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At This Hour

Sen. Joe Manchin Reaches Deal With Schumer On Spending Package; Family Sues Sesame Place For $25 Million Alleging Racial Discrimination; Beyonce Fans Upset About Reported Leak Of New Album. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired July 28, 2022 - 11:30   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: The Justice Department's investigation into January 6. It's good to see you, Marc. Thanks for coming in.

MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VP MIKE PENCE: Thanks, Kate. Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: So you've got Mulvaney speaking to the committee, Mnuchin speaking to the committee, Pompeo now could be, and the list goes on, one topic being the discussions around the 25th Amendment. I know you've spoken to this and been asked about this a lot since leaving the administration. How serious can you say those conversations were among the cabinet about that?

SHORT: Kate, I don't recall there being any serious conversation about that. In fact, I'd commend your viewers' opportunity to go and read Vice President Pence's open letter to Congress as to why he felt he was pressured on January 6. I had to ask him to do something beyond his constitutional authority and did not bow to that pressure. And he likewise was not going to bow to the pressure from Nancy Pelosi and others to improperly invoke the 25th Amendment.

What that communication will show you is that Nancy Pelosi, in fact, had commissioned her own commission about a year before that that had come to the conclusion this should only be used in the rare instance of basically mental or physical incapacity, not resolve political differences. And furthermore, it affords a president roughly three weeks to come back with an explanation about why he or she is physically fit. And the reality is there was 10 days left in the administration. This was a political ploy.

And further, you know, when they designed the 25th Amendment, it has higher standards, higher hurdles, think even impeachment does. Whereas impeachment requires a simple majority of the House and a supermajority in the Senate, this requires approval by the cabinet plus a supermajority in the House, plus a supermajority in the Senate. That wasn't happening in 10 days in the administration. So regardless of your feelings about January 6, the reality is, this was really just a political ploy by Nancy Pelosi and Democrats in Congress to try to put pressure to exert this, and it was never going anywhere in our -- in our White House. BOLDUAN: Maybe a political ploy on the part of the members of Congress, but I wouldn't say any discussion on would be a political ploy necessarily on the part of Cabinet members discussing it. But when it -- speaking of cabinet members, Marc, are you surprised by the number of Cabinet members engaging with the committee? Do you think it suggests something has changed since they've seen the committee -- what the committee has been doing seeing the hearings?

SHORT: Well, I don't -- I don't really know the context and engagement, Kate.


SHORT: And I think it's a little bit risky to speculate about it. But it could -- it could simply be that the members are coming in and say, no, we really didn't discuss the 25th Amendment. And this is a dead- end part of the conversation. So that may be why there's a willingness from Cabinet members to come forward in this conversation.

BOLDUAN: It's true. This is not to suggest what substance they would be discussing when speaking with the committee. We know that the VP isn't speaking with -- the former VP is not speaking with the January 6 committee. But would Mike Pence talk to the Justice Department like you did?

SHORT: Well, Kate, I'm going to leave that to the vice president and his attorney. I think that there are differences between, you know, Grand Jury investigations and what is required by law there versus what's required as far as a congressional, you know, invitation, but I think that Mike Pence is not -- there's nothing that he's truly hidden here.

He wrote an open letter to the American people before January 6, as to why he reached the conclusion he did, that there was no extraordinary power afforded to the vice president to overturn the results of an election, nor would Republicans want Kamala Harris to have authority in 2024. And so I don't really -- I don't really see what the purpose of that would be but again, I think I need to leave that to him and his attorney.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Let's talk about policy. You were also the Legislative Affairs Director for the White House. This surprise deal between Joe Manchin and Chuck Schumer for a massive package of climate, energy, and health care proposals, all in the name of fighting inflation is what they say. Republicans don't like it very clearly, we've heard that already. But what does it mean for this White House, Marc?

SHORT: Well, Kate, I think it's not surprising that Joe Manchin supporting tax increases. In fact, a year ago when the bill died, Joe Manchin said I'm opposing more spending because of the inflation that has been created. He never -- he always has actually been in favor of tax increases. What I think is surprising is that after you've had this record inflation, record high gas prices, and you now as of today, if effect -- officially entered a recession, that now is when Democrats want to propose a massive tax increase -- BOLDUAN: Not according to everybody, Marc.

SHORT: Well, that's a -- that's a -- it's a unique revision have a definition of recession. We've had two straight quarters of negative GDP, which has always been the traditional definition. So I'm going to accept that we're now in a recession. And actually, that's the day the Democrats are going to put forward a massive $500 billion tax increase. I think that if -- you know if we were already anticipating a landslide election for Republicans this fall, this only will expedite that result.

BOLDUAN: You really think it's going to hurt them, not help them? It's not going to help Joe Biden if his -- parts of his agenda are unfrozen that were kind of held up because of Joe Manchin. Larry Summers was on and said -- on CNN this morning. He said what this bill, this package does is it's -- there's less demand, more supply, and it directs -- and it directs better bargaining for lower prices when it comes to prescription drugs. Those are the things that are involved in reducing inflation and this bill is fighting inflation.


