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INSIDE POLITICS

Warren Speaks to Native American Forum; White House Downplays Recession Fears; NYPD Press Conference on Garner Case. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 19, 2019 - 12:00   ET

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


[12:00:00] SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: We await this decision.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Absolutely.

Thank you, Shimon, I really appreciate it.

PROKUPECZ: Sure.

BOLDUAN: We'll see what the police commissioner has to say very shortly.

Thank you all so much 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.

Breaking news. In the hour ahead, New York's police commissioner plans to announce the fate of the police officer involved in the choke hold death of Eric Garner. We will bring you that event live.

Plus, a Massachusetts primary drama with national implications. Congressman Joe Kennedy moves to challenge incumbent Democrat Ed Markey, looking to follow his grandfather and two grand-uncles to the United States Senate.

And an up day in financial markets plan (ph) new trade talks with China and efforts to stimulate Europe's economy cheer investors today, as team Trump feverishly makes two arguments at once. There won't be a recession, they say. But if there is, blame the Fed, not the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: It's ridiculous. Our interest rates are high relative to many other countries. It was announced last week that the Seung (ph) Bank in Europe that's making mortgage loans with negative interest rates, paying borrowers to borrow money to buy a house.

MARIA BARTIROMO, FBN HOST: That's incredible. ROSS: And yet the U.S. is paying a positive interest rate. What is wrong with this picture?

I very much hope that Chairman Powell goes forward and does lower the rate this next time around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Back to the economy in a few minutes.

We begin the hour, though, with an important moment in the 2020 race for the Democratic nomination. An apology from the Democratic candidate better known for policy plans. Elizabeth Warren in Iowa today at a Native American forum. Yes, she came to promote a detailed plan to help a group of Americans long ignored and underserved. But this was about more than that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I want to say this. Like anyone who's been honest with themselves, I know that I have made mistakes. I am sorry for harm I have caused. I have listened and I have learned a lot. And I am grateful for the many conversations that we've had together. It is a great honor to be able to partner with Indian country. And that's what I've tried to do as a senator. And that's what I promise I will do as president of the United States of America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Proof right there her campaign sees the test for Senator Warren and the campaign biography she hopes will help her win the Democratic nomination and then the White House. She insists -- Senator Warren insists she received no advantage, but as an aspiring law professor, she did say she was of Native American heritage. More recently, as an aspiring presidential candidate, she took a DNA test to prove it and then apologized to Native American groups who took profound offense. President Trump calls her Pocahontas. And by that he means a fraud.

Warren's rise in the Democratic race is very real, as is the debate in the party about whether she can win a general election. A lot of that debate is the challenge of selling a very liberal policy agenda in swing states. But a piece of it is whether she can survive a Trump character onslaught.

Here with me today to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson, Katie Rogers with "The New York Times," Rachael Bade with "The Washington Post," and Jackie Kucinich with "The Daily Beast."

It is not every day candidates apologize. The question is, is that enough? She apologized to the Native American community. She apologized for hurting them. Says she gets it. I don't suspect that is going to get the president to back off. The question is, do voters at some point say, OK, she's acknowledged mistakes, although I'm not exactly sure which mistake she was acknowledging there. HENDERSON: Yes, in some ways I think Elizabeth Warren, who really

damaged her prospects in the beginning when she did this DNA test. She righted the ship. I mean she's doing much better among the voters who really took a lot of offense around this, in addition to Native Americans, obviously, who took a lot of offense at the DNA test. White liberal voters didn't really like that she took this DNA test because it was such a misunderstanding of what tribal identity and tribal community is all about.

So, we'll see. I mean you see her rising in the polls. You see Bernie Sanders. She -- you know, they kind of play in the same sand box in terms of those voters. But this is, I think, a necessary move. She's probably going to keep having to do that. Whether or not it makes any difference -- actually not whether or not it makes any difference with Donald Trump, it's not going to make any difference with Donald Trump. He's going to (INAUDIBLE).

