Return to Transcripts main page


Trump: Love or Hate Me, You've Got to Vote for Me; Grassley Releases Findings on Hillary Clinton's Server; Sanford: "Growing Ever Closer" to 2020 Decision; Trump Phones Supporter After Mistaking Him for Protester; Greenland Declares It's Not for Sale. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 16, 2019 - 12:30   ET



[12:31:53] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: A somewhat upbeat ending at least at this hour to a volatile week on Wall Street. That volatility because of new recession fears. Take a look at the Dow right there, the big board up 271 points there.

A better day following steps both in Europe and China to stimulate growth but the bigger challenge remains. Can the Trump White House and Beijing settle a trade war, or will new tariffs be added by both powers later this year?

Now, add this complication. Just today, a White House blessing of the biggest U.S. arms sales to Taiwan in years including new f-16 fighter jets. That is certain to anger Beijing as the already delicate trade talks resume. Aides describe the president as concerned about the market volatility and about talk of a potential election year recession. But at a campaign rally last night, optimism from the president and you might call this a warning of sorts.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The United States right now has the hottest economy anywhere in the world. Wages are rising, and you know who's the biggest beneficiary? Blue collar workers.

This room is a love feast, I know that. But you have no choice but to vote for me because your 401(k) is down the tubes, everything is going to be down the tubes. So whether you love me or hate me, you've got to vote for me.


KING: Trump 2020, love me or hate me. He's different. But yes, Trump 2020, love me or hate me. Help me there.

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BUZZFEED NEWS: It's no make America great again, but, you know, the fact that he's going for it, he knows that, you know, there could be some concern about the economy. That's why he's saying love me or hate me. But he is still trying to take credit for the stock market which some Republicans now think could be a concern because he has associated the health of the economy so much with the way the stock market is doing. And given the way the stock market has been doing this week, voters could get concerned.

KING: And a recession or even just a significant slowdown short of a recession is a giant risk for any president heading into a re-election year. And this president, this president, he wants you to believe, and I get it. Presidents are supposed to brag about the economy under his tenure. This president brags about it in a way as if there was no economy when Barack Obama left office and then suddenly he flipped the switch and all this happened.

And one thing he says when people challenge him on that is that he should get credit for November, December, and January, right? After the election because the markets did spike right after the election. So we decided to give him that credit.

We went back, now we're going to say give Donald Trump the jobs created not just in the 30 months he's been president but in the final three months of the Obama administration accepting for the sake of argument the president's case. Look what happens, 6.4 million jobs if you factor in November and December 2016, after the election and January 2017, 20 days of which he was not the president of the United States still. Then you go back to the 33 months before that, Obama's economy still created more jobs.

So the president has this impression that we were dead and he became president. It's just not matched by the numbers. That doesn't mean the economy hasn't been good under President Trump, that the unemployment rate hasn't continued down under President Trump for which he has every right to brag.

[12:35:04] But his comparison to what was before him is just dead wrong.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And all that is really important for fact checking. Critically important and that was really interesting to see. But what matters is how voters feel. And what matters is whether or not the blue collar workers he was just talking about at that rally yesterday really do feel like he kept his promise and they have a better life and have bigger pocketbooks than they had before. And the jury is still out on that.

KING: The jury is out -- forgive me for one second because I want to get this in. The jury is still out but you know Peter Navarro very well from covering the White House. He's one of the president's trade advisers, he's one of the people who have encouraged the president to have this trade war with China. Some other advisers are a little nervous about that.

But listen to Peter Navarro, number one he blames the Fed. He says it's not the president's fault, he said it's not his fault for the tariffs and everything but listen to the end of this.


PETER NAVARRO, TRUMP'S TRADE ADVISER: I didn't write the book on the inverted yield curve but I've actually written several books about that within the context of the business cycle. We don't have a strict inversion of the yield curve. What we have is a flat curve which is a much less of a sign of recession. And the problem is that the Federal Reserve raised rates too far and too fast. So let's not do the doom and gloom. It's all good.


KING: That last line, if the economy slows or goes in a recession, let's not do the doom and gloom, all is good is going to be in somebody's campaign ad.

MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: But this is part of -- this is another one of the sort of presidential norms that this president and his people have like absolutely busted through. Because, you know, John, the assumption had always been for previous presidents that you don't want to have your rhetoric about the economy be mismatched with what Americans are really feeling, right? Like that's, you know, political death if you do that, if you're out there talking about rosy scenarios and --

BASH: We turn the corner, you can't turn back to 2004.

