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Trump and May Praise Each Other; Trump Talks Mexico Tariffs; Federal Reserve Chair Speaks Ahead of Tariffs; Biden Still Leads in Polls. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 4, 2019 - 12:00   ET



[12:00:25] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

President Trump heaps praise on the outgoing British prime minister and predicts the U.S. and the U.K. will strike a giant trade deal and work through other difficult issues.

Plus, a more combative tone from the president on issues closer to home. The president predicts new tariffs against Mexican goods will take effect next week and he says congressional Republicans would be foolish to try to stop him.

And Joe Biden's support drops a bit, but he still has a big national lead in the 2020 Democratic presidential race. Climate change is a big issue for Democratic voters and today Biden outlining his plan.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This initiative will create more than 10 million new good paying jobs all across the clean economy in the United States of America.


KING: Back to that story later.

But we begin this hour in London, with a president and a prime minister doing their diplomatic best to end things on a high note. President Trump has repeatedly criticized Prime Minister Theresa May over the past two years, including in an interviewed timed just before his arrival in the U.K. for this state visit. Prime Minister May, at times, has bristled at that criticism and she's landed a few blows of her own. But, today, she called him Donald, and said it is a sign of strength that friends can disagree. And the art of the deal president paid her the ultimate compliment, even though it is May he's handling of the Brexit saga that is forcing her to yield power on Friday.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: And I still believe -- and I personally believe -- that it is in the best interest of the U.K. to leave the European Union with a deal.

And I seem to remembered the president suggested that I sued the European Union, which we didn't do. We went into negotiations and we came out with a good deal.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes. That's (INAUDIBLE) -- I would have sued, but that's OK. I would have sued and settled maybe, but you never know. She's probably a better negotiator than I am.

Perhaps you won't be given the credit that you deserve if they do something, but I think you deserve a lot of credit.


KING: There are to be sure many differences and tensions. May mentioned the Paris climate accords and the Iran nuclear deal. But her tone was polite, as was his when he talked optimistically about resolving big differences over a bilateral trade deal, or over Britain's relationship with the Chinese tech giant Huawei.

CNN's Abby Phillip joins me live from London.

Abby, the president, diplomatic, deferential when it came to Prime Minister May. What are the White House takeaways from the visit so far?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think as Trump press conferences go, this was one that actually was somewhat uneventful. It went exactly as planned. The president didn't make any major snafus. And as you mentioned, he heaped praise on Theresa May, which in her final days as party leader, her final weeks as prime minister perhaps, was something of a gift to her. This -- that this visit has been delayed for so long, President Trump did finally come. He was treaty, you know, basically royally for the last several days. And now President Trump essentially is papering over a lot of the differences that these two have had over the years. She was the one actually to acknowledge that they were able to speak candidly with each other about all the aspects of the issues that they disagreed with. You mentioned that she mentioned climate change and Iran. They talked about some of these issues, particularly Iran, so differently, but neither of them went as far as to criticize each other.

One of the other points that she made was that -- was that the president has been a partner to her, that they have had a cordial relationship. At the same time, President Trump has insulted her, frankly, on the public stage. He's criticized her strongly for her handling of Brexit. She -- he is even -- he's even said that she has refused to take his advice. And so, as a parting gift to Theresa May, I think this press conference was by and large President Trump just staying in his lane, not veering too far into hers, and allowing her to exit the world stage pretty gracefully. And I think for that, this was sort of a flitting end to the working part of this two-day visit to Britain, yesterday and today, ending with the political side and this press conference with Theresa May, John.

KING: Abby Phillip live for us from London. Appreciate the live reporting.

With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, Julie Pace with "The Associated Press," CNN's Michael Warren, Annie Linskey with "The Washington Post," and Julie Hirschfeld Davis with "The New York Times."

