Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

Rift Between Pompeo & Bolton Ahead of North Koran Nuclear Summit; Big Republican Donors Lobby Against Trump's Tariffs; New Details on Trump's Decision to Uninvite Eagles to White House Championship Celebration; Fox News Apologizes for Kneeling Eagles Players Picture; Blue Wave on Verge of Collapse in Primaries. Aired 11:30a-12n ET

Aired June 5, 2018 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Two sources telling CNN there's an escalating feud between Bolton and the secretary of state saying that Pompeo told Trump it would be counterproductive to allow Bolton to attend the Oval Office meeting. The White House is downplaying the idea of any sort of rift and insisting that the meeting was always intended to be small.

Joining me to discuss, CNN national security analyst, Samantha Vinograd, who was an adviser to President Obama's national security adviser, and Michael Alan, who served as the director of President George W. Bush's national security council.

Good to have both of you with us.

It is never a good idea to have your secretary of state and your national security adviser at odds. That being said, the fact that this is happening at this time and that it is so public, Sam, how troubling is that? Moving into this meeting, that the North Koreans know this is going on.

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALAYST: I think it is dangerous. It is unprecedented but also dangerous. This shows how thirsty Donald Trump is for the meeting to happen. He knows that the North Koreans don't like John Bolton. John Bolton has called for regime change. And he's so eager not to upset Kim Jong-Un anymore that he is sidelining his own national security adviser. You have to ask, are the North Koreans doing the same thing? Is Kim Jong-Un not going to let anyone in the room that has insulted the United States? To me, this shows that North Korea is in the driver's seat.

HILL: So it shows you North Korea is in the driver's seat. So that point, Michael, is giving North Korea what they want?

MICHAEL ALAN, FORMER PRESIDENT, GEORGE W. BUSH'S NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: Well, we got to be careful. I think Sam is right. If you want a deal badly, you're going to get a bad deal. But I think that this divergence between Pompeo and the secretary of state just sort of reflects the tension of the president who wants to go big and John Bolton who is always skeptical of doing business with rogue regimes. He's focused on the details, the who, what, when, where of denuclearization. I think the secretary of state is saying, let's think about how we get to a peace treaty so sooner or later, they got to come together for a good deal, but there's definitely tension in the room.

HILL: Definitely tension.

How unusual is it, though, based on your experience, for the national security adviser to not even be part of the discussion? A small meeting is one thing. This seems like a planned and rather large omission.

VINOGRAD: I worked for two national security advisers. I cannot think of a single presidential meeting with a foreign counterpart where the NSA wasn't present or his deputy. And also think about what this signals to the North Koreans, to me it signals we're putting all of our eggs in a diplomatic basket. National security adviser runs a process that looks at all options, financial, military, covert, so by only having the secretary of state in a room, and not the man that is responsible for developing and monitoring all these other options, to me, this says to the North Koreans, that diplomacy is front and center and we're taking our foot off of the gas pedal on deterrence.

HILL: Without him in that room, without him in this meeting, if he's not at the table for this, Michael, could John Bolton be marginalized moving forward?

ALAN: Well, perhaps, if the president feels like his national security adviser and he had are not on the same page, I think it does not bode well for him over time. I do worry also however if the signal is to the North Koreans that we are interested in a peace treaty or security assurances, I worry that the Chinese are -- we have seen the Russians this week taking their foot off the gas, vis-a-vis, sanctions, I worry about what it does for our so-called maximum pressure campaign to try and get the North Koreans to heal. We have a lot of balls up in the air. We have a summit coming up. I know the secretary of state is very competent hope everybody gets on the same page and we have a coherent policy going forward.

HILL: Michael Alan, Samantha Vinograd, appreciate it. Thank you.

Coming up, Republicans with big pockets now opening up their war chests to lobby against the president's new tariffs, saying they undercut the benefits of the GOP tax bill. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:38:24] HILL: Some of the Republican Party's biggest backers are taking on President Trump in a big way. The Koch brothers political network launching a multimillion dollar campaign urging the president to lift his new steel and aluminum tariffs feeling the tariffs could undercut the economic gains made by recent tax cuts.

Joining me is one of the leaders of the campaign, the president of Americans for Prosperity, Tim Phillips.

Tim, good to have you with us. You're putting a lot of money behind this, as we know, when a lot of time. What has the response been from the president and the White House to these efforts?

