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Trump Blasts Critics of Mexico Deal; Trump Threatens to Up China Tariffs; Nadler Strikes Deal with Justice Department; Warning Signs for Biden. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 10, 2019 - 12:00   ET


[12:00:00] DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Which destroyed the town last year where you had 85 people die. So you can expect that kind of thing to happen continually over the summer.

Kate, we'll send it back to you.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Dan, thank you so much. Oh, watching those pictures is always so scary out there.

Thanks so much, all, for joining me. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Kate.

And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

The markets rally and the president celebrates. There are no new tariffs against Mexico today. There is a big debate about whether the president really won big immigration concessions in the deal.

Plus, inside the House Democratic divide on impeachment. Think of three camps, those skeptical, those wavering back and forth and those who are full speed ahead.

And Joe Biden leads another poll, this one in critical Iowa, but our new survey also shows an enthusiasm problem for the former vice president, and there's evidence his age could be an issue.


JOELLEN MEAGAN, IOWA VOTER: I'm starting to think that to play it safe is not to play it safe, that I think people want something radically different than what they have right now, which does not mean we need a radical, but it means that we need to do something different. What we did before clearly didn't work.


KING: Back to 2020 politics in a moment.

But we begin the hour with what is big news today and yet also somewhat of a deja vu moment. The president calling in to a live news broadcast to make his case and to bash the establishment thinking as he does so. In this case, it was a defense of using tariffs as a weapon, whether the issue is trade, immigration or anything else.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As soon as I put tariffs on the table, it was -- it was done. It took two days.

I just want to say to the United States Chamber of Commerce, if we didn't have tariffs, we wouldn't have made a deal with Mexico. We got everything we wanted. And we're going to be a great partner to Mexico now because now they respect us. They didn't even respect us. They couldn't believe how stupid we were with what's going on, where somebody comes in from Mexico and just walks right into our country and we're powerless to do anything.


KING: The Dow is up today. You see the big board right there, up more than 200. Investors relieved there were no new tariffs slapped on Mexican goods starting this morning. The president sees that as proof he's winning and as an opportunity to take on his critics. That call into CNBC came just moments after a Chamber of Commerce official appeared on the network to warn the president was weaponizing trade and that that works, quote, hurt our country. The president also dismissed a weekend "New York Times" story that reported that much of the details of the new Mexico deal not really new at all.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: "The New York Times" wrote a story like I already made the deal. It's nonsense. We talked about it for months and months and months, and they wouldn't get there. And we just said, hey, look, if you don't get there, we're just going to have to charge you hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes.


KING: CNN's Abby Phillip live at the White House this hour.

Abby, you listen to the president, in part it sounds like he wants to take a victory lap, but in part he sounds defensive.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John, he does sound a little defensive. He seems to have been very much upset about this "New York Times" story, tweeting about it multiple times over the weekend. But it's the details of "The New York Times" story that I think people should be really focusing on.

First of all, it really lays out how many of these agreements that were announced on Friday as part of the deal with Mexico were actually things that the Mexicans had already basically agreed to in the past. For example, allowing migrants to remain in Mexico while their asylum cases were adjudicated. That was announced publically by the then Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen in December. And Mexico had also privately agreed to deploy their national guard to interdict some of these migrants as they made their way up to the southern border back in March.

And there is a third element of the deal that the United States didn't actually even get, which was, Mexico did not agree to make themselves a third safe country, which would basically have meant that migrants coming up on foot from central America to the U.S. southern board would first have to claim asylum in Mexico before trying to claim it in the United States. So there was a key part of this deal that the U.S. didn't get.

But, ultimately, what President Trump is facing right now is the reality that on Friday it became just as important for the U.S. to get a deal with Mexico as the Mexicans. The president was facing a revolt among Republicans who were really baulking at what seemed to be the president's eagerness to use tariffs as a negotiating tool with foreign countries on unrelated issues. And so I think where we are now is where I think a lot of people in Washington and on Wall Street wanted the president to be in the first place, but President Trump wants to get credit for making a landmark agreement that seems to have already been in place for months before it was announced on Friday, John.

