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INSIDE POLITICS

Trump Meets Kim Jong Un, Steps Into North Korea; Harris Confronts Biden Over Busing, School Desegregation. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired June 30, 2019 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Manu Raju, in this morning for John King. Thank you for starting part of your Sunday with us.

Now, let's right to the big news that broke overnight. Just a few hours ago, President Trump became the first sitting president to step into North Korea. At the invitation of Kim Jong-un, he took about 20 steps across the military demarcation line surrounded by heavy security.

The two leaders stepped back and addressed reporters.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIM JONG-UN, NORTH KOREAN LEADER (through translator): I believe just look at this, this is an expression of his willingness to eliminate all the unfortunate past and open a new future.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Stepping across that line was a great honor. A lot of progress has been made. A lot of friendships have been made. And this has been in particular a great friendship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: It's the third time the two leaders have met in person. After the 50-minute ad hoc summit, Trump claimed real progress in their nuclear talks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We just had a very, very good meeting with Chairman Kim. We each agreed we would designate a team, and the team will try and work out some details. Again, speed is not the object. We want to see if we can do a comprehensive good deal. Very big stuff, pretty complicated, but not as complicated as people think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: CNN's Paula Hancocks is near the DMZ in South Korea.

Paula, what are the implications of this historic meeting?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Manu, what we were promised this morning was effectively a hand Chicago shake or two-minute chat, or just a greeting across the border. What we saw was something far more than that. More than an order the two leaders were behind closed doors.

And it was a bilateral chat. It was the leader of the U.S. and the leader of North Korea. So, it was more than we were expecting.

Now, of course we don't know exactly what was said behind those closed doors. So, I mean, this wasn't a summit. But also potentially it's a little more than just handshake diplomacy. What we heard from President Trump is that they have, as you heard there, they have agreed to set some teams together to start the working level talks.

Now, this is crucial to have these working level talks. Yes, this is a top-down approach, and the leaders are the ones pushing for this doctor their relationship is the one pushing this forward at this point. But without the working level talks, this denuclearization process is going to go nowhere. It was notable that president Trump didn't mentioned word denuclearization the whole afternoon.

Potentially he mentioned it when he was behind closed doors, but it was more talking about what an honor this was at this point, stepping over that MDL, the military demarcation line, he described as an honor. We heard Kim Jong-un saying it was courageous and determined. And there was a lot of flattery on both sides.

Now, one interesting thing I wanted to mention as we heard from Kim Jong-un, as he was leaving --

RAJU: We lost Paula. We will try to bring her back as we continue this conversation.

Joining us now with their reporting and insight, Michael Shear of "The New York Times", Eliana Johnson from "Politico", and via Skype, Gordan Chang, columnist and author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World".

Gordon, I want to start with you. Last summer, after the Singapore summit, the president tweeted that there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea. Of course, we know that's not true. This morning he said after the first summit, all the danger went away.

But while nuclear weapons testing and long range ballistic missile testing has halted, there has been some short-range missile testing. And intelligence estimates also suggest that North Korea, at that time, produced enough uranium and plutonium for about six nuclear warheads.

The question here, is there a risk that the president may be being played in some way by the North Koreans here for this historic photo- op? GORDON CHANG, AUTHOR, "NUCLEAR SHOWDOWN: NORTH KOREA TAKES ON THE

WORLD": Well, the North Koreans always try to play Americans, Chinese, Russians, South Koreans. So, of course, there is that risk.

And indeed, Kim Jong-un has not made a strategic decision to give up his weapons. And we know that because he has continued to produce fissile material. And there has been noticeable upgrade of missile and nuke facilities. So, just on the ground observation, what we can see from satellites, what we can observe by other means, North Korea is continuing full steam ahead on its dangerous weapons programs.

[08:05:00] RAJU: We continue this conversation here, you know, in the room.

Michael, first to you. I mean, what do you think this really says about the Trump foreign policy doctrine? He relies a lot on personal relationships. What does it say about getting the actual results at the end of the day?

