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tv   Inside Politics  CNN  April 6, 2018 9:00am-10:00am PDT

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friends and come down here and do what you did today? it's disgusting. and i don't think anybody is going to be, you know, huge conor mcgregor fans after this. >> whether it was bad blood between fighters or a publicity stunt, mcgregor is facing several charges, including three counts of assault and one count of criminal mischief. back to you. >> jason carroll, thank you. and thank you so much for joining me. "inside politics" with john king starts right now. welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king. thank you for sharing your day with us. the markets don't like it and farmers don't like it. but president trump says a little pain is worth it if he can force china to be a more fair trading partner. plus tough new sanctions sure to anger vladimir putin.
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the investigation targets russia and names putin as an oligarch. and scott pruitt just might have friends in all the right places. >> i'm sorry, i couldn't hear your response earlier about scott pruitt. >> about pruitt, i think that scott has done a fantastic job. i think he's a fantastic person. i believe -- you know, i just left coal and energy country. they love scott pruitt. they feel very strongly about scott pruitt and they love scott pruitt. >> we begin an hour of turmoil on wall street. the president is threatening china with a whopping $100 billion in additional tariffs. the dow down, you see it there, around 330 points. investors are rattled about talk of a trade war. farmers are rattled, too. but listen here, the president telling a morning radio show
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getting tough with china is long overdue and that a roller coaster market is a price worth paying. >> we've already lost a trade war. we don't have a trade war, we've lost a trade war. i'm not saying there won't be a little pain, but the market has gone up 40%, 42%. we might lose a little of it, but we're going to have a much stronger country when we're finished. >> jeff zeleny live at the white house for us. jeff, the president surprised even members of his own team with this new $100 billion threat of a counterpurnch. do they share his view that an end will justify the means? >> several advisers here all say one thing consistently, the president is drooifiving this t here. the incoming new economic adviser, larry kudlow, was talking to reporters earlier this morning here at the white house, and he was essentially again trying to, i would say,
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calm fears and cool tensions about this and saying, look, this is simply the beginning of a negotiation. the president is just throwing this out there. but the reality here is that without any warning or any further explanation, there is a lot of concern. we've seen republicans, like ben sasse of nebraska, he is very sharp against this. a lot of republicans from farm states as well. so there is no sense here what the end game is, but there is a lot of concerted worry that the president is saying the short-term pain is worth it. politically republicans are nervous about this. of course, the midterm elections not that far away here in what is the end game. the president is driving this as so much more is on his agenda. it will be interesting to watch how that market ends today, john. the white house certainly is. >> without a doubt the president is driving it. with me in the studio, carla m
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demerhen of the "washington post." it is remarkable on the first friday of the month, when you talk about wall street, you're talking about reaction to the jobs report. 1 103,000 new jobs. you look at 103 and you think, okay, just a day of bad weather. if you list ton the presideen t this morning, pretty candid. yeah, the market will get mad, the farmers will get mad. but i'm going to stand up to china and we'll take a few hits. >> except for the fact you don't really know where it ends. that's the thing. the president can't really predict that, either. he's trying to make everyone feel okay that the market is in turmoil right now. the reason the president can't say when it's going to end is because it's not up to him.
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we could see retaliation like china is doing today and it could keep going tit for tat. >> i think it's remarkable, most white houses are so much more disciplined about this kind of thing, that if the president was going to take a hard line trade approach, you would have white house aides preparing reporters ahead of time. this is what we're going to do, this is how we think it's going to play out. and instead what you had this week was these sort of divergent messages with agents like ckudlw trying to walk back the fears of a trade war and give the sense this wasn't headlight lte r-ske and then the president racks it up again. >> in a prior administration they were going to do this, they would bring in economic reporters. you would have people talking to key people on wall street, giving a heads up, this is
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coming, trying to limit the bounce in the markets. but the way this president operates -- he certainly has a case to make when he can say it's been years and no one has gotten tough with china. it's been years that china has been cheating. the question is the method here, and he thinks this is the way to do it. disrupt, shock the system, then try to cut a deal. >> i think that's the argument he makes, and we've seen him do that before where there is a lot of luster and he backs it up. the problem is the market reacts to luster. this was one of his best selling points about his administration. so if it ain't broke, maybe don't try messing with it this much. he does have an argument on china and i'm not averse to going after them on things like intellectual property where they really are huge violators, but the trade war stuff is not going to end well. and politically saying this is going to be painful for some people but it's going to be worth it, is a very tough argument to make, even in the most disciplined sense.