KING: He may be where they want him to be, but he likes to take his own path, we could put it that way. Abby Phillip at the White House. Appreciate that reporting.

Let's bring it inside the room.

With me to share their reporting and their insights, Molly Ball with "Time," Rachael Bade with "The Washington Post," Michael Shear with "The New York Times," and Vivian Salama with "The Wall Street Journal."

[12:05:07] Mr. Shear, you're a by-line on that story, the president attacks, so let me start with you this day.

Two things can be true at once, right, that these things were on the table for months and the threat of tariffs perhaps gets Mexico off its tail to do it more aggressively. The president just wishes you didn't put the facts in the story.


I mean, I -- look, I think the -- the -- my reporting very much shows that the agreements to do both of the two things that the president touted as the sort of centerpieces of the deal on Friday were largely in place. The -- both the remain in Mexico idea that Abby had mentioned, as well as the deployment of the national -- new Mexican national guard. Both of those things had been agreed to. The president, I think, and the president's aides really pushed harder to get the Mexicans to do those things faster and more aggressively. And to the extent that, you know, what they have argued over the last several days is that that worked, that the threat of tariffs worked to that effect. But my reporting suggests that nothing in the agreement on Friday truly expands beyond what they had already agreed to, and, you know, so there's the nuance that maybe the president, who's not known for nuance, is maybe missing it. KING: Right. And it also begs the question that this is crisis

averted, meaning no tariffs, no shock waves to both economies, the U.S. economy and the Mexican economy. The markets are happy. But now the test is, what are the numbers going to show in a month or two and will the president get mad again if they --

SHEAR: Or even in a matter of days?

KING: Right.

SHEAR: I mean the president has given the number of migrants that cross the border every single day and then I expect him to probably get mad as he (INAUDIBLE).

KING: There's a lot in this deal and in the president's phone conversation about his views about the economy, his views on trade I want to get to. But I just want to step back for a minute for just the fact that a sitting president of the United States was watching a newscast this morning -- we lived through this in the 2016 campaign when candidate Trump called in routinely to change the day's narrative, to get himself in a story. It was very effective, especially in the Republican primaries for candidate Trump.

Are we going to see President Trump, when he looks up at a TV, in the middle of the re-election campaign and sees somebody saying something he doesn't like, picking up the phone?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I wouldn't be surprised. Of course he's going to do that. He's shown that he's done that as president. He did that as a candidate. I mean, you know, this is a president who watches a lot of TV and he cares about what people are saying.

And, you know, the Chamber of Commerce, this morning, this is, again, showing how Trump has shattered the norms, not just by calling into TV, but calling in to blast the Chamber of Commerce, which is the Republican -- not Republican lobbying group, but a lobbying group that traditionally aligns with Republicans in free trade, and that just, again, shows how different the party is under the president that he's attacking an ally of the Republicans.

KING: If those tariffs had gone into place, the Chamber was going to sue him this morning. Their -- the icon of the Republican establishment, the Chamber of Commerce, was going to go to court to sue a Republican White House. So the president understands this, but he loves to bash the establishment as we head into the (INAUDIBLE) so let's look at this. We just averted this crisis with Mexico. The president's traveling to Japan pretty soon for the G-20 meeting. There is an ongoing trade war with China. The markets are kind of hoping -- they're kind of almost baked in that he and President Xi are somehow going to reach an accommodation, maybe not a sweeping comprehensive deal, but at least some sort of detente to step back. Listen to the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, CNBC: If they don't come, if President Xi doesn't come, will that mean that the tariffs on China for the digital $300 billion in goods go on immediately?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, it would. And I think he will go. And I think we're scheduled to have a meeting. I think he'll go. And I have a great relationship with him. He's actually an incredible guy. He's a great man. I very -- a very strong and very smart, but he's for China and I'm for the United States.


