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Political Newcomer Outs Congressman; Blow to Public Sector Unions; No Supreme Court Retirements; Shine Potential Communications Director. Aired 12n-12:30p ET

Aired June 27, 2018 - 12:00   ET



[12:00:38] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

Big news from the White House and the Kremlin. A July Trump-Putin summit now a go. Many traditional U.S. allies in Europe see it as another slap in the face.

Plus, the FBI agent the president sees as proof of a Russia witch hunt is on Capitol Hill this hour. Now, we don't know what Peter Strzok is saying about his texts because Republicans decided to keep that meeting private.

And the shock of the primary season. A 28-year-old Latina who has never run for office, thumps the veteran congressman viewed as the heir to Nancy Pelosi.


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: I would support impeachment. I think that, you know, we have the grounds to do it. I think what really we need to focus on is making sure that we are advocating for the policies to win in November. But, ultimately, I think that what we need to kind of focus on is insuring that we can, you know, when people break the law, potentially break the law, that we have to hold everyone accountable and that no person is above that law.


KING: We begin right there, with a new name and the big question she is forcing on the Democratic Party today. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is just 28, a New Yorker, a political novice, a Democratic socialist, and now, a giant slayer. Ocasio-Cortez walloped Nancy Pelosi's heir apparent in a primary last night. Suffice to say, even she was surprised.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm going to grab her. She's right here. I can't let you go --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's looking at herself on television right now.

How are you feeling? Can you put it into words?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Nope. I cannot put this into words.



KING: She is celebrating today. Her party is scrambling, trying sort whether this is just a one-shot wonder or a national shot across the bow. Soon to be former Congressman Joe Crowley is a key Nancy Pelosi lieutenant, her heir apparent, a 50-something white man in line to eventually replace a 70 something white woman.

These headlines capture the drama and the question, is this just a case of Crowley losing touch with his district and not taking his opponent seriously, or is there some bigger, ideological generational and demographic message to the Democratic Party leadership.


ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: We won because we organized. We won because I think we had a very clear, winning message. And we took that message to door that had never been knocked on before. We spoke to communities that had typically been, I think, dismissed. And they responded.

We need to talk about reaching out to young people, people that we think are usually non-voters, communities of color, people who speak English as a second language, working class people, people with two jobs that usually are too business, quote/unquote, to vote.


KING: With me here to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Maeve Reston, Catharine Lucey at "The Associated Press," Carl Hulse of "The New York Times," and CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson.

So, which is it? Is this a one-off? She beat a congressman who sent a surrogate to a debate, insulted -- maybe insulting the voters and insulting his opponent? Or is this younger Democrats of color, more progressive, telling the Democratic leadership, you know what, sorry, get out of the way?



HULSE: If you win that kind of election, you've really done something. And you found a way to win an election you shouldn't have won.

I think the irony here is that Joe Crowley was the youth movement in the house of representatives. And so now he has been replaced. And I think that this is -- you know, it's not a one off, but there will be very few of these, right, in this primary season. But they always send a real message.

And this is the message that Democrats have been wrestling with and that the Republicans have been wrestling with longer. How do you meld these two parts of your party into a winning coalition? I think that it's helpful to the Democrats in this election. It shows that there's real energy behind some of these candidates. The problem's going to become when they all get into the Congress and have to work together and find somebody to be the standard bearer for 2020. Like, how are you going to reconcile these different views. But, you know, I think that this is a political time right now where we're in for surprises.

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: You know, it's so funny, in California, just before the primary went out with Sarah Jacobs, who was one of the youngest candidates who was running this year, and it was so interesting talking to voters who had come and volunteered for her campaign because they talked about wanting someone to represent them who looked like them, who understood them.

[12:05:08] There was such dissatisfaction with Nancy Pelosi being leader again. And, you know, really wanting to push the party in a different direction. And I think that we've seen that, you know, in a lot of districts in California. For example, where more younger Democrats are coming out because they really feel like it's their time to take the party back.