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>> in the short term for the people who might suffer pain and turmoil and uncertainty, a lot of the soybeans, for example. commodities are sold in future markets and the markets are doing things like this. he's not on the ballot this year. a lot of republicans in farm states are nervous about this. ben sasse, senator of nebraska, trump critic. hopefully the president is just glowing off steam again, but if he's even half-serious, this is nuts. china is guilty of many things, but the president has no actual plan to win right now. he's threatening to fight light american agriculture on fire. that's ben sarsse of nebraska. the senator of utah, very different line. i think the president is leading
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with some policies that will wake up our friends in china and they'll recognize that business as usual is going to have to change. china over the years has taken a advantage of the attitude in america and they've been cheating. >> i would say the party lines are split on the tariff. if you listen to bob casey, brown, they've been more toward tariffs. i assume trump staff is not organized on tariffs because they're trying to stop him from doing it. but the lines are shifted here. republicans on the hill are nervous about this. but i think trump is doing this -- as you know, clinton, obama, bush would not do this, and truhis entire life, he says trade is not working for the
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u.s. i do think he's right, the short term is probably not going to be good. i'm curious what the long term look like, and i'm not sure he's wrong on this issue. >> that's the part the republicans are nervous about, that he doesn't care about us. >> does the long term sort of come -- do the benefits of this come before the midterm elections? i don't think so, because economics doesn't work that quickly. if the pain is still there in a lot of places when a lot of these lawmakers are going to the polls, that's what they're worried about. >> this is not just caring about us but the president has a steak in this. if that flips t could mean a lot for his presidency. they're not officially connected, but -- >> and the president seems to go back to his campaign. >> not only will there be immediate pain of some sort for different parties, but he
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explicitly says he's the one that brought it. that's a very difficult argument to make to voters. >> we often say he doesn't want to take responsibility for things. is it okay to give him, quote, unquote, credit? next, sanctions investigati russia, this time in the inner circle of putin. switch to liberty mutual, you could save $782 on auto and home insurance. and still get great coverage for you and your family. call for a free quote today. you could save $782 when liberty stands with you. liberty mutual insurance.
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he's playno, with us. he's trying to tell us something. let's see what forensics thinks. sorry i'm late. what did i miss? wanna get away? now you can with southwest fares as low as 49 dollars one-way. yes to low fares with nothing to hide. that's transfarency.
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the trump administration announcing tough new sanctions on russia today, targeting some of russia's richest men and some of vladimir putin's closest advisers. the target list includes putin's affairs minister and a top aide, ener a president of a bank. oleg deripaska, alexander torshin and viktor vekselberg.
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shimon, how critical is this? >> very critical. deripaska, based on some state department information, is one of these wealthy oligarchs who consults with putin regularly. and it's been reported, this is the connection to manafort, one of the connections, anyhow, that before trump was nominated, manafort had offered to brief deripaska privately on how the campaign was going, and deripaska was also in business which both failed with manafort and gates. so critical connections to two high-level people in the trump campaign. the two others you mentioned, viktor vekselborg has ties to
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putin. he's head of a russian electric company, and clearly everything that goes on in russia involves the government, and he also has ties to putin. another one of these things that's interesting and where vekselborg has come up with counter-intelligence officials at the fbi, according to the "washington post," he attended an event. he was at the inauguration in 2017. both of these have come under scrutiny by folks at the hill and mueller investigators. >> at this time, shimon, appreciate the reporting. it is striking for those out there who understandably and legitimately for months have said, when is this administration going to take russian meddling or russian bad behavior on the world stage seriously? this is a second in a matter of weeks. tough set of sanctions.