SHORT: Kate, I think that the reality is that we've now entered into a recession and you have interest rates increasing, which is going to decrease inflation but the last thing you want to do is a massive tax increase. And I've been there when Republicans face a very negative environment in which you basically tell members is we're facing a run because we haven't done enough, let's just do something else. But that is -- that is really a false notion in what you really the voters want to hear. The voters are not looking for a massive tax increase. So when they hear about the taxes that are going to be increased in this bill. Plus $80 billion to hire thousands of new IRS agents to go after small businesses across America, I really don't think this is going to be appealing to most Americans. And I think politically, it is going to be a windfall for Republicans.

BOLDUAN: I can see the political ads being written though, that's for sure. We're hearing them from you. Far lower on the scale of important things that impact Americans' lives, though you are someone with a unique perspective than maybe one of the few who can answer to this. There's a new memoir coming out from Jared Kushner.

And Ashley Parker of The Washington Post, she got a preview and her reporting is that Kushner goes particularly hard on Trump -- one of Trump's former Chiefs of Staff John Kelly, and then Kelly according to this reporting that Kelly was viewed within the White House as a bully with a Jekyll and Hyde demeanor who once shoved his wife Ivanka Trump out of his way after a volatile Oval Office meeting. Kelly -- John Kelly denies the allegation. You may be one of the few people with a clear window into something like this. Does that sound right?

SHORT: I don't -- I certainly don't have firsthand knowledge of any incident with Ivanka. I was -- did serve in the White House under John Kelly and I thought a lot of them I think it's hard to find a family that has sacrificed more for the American people than John Kelly's family. He's an officer and a gentleman. And I think there was a lot of tension between him and Jared because John Kelly sided with the intelligence community in their recommendation not to grant Jared a security clearance. And I think that's probably a root of a lot of this, but it would be unfathomable for me to think that John Kelly would have pushed any woman much less, Ivanka.

BOLDUAN: It's good to see you, Marc. I really appreciate it. We ran --

SHORT: Thanks, Kate. Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: We ran the range today. I really appreciate it. Thank you. See you soon.

SHORT: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us. A major reversal I was just as -- I was -- I was just discussing it with Marc from Senator Joe Manchin, striking a major climate and economic deal with Democratic leaders. What's in it? What happened? And what is the whiplash? We'll be right back.



BOLDUAN: A major reversal for Senator Joe Manchin, announcing a surprise deal with Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer on a bill that aims to lower health care costs, combat climate change, and reduce the deficit. This could be a big breakthrough for President Biden's stalled economic agenda. Let's get over to CNN's Manu Raju. He's got new reporting on the Hill. Manu, what is Manchin saying about this, what's changed?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I just got off a call with Senator Manchin, he is contending nothing has changed. He said that even though it was widely reported that he made it clear privately that he could not go forward with climate provisions and tax provisions in any sort of deal, and that led to so much backlash from Democrats because of his concerns over inflation. He said he wouldn't go for that. He said he actually never made that a red line for him. He said he simply indicated to Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, that he wants to continue talking and ultimately agreed to move forward because he believes this is the best deal that they could get at this time.

He also has -- I asked him specifically about the issue of inflation because he has said repeatedly he did not want to drive up and or inflame inflation in any way. I said, what gives you a reason to believe that this bill, in fact, would drive down inflation? As he's promising he was less clear about that, but he did say his advisers that he has been speaking with in consulting with them had made -- had such essentially made that case to him that it would drive down inflation.

Now, what is actually in this deal was bill would include about $368 billion of climate provisions as well as it has created a 15 percent minimum tax corporate -- minimum tax, it would plateau tax, what's known as carried interest of closing a loophole on that issue. Even though there's concerns from Senator Kyrsten Sinema about that, it essentially would extend Affordable Care Act subsidies for three years that are expiring this year, and it will give Medicare the power for the first time to negotiate prescription drug prices.

Now, everybody in the Capitol was caught off guard by this, including Republicans. Republicans who had agreed to move forward on a separate piece of legislation dealing with semiconductor chips, but ultimately were caught off guard when this deal was announced yesterday. Listen.


SEN. JOHN THUNE, (R-SD): I just think that everybody got surprised by certainly, I think representations that have been made by the Democrats about this deal, and it -- I think there was a certain amount of people getting blindsided not only on our side but on the Democrats' side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I said to the leader play this properly.

THUNE: Well, you'll have to -- excuse me, chat with him about that.

RAJU: Was there any dissent in the room just now in the caucus meeting about this Manchin-Schumer deal?

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW, (D-MI): Absolutely, not. People feel that this is a real turning point for the country.



RAJU: Now, the catch here is that the person who was not at that caucus meeting this morning, Senator Kyrsten Sinema. There's a big question, Kate, about whether she will still support this bill. Her spokesperson tells me she is still reviewing this tax, and right now has no comment.

BOLDUAN: Interesting. And also, obviously, nothing's a sure thing until votes are counted. But what are the prospects here?

RAJU: It's still uncertain because of not just Kyrsten Sinema, but it is going through a review process in the Senate by the Senate parliamentarian to make sure that this bill can pass along straight party lines under the budget process, which is why Democrats believe this can pass because they don't need any Republicans' support. They need all Democrats to get on board in the Senate because they're using this budget procedure.

