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INSIDE POLITICS

Dramatic Week of Testimony in Impeachment Inquiry; New CNN Poll: Buttigieg Emerges As Iowa Frontrunner; Obama Issues Warning to Dem Candidates; Patrick Jumps In, is Bloomberg Next?; Stone is Fifth Trump Insider to be convicted or Plead Guilty. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired November 17, 2019 - 08:00   ET

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


[08:00:25]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN KING, CNN HOST (voice-over): Damning impeachment testimony.

DANIEL GOLDMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE LEAD LAWYER: Did you feel threatened?

MARIE YAVONOVITCH, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I did.

WILLIAM TAYLOR, ACTING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: It was illogical, could not be explained, it was crazy.

KING: Plus, the fight for public opinion.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Once again, their lies will be exposed just like the last times.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): The president has admitted to and says it's perfect. I say it's perfectly wrong. It's bribery.

KING: And a big change in Iowa. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is now running first in the state that votes first.

MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, that's extremely encouraging, obviously. At the same time, there's a long way to go.

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.

In a bit, some very big campaign news. A new Democrat leads the pack in Iowa, which kicks off the 2020 voting in just 11 weeks.

But first, the impeachment hearings. There was eye-popping testimony in the week just ended and the prospects for even more consequential witnesses and revelations in the week ahead.

The Trump political donor- turned-ambassador to the European Union is one of this week's public witnesses, and Gordon Sondland is at a crossroads. In private testimony, he told Congress this, under oath and under penalty of perjury, quote, I recall no discussions with any State Department or White House official about former Vice President Biden or his son, nor do I recall taking part in any effort to encourage an investigation into the Bidens. That is Ambassador Sondland.

But a senior U.S. diplomat now says he was with Sondland in Ukraine when he called President Trump, told him he had just met with a new government in Kiev and that it had agreed to launch the investigations the president had requested. That diplomat, David Holmes, testified Ambassador Sondland held the phone away from his ear at a public restaurant and he clearly heard the president asking about investigations. After the call, Holmes says Ambassador Sondland told him, when it comes to Ukraine, President Trump cares only about, quote, big stuff that benefits the ft like the Biden investigation Mr. Giuliani was pushing.

So, Ambassador Sondland, well, he has some explaining to do in the week ahead. Mr. Giuliani had a starring role in the week just ended. Giuliani orchestrated a smear campaign that costs the ambassador Marie Yovanovitch her job. In compelling testimony Friday, Yovanovitch told Congress the U.S. embassy team was alarmed to see Mayor Giuliani pop up in Ukraine, working with the corrupt forces she and her team had worked for years to push to the sideline.

More alarming, she said, was when she received a 1:00 a.m. call from the State Department telling her she was being removed, to get on the next plane home, that Giuliani had swayed her client, the president. In her words, she was knee-capped. And U.S. policy in Ukraine, again her words, hijacked.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOVANOVITCH: Although then and now, I have always understood that I served at the pleasure of the president. I still find it difficult to comprehend that foreign and private interests were able to undermine U.S. interests in this way. Our Ukraine policy has been thrown into disarray and shady interests the world over have learned how little it takes to remove an American ambassador who does not give them what they want.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: With us this Sunday to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson, Michael Bender of "The Wall Street Journal", Karoun Demirjian of "The Washington Post" and Julie Hirschfeld Davis of "The New York Times."

The ambassador was compelling. She connects it to Giuliani. There are other witnesses who will connect Giuliani to the president. But you had this dramatic testimony. Republicans said, why is she here to the Democrats, she is the beginning of what they say is the corrupt abuse of power. Get her out of the day and do what you want to do.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: She's also the beginning for the Democrats of the story of how this had to cost. She is first human victim of what they say Trump was doing and trying to leverage Ukraine and then the aid and the White House, et cetera, to be able to get these politically advantageous investigations and Yovanovitch was the first person that people believe it was a smear campaign that pushed her out of office. And the GOP is trying to push back against that.

And you saw, if you were watching, you saw a person who spoke clearly, clearly was feelings about it. That if you're Republicans, you were brushing her off for that reason. But if you're looking for -- to convince the public, you can have a very lawyerly argument and that is very important.

It also matters to have people that can make you feel something about this. And politics is about feelings more than it is about a ledger.

[08:05:01]

And so that is what her role was in this, and I think that Democrats thought that she did really well. She got a standing ovation from the lay people.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes, and Donald Trump himself clearly felt something while he was watching that, tweeting, essentially smearing her even more during the testimony. Something that Adam Schiff brought to the attention of the witness there. She said she was intimidated by the president smearing her and smearing her record of 30 years serving this country abroad.