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this is from the treasury department. it's not the president's words, but if you read the treasury department's release, the kremlin is correct. put s putin is a force on the world stage. maybe you're waiting for the president to say these things, but you have to give the administration some credit for taking out the 2x4. >> we have some really strong language by the government but not the president. you can imagine hillary clinton would have given a speech announcing these sanctions and being very harsh on putin. i'm sure trump didn't use the language you just read, but you can't say we were soft on russia because the policy has moved a different direction. >> to back up that point, the president did not announce this himself. the president has not said a word on twitter. he's been talking about china and other things on twitter. the vice president said, the president seems to hold bad actors responsible on stage. why won't the president of the
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united states say that or maybe just retweet his vice president? >> i think everything is related in the president's eyes. he can't separate that from himself. the questions of activities are questions about the legitimacy of his own seat at the desk of the oval office, right? that's been very difficult for him to separate out. also just his general personality is to be really nice to these strong leaders that flatter him. in a vacuum, were it not for the russia investigation, it would be fine. you're taking tough actions about actually putting sanctions on putin. at the same time, speaking softly. except we're not in that vacuum at all. as you saw, this list of sanctions even hits on people that are in that nexus of the characters that are now under scrutiny because of the allegations. >> it lays out what bob mueller
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has said, and anyone who has watched the world knows putin has used these oligarchs as these em saissary. the administration, we haven't heard direct from the president, but the administration was criticized for months tofor dragging its feet on getting tough with russia. john mccain says, today sent a clear message to putin and his cronies that there will be a high price to pay for russia's aggression in ukraine and syria, and its attempts to undermine western democracies, including our own. the united states must press forward with a broader strategy to deter and if necessary defeat russian aggression and counter russian malign influence
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activities. >> he had sanctions he didn't want to sign and he did when it was clear it would pass, anyway, a veto-proof majority. the attacks in london built world pressure for the president to act, and the united states acted after a lot of other parts of the world had reacted to that. so yes, they're acting. yes, they're taking some serious steps today as another one. but this is still being dragged kicking and screaming. >> in a way, it was an evolution. it was pretty obvious to everybody that this was not a good relationship and russia was a pretty bad actor, especially given the elections. he took a little time to know that you would have to get rough on russia, and it's actually interesting timing because putin just got reelected. he's trying to figure out how he'll set up for the great beyond. he's got six more years in office.
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messing up the inner circle could have a -- it would have to be continued in this way for that to work. you would have to have this not be a runoff, but a progression of changing tactics. >> i think they definitely deserve credit for putting points on the side of the ledger. but this dichotomy is going to remain. i think he's not going to change the way he talks because he does have a bit of a soft spot for strong men. he likes people who like him, and putin has praised him. there is an u ltel trulterior m. >> the president had an opportunity this week, he was with the leaders of three baltic nations, and more than anybody, they worry about vladimir putin because they live in the neighborhood.
