CNN's King Compares President Trump to a 'Toddler Who Got Caught'

June 14th, 2019 3:00 PM

During Inside Politics Thursday, host John King and the panel lost their minds about President Trump’s interview with George Stephanopoulos; where he suggested that if a foreign power came to him or someone on his campaign with information about his Democratic opponent, he would advise them to “listen.” Throughout the segment, King labeled the President as “un-American” and compared him to a toddler.

As NewsBusters has previously reported, prime time shows on CNN and MSNBC devoted 72 percent of their programming Wednesday to obsessing over the President’s interview with Stephanopoulos. That continued throughout the day on Thursday; eating up an entire segment on Inside Politics.

According to Margaret Talev of Bloomberg, “It...sounds like an invitation for other countries to send intelligence directly to Trump and bypass...” Before Talev could finish her thought, King jumped in: “Which he did as a candidate in 2016. He had a news conference where he said, hey, Russia, if you’ve got it, bring it on.” 



King argued that “what the President of the United States said, sitting at his desk in the Oval Office” was “un-American.” King also compared President Trump to a toddler: “If you read his Twitter account, he’s like a toddler who got caught. Everybody’s bad so don’t get mad at me because everybody’s bad. It’s what your children do when they get caught.”

This is hardly the first time the media have compared the President to a toddler. MSNBC guste P.J. O’Rourke once described President Trump as “a giant toddler with no real connection to reality, and no sense of empathy or responsibility.” At that point, Princeton University professor Eddie Glaude jumped in and argued that O’Rourke’s comparison of President Trump to a toddler was too generous because “toddlers that I know are empathetic…I don’t see this in Donald Trump.”

A transcript of the relevant portion of Thursday’s edition of Inside Politics is below. Click “expand” to read more.

Inside Politics


12:00 PM


JOHN KING: Welcome to Inside Politics. I’m John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Remarkable comments from President Trump. He says he sees nothing wrong with listening if a foreign government offers dirt on a political opponent, and he says his FBI director is wrong when he says any campaign should quickly report such conduct to law enforcement. Plus, Bernie Sanders under friendly fire today. Several of the more moderate 2020 Democratic contenders say the Democratic socialist brand promoted by Senator Sanders is a recipe to re-elect President Trump. And, the President takes a personal interest in a new look for Air Force One.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Here’s your new Air Force One. And I’m doing that for other presidents, not for me.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Everyone wants to know, is there a pod or not?

TRUMP: A pod?

STEPHANOPOULOS: You seen the movie “Air Force One?”

TRUMP: Yeah.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The famous pod that flies out of the back.

TRUMP: Oh, I see. But, yeah, I mean, I can tell you, there is a couple of…there are a couple of secrets. You know what? There are a couple of secrets. I don’t think we’re supposed to be talking about that. So, anyway, there it is if you want.


KING: We begin the hour with head-spinning comments by the President of the United States. His matter of fact admission that when push comes to shove, he would at least listen to foreign powers peddling dirt on his political rivals.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Your campaign, this time around, if foreigners, if Russia, if China, if someone else offers you information on an opponent, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?

PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don’t… there’s nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, we have information on your opponent, oh, I think I’d want to hear it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You want that kind of interference in our elections?

TRUMP: It’s not an interference. They have information. I think I’d take it. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI.


KING: Well, so much for America First. The President telling ABC yesterday, he does not care where that information comes from. Democrats this morning unified in their outrage.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): What the President said last night shows clearly, once again, over and over again, that he does not know the difference between right and wrong. And that’s probably the nicest thing I can say about him. There is no sense of…of…what’s the word I want to find, any ethical sense that…that informs his comments and his thinking.


KING: Republicans, with few exceptions, silent, looking to change the subject or talking in circles. Senator Lindsey Graham, one of the exceptions.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): That’s not the right answer. If a foreign government comes to you as a public official and offers to help your campaign, giving you anything of value, whether it be money or information on your opponent, the…the right answer is no.


