very different campaign this time.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The ideas that we talked about four years ago are not so radical today.

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



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

There are some remarkable images out of Japan today. President Trump is there for a weekend that is more play than work, including as you can see, taking in some sumo wrestling, and presenting a trophy to Japan's new champion. Remarkable pictures. Some controversy on the trip too, and we'll get to that in a few minutes.

First, though, the drama that captivated Washington this past week, a showdown between the two most powerful people here in the nation's capital. Who's winning is the headline question in the "Drudge Report". Speaker Nancy Pelosi knows as good fight with the president helps her navigate internal Democratic tensions, and she knows how to get under his skin.


PELOSI: We believe that no one is above the law, including the president of the United States. And we believe that the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up.


KING: An hour or so after that, on Wednesday, the president walked out of a long planned meeting with the speaker and other top Democrats, and walked into a Rose Garden in which he said doing business can only happen if the investigation stops.

Her response? Questioning the president's well-being.


PELOSI: The president stormed out, pounded the table and walked out the door. Another temper tantrum -- again, I pray for the president of the United States. I wish his family or administration or staff would have an intervention for the good of the country.


KING: The president quick to return the insult.


TRUMP: Crazy Nancy, I tell you what? I have been watching her and I have been watching her for a long period of time. She's not the same person. She's lost it.

It was sad when I watched Nancy, oh, moving, the movement and the hands and the craziness and I watched -- that's, by the way, a person that's got some problems.


KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, "Time's" Molly Ball, Michael Shear of "The New York Times", CNN's Phil Mattingly, and Karoun Demirjian of "The Washington Post".

You can watch that and you can call it high drama. You can call it petty. You can call it personal.

Where are we in the sense that you have the two most powerful people in town who didn't get along to begin with, didn't agree on much to begin with, but now this has devolved into a highly personal stare- down?

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. I mean, it's clearly an escalation but it is in a way just a recapitulation of the dynamic that already existed between the two of them which was that on the one hand she has power on Capitol Hill and for the first two years of his administration, there was no competing power center on Capitol Hill for President Trump.

So, ever since she before she was sworn in right and when you had the government shutdown he has not accepted that he is not the only one calling the shots on Capitol Hill and that has led to these repeated clashes. He has not accepted that the Democratic majority in the House of Representatives doesn't have to do what he says and in fact has a constitutional mandate to do these investigations to perform their oversight function of him.

And so you know, something that Speaker Pelosi also said in that press conference was that she considered this walk out and this bluster about investigations to be staged in order to cover for the fact that she believes he didn't do his homework for this meeting he walked into this infrastructure meeting not having come up with what he promised to bring to the meeting which was some mechanism to pay for, the $2 trillion in public spending that he agreed to in their earlier meeting. So, what she's saying is he doesn't have the goods on policy and that's why he staged this.

And her proof of that was that the sign was pre-printed. The sign on the lectern about the numbers of the Mueller investigation. It wasn't a sign about how much we're going to spend on roads and bridges. It was a sign about how bashing the Mueller investigation and accusing the Democrats of wanting to relitigate it.

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know what I find interesting is I think Nancy Pelosi is offering to the candidates a lesson, an object lesson of how you can deal with Trump in a Trumpian way, right?

[08:05:08] The old Michelle Obama, they go low, we go high -- she's doing the reverse, right? I mean, you don't say you want the family to have an intervention with Trump without understanding what that implies, right? You're sort of questioning whether or not he sort of you know got substance abuse problems, you don't talk about a cover-up without knowing that's going to trigger your adversary to react in a certain way.

And that's, of course, what Trump has been doing since you the campaign is knowing how to trigger his opponents and I think Pelosi is putting on rather than being all high-minded in responding to Trump with kind of the sort of moral indignation and outrage, he's showing how you can use his own techniques against him and see whether they follow that.

KING: And Democrats would tell you they believe focusing on health care was issue number one, but issue number two was the president's temperament in the midterm elections and that's clearly what she's trying to get at.

But isn't she also trying to have something to keep her people organized and unified. The speaker's fighting the president, therefore, we can't break from the speaker right now because she's trying to manage a difficult thing in her own caucus even though she says it is overstated by reporters. I just want to show you some numbers: 35 Democrats have come out to

say impeach the president none of them are in risky districts these are their districts of those Democrats Hillary Clinton won their districts by an average of 43 points. Those House Democrats won those districts by 48 points. So, I'm not saying they don't believe what they're saying, but there's not a risk back home for the Democrats who have been publicly daily if you ask them saying we should impeach the president.

