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INSIDE POLITICS

Trump Reverses Course, Cancels Doral As G7 Host Site; Mulvaney Admits to Quid Pro Quo on Ukraine Aid; Critics Target Warren over Plan to Pay for Medicare For All. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 20, 2019 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:26]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): The impeachment inquiry gains steam, a parade of key witnesses and then this.

MICK MULVANEY, ACTING WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: We do that all the time with foreign policy. And I have news for everybody, get over it.

KING: Plus, the president abandons an ally and draws bipartisan scorn.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): He just couldn't handle it, so he kind of engaged in a meltdown.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a blood stain in the annals of American history.

KING: And Bernie Sanders wins a big endorsement.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I would like to introduce the man, the ally.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: To put it bluntly, I am back.

KING: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King.

To our viewers in the United States and around the world, thank you for sharing your Sunday.

We begin this week with something very rare. President Trump blinking and retreating on the issue that to him matters most, his name and his brand. And make no mistake, it is a retreat connected to an impeachment inquiry that is gaining steam.

In a series of tweets Saturday night, the president said he was canceling plans to hold the annual G7 summit next year at a Trump- owned resort in Florida. As you can see in the tweet, he blames the media and Democrat-crazed and irrational hostility for his decision. By irrational hostility, perhaps he meant deep Republican unease.

This from Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski a few hours before the president backed down.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): Is it inappropriate? Does it violate the law? I don't think so. I don't believe that it does.

But it just -- it's one of those things that is so unnecessary. With all of the stuff that's going on in Washington, D.C. right now, why would you invite just more controversy?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Most GOP revolts during the Trump presidency have been small and short lived, so it's wise to be careful in assessing the current splits. But this is different, more wide spread and more angry.

And while most of it, publicly anyway, is about Syria or the now the abandoned Doral decision, there are also more jitters and a few GOP cracks on the question of impeachment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: You are saying at this point you are not ruling out the possibility that this is an impeachable offense for the president?

REP. FRANCIS ROONEY (R-FL): I don't think you can rule anything out until you know all the facts.

JOHN KASICH, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: If I was sitting in the House of Representatives today and you were to ask me how do I feel, do I think impeachment should move forward and should go for a full examination and a trial in the United States Senate, my vote would be yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Again, just two Republican voices there, but it is a dynamic worth watching.

With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Michael Shear of "The New York Times", Karoun Demirjian of "The Washington Post", and "Politico's" Laura Barron- Lopez.

Let's start with the president doing an abrupt about-face on a Saturday night after his acting chief of staff in the White House briefing room said we've decided on Doral, the president told us to put it on the list, it's the right choice, it's the best choice, get over it. Why did the president flip? KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think the president is facing an increasing amount of criticism not just from Democrats, which is what he alluded to in his tweet, but also members of his own party and people inside the White House who were confused not only that they picked this location, but also the way Mick Mulvaney defended it in that briefing.

And this is interesting, because you don't often see the president back down from a decision just because he's criticized for it. We're seeing that with the Syria decision, as it's playing out.

But I think when you step back, it's the broader scope of the president being criticized on several fronts right now, and this is one of them that the president backed off of. It's interesting it comes after he made Mick Mulvaney go out and defend him, a briefing that has come under intense scrutiny on its own, and now they're changing their mind.

MICHAEL SHEAR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I got to say, I mean, I was up on Capitol Hill all week talking to Republican members and we'll get to the conversation obviously about impeachment as well. But what I heard repeatedly after that Doral announcement was just kind of puzzlement from Republicans. Like why do this, they were all trying to do the dance where they say he's going to do this at cost, he wasn't going to profit from this supposedly.

But they were all struggling to figure out why would you -- as Kaitlan said, why would you do this now? You've got so many things on your plate, and I'm sure that that message got communicated back to the White House.

KING: Why would you do it anyway, because it raises optics, even if you're doing it at no profit. Get over it.

[08:05:01]

It raises -- it raises the optics of conflict of interest, of trying to benefit from your office and all of that. Plus, why do this? When Republicans are furious about Syria, and many of them very unhappy with what they're hearing from the House testimony about Ukraine testimony and Rudy Giuliani and trying to be loyal Republicans and bite their tongues. And he keeps poking them.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, you're hearing that -- I mean, look, it's very difficult to find Republicans saying very positive things about this, unless you're talking about the two Florida senators who had something nice to say about the Doral decision. But generally speaking, they are just trying to just kind of pure wheat (ph) right now.