Is it just, it's her final days, I'm going to be nice? Is it, the queen's treated me so well, the prime minister has treated me well, I'm in a good mood, therefore I'm going to gloss all this over? Remember, it was -- this is a year ago, a, there was an interview just as he landed, an interview in the London papers this week in which he criticizes Theresa May. One year ago, I would have done it much differently. This is about Brexit. I actually told Theresa May how to do it. But she didn't agree with me. She didn't listen to me. And then she -- he goes on in that interview to talk about Boris Johnson, who's now considered one of the leading candidates to replace her. Why?

[12:05:15] JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, I think it is -- the -- both of those things that you mentioned. Trump is feeling good. He's been feted. He's been treated in the way that he feels like he should be and he feels respected and so that always puts him in a better frame of mind.

But, also, I was on that trip with President Trump last summer when that interview came out just as he was going into a formal dinner with Theresa May. The same thing happened. The next day, when they were at a news conference together, he was very -- they were very friendly with each other outwardly. They were holding hands at one point. We tend to forget because President Trump can be so confrontational when he isn't face to face with someone how much he really wants to downplay conflict when he is face to face with someone. He really wants to, when he's across from you, seem like he's agreeing with you, be agreeing with you and have you like him back. And so I think that's a lot of what we were seeing at this news conference today. And as Abby said, I mean, I think he realizes, she's on her way out, he's here to stay and so he's feeling like magnanimous in terms of what the relationship is.

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, ASSOCIATED PRESS: And that interview, in the last trip, was one of those very, very rare moments where the president realized that he screwed up. He gave the interview. He landed. He saw how terribly it was going over and he actually said something akin to an apology to Theresa May there.

I think a lot of what we're seeing here, you know, people we've talked to, U.S. and British officials, say the president is feels quite good. He and his -- he has his whole family with him. They were really taken with the royals, we're told. I think he is, to Julie's point, he is coming out of this feeling a little bit like this is the reception that I deserve and I'm getting it and I think that probably helps him be a little more magnanimous toward May at end.

MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: And the pageantry, you know, the president, I think, really appreciates that. And that's the difference between a state visit and maybe a more sort of focus entirely on a working visit. We also know that the president, in these situations, particularly across face to face, can be much more conciliatory. But it's behind closed doors or in some of these meetings where he's having to negotiate on trade for instance where he can be more combative. That's not what we're seeing today

ANNIE LINSKEY, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": But you also don't know what's going to happen, you know, once he lands back in the U.S. I mean this has happened before with foreign leaders --


LINSKEY: Where he's -- he'll have a conciliatory moment and then you look at your Twitter feed and it's back to warring Trump. So --

KING: Right, and he --

LINSKEY: You don't know how long it will last.

KING: We -- that's a great point, you never know how long it's going to last. Just keep your eye on the Internet, I guess.

He has angered the prime minister, in part for questioning her leadership on Brexit, but also for seeming to meddle in British politics by being so complementary of Boris Johnson, who now is one of her -- one of the rivals to succeed her and has been a thorn in her side during her prime ministership.

The president was asked about that again this morning. There's a lot across the British media, and within the British government, like, Mr. President, stop meddling in our affairs, let us settle this ourselves. It came up this morning. He was asked about Boris Johnson and who might replace Theresa May and listen to the president.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I know Boris. I like him. I've liked him for a long time. He's -- I think he'd do a very good job. I know Jeremy. I think he'd do a very good job. I don't know Michael, but -- would he do a good job, Jeremy, tell me.


KING: Now, he made that funny. Jeremy is Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary, who is also a candidate, Michael Grove (ph), the home secretary, also a candidate. Three members of the conservative party trying -- and the president's made clear that Boris Johnson is his favorite, but there he tried to be -- he tried to be, a, funny and, b, stay out of it, I guess.

PACE: But still a little rare. I mean having traveled with other presidents, and you've done this, John, I mean even going as far as Trump did is extremely rare for an American president talking about another country's election.

KING: Right. PACE: For Trump it's restrained, but typically American presidents want to stay as far away as possible from these types of domestic political events, in part because they want their foreign counterparts to do the same thing back home when they're up for re-election.