KING: In a normal world just the word yes, more tariffs on China, are likely, if we don't get this meeting or we don't have a resolution. In a normal world, that would roil the markets. Again, the markets seems to think he's just saying that, that it won't end up that way.

VIVIAN SALAMA, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, the president has made no secret that he calls himself tariff man. He thinks that is a very effective tool for inflicting economic pain, or at least threat to do so with any country that does not adhere to his demands, especially when U.S. interests are involved. But, ultimately, this is not just a threat for China, it's a threat for every single country that does business with the United States.

And the big question today is, is Mexico breathing a sigh of relief? Well, yes and no. I mean they averted the tariffs on the one hand, but on the other hand the threat still looms, as Michael said earlier. And they -- he could do it at any point.

The USMCA is still not passed through Congress. And until that is passed, the Mexicans are always going to be on pins and needles waiting to see if they anger him for something else. The immigration crisis is not going to get solved overnight. He could decide in a week from now that he's not seeing enough progress on the issue and decide to impose tariffs again.

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": Although I think what we did see through this crisis, I mean, yes, the threat still looms, but, at the same time, I think so many other countries have started to wonder if it's an empty threat because he doesn't carry it out and that it happens so often that, you know, people are going to start to think that he's just bluffing and that their -- and to not regard it as a particularly threatening threat. And so that is the problem when you do things like this, when you go around threatening, is that eventually people stop taking the threat seriously and it doesn't work.

[12:10:10] Another the other thing I think that is always -- has always sort of perplexed me about his economic vision of the world is it's not clear whether he thinks tariffs are a permanent solution to rectify the trade imbalance and get companies to manufacture things in the United States, or if he views them as a tool to eventually get to a more friendly free trade situation because he's sort of saying both things. He's saying both things with the Mexico tariff. He's saying, this is just a tool to get you to do something else and then we take away the tariff.

KING: Right.

BALL: But then -- and -- but he's also in that same interview he talked about companies coming back to the United States as a result of tariffs. So that suggests that you want the tariffs permanently.

KING: Right.

SALAMA: A hundred percent agree, Molly, and at the same time the Chinese are looking at it saying, he's not bluffing. He will really impose these tariffs. And so it's so hard to say it, right?

KING: And he's doing this heading into his re-election campaign, whether you agree or disagree with tariffs, the president is risking the growth in the U.S. economy by potentially -- the Mexico thing would have been a huge shock wave. The China thing could be. A lot of political advisers say, Mr. President, step back for your own good, win a second term and then carry on this fight. The president says, no, at least so far, and he blames the Fed.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a Fed that doesn't lower interest rates. We have a Fed that raises interest rates the day before a bond issue goes out so we have to pay more money. You tell me about that thinking, OK.

We should -- we should be entitled to have a fair playing field. But even without a fair playing field, because our Fed is very, very disruptive to us.

They haven't listened to me and, you know, we have people that's more than just Jay Powell. We have people on the Fed that really weren't -- you know, they're not my people, but they certainly didn't listen to me because they made a big mistake. They raised interest rates far too fast.


KING: So you see the president continuing that. We'll talk more about this in a minute.

But some breaking news just into CNN. The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee striking a big deal with the Justice Department over the Mueller report.

Let's get straight to CNN's Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill.

Manu, what's the deal?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. This after the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Bill Barr, the attorney general, in contempt over failing to turn over the un- redacted portions of the Mueller report and the underlying evidence as demanded by a subpoena by the Democrats. Now there's a deal, this -- or this standoff averted for now after a negotiation happened behind the soon. The Justice Department has agreed to provide more information to members of the committee, the un-redacted portions of the report. So Jerry Nadler is saying, he's going to hold off on moving forward on contempt for now.

This is what he says in his statement. He says, the department will share the first of these documents with us later today. All members of the Judiciary Committee, Democrats and Republicans alike, will be able to view them. These documents will allow us to perform our constitutional duties and decide how to respond to the allegations laid out against the president by the special counsel.