So, you had -- I also thought, you know, people watched Wednesday and Bill Taylor was a great witness, but it was very detailed, very much in the weeds of sort of a timeline of months of what he saw. And she was painting this in broad strokes, this idea that she was one of the good ones, right? She was fighting corruption in Ukraine and then, all of a sudden, she had these folks that were on the other side, including Donald Trump, who were pushing to get her out of there, right? Somebody who was a champion of anti-corruption efforts.

The president wants to say that he was fighting corruption. Why was he fighting against the person who was actually fighting corruption on the ground there?

KING: It's a great point. And you mentioned the president's tweet. The president did not do anything about Ambassador Kent and Ambassador Taylor were testifying. The president was silent during the testimony. And of his tweets were the normal witch hunt tweets.

But he directly went after Ambassador Yovanovitch when she was testifying, which blew up the Republican strategy. The Republican strategy was, we had these two witnesses the other day, we have this one witness on Friday, we're going to pretend there's no "there" there and hopefully go into the weekend, the American people lose interest and they stop watching. The president ginned this up, which meant the Internet exploded, which

meant Republicans in the room had to back off. They were planning to be gentle to begin with, but they backed off even more.

Listen here, two Republican voices here, an independent counsel who knows something about impeachment and a former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is a Republican saying, Mr. President, bad play.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEN STARR, FORMER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Extraordinarily poor judgment. The president frequently says I follow my instincts. Sometimes we have to control our instincts. So, obviously, this was I think quite injurious.

MIKE ROGERS (R), FORMER CHAIRMAN, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: He is not helping himself. And the only time he's not shooting himself in the foot is when he's reloading the gun. He has just made an art of screwing up any messaging for the Republicans to put together.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Republicans were not happy.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, and for one -- for a lot of reasons, but you mentioned before that their whole play here was to show that she's tan general, there's no "there" there. She -- you know, this is -- I think Devin Nunes called it an employment disagreement. Democrats' job was to show that it was much more than that, this was part of the president actually bullying his own ambassador in real-time and they didn't really have to do much to prove that because he actually did it again during the hearing.

And so, that just sort of dispensed with what their argument was going to be and showed people really the confrontation that occurred here, that nobody had really known about. She's talking about it, he's tweeting about it in real-time.

The other thing that she did in addition to putting a human face, is she was quite articulate and concise in the way this geo-politically this hurt the United States. This wasn't just, you know, something that happened to her. She talked about how this played right into Putin's hands, showed the world that it's easy to just shove aside an American diplomat who you disagree with.

That's all -- those are all things that hurt the United States, not just hurt her personally. And the president's reaction here I think underscored that.

KING: And part of the Republican argument was you never spoke to the president. They're trying to distance the president from anything. If Giuliani did bad things, if Ambassador Sondland did bad things, well, the president wasn't involved, which is what makes Sondland key. I just want to show -- the witnesses this week, you get first in the hearing here -- you're going to have Jennifer Williams, Alexander Vindman, Kurt Volker, Tim Morrison, people whose names aren't known mostly at home but behind the scenes very critical players. But the president's envoy, Mr. Volker, Morrison, Williams, and Alexander Vindman worked in the National Security Council, behind the scenes.

And then you get to Ambassador Sondland later in the week. He is key here. But some of the building blocks to Sondland laid by Williams and Morrison, their transcripts of their private testimony were at least over the weekend.

This from Mr. Morrison, he described Ambassador Sondland as a problem. He said irregular diplomat process was chiefly led by Sondland. He said he was not comfortable with any idea of Zelensky, the new Ukrainian president, getting involved in politics and did not anything in the 25th call was illegal, but was worried that it would leak and it would blow up the bipartisan support of Ukraine because president would see the president asking for help with the Bidens.

Jennifer Williams who worked as an aide to Vice President Pence, she thought the July 25th call was unusual and inappropriate. She confirmed that Burisma, the gas company, was discussed on the call, but it was omitted from the transcript the White House released. And she said that Bolton, of course, was involved with the vice president.

But the idea that Sondland gets this to the president. And Morrison, a deputy working in the West Wing, says they viewed Sondland was a problem.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": There's a lot of pressure building on Sondland and what his testimony is going to be and how he's going to present. And to tie some of this together, I mean, Yovanovitch, Trump's own administration knew that she was a sympathetic character for the better part of a year. They tried to slow walk his demand to fire her several times until he got frustrated enough where they couldn't protect her anymore.