Nancy Pelosi is worried about the smaller number but important number of Democrats who flipped Republican seats to Democratic seats like these.


REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): I think we need to ascertain more facts and if those facts lead us to clear evidence of criminal activity and instruction, then we absolutely should proceed, but we're not there yet.

REP. DEBBIE MUCARSEL-POWELL (D-FL): We've seen a pattern of lack of transparency dishonesty, and I think that it is our duty to get all the information before us before we make those decisions.

REP. KATIE HILL (D-CA): We need to exhaust every single option that's on the table and before we actually move towards impeachment.

REP. KATIE PORTER (D-CA): Voters should be pleased we're not rushing into judgment here. We're considering our options.


KING: Now, she's trying to keep those people in Congress, number one. And the other Democrats she thinks, as long as she's fighting the president, they'll be OK for the most part.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, look, Nancy Pelosi has been a master holding a diverse caucus together especially when in some parts of it turn against her in question her leadership she's pulled this out before. It's interesting that you're not hearing anybody say absolutely no an impeachment but let's just take some time and do this. There's a legal argument for doing that too, a lot of what they're going to do is has to go through the courts.

You can't just go to the courts as a matter of first resort it has to be a matter of last resort and shown that you've tried all of these different approaches to get the documents to get the witnesses that you want for the Trump administration and they're just stonewalling. And in order to be able to make that case both to a judge and then to the public which is even harder, they feel like they have to have run through these traps. The risk is do they lose the moment politically or do they kind of fire too early and then just have to explain this for the rest of the political campaign, so -- up until the 2020 election.

So, probably the sweet spot is sometime in the fall, but you're going to keep hearing this bickering back and forth and Trump will try to exploit that as much as he can to either weaken Pelosi or push the pendulum towards impeachment because it seems like he's calculating that the faster they get there the more he has to point out that they don't have anything else.

KING: And the president says no to just about every Democratic investigation but he says yes, he's given his attorney general remarkable new powers. The attorney general, among three Republicans on the cover of 'The New Yorker", it's a scathing portrait shall we say of Mitch McConnell, Lindsey Graham and the Attorney General Bill Barr shining the president's shoes.

But Bill Barr now has been given by the president this remarkable power that the attorney general now has the authority to call any intelligence agency United States government they give me everything that you used at the beginning of the Russia investigation. The Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats would normally have that power that's his job to coordinate the intelligence agencies. He issued a statement that's interesting if you read it closely.

I'm confident that the attorney general will work with the I.C. in accordance with the long-established standards to protect highly sensitive classified information that if publicly released would put our national security at risk.

Coats there not saying I'm nervous, but if you read that closely and if you talk to people around him he's nervous that the attorney general, yes, a colleague is on some political mission here and is willing to compromise sources and methods for example or cherry-pick documents to release to the public to help the president make his case this was a deep state coup.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that seemed it was more than interesting. I thought it was actually a bit of a brush back pitch, and I think it's been what people have been hearing and I know a lawmaker has been hearing it too that the deal in the intelligence world is there's a lot of concern about motives here.

And to make something perfectly clear, despite what the president said repeatedly over the course of the last couple of days, he did not declassify or publicly release anything what he did is transfer that power to the attorney general and the attorney general has the ability to see all of these things as is given the fact he's the attorney general of the United States.

I think the concern that you're hearing right now at least on Capitol Hill from a lot of Democrats is that what he will do is just it -- look, as reporters we want things to be public.

[08:10:03] I am all for transparency in every way shape or form, declassify anything you want and release it. We would love to read it and write about it.

I think the concern is that you only declassify certain things that show or tell a certain narrative I think the flip side of that is we don't know what his intentions are right now and the idea that considering there's an ongoing inspectors general investigation of which he may be able to use this power to declassify some of what Michael Horowitz, the Justice Department inspector general actually finds to tell the full story of the origins of the Russian investigation, maybe it's entirely aboveboard but I think there's just a lot of concern given some of the public statements but William Barr has made over the course --

KING: He seems to have prejudged at least some of this, but we shall see as we go forward, but I was trying to be more polite about the Dan Coats statement but you got it just about right.