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The thing that has been so striking about the way he approaches these kinds of problems across the board is that he does it backwards from the way that normal sort of diplomatic efforts have been done. Normally, presidents and governments will try to build the kind of agreement between the two nations with lower-level staff and building up to the sort of minister level. And then when you either have the deal done and you want to announce it or you almost have the done deal and you need sort of a final push from the leaders, you bring the leaders together.

This is entirely backwards. There is zero evidence that there's been any progress made kind of to actually work out the deals of any kind of agreement. Obviously, the most important the denuclearization.

And so, the president announced there's going to be teams that are going to be meeting. But this is the third time with Chairman Kim, and there's been no evidence that it's worked so far. So, that's the challenge, that he puts so much emphasis on the sort of leader to leader personal relationship but without any sort of --

RAJU: And we saw that also with Xi Jinping, his meeting with him in the G20, the Chinese leader. He paused the tariff, putting forward tariffs, but he also gave some big concessions. But still not closing any sort of deal.

Similarly here with North Korea, it isn't the president's style. Let's negotiate. When -- he is the great deal maker. When do we expect deals to be had?

ELIANA JOHNSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, it's interesting. Because the president puts so much stock in one-on-one, his own ability to negotiate with other world leaders, it makes it difficult for progress to take place if he's not at the table.

And so, progress stalled after the meeting in Hanoi a couple of months ago. And the president -- and North Korea simply fell off the map, working level meetings were not able to take place. There were rumors that North Korean officials involved in those meetings had been executed by Kim.

And for the president, he is greatly invested in progress, continuing with North Korea. That's why you saw him wanting to have this meeting with Kim.

The president was the one who issued the invitation. And this was a classic Trump foreign policy move, where he does the personal meeting, and the meeting itself is the progress.

RAJU: How will his own team deal with this? We have seen John Bolton has taken a more hawkish line. He was not there. He had a preplanned meeting apparently. He was not there. But how will his team take this going forward? Will they be in line with the president?

SHEAR: Well, I mean, I think it depends. You know, in the China example, there have been talks to try to deal with the trade situation that have gone forward. They haven't reached a deal yet. There have been engagements between the two countries.

If what the president announced today, you know, suggests that it really does -- that there really is an engagement with North Korea over some of these issues, there is a chance that the diplomatic approach pushes aside the more hard line hawk view. If there isn't any engagement, then that gives an opening for the hawks to push back against the president until we got to take a harder line.

RAJU: I want you --

JOHNSON: Kim has latched on to Trump's vanity in this regard, though, and as a result, nobody -- the North Koreans are not dealing with anybody in this administration except for Trump because they understand that they're getting the best deal from the president himself. They don't want John Bolton at that table. They don't want Mike Pompeo at the table. They're only going to engage if it's Kim face to face with President Trump.

RAJU: You know, Gordon, I want you to listen to what the president said before this meeting defending his approach about his handling here and the criticism that legitimizing a rogue regime.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If you look again at where we were two and a half years ago, and I think I can say the hatred that everybody had for everybody and where it was going. And I said that if President Obama's term was for some reason extended through any method, including having a successor that thought the way that that administration thought, you would be right now at war with North Korea.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: React to that, Gordon. Do you agree with the president? Would it have been much different if Hillary Clinton had been president, maybe not war with North Korea, but a much different approach with significant implications here? GORDON: Yes, I think if Secretary Clinton were elected, she probably

would have done traditional diplomacy. She would have reached out to the North Koreans. There would be interagency discussion, and it would have proceeded into a very, very different way.

President Obama, to a large extent, thought North Korea was too hard. He left it to President Trump. But by no means were we on the brink of war when President Obama's second term ended.

[08:10:02] And I don't know where President Trump gets this, and I don't even why he talks about it, because this is not really appropriate. And also, it's just not relevant for today's discussion.

RAJU: And Paula Hancocks is back with us. You're near the demilitarized zone. You're in South Korea. What are you hearing about how the North Koreans are viewing what happened this morning, what they believe should happen in the days ahead?

HANCOCKS: Well, Manu, there's no doubt about it, this was a massive propaganda coup for the North Korean leader. He can go back to Pyongyang. He can play this domestically and show that the U.S. president came to his doorstep and asked to meet him and he had a conversation with him.