KING: And you see the flip side. We saw it in 2016. A lot of blue color workers, when Donald Trump came to their districts, talked about trade, talked about China --

RESTON: Right.

KING: They said, at least he was talking about their issues and the Democrats had stopped talking about their issues. They didn't see Hillary Clinton talking about their issues.

I want you to listen to Nancy Pelosi here. Here's the question. There are already, what, 60 something Democrats who have either said they won't or they've raised questions about whether they'll vote for Nancy Pelosi. Well, Ocasio-Cortez is learning quickly. She was asked that question by our Poppy Harlow today and she said, wait a minute, that's not for today. Maybe I will. Maybe I won't. Let's see what happens in November.

Nancy Pelosi says, this is Joe Crowley. His district changed. It became more diverse and he lost. She says it's not about her.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: Yes, they made a choice in one district. So let's not get yourself carried away as an expert on demographics and the rest of that.

The fact that in a very progressive district in New York it went more progressive than -- well, Joe Crowley is a progressive, but more to the left than Joe Crowley it's about that district. It is not to be viewed as something that stands for everything else.


KING: Are we sure she's right? Is she sure she's right?

HENDERSON: No, I don't think so, but it's sort of classic Nancy Pelosi, pushing back. But, you know, this is a question for the party, who can embody progressivism, right? I mean do you also have to reflect the changing demographics of the country, of the party, the energy of the party still in terms of that Obama coalition, African- Americans, Latinos, younger voters.

And I think also, you know, even though you had an Ocasio-Cortez and a candidate like Ben Jealous, people who are acolytes of Ben -- of Bernie Sanders --

KING: Right.

HENDERSON: Ben Jealous works for his campaign and so did -- so did Ocasio-Cortez.

I think the question for Bernie Sanders is, can he embody sort of the movement that he created, because he is older, he is white and he -- by this point is a bit of an (INAUDIBLE). So I think it certainly has implications for the broader party, implications for 2020, and implications for Nancy Pelosi in 2018.

One of the things she did was kind of piss off the CBC (ph) by going -- by going after Maxine Waters and kind of criticizing her for some of her comments. And the CBC had been a really loyal voting bloc for Pelosi. We'll see if that remains the same.

KING: Right. And if there's a message to all politicians -- and, again, Donald Trump proved this in the Republican primaries in 2016, is if you're an incumbent, go home. If you're an incumbent, talk to your voters. If you're an incumbent, don't treat it as a take it for granted because people are mad at incumbents. People are mad at people with titles. Voters are mad at people with titles because they don't think they're delivering. That's part of it.

The question is, let's look at who she is now, 28-years-old, running her first campaign. She's a member of the Democratic Socialists of America, a Bernie Sanders supporter, as you said, supports universal health care, fully funded colleges, the abolition of ICE, born and raised in the Bronx, worked at a restaurant just a year ago. She was an organizer for Bernie Sanders in 2016.

Now, this is in a New York district that is left of center. Joe Crowley, as Nancy Pelosi rightly notes, also left of center. She could not win in Omaha, Nebraska --


KING: Or in most parts of Michigan. But the Republicans are going to say, Mitch McConnell already saying it today, look at where the Democrats are going, universal health care, abolish ICE, soft on borders. Will she become a -- sort of a national weapon for Republicans?

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "ASSOCIATED PRESS": Certainly she's someone Republicans are going to point to now and I think -- but I think what we're seeing with this race and also with what's been going on with Republicans this week is really both parties pushing -- continuing to push to their sort of -- their farthest extremes. So you're seeing with this race an example of, you know, like very left candidate, and we package (ph) as an outsider also, but really talking about these very left of policies. And you're also seeing President Trump, especially after the Supreme Court ruling yesterday, really doubling down again and again on the extreme immigration policies, the far right immigration policies that brought him to the White House. And I think what we're going to see, it really is this juxtaposition of the two sides and (INAUDIBLE).