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>> we'll find out, i'll let you know. there will be a time i'll let you know. you're going to find out very quickly. so i think i could have a very good relationship with russia and with president putin. if i did, that would be a great thing. and there is also a great possibility that that won't happen. who knows? >> he's been consistent. he wants to have a friendship with putin even though it's likely not to happen. the question is does he want to be friends with putin for policy reasons or because putin helps with his election. >> take the last two releases from the president's treasury department and it's a parallel universe kind of thing. up next, the president gives an embattled epa chief a standup
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welcome back. scott pruitt is winning praise from the boss and some playful attention from his critics. check out these posters on capitol hill this morning mocking the epa administrator for his low-rent deal on a condo loaned by a washington lobbyist. the condo is just one of the questions about the epa chief's tenure. the president doesn't like bad headlines, but he says he does like pruitt. >> i want to look at it. i haven't seen the detail. but i can tell you at epa he has done a fantastic job. [ inaudible question ] >> on scott? i have to look at it close. i hear different versions of t but i'll make that determination. but he's a goodman, he's done a
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terrific job, but i'll take a look at it very closely. [ inaudible question ] >> no, scott is doing a great job where he is. >> another fact of the president is what he says outside the white house is very different than inside the beltway. >> i'm sorry, i couldn't hear your response earlier about scott pruitt. >> i think scott has done a fantastic job. i think he's a fantastic person. i believe -- you know, i just left -- coal and energy country. they love scott pruitt. they feel very strongly about scott pruitt, and they love scott pruitt. >> and so which is it? should you be happy if you're scott pruitt? the president says when he travels, he hears great things about you, he's a good man, he's doing a fantastic job, or do you look at past people who have
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been called good men who are now former trump administration officials? in the case of pruitt, i would make the distinction that they're more frequent and the president connects him to the job performance. doing a fantastic job. >> and there is a real chorus of conservative activism hind pruitt. they're reacting both to reporters and i'm sure the administration that they don't want to see pruitt go. that suggests perhaps the president is listening to such things, that he'll end up staying on, at least longer than one might think. i talked to a senior administration official yesterday who made no bones about the fact they are looking into this. they are at looeeast saying the is a process beyond just sort of what is in the president's head, and whether that influences him or whether he just goes with his gut, we don't know, but there is a process of looking at all this drip, drip, drip that's going on. >> one of the questions is did
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pruitt have anything to do with trying to get raises for two of his supporters in the agency where he was told no by the white house, but they found another fund to go around the white house. mr. pruitt was asked by fox news. he categorically denied it. he said he had nothing to do with it. when he found out about it, he stopped it. there are a number of officials who say they don't believe that was the true story, that he did have something to do with it. so is the president aware of this fox interview and what the epa chief said? >> you know, with henry? which one, ed henry? >> yes. >> it was an interesting interview. >> stay tuned. >> i do think one thing pruitt has going for him, trump likes rolling back regulation, likes rolling back things scott did, and scott pruitt has done this.
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on policy, this is not like master or shulkin or tillerson. so i think -- i would argue pruitt would already be done except for this alignment on policy. physical many. >> that's the interesting part, though. what would be the tipping point for the president in the sense that you're happy with his job performance. the condo deal raises some ethic questions without a doubt. you're a former state attorney general who faced the same kind of questions back when you were attorney general. the word lobbyist, don't live there. pruitt had a 50-day condo deal, private jet use. scott pruitt asked his security to use sirens in d.c. traffic apparently to get to a
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restaurant. was told no for non-emergency. there's a lot here. some of it about spending, some of it about ethics judgment, some of it about personal bravado, shall we call it, with your black phone trying to get all this together? >> it's elbow rubbing that shouldn't be happening and that's unethical on many points as well, but i don't know. maybe the lines of the president is kind of what you heard him say. i was out in cold country. if it's not a clearcut case, things are 12:30 right now. >> he has been an acceptable. his pitch and -- you do have had
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cajillion people looking to see what he's done, right? of course environmental groups are going to come after you on this stuff even if it's small, and therefore, you need to conduct yourself perfectly. if you don't and you don't have that message, you will get caught up. >> that story that we wrote with several of his top aides wanting to do anything. he can't really say. and that's going to be a problem. >> the president was tweeting out, can you believe the fake med media. that story was published, because your own friend, mr. trump, say that's what you're talking about it. i think he talks to people knowing they'll talk about it and then he can say, what are you talking about?
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on our political radar today, corwin lewandowski, not a charm school graduate. he did use profane language during his testimony to the house intelligence committee last month. lewandowski told democrats investigating russian ties to the trump campaign that he was, quote, not answering their f questions. lewandowski a former campaign manager. he insists democrats on the panel used profanity first. wind up to next week when ceo
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mark zuckerberg faces questions from congress about a facebook data ended up with the political campaign. chief operating officer joining the damage control. >> what we were not focused enough on was protecting. that same data you enable to use in social experiences can also be misused. >> mark zuckerberg will be testifying before congress. what is facebook's message to congress, and do you think mark needs to apologize in that very public setting? >> mark has apologized, and i know he's prepared to apologize in any situation where we have responsibility. >> it turns out congressman trey gowdy is not a big fan of where he works. the republican is retiring this year. you might remember he got a lot of scorn for his leadership on
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benghazi a few years back. in an interview, the former prosecutor said he quickly soured on serving in congress. >> part of what i don't like about the modern political culture is 99 is a failing grade. it doesn't matter whether i liked you yesterday. the first time you do something or take a position i don't agree with, you're going to go from me liking you to being a sellout, a rhino and a squish and never should have liked me in the first place. >> what do you make of the republican party in 2016? >> the goal is to win. >> that's all the republican party is focused on? >> the goal is to win. >> they're always interesting on the way out when they feel liberated to speak. number one, should he have known this was a partisan place? it's been a partisan place for a while. and in the end, it's not about policy, it's about winning. anything surprising there?