KATIE ROGERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Right. He seemed almost wistful last week in his rally --

HENDERSON: Yes.

ROGERS: When he said, I should have, you know, maybe we started this too early, this Pocahontas thing. I can bring it back. It was kind of a classic campaigning tactic.

KING: Well, let's listen to that. I don't mean to interrupt, but that to me told me, number one, the president did do damage to her by making it an issue. Number two, to her credit, she has fought back and she is the rise -- she's the growth stock, if you will, in the Democratic race right now. Nobody votes for five months. But at the moment she is the growth stock. And the president, as you noted, sounded almost regretful, but it's also proof that he's noticed that her polls are better.

[12:05:09] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did the Pocahontas thing. I hit her really hard. And it looked like she was down and out. But that was too long ago. I should have waited. But don't worry, we will revive it. It can be revived. It can be revived -- right? It will be revived. And it can be revived very easily and very quickly and we're going to have some fun in the state of New Hampshire.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Now that's the president there talking about a potential Trump- Warren matchup. But it's more than that also. She's in Iowa today. She's rising in the polls in Iowa. A lot of Democrats say I like her policies. Can she beat Trump? And, again, you have a policy and then the character conversation. The president there is in New Hampshire. If Warren wins or comes in strong in Iowa, then she goes home to her neighborhood -- she's the senator from Massachusetts -- and New Hampshire and can win there. That's the trajectory she wants in the race.

The president is up there in New Hampshire essentially telling Democrats, as well as Republicans, you should think about this.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and, I mean, Trump is going to continue to double down on this whole Pocahontas cheer. I mean the best that Warren can sort of see in the future is that this only, you know, resonates with his base and gins up his own base, but that it doesn't affect at all those voters that she needs to reach in order to win the primary.

But, I mean, today she -- she went into this speech, to Native Americans, doing her homework. She not only apologized, but she had a, I think, a 9,000-word policy proposal about how to help the American tribes. Things that she would do as president. And, you know, people said that that is the most extensive proposal they have seen any Democratic 2020 hopeful actually put forward. And so she's definitely taking those steps that she needs to put this behind her as she continues to go up in the polls.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: But to your point, John, I think when you talk about the Democratic primary, it just depends on what voters are talking about because when you see the people that are supporting Joe Biden, they sort of just want to right the ship. They want the country to kind of cool down, maybe pull away from some of the chaos that the Trump administration has injected into the -- into the atmosphere. And where Warren's policies tend to be more radical to these left of center voters.

And when you look at the makeup of the current Congress, the reason the House went back to the Democrats wasn't because of the progressives, it was because of these moderate Democrats that were from districts that Trump won and, you know, that may have flipped. So that's what I think party leaders are looking at. And that's what's making them a little nervous about Elizabeth Warren because she does have all of these policy proposals. That definitely would mean a drastic change from where we are right now.

KING: And the question, as she rises to the Democratic field, are any of the Democrats going to bring this up? Say, you know what, you know, she has said these things in the past that are open to criticism about, you know, who she was. She's listed this on applications or she has promoted this. And is what she has done in the past a liability if she is our nominee? Senator Warren trying to make the case, to your point, apologizing generally there and vaguely for what she has done in the past, trying to make the case that she has the big plans for the future.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The federal government's history with our tribal nations has been one of broken promises. We need to make change. We need to honor our trust and treaty obligations.

And we're not going to do that with one little statute over here and a couple of changes in regulations over there. It's going to take big structural change.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Can she convince enough Democrats that -- a, that that's the right way to go, that you can sell that in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania --

HENDERSON: Right.

KING: And, b, again, that you can sell -- not only that, that Trump's going to say socialist and he's going to say Pocahontas.

HENDERSON: Yes, and that's the big question for her, right? I mean Medicare for all. She obviously signed up with Bernie on that. And that is the fight that Democrats want to take to her, right, this idea that it's too much, as you say, Jackie, it's -- you know, it's too much too far to the left for the country at this point.