Up next, President Trump plays a round of golf and attends a sumo wrestling match in Japan. There are tensions over trade and North Korea, but on this trip, work taking a back seat.


KING: President Trump there very much enjoying the trophy presentation after a sumo wrestling event stage for his weekend visit to Japan. Later today, it's Monday in Asia, the president and first lady will have an audience with Japan's new emperor. And before the sumo matches you saw there, there was an all smiles round of golf with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

This is not a substance trip. The president says golf did include some conversations about U.S.-Japan trade tensions, but he says the big decisions on that front are being put off until July.

[08:15:03] Still, this quick trip not without controversy. The Japanese are alarmed at recent North Korean missile launches and the president's national security advisor John Bolton says there's quote no doubt those recent tests violated United Nations Security Council resolutions. Yet, this tweet from the president Saturday saying the North Korean launchers, quote, disturbed some of my people and others but not me, the president then adds in that tweet he smiled when he saw a North Korean statement attacking the intelligence of the former Vice President Joe Biden.

Supposed to be just essentially a fun trip for the president and an important visit to meet the new emperor, which is fine. Some people say, why is he doing this? The presidents can do this, it's fine, but he always stirs up controversy.

Let's start with the substance of the North Korean issue. The president yet again saying so what essentially not a big deal not to something his own team thinks it's a big deal and the Japanese are very worried about. They think Kim Jong-un has taken a turn back to belligerence.

DEMIRJIAN: Well, it's not the first time you've seen a split between how Trump wants to interpret something on the international stage and how John Bolton wants to interpret something in the international stage and I think you've seen that the president is much more of a non-interventionist than Bolton is. But when it comes to North Korea, we've always seen the president kind of prioritize this idea that he and the North Korean leader can shake hands and conclude a deal of some sort that he can claim as a victory and that that is seems to be his primary motivation, that's what he's been criticized for, and that -- so if it seems like he's ignoring or politicizing the interim steps this kind of fuels that concern that he may be looking at you know trying to preserve the deal above all costs and thus handing over too much too much the North Korean leader and also turning a blind guy when he shouldn't potentially.

SHEAR: I mean, you know, part of the president's often especially at the beginning of their terms put too much of a high priority on the personal relationships with these world leaders which at the end of the day you know most of what drives foreign policy in the global stages is the actual fundamental interests of the countries and the competing interests often of countries adversaries now as alike.

But President Trump has taken that to a new level and so you know whether it was initially the antagonism between he and Kim at the beginning of the term or now the sort of love affair between the two of them, he seems to put such great weight on that that kind of facts be damned, you don't -- it sort of doesn't matter what is happening he's simply going to prioritize this sense that he has this good relationship.

KING: And let's connect the dots if you will. Jay Nordlinger, who's a senior editor at "The National Review", a conservative publication, saw that tweet from the president and connects the dots. He says he's no fan of Joe Biden but North Korea is a monstrous, murderous state, a perfect communist tyranny.

To join Kim Jong-un in a cackling at Biden is abhorrent, no real American leader would do it. Let's face it, if a Democratic president did what Trump is done, joining a communist dictator an enemy of the United States and trashing a domestic political opponent of the president's, we conservatives would be at the White House gates howling and we would be right.

Does he have a point? This is another norm that happened so often that you sometimes see they just roll off us sometimes the norms we just talked about the norm giving the attorney general not the director of national intelligence the power to declassified very sensitive information this he's talked about you know jailing his political opponents or investigating school posts. But overseas to embrace Kim Jong-un's whack at Joe Biden says what?

MATTINGLY: That he's trying to maintain the relationship. Look, this is part eight million of can you imagine if former politician X would have done this what the response should have been? And they're valid.

But it's also it's who he is, it's always trying to do, and Karoun did a really gentle explaining kind of what his mindset might be to the extent that you can at this point in time. But I also think that it provides a really good window as to why he's in Japan right now and why Prime Minister Abe is doing what he's doing right now. There's a recognition that the one-to-one relationships -- for Shears' point, mean everything to the president and mean everything when if you're Japan and you're concerned about the rise of China, you're concerned about your lagging relationship with South Korea, you are concerned about North Korea and the missiles that have been flying into your airspace over the course of the last couple of years, that doing whatever you can to make the president feel like he's connected to you he's connected to your country, that's almost a necessity at this point given his relationships with other players.