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>> there shouldn't have been. look, i think the thing that doesn't ring really true there is that he didn't spend his time in congress being -- trying to be a nonpartisan person. the seminole moment that we saw him in a natural light at the benghazi committee, he wasn't just a member of the benghazi committee, he didn't just sort of go along, he led that committee, and in washington it was an incredibly partisan way. you have to take that way grain of salt when he leads making these statements and compare it to his tenure. >> exactly. in a way it's politically astute to making the point he's making right now as well. i believe people are tired of the partisanship in congress. to go from the head of the benghazi committee to this, it's what people wanted to hear in both cases. >> i do think it's true that there are a lot of people, sure,
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they're happy to be partisans because that's why you get involved with politics who do think this town has found a way for circuit breakers for that. >> they are not mutually exclusive. being thoughtful and being an active person are not mutually exclusive. we have a system that has terribly reverse incentives that create that, so for someone who has been aligned with a partisan cast is not a terrible thing. >> we might understand these words a little better. up next, president trump speaks out on stormy daniels. her attorney says the commander in chief just helped his client's case.
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the president now finally on the record about that payment to the porn actress stormy daniels. the debate now is whether his words will help or hurt in court. you know the basics. the president's personal lawyer
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and long-time fixer michael cohen paid daniels $130,000 right before the election in an agreement she will stay silent about an alleged relationship with trump. cohen says he acted on his own. here's trump at air force i yesterday. >> reporter: did you know about the $103,000 payment to stormy daniels? >> no. no. what else? >> then why did michael cohen make those if there was no truth to her allegations? >> well, you'll have to ask michael cohen. michael jacks michael it my attorns my attorn know. >> daniels is trying to get her nondisclosure agreement thrown out because she says the president never signed it. her attorney says it should help daniels in court. >> you can't have an agreement if one party claims they knew
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nothing about one of the principal terms of the agreement. so the president has just shot himself in the foot. he should have left it alone and now he's put himself and he's put mr. cohen in a world of hurt. >> i think the legal point there is if you look at the document, there is a line for donald trump under pseudonym to sign this nondisclosure agreement, and it's not signed. now the president says he knew nothing about it, he never signed it and therefore it should be invalid. politically the president hadn't said anything about this. he hadn't tweeted anything about it. is it just a coincidence? he had to have known when he came back on air force i yesterday this would be one of the questions. >> politically again, setting aside the legal questions, one of the questions was if -- you know, if you didn't know -- why was the payment made if the allegations weren't true? many politicians would take that moment, that opportunity and say, of course, they weren't
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true. or i absolutely deny it, or make some statement about the underlying charges of the affair. he didn't. he simply referred the questions to his lawyer which may have other legal implications, but i thought from a political standpoint was an interesting moment. >> if you've been following the legal argument, this has been as of a political conversation as much as as a legal conversation. the president is trying to get this back in civil arbitration. stormy daniels is suing in civil court saying sometime she may want to have a deposition of the president of the united states. the "washington post" story is saying nothing in the contract or nothing about his remarks says he gave cohen the right to make binding commitments on his behalf. with these comments, we are almost certain to see this litigation play out in a public court race rather than private arbitration. to talk to mr. cohen from the
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president simply makes it a ripe issue for him to be deposed. >> depositions would discover everything they would have to do -- they would be publicly out there in a trial, though there's been some dispute about what the state of california laws actually say about those particulars that i'm not well aversed in. depending who says what, it kind of changes the play of stormy daniels and her lawyer. so the president has said, i don't know anything about this, pass it over to cohen, and this is the reality they're dealing with. but they've been on television nonstop. there's been contingency legal arguments put out there depending on what the president says. if the president said, i know nothing about this, there could be defamation. this is what we had from the president yesterday and this is one step forward legally. >> congress will control other republicans.
