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INSIDE POLITICS

Judge Restores Nationwide Block on Trump Admin. Asylum Limits; Sen. Harris Unveils 2020 Criminal Justice Plan; Trump Fires Back At His Republican Challengers; Campaign Chief: Trump Family Dynasty Will Last Decades; Trump Unhappy with Republican Retirements; Biden and Warren to Face Off in Debate. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired September 9, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00] JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Saying that they should have done it in Mexico or another third safe country along the way.

So in July, the Ninth Circuit actually said that it could go partially into effect. Now, this was surprising of course because President Trump has repeatedly slammed the Ninth Circuit as bias against him and his administration, but in July it did say that this policy could go partially into effect. But just minutes ago, a federal judge in California once again issued a nationwide hold on this policy, saying it cannot go into effect at all.

Now, as part of the order, this was from U.S. District Court Judge Jon Tigar, and he said this. He said, "The primary reason a nationwide injunction is appropriate is that it is the only means of affording complete relief." So this is really a victory for immigrant rights groups but it is yet another defeat for the Trump administration when it comes to limiting immigration.

And John, we've seen the administration officials speak out about this, about judges unilaterally issuing these nationwide injunctions. In fact, it was just last week that the attorney general William Barr wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal saying that individual judges shouldn't be able to slap these nationwide injunctions on administrative policies. Well, that is exactly what this California judge has done once again, putting on hold once again this asylum policy from the Trump administration.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: We will be in another court litigating that decision soon enough, I would suspect. Jessica Schneider, I appreciate the reporting. It's an important story.

2020 politics now. Senator Kamala Harris out today with a new plan focusing on criminal justice reform. The 2020 Democratic hopeful was California's attorney general before coming to Washington. And that experience putting people behind bars raises concerns amongst some progressives. Her new plan would end federal mandatory minimum sentences, the use of private prisons, and the death penalty. Harris now trying to turn that prosecutorial background into a plus saying in a statement, quote, this plan uses my experience and unique ability to root out failures within the justice system. The timing is important and no coincidence as the Democratic debate this week, Thursday night, and Harris is hoping to end a summer slump in the polls and in her fundraising.

This has been interesting in this race. And when you travel, especially younger progressives, they say, oh, she was a prosecutor, therefore, I'm dubious.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Younger progressives, younger African-American voters. On the margins, these things start to matter, particularly when it starts to affect people's view of your viability as a candidate. So, you know, one of the things that I was hearing from her advisers was that they just felt like she needed to get her arms around this issue a little bit more. A criminal justice reform plan was always in the works, but at the same time, she has to do more to explain what her record has been on this.

And we saw in an interview that she did with the New York Times, she's starting to explain what the progression of culture has been around this issue and how she fits in that. That's something I heard repeatedly from advocates that they felt like was a need to do, and I think her aides also felt like they needed to correct the record about some things that they thought were inaccurate about how it's being discussed in the public. And at the last debate when Tulsi Gabbard attacked her, that was a big moment for Tulsi Gabbard, but they -- looking back on that moment, Tulsi was knocked because some of these critiques were just not accurate.

KING: Not accurate but she did get a little bit of buzz out of the debate because of it. You mentioned the New York Times interview, this is another piece of that interview today. It feels awful, this is to be criticized for her record as a prosecutor. "It feels awful. I understand it intellectually. Emotionally, it's hurtful. I know what motivated me to become a prosecutor, I know what motivated me to do the kind of work we did, and I know that it was groundbreaking work.

She had to know unless she wasn't paying any attention to the mood of the Democratic Party getting into the race that your title was attorney general and local prosecutor before that in the San Francisco area, that this was going to be an area of tough scrutiny.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Go ahead.

MATT VISER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: And you saw that I think play out in the first debate between her and Joe Biden. Very briefly he sort of alluded to, you were a prosecutor I was a criminal defense attorney. And you saw that sort of winked at. I think the Harris people might worry that that becomes more of a theme in this next debate. And you noticed how she's talking there about, you know, the discomfort with her record being scrutinized which is how the Biden people have felt about her going after his record.

And lastly, sort of heading into this next debate, she seems at a moment the way she was at the first debate, where she was sort of stuck in the second tier, she was struggling with fundraising. She's back in that heading into this debate. She needs something to sort of re-energize her campaign. And that's where I think they're looking to.

KUCINICH: And Abby mentioned the Tulsi Gabbard exchange. The biggest -- one of the biggest problems with that though, she kind of brushed it -- Kamala Harris brushed it off. She didn't have a good answer for Tulsi Gabbard, not even saying, you know, you're misconstruing my record, something like that. So the fact that they're working on actually having a good answer for these attacks that are coming, but, you know, activists I spoke to in California a couple of months ago about her said she was a prosecutor, she wasn't a progressive prosecutor.

[12:35:02] She was the same as everyone else was at that time when it came to, you know, incarcerating people and how prosecutors were working. So --

KING: Tough on crime was the mood at the moment.

KUCINICH: Tough on crime was the mood at the moment and she wasn't necessarily a standout. She did what everyone else was doing at that time.