And from an international point of view, this only legitimizes him more in the eyes of some, the fact that he has had a third meeting with the U.S. president, when previous presidents did not want to meet him because they wanted to see something happen first. They wanted conditions on any kind of potential summit.

So from Kim Jong-un's point of view, this really is only going to be played positively. There was some concern, according to some experts, that he may feel he is being summoned by the U.S. president. But I don't subscribe to that. The fact is he has these amazing pictures he can now take home. He has stepping over the border with President Moon Jae-in just last April, a year ago.

And now, he has the exact same pictures stepping over the border with the U.S. President Donald Trump. He has an historic picture which I know will be playing on a loop here in South Korea, and pretty sure, it would be quite similar in North Korea, although, interestingly, they haven't actually reported on this yet. So, we'll have to wait and see what they do say.

RAJU: Paula Hancocks and Gordon Chang, thank you for joining our conversation. So much to digest here on this historic meeting.

But up next for us, Kamala Harris's breakout performance at the first presidential debate. But the pundit-in-chief, not impressed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I think she was given too much credit for what she did. It wasn't that outstanding.

(END VIDEO CLIP) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:45] RAJU: Joe Biden arrived at the Democratic first presidential debate as the clear front-runner. His performance, along with that of Kamala Harris, raised clear doubts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was hurtful to hear you talk about the reputations of two United States senators who built their reputations and career on the segregation of race in this country. And it was not only that but you worked with them on oppose busing. And, you know, there was a little girl in part of California that was part of the second class to integrate her public schools. And she was bused to school every day. And that little girl was me.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a mischaracterization of my position across the board. I did not praise racists. That is not true.

The busing -- I never -- you would have been able to go to school the same exact way because it was a local decision made by your city council.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Biden had another chance to defend himself on Friday at Jesse Jackson's Rainbow PUSH Coalition summit.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I heard and I listened to and I respect Senator Harris. But, you know, we all know 30 seconds to 60 seconds on a campaign debate exchange can't do justice to a lifetime committed to civil rights. I want to be absolutely clear about my record and position on racial justice, including busing. I never, never, ever opposed voluntary busing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: In fact, as a young senator in the 1970s, Biden opposed court- ordered busing, the practice of sending white students to majority black schools and vice versa. At the time, Biden said he favored desegregation but wasn't an effective tool to do it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: I happen to think that the one way to ensure that you set the civil rights movement further back is continue to push busing, because it's a bankrupt policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson and "Bloomberg's" Sahil Kapur join the conversation now. So, what do we make after the Biden's performance? He was positioned himself, at least tried to be the pepper who could take on Donald Trump the most effectively. Doesn't this undercut what happened?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think so. You know, the whole electability argument that Biden makes, Biden supporters makes, the air of inevitability that his campaign is all about. It really rests on this visual, right, of him taking on Donald Trump on the debate stage and can sort of go man-to-man with Donald Trump. And that took a huge hit with Kamala Harris's really strong, personal, effective performance.

It wasn't an angry performance. She wasn't really aggressive, but she was very strong. But one of the most effective lines she had there was basic live to talk about this being hurtful to her, right? This idea that Joe Biden worked pretty closely with Eastman and people who really hated black people to push an agenda that really was anti- black, anti-immigration.

So, there he was in the '70s working with those folks. We'll see what this means. I think Kamala Harris' challenge is, A, can she do better with African-American voters? And can she do better with white voters, right?

RAJU: Yes.

HENDERSON: Because that's what black folks are looking at, you know, this idea whether she can be electable. And, of course, it rests on whether or not she can win voters in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin.

RAJU: Listen to the former South Carolina governor, this is what he says, Jim Hodges, about Joe Biden. He said the race is wide open, with -- the Biden people need to be deeply concerned is the aura has worn off. There are formidable candidates out there who demonstrated they can go toe to toe with Donald Trump.

Is he right?

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Well, the debate, yes, he is right. The debate did more to scramble than clarify this presidential field. You had two front-runners going into it and they did not have stand-out performances. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren basically unscathed. No one turned to her and challenged her.

The second night, obviously, Kamala Harris with the breakout performance. We also saw people like Julian Castro did pretty well. So, the two front-runners going into this did not emerge as the obvious two front-running candidates.