I think the problem that the Democrats have -- the sort of moderate Democrats -- is that she is a very effective politician, right? I mean she knows policy. She's got passion. She can explain that policy very well in a way that it connects with people. We see that on the debate stage. I mean she's probably -- she is, I think the best debater of this field. So all of these moderate Democrats who want to make this argument that, you know, this sort of far left agenda, if you want to call it that, isn't where the party is, isn't where the country should be. They've got a real formidable challenger in Elizabeth Warren.

KING: And they're -- you see the Republicans coming after her, the Republican National Committee today, with talking points. They're coming after her. The president, again, with such vigor. They say that it's just fun and in some ways they say it's easy because of things she has said and done. I would argue no. They see her as a threat too.

HENDERSON: Yes, I think that's right.

KING: And they're trying to test -- they're trying to test their own messages --

ROGERS: It clearly hasn't stuck.

KING: Right, it hasn't -- it hasn't -- they're -- they're worried about that. The question is, now she's taking down -- at the beginning, every candidate slips. Every candidate makes mistakes. Every candidate does one thing they thought was right on Monday and a week or a month or two months later you realize, well, maybe not.

[12:10:00] She had put up the DNA test results. There was a video on her website. They're now taking that down.

The question is, does her campaign, at a time when they're rising in many ways, do they get it? Do they -- do they -- are they going to try -- you know, what are they going to do here to try to make this, OK, maybe that was a misstep? Forget about it.

ROGERS: I mean I think she -- today we saw her say, you know what, like anybody who's made mistakes, I regret this. And I think she's actually pretty savvy to bring it up, to address it, but then also move on and say, I have this idea and that idea and basically think ahead of everyone else on policy matters, that way when a personal attack comes, she can say, yes, like anyone else, I'm sorry. I mean the president's going to revive the Pocahontas stuff with her and I think that there are definitely voters who don't want to listen to him make fun of anybody all the time and it will just be --

KING: Right.

ROGERS: It will get to be too much for them. But it just remains to be seen whether or not --

KING: That's a great point too, in the primaries you can ask, forgive me. Lyin' Ted, little Marco and low energy Jeb. It works to a degree. But the question is, in the second campaign, when a lot of suburban voters just think, this is not what a president is supposed to be doing.

ROGERS: This is enough.

KING: That's a great -- it's a great point. We'll see it play out.

Up next for us, the Trump administration says the economy is doing great. And you can ignore anyone who says otherwise.

And, as you watch today's program, if you have a question for any of the great political reporters at the table, tweet us with #insidepolitics. We'll try to answer some at the end of the program.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:15:55] KING: The Trump administration today speaking in one voice to let voters know the economy's doing great. Now, behind closed doors, the president is alarmed about recession warnings, though he sometimes suggests they're being manufactured by his critics. The public line, though, is ignore any talk of an election year stall.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't see a recession. I mean the world is in a recession right now.

I don't think we're having a recession. We're doing tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut. And they're loaded up with money. They're buying. I saw the Walmart numbers. They were through the roof just two days ago. That's better than any poll. That's better than any economist.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The markets are opening the week on a positive note. You see the Dow there, the big board, 261 plus there for the Dow. But a lot of economists are growing more worried. A new survey shows a third of American economists, 34 percent, believe a recession will begin in 2021. That's after the election. That's up, though, nine points from that same survey back in February. Thirty-eight percent say they believe we will enter a recession next year, which could spell disaster for the president's re-election strategy.

Greg Ip with "The Wall Street Journal" joins our conversation.

The president when he talks about this is interesting. He says we're in a global recession, not the United States. Well, if the global economy slows down dramatically, the United States could very well get sucked into a recession, or at least a significant slowdown. Number two, he promotes his tax cuts, which did stimulate the economy, but most of that juice is out of the system, right?