I mean, when it comes to impeachment, they're talking just about process and not about substance, because to undercut the process seems to be their best defense. When it comes to Syria, you've got everybody up to the Senate majority leader saying absolutely not, and now this too. Granted, as Lisa Murkowski was saying, she doesn't think it's necessarily illegal, although I think there's a question as to whether it would have made it to an article of impeachment if the president had stuck by that G7 decision. But granted Murkowski is saying, OK, it's not illegal. But if you want to keep the votes of the Senate Republicans with you when it comes to impeachment, it would help if you actually keep their confidence at the same time, so they're not listening for that one thing that just makes their brain flip the switch and say, OK, you know what, I'm done here. And that matters --

KING: Right, and the loudest part of it is Syria. But Syria is both honest, angry objections to what the president did. Republicans and Democrats think he left an ally on the battlefield to be slaughtered by the Turks. That's what they think, can you see it playing out?

But also, it's become a vehicle for other frustration. They can publicly criticize him on Syria and a lot of Republicans, especially in the Senate, carry this frustration and have carried this frustration for a long time.

You mention the majority leader. This is Mitch McConnell, again, after conversations with the White House, after the president himself tweeted Republicans should stick together, trying to keep the team together, Mitch McConnell, as neo-isolationism rears its head on both the left and right, we can expect to hear more talk of endless wars. That's the president's words right there.

But rhetoric cannot change the fact that wars do not end. Wars are won and lost. America's wars will be endless only if America refuses to win them.

That is a two-by-four to the president of the United States from the top Republican in Congress.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And so far, Republicans have said they do want to take action and try to move forward to reverse some of the actions that Trump took. And this happening at the same time as Trump comes out and says he wants to have the G7 at Doral, as well as impeachment proceedings are going on, the investigation.

Of course, this doesn't help the president and continues to put him more in a corner. It also puts Republicans in a bit of a predicament, because more and more we're seeing some of them starting to play with the idea of, will I support impeachment? Again, it's the lot of the ones that are not running for re-election or are not up for re- election in the case of Mitt Romney.

But it's putting them more in a corner, and also I think that when you look at Doral, there's a broader team of -- that goes along with the impeachment inquiry, which is the president abusing his power for self-interest. And it's all of that, that entire prism that Republicans are having to view things --

KING: And every one of these fights connects back to whatever is happening at the moment and what is happening at the moment is this impeachment drama. And everybody in the Senate fully expects the House to impeach the president. So the question is, can you get to two-thirds in the Senate? Not today, not even close.

But if you're just talking about some procedural motions, anything that you need a majority on, it only takes a few Republicans, if the Democrats stick together, to say we're going to do this or this evidence is acceptable, if it's the majority rules on something like that.

That's why you see Republicans getting mad and walking away from the president, you have to keep a close eye on it. Like on Syria, you mentioned Mitt Romney, but also presidential friend normally, Lindsey Graham.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROMNEY: The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory. What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a blood stain in the annals of American history.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He's making the biggest mistake of his presidency and President Trump will own it. And I will do my job to make sure these decisions unfold as I think, that he will get the responsibility for it.

TRUMP: Lindsey Graham would like to stay in the Middle East for the next thousand years with thousands of soldiers and fighting other people's wars. I want to get out of the Middle East.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHEAR: You know, one of the -- one of the things that can happen, and this is obviously projecting forward a little bit. But if you had a trial in the Senate after the House impeached the president, there could be -- and there's likely to be a motion to dismiss at some point, that the Republicans will say we want to dismiss these charges. That is a 51, a majority vote. And if you had four senators go the other way, you could have that motion to dismiss fail, which would be a real embarrassment for this president.

And when you look at those clips, you could -- you can sort of figure out how to get to those four or five Republican senators if they're angry enough at the president on other things.

COLLINS: Right, but people like Lindsey Graham, he said I'm keeping these two things separate. Yes, I'm furious with the president's Syria decision, but that has nothing to do with how I feel about impeachment.

