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Republican Candidates Pushing False Claims; Mark Sanford is Interviewed about the South Carolina Races; Senators Hope for Bipartisan Gun Reform Text; Unprecedented Flooding in Yellowstone. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired June 14, 2022 - 09:30   ET




ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN ANCHOR: Over two days the January 6th committee has so far made a strong case that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, using the words of former President Trump's own attorney general, Bill Barr, as well as campaign officials, and yet the stolen election claim continues to be a rallying cry for Republicans running in battleground states across the country, particularly those that are vying for a Trump endorsement.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Let's bring in CNN political correspondent Sara Murray.


Sara, good morning to you.

Some of these candidates are running for statewide offices.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, it's really Republicans up and down the ballot who are continuing to pedal these baseless claims of fraud. Here is a handful of the folks. But this is just a snapshot of the candidates and what they are running on.

In Michigan we have Kristina Karamo, she's running for secretary of state. She has said she wants to make sure elections are decided by legal votes, not manipulation and corruption. Also in Michigan there's Matthew Deperno. He got the Republican Party's backing to be their attorney general candidate. On his campaign website he has said he's going to keep his word to prosecute the people who corrupted the 2020 election and allowed fraud to permeate the election system.

Over in Pennsylvania, we have Doug Mastriano. He is also a Republican. He won the Republican primary for governor. Now, he recently brought on Jenna Ellis, she was a Trump campaign lawyer who also worked to try to overturn the 2020 election results, as a legal adviser to his campaign. He's also suggested he wants to wipe out the nearly 9 million registered voters in Pennsylvania and make them all re- register, which, of course, would face a number of legal hurdles. When you go over to Arizona, we have Kari Lake. She's a Republican.

She's running for governor there. She recently filed a motion in court with another Arizonan, Mark Finchem, to try to get rid of these machines where you would normally cast your ballots whatsoever. As for Mark Finchem, in addition to joining that lawsuit with Kari Lake, he has also claimed that he saw in 2020 that there were votes that were just moved from Donald Trump's column over to Joe Biden's. Now, of course, none of this is true. There was not widespread fraud in the last election. But these folks do have one thing in common, they all got the endorsement from Donald Trump.

MARQUARDT: All right, Sara Murray, thank you so much for breaking that all down. Sara Murray continues to be on the all-important voter integrity beat.

Well, former President Donald Trump, his political sway will be put to the test today as voters head to the polls in four states. Now it's primary day in Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina.

In South Carolina, Republican Representatives Nancy Mace and Tom Rice are fighting to keep their jobs. Mace voted to certify the 2020 election, and Rice was one of the ten Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump. And now both of them are facing challengers who are endorsed by the former president.

Joining me now to discuss all this is the former South Carolina governor, Mark Sanford. He's also a former congressman who once represented Mace's district.

Governor, thank you so much for joining me this morning.


MARQUARDT: If we could, let's start with Mace and your old district.

South Carolina's first district swung from Republican to Democrat, back to Republican since just the 2016 election. So do you believe that that means that an endorsement by Donald Trump has less of an impact with the voters there?

SANFORD: Yes. I mean, I'd say relative to the race that you see going on up the coast, in Tom Rice's and Russell Fry's race, yes, he'll have less of an impact. If you actually look at the demographics of the first congressional district, they tend more purple, more blue. I think that probably the swing, if you will, in that district will be down in Buford County. So I'd watched Buford County closely as the results come in.

But, at the end of the day, I think Mace is going to be fine in that race.

MARQUARDT: And speaking of the demographics, when you look at Charleston and the areas around there, there are some very left leaning parts of the district. So, what does that mean for the general election this fall? SANFORD: At the end of the day, it's still a Republican district. If

you - it actually moved more Republican with the last redistricting. So, I think it will still be a Republican seat, period, exclamation point. I think that one of Nancy's, you know, strong pushbacks against Arrington has been, look, you lost the seat to a Democrat before. Let's not do that again. Elect me, I brought it back. So, I think that's been one of her selling points is hanging on to the seat.

But, at the end of the day, it's really not a seat in jeopardy. You don't see the wave that went through as a Congress - you know, the House was lost last go round. So, I do think that she's going to be fine, period.

MARQUARDT: Someone else who has made an endorsement is South Carolina governor, the former governor, Nikki Haley, who served, of course, in the Trump administration as U.N. ambassador. She's kind of been on the outs with MAGA world. She's campaigned with Mace while Trump is backing Katie Arrington.

So, when it comes to South Carolina, who do you think has more pull there, Nikki Haley or the former president?

SANFORD: I mean, I think, obviously, the former president. But, again, I think that the - the die is cast on that race. And as we both know, endorsements are oftentimes done, not so much to help the other, but to build ones fundraising and contact base. And so I suspect there's some presidential politics at play in terms of Nikki's aspirations going forward.


But, we'll see. I mean every bit helps. People don't refuse or turn back endorsements.

So, I think the president has more sway, but, you know, you know, every vote matters and I think Haley's obviously of help to Mace.

MARQUARDT: Today's primaries are the latest in a string of primary votes in other states. What you've seen so far from the outcomes across the country, what does it tell you about the path that the Republican Party is on, not just for these midterms, but looking ahead to 2024?

