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INSIDE POLITICS

Supreme Court Hears Arguments in Consequential DACA Case; Former Trump Campaign Aide Testifies in Roger Stone Trial; Biden Renews Attacks Against Warren and An Elitist Attitude; Bloomberg Files To Be on the Arkansas 2020 Ballot; Former Massachusetts Governor Considers 2020 Run. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 12, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


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[12:30:25] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Dramatic and heated day today at the Supreme Court where the justices' arguments on the Obama era program known as DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Many recipients of that program often called Dreamers, you see them there rallying outside the court in the rain today, chanting and singing. The Trump administration ended the DACA program back in 2017 arguing it was unlawful and unconstitutional. It's become, of course, a very heated political flashpoint and that was clear today. Liberal justices are hammering the administration on how it ended the program and its justification for doing so.

CNN's Joan Biskupic joins our conversation just back from the court. Take us inside the courtroom. Often you listen to the justices, you get clues. Sometimes they deliberately confuse you. What did you learn?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Yes. So a lot of drama at the Supreme Court. I'll tell you, there was clarity from two sides of the bench. There were a couple justices on the far-right and a couple justices on the left who made clear where they stand. And they were sort of predictable, justices like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor not liking the way the Trump administration has tried to rescind this Obama era program. Then, of course, you had justices on the far-right, Niel Gorsuch, Samuel Alito to an extent and Brett Kavanaugh kind of cast in a little bit of that way joined presumably by Clarence Thomas who already has shown that he's on that side. And right smack in the middle is the man who is physically in the middle of the bench when you go in there and you look up, it's John Roberts.

Now, John Roberts voted against a version of this program back in 2016 when it was parents of U.S. citizens whose deportation was being deferred. And in a couple different turns, he mentioned the fact that the administration might have been right to believe that this childhood arrivals program known as DACA would be unlawful the way the parental program was. But he didn't fully tip his hand. And he asked questions about the latitude for the attorney general and agency heads in this, and also about consequences because he actually asked some questions about consequences. And one other caution I would give here is that the chief doesn't fully show his hand. And last term, at the end of the census case, we were all ready to say that he was siding with the Trump administration about the citizenship query, and, indeed, he was, but he changed his vote at the last minute. So in the immortal words of some justices and some sports figures, it ain't over until it's over.

KING: So we wait probably until June. Just a reminder, this is about 700,000 or 800,000 people, it's a rough math, you have to enter the -- under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 entered the United States before your 16th birthday, continued to reside in the United States since 2007, physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012. In school, graduated or honorably discharged from the military, no significant convictions. Just a reminder of the universe of people here which are getting older now as this goes on and on and on.

But as we wait for the court decision, there's some irony, you write about this in your book and covered this story that Jeff Sessions, the attorney general who is now trying a comeback, was central to this. Let's just go back in time and listen.

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JEFF SESSIONS, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: The executive branch through DACA deliberately sought to achieve what the legislative branch specifically refused to authorize on multiple occasions. Such an open-ended circumvention of immigration laws was an unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Back in the days when Jeff Sessions and the president were simpatico especially on this big issue.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. I mean, what you heard there is the central argument that the Trump administration initially made for ending DACA which was purely it was unconstitutional. And that was in part because Elaine Duke who was then the acting secretary of Homeland Security refused to sign on to policy reasons for ending the program. And that was one of the weaknesses at the heart of the Trump administration's case, and in the end if the justices do end up saying that the Trump administration was wrong to rescind it, it could be because of that. Because it wasn't until the following June, June of 2018, that they put forth actual policy reasons for ending the program. So that will be interesting to see whether that is at all persuasive to the justices.

BISKUPIC: Yes. And one point I have to say, the majority appeared to agree that if they go back -- say they do send it back, which is a really big if, but if they do, the majority says that the administration can roll this back, it just has to do it the proper way.

DAVIS: Right. It's all about how they did it.

KING: The president saying again on a tweet today and he said this many, many times that if the court rules against him, he'll find a solution with the Democrats. That's what he said. Again, he said that many times before and a solution on this one has proven more than elusive.

Appreciate the context on the conversation.

[12:35:00] Coming up, brand new revelations in the Roger Stone trial today from a former top Trump campaign aide.