GREG IP, CHIEF ECONOMICS COMMENTATOR, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": That's right. The tax cuts did a very good job to stimulate the economy in 2018. That is now waning. And so even without all the problems from trade and so on, you probably have seen the economy slow from say 3 percent to 2 percent. And, to be honest, that's what most economists think is still the most likely scenario.

When you talk about recession risks, you talk about something that's normally a low risk, like 10 percent. Now it's around 30 percent. Still not your base case, but definitely too high for comfort.

KING: I want to bring into the conversation -- Kellyanne Conway is a political adviser to the president. She's a counselor to the president. she does politics for a living, not economy. But listen to her this morning says this -- even just the question of this is being ginned up by people who have lost another argument.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: It's nice to have the mainstream media finally covering the economy. But they only cover it when they can use Sesame's Grover word of the day, recession. Look, the fundamentals are very strong.

I think what's changed is that the two and a half years of the collusion hunt and the Mueller report were a big dud and so now they're searching around and they're trying to -- they're trying to borough into the president's number one issue in the polls.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: We cover the economy a lot around here. Grover's word for the day for that is wrong. But -- but there are some -- there are some of the president's -- there are some of the political -- president's political critics who now are saying, you know, well, you know, we got to get rid of him and if we have it suffer through a recession for it. I hope nobody at this table ever says that. A recession's horrible. Recession means people lose their jobs. A recession means the value of your house goes down.

But the economy is growing for ten years. For ten years. So whether it's President Trump, forget the president's name, the president at this moment in time was likely to deal with either a recession or a near recession just because of the arc of the economy. HENDERSON: Yes, and he was handed a pretty good economy. I mean I know

a lot of his supporters didn't necessarily believe it because they didn't necessarily want to give Obama credit for anything. But I think the unemployment rate was like 4.7 percent or something when he took over. So maybe there is some kind of slowdown due.

I think the question is, does it matter to his supporters, right? How do they feel about the economy? Do they blame him? Do they blame him for anything bad or can they sort of gin up some other reason to maintain what's a real attachment to this president?

KUCINICH: But the president does have a reason to be worried about this because his re-election hopes are so pinned to this. Even his supporters who don't even -- and people who have kind of light support of him who don't really like some of the things he says, some of the things he does, some of his policies, they cite the economy as a reason that the president is doing a good job. If that falls off, he loses that. And so we already know who he's going to blame. If he -- he has telegraphed that, Jerome Powell, the Fed chairman, the media and the Democrats for not being positive about the economy. So we have that already all set up should this -- having nothing to do with, you know, tariffs and how -- and just how, you know, the economy is going.

[12:20:12] IP: And I would also say that while Kellyanne Conway's right, there probably are some critics cheering for a recession because they think it will hurt the president, a recession is not a done deal, you know. And the people who can actually affect whether or not we have a recession are chairman -- Fed Chairman Powell, who categorically does not want a recession, has been moving rapidly to pivot since January to avoid that outcome, and Trump himself, because the single biggest risk facing the economy is his trade policy.

KING: Right, trade policy. And the question is, will he take a deal short of what he wants for his political gain in 20 -- you know, in 2020? Or will he hold firm?

You know, Peter Navarro was in here yesterday, did some other Sunday shows yesterday. He says the president's not going to take a fake deal. The question is, did the president's political adviser -- as we watch, look, we'll watch the unemployment rate, we'll watch growth, we'll watch if the Fed, in the coming weeks, decides to cut interest rates, which are already historically low, whether it agrees to cut them again. Whether it's pressure from the president or the economic data they see.

You watch other things too. The University of Michigan has a consumer sentiment survey which went down recently. Consumer spending is a huge piece of the American economy. If the people watching at home feel good, the American economy gets moving. We have the pride of Elkhart, Indiana, at the table. There's also this so-called -- there's also this so-called RV index. And if you put the numbers up on the screen, a lot of people watch this, sales of recreational vehicles and the impact on the economy. And you look at the numbers right there, and they are down, which again is a sign --

ROGERS: They've been falling. KING: Is a sign that in the heartland there are people getting worried about making a big purchase.