KING: So why don't more conservatives speak up when the president essentially says, this essentially if you translate the president's tweet -- I'm OK with your lobbing missiles longing to take a few shots at Joe Biden.

DEMIRJIAN: I mean, look this kind of goes into a whole thing about -- we've been talking about foreign interference in all parts of governance and elections and Trump does not seem to care. He just kind of did that with this tweet right now, right?

I mean, it also just tells you that the Republicans are kind of willing to fall in line for the greater gain. Trump controls a large part of the base that just kind of follows him emotionally no matter what's happening and you've seen that the president doesn't want to connect the two things as, you know. foreign influence and how he acts because he thinks that that ends up questioning his presidency, and how he's running it, whether it's his win or its conduct in the Oval Office, and you've gotten him kind of inured to that in the GOP because it's been more than two years and we're heading towards an election where their fate rests in the president's hands, too.

SHEAR: But I guarantee you, when the tables turn and they will turn eventually and they'll be a Democratic president in the Oval Office and when that happens, the conservatives will be right back at the gates of the White House complaining about it, I mean, you know?

[08:20:09] KING: The amnesia will pass?

SHEAR: It will.

KING: All right. Up next for us, to 2020 politics. Bernie Sanders says the ideas called radical the first time he ran for president are considered mainstream now. Not the only big difference from 2016.

And as we go to break this Sunday, images from Arlington National Cemetery from this Memorial Day weekend. President Trump and the first lady stop by Thursday before heading to Japan, helping with the annual placing of the flags to honor America's fallen heroes.


KING: Bernie Sanders was back home in Vermont for a big rally yesterday essentially bragging that, hey, the ideas he had in 2016 that people said were out of step for the Democratic Party are now very much part of the party's mainstream.

Why then, if that's the case and to some degree it is, is the senator struggling this time around? Is it just because it's a more crowded field? If you look at the polling numbers, Joe Biden by far the front-runner right now in the early polling. Emphasis on early. Senator Sanders comes in second, but he's considerably behind. Let's just look at his numbers if you just bring in Senator Sanders numbers here. He's running in the teens mostly, some polls up closer to 20 percent, some polls down closer to 10 percent, but basically running in the teens in a more crowded field. Last time, it was one-on-one with Senator Hillary Clinton.

Here's a problem for Bernie Sanders: Elizabeth Warren who shares many of his liberal positions is the choice -- more of a choice than Sanders among voters who described themselves as very liberal. So, Senator Sanders struggling now, it's not just Hillary Clinton a crowded field including someone who shares many of his progressive positions.

[08:25:02] Another look at more of the polling here among Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters who say we're paying a lot of attention to the campaign Senator Sanders falls down to 8 percent. Joe Biden way on top there, again, Senator Warren, the more liberal favorite, Mayor Buttigieg, Senator Harris, and then Bernie Sanders. So, Senator Sanders trying to find his place in a new very different race he says you know what, pay closer attention to me. I'm the one who's changed the party.


SANDERS: Raising the minimum wage to a living wage, not so radical today. Guaranteeing health care to all as a human right, not so radical today. Legalizing marijuana, a radical idea four years ago, not so radical today.


KING: He's right. Is that part of the problem?

BALL: Yes, exactly. I mean, if you ever talk to Bernie Sanders, he will tell you, this isn't about me. This is about my ideas. This is about promoting these ideas that I have.

And a number of Democratic voters appear to have taken that seriously and said, OK, well if we don't have to support you to support your ideas here's some other candidates who have the same ideas, right?

Now, that being said I think all of the other Democratic candidates besides Joe Biden would love to have Bernie Sanders polling numbers, right? He is -- he's got a pretty solid second place there and it's clear that there is a base of voters for whom it is about Bernie and they do give him credit for having been in there first and having the guts to challenge Hillary Clinton when so many others didn't.

But it is -- but it's going to be hard for him, particularly if that support is decreasing. The trajectory has got to be worrying to his campaign because what they need to do to make to get him to do more than finish second again is to take that that base that he has and build on it and get bigger rather than see those people start to walk away.


KING: But you're right, don't underestimate him as many people did in 2016. He does have that loyal support and he has a deep fundraising network so he can stay in the race even though he's doing some other more traditional fundraisers this time because Biden has raised so much money.