KING: Right.

Right, the normal answer is, nice try.

DAVIS: Well, and they also want to preserve the ground for themselves to be able to have a relationship with whoever does end up winning. And so, you know, that can be awkward if Boris Johnson doesn't end up being the person and he's, you know, weighed in to some degree on one or the other of these other candidates. It's, you know, it's -- it makes it trickier for you to maneuver if you're the American president and you're going to go in and say who you prefer and that person doesn't end up being the chosen person.

WARREN: But I don't -- I don't think the president can resist.


WARREN: Particularly with Boris Johnson. I think he sees a lot of similarities between the two. They're sort of urban, populists with a lot of sort of media savvy as well. He sees perhaps a lot of himself in -- in Boris Johnson. We'll see if Johnson becomes the prime minister how long that lasts.

KING: And this was, I think, my favorite moment listening to the press conference. At times these are parallel universe and you think that maybe the president forgets his own history sometimes. But he was asked about this. Been some pretty sharp criticism from the London mayor, Sadiq Khan. Also from Jeremy Corbin (ph), the late -- leader of the Labour Party. And the president was asked about that criticism by these two leading political figures of the other party in the U.K. And listen to the response.

[12:10:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think he should be criticizing a representative of the United States that can do so much good for the United Kingdom. We talked about it before. He should be positive, not negative. He's a negative force, not a positive force.

I think that he is, from where I come from, somewhat of a negative force. I think that the people should look to do things correctly, as opposed to criticize. I really don't like critics as much as I like and respect people that get things done.


KING: I guess that's called being best. But, I mean, it's just when he says things like this, does he think that we cannot look at @DonaldTrump and go -- LINSKEY: I mean just look at his criticism of Meghan Markle. I mean

she was nasty one day and then the very next day she was great. I mean that -- within the same sentence she was. And he does not seem to be burdened by his track record.

DAVIS: But that -- but that -- he also was very honest in that last part of the byte. He doesn't like critics.

KING: Right.

DAVIS: He doesn't like critics -- critics domestically.

LINSKEY: Fair point.

DAVIS: He doesn't like critics --

PACE: He doesn't like critics of him.

DAVIS: Of him. Right. Of -- and he doesn't love -- and particularly abroad. He doesn't like to be criticized. And I think he was being very honest there. That's why he doesn't like Jeremy Corbin (ph), because he feels he's been criticized by him.

KING: He doesn't like -- yes, don't be negative. OK. Got it.

Up next for us, President Trump turns his attention back stateside, gets a little more combative, firing a warning shot at Mexico and at his fellow Republicans.


[12:15:57] KING: The president was much more combative today when the questioning in London turned to issues closer to home. Mexico is appealing to the administration to drop a new Trump plan to impose tariffs beginning next week. The president wants those tariffs as punishment for what he calls Mexico's failure to stop an onslaught, an invasion of illegal immigrants.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's more likely that the tariffs go on and we'll probably be talking during the time that the tariffs are on, and they're going to be paid. And if they don't step up and give us security for our nation, look, millions of people are flowing through Mexico. That's unacceptable.


KING: Most Republicans in Congress see the tariffs as a horrible idea, but as Senate Republicans now debate whether they can find some legislative way to block the president, this blunt warning.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don't think they will do that. I think if they do, it's foolish. There's nothing more important than borders. I've had tremendous Republican support. I have a 90 percent -- 94 percent approval rating as of this morning in the Republican Party. That's an all-time record. Can you believe that? Isn't that something? I love records.


KING: He loves records.

It's essentially telling my -- his own party, don't you dare.

DAVIS: I mean that was a -- that was a threat essentially that, you know, that his base, the people who support him, will punish them if they do what increasingly, I'm told, they are thinking of doing, which is, if he goes through with slapping these tariffs on next week, that they will go to a potential resolution of disapproval that would likely pass the Senate, definitely pass the House. He would probably veto and then they'd be in an override fight that this time he might actually lose, unlike the national emergency.

