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McCarthy Leads GOP Delegation To Mexico Border Amid Controversy; France's President Wins Reelection, Vows To Unite Country; Twitter Reportedly Nearing Deal To Seal Itself To Elon Musk. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired April 25, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KIRA RUDIK, LEADER OF UKRAINE'S GOLOS PARTY: Started asking like, are we going to get into this war? Is Putin really going to attack? So, U.S. diplomats returning to Ukraine is the first sign of the United States' assurance that they believe that we will win. We do believe that we will win. But we need these steps and signs from countries from all over the world that they not only give us the statements, but there is actually like physical steps that are taken to reassure us that the world stands behind us, but also that there is assurance in -- that Ukraine is capable to win this war.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You said that you believe that you will win, the defense secretary said the very same that we believe that -- he believes that Ukraine can win but both of them also directly saying they believe that Ukraine is winning right now. Does it feel that way to you at this moment?

RUDIK: Well, it's always hard to say because the situation changes every single day, like, the attack of Russian missiles on our train stations in the center and Western Ukraine. It created lots of disruption for our people, for the refugees, for their supplies chains, for everything. We are rebuilding it, but the inability for us to create safe spaces, to create protected airspace for my country, is making it very hard to say that we are winning right now.

I do believe that we made, like, significant strides towards actually fighting Russia back but we need to make sure that we are having like things that we can actually feel. Like, for example, the protection of the air -- the air force protection and protection of the airspace is significant for us. When we will be able to say to our people here are the safe places in Ukraine? Because right now? There are none.

You see the attacks on the western cities, you see the attacks on the southern peaceful cities, you see that Putin is saying there's no place in Ukraine where you would feel safe. We want to roll that back, we want to make sure that this is not true and for that, we need the continuous weapons support and supply support from our allies.

And that will be the next step to make sure that we actually can say to our people these are the safe cities that you can come to. This is where you can exhale. This is where you can stop worrying all the time. Then I could tell you OK, yes, we started winning. BOLDUAN: Kira Rudik, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy heading to the southern border right now as lawmakers are sounding off about the leaked audio recording that caught McCarthy in a lie. The very latest fallout from that is next.



BOLDUAN: AT THIS HOUR, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy is leading a group of Republicans to the U.S.-Mexico border to highlight what has become the latest political and policy battle over an immigration policy known as Title 42. But the trip also comes at an interesting time, just as McCarthy is facing fresh criticism over the release of leaked audio recordings that reveal he said he intended to tell then-President Trump to resign over the Capitol insurrection.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R-CA): The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass and it would be my recommendation he should resign.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Melanie Zanona has more on this from Texas. So, Melanie, there's this trip, and then there's also what Kevin McCarthy might be trying to get away from.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: That's exactly right, Kate. There is what Republicans say is a crisis at the border, and then there's the crisis of Kevin McCarthy's own making. Kevin McCarthy is here today at the southern border with a group of House Republicans. They are hoping to call attention to the issue of immigration, where they feel like they will have the upper hand in the midterms.

And specifically, they want to call attention to President Biden's decision to lift a Trump-era immigration policy known as Title 42. That is a move that has divided the Democratic Party. There is some concern about an influx of migrants at the border, so Republicans have been stepping up their messaging and really trying to put the squeeze on vulnerable Democrats who are up for election.

But the problem, Kate, is this high-profile trip is being overshadowed by the controversy surrounding their own leader. As you mentioned, Kevin McCarthy was caught on tape last week bashing Donald Trump in the days after January 6, that is reporting that he vehemently and initially denied only to have those tapes come out later.

Now, he has made up with Trump since then. He's also been calling allies over the weekend to shore up support and contain the fallout. But he's going to have to answer questions about why he lied to the public here today in Eagle Pass, Texas, Kate. BOLDUAN: Thank you, Melanie. I really appreciate it. Joining me now for more on this is CNN Chief Political Analyst. Gloria Borger. It's good to see you, Gloria.


BOLDUAN: Where do you see this all standing right now?


BORGER: Well, I think right now, it's kind of in stasis. I think Donald Trump has said to the Republican Party, you know, I'm really not so mad at Kevin McCarthy, that was a signal for Republicans to back down off of him, but I do think this is going to rear its ugly head again. If Republicans take control of the House, Kevin McCarthy wants to be a speaker and people know that he lied and that he was thinking about, OK, we are -- this President ought to resign.

