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Centrist Lose Ground In EU Parliamentary Elections; Subpoenas For Trump Financial Records Put On Hold; Senator Graham Urges Trump To Take Action On Venezuela; Buttigieg Spends Memorial Day Running; Sen. McConnell Remembers His Father On Memorial Day; Democrats Hurry To Qualify For First Pair Of Presidential Debates. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 27, 2019 - 12:30   ET


[12:29:40] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Centrist pro-European Union forces had feared. Let's take a look at the new numbers as we count them up.

If you look over here this party names won't be familiar to those of you in the United States. But over here, these three parties over here viewed as the more anti-immigrant, anti-globalization. The party is pushing for the European Union to have less power as a big organization. They have gained some seats.

They'll now be about 25 percent give or take in the new European Parliament. Those gains, if you go back and look from the elections five years ago, the last time, there were fewer parties. Number one, with those gains -- it was about 20 percent for those more far right forces in the last election. So some gains but not as much, the gain is not as much, not as great, that some of the establishment forces feared.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live for us in 10 Downing Street in London with more. Nic, when you look at these results, some gains on the left as well, the greens and the like, what's your biggest takeaway of what's happening in European politics?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, I think the biggest takeaway has to be the disruptive influences particularly on the right, particularly on the issues of immigration and the strength of the European Union as direction to disruptive forces rather. They are stronger, but the center, those center two parties when the coalition, the European People's Party that's one that Angela Merkel, for example, the German Chancellor, that's a party she is in.

And they had the sort of ruling alliance if you like in the parliament with the socialist democrats, the Spanish prime ministers, the big figure in that grouping. You know, they lost I think 77 seats but then Emmanuel Macron, the French President, a centrist as well his part, his grouping has picked up about 35 votes.

So you still have a big truce of powerful big hits of European politicians in the middle. But -- and obviously, you've got the, you know, the sort of on-going tussle between Macron and Merkel about the future of Europe and what shape it should have. It is a centrist discussion, so I think the disruptors have gone up. The greens got 20 mores seats this time than they did in 2014. I think a lot of people are going to look at the games of the green and the issue of climate is now becoming a more central issue, certainly that seems to be the case. And did that -- was that young voters really coming out with the issue that's important to them, so there are some important takeaways, absolutely, on an individual and each country as well, specific takeaways.

But big picture as you say, I think the disruptive forces have increase their hand, though, certainly some of them got the wind in their sails now, John.

KING: Nic Robertson for us outside of 10 Downing, appreciate that important perspective. And let's continue the conversation.

Joining us from Paris, Ms. Susi Dennison, she's a Senior Policy Fellow and Director of the European Power Program at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

So, Susi, to follow up on what Nic was saying that you do see those gains on the right, but you also see some gains on the left. Was this a right leaning election or more of a "we want change" and "we want new election?"

SUSI DENNISON, SENIOR POLICY FELLOW, EUROPEAN COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Yes. I was the second one. It was "we want change." I think that in each national setting, what we've seen is that the party that was best able to capture the idea that they would bring change came out the winner.

So in some countries, that was the Socialist Party, although the Socialist Party, although the Socialist lost outside of rule, though a big wins but the socialist didn't, the Netherlands and in Spain. In some parties, the Green was the big story. So as you introduction said, in Germany and France too and Ireland, there were really increases in votes with Green Party even in the UK.

And then, in other settings, there was indeed the idea of change kind of held by the nationalist, far right parties. I think Italy and France are probably the best examples of those. But even in no settings, it's clear that the nationalist didn't get quite the search, quite the title waves that they were hoping in these elections. Overall, there seems to be a sense that -- the sense that has held.

KING: And from the United States as you watch these debates in recent years, whether it's even the President of United States criticizing Chancellor Merkel saying she's too soft on immigration. The Brexit debate playing out in terms of migration and globalization, do those forces gain or lose? Or just get a little bit louder with a few more sheets but not enough to have big power?

DENNISON: I mean, I think what we learned from this election is that, we're not in 2015 anymore in Europe when it comes to migration. Migration was there among the big debates ahead of the elections, and it was certainly the kind of the framing this idea of a referendum on Europe's performance on migration, that the nationalists, the nativists are like Salvini's Alliance, like Viktor Orban were trying to push.

But in fact, voters were worried more broadly about a number of things. They're worried about the impact of nationalism on the European project, they're worried about economic uncertainty, they're worried about climate, and so all of these different mobilizers has meant that a very volatile electorate has kind of gone in all different elections with these results.

People are voting now on issues more than party loyalty. And so I think that's why we've got this very sort of mixed picture in terms of the election. It's very hard to call it a kind of a shift, right, left or to kind of anti-establishment or establishment.

[12:35:06] In fact, what it is, is a kind of a big vote for change, and lots of pressure on the institution after these elections to really deliver on those issues.

KING: We'll watch how this plays out. That is fascinating, Susi Dennison, we appreciate your insights on this important day.