I think the -- the key question for Republicans and the key problem here is he said, you know, they shouldn't do that because this is about borders. The Republicans on Capitol Hill do not see this as about borders. They see this as about tariffs and taxes. And they do not want that to go forward. And they think it would be really damaging, even just the smallest increment of 5 percent, I think they think could be very costly and I think -- so I think there's serious consideration to doing what the president is telling them not to do.

WARREN: It -- and Senate Republicans have gone out on a limb, and Republicans in Congress in general, for the president on tariffs under the -- you know, under the pretense that this is a negotiation tactic. That seems to be what the White House message has been on this for the last two years. And so to see them now have to -- being asked or being demanded of them to defend tariffs as an immigration strategy, it really is -- is a bridge too far.

I talked to a Republican strategist from South Carolina who said, between this, the Chinese tariffs, if these tariffs are still in place by the time the summer ends, it's back to school and people are seeing higher prices, buying kids clothes and other things like that, that could be a real political backlash against the president, even in these strong Republican areas.

PACE: But this is where the president -- we've talked about this before. This is where the president always comes down on this. He says, I've heard those warnings. And the U.S. economy has proven to be more durable than a lot of people, including some of Trump's own advisers, and certainly Republicans on Capitol Hill, expected as he has moved forward with some of these -- with some of these policies.

Now, we haven't seen the full effect of them. The -- with Mexico, there's nothing in place at this point and there are still several days of talks to try to sort out whether we will ever get to that place. But the president just simply doesn't believe some of these warnings about how bad the economy will be, because he looks -- he looks at all kinds of other, more favorable economic indicators. And on that front, you know, he does have a pretty good case to make here.

KING: The one caveat I would put to that, though, is the Fed chairman, Jerome Powell, today, gave a briefing in Chicago in which he said, hey, we're watching all this. Yes, in his view, tariffs, all these tariffs can cause a slowing of economic growth and the Fed chairman, putting on the table something the president actually has demand, that the Fed cut interest rates.


JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: We do not know how or when these issues will be resolved. We are closely monitoring the implications of these developments for the U.S. economic outlook. And, as always, we will act as appropriate to sustain the expansion with a strong labor market and inflation near our symmetric 2 percent objective.


[12:20:01] KING: It's economic Fed speak. But if you translate that, if the economy slows, we might have to reconsider our position right now, which is to keep interest rates where they are. He's essentially putting on table they might have to cut them.

LINSKEY: It -- well, it becomes sort of a win, win, win for Trump in that case. I mean he gets lower interest rates. And you have to understand the extent to which, when you talk to voters, and I was just out in Iowa talking to voters, they -- they like to see the president fighting for them. And whether it's fighting against the Democrats or fighting against even members of his own party in this type of fight that's being outlined, they like to hear that. They -- and this is even coming from farming communities where -- that have really felt, you know, the damages and are in, you know, the sort of growing season or trying to plant right now and have felt these tariffs viscerally. There's still this support for the president because they like to see that fighter. And I just think that, you know, we just really can't forgot that when we're sort of analyzing what he's doing.

KING: Right. And to -- but to your point, there are some -- even in his circle who say, just don't overplay your planned, Mr. President.

PACE: Right.

KING: These people are -- these people are with you. But, at some point, you get to, is there a tipping point I guess is the question?

LINSKEY: Haven't reached it. I mean --

WARREN: Right. Right. I think this is a -- this was an issue as well with Mexico tariffs. There's a lot of sort cross-border going back and forth with the American car industry. A lot of foreign auto companies that have, and particularly in the southeast, auto plants where they're sort of exchanging things across that border. Is that going to raise prices? Is that going to cut jobs in some of these ancillary industries as well that employ a lot of Trump voters? Right now they're with the president, but there's a question of how long and how much can the president play that hand?

PACE: And the problem from an economic standpoint is when you hit that tipping point, you can't pull back quickly.

KING: Right.

WARREN: That's right.