KING: But the President, today, unmoved by any suggestion what he said is wrong, immoral or illegal. On Twitter, he did what he always does when he faces criticism, stirring up a storm meant to distract and confuse. In one…one tweet, he conflated the normal business of being President and meeting with foreign heads of state with welcoming ill-gotten info from foreign spies. But stop and think about the President’s words again. “They have information, I think I’d take it.” Here with me to share their reporting and their insights, Margaret Talev of Bloomberg, CNN’s Phil Mattingly, Paul Kane with The Washington Post and Politico’s Laura Barron-Lopez. I almost don’t know what to say. After the last two-plus years of what the country has been through, why? Just why? Does he just think…there are laws, number one. You cannot take in-kind contributions from foreign nationals. And, plus, there’s just what the country’s been through for the last two years. And even if you’re President Trump and even if you believe you were wrongly accused and this was a witch hunt and this was a hoax, I think I’d take it. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that?

MARGARET TALEV: Yeah, so, I mean, and the story in 2016 was somewhere between, we didn’t do anything and, well, you know, we were just a new campaign, like there was no coordination of anything. We’re just trying to figure out, like, whatever. This is different. The President’s been in office for two and a half years. He’s had multiple briefings and a very long and involved investigation and lots of meetings with counsel. And whether he wanted to or not, he now knows more and has spent more time thinking about what you are and are not supposed to do during election season in terms of getting information from other countries than probably most new Presidents have ever thought about. So that seemed like a pretty deliberate statement on his part that and, I think…we’re not talking about Norway. We also know that.

KING: Yeah.

TALEV: So…so there’s a few implications for this. Number one, yes, it is sort of sound…looks…sounds like an invitation for other countries to send intelligence directly to Trump and bypass…

KING: Which he did as a candidate in 2016. He had a news conference where he said, hey, Russia, if you’ve got it, bring it on.

TALEV: Yeah, and they’re…yes. And there are, you know, there are intelligence channels if…if a…if an ally of the United States, someone like Britain, had information about an American political candidate who they felt was a security threat, there are channels by which they would communicate to the United States government about that. The channel would not be to place a call to the President or his son or his, you know, political…his campaign manager or something like that. So, what the…what the President said seemed deliberate. It seemed like he understood what he was saying and he said it anyway. And that’s why there’s so much consternation now inside his party, by the way, as well as among Democrats.

KING: And we’ll get to some of the reaction and we’ll get to some of what the Republican reflex is when the President does these kind of things. We’ll get to that in a minute. But, I’m sorry, what the President of the United States said, sitting at his desk in the Oval Office, to even add insult to the injury, if you will, is it not un-American?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, it sends a strong signal to foreign adversaries, not just Russia, but others, like China, saying that…and, to me, this is stronger than even what he said in the lead-up to the 2016 election, although that was also stunning to a number of people because he’s saying that he wouldn’t report it to the FBI. And so…

KING: Or he might but he’d listen first.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. Exactly.

PAUL KANE: Depending on how good the dirt was

KING: Right.

BARRON-LOPEZ: So, I mean, the question I also have is, does this mean he also is willing to take hacked material, which was obtained illegally by these foreign adversaries?

KING: That’s a great question. Let’s listen more to the President, because if you’re a supporter of the President out there you’re saying, there they go again. There they go again. Well, don’t…don’t listen to us then. Listen to him.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think you might want to listen. I don’t…there’s nothing wrong with listening. If I thought there was something wrong, I’d go maybe to the FBI, if I thought there was something wrong. But when somebody comes up with oppo research, right, they come up with oppo research, oh, let’s call the FBI. The FBI doesn’t have enough agents to take care of it. But you go and talk honestly to Congressmen, they all do it. They always have. And that’s the way it is. It’s called oppo research.


KING: This…this is one of his tricks, and he’s really good at it. They all do it. And today, if you read his Twitter account, he’s like a toddler who got caught. Everybody’s bad, so don’t get mad at me because everybody’s bad. It’s what your children do when they get caught. They don’t do it. Yes, they do opposition research. There is legitimate opposition research. You can pay people, you can use Nexis Lexis, you can go to the library, you can go to the courthouse, you can do all that. When a foreign government, especially a hostile foreign government, is the source and contacting you and offering you help, that’s not oppo research, that’s a crime.

