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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Hunter Biden Indicted On 3 Gun Charges; Rep. Jamie Raskin, (D- MD), Is Interviewed About Hunter Biden Indictment; Pelosi On Whether VP Harris Is The Best Running Mate For Pres. Biden: "He Thinks So And That's What Matters"; Trial To Begin Next Month For Chesebro & Powell; Prosecutors Give Chesebro Attorney Eight Terabytes Of Data; Trump Pressed On His Claim That One Document He Showed Off Was A Newspaper Article, Not A Classified Attack Plan; Talk Shows Back In Production Despite Writers Strike. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired September 14, 2023 - 17:00   ET



EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This is where those allegations, which is the location of where those alleged crimes took place. Again, that is still possibly in the offing for Hunter Biden, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So, let me just ask you, if they bring those tax charges against Hunter Biden in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles, as you suggested, they are already signaling they may --

PEREZ: Right.

TAPPER: -- does that not lend credence to what we heard from those whistleblowers, those IRS agents, one of whom was here, who said that David Weiss behind closed doors had expressed frustration that he didn't have power to, you know, do official duties in Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles?

PEREZ: Well, not necessarily. I mean, it doesn't prove their allegations. But I think what we're going to see in the coming months certainly is a litigation of exactly what they are claiming, which is that they were prohibited from going all -- to look into all of the allegations that there were against Hunter Biden. And certainly because now the deal fell apart, the special counsel says that they're going to bring these charges because they cannot come to agreement with Hunter Biden on how to resolve it.

Now, the shadow of politics is hanging over all of this, right? If you hear -- if you listen to Hunter Biden's team, they believe that the special counsel is bringing this simply because of pressure from Republicans. And Republicans say that there's far more here that needs to be investigated.

TAPPER: Yes, they think that all the House Republicans criticizing Weiss spooked him and that's why he asked for the additional powers and now he's being more aggressive with Hunter.

PEREZ: Right. And look, we have a statement from Abbe Lowell, Hunter's attorney, and I'll read you just a part of it. He says, "Hunter Biden possessing an unloaded gun for 11 days was not a threat to public safety, but a prosecutor, with all of the power imaginable bending to political pressure presents a grave threat to our justice -- system of justice." It is notable that Hunter Biden says -- his legal team says that they believe that the plea deal, or at least the diversion part of this, is still binding and that the government needs to abide by this, that this charge should never have been brought.

TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Let's go now to Capitol Hill, where the drumbeat from House Republicans over Hunter Biden has played out for the last few years, and where it's likely there would not be any impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden right now if there were not for the business dealings of his son. CNN's Chief Congressional Correspondent Manu Raju joins us now.

Manu, how are Hill Republicans reacting to the fact, to the news that Hunter Biden has been indicted on these gun charges?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, perhaps not surprisingly, they are very critical. They believe that far more should have brought against Hunter Biden. As Matt Gaetz said to me, it's like charging Jeffrey Dahmer with littering. That's his argument. They believe that the Justice Department has mishandled this from the start.

Of course, when that plea deal first came together, Republicans, including the speaker of the House, were furiously critical of that deal. They believed that they should not have gone forward there. And they said that they wanted to investigate everything that led up to it, including bringing in the special counsel for an interview, bringing in everybody who was part of that investigation, asking for records and testimony. They have not gotten those records and testimony even as the Justice Department has offered special counsel Weiss to come to Capitol Hill because Jordan, Jim Jordan, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wants other people to talk to first.

Now, there is an expectation in the House GOP circles that perhaps now that Hunter Biden has been charged, it will be much harder to get Hunter Biden to come to Capitol Hill as part of the impeachment inquiry. Remember, this has been a drumbeat on the right to push for a subpoena for Hunter Biden. They have not issued a subpoena yet. But now that he has been charged, there is a belief that could scramble their calculus in this investigation to try to tie all of Hunter Biden's business dealings to the president of the United States. Proof that they have not been able to corroborate yet, but one that they believe would be central to getting Hunter Biden to testify about.

But can they get that now? That is still an open question.

And, Jake, Democrats reacting much differently here. They're saying that if Hunter Biden broke the law, then he should be charged. But in the words of people like Congressman Adam Schiff and Jamie Raskin, they're saying that Democrats are different in their view than Republicans. They say if Hunter Biden broke the law, he deserves to be prosecuted, unlike how Republicans deal with Donald Trump, if he broke the law and then said they defend Donald Trump. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, thanks so much.