[08:10:05]

We saw that on Friday, what a compelling witness she is. You have Bill Taylor, you talk about Alex Vindman, these are career officials, career diplomats who have taken hardship posts, who are recipients of Purple Hearts, recipients of Bronze Stars -- the very definition of compelling witness.

Now, giving Trump side has been Gordon Sondland, who is you know, we've already had questions come up about his testimony behind closed doors already. And you look at his background. He is a hotelier who raised money for a Democratic governor in Oregon, got a spot on the state's film and TV commission. He raised money for Romney and got a spot on the transition committee, he raised money for Trump, got a post to E.U. ambassador.

He's the definition of the swamp that Trump swore in 2016 to his voters that he would drain once he got to Washington.

KING: And, again, Sondland key to linking the president to this. This is from Tim Morrison's testimony and he'll testify publicly in the week ahead, and Sondland understood his responsibilities to be doing what the president asked him to do.

Morrison, he related to me he was acting and discussing these matters with the president. And in fact, every time you went to check to see whether he had in fact talked to the president, you found that he had talked to the president. Yes, Mr. Chairman. So there you have not a never Trumper and a West Wing employee on the national security council saying they were worried about Sondland. He kept saying he was acting on the president's behalf.

Tim Morrison said he checked and yes, he had spoken to the president. So that is the big pressure on Sondland as we get to the week ahead.

The impeachment hearing stunts and the courtroom-like over the facts.

As we go to break, the Democratic chairman leading the inquiry went home to California Saturday. His politics, no secret.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We are more than a resistance now. We are a majority. We are a majority in one House and we will become the majority in the other, and we will send -- we will send that charlatan in the White House back to the golden throne he came from.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:15:42]

KING: Impeachment is a political process, not a legal trial. But the hearings are providing some courtroom like drama, as both parties try to rebut key arguments and shape public opinion. Priority one, two and three for the president's defenders is to keep Republicans in line. A key piece of that is to accuse the Democrats of stacking the deck.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): I yield to you, Ms. Stefanik.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): Thank you, Mr. Nunes.

Ambassador Yovanovitch, thank you for being here today.

SCHIFF: The gentlewoman will suspend. The gentlewoman will suspend.

STEFANIK: What is the interruption for this time? It is our time.

SCHIFF: The gentlewoman will suspend. You're not recognized.

Mr. Nunes, your minority counsel --

NUNES: I just recognized --

SCHIFF: Under House res 660 you're not allowed to yield time except to minority counsel.

STEFANIK: The ranking member yielded time to another member of Congress.

SCHIFF: No, no, that is accurate.

STEFANIK: This is the fifth time you have interrupted members of Congress, duly elected members of Congress.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That was a stunt, stunt, stunt, clearly against the hearing rules passed by the full House. But it was a hit with the Trump- friendly media, especially Trump-friendly social media.

Here the Republican counsel makes what seems to be a very important point. If the president wanted to do improper things in Ukraine, why did the State Department replace Ambassador Yovanovitch with veteran diplomat Bill Taylor?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEVE CASTOR, HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE MINORITY COUNSEL: Is Ambassador Taylor the type of person that would facilitate those objectives?

YOVANOVITCH: No.

CASTOR: So Ambassador Taylor is a man of high integrity.

YOVANOVITCH: Absolutely.

CASTOR: And he's a good pick for the post?

YOVANOVITCH: He is.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It took a while, a couple of hours, in fact, but the House Democrats eventually countered. During the month between Yovanovitch leaving and Taylor getting to Ukraine, the president's so-called three amigos stepped in for several meetings with the new Ukraine government.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): The one month gap between the time you left and when Ambassador Taylor arrived provided the perfect opportunity for another group of people to basically take over Ukraine policy, isn't that right?

YOVANOVITCH: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That part is fascinating to watch, in that there's a dispute over some facts, there's the stunt at the beginning which is the attempt to keep politics in line. But watching the give and take, essentially seeing who are the most nimble -- not all of them are lawyers, but who are the most nimble lawyers in the hearing.

DEMIRJIAN: Right, and Democrats do have a lot of lawyers on their side. The thing is that you have to be able to take your brain out and turn it 90 degrees to see things from different angles. The facts are not that much in dispute. There are elements that the GOP has not accepted yet because they are from closed door testimonies that haven't come out, et cetera, and there's questions about the relevance of the different facts.