PHIL MATTINGLY: Yeah, what the President is particularly good at is picking an issue that maybe the broader public doesn’t have a lot of knowledge about or maybe just has kind of tangential surface-based knowledge of, in this case opposition research, and deciding to make it whatever it is he thinks helps his case when, in fact, it’s not that. And I think we probably all have been on the receiving end of opposition research on a pretty regular basis during campaigns. I have not been on the receiving end if any of it came from a foreign government that was offering intelligence. I think the problem here is, what he’s saying is happening everywhere is not happening everywhere. You talk to lawmakers about this. They make very clear that they…if they were to receive anything from a foreign government, they would report it to the FBI. In fact, when it came to the dossier, which I know we’re going to talk about in a little bit but it’s become the kind of big counterpunch we’ve heard from Republicans when they’re willing to weigh in. When Senator John McCain received the dossier and spoke to Senator Lindsey Graham about the dossier, Graham said one thing, take this to the FBI. Anybody who got that was supposed to take that to the FBI. And I think that’s kind of the universal theme regardless of party is, if this ever came to us, we would go to the FBI, because where…where else would you go on something like this?

KING: And this has been a national conversation now for two-plus years, including at the confirmation of the President’s FBI director where he said if…if…in the case of say Donald Trump Junior or a hypothetical, you got a phone call from somebody, quick little Google search tells you they have associations with a hostile foreign government, you should call law enforcement. George Stephanopoulos asked the President about that.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: This is somebody that said, we have information on your opponent. Oh, let me call the FBI. Give me a break. Life doesn’t work that way.

STEPHANOPOULOS: The FBI director says that’s what should happen.

TRUMP: The FBI director is wrong.


KING: It’s fun to work for him in that he calls you out. At least Christopher Wray understands, there’s no, no…you know, there’s no ambiguity there about what the President thinks. But, he says, you know, life doesn’t…give me a break, life doesn’t work that way. His life doesn’t work that way maybe or hasn’t worked that way, but most people get this.

KANE: Yeah, there have been cases where opposition researchers have ended up in jail. There have been criminal cases where people went too far. There was a case in New Hampshire last decade where this happened. He seems to not understand the difference between doing research and actually breaking into something, where that is clearly a crime. That is what the Watergate whole thing spun from was a break-in.

TALEV: Well, you’re absolutely right about that. And this also suggests kind of an adversarial instinct that the President has now about the FBI, that he does not see it as the domestic law enforcement agency that is there to, you know, sort of support him and the public, you know, and good governance, right? It’s…it’s like…he’s…what he’s hinting at is, he doesn’t really trust the FBI. I mean if he wanted more FBI agents to be available so that they could like robustly investigate stuff, he has the power to use the bully pulpit and…and his legislative, you know, folks to work with Congress to try to get more money for FBI funding or to encourage his Attorney General to shift resources. So…but, within the same like 24-hour period, we saw him then, I think it was this morning, tweet that…emphasizing that Michael Flynn had a new lawyer, congratulating him on the choice of a lawyer because this lawyer is sort of a well-known anti-FBI, anti-Mueller probe lawyer and the President’s saying good lawyer, good luck, you guys. So, it is an antagonistic approach toward the FBI that I think is part of what is underlaying the way he answered that question.

MATTINGLY: Can I, can I just add…because I think it actually tracks with this. When asking around this morning, why does…why would somebody do this? Why does…why does he keep doing this, besides the fact that it had been 72 hours since Republicans on the hill had to face a crisis where they had to have furrowed brows and be somewhat concerned, and it’s anything that calls into question the legitimacy of 2016, right? He views whatever the position is that might call into question, in his mind, the legitimacy…legitimacy of his victory in 2016, he has to take the opposite side of it immediately. And I don’t think anybody, at least none of us, are saying that this in any way impacts that. But I think that dictates a lot of what he does, a lot of his reactions. Even if you look at him, you say, what on earth is he talking about? I think that is kind of a consistent theme with a lot of the stuff he says that shakes people in both parties a little bit.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And he can get away with it. I mean Republicans, as you mentioned earlier, John, have pretty much, other than Graham, found ways to talk around this and not give a straight answer.