[08:10:01]

KING: Right, but --

DEMIRJIAN: Honestly, the place to look for those people is going to be sometimes in the swing states, people that are up in 2020. Some of them are fighting to keep their seats in states that are not that red. And then also, who's retiring? There's a lot of these people who are really old guard, the old way of thinking about things.

This modern world -- they're along for the ride but it's not the way they think business should be done and they don't actually owe anybody anything because they're not seeking re-election

KING: Right. Susan Collins, swing state, Cory Gardner, swing state, Mitt Romney, just reelected, doesn't -- seems to be an independent voice on this.

I would give you Lamar Alexander, one time young aide to Howard Baker, who had a role in an impeachment along time ago. He's retiring. Watch that one.

Up next, the acting White House chief of staff throws gasoline on the impeachment fire and then tries to take it back.

But, first, politicians say the darnedest things, Brexit edition.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order! Order!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right, 322, the noes to the left, 306.

BORIS JOHNSON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The meaningful vote has been voided of meaning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today is an historic day for parliament because it said it will not be blackmailed by a prime minister.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: It's another big week of testimony in the Trump impeachment inquiry as Democrats, behind closed doors for now, assemble the building blocks of what they say is a clear case of presidential corruption and abuse of power.

Rudy Giuliani is at the center of this and because of that, as you can see, in the headlines throughout this past week.

[08:15:02]

In testimony this week, administration officials testified the president's personal lawyer, Mr. Giuliani was the point man for Ukraine at the president's direction and official business like a White House visit for Ukraine's president r promised U.S. military aid were used as leverage as Giuliani pushed for Ukraine to pursue a debunk 2016 election conspiracy theory or to look for dirt on Joe Biden and his son Hunter.

Now, the president and his allies insist there's no "there" there and they accuse the Democrats of exaggerating or cherry-picking testimony.

But then this on Thursday from the White House briefing room.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MULVANEY: This is a corrupt place, I don't want to send them a bunch of money and have them waste it, have them spend it, have them to use it to line their own pockets. Did he also mention to me in the past that the corruption related to the DNC server? Absolutely, no question about that. But that's it. That's why we held up the Monday.

REPORTER: What you just described is a quid pro quo. It is, funding will not flow unless the investigation into the -- into the Democratic server happened as well?

MULVANEY: We do -- we do that all the time with foreign policy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Absolutely. No question about it. That's why we held up the money. We do that all the time with foreign policy.

You just heard it right there. Republicans on Capitol Hill were blindsided. The president was furious. Mulvaney quickly issued a statement that denied he said what he said.

Democrats say Mulvaney had conceded in public just what the witnesses are saying in private. Speaker Nancy Pelosi saying to CNN on Friday, what he said was of course a confession.

He tried to take it back, but -- yes, we held up the money. How do you want to do that?

DEMIRJIAN: Yes, it's very hard to unhear those things. And the issue really for him even more so is not only did he detail the three terms in which we held up the money and then try to say there were two terms later, but also he went into detail. He's saying that there was corruption issues and the server was part of that.

It's one thing if it's saying we had concerns about corruption in Ukraine. A lot of people had concerns about corruption in Ukraine. But then he legitimately leans into a debunked conspiracy theory is there a server from the DNC that's kicking around in the Ukraine somewhere that if we found it prove that Russia didn't interfere in the election, Ukraine did. I mean, that's -- people don't support that. The Republicans don't really support that for the most part either.

And he kept repeating that this was what he had discussed with the president and that -- and this is what the corruption was. And so every time he kept referring to the corruption being the quid pro quo --

KING: We held up the money.

DEMIRJIAN: Right, right.

KING: That's what we do. Get over it.

SHEAR: And it was amazing. All week long you saw the president's fierce defenders on Capitol Hill come out to like bash the Democratic impeachment inquiry and say this isn't happening, it's not real. There is no quid pro quo.

And then it was like they're the defenders and, all of a sudden, the guy on their team is running the ball the other way, right? And they were astounded and he didn't actually take it back for, I don't know, like five hours or something. It was a long time on Capitol Hill.

KING: And he said the media was misconstruing. These guys forget there are cameras. We can play it over and over and over again.

You have reporting that he was kind of on shaky ground to begin with. He's still the acting chief of staff, like, 10 months later.