But if they -- even if they get this through the Senate as soon as next week, what will happen in the House? It's still an open question because there had been some Democrats, particularly from the northeast -- in eastern districts who have been concerned about those state and local tax deductions have limits on those so-called SALT deductions, they want those increase to help their constituents who have been hit by higher taxes because of the GOP tax law. They have made that a red line, that issue of SALT, and it's unclear about whether or not they will do that her -- rather than that they will concede and agree to support this bill on final passage, Kate.

BOLDUAN: All right. Good to see you -- it's good to see you, Manu. Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, a family now suing Sesame Place theme park for $25 million alleging racial discrimination, details next.



BOLDUAN: A Baltimore family is filing a $25 million lawsuit now against Sesame Place. They allege racial discrimination. Now, this lawsuit comes just days after a viral video from another family appearing to show a character there ignoring two black girls, interacting only with white visitors. CNN's Brynn Gingras, she's joining me now. And she's got details on all of this. What's going on here?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so let's just underscore we're talking about two different families here.


GINGRAS: We have the family where the viral video where you just showed your viewers and then we have this other family from Baltimore, who's now filed this class action civil lawsuit, they're asking for $25 million from Sesame Place, and its parent company. Now that's a lot in this lawsuit that they alleged, but it's about pretty close to the same story. They essentially said they went to the park there outside of Philadelphia, their five-year-old daughter was ignored during a meet and greet scenario. And in the lawsuit, they actually claim the four characters.

Now, of course, they can't name those characters as far as the people who are playing those characters, they just say John Doe one through four. But interestingly enough, they say that the company knew that these characters held racial bias. So that's interesting to know. However, they don't provide any sort of evidence to back up the claim.

Another thing to point out is that they are basically asking for anyone who might have experienced some discrimination, who's a black family at that park within the last two years or so -- three years to come forward. So it's a class action lawsuit yet no other family is named in that class action lawsuit. And very notable is the family that we all have known about in regards to that viral video, they were not a part of this.

I actually talked to a representative for that family. They said they didn't even know this lawsuit was going to be filed until about an hour before it happened. And quite honestly, they're distancing themselves. They just sent me a press release. And in it, they say this. And it's important to note that they're distancing themselves. They say we believe this is a special moment for America to effectuate real change and would hate to have such a moment compromised with claims that are not viable or for interests that are purely self- serving. So, two different families asking here for two very different things here, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for laying it out, Brynn.


BOLDUAN: We'll follow this one for sure, I really appreciate it. Let's turn now to this. Beyonce's devoted fans are furious about reported leaks and early sales of her renaissance album which is set to be released tomorrow. Beyhive now begging people to not listen and not share it. CNN's Lisa France has details on this. Lisa, what happened?

LISA FRANCE, CNN SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT WRITER: Well, it appears that the album least according to Twitter, went on sale early in Europe. Some people in different countries have -- were producing photos, what they said was the album that they found in stores, and then it was leaked reportedly on the internet, and people started just going crazy saying do not share this. Some people kind of made a little bit of a joke about it. They said you know Beyonce lost her job which, of course, is referencing the song, her first single off the new album. And so they were like you know, you don't share it because she's going to need the money, which we know she doesn't really.

But the crux of it is that people are upset because when a Beyonce album gets released, it is a total event. You can get ready for everybody to be talking about it on social media, you can get ready for a million think pieces about it, so by having these files leaked, which appear to be the album, at least people believe that it is, having not heard the album, we can't say 100 percent for sure, then that kind of takes away a little bit of the specialness.

BOLDUAN: Yes. There are still going to be a lot of think pieces people diving into what's behind every song for sure.

FRANCE: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Can I also ask you, Lisa, about Shawn Mendes, the pop star?


BOLDUAN: He announced yesterday he's canceling the -- his entire rest of his tour. He says to focus on his mental health. I mean, that is a huge move. What can you tell us about it?

FRANCE: Well, he's joined a growing list of high-profile Gen-Zers who are putting their mental health first. And he put out a statement I think we have a little bit of that. He said I started this tour excited to finally get back to playing live after a long break due to the pandemic, but the reality is I was not at all ready for how difficult touring would be after this time away. It has become more clear that I need to take the time I've never taken personally to ground myself and come back stronger.


So, much like Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka, he has decided to put his mental health first. I think there are multiple things going on here. We have to keep in mind that this is a celebrity and so this is somebody who has the privilege and the opportunity to be able to step away because, of course, he makes a great deal of money. But it's also important for somebody in his position to do something like this and take this stand because it lets people his age and people older any -- let's all of us know that our mental health has really suffered during this pandemic, and so it's important that you take care of that.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And it's great you point out both of those things because it can be both of those things at once. I really appreciate it, Lisa. It's good to see you.

FRANCE: Good to see you too, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Moments from now, we're going to hear from President Biden at the White House and we're going to bring you the president's remarks live as soon as they begin. I'm Kate Bolduan, thanks for being here. "INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts after this break.