But the main dispute is what is the intent, and who was really driving the intent, was it Trump or was it people who were working for him but freelancing, and were they communicating the president's actual message, and was this nefarious or was it just in the course of trying to fight corruption in Ukraine. That means that you have to take the same things and make a different case. So it requires fast thinking when someone lands a good punch from the other side to counter it, because it's anathema to the way you're viewing those facts, and that's the dispute that's at play here.

KING: To that point, the Republican argument on Friday, Ambassador Yovanovitch was compelling, she's a mentor to women and men in the foreign service. She's making the case we finally start to push corruption to the side and up pops Rudy Giuliani. Republicans are saying, you never talk to the president, you serve at the pleasure of the president, there's a new government is coming in.

Why wouldn't that be the perfect opportunity for the president to have a new advisor? The Democratic chairman said, oh, no.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: The beginning of the story is an effort to get you out of the way. Giuliani has made it abundantly clear he was in Ukraine on a mission for his client, for the president to investigate the Bidens. And you were viewed as an obstacle that had to go. Not just by Giuliani, but by the president of the United States.

There is no camouflaging that corrupt intent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Zero indication on the table today that any House Republicans are moving. We'll watch them. We'll watch them. My question is a week from now -- we don't know today and we won't know. These things take a while to settle in.

As the American people watch this sparring back and forth, who carries the day and do the numbers move in America? Sorry.

HENDERSON: You know, it's unclear, right? Democrats made some headway in terms of changing the numbers in the lead-up to this over these last couples of weeks as they were doing closed door depositions and the transcripts leaking. [08:20:07]

So they sort of got it to essentially 50/50, right, a little under water in some of the swing states. But it's a process. Bill Taylor started off and a lot of people maybe thought that wasn't compelling TV, Yovanovitch much better. And then I think next week, you're going to have folks who talk to the president. You're going to have folks who were leery and wary of Giuliani's role in this. So, we'll see.

But it's clear I think that people are tuning in and it's also clear that Republicans have some weaknesses in terms of a fact pattern and also some people who are arguing whatever case they're trying to make. Their Republican -- the lawyer isn't as strong, for instance, as the Democratic lawyer. I think Nunes himself not a lawyer, Adam Schiff is obvious a Harvard trained lawyer and former prosecutor. So they've got some weaknesses in their case and we're relying on talking points and stunts to gin up the base.

KING: One of their talking points, you can believe it at home or accept it, is that maybe all these nefarious things happened and maybe the president shouldn't have asked for the investigation or withheld the aid, but they eventually got the aid. They never announced the investigation. So where's the big deal?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN RATCLIFFE (R-TX): What did President Zelensky actually do to get the aid? The answer is nothing. He didn't do any of the things that House Democrats say that he was being forced and coerced and threatened to do.

SCHIFF: Some have argued in the president's defense that the aid was ultimately released, and that is true, but only after Congress began an investigation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHIFF: Again, more of the sparring and the Democratic point being, attempted extortion, bribery, whatever you want to call it, is a crime, even if it didn't get to the finish line.

DAVIS: I mean, I think, Nia is right, like the fact pattern for Republicans, it's just more difficult. There's all these pieces that Democrats are putting in place that show you it's not illegal for the president to withdraw his ambassador or to call back his ambassador. That's fully within a president's rights.

But if the reason that he did it was to get down the road to making this inappropriate sort of conditionality with the aid and with the White House meeting and the investigations that he wanted, they are going to argue that's bad enough. Republicans need to push back. And what we see them doing is giving people, giving voters, the public something to hang their hats on if they want to excuse this conduct. The aid did eventually flow and the president does have the right to recall an ambassador. All of those things are true. I think the issue for Democrats is how are they going to move the needle on any of this, because Trump's base is so convinced that he did nothing wrong. A lot of other voters in the middle kind of don't know. It's so confusing. There are so many complexities here. They have to really simplify this and boil this down.

And I think that's why we hear them using words like bribery, words like coercion, things you see in the Constitution to sort of signal to people that, no, actually, it's not that complicated. This is a simple matter of right and wrong.

KING: Which is back to the president's tweet, he may have hurt himself by ginning up interest in the hearings as they continue by doing that.

We'll come back to this a bit later. Up next, a big 2020 campaign twist. Iowa Democrats have a new favorite.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:26:17]

KING: A dramatic new campaign change today as the Democrats prepare for a big debate this week. Pete Buttigieg is now the leader in Iowa, which gets the 2020 voting under way in just 11 weeks. Let's take a look at the new numbers of our CNN/Des Moines Register poll here.