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[12:40:03] KING: Topping our political radar today, the former President Jimmy Carter recovering from a brain operation today at a hospital in Atlanta. The Carter Center says the procedure was necessary to relieve pressure causing bleeding. That bleeding related to his recent falls. President Carter fell twice last month, crashing his pelvis and cutting his forehead and he broke his hip back in May. We certainly wish the former president best

To the Roger Stone trial now where the prosecution has rested its case after a morning of headline-grabbing testimony. In the hot seat today, Rick Gates, the former deputy chairman of the Trump campaign. Gates revealing new details about then-candidate Trump's reaction on dumps of information from WikiLeaks. That testimony flying in the face of repeated denials by both Roger Stone and President Trump that they had ever discussed WikiLeaks.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz joins us now live from outside of the courthouse. It sounds like a dramatic day before the prosecution rests.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It really was, and he was the key witness for the prosecution and essentially they ended their case by having him testify, John. And what it essentially did is linked Donald Trump right to the conversations concerning WikiLeaks. What Rick Gates testified to, and let me go ahead and show you some of this, is that he said that basically Trump and Roger Stone were having conversations about WikiLeaks. The prosecutor asking Rick Gates, "After Mr. Trump got off the phone with Mr. Stone, what did Trump say?" And Gates said, "He indicated more information would be coming."

Now, this was a conversation that happened back in July of 2016, July 31st. In an SUV with Rick Gates, Donald Trump and Secret Service agents on their way to LaGuardia Airport and that is when Donald Trump received a call from Roger Stone that indicated that there was going to be more dumps coming, more information out of WikiLeaks. And that is what Rick Gates testified to.

And I want to just recall for everyone, bring everyone back to the Mueller investigation. This was a key point in the Mueller investigation. In fact, it was a question that Mueller had asked Donald Trump, writing in a written question to Donald Trump asking if he had any conversations with Roger Stone or anyone else regarding WikiLeaks. And basically Donald Trump says that he did not recall having those conversations. Rick Gates, on the other hand, said, yes, these conversations did take place. Donald Trump in the written questions that he submitted and the answers that he submitted to Mueller said, "I don't recall those conversations."

This trial essentially ending on that note. The prosecution and the defense now is expected to rest this afternoon. Stone is not expected to testify, but obviously the big thing here now is that we have Donald Trump being linked directly to the conversations concerning WikiLeaks.

John?

KING: The issue that appears will never go away. Shimon Prokupecz, I appreciate the live reporting today and throughout the week through the Roger Stone trial. Keep us up to date.

Up next for us, Joe Biden's case against elitism and the rival he has in mind as he makes it. And you know that old cliche about imitation and flattery?

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JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Come on, man.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Come on, man.

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[12:48:19] KING: Joe Biden drawing on his blue collar routes to draw a sharp contrast with rival Elizabeth Warren. At a CNN town hall last night, Biden on the one hand insisting this isn't personal. But on the other saying Warren in his view risks alienating critical voters when she says things like she knows its best to eliminate private health insurance to instead move to a government-run Medicare for All.

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BIDEN: The attitude that we know better than ordinary people what's in their interest. I know more than you, let me tell you what to do. And it wasn't elitist, it's just the attitude was elitist. Where I come from growing up in a middle-class neighborhood, the last thing I liked is people telling my family and me what we should know, what we should believed. And that somehow we weren't informed that we just because we didn't have money, we weren't knowledgeable. I resent that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It was a much more personal way to get at the argument to give people a choice. And a lot of people think this is one of the reasons Donald Trump is president. That a lot blue collar workers think nobody in Washington, no politician understands me, they won't listen to me, they think they're smarter than me, they want to tell me what to do. Is he onto something? JULIE PACE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I do think he is tapping into a sentiment that certainly resonated with voters who moved from Democrats to Trump. What's interesting about it is they looked at some of the arguments the Obama administration was making on ObamaCare and actually felt the same way as what Biden is saying about Medicare for All right now. And Biden is doing this strategically, of course, because some of his argument about electability is base on his -- what he believes his ability to bring some of those voters back. Warren, of course thinks that her plan is best for bringing some of those voters back.

So it is all focused on this one packet of voters and I think that Biden though is trying to find the right way to make this argument without appearing as though he's getting too personal on Warren because he's getting a little bit of criticism that he's walking right up to the mine.

[12:50:14] KING: And yet, how do you do that. How do you do that? And he says it's not about her, it's about her attitude, or I'm talking about elitism, not about her. But you're talking about her as he is again here.

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BIDEN: Imagine if I said to her, well, you should be in a Republican primary, or you should be in a socialist primary. Biden is being bum, bum, bum, right? You'd all say that. You know him.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Well, do you think she should?

BIDEN: No.

BURNETT: OK.

BIDEN: I'm not going to get in a fight. Just look, I think the plan is being offered is not an irrational plan, it's not unreasonable but tell us what it means for people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That's, you know, I don't like your plan. I don't think you're selling it to people. That's personal.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It is personal. I think for Joe Biden though, if you like Joe Biden, some of his supporters have wanted to see a little bit more fight from him, a little more fire from him. That's what we're seeing here, and I didn't expect -- I'm not sure the Biden campaign expected this would crystallize around Medicare for All.