With me now, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland.

Congressman Raskin, good to see you. Let's start with the indictment of Hunter Biden. Three counts. What was your reaction to the charges?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), RANKING MEMBER, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Well, the rule of law continues to work in America. I suppose it was not unlike my reaction after the four indictments against Donald Trump and the 91 criminal charges, which is that the grand juries have met, the grand juries have assembled all the facts, and the grand juries have acted. And, you know, I know there's some jubilation and celebration among my GOP colleagues and, you know, that's fine if that's their feeling.


It's a bit ironic to me, given that I think if almost anybody else in the country were charged with those gun charges, they would be calling for Second Amendment rallies all over the country. But we do stand up on our side of the aisle for the rule of law. We want to see the rule of law work in everybody's case, whether we're talking about Hunter Biden or Donald Trump or Jared Kushner or anybody else.

TAPPER: Actually, I haven't heard much jubilation from House Republicans, but the comments that mainly we're hearing are along the lines of, this is -- somebody said something to Manu Raju, this is like charging Hannibal Lecter or who was it or Ted Bundy with littering or someone like, somebody notorious charging them with littering, and like unless, I think, Congressman Comer, the chairman of House Oversight, you know, insinuating that unless he really goes after all the nefarious players, including the big guy, reference to President Biden, you know, this is a sham, I'm paraphrasing, but that's really what I'm hearing from your Republican colleagues.

RASKIN: Well, remember that we're talking about a special counsel who was originally the U.S. attorney for Delaware, named by Donald Trump, and President Biden retained him in office when President Biden was elected, so this was Trump's U.S. attorney, now the special counsel in the case. And the problem I have with my colleagues is they pick and choose when they stand by the rule of law and when they don't. Obviously, you know, Donald Trump has diagnosed it pretty much correctly when he says he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and he would not lose any support among his right wing following. Fortunately, that might relate to the Republican Party today, but that's not how the rule of law works, and that's not how the Justice Department works.

And on our side of the aisle, we say if people commit crimes, they're entitled to presumption of innocence and due process. But the grand juries meet and they hand down indictment then you move forward to trial, and again, due process and the presumption of innocence operate, but we want to see that our laws are enforced. And I would love to hear just one Republican state the same thing on the other side.

TAPPER: Well, we just had Congressman Ken Buck on and he said that the reason why Speaker McCarthy did not bring the impeachment inquiry for a vote is because there were at least 20 Republicans that were not going to vote for it, presumably including him, because they didn't see any evidence that President Biden had financially benefited from many of Hunter's business dealings. So there are at least 20 who are trying to look for the evidence.

But one of the questions I have about the impeachment inquiry is, is there any chance this doesn't end in an impeachment vote? Because I have a difficult time envisioning Speaker McCarthy having this impeachment inquiry, ending with a clearing of President Biden's name. Do you know what I mean?


TAPPER: It doesn't matter what evidence they find, even if they find nothing more than what we have now, don't you think we'll just say, oh, it's a culture of corruption, et cetera, et cetera, and they just proceed from there?

RASKIN: Well, I think we got used to that kind of politics under Nancy Pelosi where she didn't bring anything to the floor unless she knew exactly what the vote was going to be, or at least that it was going to win and her side would prevail. But as we saw during Kevin McCarthy's election in the very first week of this Congress, he didn't mind losing vote after vote after vote, and the MAGA right did not mind pressing him to the wall in that way. So I think that the MAGA right, which of course, is driving the train here, will say, we want votes on impeachment, we think we will be able to bring enough coercive pressure on members like Ken Buck, who right now are, of course, saying that there's simply not a shred of evidence linking President Biden to any form of criminal wrongdoing or high crime and misdemeanor. But we've been through that on the floor with them and I think they're willing to drag the whole country through such a process.

I mean, we came back to work this week and they've basically had three outrageous demands. One, shut down the government of the United States, two, impeach the President of the United States for no reason at all, and three, they want to overthrow Kevin McCarthy himself. That is the rampaging right wing faction which Kevin McCarthy is trying to subdue through appeasement.

TAPPER: I want to play this clip from Anderson Cooper's show last night where he interviewed former Speaker Pelosi. Take a listen.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Is Vice President Kamala Harris the best running mate for this president?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): He thinks so, and that's what matters.

COOPER: Do you think she is the best running mate, though? PELOSI: She's the Vice President of the United States. When people say to me, well, why isn't she doing this or that, I said, because she's the vice president. That's the job description. You don't do that much.