COLLINS: Ten months in. This is interesting, now because of the headline generating performance, his job is under scrutiny. Well, I'm being told by sources that actually right before Nancy Pelosi announced she was endorsing the impeachment inquiry, top officials inside the White House, including Jared Kushner, were reaching out to people about being potential replacement for Mick Mulvaney. This is something we're learning this morning.

And it essentially goes to show that long before he was making these comments about Ukraine, he was already on unsure footing inside the west wing. Now, those efforts seem to have subsided now that they're being forced to deal with the impeachment inquiry that's escalating by the day, as you just laid out. But it does raise questions about who would want to take this job as the chief of staff, a job that is famously tough and now more so with this, but also whether or not he's insulated because of the central role he has in this Ukraine scandal.

KING: And the fact testimony, this is why we talked about Republican cracks. On the impeachment question there are minor cracks right now. When you talk to Republicans privately about what they're hearing about Giuliani and the president and how this worked, it makes them sick to their stomach. They're just hoping the Democrats blow it, and that they don't have to deal with a series of impeachment question when it gets to the Senate. That's what Senate Republicans -- they're counting on House Democrats.

I just want to go through some of the testimony. First, Rudy Giuliani -- remember, he's making money. He's not just the president's private attorney. He has clients overseas, including in Ukraine.

So, Gordon Sondland, ambassador to of the United Nations, directed by Trump to work with Giuliani.

Fiona Hill, national security adviser, Trump Russia adviser, reported concerns about Giuliani to the NSC's attorney, said her boss John Bolton called Giuliani, quote, a hand grenade.

George Kent, State Department deputy assistant secretary, told to lie low after raising complaints about Giuliani. Michael McKinley, Mike Pompeo, the secretary of state, former senior adviser, thought Pompeo did little to support the former Ukraine ambassador.

[08:20:04]

In addition to that, CNN reporting that in Mr. Kent's testimony, he said that Giuliani kept pushing for a visa for one of these Ukrainian officials who is spreading the conspiracy theories, that the State Department said no, and he went to the White House and appealed, saying let's let this guy into the United States. This is why Republicans look at this and they just think, what?

DEMIRJIAN: It's not even somebody who is spreading conspiracy theories. The person he was trying to secure the visa for was the prosecutor general that the entire West and the IMF said you have to get rid of. It's part of the Republicans' argument that, you know, this is why Biden is stained. But it's not really held up that much in terms of how the testimony has gone.

So that's even more central to that because you're talking about somebody who they had legitimate grounds, legal grounds to keep out of the United States and yet Giuliani is pushing for that, and nobody supported him. And that's significant and it shows you the rupture.

Right now, the White House is putting a lot of pressure on everybody who's within the administration. Some of them have said I don't care, I'm going to testify anyway, which is why you're seeing a flurry of subpoenas.

But to Kaitlan's point before, if you -- if Mick Mulvaney is out of a job, he's a beautiful witness for the impeachment investigation, and they are looking for their John Dean right now. And who is going to be the person that is so close to the president that they know everything and can open up and tell the public what was going on.

BARRON-LOPEZ: What's so stunning about Mulvaney's admission, he also says political influence always happens in foreign policy, get over it, and it's his attempt to normalize that we see time and time again, that there's impropriety, but it's OK, look away, it's fine that we did it, it's fine that we maybe broke the law and let's go make t- shirts before the Trump campaign to profit off of it.

KING: It's enough word for that. If we just show you quickly, before we go to break in the Trump campaign, again, they pulled back the Doral announcement, they've tried to pull back what Mulvaney said on camera, but trust me, they can't. But there's the Trump campaign saying, what if Rahm Emanuel used to say, never miss a crisis, or never -- let's raise some money, let's raise some money, make some money off it. There you go, 30 bucks, if you want one of those.

Up next for us, the 2020 Democrat Elizabeth Warren is doing some new health care math. It's interesting. And Bernie Sanders basks in a big endorsement.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:26:03] KING: New York's presidential primary is late, not until next April. But in Queens yesterday, a boost Bernie Sanders hopes sends a national message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OCASIO-CORTEZ: He fought for these aims at these ends when they came at the highest political cost in America.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

No one wanted to question the system.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Bernie's back was the rally message, back from a recent heart attack and his team hopes back in the top tier conversation.