TIM PHILLIPS, PRESIDENT, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY: We made our opposition clear to these tariffs that is protectionism. We have done that privately, publicly. But we feel like we got to do more, Erica. We're launching this, it is a multimillion dollar effort, long-term effort. It is going to be television ads, digital ads, grassroots, town hall meetings. It's a long-term effort to make sure that Americans understand the very real benefits of free trade. Keep consumer prices low, it creates jobs, international trade does. We thought it wasn't enough to voice opposition to these tariffs coming from the administration. We need to take bigger action so we're doing that. This is such an important issue.

HILL: Are you concerned you could be alienating some of the president's base?

PHILLIPS: No. This is an issue so important that you got to put politics aside. I was in Iowa and Wisconsin, there are tens of thousands of farmers and folks in the ag community deeply concerned about the president's trade or the protectionism and the tariffs. I was in Texas last week, same thing there. Good policy, usually, is good politics. Well, tariffs are both bad policy and bad politics for this administration. We're going to make our case to the American people, and especially to rank-and-file conservatives and Republicans because it is important that they're hearing the other side about the good benefits of free trade, that it brings to people, lower consumer prices and so much more.

[11:40:24] HILL: Larry Kudlow, now the president's top economic adviser, has said very clearly he's not a fan of tariffs. I think the actual quote is, "Tariffs, not my favorite thing." What is your understanding then, what is your understanding then of his role here?

PHILLIPS: We're hoping that he's taking that message and we're confident he is. I heard his comments saying the tariffs are a negotiating tool, well, it is a dangerous negotiating tool and in fact some of the tariffs are already in place. That's just not accurate. But we know Larry understands how bad tariffs are. We're confident he's telling the president that. I don't know that, I suspect he is. Let's make sure that they understand, especially based conservatives and Republicans that they understand that some politicians, both on the left and the right, want to use protectionism because it sounds tough. Like they're being tough on the Brits or the Chinese. But what it is really being is tough on American consumers when prices start going up on the items they buy at Walmart or Target or stores they go into every day.

HILL: One of the industries you're concerned about is one that President Trump both as a candidate and as president has put a lot of support behind and that's the steel industry. You say that this would actually have a negative effect.

PHILLIPS: Absolutely. It was interesting, when I listened to the administration's arguments for the steel tariffs and aluminum tariffs, it sounds eerily similar to what George W. Bush and his team was saying a decade and a half ago to support steel tariffs that they were putting up. You know that. CNN covered it. It did not work. It did not help the steel industry 13, 14 years ago. These tariffs, it simply propped up what was an ailing difficult economic situation. It is not going to work now. Tariffs don't work. They simply have government at that point picking winners and losers and we are -- our argument would be whether it is Democrats or Republicans, it doesn't work to have politicians sitting in Washington, picking winners and losers, using tariffs. Picking this industry to say, hey, we'll protect them, but not protect these guys, go after this country but not this other country. It doesn't work. The free market works better. Free trade works better.

HILL: We'll see if maybe it works as a negotiating tool as we heard that's part of what it is.

Tim, appreciate the time. Thank you.

PHILLIPS: You bet.

HILL: The White House revealing new details about the president's decision to uninvite the Eagles for a championship celebration today. Those new details next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:47:19] HILL: Breaking news coming to us here. New details on how many members of the Super Bowl championship Eagles were expected to the White House celebration for their Super Bowl win. Some players were canceled or uninvited.

Let's go to CNN White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins.

New numbers and reporting. What do we know?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Erica, we are getting insight into what led up to the cancellation of the celebration for the Philadelphia Eagles at the White House, which was supposed to take place this afternoon. According to the White House, last week some time, they were told that 81 people from the Eagles organization were going to attend the event today. They were expected to attend. Then on Monday, they were informed that fewer than 10 people, including players and coaches and even maybe athletic trainer, were going to show up. That is what led to the cancellation. So abruptly yesterday. Fewer than 10 people. I was told by sources that the president saw the optics of him posing with less than a dozen players typically where dozens of players here. The president was aware of the optics. We have more CNN employees on the ground at the White House than Eagles players and coaches and trainers expected to show up.

We are learning more about why that happened. That is according to the White House. The Eagles did not comment that figure. If they submitted 81 names to the White House that would show up to the event. Now you see how it led up to this. Erica, the president is tying it to the national anthem. The Eagles

say that was not part of the discussion when they decided who would come and would not.

HILL: That never came up in the discussion.

Kaitlan, thank you.

In terms of the national anthem, FOX News is apologizing for photos that aired of Eagles players kneeling in prayer. Critics said the way the photos were used suggested the players were used during the national anthem.

CNN's Hadas Gold has more on this angle.

What do we hear from FOX?