SANFORD: It's on a path to political extinction if we stay on the road that we're on. I mean the problem with the cult of personality is eventually that personality dies off. We age. We die off. And so this has been a party of late. It's been about ideas. It hasn't been about anything other than sort of, are you for or against Trump? And that's a weird litmus test in the body politic, which ought to be about the larger, broader set of ideas that we agree or disagree on.

MARQUARDT: Governor, I want to ask you about one of the biggest revelations from yesterday's January 6th committee hearings. We learned that President Trump, the former president, and his team, essentially built supporters out of $250 million that they claimed were for a legal defense fund that we now know doesn't exist. Trump's future daughter-in-law was paid $60,000 for a two-and-a-half-minute speech to introduce her fiance, Don Jr. Even if President Trump's supporters don't believe that January 6th was a big deal and believe that the election was stolen, will this news that hundreds of millions of dollars were raised for a fictitious fund, do you think that will have an impact with Republican voters?

SANFORD: I mean, sadly, you've got to move the needle. I mean, again, the nature of a cult of personality is people follow it regardless. So you - I mean you have social and evangelical conservatives following a guy who wasn't exactly socially conservative in what he had long believed. You have fiscal conservatives following a guy who dubbed himself the king of debt. I mean it's just a weird world right now.

So I think, at the end of the day, it won't move the needle one bit, which is, again, a sad commentary on this cult of personality that has a tie to hold on too many primaries across the state and across the nation, though I don't think it will play out on the coast of South Carolina.

MARQUARDT: It is indeed a weird world.

Former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, thanks so much for your time this morning.

SANFORD: Yes, sir.


HARLOW: Well put, a weird world indeed.

Still ahead, we are living -- we are live, I should say, on Capitol Hill, where Republicans want to see the full text of that bipartisan gun deal in the Senate. How soon will Democrats plan to take the next step, coming up.



MARQUARDT: Negotiators in the Senate are looking to bring a text of new gun reform legislation to the Senate floor in the coming week.

HARLOW: But gun rights advocates are already mounting a pressure campaign to stop this measure before it is even laid out in text.

Let's go to our Lauren Fox, who is live on Capitol Hill.

Talk to us about the timeline of the legislation. I mean it seems like the hope is all done, signed before the Fourth of July.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the hope at this point, but there's a lot of details still to be worked out and negotiated. Senator John Cornyn, the leading Republican negotiator in these talks, told us yesterday that his expectation and hope is that they could finalize those details by the end of this week, get this bill into legislative text and then vote on it as soon as next week before that two-week recess.

But here is what lawmakers are up against. Right now you have ten Republicans who are supporting this legislation, but the idea is that they want to try and get more. And in conversations with more than a dozen Republican senators yesterday, you saw many of them, very slow to embrace even this framework. They argued they need to see legislative text, they need to see more details.

And, meanwhile, you have groups like Gun Owners of America and the NRA going all out in their effort to try and continue to find one Republican in that group of ten that supported the framework, who would be willing to back off their support. So, all of those dynamics are at play right now. That's what makes this so difficult.

Meanwhile, Chris Murphy, the leading Democrat, told us that he is incredibly optimistic about the progress they made and where they're going. We just have to wait and see if this can all come together by the end of the week.

Alex and Poppy.

MARQUARDT: Yes, all eyes on that all-important number of 60 senators.

Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

Now, still ahead, Yellowstone National Park is still closed. We'll have the latest forecast as devastating floods wash out roads and force evacuations.

Stay with us.



HARLOW: Well, all entrances to Yellowstone National Park will remain closed to the public at least through Wednesday. This is because of dangerous and unprecedented flooding that has led to evacuations. As you can see here, roadways completely washed out in areas of the park.

MARQUARDT: I want to bring in CNN meteorologist Chad Myers.

Chad, just looking at that video, these are some incredible and very scary scenes.

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Devastating. This is the northwest part of the park. The area you see right here, this is the Gardiner River, going down the Gardiner Canyon. It goes from Mammoth Hot Springs to the town of Gardiner, Montana. That drive should take you about 20 minutes, it's about 11 miles. It's a beautiful drive, or at least it was. Now that same drive, to go from Mammoth Hot Springs to Gardiner is 213 miles out of the way because you have to go out through the west entrance.

Now, they say that the entrances are closed, but the exits are not. They're still letting people out if they want to get out. So, that's some of the good news.

The water is starting to recede in many of these locations now, although still, obviously, flash flood warnings are in effect.


We had about two to three inches of rain on top of the snow that was on top of these mountains, and temperatures that were in the 50s, 60s and 70s in some spots. So that snow melt added to the rain, added to the river flooding, and now we're still seeing, in Billings, the water going up to almost the record high for flooding in Billings.

Here's a little town called Red Lodge. This is really Rock Creek. I've stood in the creek, a foot deep, and fly fished. And that's not a foot deep anymore. That is right through the town, even losing homes, losing bridges. And some of these areas around Gardiner, we had some pictures of that earlier, the house actually falling in. All of these creeks and streams run into the Yellowstone, and then the Yellowstone runs across Montana. So, it's going to be a long event for a lot of people. There goes the house there as you see it in Gardiner, Montana.


HARLOW: All powerful mother nature.


HARLOW: Chad, thank you very much.

Still ahead, new red flag laws - new red flags, I should say, on inflation this morning, right as President Biden prepares to make a speech on the economy in Philadelphia. We'll take you live there.