And as before we go to break, back home in the United States, here is some of the Democratic candidates running for president. Among those out this Memorial Day honoring those lost in war.





KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Army National Guard Sergeant Patrick Ryan McCaffrey.




REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Staff Forces Sergeant First Class James F. Grissom.




BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Firefighter Christopher Slutman.

Rep. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Staff Sergeant Frank Tiai of American Samoa.



[12:40:25] KING: Topping our political radar today, two House Committees have to wait to get their hands on President Trump's financial records, assuming they get them at all.

A source says the President's lawyers have reached an agreement with the House Intelligence and Financial Services Committees to hold off an enforcing subpoenas for records from the Deutsche Bank and Capital One until the appeals process plays out in court.

The Trump team is fighting a New York judge's decision last week refusing their request to block those subpoenas.

Senator Lindsey Graham calling on President Trump to send a strong message to Cuba and the rest of the world. Senator Graham says he should be prepared to send US troops to Venezuela. Graham comparing the situation to 1983 within the Reagan administration, the United States invaded Grenada to topple the island's revolutionary government.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I would do exactly what Reagan did. I would give Cuban ultimatum to get out of Venezuela. If they don't, I would let the Venezuelan military know you've got to choose between democracy and Maduro. And if you choose Maduro and Cuba we're coming after you.

If he doesn't act, everybody in the world is going to thinks he's weak. If he does act, it helps us with North Korea, Iran, Russia and everybody else.


KING: Speaking of Russia, the foreign ministry just last hour offering to mediate talks between the Maduro regime and Venezuela's opposition. The Kremlin saying, "We are ready to provide the necessary assistance to such a dialogue if it is requested by the participants. At the same time we reaffirm the categorical rejection at any possibility of forceful outside intervention in the affairs of this friendly country."

And most Americans now have heard the name Pete Buttigieg and know he's running for president. Well, today at the South Bend Memorial Day parade he's literally running.


BUTTIGIEG: Good morning.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can tell everybody.

BUTTIGIEG: Oh, good. We're counting on you. Thank you. Good morning.


BUTTIGIEG: Good morning.


BUTTIEG: Where are your dogs?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are in the house.


KING: Our kudos to DJ Judd, he's our CNN cameraman and producer chasing Mayor Pete this morning. Parades are fun, turns out to be like that.

So we have -- we're going to talk more about this in a minute. But we're about a month to the first debate, Mayor Pete is back home. Where are we?

LISA LERER, NAIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, all the polling, of course, shows the Vice President with a significant lead.

KING: So call it off?

LERER: But, look, I think if history is any guide at this point in 2016, Bernie was not even really on the scene as all yet. He certainly was not posing the threat to Hillary Clinton that he ended up posing. And at this point in 2018 which may be a more ups comparison in some ways although the field was, what, a quarter, a fifth of the size of what we're dealing with now. It was the same thing.

Hillary Clinton led by double digits and this then Senator Barack Hussein Obama, the guy with the funny name, a scissor (ph) for himself wasn't really on the radar as someone who could pose a challenge. So, you know, we -- the polling has been relatively stagnant for a couple of weeks now with the exception of Elizabeth Warren sort of creeping up and Bernie Sanders creeping down. But I just think, listen, we're a long, long way away from Iowa if we're going to be talking about this.

KING: We are. And one important lesson, if you're leaving your day job a lot to go run for president, go home for the parade. Mayor Pete going home to South Bend for the parade there as he being probably in New Hampshire, Iowa.

Before we blink next as we go to break, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell back home in Kentucky remembering his dad who served in World War II.


[12:44:00] SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I have wonderful letters from my father to my mother from over there, one, at the top, VE Day, they were calling it VE Day at the time, May 8, 1945, regular foot soldier with predictions, having met the Russians that they were going to be a big problem, a big problem.



KING: You'll hear me say often "Beware of investing too much in the early polls," but for the next month, for the 2020 Democrats they do matter. Polling is just one of two qualifications to make the first pair of presidential debates. The other is how many donors can you get.

The Democratic National Committee says candidates need to show 65,000 unique contributors to qualify for the debate stage. Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden have easily cleared both hurdles. But it's awesome unexpected names like Andrew Yang, recent entries Steve Bullock and Michael Bennet have the not. One month out, 19 declared candidates have hit the polling threshold, but six of the 19 have netted the 65,000 donors.

But as Senator Cory Booker here trying to point out one of the political lessons he says from 2016, the early polls, and he is right, are often wrong.


BOOKER: I'm not that worried about Joe. I mean, just because people usually poll this far out don't usually end up winning. We should worry too much about Vice President Biden, I think he'll be OK.

Somethings are joking (ph) and you're not even laughing. It's a bad jokes.

[12:50:01] Well, I'm not looking at the polls right now. I'm looking at the people.


KING: He's not looking at the polls right now. He's looking at the people. I think he's qualified, so I guess he don't have, to right?