RESTON: One note on that. I was in Utah this past weekend with Ben McAdams. And we have to remember that Pelosi is just as big a problem in those red districts. He is, obviously, taking on Mia Love this year. Emphatically said, you know, I will not support her. It's time for new leadership. He's very conscious of not being tied to that kind of old guard of Democratic leadership. And when I spoke to Mia Love about that, she said, well, we'll see. They're still going to try to put that Nancy Pelosi taint on him in that district to defeat him.

KING: Right, it's also proof -- it is also proof -- and we'll hear more about this in the days ahead, especially if you're a Democrat, and you have a young woman running in your primary, watch out.


KING: The year -- it's a -- and you're seeing it across the country. It is the year of the woman in American politics. And, you're right, she worked hard. She did all the right things. But I think Congressman Crowley also got a, shall we say, a tad lazy and arrogant in that race. But congrats to the winner. We'll see how this plays out.

[12:10:19] Up next for us, the Supreme Court's conservative wing wins once again. The loser, organized labor.


KING: Welcome back.

One last ruling today from the Supreme Court and its term ender was another 5-4 decision. This one dealing a devastating blow to public labor unions. The court's conservative majority says it's unconstitutional to force non-members to pay collective bargaining fees, a crucial source of revenue meant for non-political activities. Writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito said this, quote, this procedure violates the First Amendment and cannot continue. Neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a non-member's wages unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay. [12:15:03] In a scathing decent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote, today's

decision will have large-scale consequences. Public employee unions will lose a secure source of financial support. Rarely, if ever, has the court overruled a decision, let alone of this import, with so little regard for the usual principles of stare decisis.

Joining our conversation, our Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic.

Stare decisis, precedent.

Elena Kagan essentially saying the court is flipping from a decision, I believe, from the 1940s here, right?


KING: '77. More recent. Sorry.

BISKUPIC: Yes. Yes. But 40 years is what you probably have in your mind.

KING: Yes. Yes. Right.

BISKUPIC: And the other thing, John, she laced this opinion with references to the political nature of this. No one said Republican Party. No one said Democratic Party. But we know who unions usually support, the Democratic Party. And she also said, this is a debate that has been going on in these states for many, many years. Twenty- two states have these kinds of laws that say that public sector employees have to pay these agency fees even if they don't want to be part of the union. Twenty-eight states say you don't. She said, it's been -- they're working it out. You picked the winner, majority. You entered this in a political way and you've been on a six year crusade to do this.

It was interesting, John, that Justice Samuel Alito, when he was reading the majority opinion, noted that public sector unions and employees in states shouldn't be relying on this old 1977 ruling anymore because the state had -- the court had been signaling that it had wanted to overturn it.

And that's absolutely true. The conservatives had been signaling that. And Justice Kagan said, you know, essentially you're proud of your six-year crusade coming -- coming to fruition now, but isn't that political? Again, she didn't use the word, but those certainly were the connotations.

KING: And the president is celebrating this.


KING: The president tweeting about this ruling saying, bit loss for the coffers of Democrats. Essentially the president saying a lot of this money goes to the labor unions. They then support the Democrats. The president's tweet, maybe we can show it to you there, a big loss for the coffers of Democrats. Now, it's the Roberts court. He's the chief justice. We watched Neil Gorsuch, the president's pick in his first term on the court. But is it fair also to call this the McConnell court, in the sense that -- that's, you know, this is how Democrats view it anyway. I want you to look --

HULSE: Or the Gorsuch court.

KING: Yes.

For the second day in a row, team Mitch, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, his political campaign committee, for the second day in a row, tweeting this one of McConnell dancing. OK There you go. But -- but we're laughing about this, but it is Mitch McConnell who would not give Merrick Garland, in the last year of the Obama administration, a vote, even a committee hearing. So the seat is held over for Donald Trump and you get Neil Gorsuch. And then you get 5-4 decisions in this term on public union dues, like today, the travel ban yesterday, faith based pregnancy centers, Texas gerrymandering, online retailers and state sales tax, mass surveillance, a number of 5-4 decisions. We don't know if they all would have gone the other way if Merrick Garland were on the court, but a number of them would have.