Let's take a look at his standings. Sometimes, it's misunderstood, if you will. No question about it, he's only at 11 percent in the recent national polls. That's a problem, especially given the rise of the other progressive candidate, Elizabeth Warren. She's now up 30 percent in the national polls.

If you look at that, the national numbers, well, Senator Sanders does have a problem. But we pick presidents state by state. That's how the nomination process works.

In Iowa, which goes first, Bernie Sanders is right in the mix, with Vice President Biden and Senator Warren.

In Nevada, also one of the top, the first four states, Senator Sanders right in the mix. So, he's very competitive in some of these early states.

It's a little more troubling for him in New Hampshire, a state he won in 2016. Sanders runs a relatively distant third. And in South Carolina, Biden still has a big league and Sanders is down here.

So the early state picture, early on some of it good, some of it not so great. What does he hope to get from the endorsement of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Well, among very liberal voters, Elizabeth Warren is beating Bernie Sanders. This is a national poll here. But beating him quite well, maybe it can help there.

This is very important in the demographic. He's in a fight with Elizabeth Warren for younger progressive voters. He certainly hopes Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ilhan Omar can help him with this group here.

In any event, Senator Sanders used that big rally yesterday and the big crowd to say, I've got momentum, don't worry.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SANDERS: I am happy to report to you that I am more than ready, more ready than ever.

(CHANTING)

I am more than ready to assume the office of president of the United States.

(CHEERS AND APPLAUSE)

Damn right, we're going to win.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Endorsements can be overplayed, but they can also help. What do we think about this?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I mean, this endorsement comes at a key time for him because we all know, he had the heart attack and he's been facing questions of whether or not he can go the distance, whether or not he's up to the task given his health. And Ocasio Cortez came right at the moment he needed, which is after the debate and the questions came up, as well as an endorsement by Ilhan Omar.

But as you mentioned, John, endorsements in the grand scheme of things mean very little. Could she potentially help him with young voters? Possibly. But it's really difficult to say at this point.

KING: It will be interesting to watch in the sense that he says, Bernie Sanders, Senator Sanders, says he plans for her to travel with him. He's always gentle with Elizabeth Warren. He says she's my friend. They're certainly aligned on the issues.

But his one role for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, to make the case that she's not a Democratic socialist, she maybe a liberal Democrat, but she's not one of us. She's not a true believer.

Is that her role?

COLLINS: Potentially, and you've seen Bernie Sanders kind of play into that in certain interviews where he talks about whether or not he's a capitalist, if she's a capitalist. He's taken small digs at that. And, potentially, she could serve as a buffer to help him with that, because, of course they are friends and did have this pact did not attacking each other, but in the end one of them wants to be the nominee and it can't be both of them.

Right now, Elizabeth Warren is doing much better in the polls and so, that's going to be the question going forward.

KING: And so, if you look at where we are in the race, the optics are great for Bernie Sanders and he does look good and sound good since he's back from the heart attack, so we'll watch how it plays out. If you look at the money in the race, Senator Sanders well-positioned there. When you look at the numbers up here.

[08:29:52] The question mark here is the former Vice President Joe Biden. If you look at this, Sanders leads the pack. Warren has plenty of money. Mayor Buttigieg has plenty of money.

Joe Biden in the last quarter came in behind Kamala Harris. You see that -- $8 million, $9 million on hand heading into this quarter. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton both spend $30 million in the final quarter last time. Joe Biden's got a problem there. How big of a problem?

SHEAR: Well, he's got a problem I think because the money both is a problem of actual spending and it also is an indication of an enthusiasm that isn't maybe there, especially in the sort of grass roots fundraising that Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are so good at.

I think one of the things, to go back to the question about Bernie Sanders is, can Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez help broaden a little bit and if Joe Biden sheds his supporters and some of these other candidates who are lower in the polls, you know, those folks are going to have to find some place to go. And do they go to Elizabeth Warren or do they go to Bernie Sanders?

And perhaps, you know, seeing the sort of fresh new face of the Democratic Party endorse this older candidate maybe some of those younger people decide, you know what, we're going to go that direction.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And the issue with Biden's lack of fundraising is also that he had a higher burn rate as you mentioned --

SHEAR: Right.

BARRON-LOPEZ: -- than Warren and Sanders and there are a number of his supporters that are concerned about it. Because with his so- called firewall in southern Super Tuesday states, if you don't have enough money to put enough people on the ground to build that infrastructure, then you could easily get overrun by the other candidates.