ROGERS: Yes, and, I mean, I just think that the -- blaming, you know, the media, blaming the naysayers is a really dangerous tactic for somebody who relies on the support of agricultural communities, farmers and manufacturers when -- yes, I am from Elkhart. It led into the last recession. When people stopped losing (ph) the ability to buy these big ticket items, my hometown freezes up. Like, the lines stop.

KING: Right.

ROGERS: And it has -- that has been slowing for the past six months or so where I'm from. So I can only imagine that back where I'm from and in manufacturing communities across the country, when they see the president saying, I don't see a recession, I don't see a recession, people who took a really long time to recover from the last one are not going to take kindly to that when they see the leader of their country saying I don't see it, I don't see it.

KING: So there's a -- there's a risk, right.

ROGERS: And these people are losing hours of their day at work and being, you know, taken off the lines.

KING: Right. There's a risk if you have these rosy -- there's no recession, we're great, never stronger. If the economy -- even if it doesn't dip into recession, even if it significantly slows, it seems your president and his team are out of touch.

KUCINICH: Right.

KING: The last one was a devastating one.

KUCINICH: Right.

KING: The last one was a devastating one. Before that, George H. -- our last one-term president, George H.W. Bush, had a pretty mild recession. His team did everything they could first to avoid it and then to make it as quickly as possible, and he still lost.

IP: Yes. And I would think that if you actually look -- like, recessions are complicated mechanisms. You can never say it was this one thing that caused that recession. It's usually many things. There's a good chance that we would have made it through 2001 without a recession if the tech bubble hadn't collapse or if 9/11 hadn't happened. We may look back and say, we would have avoided recession in 2019, 2020 but for all the problems in the world today.

And here I think you have a basic conceptual mistake that the administration is making. Peter Navarro said last week, look, we mean for our tariffs to hurt China, not to hurt us. But we're in a globalized, interconnected economy and when you hurt China, that hurts Germany and that hurts us. So there needs to be kind of a conceptual rethink if they want to get out of this sort of like difficult situation that the global economy is in. KING: Right. And you've got the Brexit conversations on the table as

well. Another domino that could affect the things that are beyond the control of the president of the United States or the Fed chairman and the like.

We'll continue to track.

Up next for us, President Trump backtracking on gun background checks.

And you see a live picture here from New York. We're awaiting New York's police commissioner, in just a few moments, to announce the fate of the officer held responsible for the choke hold death of Eric Garner.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:28:25] KING: Straight to New York to Police Commissioner James O'Neal.

: It is a decision that necessarily requires fairness and impartiality for Mr. Garner, who died following that encounter with police. There's also a decision that requires fairness and impartiality for Officer Pantaleo, who was sent by this department to assess a situation and take appropriate police action.

First, I will discuss how I reached my decision and then I will answer any questions you have on the topic.

For some time prior to July 17, 2014, neighborhood residents purposely avoided the area and indirectly around Tompkinsville Park in Staten Island. The conditions at that time arose from an array of criminal activity. Drug dealers worked at the edges of the park, worked the edges of the park, and across the street selling narcotics, a handful of men regularly sold loose cigarettes made cheaper by the fact that New York state taxes had not been paid on them. A liquor store nearby sold alcohol to people who would drink that alcohol in the park. People would sometimes use drugs, urinate and pass out on benches there.

That summer, the week before there had been reports of theft and two robberies in the park. There were 911, 311 and other complaints from residents and merchants on an ongoing basis. In some cases, warnings and summons were issued. In other cases, arrests were made.

[12:29:49] And that was the situation at Tompkinsville Park on the day Officer Pantaleo was sent with another officer to conduct an enforcement operation. When the second officer observed Mr. Garner hand out cigarettes in exchange for money, they approached Mr. Garner to make an arrest. That offense could have resulted in a summons, but Mr. Garner refused to provide