Now, lots of Republicans have collective amnesia on this subject. They all -- lots of them felt the same way in the immediate aftermath of January 6. But when it became clear to them that the base of the Republican Party felt differently, they kind of changed their minds shifted in another direction. That is what Kevin McCarthy has done. He has followed the base. He will continue to do so. And so right now, it's kind of at ease for now until other things occur. And then, of course, Kevin McCarthy, as we know, can shift with the political winds.

BOLDUAN: But on one part that you were just hitting on, Donald Trump's reaction to this.


BOLDUAN: He told The Wall Street Journal that he didn't like the call, but he also doesn't seem to have a problem with it. And here's one. "I think it's all a big compliment, frankly, Mr. Trump said of Mr. McCarthy and other Republicans who criticized him after January 6, and then said they would still back him. They realized they were wrong and supported me." Did that surprise you?

BORGER: Well, it did surprise me until I read the statement over and over again and I realized that this is the way Donald Trump thinks. It gives you great insight into his mind, which is that they were wrong when they said I should resign. They were wrong when they criticized me. But I am so powerful and so important in the Republican Party that they changed their minds.

And also, maybe they listened to me and understood that I was right all along. This is the way Donald Trump thinks. And after I thought about that, for a while, it made an awful lot of sense to me because he realized, or in his own mind, he thinks that he has conquered Kevin McCarthy and the rest of those people who dared to disagree with him on impeachment, for example. And he has made it his life's work right now to try and defeat those people in the upcoming midterm elections.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and I think what is clear from at least the reaction so far --


BOLDUAN: As you will point out from Republicans is that they are willing to give Kevin McCarthy the benefit of the doubt. Let me play for everyone. Congressman Michael McCaul.


REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R-TX): You have to put it in the context of when it was given. This was literally right after January 6. It was a very dark day, it was a very shocking day, a lot of emotions flying high. What Kevin was doing was gaming out various options, that hey, if what -- if he got impeached in the House and then the Senate convicted, would it be better for him to resign prior to that? But the fact is, he never had that conversation with President Trump.


BOLDUAN: I thought that was interesting and telling because there were questions of how our fellow Republicans going to react to this because Kevin McCarthy needs their support if he really wants to reach his ultimate end goal forever, which is to be house speaker. We see that now, and it tells you what?

BORGER: It tells me that a lot of Republicans were thinking the same way that Kevin McCarthy was thinking at that moment. And I don't know about Congressman McCaul, but a lot of Republicans were saying, you know, this is it.

Remember, Lindsey Graham, enough is enough in the Senate. So there were a lot of Republicans thinking that way until they put their fingers in the wind and realized that the base of the Republican Party was not thinking the same way. They were thinking, wait a minute here, those people going up the steps of the Capitol, some of them were patriots, they didn't intend to do any damage, etcetera, etcetera.

And so, the Republican Party began to shift and began to have this kind of collective amnesia as I was talking about before, and began to kind of soften their opposition to the insurrection. That happened to Kevin McCarthy as he realized the support for Donald Trump was not waning with the base at all and so they've been twisting themselves in knots ever since, to try and defend Donald Trump, and now, some of them trying to defend Kevin McCarthy.

BOLDUAN: And there's also this issue there at the southern border to focus in on, an issue that is not just red versus -- it's not a red versus blue debate, really.

BORGER: Right.

BOLDUAN: I mean it's a policy and a real political fight over Title 42. And it really does cut through partisan divides. How important do you think this conversation is for the president and for the midterms?

BORGER: Well, I think -- look, I think it's an important conversation at any time.


BORGER: Right now, if you look at the polling, it's not the number one issue for all Americans because they're worried about inflation, for example, gas prices, etcetera.


BORGER: But I think within the Republican base, it is a very important issue. So, Kevin McCarthy going on this trip is a way to kind of change the subject, and it is a problem inside the Democratic Party because there a lot of moderate Democrats who were saying, don't do this right now, Mr. President going to hurt me. In my district, I have enough problems but they -- you know, Democrats are complaining and Republicans are going down there to sort of put it out front for voters.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Gloria. Thank you.

BORGER: Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. A big win for French President Emmanuel Macron and the first reaction from President Biden after Macron beat the odds. Details and live report from Paris next.



BOLDUAN: A major victory French -- for French President Emmanuel Macron. He defeated far-right rival Marine Le Pen in a runoff vote that could have reshaped European politics as we know it. Macron is now the first French leader in 20 years to win re-election. CNN's Melissa Bell is live in Paris with more. Melissa, big night from Macron, so where does this go from here?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They got from Macron, as you suggest, Kate continuity when it comes to Europe and to Ukraine. In fact, the two phone calls that President Macron had immediately after his victory last night, were with Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, who will have heaved a sigh of relief for his part that Europe would be able to stay together, but also with President Zelenskyy, which tells you all you need to know about Macron's determination to stay by the Ukrainian president side.