Now, this was all barreling towards a court fight, a court fight that could have occurred in a matter of days. Tomorrow the House, the full House, was scheduled to vote and I'm told they're still planning to vote at the moment on a resolution that would authorize the Judiciary Committee to go to court to enforce their subpoenas for Bill Barr and for others, including Don McGahn, the former White House counsel, who also defied a subpoena under the instruction from the White House to turn over documents and provide testimony.

Now, also, that same resolution will authorize all committees in the House to go to court and try to enforce their subpoenas if they are not complied with. But on this specific subpoena, the demand for the un-redacted Mueller report and the underlying evidence, a deal struck between the attorney general and the House Judiciary Committee to turn over these documents. This comes after, John, the House Intelligence Committee also reached a similar type of deal with the Justice Department over Mueller-related documents.

So some -- an easing of tensions between the two sides despite the Democrat contention that they're getting blocked over every single request. At least they're getting some accommodation, they say, on this. So, at the moment, this standoff averted, John.

KING: Very significant, breaking news from Manu Raju, live on Capitol Hill. At least for a moment a circuit breaker, if you will, in these feuds between the Democrats and the Trump administration over documents and witnesses.

We were just talking about the president of the United States using tariffs as a bludgeon, not just on trade issues but on immigration issues. Is it possible we're seeing here that the Democrats using these subpoenas and the threat of contempt and the threat of court fights is actually generating some middle ground, some compromise for access?

SHEAR: Well, look, one of the things that is true that the president didn't have to face in the first two years of his term is that there are institutional powers that Congress has. And one of those institutional powers that's backed up by the Constitution and the courts is the power to compel testimony -- to compel -- to do oversight and to compel document -- evidence from documents. And, you know, you can -- you can sort of have that fight and sort of shadow box for a while, but eventually you -- there comes a point where that meets reality. And it looks like, if the Justice Department has reached this deal, that it looks like they finally understood that it was getting to that sort of real moment where you can't sort of kind of duck and weave and bob anymore, you have to actually produce the documents or go to court and that maybe they're trying to avoid that.

[12:15:20] BADE: And both sides actually had an interest in terms of getting to this truce. Maybe not the president himself, but DOJ, you know, they want to protect their own ability to say no to certain things in the future and the Congress wants to protect their ability to do oversight. And so by going -- taking this all the way into the courts and all the way up to the Supreme Court, you could potentially have a verdict that either cripples the DOJ --

SHEAR: That nobody likes.

BADE: That nobody -- they don't want, or it cripples the Congress. However, you know, Trump wanted to delay this and drag it out to 2020, so we'll see what he says.

KING: That was my next question. That was my next question, do we, after a love fest, a remarkable love fest between the president and his current attorney general, after the president spent the first two years mad at his attorney general, his acting attorney general, and then even at his interim attorney general to a degree, does the president suddenly say, whoa, what's happening here?

BALL: It depends. Well, look, I -- the Democrats claimed from the beginning that they wanted to negotiate and that these threats were intended to force the administration to come to the table because politically they really want it to seem that the -- that it's a -- that the subpoenas are a last resort. They're going to court as a last resort. That they are doing everything possible, bending over backwards to try to reach accommodation, not just going on a witch hunt. And so -- but that has caused a lot of frustration with the pro- impeachment wing of the caucus which is saying, all you're doing is letting the president delay this. All you're doing is letting them push it further and further so that we don't get to the point where we start impeachment proceedings or we get the evidence in front of public. And so they see in the administration's stonewalling, even when it -- they do end up negotiating, as they have here, and say, well, OK, we've just lost a month and all we've gotten is some information that we get to see in private.

BADE: One other thing I would just add here. These are for some documents, right?

KING: Right.

BADE: The thing that Democrats really need to move public opinion on impeachment is those star witnesses. I mean I haven't seen the completion details of this agreement, but I'm skeptical that they're going to say all is said and done, McGahn, you can go answer questions. That is a thing that Democrats really need more so than these underlying documents.