But it has a variety of things. He's talking about, a, defending the Obama legacy. He's talking about, b, not taking something away from you. And he is drawing a very personal distinction between Professor Warren which he basically is saying not Senator Warren and himself.

Who knows how this actually plays with all voters. I could see it have just a drip of the condescension of, you're likable enough, Hillary. We all remember that moment from 2008. But at the same time, it may resonate with some voters who in Iowa and other places who have deep questions about Elizabeth Warren's plan here.

So, it's fascinating to watch this play out. I think that will be front and center next week on the debate stage when once again they're standing side by side. We've not seen them side by side since this conversation began at the last debate.

KING: And on the flip side she says, look, it's hard to have big structural change. And I'm willing to take the fight and I'm willing to take the harpoons that come with it, I think we have to have this big structural change. That's the argument she makes knowing it's risky. Among them, she's been kind of mocking billionaires of late. She said yesterday, so sad, so sad, they might have to pay two cents out of their bazillion dollars.

Last night, on ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT, Leon Cooperman, one of those billionaires said, easy.

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LEON COOPERMAN, Billionaire Investor: What is the purpose of vilifying successful people that have done well for society? I don't get it. She can say that wealthy people should pay more in taxes. I happen to agree with that. I believe very strong in the progressive income tax structure. I believe rich people should pay more, but why she criticizes wealthy, it's just for political gain.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's an interesting debate because you have Jamie Dimon, Michael Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, right there. Mr. Cooperman is saying, we're happy to pay more, but we also create jobs. Stop beating us up.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm sure Warren probably thinks all these criticisms from billionaires should be an in-kind donation to her campaign because she's using this as a strategy to say, you know, the billionaires don't like me because I'm going to make life a little bit harder for them so that I can give the vast majority of Americans free healthcare and free education and free pre- K. And she's talking about what she can do with all of that money and less so much about the hurt feelings of billionaires who are going to have to pay more.

KING: We'll watch it play. And as Jeff notes, the debate up next week.

And next, as more Democrats -- yes, more Democrats considering jumping in to the 2020 race, another cast gets smaller. Sean Spicer just eliminated from "Dancing With the Stars." Listen closely here to the lyrics, "Spice Up Your Life".

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [12:58:15] KING: All right, some 2020 lightning round developments before we go. The former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg in Little Rock, Arkansas this hour, and he just tweeted this to tell us why he's there. "Officially filed in Arkansas to be on the ballot for the Democratic primary. We must defeat Trump. He has failed us at every term."

Bloomberg's late entry there. And also there's word on cnn.com, (INAUDIBLE) in the New York Times, "Deval Patrick, ex-governor of Massachusetts Considering 2020 Presidential Race" Decision there could come by Thursday. What is in the Democratic water, they started with 20 something, they're down to 17 or 18 but we want more?

ZELENY: I mean, one thing is there's not a lot of clamoring from voters that we've spoken to that they want the field to get better. They actually want it to get smaller. But Michael Bloomberg has been thinking about being president for a long time. He didn't have to go to Arkansas today. He could have sent his aides as he did on Friday in Alabama, but he wanted to make the point that he is almost serious about -- he is serious about it but almost in. He's having lunch later this afternoon with the mayor of Little Rock, African-American mayor, the city's first. So, certainly that's an interesting.

Deval Patrick, we think he will announce by Thursday if he's going to do this and be in New Hampshire by Friday because that is the deadline.

PACE: That's the filing deadline. We're in a situation right now where these candidates have to deal with reality which is at these filing deadlines for this early states are upon us so they're having to sort of jump ahead of where they actually are in the decision- making process. But they got to make a move soon --

KING: And so Bloomberg and Patrick are different guys but both executive, both thinking the same, they think Biden is going to collapse and no else has taken off, and Sanders and Warren are too liberal. Is that where were at here? That's their thinking?

OLORUNNIPA: This moderate lane that has been clogged up by Biden and Klobuchar and Buttigieg but apparently, people on the outside think that none of those will be able to actually win against a Warren or a Sanders so they're anointing themselves as the potential white knight to come in and win that moderate lane.

KING: I will take Bloomberg, you're right, (INAUDIBLE) forever. The fact that he's actually on the road and on camera tells me he's really serious this time. We shall see.

Thanks for joining us today on the INSIDE POLITICS. Big hearing day tomorrow, be back with us but don't go anywhere today. Brianna Keilar starts right now. Have a great afternoon.

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