[08:20:03] RAJU: Yes. And, Kamala Harris, the question for her, is how does she keep this moment alive? Her campaign says that after the debate, they had her best fund-raising so far, $2 million raised in 24 hours. They say 58 percent of those donations came from new donors. But she had a stumble herself about private health insurance, saying

that she didn't necessarily favor getting -- first she raised her hand about getting rid of private health insurance. But she also supports a national health care plan, essentially Medicare-for-All that would do away with private health care.

How much of a vulnerable you think that issue is going to be her heading into general election if she is the nominee?

SHEAR: Well, that -- I mean, that's the problem for all of these Democratic candidates, which is to navigate, you know, sort of walk the line between how do you fire up the base during the Democratic primary, but leave yourself electable in the general election when people are going to be far more skeptical of some of the, you know, sort of far left, more radical ideas that many of these candidates are putting forward.

And I think you saw her sort of stepping back from the idea -- the next day, stepping back from the idea of getting rid of private insurance. I think, you know, incident was sort it was a classic moment where you had a great breakout moment that like kind of pushes you in your mind at least. I mean, we're a far way away.

It pushes you to the idea of, gee, I might be the nominee. Immediately, there is this recognition of, oh, I'm going to have to adjust if and when that happens. I will have to adjust what I'm saying. Some of this won't be good.

So, you know, all of that laid out in a matter of hours. And there's a long way to go. But I definitely think the question of how they calibrate and walk the line is going to be important.

RAJU: And we saw the 2020 candidates jump to her defense in a tweet that was shared by the president president's eldest son Donald Trump Jr. A tweet that's initially posted by a right wing activist questioning her -- Kamala Harris, whether she is black enough.

It says: Kamala Harris is not an American black. She is half Indian and half Jamaican. I'm so sick of people robbing American blacks like myself of our history. It's disgusting. Now using it for debate time at Dem debate.

And then Donald Trump Jr. shares that tweet, says, is this true? Wow.

Now, he later deleted that tweet and claimed that the spokesman said, well, he was referring to the fact that he didn't know she was half Indian -- although he doesn't say that in his tweet.

HENDERSON: Wow, she's half Indian?

RAJU: Exactly. You know, the 2020 candidates did come to her defense. Look at some of these tweets from Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders saying Donald Trump Jr. is a racist too. Shocker.

Just more generally though, what does the response from the president's team really show us how they view Kamala Harris's moment in her debate performance from Thursday?

JOHNSON: Yes. I think that Donald Trump Jr.'s instinctual response to dabble in that conspiracy theory shows they view her as a pretty formidable candidate who they are eager to undermine. I mean, that is walking toward the Obama birther conspiracy that Trump himself more than dabbled in.

You know, I know for a fact that talking to Trump campaign aides that they believe that Kamala Harris has considerable political skills. I think the question is, you know, my "Politico" colleague Chris Cadelago had a great story about how Kamala Harris practiced that moment in the debate. She went back and forth with her aides about different responses that Biden could have given her.

And I think the question for her is can she do as well in unscripted moments? Because there are going to be many of those on the campaign trail.

We know that President Trump and his team were quite impressed with her campaign rollout. But she sort of receded after that. And so I think the challenge for her is unscripted moments, can she keep up this momentum. We know she is skilled in the contrast coming out of that debate was Kamala v. Biden, not Bernie v. Biden, which is what many people expected.

Bernie Sanders sort of I think disappeared in that debate. Not a good outcome for him. But can Kamala keep it up?

RAJU: Yes. And do you think this conspiracy theory that Donald Trump Jr. initially shared and deleted, is that going to continue through the course of his campaign, particularly of rise, do they think this is just --

HENDERSON: I think the sort of -- it's getting at a conversation that does exist some African-Americans about Kamala Harris's blackness, like how authentically black is she. Mainly trolls on Twitter. You saw that with Obama as well, this idea of, you know, did he have the true American black experience which we all know doesn't really exist, since he wasn't from African-Americans who had an experience with slavery.

[08:25:07] So, you know, we'll see. We'll see. I mean, they are very aware of these conversations that are going on among African- Americans. And I think it's exacerbated by her history as an attorney general, prosecutor.