TAPPER: Not exactly a ringing endorsement. Do you think Vice President Kamala Harris is the best running mate for President Biden? And what do you make of Speaker Pelosi's answer there?

RASKIN: That I mean, there didn't seem to be anything wrong with that answer. Obviously, President Biden, Vice President Harris, Speaker Pelosi for that matter, all of us have been laboring under just a de luz of propaganda disinformation and criticism by the MAGA right. This is a rule or ruin faction which takes the position that if they're not going to be able to control the direction of government, they are going to throw grease in the gears to try to shut everything down. And what we're all dealing with right now is this impending September 30 deadline because the MAGA right wants to shutdown the government.

TAPPER: Congressman, you are doing what Speaker Pelosi did, which is not answering the question. Do you think Kamala Harris is the best running mate for President Biden?

RASKIN: Is it? Well, obviously she gave the right answer, that's President Biden's choice. And I think she's an excellent running mate for President Biden. You know, I don't know what more needs to be said about that. Obviously, people are still trying to, you know, throw presidential politics into turmoil.

But President Biden and Vice President Harris are running on an excellent record, $1.2 trillion investment in infrastructure, the Inflation Reduction Act, record investment in climate action, we've reduced prescription drug prices. And so, there's a very strong policy record to run on there. And I want to resist the tendency to try to trivialize all politics by making it just about personalities.

TAPPER: It's not a -- no one's making about personalities. I mean, like, it's just a simple question. Do you think Kamala Harris is the best running mate for President Biden? You've sent she's excellent, that's farther than Speaker Pelosi went.

But do you think she's the -- I'm not trying to throw anything into turmoil. I actually think it's a pretty simple question. Do you think Kamala Harris is the best running mate for President Biden? Yes or no?

RASKIN: I mean, I don't know what else I can say other than she --

TAPPER: You could say yes.

RASKIN: -- would be an excellent running mate and an excellent vice president. I don't know whether President Biden is named his running mate. We're going to a convention next summer. It's, you know, a year away from now, then we're going to go through that process. So --

TAPPER: I mean, you say I don't know why -- you didn't say the answer is you can say yes, you can say yes, I think Kamala Harris is the best vice president and the best running mate for President Biden. That's the answer you could be giving right now. Yes, she is.

RASKIN: So, I've not seen any public opinion polling. You know, I -- you might be a stronger vice presidential running mate than her or me or anybody else. I don't know who else if you're talking about the polling, but I will tell you as a matter of substance and public policy, she'd be an excellent choice.


RASKIN: And she and the President have done an excellent job.

TAPPER: I'm only running as a member of the Bull Moose Party, but I appreciate your vote.

Democratic Maryland Representative Jamie Raskin, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Good to see you as always. And by the way, great to see your hair. I don't -- for those who don't know, you were fighting cancer. You had chemo, you've been wearing your --

RASKIN: Little Steven's bandana.

TAPPER: Your little Stevie bandana from several months.

RASKIN: I'll never be that cool again.

TAPPER: And -- but your hair looks great. And it's good to see you.

RASKIN: Thank you for having me.

TAPPER: A major development for Donald Trump in his case in Fulton County, Georgia, why a judge is delaying his trial past next month. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Back with our law and justice lead. And for the first time in the history of this great republic, the U.S. Department of Justice has filed charges against the son of a sitting United States president. We're following the breaking news, of course, of Robert Hunter Biden's indictment today on three gun charges, as well as the major developments in the criminal case against former President Donald Trump and 18 other defendants in Georgia.

Former principal deputy assistant attorney general under George W. Bush Tom Dupree joins us now. And we'll get to the Georgia case in a second. But first, I want to get your reaction quickly to the Hunter Biden indictment.

TOM DUPREE, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTY. GENERAL, GW. BUSH ADMIN: I'm not surprised. We knew this day was coming, Jake. When that whole plea deal blew up, the special counsel or now the special counsel, said, look, if you blow this plea deal up, there are going to be charges. We're going to litigate this case in court. And he was true to his word, he did.

Three felony charges, very serious. Each carries the possibility of significant jail time for Hunter Biden. I suspect his lawyers today are looking back at that blown up plea deal and saying, you know, maybe we made the wrong choice. That was actually a pretty good deal they had.

TAPPER: I don't know any lawyer that ever admits having made a mistake, but maybe you're right somewhere deep in --

DUPREE: In the heart of heart, they know it. They know it.