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you'll hear about what he said ysterday if the government controls congress. eventually daniels' lawyer will find it a way to make news, but i think next year he'll be able to really drive the story further, and trump is not -- really at the heart of it, tr p people believe trump had an affair. i don't think it's easy to push aside this story if congress is believing the democrats. >> i wouldn't say too much about either of these lawyers, but what struck me most is stormy daniels and her lawyer is good at playing trump's own game. they will keep this in the headlines because this is a very spicy story and because they know how to do this. that's why he is answering their questions because it's still here. it was a fairly disciplined answer from him and i've been kind of surprised he hasn't gone after her personally, so that may tell us something about how
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he's receiving it. >> he said no, and he said ask me about anything else, and then he said call michael cohen. this is what you get for being his attorney, mr. cohen. pay days during what was supposed to be a policy trip to west virginia. if yor crohn's symptoms are holding you back, and your current treatment hasn't worked well enough, it may be time for a change.
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it's a good time to get your ducks in a row. duck: quack! call to request your free decision guide now. because the time to think about tomorrow is today. there is no doubt the president feels at home in west virginia. no need to stick to the script. >> this was going to be my speech. it would have taken about two minutes, but it would have been a little boring. >> and with that, an event scheduled at the roundtable on tax reform became a 2016 campaign flashback. complaints about china, complaints about immigration. statement after statement that just flat outbreak the fact check machine.
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like this. >> in many places like california, the same person votes many times. you probably heard about that. they always like to say, oh, thats c that's a conspiracy theory. not a conspiracy theory, folks. millions and millions of people. >> that performance put in full force the dilemma for republicans that are not so trump friendly. that's the conversation for 2018. if you're a republican in a place that's in play, that's vulnerable where the president doesn't have 100% approval right like he does in west virginia, would that make you more likely, or dairy vre i venture, less li to let the president in? >> before that one he was campaigning for the guy who lost in pennsylvania whose name is escaping me right now.
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>> rick saccone. >> thank you. rick saccone. the president is getting bolder and bolder and now tossing papers. if you're worried about whether trump will be about you, it's not about you at all. >> all they want is for these things to be controlled. they want to control the message. the last thing they want is to invite the president in and then have him throw away the script because they just don't know what that script leads to. unless you're in a safe place. >> there was a poll in west virginia 86% approval rating for trump. he's on safe ground. we have conversations in washington, we have conversations about others in america. do not discount the value of a president for people like this, a woman who stood up at his event is said thank you. >> tax cuts are a big deal. thank you for listening to us, thank you for fighting for us,
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thank you for caring enough to allow us the opportunity to come here and tell you thank you to your face. my boys, my little 10-year-old, wants to be president one day. >> it will happen. >> we can look around the country all we want at places he's in trouble, and that's a legitimate question. everybody gets one vote and that view counts. >> i would also not underestimate the power of the image of literally throwing out the script. it's his entire brand. it is what got him to the presidency. the question is, look, his numbers were very good in alabama, too, and he was in a trump-friendly part of the country when he was doing this special election. a lot of people like this departure from very controlled politicians. i like some of that, but is it good tv and bad politics. >> he need to get the base
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enthused, so he's firing up the base. the liberal base is obviously very excited about turning things around. >> he thinks the election will work in 2018. we shall see. have a great weekend. wolf starts right now. hello, i'm wolf blitzer. it's 1:00 p.m. here in washington, 8:00 p.m. in jerusalem, 1:00 a.m. saturday in beijing. wherever you're watching around the world, thank you very much for joining us. a flurry of activity in a growing list of scandals in the president's administration. he is standing in awe of beleagueuered erkpa chief scott pruitt.


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