Some think it is exacerbated by the fact has a white husband. And so, we'll see. Her challenge is to obviously get black support but also to show black voters that she is electable and she can get white support as well.

RAJU: Yes, that's her challenge as well, and we'll discuss more of this in the days ahead.

Ahead, the picture that shocked a nation and what Washington is going to do about it. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: Our message absolutely is don't send your children unaccompanied on trains or through a bunch of smugglers. That is other direct message to the families in Central America. Do not send your children to the borders. If they do make it, they will get sent back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Then President Barack Obama in 2014 with a message to parents sending unaccompanied children to the U.S. The problem now has morphed into a surge of families crossing the border with their children, sometimes with disastrous results.

This picture shocked the nation this week. El Salvadoran man Oscar Martinez, his 23-month-old daughter Valeria dead on the banks of the Rio Grande, along the Texas borer after a failed attempt to reach the U.S.

Activists blame a metering policy they say is encouraging more people to cross in dangerous areas.

President Trump points his finger at policies like the Flores ruling that are encouraging parents to bring their children with them, knowing it will mean a foothold in the U.S.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I hate it. And I know it could stop immediately if the Democrats change the law. The Democrats refuse to change the loopholes. They refuse to change the asylum.

In one hour, we could have it done. They want to have open borders. And open borders mean crime. Open borders mean people drowning in the rivers. And it's a very dangerous thing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: Of course, the President there blaming the Democrats not recognizing the fact that he had a Republican-controlled Congress for the first two years. They tried immigration several times. They could not get legislation through either chamber.

Despite these images which really shocked both parties in Washington has anything really changed in the immigration debate over the last week.

MICHAEL SHEAR, "NEW YORK TIMES": No. I mean you know, look, part of the problem is that immigration was a tough and difficult political situation long before Donald Trump got here. But the level of trust, if there was any between the two parties that you need to try to get some sort of compromise done, had been completely eroded under the last two and a half years. Democrats do not trust that Donald Trump is operating in good faith when it comes to this issue. And so despite the kind of human tragedies, and that was the photo clearly depicts one of them. But there's lots of human tragedies that have played out over the past, you know, couple of years.

And earlier, lots of migrant deaths frankly and lots of suffering in deplorable conditions. And despite all that, I think the likelihood, the outlook for any kind of real compromise that would address the real problems, not the sort of imagined problems on one side or the other is I think very low.

RAJU: And, you know, the President had warned that they're going to carry forward with this raids, ICE raids that lead to deportation. Then he delayed it for a couple of weeks, said he'd let Congress try to come up with some sort of immigration legislation. Of course, that didn't happen in dealing with asylum laws.

They did pass a $4.6 billion aid package last week. The President supports that plan. But it doesn't deal with some of those underlying issues that both parties recognize here. The President did say at his press conference yesterday that they are still going to move forward starting in a week sometime after the Fourth of July that they are still going to move forward with these ICE raids.

Any idea how that this is actually going to play out? Is the President just saying this, or is he doing something just to make his base happy?

ELIANA JOHNSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Yes. I don't think we have any idea whether these raids are actually going to take place. Typically, as many people have noted, when you're going to carry out raids, you don't announce that.

So the President announced them and then said that they were going to be delayed. A lot of the President's talk on immigration and with regard to the United States' relationship with Mexico has been a lot more talk than action.

He said he was going to close the border with Mexico and retreated on that. He said he was going to impose tariffs on Mexico and retreated on that. And now he's saying he's going to carry out these raids.

And so it certainly leaves, I think, the average person watching this play out completely uncertain whether this is all talk and no action. Or whether, in fact, some action is, in fact, forthcoming.

RAJU: And we are seeing the gulf between the two parties really widen particularly in the last week. There are pictures of -- we have 13 Democrats at least of the 2020 candidates visiting that Florida Homestead facility, that detention facility. This occurring after that debate.

This also came after the debate where they discussed immigration. They were asked about undocumented immigrants and whether or not health care coverage would be provided, how to deal with people crossing the border. This is what they said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Raise your hand if your government plan would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should someone who is here without documents, and that is his only offense, should that person be deported?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: That person should not be the focus of deportation. We should fundamentally change the way we deal with things.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No. That person can be part of this great American experience.