TAPPER: -- deep in the recesses of their mind.

Back to the Georgia case. Today, Judge McAfee shut down District Attorney Fani Willis' request to try Trump and his co-defendants, all 19 of them together next month. She argues splitting up the case, quote, "To multiple lengthy trials would create an enormous strain on the judicial resources of the Fulton County Superior Court." Georgia, of course, has what's essentially a rocket docket, a right to a speedy trial. Two of them want the case next month, and the judge just said, that's impossible, you can't have it. Does that mean you think that ultimately the racketeering case might fall apart?

DUPREE: Well, I'm not sure it's going to fall apart. I think it's going to be splintered. I think we're going to see different groups of different defendants tried at different times. And look, I take the DA's point that she doesn't want to excessively burden the judicial system. But I have a news flash, trying 19 defendants all at the same time, that would burden the judicial system. I think trying all 19 together was a non-starter from the very beginning.


DUPREE: We knew that some defendants would want to go their own separate ways. Doesn't surprise me at all that the judge said, that's how we're going to proceed. So we'll get a preview. These two are going to go first, but you can bet all the other defendants, all their lawyers are going to be watching that proceeding like a hawk to get tips, because it's a preview of coming attractions for them.

TAPPER: And it's not easy to put on a trial, necessarily. People might think it is. I mean, it may be for, you know, jaywalking or something, but the lawyer for Kenneth Chesebro, that's the alleged architect of the fake electoral scheme, eight terabytes of discovery evidence today. To put it in perspective, the newest priciest iPhone models only have one terabyte of storage. Chesebro's lawyer got eight terabytes of discovery evidence. Are you surprised that this massive trove of evidence, A, exists? And B was presented months after the indictment was handed down?

[17:20:21] DUPREE: Well, I'm not surprised it exists. I mean, look, this is a sprawling case. I mean, the indictment itself reads like a Victorian novel, hundreds of pages. So the volume of discovery material doesn't surprise me. And, look, they will review it electronically.

This is not the olden days of litigation where you have to go through page by handwritten page of material. They can search, they can do electronic term searches, so they'll process that material pretty quickly. But nonetheless, it's a vast volume of things. This is not a simple jaywalking case.

TAPPER: But is that eight terabytes, is that everybody's discovery evidence or is it just for Chesebro?

DUPREE: It's -- well, in this case, it's just for Chesebro, but my guess is there will be a huge amount of overlap with the other defendants. So what they're using against Chesebro, in all likelihood, they'll use against a lot of the other defendants, too.

TAPPER: Still a lot of crap.

DUPREE: Oh my gosh, huge.

TAPPER: All right, Tom Dupree, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, Mitt Romney's revelations. The Utah senators scathing criticisms and expressions of fear for the Republican Party. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Our politics lead now and a stark warning from a member of Republican royalty about what his party is becoming. Republican Senator Mitt Romney from Utah announced yesterday that he will not run for re-election next year. At the time of the announcement excerpts from McKay Coppins' upcoming biography "Romney A Reckoning" were released. Happens, a writer with The Atlantic where the excerpts appeared got unprecedented access to the Senator and 2012 Republican presidential nominee. Romney, of course, was a tough critic of Trump in 2016. He seems stunned to discover after being elected to the Senate in 2018 that among his new Republican colleagues, quote, "Almost without exception, they shared my view of the president, Romney told Coppins. "Every time he publicly criticized Trump, it seemed, some Republican Senator would smarmily sidle up to him in private and express solidarity. 'I sure wish I could do what you do,' they'd say or, 'Gosh, I wish I had the constituency you have.' This happened so often that Romney started keeping a tally," Coppins writes.

Romney was surprised at the cognitive dissonance during the 2019 impeachment trial of Trump. "During a break in the proceedings," Coppins writes, "after the impeachment managers finished their presentation Romney walked by Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.' They nailed him,' the Senate majority leader said. Romney taken aback by McConnell's candor, responded carefully, 'Well, the defense will say that Trump was just investigating corruption by the Bidens.' 'If you believe that,' McConnell replied, 'I've got a bridge I can sell you." A spokesman for McConnell says he does not recall this conversation.