HADAS GOLD, CNN: Erica, last night during Shannon's segment on FOX News, a segment about Donald Trump disinviting the Eagles players from the celebration and him connecting it to the national anthem. During the segment, FOX aired the photos. They were kneeling during prayer. Not during the national anthem. No Eagles players knelt during the national anthem protests in the past season. It was criticized as a misleading segment. It seemed as Eagles players were kneeling when they were not. FOX News in the past hour came out with a statement apologizing. This comes from Chris Wallace, the executive producer. Here's what they said, "During our report about President Trump cancelling the Philadelphia Eagles trip to the White House to celebrate the Super Bowl win, we showed unrelated footage of players kneeling in prayer. To clarify, no members of the team knelt through the national protests during regular or post season last year. We apologize for the error."

FOX News received a number of criticisms over this after the segment aired, including from the Eagles, and those who supported the president's remarks about national anthem and NFL players kneeling. They said it was a misleading segment. FOX News apologized and deleted the tweet.

[11:50:45] HILL: Hard to believe that angle.

Hadas, thank you.

Still to come, voting is underway in key states and Democrats hope to gain ground in Congress. Some rules in California are causing concern for the blue wave. How it could break before it gets rolling. Your primary preview is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:55:15] HILL: Call it Mini Super Tuesday. Voters in eight states heading to the polls. Tight races in Alabama, New Jersey, New Mexico, Montana, Iowa, Mississippi and South Dakota. It is California that Republicans and Democrats are watching the most closely. The results could play a key role in terms of Congress and control come November.

Joining me now is senior writer and analyst of CNN Politics, Harry Enten.

It's California too, that have a top-two primary, which can mess with people's plans as we know. We are looking at this and Democrats could be locked out of seven races where they put a lot of time, money and effort.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS WRITER & ANALYST: Yes. The three we are concerned about are California's 39th, 38th and 49th. They're Republican held, but Hillary Clinton won in 2016. There's some indication because there are so many Democrats running and few Republicans, the Democrats may not make it to the general.

HILL: There's too much to split because of the top two.

ENTEN: That is exactly right.

HILL: And not from each party.

ENTEN: Exactly. You know, we could end up with two Republicans. That has happened before in 2012. A competitive race. That Democrats wanted to win but got locked out.

HILL: What about in terms of race for governor?

ENTEN: The question there's whether Republicans get locked out. The governor's race you have Newsom. He is running ahead of the field. The question is, is it Villaraigosa or someone else.

HILL: Especially in California, on the women who are running, is key. Where should we watch?

ENTEN: You pointed out it is in California in the congressional races. A lot of women could potentially be governor. Kim Reynolds will win because she has no competition. We are looking at a lot of races. The one I keep my eye on is in South Dakota where she can win that nomination.

HILL: There's so much to talk about. You pointed out women on both sides of the aisle. This is not just democratic women. We hear about the blue wave. Is there a momentum behind that at this point?

ENTEN: Plenty behind Democrats. Because of the way the districts are lined up, Democrats packed in the cities. Democrats probably need to win the national House vote by seven percentage points to win a majority of seats in the House. It may not be enough to take control.

HILL: Once we move past the primaries and move into November, what the consistent message will be and if Democrats can find a way to unite around candidates who are not typical Democrats.

ENTEN: You are seeing interesting people emerge. The message will be Donald Trump. Usually mid erm, the opposition comes down high against him.

HILL: And whether that is enough. You see that to be the moving force in the past. Is that enough to unite? ENTEN: I think that Donald Trump has a tendency to unite Democrats.

The question is if he brings the independents into the column as his approval rating rises. Perhaps the Democrats are on more shaky ground.

HILL: Quickly, in terms of the president and who he is supporting, Devin Nunes. Not surprising.

ENTEN: Not surprising.

HILL: Where is that going?

ENTEN: Devin Nunes represents a safe Republican district but because of his high profile, I would be concern. There are more vulnerable Republicans.

HILL: This is your pre-game, Mini Super Tuesday. What is the race you are focused on as you watch all this play out?

ENTEN: I think the one race is the California 39th. That is the greatest chance that Democrats could be locked out.

HILL: We will watch.

Harry, I appreciate it. Thank you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

HILL: Thanks to all of you for joining us today. I'm Erica Hill, in for Kate Bolduan.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.

[11:59:51] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

First, it was changing recollections. Now a mistake. The Trump White House caught in a Russian meddling lie and Rudy Giuliani tries to explain it away.

Plus, the special counsel sends a blunt law-and-order message. The accused is the former Trump campaign chief, Paul Manafort, of witness tampering. And asked a judge to toss him in jail.

And no White House --