LERER: Yes. TARINI PARTI, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: So, I've talked to Cory Booker this weekend and he said something similar. He said, you know, he's not the tortoise in the race. He's the tortoise in the race, not the hare. And he continued to say that he, his team, has certain benchmarks that they've put in place internally and that he's meeting all of those benchmarks.

So he claimed he's not worried about national polls because when it comes to organizing and getting those committed to caucus cards he is where he needs to be. And he seems pretty confident at least in front of reporters about that.

LERER: But there's something about this debate, I find somewhat entertaining which is that these are supposed to be sort of participation trophy debates that most, if not everyone, really in the field would qualify. And that was the reaction to 2016 where Bernie Sanders and people supporting him felt that the DNC had put their thumbs on the scales for Hillary Clinton. So the committee want to have no appearance even of that.

So everyone was going to get into this debate but then now there's 23 people in the race. So there's only 20 slots who was not going to get to the debate, and it's going to be a two-night event, 10 on the first night, 10 on the second where it's randomized. So it may not even be that enlightening for those of us who are trying to see how certain candidates would match up against each other because you may not end up getting those match ups.

KING: Or you get some of the unknowns against the Bidens or Sanders, and it becomes surprisingly enlightening. We'll see how it plays out. Here it is from a piece from the New York Times today from Jonathan Martin read up scene. That's the take of Pete Buttigieg, we just showed you back home.

"It's easy for those of us who are deeply involved in the process to get so wrapped up in it that we forget just how many people will tune in for this very late in the calendar year," said Mr. Buttigieg. Referring to Mr. Sanders he said that, "The more ideological candidates nobody supports" beside that other than the more ideological candidates, nobody support is consolidated at this point. Essentially trying to say that's a big number for Joe Biden, but I think a lot of that is fungible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. Well, a lot of this given it's a very little name recognition at all. I mean Pete Buttigieg has been doing "The Hugh Hewitt Show," Fox News, he's been doing all sorts of television, basically anyone who will book him. You have candidates like Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor who no one outside of the New York City even likes or knows.

Still for a lot of these folks they have to be out in the road, and traveling, and doing all of this now because if not no one knows who they are.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I would also just note. Given how diffuse the field is and I think J. Martin's piece today really gets into this, is the behind the scenes, kind of underneath the fights for different pieces of the electorate, the fights for different states trying to set themselves up.

The debate is going to be huge, not just for those who don't have names but also for money reasons. If you look at what -- what's coming shortly after the debate, the July funding deadline for the FEC, that's going to make or break a lot of people in this field. And the debate gives him one last opportunity to spike your juice , their money, their donors, where they're at.

You can see a lot of people start to drop out in July or you can see a bunch of people decided they muddle through and at least get through to the next debate.

LERER: But there's also some grumbling about the timing of the debate because it eats up when you have to prep. They don't -- you don't find -- the candidates don't find out who they're on stage with until 10 days before start to prep. And then at the end of the quarter when they all want to be out raising money, they're doing debate perhaps. So there's some --


LERER: -- low grade grumbling about that.

The thing I think to watch right now is who has the staff in those early stages, who is building the organizations? These organizations take time to build, time to expand, and that's part of why we see Senator Booker feel so confident.

KING: Booker feels confident, Warren --

PARTI: And Senator Warren has the biggest staff in Iowa. And when you -- I went to one of her events this weekend, she had 200 people there and a bunch of organizers getting all the information needed to get those people out to caucus. I think one thing I heard from a lot of people there who are going to be watching the debates is not only just to find, you know, who they're supporting but to even whittle down the field from 23 to top 5 of their favorite candidates.

KING: All right. And as we go to break this Memorial Day holiday weekend, the tribute from one of our own. CNN's, sitting right at this table, Phil Mattingly, running 14 miles this morning ending with the visit to the Vietnam Memorial and to his grandfather's name etched on the wall. "To the grandfather I never knew, it still means so much to our family."

[12:54:01] We'll be right back.


KING: And tonight here on CNN, a different way to think and debate politics. CNN's first comedy special, it's Colin Quinn's "Red State Blue State."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) COLIN QUINN, COMEDIAN: Here's a radical idea. We start to look in ourselves, take some responsibility. See we have people doing shit for us. We should be doing ourselves most of the time anyway. Would you hold this for me for a second?

We look in the mirror and see ourselves as we really are and realize most of what everybody says about each other is true. The right can be a little racist and the left can be a little fascist, and you can tell the Christians by their guns and the liberals by their hatred of free speech. Is this what we suppose to look? Is that really what we are? Let's honestly look at all 50 states and see what we've become.

Let's review. We'll start with the northeast. Start with Massachusetts, once the home of Sam Adams dumping tea into Boston Harbor, now the home of Fenway fans dumping Sam Adams on to Yankee outfielders' head.


KING: Be sure to tune in tonight, Colin Quinn "Red State Blue State", it premiere's tonight at 9:00 pm Eastern right here on CNN. And thanks for joining "INSIDE POLITICS" today. We'll see you back at this tomorrow.

Poppy Harlow in for Brianna Keilar today, she starts right now. Have a great and special Memorial Day holiday.