Before the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, Senator Angus King of Maine a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, phoned Mitt Romney to warn him about some of the chatter among right wing groups coming to the Capitol. Romney texted Republican Leader McConnell quote, "In case you have not heard this, I just got a call from Angus King who said that he had spoken with a senior official at the Pentagon who reports that they are seeing very disturbing social media traffic regarding the protests planned on the sixth. There are calls to burn down your home, Mitch, to smuggle guns into D.C., and destroying the Capitol. I hope that sufficient security plans are in place, but I am concerned that the instigator, the president, is the one who commands the reinforcements the D.C. and Capitol police might require," unquote. McConnell did not respond to Romney.

During the insurrection cameras captured Mitt Romney running down a hallway to escape the mob. After a police officer told him to turn around Romney says he thought the Trump fever might break after that horrible day. But by then, Romney says, fealty to Trump was no longer just about political calculations. Quote, "after January 6, a new more existential brand of cowardice had emerged. One Republican Congressman confided to Romney that he wanted to vote for Trump's second impeachment for the January 6 insurrection, but chose not to out of fear for his family's safety.

You can't do that, Romney recalled someone saying. Think of your personal safety, said another. Think of your children. The senator eventually decided they were right."

And then there's how Romney talks about his Republican colleague, Josh Hawley. Romney was sitting behind Holly in the Senate chamber when Holly stood up and urged lawmakers to not certify the 2020 election results. This is just hours after rioters were cleared from the Capitol, when bodies were taken out of the Capitol that had died during the insurrection. Quote, "Josh Hawley is one of the smartest people in the Senate, if not the smartest," Romney says, and Ted Cruz could give them a run for his money. They were too smart, Romney believed, to actually think that Trump had won the 2020 election.

Hawley and Cruz quote, "we're making a calculation, Romney told me that put politics above the interests of liberal democracy and the Constitution." CNN caught up with Senator Josh Hawley on the Hill today and got him to read respond to what Romney said.



SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): That is probably the nicest things he's ever said about me sort of in public. You should see what he says about me in private. And I did like the part where he said that maybe I was smarter than Ted Cruz. So I would say, on balance, he was probably like 47 percent accurate.


TAPPER: To Mitt Romney, at least, this seems to not be a laughing matter. This is a very fragile thing, he told Coppin in the book. Authoritarianism is like a gargoyle lurking over the cathedral, ready to pounce. And for the first time in his life, Mitt Romney wasn't sure if the cathedral, the cathedral of democracy, would hold. Stay with us. We have a lot to unpack with our panel, including Donald Trump's controversial comments in a new interview.



TAPPER: In our Politics Lead today, a wide ranging new interview with former President Donald Trump. Megyn Kelly pressed Trump on the federal classified documents case, specifically, the 2021 audio tape of Trump as he seems to show someone a document, you can hear him describe it as a plan for a potential attack on Iran. Trump recently told Fox's Bret Baier, that he was holding up just it was a newspaper, he said. Take a look.


MEGYN KELLY, HOST, THE MEGYN KELLY SHOW: Why would you be holding up a newspaper saying this is still secret?


KELLY: I could classify it if I were president.

TRUMP: Look, I would have to look at it.

KELLY: But that's what you told Bret Baier that that was a newspaper --

TRUMP: I could've declassify it. No, I also told Bret Baier as I remember, I don't know it was a long time interview, I told --

KELLY: Will you tell me what were you waving around that meeting?

TRUMP: I also told Bret Baier that it wasn't a classified document.

KELLY: What were you waving around in that meeting? Because it certainly sound --

TRUMP: I'm not going to talk to you about that. I'm allowed to have those documents.

KELLY: But that -- but once you get a subpoena, you have to turn them over.

TRUMP: I know this. I don't even know that, because I have the right to have those documents. So I don't really know that.

KELLY: Do you believe that every CIA document that came to you as president was automatically yours to keep no matter what?

TRUMP: I'm not going to answer that question.


TAPPER: I mean, wow. Nice work. Let's discuss with our panel. I have to say, she did a really good job there. I mean, like he --

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was going to say, as a media moment, this is really great, I think because after she left aired, so to speak, and has been sort of speaking more supportively of Trump, maybe he thought it was going to be a slam dunk. And she came out swinging and was sort of the old Megyn Kelly as people knew her.

And as a result, that's a helpful moment. You know, she also asked him about Biden being old, and Trump was the one to say, hey, I don't think the problem is age, I think the problem is incompetence. That undermines an argument that the party is making about age. So there were another a number of moments in that interview that were fascinating. And it was good to see a return to form in terms of a line of questioning.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But, Jake, as a matter of strategy, as a Republican strategist, he should have said, look, I didn't do anything wrong, because that's what the base expects. And then I would have told him to pivot to the economy where 34 percent of the country believes that the President is handling the economy. Well, most Americans don't. This is a bad issue for Donald Trump. It does not register well with swing voters.