SENATOR KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I will say no, absolutely not. They should not be deported.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: I mean the shift to the left here is pretty significant. I mean a decade ago, President Obama was before Congress. And he said undocumented immigrants would not get access to health care coverage. And Joe Wilson, the Republican Congressman yelled, "You lie". That was the "you lie" moment.

Here Democrats are saying that yes, they will.

SAHIL KAPUR, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, BLOOMBERG: Yes. Democrats have a real challenge on their hand with the issue of immigration because the president has used it very effectively to galvanize people around his vision.

Now the Democrats can go one of two ways. They can try I to neutralize that advantage by moving somewhat toward him or they can fight fire with fire and match his anti-immigrant passion with a pro- immigrant passion and try to turn out progressive voters, Hispanic voters.

With regard to undocumented immigrants and health care, this kind of goes back to 1986 law that already insists nobody can be denied emergency care. So right now a lot of people are not covered. They get sick, they go to the emergency room. We all have to pick up the tab.

It is a much more complicated issue. But the signaling -- you're right, it does look like Democrats have moved in a much more progressive direction.

RAJU: And the President obviously see that as a gift. We will see if they're right.

Next, more on the President's trip to Asia and his embrace of leaders like Vladimir Putin and Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

[08:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I met with every leader -- presidents, prime ministers, dictators -- I met them all.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: At this hour, the President is on Air Force One heading home from his four-day trip to Asia. A few moments at the G-20 summit in Japan really stuck out. Such as his warm words for the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman who the CIA holds responsible for the grisly killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

And at a sit-down with Russia's Vladimir Putin, Trump appeared to joke with him about Russian election interference, though he later denied it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you tell Russia not to meddle in the 2020 elections.

TRUMP: Yes, of course I will. Don't meddle in the election please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It seemed like maybe you didn't really mean it when you said yesterday don't meddle in our elections, Mr. President. And then you guys both started laughing.

TRUMP: Well --

(CROSSTALKING)

TRUMP: -- I did say it. You're going to have to take a look at the words. I did say it. And we had a discussion.

You know we've talked about it before. You know, he denies it totally, by the way. Just how many times can you get somebody to deny something. But he has in the past denied it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: He has in the past denied it. The President, he seems to take the word of autocrats and dictators.

He also said that Mohammed bin Salman had denied involvement in the killing of Khashoggi and said falsely that no one has pointed the finger directly at him. That's not true. Many people, including his own CIA, have done that.

But he continues to do this, to take their word for it. Why?

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I mean it continues to be shocking, right? I mean if you think about his real praise of Kim Jong-un, the fact that he takes the North Korean dictator's word in terms of the murder of Otto Warmbier, which certainly the leader of that country would know about.

So yes, I mean in some ways it's not surprising because this has been what the President has done throughout his presidency. Do something very different from most American presidents.

[08:39:56] Not only sort of coddle and praise these dictators but also just turn a blind eye to the massive human rights violations that are going on in these countries. Not only North Korea but Saudi Arabia as well.

I don't think it's going to change. He seems to enjoy their presence. He, in some ways seems to be jealous of the autocratic way in which they are able to run their countries and the fact that they are immune to press scrutiny. So yes, I mean, this will be -- I imagine if you're a Democrat, this is also something you're looking at it as a way to kind of contrast what you would do as president.

RAJU: And different than past president, different than other leaders on the foreign stage including Theresa May who called out Vladimir Putin on election interference.

Up next, a Democrat's to the left on full display at the debates, as well as some underdogs looking for their chance to break out of the pack

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Clearly I had a great night. People want to know can you stand up to Donald Trump? Can you handle yourself? Can you hold your own? And I more than held my own last night.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJU: Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders may be leading the charge for liberal Democrats on the campaign trail but they are far from alone. And if this week's debates made one thing clear is just how far left the party has moved since the days of Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raise your hand if you think it should be a civil offense rather than a crime to cross the border without documentation. Can we keep the hands up so we can see them.