PACE: And you might not know until you get there, until you see -- you see some real impact and then it might be too late for the president.

KING: He sounded today as if he is determined to impose at least the first round, the 5 percent of the tariffs. He sounded determined to do that. But the question is, even if it's just that, if that could be a negotiating tactic to. Sound determined to get the Mexicans to come to the table with a better proposal. We shall see.

Up next for us, some new CNN polling on the 2020 Democrats. One of those candidates, Senator Cory Booker, can't help but sing a little bit about being on the trail.


SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (singing): I can't wait to get on the road again, making music and laughter with my friends, I can't wait to get on the road again.



[12:27:01] KING: Joe Biden is campaigning in New Hampshire this hour. Pictures right there. That's Berlin, New Hampshire. He is there to highlight a new climate change plan. The former vice president hopes quiets liberal critics who suggest he just isn't bold enough on the big issues in the campaign. We'll get to the details of that plan in a moment.

But first, some new 2020 numbers. The vice president, there's a national poll of Democrats and Democratic-leaning voters still well in the lead here, 32 percent to 18 percent for Bernie Sanders. Senator Harris, Senator Warren, Mayor Buttigieg and former Congressman O'Rourke round out the top five there -- top -- as you -- top six as you play it out. Biden down seven points in a month. He's out on the campaign trail. His rivals are taking some shots. Voters are getting to see a little bit more of him. He's come back down to earth a little bit from the early days. But, still, a very healthy lead. Senator Sanders up a little bit. Senator Harris up a little bit. The others, relatively static if you think about the poll's margin of error.

So Biden with a big national lead. His favorability rating, still off the charts among Democratic voters. Senator Sanders as well. Senator Warren has gone up as voters get -- see more of her. The other candidates down here, Mayor Buttigieg up a bit. Senator Harris static. Biden and Sanders down a little bit. It's the Biden part. You're out on the campaign trail. You're getting bruised up a little bit. You drop down a little, tiny bit.

Here's where so far the former vice president, again, in a national poll doing quite well, he leads among women who identify as Democrat or Democratic-leading voters by 15 points over Bernie Sanders. Non- white voters, by 10 points over Bernie Sanders. He was in second place in all these categories. Non-college, Biden way up. Liberals, they're about tied. Senator -- Joe Biden up a point over Senator Sanders. Only among younger voters, it's the only group that Biden loses. He loses by seven points, Senator Sanders there.

Biden feeling very strong about the race right now. Again, these numbers show he's come back to earth a little bit. He wants to convince people, keep me as your front-runner by outlining these policy proposals. Liberals say, he's too old, he's from yesterday, he doesn't get the urgent challenges of climate change. The vice president today saying, yes, I do.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's an existential threat we face and we know and you know and there are -- they tell us we have not a whole lot of time to begin to change the direction.

Now, there's a -- the first ting I would do, day one as president, I'd rejoin the Paris Climate Accord, which we, Barack and I, put together.


KING: CNN's Jeff Zeleny joins our conversation.

He outlines his climate change proposal, and right there he also manages to work in the "Barack and I."

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And there are two things we hear a lot from Joe Biden. One, it's "Barack and I," and "I would beat President Trump." Those are kind of the beginning and the ends of his policy ideas.

But, look, I think if you're Joe Biden, you're pretty pleased with these numbers. Certainly anyone else in the race would love to be in his position and is it that surprising he's come down to earth a little bit? I really don't think it is because people have been sort of taking some -- some whacks at him on the Iraq War vote, on bankruptcy bills, other things. So I think that -- I mean the question is, at the end of the summer, where does this look? Is it going to continue to fall a little bit? It probably will. The young voter thing is really interesting and potentially worrisome to them but he's hoping that Elizabeth Warren gets some of that piece and spreads it out a little bit.

It -- it benefits Joe Biden to have a big field, no question.

[12:30:04] KING: And one of the criticisms from liberal groups, progressive Democrats mostly, number one, it's a generational thing. They want a younger candidate.