SINGLETON: What I'm saying, as a strategist, that's the advice that I would give.

CORNISH: I admire your --

SINGLETON: Most independent leaning right voters just do not like the President's behavior on this.

TAPPER: Optimistic idea.

SINGLETON: It is Jake. It is.

CORNISH: I like this.

TAPPER: You wouldn't be able to tell him what to say. And he would take your excellent advice, your excellent advice. But let me let me just play the sound that Audie was just talking about. When Megyn Kelly asked him if he thinks, and we should point out, Donald Trump is, I believe, 77.

CORNISH: Seventy-seven. Yes.

TAPPER: Donald Trump is 77. And she asked him, do you think Joe Biden, President Biden at 80 is too old? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: No, not old. He's incompetent. He's not too old. He's incompetent. And age is interesting, because some people are very sharp, and some people do lose it, but you lose it at 40 and 50 also. But no, he's not too old at all. He's grossly incompetent.


ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He can't make the age argument because it falls against him as well. So in that instance, probably one of the better things Donald Trump has said. But he also realizes many interviews that he has given before he hasn't already been indicted when he wasn't going to actual federal or state court.

And now he is. And so perhaps, I mean, I don't -- Donald Trump doesn't listen to Republican strategist. He doesn't listen to his attorney. Perhaps maybe for the first time, except with the exception of this interview where he's like, I'm not going to answer this because it couldn't be incriminating. He needs to stick to that line for now until -- so that a peer of his -- jury of his peers can actually decide whether to guilty or not. I just don't think he's going to incriminate himself. I mean I just don't think he wants to incriminate himself right now in interviews like he had instead.

SINGLETON: And let Republicans to make that argument about age. I think that was smart by Trump. Let the party and others make that.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: But if, I mean, if he can't even handle aggressive questioning by Megyn Kelly, that interview to me sort of illustrated. He has too many yes people around him.

TAPPER: Oh, yes.

MCKEND: He's about to go to trial, potentially. How do you stand up to cross examination if you can't even go back and forth with Megyn Kelly?

TAPPER: Well, speaking of that, he was asked about the possibility of facing prison time. Take a listen.


KELLY: This is a very scary for you because you're facing left-wing judges, you're facing some likely left-wing juries at least three out of the four. There is a realistic chance you could go to prison. Can you see that happening?

TRUMP: You know what, I have a great attitude. Doesn't affect me at all. Because I'm fighting for the country, I'm fighting for the people.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CORNISH: That was a beautifully baked question. Something you believe, something you believe, something you believe, but are you worried about going to prison, you know.


TAPPER: Right, right.

CORNISH: I mean that's the reality of what he was looking for.

SINGLETON: I mean of course he's worried. He's 77 years old. And most of the Republican voters that I talked to, and I was just in a Midwestern State several days ago, Jake, many of them believe that the president or former president will be found guilty in some of these charges, because of where the case is --

TAPPER: Do they -- they don't think it's because he is guilty?

SINGLETON: No. They don't think it's because he's guilty, they think because of where the trials are going to be held.


SINGLETON: And so from their perspective, he has to win this, he has no other choice.

ALLISON: Can I just say, if you are not worried about going to jail by any standards of what our criminal justice system is in this country, you are out of touch with reality, and you are out of touch with the everyday American, most people do not want to go to jail for him to sit on national television yet again and say it doesn't bother me is, he is lying to the American people once again.

MCKEND: But that's the posture that his supporters suspect, of course, he's afraid. But if you speak to his supporters, they often say, well, we like him. He never backs down. He's a fighter. So he has to maintain that persona.

SINGLETON: Well, see, I think, Jake --

ALLISON: Which is a lie, though. The persona is a lie.

SINGLETON: Was -- this is a thing about you saying he should listen to political strategist, because from my perspective, I would have said, Mr. President, this is a moment to be vulnerable. Tell your voters, I am worried about this. These folks are coming after me. You need to vote for me, you need to keep giving. He had an opportunity to do that. But he did not.

TAPPER: He does not like expressing any vulnerability. I mean, I think that's not criticism.

SINGLETON: It's clear but it would have been smart.

