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Democratic Party Shift?; Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy Retiring. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired June 27, 2018 - 16:30   ET



ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: We're in the middle of primary season. Why can't you decide this on the other side of the election? You got a lot of things that are empty, that you have -- empty promises you haven't yet fulfilled.

So this isn't one that needs to take precedent other very important policy priorities, like immigration right now.


As long as Republicans stick together, anything they do to push back will be a rhetorical exercise only. Republicans have the votes. The question is timing.

Probably the only thing they can do is make a point about certain issues during the confirmation hearings and try to knock the nominee off balance. But, beyond that, there is nothing they can do.

And when Democrats say, well, Mitch McConnell is being hypocritical, well, they held that seat open, which they did, very brass hard- knuckle tactics, during a presidential election year.

Donald Trump will make this appointment in July, August, September, November, December. He will be president until 2020. And so this idea that Republicans should hold off because we made Obama hold off during a presidential election year, I just don't think it is very persuasive.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Orrin Hatch, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah, made a point about that. Let's roll that sound.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: But this is not close to a presidential election.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is close to a midterm election, where Senate seats are up.

HATCH: Yes, but that is different. We are going to still have the same people that will hear this anyway. And, frankly...

RAJU: A third of the Senate is up, though.

HATCH: Well, so? That doesn't mean the Senate doesn't function.


TAPPER: The truth of the matter is that Merrick Garland rule that Mitch McConnell created, saying it is a presidential election year, we're going to hold off until the voters have decided, that was invented. It had never -- that had never happened before.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It had never happened before. And one of the...


TAPPER: I'm just saying the idea that they are deviating from it now doesn't -- it is all made up.

TOOBIN: Right.

And the whole argument about hypocrisy, the idea that Mitch McConnell cares whether you call him a hypocrite or not is just so preposterous. Mitch McConnell doesn't even care that he's popular in the Republican Party, which he is not.

He's about getting things done. And nothing matters more to him than getting judges done. He's done it with circuit court judges. He's done it with district court judges. He did it with Neil Gorsuch. And he is going to keep the Senate in session 24 hours a day if that is what it takes to get this nominee confirmed.

And the question is, I guess, can Democrats peel off...

TAPPER: Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski.

TOOBIN: Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, who are nominally pro-choice? And my answer is, not very likely.

TAPPER: And do you think that if the Democrats raise hell, as Angela wants them to, that helps or hurts whatever chance they have in getting Murkowski and Collins to come to their side?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, is that the only objective of the Democrat, then they're really in trouble, because the actual goal in raising hell is to get people who are constituents who feel disenfranchised and also want to vote to and aligned with them to get them motivated.

And if they see a weak spine, that is not going to inure their benefit. But I also want people to remember, in terms of being consistent in hypocrisy, we're also talking about the importance of midterm elections.

A statement and as an example that has been used about the Russia collusion is to wrap things up for DOJ because you don't want anything to infringe on that. Well, if the midterm elections are important in one context about the Justice Department, it should be consistent with other things, like the Supreme Court justice.

So I have a very difficult time hearing people talk about the idea that you can be dismissive of an election cycle, whether it is presidential or midterm, when it's been heralded and championed as a point of contention as to why that particular investigation should go away until later.

TAPPER: Do you think that this issue might help motivate Democrats to the polls or are they -- because you seem a little -- frankly, a little despondent today. You seem a little sad today.

RYE: I am.

You know, Jake, it is one bad news story after another. It has been that way since the election, 2016 election. I'm not talking about the primaries from last night.

I think the reality of it is, is, I'm struggling with how we become a united front, when there is so much toxic mess inside of the party.

TAPPER: Inside the Democratic Party.

RYE: Inside the Democratic Party.

There is toxic stuff in the Republican Party too. But, to me, this is more personal because it is blocking progress. The fact that Chuck Schumer is now on the Senate floor saying we shouldn't have vote on this, this is the kind of thing you should have been talking about Monday on the Senate floor, instead of Congresswoman Maxine Waters, because you disagreed with her approach.

Like, pick your battles wisely. It is so important for us to have leaders in these spaces who are demonstrating real leadership, courageous leadership, not trying to appeal to blocs of voters who they are never going to get, but really trying to figure out how you are going to galvanize this base that is, like me, you said, despondent.

I think it is really important. We can laugh.


TOOBIN: No, I'm laughing because I'm agreeing with you so much.

I like, oh, Democrats are so worried because Maxine Waters said a mean thing. Like, that is the problem in America today?


CARPENTER: Listen, I'm not in the habit of giving advice to Democratic counterparts.

[16:35:02] But we went through this with the Tea Party. And I would say...



You're not going to make progress on this judicial seat. But it is -- can be clarifying for the minority party to find out what issues they will focus on.

Something like a Supreme Court hearing makes you pick your battles. Otherwise, you have a Democratic senator just questioning about everything under the sun. And it doesn't make any sense.

And so maybe this will be a focusing moment, if you want to feel better.


RYE: The good news is, you're not responsible for making me feel better. But I will say...