Look at this, Mayor Buttigieg on top with 25 percent, Elizabeth Warren at 16 percent, Joe Biden 15 percent, Bernie Sanders, 15 percent, Amy Klobuchar rounds out the top five at 6 percent.

Mayor Buttigieg on top. Look at the change since we last polled in Iowa in September. Plus 16 for Mayor Buttigieg. That is giant, up from 9 to 25.

Elizabeth Warren drops 6 to 16. The vice president, former vice president dropped a little bit. Bernie Sanders actually came up a little bit. Amy Klobuchar doubling from 3 to 6.

But look at that, 16 points from September to now, a big surge for Mayor Buttigieg. Why is this happening? A more moderate electorate in the Iowa caucuses. We tend to think of them as liberals.

But look at this right now, 63 percent say candidates' views are about right, 63 percent of likely caucusgoers say that about Pete Buttigieg, 55 percent say that about the former vice president. Lower numbers for the more progressive or liberal candidates in the race. An interesting dynamic to keep watching.

Senator Warren has been under attack, Medicare-for-All. Other Democrats say her entire agenda is too liberal to sell to the country. Those attacks are having an impact.

Look at what's happened. In March, 23 percent of likely caucusgoers said Senator Warren was too liberal, 38 percent say that now. So, watch the debate next week. Senator Warren slipping a bit in part because even Iowa Democrats

thinking maybe she's a little too liberal. That is a problem for her after all these attacks. We'll see how she adjust.

If you ask Iowa Democrats what's most important, they still want to beat president Trump. That's why there's good news for Vice President Biden in this poll, more than half of likely caucusgoers say he's the strongest against Trump. Mayor Buttigieg comes in second, tied with Senator Warren there and Senator Sanders here.

Mayor Buttigieg has a boost right now. He was in California over the weekend and he knows a majority in some states, 60 percent of the Democratic primary voters will be women. Listen here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BUTTIGIEG: Women are the backbone of every important social change in this country. And I have committed to ensuring that the cabinet of the United States when I am your president will be at least 50 percent women, because then it will make better decisions for the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: It's a good day for Mayor Pete. Eleven weeks, again, sometimes the campaign is getting drowned out by the impeachment debate. Iowa votes in 11 weeks. That's quicker than you think.

HENDERSON: Yes. I mean, this is good news for Mayor Pete Buttigieg. I think a lot of the campaign saw this coming. I talked to a bunch of the campaigns weeks ago and it was like who has the momentum in Iowa, and it was clear that it was Pete and this shows it.

And I think it also shows that the attacks that have been launched by Mayor Pete Buttigieg and by Joe Biden and as well as Bernie Sanders on Elizabeth Warren are working. You see her slide in Iowa and the concern may be in the general election, she wouldn't be as competitive as some of the other folks.

I think if you're Pete, this is good news, but there are some red flags going forward. This is a state that's largely white. Can he compete in states that are much more diverse, in the South, bigger states? That's still an Achilles heel. He isn't connecting with the base of the Democratic Party.

KING: The good question is, when he gets attention for leading in a poll like this, that if he could Iowa, does it help him in another states? That's a giant question to go forward.

As this plays out, as Democrats have a debate, what do we want? Before you pick who you want, what do we want? How far left do we want to go, somebody in the middle?

[08:29:41]

KING: The voice of Obama, which has been largely missing from the primary, is back. The president over the weekend doing a big event with Democratic donors and saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even as we push the envelope and we are bold in our vision, we also have to be rooted in reality. This is still a country that is less revolutionary than it is interested in improvement. They like seeing things improve, but every American doesn't think that we have to completely tear down the system and remake it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Pretty easy to read that as a shot at Warren and Sanders -- that you're proposing too much, too fast and you can't sell it.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Right. I think this is the big dispute within the Democratic Party is that the base that is more left leaning wants to tear things down and completely start it up again because they don't see the step-wise small motions that happen, even during the Obama administration, as having fixed systems enough to actually improve economic prospects, improve health care enough that it's actually improving everybody's livelihood right now.

And so that is the dispute within the Democratic Party. And, you know, Obama is clearly speaking for a large portion of the party that's more moderate, that does not want to go as far as Warren is suggesting, doesn't know how you'll pay for it even, if you decide to do all those changes.