One of the interesting things as you watch warren who again taking some of Senator Sanders lane, if you will, more liberal voters. She's also been trying to play in this competition for the support of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who was a Bernie Sanders volunteer in 2016, now a freshman member of Congress and star of screen and stage with Elizabeth Warren.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): We've sent Steven Mnuchin a letter asking him what he did as a member of the Sears board when Eddie Lampert proposed gutting the business, closing it and buying back stock rather than investing in workers.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the American people deserve answers and we're out there to fight for 'em.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: That's right.


KING: Now, she's -- Ocasio-Cortez using her leverage. She also said Jay Inslee has the best idea she thinks so far in the campaign on climate change. She's using her leverage.

But if you're Senator Sanders, more proof there, your lane has company.

DEMIRJIAN: Your lane does have company and that your lane would have had company probably last time if Elizabeth Warren had run. But right now, you know, Bernie has an established figure. Warren's also a known figure but she needs help reaching out to young people in a way that you know Bernie controls a lot of the youth vote.

Ocasio-Cortez is a kingmaker in some ways for this part of the Democratic establishment and base. And so, you're seeing them make this run there. There's going to be other people that are clearly making the run towards the middle and then the big question is who kind of can tap multiple constituencies of the Democratic Party.

I think Bernie Sanders, his numbers might be better frankly if he had more minority voters that were backing him as compared to Biden has more pull. But it seems in those groups of voters, but this is kind of like the piecing together of all the pieces you need young people, you need centrist, you need leftists, you need minorities, you need women and everybody's trying to make a reach it wherever they can grab these voters.

SHEAR: The thing that I found interesting about the Sanders numbers that you put up was that among the very liberal voters, when you looked at it, Biden and Sanders were almost tied, right, which, you know, may indicate -- I mean, the speech bit that you played said that you showed Sanders saying that all of his ideas were not radical anymore. Well, that's exactly the problem for him. I mean, it seems odd that he would underscore that because if the if his ideas are not radical anymore because people like Joe Biden have adopted many of them, then it's a license for his supporters to say, well, Biden seems fine.

KING: He also spent a lot of time in the speech defending his foreign policy and international relations record. He said he's a proud opponent to Vietnam War, talked about marching with Martin Luther King, his opposition to the Iraq War.

How much of that is because in this campaign, more so than the last campaign, he's getting scrutinies for his past, you see some of the headlines here? When he was -- he was the socialist mayor of Burlington, Vermont, mayor and foreign minister, how Bernie Sanders brought the cold war to Burlington. Referendums, rallies, a trip to Nicaragua are all part of an effort to infuse left-wing activism into local politics.

Inside Bernie Sanders ten-day honeymoon in the Soviet Union. Bernie Sanders in the '70s Senate race called millionaires senators immoral.

His past is getting more focus -- last time, again, people underestimated him in 2016 and didn't really vet him as much.

[08:29:53] MATTINGLY: Yes. And it's been interesting because he said kind of towards the start of this campaign that one of the areas that he needed to flush out more was on foreign policy. And he has a very well known top foreign policy advisor but it's one of the things people knew that they needed to hear about it.

And I think you can add to the I've been right on these issues when he talks about what he did with the end of the civil war and trying to pull out U.S. support to that. But when you expand it a little bit it's less of an issue or it's less of an area where he can draw a clear contrast because people weren't totally sure where he stood.

And if you are not totally sure where somebody stands on something, you're going to look back at anything they've done in the past. I mean let's go back into the time when he was mayor as a number of publications have done -- it raises questions.

And he might have been totally right on all those things but people are just raising the questions. And his response to that has also been interesting. He called a "New York Times" reporter, your colleague who wrote a story about that they printed the transcript which I think is very snippy and kind of a back and forth. I thought that was really interesting to read.

Now to be fair, having covered Bernie Sanders on Capitol Hill in the United States Senate, that's really just how he talks with reporters to some degree. But I think there is a recognition that this has become an issue. For him to pick up the phone and call a "New York Times" reporter is recognition that this has become an issue, an issue they need to address.

It will just be interesting to see how this plays out in the weeks ahead.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, "WASHINGTON POST": It's important for all Democrats also this race to try to lean into foreign policy because this is one of the areas where they think Trump is the weakest. He's been very, very unorthodox in how he decides the (INAUDIBLE)

KING: And to that point let's listen a little bit here. Remember how Bernie Sanders has used Hillary Clinton's Iraq war vote against her. He's already talked about Joe Biden's Iraq war vote. Bernie Sanders among the Democrats now watching what's happening in the Persian Gulf and getting nervous.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (D-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I am doing everything that I can to prevent Donald Trump and John Bolton from taking us into a war in Iran.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: President Trump is escalating tensions, is provoking yet another war in the Middle East.