CARPENTER: OK. I won't try then. Geez Louise.


RYE: It is OK.


RYE: I was saying you're not responsible.

But the thing that I think is important is, I disagree with you that we can't do anything on that. I think that the power belongs to the people.

And, as long as these folks are elected leaders on taxpayer dollars, they have an obligation to serve the people.

CARPENTER: If you can find a way to shame the nominee into withdrawing their name from the nomination process...

RYE: That has a huge impact.


RYE: I don't want my despondence to come across as they can't do anything.


COATES: ... 2006, we had pulling their own name because they were....

(CROSSTALK) TAPPER: Harriet Miers, yes.


COATES: I hate to be crass here, but Justice Kennedy is 81 years old.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg is, what, 84, 85 years old? No one is getting any younger on the bench. And so perhaps one of the reasons to have that focus and that strategy is, there may be a chance for a third Supreme Court justice.


RYE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

TAPPER: Oh, yes, absolutely, if not a fourth.


TAPPER: Stick around. Stick around.


TAPPER: Stick around, everyone.

As President Trump prepares to shake up the Supreme Court, the Democratic Party -- and Angela is an example -- is looking at a potential shakeup of their own, after a 21-year-old woman beat the number four Democrat in the House in a primary last night.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: When Donald Trump was elected president of the United States and de facto leader of the Republican Party, he left many congressional Republicans wondering what exactly their party now stood for, given the president's views on tariffs and Russia and more.

But there has also quietly been a tear forming inside the Democratic Party, one that was ripped wide open last night, when this woman, 28- year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic socialist, trounced a powerful 10-term House Democrat, Congressman Joe Crowley, in a New York primary race.

Crowley has long been viewed as a potential successor to Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi. And his loss now has major implications, not just for Pelosi and the Democratic leadership, but the entire party, as it looks to 2018 and 2020.


TAPPER (voice-over): This apparently is the face you make when you realize that your first grassroots political campaign just sent a 10- term congressional powerhouse packing.

So, how did Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez do it? How did a 28-year-old Democratic socialist who was bartending just last year cause this outer borough revolution?

ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We won because I think we had a very clear winning message, and we took that message to doors that had never been knocked on before.

Women like me aren't supposed to run for office.

TAPPER: Ocasio-Cortez ran in the majority minority district in Queens and the Bronx on a distinctly socialist platform.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: What the Bronx and Queens needs is Medicare for all, tuition-free public college, a federal jobs guarantee.

TAPPER: And her primary opponent was a poster boy of the Democratic Party establishment. Congressman Joe Crowley is the fourth most powerful Democrat in the House, a 56-year-old white career politician, a liberal who might appear moderate as the Democratic Party seems in many places to be lurching leftward.

Are Democrats bracing for a coup from the progressive left? Depends who you ask.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: I think the Democrats are going hard left. If you look at the presidential primary, voters in 2020, it seems to me it was like 35 percent or 40 percent were self-identified socialists. So I think it is a general election problem.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: They made a choice in one district. So, let's not get yourself carried away as an expert on demographics.

TAPPER: The dynamics of this House primary race are reminiscent of the 2016 presidential race, where a certain other establishment Democrat faced a more extreme Democratic socialist competitor who also drew a passionate and populist following.

Is this the new face of the Democrats? Ocasio-Cortez is one of at least 19 Democratic House candidates pushing to do away with the Immigration and Customs and Enforcement agency, ICE.


TAPPER: And another in Florida, Matt Haggman, is running against Clinton administration official Donna Shalala.

The big question is whether all this energy on the socialist progressive left of the party will prompt Democratic presidential candidates to move in their direction on issues.

California Senator Kamala Harris, who is contemplating a 2020 run, recently told viewers of the channel of the progressive left, MSNBC, this:

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: I think there is no question that we have got to critically reexamine ICE and its role and the way that it is being administered and the work it is doing. And we need to probably think about starting from scratch.


TAPPER: Mitch McConnell says last night's election will be -- quote -- "a real drag for Democrats."

But many establishment Democrats are saying, not so fast. We will talk about it with our panel.

Stay with us.


[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're back with my political panel to break down the huge upset in the New York Democratic primary last night. Jackie Kucinich, welcome to the panel. Let me ask you, is the Democratic Party being dragged, pulled, running, however, whatever the verb is to the left? This is the winner last night, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic Socialist.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that remains to be seen but there is a lot of soul-searching going on. I was up on Capitol Hill this afternoon and I think a lot of them -- a lot of the members especially the ones who have been around for a bit are looking in the mirror not only because of what happened in New York but also you had this Supreme Court decision that's going to potentially contract how much unions are able to give to Democrats. So there's a lot of things going on right now where Democrats are looking in the mirror saying, OK where do we go next, either both ideologically and how they're raising money and how they're getting out there.

TAPPER: Do you think that the Democratic Party is going to the left? And we were talking about this during the break, Senator Kamala Harris in March was not in favor of abolishing ICE but now and certainly a lot has happened since March talking about scrapping and starting from scratch when it comes to ICE in that interview with Casey. Do you do you think the Democrats are running to the left?