TAPPER: Yes. Speaking of the presidential race, there are other candidates, and one of them is Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who's looking for a way to break through, he's kind of been hovering in the upper of the lowers, and he's dropped a new economic plan, taking aim at Joe Biden's policies, talking about making Donald Trump's tax cuts permanent. Tell us more.

MCKEND: Yes, cutting non-defense spending, balancing the budget, shifting power back to the States. These are largely arguments that conservatives make all the time. So I don't know how much he's able to distinguish himself on this economic plan. I think to a certain extent, it is good to be out there. Talking about policy. We know that when you talk to Republican voters in places like Iowa, their number one concern is the cost of living right now is the economy. So I get why he is centering this.

And then this also speaks to his larger reason for running. He says, listen, I'm the adult in the room. I'm not trying to get into back and forth with other candidates. And you know, emphasizing policy is just more in that vein.

TAPPER: He's an optimistic candidate. He has that kind of like Reagan- esque pitch that he's not negative. I don't know how many of the others are like that. Nikki Haley certainly is to a degree. He hasn't --

CORNISH: And they're from the same place, right? And they're from the same vintage. There was a moment especially post Romney, where the party was like, let's look at ourselves and figure out what we need to do differently. And I think people like Marco Rubio, Tim Scott, and Nikki Haley, all thought they'd be of this new multicultural representative generation of the GOP narrator that did not happen.

And so they're struggling a little bit like, what is this message? What is Scottenomics, right? Like, what is the exact economic policy you think would make a difference that hasn't been done by the guy who's running already? Those arguments are still not clear.

SINGLETON: Yes. No, you're talking about the growth and opportunity project, I helped contribute to that project. And the idea was, the Republican Party needs to become more diverse. We have to become more forward thinking. And the Rubios of the world were supposed to be the future.

CORNISH: They were on a bus together.

SINGLETON: No. They were. But unfortunately, Jake, that is just not the current status of the Republican Party. It is very populous. It's very nationalist, and people are angry. Now, Tim Scott and Governor Haley, I think there'll be good candidates to be a running mate. But I don't think they have a chance of winning the nomination.

TAPPER: All right, thank you so much, one and all for being here. Appreciate it. And it's Audie -- is it Audie Cornish --

CORNISH: I believe it is, just on this show. But it's just here which I really appreciate.

TAPPER: You're dropping your new podcast today. What are you doing today? What is it today?

CORNISH: We are going -- we're talking about the popularity of rush talk and the sorority sort of boom on big campuses like such as Alabama, et cetera.

TAPPER: And where do people find your podcasts?

CORNISH: They find it on Apple, Spotify or

TAPPER: And it's called?

CORNISH: It's called The Assignment.

TAPPER: The Assignment with Audie Cornish. Thanks one and all for being here.


As auto workers inched closer to a potential strike tonight, some impacted by the Hollywood writers strike say they're returning to work. Major shows trying to restart production. The tough spots this may leave other union workers in Hollywood still on the picket line, that's next.


TAPPER: In our Money Lead, less than seven hours now until members of the United Auto Workers might go on strike at undisclosed plants across the country unless the union and the Big Three automakers, Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, that's the international company that currently owns Jeep, Ram and Chrysler, unless they all make a deal ending the stalemate before it creates negative ripple effects throughout the economy.

Among the issues the union is pushing for are a shorter workweek and a 40 percent hourly wage increase over four years. But last hour on The Lead, Ford CEO Jim Farley told CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich that they have put double digit increases on the table and that 40 percent raises would put them out of business. Here's more of what Farley said about negotiations right now.


JIM FARLEY, PRESIDENT & CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: Right now it looks like they're spending more time on the targeted strikes and historic strike of all three companies rather than a historic deal. We would rather make history by a deal that's going to propel our industry forward for the next, you know, decades with this huge transition. So we'll see, we're ready if there's a strike.


TAPPER: While they don't want UAW to strike, the company say they will be ready for it.

Also on our Money Lead today, HBO's Bill Maher is the first late night host to join other celebrity daytime talk show hosts such as Drew Barrymore and Jennifer Hudson, and announcing a return to work without writers. They are drawing some indignation and protests from members of the WGA, the Writers Guild of America, as the writer strike now drags into its 136th day. The writers are at an impasse in contract negotiations with the major studios and streamers, which the Writers Union says have refused to offer anything resembling a living wage for writers as used to be the case in the network television days of old.



