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INSIDE POLITICS

Nunes Dodges Question About Secret Meeting To Get Dirt On Bidens; Bloomberg Kicks Off Presidential Campaign Today In VA. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 25, 2019 - 12:30   ET

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


[12:30:00]

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- when Boehner is speaker. He was a very close ally to John Boehner. He was critical of the tea party as they push for a government shutdown.

And the beginning of the Trump era, he worked in a bipartisan basis with Adam Schiff in the initial part of the Russia investigation in his committee. But after he went and briefed the President in the aftermath of learning some of the allegations within that own probe, the Democrats were furious, they called for him to step aside, an ethics investigation was launched into that which was later dismissed. He was forced to step aside. And he got angry at the way he was treated by both the media, by both Democrats. He became much of a loner in Congress, pushing his own investigations into the start of the Russia investigation, which you heard.

Last week in this hearing was him over and over again calling for investigations to the other things and not any concern whatsoever into the central aspects of what has been uncovered in this impeachment inquiry.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And again, sorry congressman, there are ways to demonstrate if you were somewhere or weren't somewhere, if you met with someone or didn't meet with someone, that's easy, that's easy. Now, in Congressman Nunes's defense as well, Lev Parnas has serious credibility issues. He's under federal indictment for conspiracy to violate the ban on foreign donations, conspiracy to make contribution to federal elections, making false statements, and falsifying, he would certainly like to make friends with somebody who might help him with a federal case against him so you have to question him as well.

ALEX THOMPSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Well, it's been really interesting not just his embrace of Trump but in the way he's helped some of these media reports, he has also embraced Trump tactics, really. He's calling them corrupt. He's threatening lawsuits. This isn't even the first lawsuit, he's threatened. He's done lawsuits against Twitter or threatened them against the Fresno Bee.

In the last year he has really embraced this sort of the approach to the media which is if you don't like a story or you're frustrated by a story, then you attack and try to undermine their credibility. KING: And we did see if you're paying attention at the impeachment hearing, Nunes is very important and valuable to the President, someone who constantly defends.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. DEVIN NUNES (R-CA): Glad you're here. I'm really not glad you're here, but welcome to the 5th day of this circus.

You are here today to be smeared. We need to subpoena Hunter Biden and the whistle-blower for closed door depositions as well as relevant documents from the DNC.

They are the actions of partisan extremists who hijacked the Intelligence Committee, transformed into the Impeachment Committee.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Effective in his own way if you're playing to the Trump base and the "Fox News" base and the "Breitbart" base, not -- I'm not on many occasions that Devin Nunes challenge the facts actually of what the witnesses were saying.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN COMMENTATOR: And actually he left that to other people on the committee. You saw Elise Stefanik do that. You saw Jim Jordan do that. You saw some of the other members of panel really pushed that. But he instead decided to tell an alternate story. The entire time through his, I think, it was seven opening statements.

And largely, it was the same story over and over again. As Manu pointed out in ignoring what was going on actually in front of him.

KING: And in the case -- and if congressman, you know the number, if we're wrong about this, but in the case of "Breitbart" he said, it's demonstrably false, when Maria asked the question there, he said I'd love to answer, but he wouldn't. So we have not got to know this didn't happen. Correct?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's absolutely correct. And I think there are two important things to keep in mind as we wait for the facts that this emerged. One is that the Democrat's impeachment case is being built around President Trump and what President Trump did, and so however tempting it may be to figure out what other people did, Giuliani, Nunes, et cetera.

Their focus really, they have decided strategically this remain on Trump. But secondarily, because Devin Nunes is sort of this ultimate congressional example of coordination with the President on messages and facts and what to do if some of the details around this were confirmed to show this, you know, to be going out, to be able to -- to be looking at Ukraine, to be looking for dirt on Biden. It would demonstrably change the way we understand this case.

KING: Right.

TALEV: And so I think there's both the concern not to get it wrong because of respect for the Institution of Congress, but also a concern not to get it wrong because if you get it right, and it is what some people think it is, it could be really bad for the President.

KING: We'll continue to try to figure out what the truth is. That's what we're interested in.

[12:34:27]

Still ahead a federal court ruling coming shortly that could compel White House insiders to become congressional witnesses.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KING: Topping our Political Radar today, a federal court ruling due any moment now that could be pivotal for the impeachment proceedings. A D.C. district court judge will decide if former White House counsel, Don McGhan must testify before Congress about possible obstruction.

The House Judiciary Committee subpoenaed McGahn way back in April, well before the Ukraine revelation kick impeachment at the high gear. A ruling today ordering McGahn to testify could encourage other resistant witnesses from the administration to decide they should testify.

And Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana raising lot of eye blows with his answer to this question from Chris Wallace.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[12:40:06]

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: Senator Kennedy, who do you believe was responsible for hacking the DNC and Clinton campaign computers, their e-mails, was it Russia or Ukraine?

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): I don't know. Nor do you. Nor do any of us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Actually, we do know. Senator Kennedy, right there despite overwhelming evidence trying to cast doubt on testimony from all of the experts at last week's impeachment hearings from the intelligence findings made earlier this year. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LT. COL. ALEXANDER VINDMAN, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL UKRAINE EXPERT: Is it the consensus of the entire Intelligent Committee that the Russians interfered in the U.S. elections in 2016?

FIONA HILL, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL RUSSIA EXPERT: Some of you on this Committee appear to believe that Russia and its security services did not conduct a campaign against our country. This is fictional narrative.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Up next, the President gets another 2020 challenger, Michael Bloomberg is officially in. And he's got a lot of money to spend.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:45:43]

KING: Most of you are going to be seeing a lot of Mike Bloomberg this week even if you can't make his first official presidential campaign event this afternoon down in Norfolk, Virginia. Former New York City mayor is embarking on a -- embarking there's a little Boston for you, on an audacious and risky strategy. He won't contest the first four states on the nominating calendar but he's spending a record shattering $37 million in T.V. ads over the next two weeks to introduce himself to voters in the states where he does plan to complete.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He could have just been the middle class kid who made good. Mike Bloomberg became the guy who did good. And now he's taking on him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: The 77-year-old billionaire is banking on a Joe Biden collapse. And clearly believes none of the other moderates in the race can win. Pete Buttigieg is on the list. The South Bend, Indiana mayor today, unveiling an ambitious plan to help with long-term care and retirement savings.

The plan, you see some of the details there includes new benefits that would supplement social security. Now, the exact cost not laid out but Buttigieg said the funding would come from stricter tax collection from the wealthy.

Let's do the Buttigieg plan in the first in the sense that, you know Bloomberg is in the race. If you're Buttigieg, you're confident about Iowa right now. You're looking good. But you have this guy coming in spending a ton of money. And so Buttigieg, what's he trying to do here? He's had trouble getting African-American votes, older voters, the most reliable voters in any primary.

KUCINICH: It's not only older voters. There's a lot of millennials who are taking care of their older parents at this point. So it targets a wide swath of the electorate and people that all the candidates want to get on board. And I don't know that this is going to help Buttigieg solve some of the other problems with his candidacy. But this is certainly something that really speaks to people's every day lives that they deal with every single day.

KING: And as we wait to see whether Bloomberg can pull this off, and it is just outside of the box audacious, skip the first four contests, spend your own money. If you're someone else in the race, you've got to keep your blinders on, right, and just do your own thing. THOMPSON: Yes. We've never seen anything like this before. He's on pace to spend almost $300 million before Iowa if he keeps this up. He could end up spending a billion dollars just in the primary alone to try to win. We've never seen this influx of cash ever.

And there's a real question like if you're Joe Biden, you know, does Bloomberg also start going on the attack. We just don't know. And there's so many things that are unprecedented about his candidacy. And, you know, its while like Bernie and Warren are sort of embracing it and embracing him as a foil about like, see this is evidence of how rigged the system is against you. It's unclear what it means for all of these other candidates.

RAJU: Right. You know, and how will voters take to the fact that this is someone who may not make it on any of the debate stages but is going to be spending this level of money to introduce himself to voters. Clearly, what he's banking on to is a split decision four states, not a real clear front runner and then him to come in as a savior of sorts in the Super Tuesday states.

That is an incredibly risky strategy because you've seen in the years past, one candidate catches fire, then they get more momentum, and then a lot of other candidates fall by the wayside, clearly he's hoping that the picture will be muddy enough where he jumping in--

KING: Right. And just so I will put a map up. He's advertising everywhere that comes after the first four and more or less. He's putting big money into big states. You see there, a lot of delegates in bigger states. He's banking. He got it laid. The question is, can he? And again, a big part this, he says he's banking here on a Joe Biden class. Joe Biden says, ain't going to happen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: There are some folks who have recently got in this race. They don't think you're in the shape. And they got in the race because they don't think you're in shape, one of them is Mayor Bloomberg.

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Come on. The idea that I'm not in better shape than Mayor Bloomberg physically and otherwise, Trump is so bad as a president, been so corrupt as president, that everybody in America who's ever been involved in politics especially if they have a billion dollars think that they can beat Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TALEV: Yes. I'll just say this. $37 million sounds like a lot of money. But he spent a billion dollars or committed a billion already to fighting global warming. A lot of this is I think that he wants to win. He wouldn't be running if he didn't want to win. He's trying to beat Donald Trump. He's trying to get any Democrat to beat Donald Trump. And long after he's done spending this money to promote his own name and his own campaign, he's committed to spending hundreds of million of dollars through the end of the general election no matter who the nominee is against Trump. [12:50:11]

KING: It's a strategy that's never worked before. But we live in an age where we never thought could happen have happened. So will watch and see.