KING: Right. And if you start losing in the early states -- to go back to 2008, Obama versus Clinton -- you start losing in the early states too, sometimes your money doesn't even help. So he needs both. He needs money and he needs some wins.

Another fascinating dynamic this past week is Elizabeth Warren for months has said I'm with Bernie's Medicare for all plan. In the last debate she had to deal with this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you raise taxes on the middle class to pay for it, yes or no?

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So I have made clear what my principles are here, and that is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations, and for hard-working middle class families costs will go down.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Credibility matters. She's going to have to tell the truth or the question we raised about whether or not she's going to be candid and honest with the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The morning after the debate the Warren campaign said that she was going to have her own analysis of financing, that they were going to crunch the numbers themselves which leads you to believe they're going to have their own health care plan. One thing she has not done.

A huge test for her because she keeps getting badgered why can't you answer the question yes or no -- will middle class taxes go up? Are we going to see an Elizabeth Warren healthcare plan and will it stick with Sanders or will she risk breaking with Sanders in the middle of this fight for progressives?

DEMIRJIAN: Yes. I mean that's the big question, right? And it's a moment for her to take some momentum back in a way if she does come out with a health care plan that seems to actually answer those questions more ably than Bernie Sanders has been able to answer those questions and can kind of strike a balance that both pleases the progressives but also doesn't lose her everybody else. Which is just her general challenge as well as she starts to ascend into the top rank basically of many of these polls now.

So we will see what the details of that are going to be. She's bought herself some time, I suppose, and doesn't have anybody else who is going to rival her in terms of having a new plan out because so many of the other frontrunners already articulated what it is exactly that they want. We've been waiting on her.

But generally speaking, you know, she's been pulling support from various people's camps and doesn't necessarily seem to have quite as cohesive a coalition as Bernie Sanders is clearly on one end of the Democratic Party spectrum, or Biden who seems to be mostly on the other.

And her challenge going forward frankly, especially when it comes to things about, you know, is she a capitalist, is she a socialist, et cetera -- how does she keep the Democratic Party and not lose Wall Street so much that they just spend (ph) against her potentially and cost her either the nomination (INAUDIBLE).

KING: She has been the growth stock in the race because of smart decisions on the ground, strong fundraising. This is the big question. This is a big question at the debate next month. We'll see the answers -- big crossroads moment.

Up next for us in "Sunday Trail Mix", including Facebook not getting a lot of likes from the 2020 candidates.

[08:34:08]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Let's turn now to some "Sunday Trail Mix" and get a little taste of the 2020 campaign. The 2020 presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren responding to the Supreme Court's decision to take up a constitutional challenge to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. That's the watch dog agency Warren championed in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Senator Warren says the agency is constitutional and in her view isn't going anywhere.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WARREN: The big banks fought us, the Republicans fought us. Shoot -- a big chunk of the Democrats fought us. They told us not even to try to get the agency for it. But I ignored them. I stayed in there. I fought for that agency. President Obama fought for that agency. When I'm president, that agency is going to do just fine.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Mayor Pete Buttigieg cutting ties with a Chicago attorney who once tried to suppress footage of the police shooting of black teenager Laquan McDonald. That shooting, five years ago today, resulted in widespread protests and a civil rights investigation by the Justice Department.

The attorney Steve Patton was the co-host of Friday's fundraiser for but Mayor Pete Buttigieg. But after reporting by the Associated Press, the campaign said that Patton would no longer participate in the event and that they would return his donations.

Buttigieg, who faced criticism, remember, earlier this year after a police-involved shooting back home in South Bend that he was frustrated by the campaign's failure to properly vet donors.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: As somebody, especially as a mayor of a city that has had a lot of anguish over police/community relations, I believe very strongly that transparency and justice for Laquan McDonald is a lot more important than a campaign contribution. And when somebody contributes especially at a substantial level, you need to make sure you've gone through those steps to be sure that there's no concern that would make you regret that they're associated with the campaign.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: And Facebook under attack on the 2020 trail. The Biden campaign asking the social platform to reject another attack ad on the former vice president. Biden's campaign manager says Facebook is letting candidates quote, "mislead American voters while profiting off those ads. Facebook says the ad in question isn't even running on their platform. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, another Facebook critic, took a sharp jab at its CEO while speaking yesterday at that Bernie Sanders rally in Queens.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK: We need to take power over our lives again. I don't know about you, but I don't want Mark Zuckerberg making decisions over my life.