SHEAR: Right, you can go back to Carter and other -- all sorts of presidents --

KING: You like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.

SHEAR: And so the problem with this president, he just takes credit every time he wants to take credit. He doesn't worry about there being that sort of disconnect. And we'll see.

I mean, the political rules have not seemed to apply to him. So can he talk in those kinds of rosy ways even though people are not feeling it? Maybe.

KING: And so here's an interesting point on that. This is a president who's had a distant relationship with the traditional big players in the economy when he was in the real state market. They didn't respect him in New York, he doesn't have great relationships with them. We just confirmed that on Wednesday he spoke to the head of JPMorgan, Bank of America, and Citi. That is a president who is nervous about the economy as he should be as he's running for re- election. Whatever his name is, whatever his party is, if you look at the data you're heading into re-election so he's reaching out and talking.

Everybody made the point about what -- you made the point about what blue collar voters think, that's the interesting part. Number one, I just want to show you a graphic that the farm bureau produced because farmers have largely been with the president. The president is counting on them. But here's their point.

As they say this goes (INAUDIBLE) we remade this graphic from the Farm Bureau that the damage to the farm economy is way beyond soybeans which the Chinese have promised to buy a bunch of soybeans, they have not delivered on their promise. But grain sales down, cotton and waste down, tobacco sales down, dairy sales down, livestock sales down, other product sales down. This is the promise -- if there's a recession that further or further trade war that deepens that and then your colleague Maggie Haberman who's at the rally last night in New York, Kevin Steele a Trump supporter says this. "Listen, I'm hoping to God he closes with China. Just get the deal done. All of my money is in stocks."

That is the sense for, you know, that -- forget the cable TV chatter. The president needs to answer the questions of his base.

ASMA KHALID, POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: And we were talking just a second ago about Senator Warren. I mean, part of her argument has been that, no, the economy is not doing that well. You know, she's written policy proposals after policy proposals, in fact, warning folks about an impending recession which to me sort of speaks to part of her rise could be attributed to the very fact that some folks are feeling very differently about the economy.

KING: If there's a slowdown, the Democratic arguments I think will get a greater hearing too. If unemployment stays at 3.7 percent, then it's really hard to say things are bad.

All right, we'll keep an eye on that as well.

When we come back, a new development in an old story, the Clinton e- mail investigation.


[12:43:30] KING: Topping our political radar today, Beto O'Rourke back on the campaign trail today after two weeks off to deal with the mass shooting back home in his hometown of El Paso. His first stop, a grocery store in Canton, Mississippi, after rolling out a new plan to take on gun violence and the rise of white nationalism. The former congressman calling for a nationwide gun licensing registry plus an assault weapons ban and a mandatory buyback program.

A warning from Senator Lindsey Graham today as President Trump prepares to meet with his national security team to review a U.S.- Taliban peace plan. A statement from Graham says in part, quote, a bad agreement puts the radical Islamist movement all over the world on steroids. Sources say the plan aimed at ending America's longest war would significantly cut the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. And while it would include a U.S./Taliban cease fire it's not expected to secure a commitment by the Taliban to hold its fire on the Afghan people or the Afghan military.

Senator Chuck Grassley's office says the investigation of alleged hack of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's e-mail server by China is now complete. Joining me now is CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez. Evan, what's the result?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you know, we hear a lot about no collusion. Well, this is a case of no intrusion. This is what the FBI has been saying since 2016. And Chuck Grassley and Senator -- Senator Grassley and Senator Johnson have been looking into this issue of whether or not there was any evidence of a hack by the Chinese. Now, what they did is they interviewed a couple of staffers from the inspector general for the intelligence community who had raised concerns about exactly this, about some activity that they believe indicated a possible hack.

[12:45:06] And they were concerned really about how the State Department was handling this information whether they were downplaying it. And according to Grassley, they do believe that the State Department was downplaying the importance of this information.

In the end, though, the FBI maintains that there was no evidence of an intrusion by a foreign government, either the Chinese or any other. This is what they said in 2016. This is what they said in 2017 when we asked. And I looked into this again in 2018. This is the same thing.

So in the end, it appears that there's still no evidence of this. But there's definitely some concern on the part of the senators that the State Department did not handle this issue very well.

KING: Evan Perez, appreciate that. It's been a long-running drama. Not sure this will end it even if the senators think it's over. We shall see.

When we come back, a bit of a lightning round including the president phoning a supporter after at big rally, calling him overweight.