Now, a little later today, he's expected to speak to President Biden, the American president saying a short while ago that he felt good about the French election result. But if that is the headline, that 58 percent that Emmanuel Macron won -- to win that reelection, the other headline of the night is the extraordinary score that was recorded by the far right's Marine Le Pen. She came within just over 5 million votes of Emmanuel Macron. That's what he spoke to last night in his victory speech.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: I know that for many of our compatriots who choose the extreme right today, their anger and disagreements which led them to vote for this project, but also find a response. And that will be my responsibility and that of those around me.


BELL: He knows that he has to switch out to those voters to speak to them because there's another big election in just a month's time here in France, Kate, and that are -- that is the legislative vote. If he does not get a parliamentary majority of his time, he's going to find it awfully difficult to govern. And that's what he needs to work on over the course of the next month, convince those far right and far left extreme votes that they need to rethink and back his party, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Melissa, thank you. Thanks for that. A dangerous situation we also want to turn to his -- that which is flaring up in New Mexico. A pair of wildfires are merging into one massive blaze scorching tens of thousands of acres. It's just one of several wildfires also burning out west at the same time. CNN's Lucy Kafanov has been following all this. She joins us now. Lucy, what's happening?

LUCY KAFANOV, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, unfortunately, these fires are no closer to being contained, especially in New Mexico as of Sunday night, the New Mexico fires were just 12 percent contained, the two blazes merging to form a perimeter of more than 180 miles. Much of the area is suffering from prolonged and severe drought.

New Mexico's Governor is warning that the fires are coming dangerously early in the season and that this is just the start of what's expected to be a longer more dramatic and frankly, more dangerous fire season. And as you point out, New Mexico is just one of several effective states with flames tearing through Arizona and Nebraska.

One person dying in Nebraska, a retired fire chief who was actually acting as a spotter. He was overwhelmed by the flames as he was driving near one of the blazes there. But there is some temporary relief in sight at least for today, Kate, with easing winds and lower temperatures expected in the southwest. There's even a chance of rain and snow showers in the northeast and New Mexico, something that's very much welcomed there, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Very much needed. Thank you so much, Lucy, for tracking that.

Also, let's turn to this. An idea that seemed far-fetched just a week ago now seems closer than ever heard to becoming reality. Today could be the day that Twitter sells itself to Elon Musk. New news reports say a deal is near. CNN's Brian Stelter is here with more on this. What's happening?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, these talks turned very serious on Sunday, according to a source familiar with the matter. Why? Because must prove he had the finance and he proved on Thursday that he really could afford to buy the 91 percent of Twitter shares that he doesn't currently own. He proved he couldn't take it private and that is why the Twitter board had to take this very seriously.

As you said, at first, investors weren't sure how serious Musk was but he is proving that he really is in this to win it. He has started to woo some large shareholders, started to win them over, and that's why the board began meeting on Sunday to take this seriously to do the vetting. And now here we are midday Monday, this could be announced later in the day. However, the deal could always still fall apart.


STELTER: It's never done until it's done. But at the moment, Musk does seem to be in line to take over Twitter.

BOLDUAN: Is there any indication of what this deal would mean for Twitter for winning for you know --


BOLDUAN: What --

STELTER: For one of the most important communications platforms in the world.

BOLDUAN: Yes, what is Elon Musk's plan?

STELTER: No one knows. And I'm not sure Musk even knows. Is it a plaything for him or is it a business? Is he in it for the politics or is it for fun? He loves the platform. He loves to post memes as he just buying because it's a fun toy.

BOLDUAN: Also he's gotten himself into a ton of trouble on this platform.

STELTER: Yes. And maybe if he owns it, maybe he'll get in less trouble. Is it going to bring Donald Trump back to the platform? Is it going to make it a free for all? I think he would repel some users if he opened up the gates and took away all the content moderation, but he is a free speech absolutist. It's going to be fascinating to see what he does if he does it on Twitter. And I think, Kate, he will probably Tweet us and tell us what he's going to do.


BOLDUAN: Well, probably that may be where we hear it first.


BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Brian. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it. And thank you so much for watching AT THIS HOUR. I'm Kate Bolduan. "INSIDE POLITICS" starts after this quick break.