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[08:40:01]

KING: Up next, Jill Stein, a Russian asset? Tulsi Gabbard is next?

Hillary Clinton looks back at 2016 and ahead to 2020 and sees Russia doing all it can to help President Trump.

Hillary Clinton stirred a new spy drama this past week, suggesting Russia is already crafting a plan to help President Trump win re- election and suggesting current Democratic contender Tulsi Gabbard is part of that plan.

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HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: They're also going to do third party again. And I'm not making any predictions, but I think they've got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third party candidate.

She's a favorite of the Russians, they have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[08:45:00]

KING: The Hawaii congresswoman called it preposterous and dared Hillary Clinton to enter the 2020 race. Gabbard said her anti-war and anti-establishment views are why she's being targeted by Secretary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's Hillary Clinton and her proxies, the war-mongering foreign policy establishment who are conducting this coordinated smear campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How concerned are you about Russian meddling in 2020?

GABBARD: Once again, this is not about Russia. Let's stay focused on the issue at hand here, that Hillary Clinton is labeling me as a foreign agent and a traitor.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: What do we make of this?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I mean that answer by Tulsi Gabbard was a little strange that she wouldn't say that she is concerned about potential Russian interference because there was that last cycle. There are huge fears about that heading into 2020.

KING: And there are a lot of bots on the Internet that support her. If she has nothing to do with it, that's not her fault. But she could say I have nothing to do with it.

BARRON-LOPEZ: There are a number of Russian bots. There's right-wing trolls. She's been -- Richard Spencer, a white nationalist, has said that he would vote for her and Gabbard has done very little -- and the "New York Times" has documented this well -- done very little to distance herself from this.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This is what Hillary Clinton has allowed by making this claim with no proof about Tulsi Gabbart. There are valid critiques of Tulsi Gabbard. But by saying this without proof it makes people wonder and then Tulsi Gabbard isn't able to avoid questions like that, about concerns about Russian interference in the next election because she can just miss all of it, say there are these conspiracy theories being pushed by Hillary Clinton which make people wonder what was she thinking.

KING: And look -- she has a point that who the third party candidates are is going to have a huge play on this race. President Trump can't get above 50 in many of the battleground states. But he can get to 45 and 46 and 47.

So the third party candidates again will matter. Jill stein, she also said that Jill Stein, who Hillary Clinton still blames a lot for 2016 is a Russian asset or at least was in that campaign. Jill Stein says, no way.

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JILL STEIN, 2016 GREEN PARTY PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: No, I am not a Russian spy. I think this is a completely unhinged conspiracy theory. I think it's really outrageous that Hillary Clinton is trying to promote this crazy idea. You know, you can't just slander people. You have to present some basis in fact.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SHEAR: I just think it's great that the accusation is now that Hillary Clinton is the vast left wing conspiracy that sort of echoes what she used to say in reverse. And I think it does open a kind of wound in the Democratic Party, you know, that this sort of kind of fight that there are, you know, legitimate and substantive reasons, you know, philosophical reasons that are differences between these two parts of the party. But having one of these spats is never good. KING: Whether you like her or not Secretary Clinton, you know, her experience -- she decides what she wants to talk about. She wanted to do this.

DEMIRJIAN: It's true. She did want to do this and she doesn't want to fade quietly into the wings as the new political season goes on. But I mean look, this is yet another example of how we have never been able to have a conversation about Russian interference in this country that is separated from the politics and the political egos at play.

And that is such an unfortunate waste because then you can't actually have a discussion about tactics which could involve third party candidates because everybody gets personalities involved and it goes nowhere.

KING: We'll leave it there for now.

Our reporters share from their notebooks next including an inside look at Vice President Pence and his urgent Turkey diplomacy.

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[08:48:34]

KING: Let's head one more time around the INSIDE POLITICS table and ask our great reporters to share a little something from their notebooks to help get you out ahead of the big political news just around the corner.

Kaitlan Collins.

COLLINS: So I traveled with the Vice President last week to Turkey. It was this whirlwind last-minute trip. We didn't even have a hotel. We essentially flew there.