ANGELINE OLSCHEWSKI, WGA, WRITER: It would be great as a member of these guilds, if those who have such a high profile as Drew Barrymore would stand their ground and demand a fair contract because I'm a nobody, then it would be wonderful if folks in that level at that level would use that power to stand behind us.


TAPPER: And joining me now to discuss is an Emmy Award winning producer and writer who has worked on such hit shows as "ER" and "Homeland" and "NYPD Blue" and was the showrunner of one of my absolutely favorite shows ever, "Cold Case" produced by Warner Studios, which we should note, coincidentally, in this case, is also part of Warner Brothers Discovery. She's also the president of the Writers Guild of America West, Meredith Stiehm. Meredith, it's so good to see you. Thank you so much for being here.


TAPPER: So HBO's Bill Maher, also a member of the Warner Brothers Discovery family, he says he's also concerned about the rest of his production staff. And he posted quote, I love my writers, I am one of them. But I'm not prepared to lose an entire year and see so many below the line people suffer so much, unquote. What do you make of the decision made by Bill Maher, Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Hudson, and are they undermining the negotiating position of WGA?

STIEHM: Yes, well, there's a distinction between Bill Maher and the others, because he is a Writers Guild member. The others, I believe, are SAG members. And they may have waivers to do the shows. I'm not sure. But he's a Writers Guild member. And he's going back to work. So yes, a lot of people are saying that scabbing.

There are other hosts of shows that are taking care of their shots by paying for them themselves. We're all worried about our crews and the ripple effect that the work stoppage has created. But there's definitely some anger that he's doing that.

TAPPER: What would you make? I mean, what do you say to the people like Bill Maher who are concerned about look, I mean, I get the arguments, but it's 135 days, and there are a lot of blue collar people who work paycheck to paycheck. And I'm not going to be writing my monologues. And I'm not going to be doing the new rules. I'm not going to be doing all the writer stuff. But, you know, these people have families to feed too.

STIEHM: Yep, it's actually day 136 today. It has been a long, hot summer. And it's not just writers and actors that are out there, it is anyone who works on a crew can't work right now, anyone who works around the industry, the restaurants around the studios, we are all suffering a lot because of this work stoppage. Someone like Bill Maher, he can sustain himself better than most during a struggle like this. And yet we're union. This is the leverage that we have is for exercising our power by withholding our work. And he should be doing the same.

TAPPER: Why is it taking so long?

STIEHM: Well, that's a good question. May 2nd, we went out. We had no conversations for 100 days. But then we did start to have some conversations. And it seems very clear that there's a deal to be made. And we have made some progress and that we've talked to the AMPTP, which is the bargaining unit. On the other side, all the studio's bargain is one. We have talked to a group of CEOs on the other side.

And all indications are that there is a deal to be made. And we're certainly ready, the city, the town is certainly ready. There's something stuck on the other side. We're there every day. We're available every day.

TAPPER: Is it is the issue that they don't want to share the data, the streamers don't want to share the data. They don't want anyone to know how many people are watching. Is the issue greed? Is the issue AI? They want to be able to have shows in the future that are just robots are, you know --

STIEHM: Yes, yes and yes. There's many issues. All of those are, yes. One big issue with the streamers in particular, is they don't want to share the numbers of how many views they're getting, how much profit they're making. And that's in the traditional model. So I've been doing this a long time. So in my network days, you know, on "NYPD Blue" and "Cold Case" and all that. The whole thing was viewership, you know. It was like you knew exactly how well you were doing or not. And then you got canceled if you were doing well enough.

And the streamers now don't tell the creators how they're doing. So it's this mystery. It's this black box. They pay him upfront for residuals which, you know, that is something that writers really count on his reuse. That's residuals, right? If you buy red net sort of "Homeland," I get paid. And if I get if there's a repeat I get paid again. If we sell it to a market in Japan, I get paid again. That's residuals.


And streamers really aren't doing that. And so that has been a real problem in the last 10 years like that sort of source of income has gotten squeezed. So it's hard for us to identify because we don't have the information, just how much we're owed. So that is a big point of contention. TAPPER: All right, well, wishing you the best of luck, as a major content taker and a fan of your work. Meredith Stiehm, thank you so much. Really appreciate you being here.

STIEHM: Yes, thanks for having me.

TAPPER: The indictment today breaking through conversations in the West Wing, federal charges against the president's son, Hunter Biden. New reaction with Wolf Blitzer next in the Situation Room I'll see you tomorrow.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now breaking news, the U.S. Justice Department indicts Hunter Biden on three felony gun charges.