KING: OK. Is it a gesture to calm things or is it a bigger gesture to open things? We shall watch and get more reporting as the day goes on. Up next for us, a brand new CNN polling out of Iowa puts Joe Biden as

the frontrunner, but there are some big warning signs if you look deep inside the numbers.


[12:22:06] KING: To the campaign trail now, specifically the state that kicks it all off. That would be Iowa. Nineteen of the 23 Democratic hopefuls were in the state this weekend, and the frontrunner, Joe Biden, well, he's back to Iowa tomorrow.

Our new CNN/"Des Moines Register" poll offers the first glimpse of the state of play factoring in the new caucus rules that Iowa allows Iowa Democrats to pick their candidate. You can either do so in person come February, or you can participate in a so-called virtual caucus online.

Let's take a look at the numbers.

Joe Biden, yes, he's your frontrunner. This combines likely Democratic caucus-goers, those who will go and show up in person or those who will be in the virtual caucuses online. This combines the results. Biden's your frontrunner, but he's at 24 percent, much lower than he is in most national polls. Bernie Sanders in second at 16. But, look, 16, 15, 14, Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg, that's a statistical tie essentially for second, third and fourth place there. Kamala Harris rounds out the top five. So frontrunner but not exactly a gang busters frontrunner.

Take a deeper look at the poll here. Ask Hillary Clinton circa 2007 or circa 2015 about enthusiasm in Iowa, she was the frontrunner in both of those races. Biden backers who are going to show up in person, are they extremely enthusiastic? Only 29 percent of Biden backers say that, while 39 percent of those who have another candidate say they're extremely enthusiastic. That's a warning sign for the vice president. Juice up his support or maybe lose some of it.

Also interesting when you look inside the numbers. Among voters under 35, Bernie Sanders is your leader. But, again, 21, 19, 19. Biden down to 12 among younger voters. A fight at the top between Sanders, Warren and Buttigieg for younger, new and maybe second time Iowa caucus goers. Biden does lead among older voters. So here's a strength. Here's a weakness as the vice president tries to figure out how much time to invest in Iowa.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny was there for the very hectic weekend and he's in Des Moines for us now.

Jeff, you watched all this play out. The cattle call in Cedar Rapids. Some yays for Biden. Some doubts for Biden. What's your takeaway?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, there's no question that Joe Biden is still leading the way, but, boy, he can see and feel the field changing around him. And in the new poll it really reflects what we have been seeing on the ground here for several weeks, that Pete Buttigieg's rise is real, it is sustained, as is Elizabeth Warren's. And they are both eating into some of Bernie Sanders' support. So Bernie Sanders, you know, obviously knew he was going to have a different run in his second race here. He is not just a -- you know, the alternative to Hillary Clinton as he was four years ago. So he is -- you know, has some competition of his own.

But, John, when you talk to voters here, they want to see Joe Biden. They want to see him compete. They really wonder, is he a strong front-runner? Is he committed to putting together an organization? So far there are many questions that he actually is. He is going to be in the state tomorrow, but he is a front-runner in name only.

Now, he knows that he has to prove that. And his advisers say, look, he is going to stick it out. He is going to be in this state a lot. He's going to be in New Hampshire and South Carolina a lot.

[12:25:08] But, John, there is no question that a less than strong finish here in Iowa would almost doom Joe Biden's candidacy. He's aware of that. He'll be here in the state tomorrow. Of course Donald Trump also in the state. And that makes Joe Biden's argument that he wants to make, that I am the strongest candidate to take on Trump. Voters, though, have yet to make that assessment. So that is the burden facing Joe Biden to prove that he's a frontrunner.


KING: Going to be a fun day in Iowa. Maybe if the manager's not looking, I might sneak out to the airport.

Jeff Zeleny live for us in Des Moines. Appreciate that.

Let's bring it back into the room.