BISKUPIC: Most of them would have gone that way. And just to remind everyone, it was in February of 2016, when President Obama had nearly a year left in his tenure, that Justice Scalia died and Mitch McConnell single -- well, with a -- not singlehandedly, but he got all his troops to fall in line, held that seat open. And you're exactly right.

KING: And David Axelrod sees it this way. As one -- after one effort, another 5-4 ruling of SCOTUS on voting rights, abortion rights, the travel ban and more are announced. The full meaning of @senatemajorityleader's (ph) unconscionable and nearly year-long blockade against the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland is manifest (ph).

HENDERSON: Yes, and you saw Donald Trump campaign on this, right?

KING: Right.

HENDERSON: I mean he released a list of possible people he would appoint to the Supreme Court. And that was something he obviously -- when he got into office, was a big, you know, talking point for him and a big accomplishment. And I guess yesterday he did essentially offer Mitch McConnell, you know, a thanks and a big wet kiss for doing this for him because it is Mitch McConnell's legacy. And you're going to see him, Mitch McConnell, in his role as Senate majority leader, at least for now, try to pack the courts at all levels of (INAUDIBLE).

HULSE: What McConnell said in an interview earlier this year, that this case, the Janis (ph) case, was exactly the reason that he kept that seat vacant. That this was an example of the kind of case -- and he got -- he got his rewards yesterday.

But I think what this week has done in the last 10 days is to highlight the political nature of the court. It's so highly politicized now and partisan to an extent it's really never been before. And I think the court itself is going to have to deal with this new image it's developing.

KING: Well, and part of the question there is, do any of the justices want out? Do -- or any -- will any of the justices opt out knowing that President Trump would make the appointment?

The focus has been on Justice Kennedy, who is the -- often the key swing vote here. There was a conservative buzz this week that Clarence Thomas might somehow go. You said yesterday you don't believe that to be the case.


KING: They have a lunch, right, after the -- on the final day of the court. They're having lunch right now?

BISKUPIC: Right. While we are talking about them, they are having lunch. And (INAUDIBLE) they do not have CNN in the background.

KING: I can't live stream it? There's no way I can live stream this (INAUDIBLE)?

BISKUPIC: No, no, no. Although -- although, they're all getting savvy enough with their two iPhones that they might -- they might be paying attention to some things.

[12:20:05] You know, I would think that if we get through the end of today with no announcement from Justice Kennedy -- and as I told you yesterday, John, I don't see it coming, but, you know, we can all be caught off guard. I don't think it's going to happen. I definitely don't think that Clarence Thomas is going to leave any time soon. So I think we have these -- these five in the majority.

But even if someone leaves, it's still going to be a very hard core conservative majority because it will be Donald Trump making the appointment.

LUCEY: Yes, and we've seen -- I mean they put out a list during the campaign and they've updated it since then. It's conservatives. It's mostly judges. Senator Mike Lee is on there as well. And they've made clear that's where their pick will come from.

And they really view the Gorsuch appointment, as well as the judicial nominees that they've gotten into courts, you know, at other levels as the real achievement of this White House and something that is very motivating for Republican voters.

HULSE: I mean I think that this is where this -- control of the Senate is so important to both parties because if the Democrats were able to take back the Senate, I think we can be pretty sure they would move no Supreme Court nomination. So --

KING: In two years? They would hold one for two years?

HULSE: I -- I 100 percent -- I 100 percent believe that.

HENDERSON: Mitch McConnell set the precedent.

KING: All right. So we'd have to see a Chuck Schumer dancing video too. That's what you're telling me?

HENDERSON: Please, no. God, no.

HULSE: I -- no, but I think that that's why the Republicans are sitting here going, well, what's going to happen? Although the chances right now are that they'll hold the Senate.

KING: Right. Yes. Looks like it. At the moment. At the moment.

Any justices want to call in for that lunch, we're here. We're here for you.