[16:50:12] ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't think that Democrats are running to the left. I do think there are a number of people who believe the Democrats are too safe playing you know, as establishment politics too well, too chummy with what is now being becoming I think quickly a nightmarish political agenda for many people regardless of political affiliation. So I think they're definitely saying we have to have sort of checks and balances in place. If you're not going to push the Republicans on an agenda that's not fair to us, that could be discriminatory, that could challenge us in our most fundamental ways in our fundamental lives, we're going to get somebody in there who will, that will have that type of courage. So we were also talking about Democratic leadership. Nancy Pelosi

sound bite just now is completely tone-deaf. Here this is a young woman who has an opportunity to make history, you can at least applaud that. Whether or not it has a lasting impact, at least be open to that fact. The responsibility of a leader is not just to talk and it sounds good in a sound bite, it's also to be aware of what the people want. Amanda, there's something I wonder. I look back at the Merrick Garland situation with Mitch McConnell refusing to hold hearings and keeping that seat open. Do you think the Democrats were strong in how they pushed back on that? If the situation had been reversed, would Republicans have fought harder?

AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. And here's what -- first of all, Republicans like Mitch McConnell are happy that someone like Cortes won because Democratic socialists scare the crap out of Republican voters. This is a giant get-out-the-vote activity and yet Donald Trump's positions almost call for an extreme Democratic response. It speaks to the polarization on both parties. And so there's not a Democratic voter that wants their representative to be lukewarm on Trump. And so someone like Crowley loses and a Democratic Socialist win. And what I think we should be looking towards is the polarization of our electoral issues instead of an immigration debate. We're looking forward to a debate where ICE is eliminated first. Donald Trump is calling for a storm trooper to go knocking in every door. ObamaCare repeal versus Medicare for all. And so this is going to be pretty ugly but when extreme candidates dominate the politics, this is what we're going to get.

KUCINICH: You know, I think the other thing that's going on is with Republicans and I don't have to tell you this, Supreme Court cases -- Supreme Court justices get conservatives out to vote, they run on it.

CARPENTER: Yes, absolutely. You do not see Democrats doing that. Traditionally Democrats and Angela can probably back me up here, don't get out to vote because of the Supreme Court. And right now, Democrats aren't running on this. They're running on -- they're trying to run on the economy. They're trying to run on health care not Supreme Court at this point.

RYE: And Jackie, they're also trying to run on building a base that doesn't exist for them. A blue-collar white voter is gone, right? If they're -- it's not just majority minority districts, it's a growing majority demographic of people of color. How are you talking to these folks? When you look at the Joe Crowley race for example when we were talking about on the break $1 million spent from Joe Crowley to protect that seat as an incumbent versus Cortez spending just over a $100,000. So you cannot replace or money cannot replace actual relationships.

KUCINICH: It's how she campaign.

RYE: Absolutely.

KUCINICH: That's what I think --

RYE: She knocked on doors. KUCINICH: She knocked on doors, she got out there in the community,

and that made all the difference.

TAPPER: And listen to Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez -- I'm sorry it's a mouthful and I'm getting used to saying it. I'll be saying for a long time I'm sure -- is she was a Bernie Sanders supporter and she worked for Bernie Sanders. Wolf Blitzer asked Bernie Sanders about her victory last night of what it meant for the Democratic Party. Take a listen.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Is the movement that you inspired in 2016 now for all practical purposes from your perspective, Senator, taking over large chunks of the Democratic Party?

BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: I look at it -- that's not the way I look at it. That's kind of an inside-the-beltway approach. The way I see it is that what Alexandria did is ran a campaign focusing on the issues of importance to her district.


TAPPER: And he went on to say it's not about establishment candidates, it's about whether or not those candidates are actually working for the working class. Some establishment candidates are great, some establishment candidates are owned by corporate America. W

RYE: Well, and that's true I think for both parties. I think the reality here is if you're an establishment candidate, meaning you have experience. As a former Hill staffer, I don't think having experience is a bad thing but you have to listen to the people. You cannot ever be to the point where you're completely out of touch with the issues. I'm not saying that Joe Crowley was, I am saying I know that he had to compromise a great deal to become Nancy Pelosi heir.

CARPENTER: Can we just take a minute to talk about the ads that happening not -- happen not only in this race but other races especially in Texas. She had wonderful ads. The ad sticks with me that I think transcends party and listen to. She's Democratic Socialist I'm going to disagree with a lot that she has to say, but when she talked about meeting a representative that drinks the water we drink and breathe the air we breathe, you could run that anywhere.

[16:55:12] TAPPER: It was -- it was a masterful ad. Everyone stick around. Nancy Pelosi also dismissed the election last night as voters making a choice in just one district that it's not something bigger. We're going to talk about that coming up stay with us.


TAPPER: I have so many questions and they have so many answers but unfortunately that is all the time we have. Be sure to follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or tweet the show @THELEADCNN. That is it for THE LEAD. I turn you over now to wolf Blitzer. He's next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.