And the big question is, you know -- two big questions, one, where is the middle for the Democrats. And also, is Obama still right?

KING: Right.

DEMIRJIAN: Obama was president years ago at this point. What followed him Was Trumpism. Trumpism is not moving toward the center. Trumpism is moving towards the opposite of that and does that mean the Democrats should go in the same direction or still try to hold the center? Would Obama be Obama today the way he was before?

And nobody can answer that question yet. And that's the lens -- you don't know which lens to view these things.

KING: But it is interesting though because he is such a rare voice. He stays quiet. He stays out of it. He's decided he should mostly stay out of it.

That is a message. That is a distinct message. And you've seen Senator Warren in the past week talk about the transition period for Medicare for all. Some see that as her effort to get everybody to calm down, this won't be as disruptive as you think.

Senator Sanders just yesterday saying no. Some of these changes are 30 years overdue. We're going to do them. So even among the progressives that you might think are Obama's target, there's somewhat different reactions.

MICHAEL BENDER, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": And President Obama's comments here are also sort of the good news-bad news for Buttigieg. Mayor Buttigieg has come off as a very thoughtful, articulate moderate voice in the party but he's 37 years old, he's a Harvard grad, he's openly gay -- things that you might put in sort of like the revolutionary bucket for a president.

Meanwhile, the race is not consolidating behind Buttigieg. It's getting larger. We saw entries from Deval Patrick, from Mike Bloomberg, you know. And these are people who view themselves as moderate voices in the party, right. And sort of expressing concerns, same as Obama, that we see much more inside the Beltway than we do out in America right now.

I mean your poll, a lot of polls have shown enthusiasm for the current field pretty high. I mean, your poll showed 73 percent of people said they were very enthusiastic, or extremely enthusiastic about who their first or second choice was, up 5 points from September.

That is not why Bloomberg and Patrick are getting in this race. But they might --

KING: They might see an opening down the road. We shall see.

BENDER: Right. Yes.

KING: It's a fascinating moment in the campaign trail.

To that point, our "Sunday Trail Mix" is next including those newcomers Michael just mentioned now hoping to shake up the Democratic race even more.

[08:33:13]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: President Trump sending a very early morning tweet about his visit to Walter Reed Hospital on Saturday. The tweet calls it phase 1 of his yearly physical and adds that everything is great and the rest will be completed next year. The President also visited the family of another patient while at Walter Reed.

Presidential visits to the hospital usually scripted well in advance so they don't raise alarms. A source tells CNN this one was unscheduled.

And now to our "Sunday Campaign Trail" mix, CNN's Cristina Alesci is told Michael Bloomberg is days away from a decision on whether to run for president. The former New York City mayor filed this week to get on the ballot, the Democratic primary ballot in Alabama and Arkansas and requested a qualifying petition from Tennessee. Those are all Super Tuesday primaries. But the billionaire skipped the second in the nation state of New Hampshire for the filing deadline that was on Friday. And room for one more? The former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick making a last-minute entry into the 2020 race as well this past week, less than three months before the first votes will be cast. Patrick did file for the New Hampshire primary and his first big campaign speech was yesterday in California.

Governor Patrick's message there -- don't put me in any one ideological box and he says compromise is not a dirty word.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DEVAL PATRICK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm not talking about a moderate agenda. This is no time for a moderate agenda. I'm talking about being woke while leaving room for the still waking.

We have to do better than the very politics that has brought America to this point. The politics that says we have to agree on everything before we can work together on anything. A difference of opinion is not disqualifying.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Up next, Robert Mueller's last act -- a trial that exposes another Trump lie and will land another Trump insider in prison.

[08:38:36]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: The final act of the Mueller investigation collided with the impeachment inquiry on Friday. Long-time presidential friend Roger Stone was found guilty on seven counts, including lying to Congress and witness tampering. Stone now the fifth Trump insider headed to prison, a list that includes the president's long time lawyer, two top 2016 campaign aids and his first national security adviser.

Candidate Trump denied knowing anything about WikiLeaks dumps in advance. Testimony at Stone's trial detailed that candidate Trump was lying. Wikileaks and Clinton then, Ukraine and Biden now -- well, that's one way to look at it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: This is the same behavior. This is dirty tricks, these are dirty tricks. It's a climate of corruption. It's trying to acquire dirt on your opponents. It's part of American politics, but we shouldn't be proud of it.