SENATOR CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you need a license to drive a car, you should need a license to buy and own a firearm.

[08:45:04] REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Making sure every single sick American in this country is able to get the health care that they need. I believe Medicare for all is the way to do that. MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is supposed to be the party of working people. Yes, we are supposed to be for 70 percent tax rate on the wealthy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: That leftward shift is fueling fears among some in the party that Democrats are alienating general election voters.

This from former Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel in the "New York Times". "We're fighting immigration on his terrain and giving up our advantage on health care. That's a travesty. We're ceding an advantage Trump knows we have on him."

James Carville is the chief strategist of the '92 Clinton campaign put it more bluntly. "This is an election that Trump can't win but Democrats can lose."

But here's the question. President Trump played to his base in 2016 and won. He still played to his base as president. Do you believe that will carry him to the White House? Can Democrats play to their base and win in 2020?

JOHNSON: You know, I think it's an interesting question. President Trump's base wasn't the traditional Republican base. He upended the Republican orthodoxy on immigration, and he upended the Republican orthodoxy on entitlements.

And so I think when I look at the Democratic candidates is there a candidate who's going to upend what the party's orthodoxy is on a couple of issues and make the Democrats rethink what their base really stands for in the way that Trump did.

RAJU: And you know, Elizabeth Warren, after the first debate, a lot of people give her credit and said that she won that first debate. But that's not how the "Wall Street Journal" editorial page sees it. It says that Bernie Sanders won the debate. Do you agree that this looks like the party is moving towards him on some of these key issues? .

KAPUR: Well, that's absolutely true. The party has moved to him on issues like single payer health care, for instance. $15 an hour minimum wage which he has been campaigning on for a long time.

But I do think many of us can overstate sometimes the importance of the left-to-right spectrum. I think the more important spectrum is the outsider/insider spectrum, someone who believes -- for instance the Democrats put up a candidate who can respond to President Trump's strength in the Midwest by channeling the grievances about globalization and trade, how it has affected them economically. How it's led to stagnating wages.

Elizabeth Warren for instance is trying to do that with her economic patriotism plan which is earning praise from conservatives like Tucker Carlson. There is a left-right convergence.

JOHNSON: You've got to remember Trump got those Obama voters. That's how he won by winning over those Obama voters --

(CROSSTALKING)

JOHNSON: The Republican base.

SHEAR: But those voters who are going -- who he is talking about have to be open to listening to the candidates. And if the Democrats are so far left on some of the sort of hot button issues that the middle of the country just tunes them out when the general election comes along because they are not willing to listen on the issues of trade and globalization, some of these other things, the Democrats are going to find themselves in a tough spot.

RAJU: I want you to quickly look though about how the people viewed this versus on the Google search trends, how this came across. Look at wide swaths of the country -- Tulsi Gabbard was the individual hear who wide swaths of the country searched for.

JOHNSON: Who knows why?

RAJU: After the first debate. And Cory Booker in the southeast of the country.

And then after the second debate -- you look at the second debate. Here we have Kamala Harris in major parts of the country there. But also Pete Buttigieg too. And Marianne Williamson.

There you go, Marianne Wilson.

JOHNSON: She was in the (INAUDIBLE) state -- Michigan.

RAJU: Exactly. Do we take anything from this? Or is this just people are curious?

HENDERSON: Yes. Yes. I think it's curiosity. We don't know why they're looking for any of these folks, what sparks of interest in Gabbard. Was it her stance on foreign policy? She talked mostly about foreign policy.

Marianne Williamson did have some interesting moments, bestselling author from 1992. Oprah's BFF. I think her book was "Return to love". So yes, I mean she had some interesting moments where she said for instance that Democrats won't win on white papers, they will win on a slogan. At least in her assessment that's what --

(CROSSTALKING)

RAJU: And we will see if she makes it -- we'll see if she makes it into the second.

(CROSSTALKING)

HENDERSON: And maybe her slogan is a return to love, I don't know.

RAJU: That's right, exactly. Up next, our reporters share from their notebooks, including the Supreme Court scheduling where it is sure to be a momentous election year decision-making.

[08:49:12] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

RAJU: Time now for our great reporters to share a page from their notebooks to get you out in front of the week ahead.