All right, when we come back, House Republicans get ready to vote this afternoon on a bill they know they won't pass, even despite a last minute vote of approval from the president.


[12:25{56] KING: Some important breaking news just in to CNN.

Bill Shine, the former Fox News executive, who was forced out over his handling of sexual harassment at the network, now in serious discussions to become the next White House communications director. The job has been vacant since Hope Hicks left in March.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins working this reporting. She's live for us now at the White House.

Kaitlan, is this likely to happen and when?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It does seem likely to happen now, John. Now, this is something that has happened before. They've had these discussions before about Bill Shine coming on as the next communications director. But this time it seems quite serious, and it does seem that Bill Shine is likely to accept the job if he is formally offered.

He and President Trump have had several serious discussions about him taking this job. This job that has been left open since Hope Hicks left the White House earlier this year. In recent days they've had those discussions. They are expected to discuss it once more today. That is when he is likely to be offered that position in a more formal manner. And he is likely to accept.

Now, to give a little background to who Bill Shine is, he was that former co-president of Fox News who stepped down last year after he was criticized for the way he handled sexual harassment claims at the network. Now, it's been thought that in the past that was part of the reason why he didn't accept this job because it would put that back again in the spotlight. But we are told, my colleague Oliver Darcy (ph) is told by a source

that Sean Hannity, one of the network's prime-time anchors, is someone who has been pushing President Trump to hire Bill Shine, to bring him in to be the communications director here in the White House. And we know, John, that Sean Hannity and the president do speak off. So certainly he's been trying to use his influence to get the president to hire Bill Shine and now Bill Shine does seem ready to accept this job now that the timing is different, after they've had several discussions, once in the fall, once again in March and now it does seem likely that Bill Shine will be the next White House communications director.

KING: Kaitlan Collins with that breaking news from the White House.

Kaitlan, thank you. Come back to us if you get any additional reporting.

Let's bring the conversation in the room.

It's a job that has been vacant since March. It's certainly a job that the White House could use some help, as we see, on a number of things. But it tells you a lot, the Sean Hannity connection, as Kaitlan just pointed out right there, more and more -- more and more, right? This president turning to Fox personalities, turning to people who have television experience.

LUCEY: Yes, the president really had looked to TV folks increasingly. I mean throughout his presidency, we've seen it a lot, Ambassador Bolton, for example, was a Fox contributor. Larry Kudlow was a TV personality before he came on. You have other folks in the administration who previously were Fox contributors.

And we know the president's an avid viewer. He likes the message. And it's where he gets a lot of information and where he sort of bounces ideas off of. He talks to a lot of Fox hosts and contributors privately. We know that Kaitlan mentioned Sean Hannity is certainly one of them. And so it makes sense. There really is a very strong sort of back and forth between him and folks at Fox.

KING: And so there's an ideological -- there's a simpatico, if you will, between the White House and Fox News that is evident to anybody who's got a TV set and a remote control in their hands. But is it a risk for this president, or does he not care, to bring somebody in who left a very high-profile job, in significant part because of his handling of very serious, sexual harassment allegations and complaints throughout the hierarchy of the network?

HENDERSON: Yes, I think it's possibly a risk and he certainly doesn't care, right? I mean here is a person in the wake of that "Access Hollywood" tape, sort of had to be forced to apologize. It wasn't even quite an apology. So I think this is a president who feels more and more comfortable with hiring people he likes, right, who kind of speak the same language.

And we know that Fox News has essentially run the communication staff at the White House anyway. I mean he gets a lot of his talking points from Fox News. So it seems to be sort of inevitable that now somebody from Fox is sort of in house, because they're obviously always on in the White House anyway.

So, yes, I mean this is -- this is where we see the president basically flexing his muscle. Initially we saw the president -- let me, you know, kind of surround myself with establishment picks, people like Reince Priebus, people like John Kelly even, people like Hope Hicks. And so now he is doing what he wanted to do in the first place probably and go with his gut and instinct.

[12:30:10] RESTON: So when we've seen, you know, some of these figures who were --