[12:50:40] KING: Let's close with a bit of a lightning round and get to some other interesting stories and political news. This one, Obama helping Biden sort of. This from the New York Times. "In his interactions with Mr. Biden, the pair had a quiet lunch in Washington last month. Mr. Obama has hammered away at the need for his campaign to expand his aging inner circle. He has communicated his frustration that Mr. Biden's closest advisers are too old and out of touch with the current political climate, urging him to include more younger aides according to three Democrats with direct knowledge of the discussion."

That's help, right?

SHEAR: Well, I just think that he's worried that they're still working on Biden's Myspace page. Not really but I think there is --


SHEAR: There is a, you know, a recognition that, you know, Biden has a team around him that might not be kind of the most nimble and Obama is worried about his legacy.

KING: A little bit. And Biden has brought in some younger folks of late to see. We'll see as this plays out.

All right, Mark Sanford, former congressman, former South Carolina governor, says he might, might challenge President Trump in the primary. John Berman wants an update.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Have you decided whether or not you are going to run? You gave yourself until Labor Day, I think. Have you reached a decision?

I have not yet. A couple more T's to cross and I's to dot. But I am at this point growing ever closer in that direction.


KING: Ever closer. OK.

PARTI: So he's saying his big issue is, you know, bringing up deficit reduction and it's honestly unclear if the Republican base even cares about that as much as it did several years ago. So I think his decision he claims might be dependent on, you know, bringing back that topic into discussion.

KING: It used to be a very sexy issue for Republicans. He's bringing sexy back. He is.

All right, let's move to the president last night at his rally in New Hampshire. The president sees a man he thinks is a protester and this happens.


TRUMP: That guy has got a serious weight problem. Go home, start exercising. You got a bigger problem than I do. Got a bigger problem than all of us.


KING: Well, that guy turned out to be Frank Dawson, a Trump supporter, who was actually ripping signs from the protesters and helping the president. Frank Dawson says he didn't see me rip the signs away. Frank Dawson goes on to say everything is good, I love the guy. He's the best thing that happened to the country.

The president did called Mr. Dawson to leave a voicemail which he didn't say I'm sorry but he tried to make peace.

BASH: Yes. I mean, could we just take a step back and note that the president and the people around him were OK with him mocking the person as being fat when the person was a protester, but when it turned out that he was a supporter, not so much. And the fact is that I was told that that's exactly what happened. That he actually had already taken the sign away from the protester and that's why the president called him afterwards, because he is a supporter.

KING: If you're not insensitive to begin with --

BASH: But he was a little self-aware there.

KING: He was a little self-aware, you're right.

When we come back, he's president now, not real estate developer, but he still looking to make a splash in the real estate market.


[12:58:08] KING: A message to President Trump today from Greenland. Look elsewhere for your next big splash in the real estate market. Greenland is not for sale but it is open to cooperation between equal countries. That is an actual official statement from Greenland's government after reports in the Wall Street Journal first that the president has asked aides to look into the possibility of buying the massive island, you see it there that sits mostly within the Arctic Circle.

So people are making light of this, people are making jokes of it. If you understand the giant U.S. Military presence that's already there, if you understand the rich natural resources, if we were back in the days of, say, Seward and Alaska or the Louisiana purchase, this might make sense, right? Am I being too kind?

KHALID: Like bring back colonialism.

BASH: Man and Trump destiny.

KHALID: There you go.

KING: Man and Trump destiny, that's good. That's good.

Here's from the Wall Street Journal story. "This person described the question less as a serious inquiry but as a joke meant to indicate I'm so powerful I could buy a country, noting that since Mr. Trump hadn't floated the idea at a campaign rally yet, he probably wasn't seriously considering it."

PARTI: It just says -- this whole thing just says so much about the president, the way his staff views him, the way he views his own legacy, the fact that he's looking at his legacy not as, you know, President Obama did with ObamaCare but with a real estate purchase is how he's looking at it.

KING: If you're Steve bullock, a Democratic candidate for president, Montana governor started a website to try to have fun with this, Can we show you that? Maybe we can. There we go.

So this becomes, I don't -- what does this become? The way to end a cable show?

SHEAR: There you go. Yes. I mean, we'll see. I think to your point if he brings it up at a rally, then we'll know.

KING: Then we'll know?

SHEAR: Then we'll know that at least there's something that he's going to continue to talk about. KING: Greenland is nice. Why not?

BASH: But it's not --

KHALID: So why not like the Galapagos Islands?

KING: Judgment call.

Thanks for joining us in the INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you Sunday morning at 8 a.m. I hope you get up early and join us. Don't go anywhere, a busy day.