Eliana.

JOHNSON: I'm watching the Trump administration and Iran. On Thursday that was the date that the Iranians set for surpassing the limits set by the nuclear deal for enriching uranium. The Trump administration has been giving waivers and maintaining part of the deal for Iran's nuclear program -- civil nuclear program, excuse me. And the question is whether the Trump administration will now continue to issue those waivers for international projects, working on that program, given that Iran has now surpassed that limit.

So I'll be watching that. That is next up in August. And if they don't issue those waivers, they're under pressure from hawks like John Bolton and his allies in Congress not to do so. That will be a big deal.

RAJU: And the pressure will -- the President will face a lot of pressure from those hawks as well.

JOHNSON: Absolutely.

RAJU: Mike.

SHEAR: So on Friday the Supreme Court started a new political and legal clock ticking when they said they would decide the fate of the DACA program. Of course President Obama started the DACA program to protect young undocumented migrants who had been brought to this country as small children. President Trump ended the program saying it was an abuse of executive authority by his predecessor.

The federal courts disagreed, said that he couldn't do that. And the Supreme Court is going to decide. The key question here is timing. The court is going to hear arguments in the case this fall right during the Democratic primary. Then it will hear -- decide the case next June likely right at the beginning of the presidential election.

The closer that day gets, however, the more pressure there is on Congress to finally come together and do something that they have been unable to do for literally years and that is to solve this problem before the courts have to solve it for them.

RAJU: Inject that right into the heart of the campaign season.

SHEAR: Indeed.

RAJU: Something to watch, of course.

SHEAR: Right.

RAJU: Sahil.

KAPUR: Manu -- I'm told Kamala Harris intends to talk much more about her personal story and biography going forward. It is not something that's naturally in her comfort zone. It's something that she's tended to avoid doing.

But after the overwhelmingly positive debate response she got talking about her story as a black girl who grew up in a neighborhood that benefited from bussing she's decided that people want to know who she is and where she's coming from.

I would look out for this. And the Trump people have their eyes her. They expect her to rise. Expect a potential nickname coming.

RAJU: Always expected with this president.

Nia.

HENDERSON: So Julian Castro also had a pretty good debate performance like Kamala Harris. He's also looking to capitalize on that. He's spent some time in Texas this weekend. One of the arguments you saw him try to make during the debate was he too could win in unlikely places. Spent some prime time in Texas, of course, this weekend.

Going forward, this next week, he will be in rural Nevada. Again making that argument that he too, like somebody like Beto, who's obviously making the same argument. Pete Buttigieg making this argument, too. So that is going to be interesting.

How does he capitalize on what was a pretty good debate performance from him as well so look for that in the coming days.

[08:55:04] RAJU: And we'll hear from (INAUDIBLE) this morning as well.

And I'll close by this. When the President's found himself in hot water, Republicans on Capitol Hill have typically looked the other way.

That's been the case in recent days in the aftermath of the allegation made by the writer Jean Carroll that the President raped her more than 20 years ago and that's something the President has denied. Now many Republicans sized (ph) up questions about the allegation when asked about this last week.

But Democrats are also showing little interest in pursuing the matter. Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she doesn't know what Congress's role would be over this alleged episode.

And when I spoke to the House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings, he told me, quote, "Haven't decided whether to pursue that yet." He said, "We have got 85 investigations, I'm going to look at it over the break and prioritize. Of course things were different when Democrats were in the minority. Then Cummings and female Democrats called on the GOP House majority to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against Trump something then Oversight chairman Trey Gowdy declined to do.

Now Democrats have their own hands full trying to get their investigations moving and (INAUDIBLE) looking into potential abuses of power in the White House, conflicts of interest, foreign entanglements, and those allegations of obstruction of justice laid out in the Mueller report. And of course, that's something we'll see discussed in that highly anticipated mid-July hearing with the special counsel himself Robert Mueller.

That's it for us on INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you can catch us week days as well as at noon Eastern.

Up next "STATE OF THE UNION" with Brianna Keilar, in for Jake. Her guests include presidential candidates Julian Castro and Amy Klobuchar.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us.

[08:56:41] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)