KING: Well, we'll see now. And you mentioned the polling, look, there's a debate Thursday night. There's five months until everybody votes, so everybody, you know, calm down. We don't know what's going to happen in this race.

But, first, let's look at the ABC/Washington Post poll about the state of the race nationally over the summer. And you see Joe Biden is still on top and he's about -- he stayed about the same. Elizabeth Warren up to six points. Kamala Harris down six points over that course of time. They're going to be on a debate stage Thursday night.

Nationally, Kamala Harris, after an initial good entry into the race, she's just been stagnant if you will. Five months until anybody votes but that's a bit of a problem. Let's look up CBS News/YouGov poll, look at some of the early states and the early contest. And again, Harris in fourth place, that's better than being in sixth place but it's not where you want to be. It's not where you want to be.

So she -- all the candidates, if you're trying to shake up this race, if you have a Bernie Sanders, Warren top three, and again, I'm not sure that holds. If you're anyone else, you're trying to shake this up.

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, a single digit is not a good place to be right now where she is. And, you know, it's funny it tells you a little about the party and how times have changed as she says in there. This should be a strength of hers in the Democratic Party that, you know, I was a prosecutor but things are different now.

Cory Booker has a little bit more of a grip on the criminal justice reform agenda because he really worked that in the Senate. She needs to do something to shake it up. I do think it's something, if she can survive, it is a good general election position for her to be in.

PHILLIP: And that's exactly how her campaign views it. They -- you know, she's making the case that no one can say that I am not for law and order and public safety because I had this experience, but at the same time, can she get out of the Democratic primary? At this stage, I think that's the open question. And I think you'll also find -- if this becomes an issue, she's not the only one who has questions about her record and criminal justice. President Trump is also trying to in on this as well. He was tweeting yesterday that he's not getting enough credit for the First Step Act.

So I think this is not going to away as an issue as we go forward.

KING: No doubt about that.

Before we go to break, a little fun, surf's up for Democratic presidential hopeful Andrew Yang. Crowd surfing, that is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:42:21] KING: Topping our political radar today, some remarkable reporting by CNN's Jim Sciutto learning the United States successfully extracted one of its highest level covert sources in Russia back in 2017. Partly over concerns that President Trump and his team repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence which could have exposed the source as a spy. The decision to get the asset came soon after that now infamous Oval Office meeting in which the president discussed classified matters with the Russian foreign minister and Moscow's U.S. ambassador at the time. However, U.S. officials had expressed concerns about this particular source's safety as far back as the end of the Obama administration.

The CIA's director of public affairs says speculation that the president's handling of sensitive intelligence drove an alleged exfiltration operation is inaccurate. That from the CIA.

New developments in the controversy surrounding this doctored map President Trump used to falsely show that Alabama was threatened by Hurricane Dorian. The Washington Post says an official at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration now we'll investigate whether the agency broke ethics rules when it backed the president's erroneous information about the storm over its own experts.

Valerie Plame kicking her run for Congress in New Mexico into a higher gear with a new video on her campaign website. It's a lot of fun. In the video, the former CIA operative who was famously outed during the George W. Bush administration drives fast and yes, appears furious at the GOP for blowing her cover.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VALERIE PLAME (D-NM), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We need to turn our country around. And yes, the CIA really does teach us how to drive like this. And Mr. President, I've got a few scores to settle. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: President Trump firing back at his latest Republican challenger in the 2020 White House race, the former South Carolina governor and congressman Mark Sanford. In a pair of tweets this morning, the president points out the scandal that derailed Sanford's political career before anyway and mocked his failed run for Congress last year. He then called Sanford and the other two candidates seeking the Republican nomination, quote, the Three Stooges. An insult Sanford responded to here on CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK SANFORD (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Often when you end up with three candidates -- three different candidates saying there's something wrong with this presidency, what's going on here is not consistent with the Republican Party that we know about and believe in, (INAUDIBLE) major portions of our life in, that's a different conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president calls you the three stooges.

SANFORD: He's allowed to say whatever he wants.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: He is allowed to say whatever he wants. The question is, if you look at any available data today, Mark Sanford, Bill Weld, former congressman Joe Walsh, good luck. However, if you go back to our last one-term president, George H.W. Bush, Pat Buchanan didn't beat him in the primaries but he landed a few body blows that some people think weakened him for the general election.

[12:45:07] Is that a possibility here?

VISER: I think that's the potential here. I mean, that you do have three people, you know, regardless of their qualifications zeroing in on President Trump. I think the difference now, though, is that the party seems willing to sort of change the rules of the nomination contest. You saw South Carolina and Arizona and Nevada, some of these states canceling any sort of primary contest. So that will rob these three of any oxygen for that primary.

KING: However, whatever you think of Sanford in the Appalachian Trail, look it up if you don't know what I'm talking about, use the internet. He was -- go back in the day when he was in the House and his governor viewed as a rising star among the fiscal conservative wing of the party. He used to veto his own Republican legislature's budget because he said they spent too much money. Can he make the case -- there are a lot of Republicans out there who look at the ground when you asked them what happened to the party of smaller government? Can he make a case?