We don't need another war. We need to find a way to work with allies and partners and in some cases with our enemies.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And no, it does not make us more secure to enter into an escalation that could lead to a confrontation with Iran as though we had learned nothing from this occupation with Iraq.


KING: Interesting dynamic in a Democratic race where, remember last time Hillary Clinton's is just viewed as I am sure she will be critical -- she is critical of the President vis a vis Iran. But in the last campaign, it was just Bernie Sanders sort of staking out the anti-war (INAUDIBLE).

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME MAGAZINE": Yes. I mean in that speech that he gave yesterday, Sanders did not sound defensive about his foreign policy record. It was more that he feels he wants -- he needs to introduce this part of himself to voters because so much of his image has to do with his economic policies which are now not as differentiated.

So foreign policy, number one -- something that a lot of Democratic primary voters don't know about. He wants them to know that about him.

Number two, a potential differentiator for him particularly from a candidate like Joe Biden whose profile on foreign policy is very similar to Hillary Clinton's and much more sort of centrist, much more interventionist.

And I think in the general election too, Democrats feel like Trump got a lot of credit for purportedly being non-interventionist in 2016. And as it played out in his administration, that picture is much more complicated, it's much less clear that he's actually not interventionist president.

And so they want to make the case particularly to those swing voters particularly, potentially in the Rust Belt who may have looked at Trump in 2016 and thought, ok here's a guy who wouldn't have gotten us into Iraq. And so they want to make the case that that's not the Trump who's actually been in the Oval Office.

KING: It's a great point especially if you go back and review the Sanders PC update (ph) about foreign policy. Close your eyes -- fast forward a month we'll be on the Democratic debate stage. We're going to hear some of those lines from Joe Biden if -- we don't know if he's going to be on the same stage as Joe Biden yet. But we shall see.

Some of the best campaign moments from the week just passed, next including the latest Democrat to send a message to McDonald's.


KING: Some Sunday trail mix now to give you more of a taste of the 2020 campaign. Mayor Pete Buttigieg taking sharp issue with word President Trump is now considering pardons of troops accused of war crimes. Buttigieg who served in Afghanistan said Trump is quote, "eroding the integrity of the military".

The mayor also took the administration to task for several policy steps that make it easier to discriminate against gay and transgender Americans including allowing adoption agencies to reject same-sex couples.


BUTTIGIEG: There is a shocking disparity between the lip service that the administration is paying to equality and the discriminatory actions that they are continuing to advance whether it is a war on trans people, the latest guidance about denying services to LGBT persons through HHS or what we're seeing in terms of the adoptions.


KING: No more big Macs -- the New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at a union rally in Des Moines. The mayor said he and his staff will boycott the fast food chain until it starts paying $15 minimum wage to its workers.

And state efforts to restrict abortion rights still a big topic for the Democrats on the campaign trail this weekend. Senator Cory Booker says if he's elected president, he will set up an office of reproductive freedom in the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SENATOR CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm one of these guys that gets really frustrated when I hear a man come forward and say well, I have a daughter and I have a wife, I have a grandmother -- I am going to stand up. No. I'm sorry.

Women's rights are human rights. And you are human, too. Everybody should be standing up and fighting for it.


KING: Up next for us, the President's ultimatum -- drop the investigation or forget about getting anything done.



KING: To the President it is a either/or meaning Democrats can choose either to investigate him or to work with him.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They have to go down their track. Let them get rid of the nonsense first. When that is done, we'll go very quickly. We can go very quickly. Infrastructure is very easy. For me that's very easy.

You can't go down two tracks at the same time. It doesn't work that way.


KING: Well, Washington actually did work, some anyway in both the Nixon and the Clinton impeachment drama. The endangered species act for example and a major infrastructure plan among the big bills and acts during the Nixon impeachment.

An IRS reform bill and an overhaul of the federal job training program among the big ticket items during the Clinton impeachment in 1998.

This president is not actually being impeached, they're just talking about it and our politics are much more polarized now. We should remember the Trump tax cut is the only signature legislation in the two years the President enjoyed full Republican control of Congress. So it is wrong to pin Washington paralysis solely on the stare down between the President and House Democrats.