But it has a different meaning and significance when it's done by a president, when the president is in office. There's a similarity between the climate around Mr. Stone and what he did for the then- candidate and what we're looking at with Mr. Giuliani.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Interesting take from Tim Naftali who's one of our contributors and was the director of the Nixon Presidential Library. Knows a lot about dirty tricks, has studied them all.

That's an interesting take. But just the collision of Mueller, another Trump insider going to prison in the middle of this impeachment thing, and to Tim's point, with dirty tricks getting evidence against your opponents, doing anything to dig up dirt on your opponents front and center.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD-DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL EDITOR, "NEW YORK TIMES": The timing was quite striking. I mean, during this hearing -- this hearing is going on, on Capitol Hill. You have Marie Yovanovitch sitting there testifying and down the block essentially you have Roger Stone being convicted of all these counts.

And it does, you know, show you a pattern of behavior at the very least by the people who President Trump surrounds himself with. And if you believe the evidence in the Stone trial, which seems like the judge and the jury did, that involves the president himself, and that he is totally fine with. And existed in a campaign realm before, but is now in the Oval Office because he's president.

[08:44:56]

DAVIS: So I mean it is a pattern of behavior and you have to make a judgment whether this is directly parallel to this, to that or just sort of the way that he works. But there's no denying those similarities.

DEMIRJIAN: It's also a reminder of just how interwoven everything is. We tend to draw a line at the end of Bob Mueller's testimony and now this is the Ukraine chapter.

You can't separate Russia and Ukraine. They're basically two sides of the same coin.

KING: Right.

DEMIRJIAN: You can't separate the actors in these either. I mean people who are around Trump, new characters come in and go out, et cetera but it's still the Trump administration that's being focused on. And remember, there is nothing in those rules that govern the impeachment proceeding that tells the House judiciary committee they only have to stick to Ukraine when it comes to the articles of impeachment.

If we start rulings on Don McGahn, if we start to see all these things happen -- remember, there's 53 transcripts of the Russia probe we haven't seen yet. This could blowup and become much broader. It will become more (INAUDIBLE) so politically they may choose to rule (ph) it. But this can all be brought together still in the Democrats case against him.

KING: And to the point that you have the graphic of the Trump insiders going to prison. It's worth showing, the President's current personal attorney, that's what he still calls him, Rudy Giuliani is under investigation by federal prosecutors in New York -- the Trump Justice Department. Not just under scrutiny by Congress in that Democrat-led impeachment inquiry but there as well.

Props to whoever runs Joe Biden's social media because Joe Biden doing this after the Roger Stone conviction -- two elections, zero criminal convictions, you know, trying to get a little play on that one.

Again, because if you think back, I said this during the break. But imagine if this were the Obama administration or if Hillary Clinton were president, you know, the Republicans who once (INAUDIBLE) to impeach Obama because of something that happened in the IRS where they may have mistreated some Tea Party group. They may have done that. But they were stuck (ph) and now Republicans here -- let's listen to some of the president's defenders. Nothing. Nothing.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GREG GUTFELD, FOX NEWS HOST: Life on earth is bribery. You say I want something from you, you give something to me. That's how the world works everywhere.

RUSH LIMBAUGH, CONSERVATIVE RADIO HOST: You elected Donald Trump to drain the swamp? Well, dismissing people like Yovanovitch is what it looks like. Dismissing everybody involved from the Obama holdover days trying to undermine Trump.

JESSE WATTERS, FOX NEWS HOST: Under Obama, ambassadors were coming back in body bags. Now everyone is upset because one got fired. So what?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: You decide at home whether you find that distasteful or not.

Our reporters share from their notebooks next, including a new Trump 2019 election setback just as the President's campaign team looks west hoping to improve its 2020 map.

[08:47:17]

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KING: Let's head one last time around the INSIDE POLITICS table, 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.

Nia.

HENDERSON: So over the next weeks, I'm looking at Amy Klobuchar. Her team feels pretty good about where they are in Iowa this last poll. She's firmly in the top five. They feel like she's in the centrist lane in Iowa. She has doubled the size of offices there.

You think about your her last debate performances, she turned out a pretty good debate performance. It will be really interesting to see if she brings some of the fire she aimed at Elizabeth Warren in the last debate and Pete Buttigieg -- the other person who is in that centrist lane.

Folks around her campaign sort of say he is a Johnny-Come-Lately in some ways to that centrist lane. So it will be really interesting on the debate stage to see what kind of -- if there's a kind of centrist pile up and those folks going at each other.