HULSE: Yes, I think he can remind people about it. I mean, it's been pretty egregious what's happened and they have forgotten all their hawkishness. So, you know, it's good to have other voices out there no matter what. But I do agree with Matt, the way the party is acting here, nobody is going to get any traction.

KUCINICH: Particularly with Mick Mulvaney who used to be one of (INAUDIBLE) as well and he works for the president now, so.

PHILLIP: One thing you're hearing from some conservatives also is that they feel like Mark Sanford is a better alternative to a Joe Walsh who is very Trumpian in his own way. And I think a lot of people are uncomfortable with that. They don't think he's a good messenger for an anti-Trump movement and Mark Sanford may not be perfect but some conservatives think he's better than that alternative.

KING: All right, when we come back, next, the Bushes, the Clintons, now the Trumps. Does the 45th president's family have the makings of a political dynasty? Somebody thinks so.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:51:25] KING: All right, let's go quickly around the table. Some other interesting news in politics. A little bit of a lightning round.

Abby Phillip, I want you to answer this. On the New York Times and the Atlantic, Trump campaign manager says president's family as a political dynasty. The Heir, Ivanka was always Trump's favorite but Don Jr. is emerging as his natural successor. This from Brad Parscale, the Trump campaign manager telling fundraisers he thinks this is going to go on.

PHILLIP: I don't know what else he could have said in that situation. I mean, this is not exactly the Trump family that takes of all people not assuming that they are going to become presidents of the United States. But, we should note this is the argument that Trump made against Hillary Clinton that they needed to end the Clinton dynasty and now we're starting a new Trump dynasty. So, the irony is not lost.

KING: Yes, the irony is not lost there. We'll see when Barron wants to run.

The president's today tweeting his displeasure that all these House Republicans are retiring. "House Republicans should allow chairs of committees to remain for longer than six years. It forces great people and real leaders to leave after serving. The Dems have unlimited terms", the president goes on.

There are a lot of Republicans running from the House. A, some of them are uncomfortable with what they have to do. B, they don't they'll get the majority back.

HULSE: I think the president is looking for a reason Republicans are leaving that's not him. I think he is part of the problem they're leaving. Yes, there is a bit of an issue with people not being able to have their seniority on some of these chairs, which was instituted by the way in the "Contract with America", I believe, by Newt Gingrich. This was to centralize power in the speaker's house. But I think the president saying there, hey, it's not me, but to a lot these people, I think it is him.

KING: In the Washington Post today, I got this right now where Matt Viser works. This headline, "Biden and Warren, longtime frenemies, will finally meet in a debate chasing the biggest prize of all." It is going to be fascinating Thursday night, the first time, third round of debates, the first time they will be on stage together.

VISER: And the two of them have a long history together, from when Warren was a professor at Harvard testifying before a committee that Joe Biden was on and disputing the bankruptcy bill which could come up -- likely to come up this coming week. They had discussions about her potentially being a running mate of his in 2015. They differ though, stylistically, politically. She wants to blow the system up, he sort of wants to restore the system. And so I think the Democratic Party -- Democratic primary voters have been waiting for these two to sort of face off and we'll get that Thursday.

KING: Thursday night. Daily Beast, according to a person who was in the room, Trump told donors at a recent private event that though a lot of people think it'll be easy to beat in 2020, the truth is, it might not be so easy. Meaning the team of socialists. And the president according to the source said, you can have someone who loves Trump but many people love free stuff too. The president is worried even though he says (INAUDIBLE) you can't sell us. He's worried.

KUCINICH: Well, we're used to publicly the president saying, if you vote for Democrats, the United States is going to become Venezuela and, you know, tying everyone to some of the more liberal members of the House Democrats. That said, yes, he's worried. He's worried that while people like Trump, they might like free stuff more.

KING: And you learn from these stories, and this is a very good one, that he's paying very, very close attention to everything they say.

Next, when we come back, the INSIDE POLITICS family just got a little bigger.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:59:00] KING: We close today with some happy news. A new addition to the INSIDE POLITICS family. ] Meet Brooke Marie Mattingly. She came into the world Sunday morning. She's beautiful. Because she was born just yesterday, she'll have to wait until this coming weekend to experience what will become a recurring theme in her life. Her father pacing in front of the television during Ohio State football games. Give the girl earplugs. Brooke joins her two big brothers TJ (ph) and Carter (ph).

Here she is with dad, we have a picture here. Look at that. He's going to try to make her a Yankees fan.

KUCINICH: Another new little buckeye. I can't be more excited.

KING: We should congratulate Chelsea Mattingly, the mom here, as much as Phil Mattingly here. If I send her a Red Sox onesie, do you think that will go very well?

KUCINICH: I will stick to Scarlet --

PHILLIP: -- magic wall for her.

KING: Mini magic wall.

KUCINICH: I think Scarlet and Gray is better than perhaps Red Sox.

KING: Chief Diplomatic Correspondent Jackie in the room to help me out. Phil, Chelsea, congratulations. She's beautiful.

Thanks for joining us in the INSIDE POLITICS. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great afternoon.