Still the list of things held up by today's deepening dysfunction is very significant including a big disaster aid tax, a tax fix for gold star families, big budget and spending bills to keep the government running, a debt ceiling hike and the new trade deal with Mexico and Canada.

And we are not terribly optimistic this Sunday for the big breakthroughs coming with the exception of perhaps when they come back -- the disaster bill, Chip Roy who objected just wants everybody to have to vote, right. We think that will go through.

MATTINGLY: Yes, the disaster bill will be done and it will be done in an overwhelming manner once the House returns to actually vote. I think the big question right now is on the issues that are out there that they would like to do whether it be infrastructure or prescription drugs, things of that nature.

And then there are issues that they actually have to do which should be raising the debt ceiling, funding the government, and according to the White House, the top number one legislative priority is the USMCA.

[08:45:02] I think the big question now is what happened this week -- does it set them back for the remainder of this Congress? Or does it turn into one of those things that I feel like we have seen a hundred times over the last two and a half years where the President changes his mind and everything is ok and then they actually start to move forward.

What they need to do in terms of keeping the government funded and raising the debt ceiling could be an incredibly, incredibly difficult lift. And there is not a lot of kind of certainty that it can actually happen. They need the President and the White House to be playing a positive role for that.

KING: And he -- well, speaking of positive role, he wanted immigration money as part of the disaster relief bill. Republicans told me he had to drop it. They could not get the votes for it. Is he going to get that in some other bill or is that one --


DEMIRJIAN: (INAUDIBLE), if you think about it. And the thing is that they won the messaging war on that. Every time that it's come up thus far.

And the way you get that into another bill is to get it into a more (INAUDIBLE) than that. But he already lost that fight once over the holiday. And so I think that you are going to see -- it is going to depend on what the political pressure is to Phil's point.

Will the President cave for the must-pass issue because he doesn't he looks like the guy who's holding it up and you can be sure that (INAUDIBLE) the Democrats are going to be spinning that right away to make sure that the blame is on him.

KING: The divided government is not new here in Washington. This is the President's take.


TRUMP: It's a do-nothing Congress. The Democrats have done nothing in the House. They have done absolutely nothing. They don't get -- I mean other than investigate.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: But they have done stuff. It's just not anything the President agrees with. They passed the campaign finance reform and anti- corruption bill. The Senate won't take it up for this Republican-run Senate.

Ban on discrimination on basis of sexual orientation, universal background checks for gun purchases, gender pay parity bill, reauthorizing the Violence against Women Act.

The Democrats have actually passed in the House a number of things. It's just the Senate is not going to take them up. The President does not support them because we live in a parallel universe.

BALL: Well -- and the Democrats are anxious about this perception that they are so focused on investigating the President that they are not paying attention to American bread and butter concerns. And that's why you hear every time Nancy Pelosi gets up to speak she talks about those priorities that they have.

But the irony, I guess, the sticking point is that investigating is the only thing the Democrats in the House can actually do unilaterally. They can't as you think -- they can pass all these bills and then they will die. They can't actually get things done for the American people that they would like to do because they don't have agreement from the Republican senate.

But you know, these budget battles, this is a huge test for Speaker Pelosi. We talk about how good she's holding her caucus together. But they've already -- twice they've had budget blueprints that they wanted to pass -- had to pull off the floor because the liberal wing of the caucus did not agree with the spending targets.

Now they've got 12 appropriation bills they're going to try to through those committees or they have to pass a continuing resolution. They've got to look at the spending caps. They've got to look at the debt ceiling. These deadlines all coming in the fall. It's going to be a big test to see even if the House Democrats can get those passed much less if they can get a big bipartisan deal.

KING: And add in whatever the dynamics between the speaker and the President when it's all (INAUDIBLE).

Don't go anywhere. It will be interesting.

Our reporters share from their notebooks next, including some Capitol Hill turbulence awaiting two big White House foreign policy moves.


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.

Molly Ball. BALL: I'm going to be watching what is next in the abortion wars.

Earlier this week, Missouri became the latest state to pass a law sharply restricting abortion in addition to, of course, Alabama, Georgia, other states that have restricted abortion more strictly than we have seen before, looking for a court challenge.

Also this week, a judge in Mississippi became the first to stop one of these laws, to put an injunction. So these court battles are going to continue throughout the 2020 presidential race. They're going to be making their way through the courts.