He held these meetings with the Turkish president as the White House is facing criticism for the President's abrupt decision to withdraw troops those U.S. from northern Syria.

And it was a really interesting angle from which to watch this because the President didn't go. He sent Pence in his place. He wanted him to go nearly immediately. They ended up leaving the next day.

And it was just interesting watching Pence be in that room for so many hours negotiating with them. And then we flew home, it was probably a 12-hour flight back and as we're flying back you're already seeing those reports about potential cease-fire violations. Something that the administration has since faced criticism over.

It was just a really interesting perspective to watch it from and to see how the President sent Pence in his place to go conduct this foreign policy.

KING: Off you go. Welcome home.

Michael. SHEAR: So immigration has largely dropped off -- out of the news amid impeachment and Syria and the other news. But in a couple of weeks the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about President Trump's decision to end DACA. DACA was the Obama-era program that protects immigrants who came -- who were brought to this country as young children and essentially raised as Americans.

President Trump tried to end the program but has been blocked by the lower courts. If the Supreme Court upholds the President's decision and the program, some 800,000 undocumented immigrants could be at risk of deportation. That would be injecting the immigration issue back into the country just as the 2020 election is underway.

The Supreme Court decision could also signal what it's going to do with other sort of extreme anti-immigrant proposals by the President. The final decision will come next June just as the general election gets underway. And so as the President says, we shall see what happens.

KING: One of several collisions between the court and the election calendar. It's going be an interesting year.

Karoun.

DEMIRJIAN: Well, tomorrow the Canadians are having elections and we will see who is going to end up being prime minister and while we don't usually consider the Canadians to be that big of a deal, especially with all the other turmoil in the world, there is one thing that is kind of in the mix right now between the United States and Canada. And that is that neither of those countries have ratified the trade agreement with Mexico that has been Trump's top -- number one policy that he wants to get done.

It is probably not going to go off the rails given that -- depending on who wins the Canadian election but the fact that you're probably going to have to take until November or December before they recall the parliament there. There's been delays on this side of the fence, too. There is discontent -- specific conservatives are discontent with parts of it in Canada. We have Nancy Pelosi refusing to put it on the floor so far because there are changes that Labor wants to see here.

You have a little bit of shaking in the mix. And the more that things potentially change and shift, the more you could start to move away from what the original agreement was in the margins. And that is a potentially big deal when you are talking about who stands to benefit from this and where they vote in the country and what that means for 2020.

[08:55:02]

KING: I think Mick Mulvaney said it this past week. Elections have a consequences. He said it in a different context but they do.

Laura. BARRON-LOPEZ: So I'm heading to Iowa this coming week because the League of United Latin-American Citizens is hosting a presidential forum. Bernie Sanders is going to be there, Julian Castro, Beto O'Rourke.

And so what's interesting about this group is that they're trying to register tens of thousands of Latinos ahead of the Iowa Democratic caucus hoping that that group could have some sway in who ultimately Democrats put on top there but a lot of other candidates are going to be in Iowa this week as well.

Joe Biden is going to be there. Kamala Harris is going to be there. So they're definitely trying to pay -- attention to this state as we're only four months away.

KING: 100-day mark. 100-day mark to Iowa coming up -- closer than you think. Closer than you think.

I'm going to close with a bit more on what a lot of Republicans call a turning point week. At a dinner Wednesday night, Mitch McConnell shot down the idea that perhaps Republicans would have no choice but to censure President Trump. Quote, "shot it down hard", according to a source familiar with that dinner conversation.

But the majority leader did tell his GOP colleagues they need to prepare for a serious impeachment trial. And there was an unmistakable shift in the Republican mood this past week.

Again a lot of the open anger at the President is about Syria. But politicians study the polls and support for impeachment is rising. Plus the testimony about Rudy Giuliani's Ukraine meddling makes serious Republicans nervous. And the Mick Mulvaney briefing was unnerving, proved to many Republicans on Capitol Hill that Team Trump is woefully unprepared for the storm ahead.

That is it for INSIDE POLITICS. Hope you can catch us week days as well. We are here at noon Eastern.

Don't go anywhere. A busy "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper up next. Jake talks with the former CIA director David Petraeus and two 2020 candidates -- Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday. Have a great day.

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