And Joe Biden had every reason not to be there. His granddaughter was graduating high school and family comes first, especially when the caucuses are 34 weeks away. He thinks he can make up the time. But he was not at the big cattle call this weekend, but listen to the other people in that top four in Iowa. He was not forgotten.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are some well-intentioned Democrats and candidates who believe that the best way forward is a middle ground strategy. That approach is not just bad public policy, but it is a failed political strategy.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Right now in America there is a real hunger. There are people who are ready for big, structural change in this country.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D-IN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're not going to win by playing it safe or promising a return to normal. We are where we are because normal broke.


KING: It's interesting when you see that -- that's the don't vote for Joe argument, politely, but that's don't vote for Joe. BALL: And there's two aspects to it, right? I mean part of it is

ideological, and that's more, I think, what Warren and Sanders are saying. They're saying that we don't want moderation as a -- as a matter of policy substance. But then they're also trying to counter the electability argument, which is, Biden's strongest argument if you talk to voters because they so badly want to beat Trump, saying, just because he's perceived as -- as being in the center doesn't mean he's going to win. And so that's the argument that Buttigieg is making saying, don't think he's a winner just because, you know, he's a name that you know. We're going to have to do something different and they can point back, I think, to Hillary Clinton's candidacy and say, you know, that you don't beat Trump with a sort of conventional politician, an experienced politician as the nominee.

KING: And you mentioned Hillary Clinton's experience. Hillary Clinton's experience, let's come back to primary context, if you in -- in 2007 at this point, or in 2015 at this point, I think she had a 40- point something lead over Bernie Sanders. She ultimately prevailed in Iowa, but not by 40 points.

When you see those enthusiasm numbers behind the Biden numbers, he better get his tail out to Iowa and he better figure that out.

SALAMA: Sure. And the issue with Biden is that going into this already, I mean, as the frontrunner you're obviously going to be subject to attacks anyway. But as the frontrunner, he was -- he was accused of being very out of touch with the state of the party in 2019, that he was too centrist when the party was going more to the left and so this was going to be an issue for him all along anyway.

And then you have issues like what happened last week where he had a flip-flop on a major policy position, the Hyde Amendment. He was against it. He was for it and has been a longtime proponent and then they started talking about a possible repeal and then overnight practically from when I was here last --

KING: Right.

SALAMA: They announced that he was now going to support a repeal. And so that's going -- that's going to stick with a lot of the voters who are saying, you know, can we trust this guy? What does he stand for? And that's going to be an issue for him.

KING: And frontrunners are always weak or at least in question in Iowa, which happens to be the history of the Democratic Party. Frontrunners should beware. Beware. Fight your way through.

Then you look at what's happening. If you look through that top five, we're going to talk about the lower tier candidates later in the show. But if you look at that top five, we showed Bernie Sanders, who's been there before. He's a familiar face. His numbers are OK, but they're not great. And if you look among liberals, liberals, 22 percent pick Elizabeth Warren. 18 percent pick Pete Buttigieg. Bernie Sanders is at 16 percent. Now, within the margin of error here, this is all pretty close, if you will. But that Elizabeth Warren comes out on top and that Bernie Sanders has a fight this time in a one-on-one race with Hillary Clinton, he was the progressive candidate. He was the anti- establishment candidate. Now he has to fight.

SHEAR: Yes, he has to fight. And the question for Biden is, is it better to be in that scrum physically, and, I mean, you know, that there's -- they've clearly made the decision, in addition to the family considerations, they clearly made the consideration that, you know, he can come to Iowa and pay attention to Iowa but do it in a kind of an aloof way, above the pack, right? I mean part of Hillary Clinton's problem historically with Iowa had been that she'd always sort of like thought that that wasn't a place for her during the campaign against Barack Obama in 2008. They even considered not ever competing in Iowa. You can't do that. I think the Biden folks know that. But the question is, you know, do you have to mix it up in that very close kind of, you know, pack of people, or can you sort of stand out a little bit and answer the policy questions, respond to the policy questions, do what you have to do and sort of seem like, you know, you can engage with the Iowans directly and be --

[12:30:08] SALAMA: And be consistent.

SHEAR: And be consistent.