Earlier this week thousands of women and others all over the country in multiple states came out to protest these laws. And you have all of the 2020 Democratic candidates coming out against them, even some Republicans saying some of these laws go too far.

And so this is an issue that's going to continue to simmer under the surface of the 2020 campaign. And you can expect it to still be going on when we get to next year. And you'll hear the candidates talk about this a lot.

KING: Without a doubt.


MICHAEL SHEAR, "NEW YORK TIMES": So Friday night another federal judge blocked another one of President Trump's policies. This time the attempt to divert money to build his border wall. To the Trump administration, it's yet another outrage, the 38th time that a federal judge has blocked one of his policies.

Attorney General Bill Barr complained about it last week saying that this practice is a violation of constitutional principles.

Mike Pence, the Vice President a couple week earlier had essentially said the same thing and said the Trump administration will be going to the Supreme Court to ask the justices to stop this practice.

Legal scholars say that's highly unlikely but there's more than a little bit of irony here. During the eight years of Barack Obama's administration, a favorite tool of Republicans was, you guessed it, going to federal judges asking them to block administration policies that they didn't like either.

KING: Of course. The court - the court's going to be busy this election year.


MATTINGLY: In a classic late Friday afternoon holiday weekend move, the Trump administration announced that they would be selling and using an emergency provision in Arms Control Law, $8 billion in weapons, munitions, intelligence and maintenance to the UAE and Saudi Arabia. This is something Congress had been holding and blocking for months at a time. Now they have gone around Congress to complete those sales. There's really a couple of issues here you need to work out -- look at. First Congress being in run-around may never appreciate that -- Congress covering this too. And that could be a problem going forward.

Second, Saudi Arabia's support on Capitol Hill has really wilted over the course of the last ten or eleven months. And that is bipartisan. You're going to see lawmakers consider a number of ways to try and stop this happening in the future.

And third, and I think this is important as well, is the idea that these weapons would be going to Yemen, the civil war, things of that nature. That is problematic on a bipartisan basis. Keep an eye on the fact that on a bipartisan basis, Lawmakers have been working on a Saudi sanctions bill that hasn't yet moved forward. This might be a trigger for that going forward.

Again -- the administration says they have the right to do this. They legally believe they can do this, going around Congress and do this, but there could be backlash on a bipartisan basis on Capitol Hill.

KING: We'll watch that.


DEMIRJIAN: To kind of piggy back up on what Phil was talking about because you can't think about Saudi Arabia on Capitol Hill without also thinking about Iran. They're regional rivals. And you've seen these steps being taken in the last week where the administration finally came down to Capitol Hill to explain the escalation and the movement of the combat strike group and everything else that's been going on in the Persian Gulf.

What's going to happen next on Iran is probably going to move in tandem with what happens next on Saudi Arabia. But is that going to be Congress holding the administration to a very short leash or wanting -- the conservatives wanting to see a lot of counter moves against what the Iranians are doing. Or will the Democrats in the House take this moment to try to push forward an AUMF, an Authorization for Use of Military Force that undercuts the 2001 instrument that the administration has been using to justify a lot of these wars in the Middle East that they want to have more control over.

[08:54:59] And will the administration be more responsive to Congress because they've been very upset that they've been left in the dark this whole time. So something has to budge on both of these issues probably in tandem. We'll see what that is.

KING: A more responsive question -- I bet not.

I'll close with a reminder the President's next visit to Japan is a lot more important than this one. The Dow was down for the fifth consecutive week this past week. That hasn't happened since 2011.

U.S./China trade tensions are the biggest factor. And it would be worse in the markets except there's still a sense that Presidents Trump and Xi will call a truce next month at the G 20 in Osaka. But Xi's words and appearances this past week and the tough Trump administration actions against Chinese tech giant Huawei have some analysts worried that nationalism is now trumping economics and that a deal is less and less likely.

Moody's Mark Zandi (ph) for example, among those who see President Xi digging in for the long term. President Trump is betting this booming economy continues through his reelection year. But Zandi sets the odds of recession before the election at 30 percent if the trade climate stays as is. And 50 percent or higher he says if the U.S.- China feud escalates some more. Watch the markets in the week ahead.

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

Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" -- Dana Bash is in the anchor chair today. Her guests include Republican Senator Joni Ernst and New York City Mayor and Democratic presidential hopeful Bill de Blasio.

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