Up next, tweet first to clarify later, the President's policy impulses leave his own administration often struggling to keep up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[12:55:01]

KING: The Navy secretary is out of a job today because of something we have seen from the earliest days of the Trump administration, policies by tweet that sometimes catches the rest of the government off balance or sometimes gets some in trouble with the boss. Let's show you a tweet, this is just one of the President's tweets about Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher on Sunday essentially saying that he was unhappy with the way the military was handling this case.

Again in the wake of that, the Navy secretary had to resign. We've seen this throughout the Trump administration. Let's take a look. Very early on back in July of 2017, the President without giving the Pentagon a heads up tweeting, the United States government will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in the military, blind siding the Pentagon by tweet.

We saw in the middle of 2018 and into March of 2019, the President on several occasions threatening to close the southern border even though he was told that was impossible, that couldn't happen. We will close or build a wall or we will close the border. Immigration is often an area where the President tries to do policy by tweet.

Here's another one again catching his own government off guard next week. ICE will begin the process of removing the million illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the Unites States, this in June of 2019. We're all used to this but those who serve in key jobs in the administration, after they leave, well, their frustration, they're willing to talk about it once they're gone.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: When the President will say, well, here's what I want to do and here is how I want to do it. And I'd have to say to him, well, Mr. President, I understand, what you want to do. But you can't do it that way. It violates the law. It violates treaty, you know. He got really frustrated.

JOHN KELLY, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF: And we were still in the process of trying to find some to take my place. I said whatever you do, don't hire a yes man, someone that's going to tell you or it won't tell you the truth, don't do that because if you do, I believe you'll be impeached.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: The President disputes that last part ever happened with John Kelly said, if you pick a yes man, he meant Mick Mulvaney, you'll get impeached. .But this whole idea that the Eddie Gallagher case just the latest example of the president essentially using Twitter to tell the government this is what I want done, either stop pushing back or this is want to done, I can give a heads up, do it.

TALEV: It is sort of the ultimate -- we talk a lot about how we test institutions, right, the press, the court, Congress. But sort of the ultimate test is the test of the power of the executive. And Trump because he is the executive I guess believes in the very strong power of the executive.

And his view of this has been if you don't think I can, prove that I can't. And that requires ultimately going to court. And in case after case, there are some things that you can't go to court for, there are other things that you can you go to court for. None of it happens quickly. A presidential term is four years.

And so if Congress has him in the checks and balance and courts turn on the checks and the balance and the public so far has continued to, you know, the next test is the next election. And that is ultimately going to be test on his executive power.

KING: And among these examples, Julie Hirschfeld Davis and Michael Shear of "The New York Times" frequent guess in the program wrote a fabulous book about immigration.

And in it they talk about privately the president is often talked about fortifying a border wall with a water-filled trench, stocked with snakes or alligators. He wanted it electrified, with spikes at the top that could pierce human flesh. After publicly suggesting that soldier shoot migrants if they throw rocks. The President backed off when his staff told him that was illegal. But later in a meeting, aides recalled, he suggested that they shoot migrants in the legs to slow them down. That's not allowed either, they told him.

One of the people involved in this from the beginning is his former Department of Homeland and Security secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen who explained it this way.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, FORMER DHS SECRETARY: What led me to resign is there were a lot of things that there were those in the administration who thought that we should do and just as I spoke truth to power from the very beginning, it became clear that saying no and refusing to do it myself was not going to be enough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMPSON: It's been very -- what I'm saying was, it has become very clear that Trump has not changed when he was elected president. He is still running the federal government like he ran the Trump organization and he is trying to make the government change around him rather than change himself. RAJU: Yes. And then you cannot just -- you can't overstate the level of frustration this, you know, the way he tweets, his style leads to members of his own party, they almost feel -- they're so hamstrung about what he says. He comes out and says something, surprises them, they are forced to react, they don't want to react, they don't want to upset him if they were to break from him on a tweet, then they'll tweet it, he'll tweet again and attack them, and it just creates this disfunction al environment within his own party. But it doesn't seem like President, he's heard the warnings but he doesn't seem to care about that though.

KING: And when they leave, Tillerson and Nielsen both essentially saying we're told to do things that are illegal. We can't do them and he didn't want to listen to us when we said so.

[12:59:58]

Thanks for joining us in INSIDE POLITICS, hope to see you back here at this time tomorrow. Bianna Golodryga is in for Brianna Keilar. She starts right now. Have a great afternoon.