But this last go-round, it was essentially the centrists going after the progressives. But that's the lane where she feels like she firmly is and has a ways to go particularly in Iowa to kind of make up the gap from where she is right now.

KING: Getting drowned out by impeachment to some degree but the campaign --

HENDERSON: Yes.

KING: -- but the campaign is fun at the moment.

Michael.

BENDER: President Trump's most likely path to reelection in 2020 remains the exact same way he did in 2016 -- Florida and the Midwest. But the campaign knows it needs some back up plans. And to that end it started laying some ground work in states he's lost in 2016.

The President was seen campaign more recently in states he lost -- New Mexico, New Hampshire, Minnesota, now add Oregon to the list. This week, Brad Parscale, the campaign manager, and Lara Trump the campaign senior advisor and the President's daughter-in-law head to Oregon where they will meet with some representatives from the timber industry, hosting fundraisers, and take out some ads in newspapers in Eugene and Portland as they test the waters for Trump's 2020 bid.

Now, we've been surprised by this president more ways than one, but as of right now, a year out from the election, let's call it unlikely he makes up any ground in the Pacific Northwest. He lost Oregon by 11 points the first time around and earlier this year, his approval rating was 16 points underwater in Oregon, worse than every other state he won in 2016.

KING: Interesting to watch. 30 years ago, Oregon was a swing state in presidential politics -- 30 years ago. We shall see -- who knows. Things change.

Karoun.

DEMIRJIAN: Whatever is going on domestically and the international focus on Russia and Ukraine, Turkey and Syria is fading into the background a little bit. But Erdogan, the Turkish president was at the White House this weekend and there was a meeting with five Republican senators in which he didn't really win any friends by showing them what's seen as the anti-Kurdish propaganda and acting very, very defiant about what he was allowed to do with the Russian missiles that he bought.

That is going to potentially set up a clash between Republicans in Congress and President Trump. Everybody is looking at the Senate right now to see if they will actually move on Turkey sanctions.

Yes, the Republican in charge of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is trying to find a work around. But the more Erdogan does not actually kind of come to the middle on this and blusters, the fewer friends he's winning over in the GOP in Congress.

And we'll be watching to see if they actually make a move because the timing of this couldn't be worse for the President to have the stakes of the conflict that he has with the GOP over Turkey/Syria issues happen in the midst of all this impeachment fight. It's the one thing that really could make the GOP start to lose their patience across the board.

And if they actually vote on sanctions, that's a signal that they need to let some of that frustration out.

KING: That's another great story drowned out somewhat by the other events, shall we say.

Julie.

DAVIS: So I have my eye on the calendar for the other event -- impeachment. And how problematic it's becoming and how complicated for both Democrats and Republicans actually. There was talk about having an impeachment vote in the House before Christmas. I think that's still a hope among House Democratic leaders. But the fact- finding phase of this impeachment is not over as we have been talking about.

We now have another fact witness that was deposed at the end of last week. David Holmes may end up being called for a public session. We have eight witnesses coming up this week. One of whom Gordon Sondland may end up having to slip given the new information that they're hearing. So that idea of a vote before Christmas in the House seems more and more up in the air.

[08:54:58] And then you're looking at a potential Senate trial right up against, potentially, the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire and a lot of crucial campaigning time for the Democratic senators who are campaigning for president.

So it's becoming a politically difficult and, frankly, just logistically difficult calculation that I think both sides of the Capitol have not figured out yet.

KING: Yikes.

2019's been crowded. 2020 looks -- wow, ok.

I'll close with yet another red state setback for President Trump. The Democrat Jon Bel Edwards won reelection as governor of Louisiana last night, narrowly winning a runoff election despite two visits to the state by President Trump in the final 11 days.

In that final visit, the President referenced the impeachment fight here in Washington and told Louisiana voters, quote, "You really need to send a message to the corrupt Democrats in Washington." Well, the President did not get his wish.

Louisiana has a very unique brand of politics and Governor Edwards is a relatively popular incumbent. So don't over read the Trump factor here. But don't understate it either.

The President asked the same of Kentucky voters two weeks ago and the Republican lost the governor's race there, too. The 2018 and now 2019 elections were miserable for Republicans even in red states and especially in the American suburbs. And 2020 is just around the corner.

That's it for Inside Politics. Thanks for being with us today. Hope you can catch us weekdays as well. We're here at noon Eastern, a very busy week ahead of us.

Up next "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper. Jake's guests include the Republican Congressman Mike Turner and the Democratic Senator Chris Murphy.

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

[08:56:32]

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