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Nancy Pelosi Completes Visit to Taiwan; More January 6 Text Messages Missing; Kansas Voters Deliver Win For Abortion Rights. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired August 03, 2022 - 13:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: This welcome news for drivers, gas prices falling for, get this, the 50th day in a row. The national average dropped to $4.16 a gallon today. That's down 65 cents, 65 cents over the last month.

AAA says 19 states now have gas prices below $4.

Thanks for your time today on INSIDE POLITICS. We will see you tomorrow.

Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.

ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. So great to have you with us today.

Talk about a jolt. The nation's political landscape gets a major shake up after voters in five states hit the polls. We don't even have all the results in just yet, and the state of play for both parties is already shifting.

Let's start at the epicenter, Kansas, where voters delivered a big win for abortion rights.

And CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Topeka for us.

Nick, the turnout was huge for this

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the turnout was huge.

And it ended up being a decisive factor, Ana, in the victory for abortion rights advocates in this state. A lot of credit has to be given to Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. They are the main coalition, abortion rights coalition, that was pushing out the vote. And they had to overcome a lot for this decisive win here.

Not only are registered Republicans outnumbering registered Democrats in the state by a nearly 2-1 margin, despite there being about 500,000 unaffiliated voters. This is a deeply conservative state. They have a Democratic mayor, yes, but the last two elections, they voted for President Trump.

But, as we mentioned, this voter turnout ended up being a huge factor. The numbers that we saw last night were more indicative of a general election. And credit has to be given to that Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. They worked tirelessly over the last several months, going door to door, not only trying to get out to vote, but also educating voters here that they could vote.

This amendment was ambiguously worded in a way that voting yes on this amendment would have stripped abortion rights. A vote no would have kept the status quo here. The state Constitution now continues to protect abortion rights. And this is a decisive win for abortion rights advocates.

It sends a message not just to Kansans, but really to the region, Ana.

We spoke recently to an abortion clinic director here, one of the four abortion clinics that they have in the state. She says, since Roe v. Wade was overturned, more than 60 percent of the patients that she's seeing are from out of state, places like Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, places that have already stripped abortion rights.

So, for now, this referendum to weaken between rights in the state has failed, giving a decisive victory for the pro-choice movement -- Ana.

CABRERA: All right, Nick Valencia there in Topeka, Kansas, thank you so much.

Let's discuss this with CNN political analyst and former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent.

Congressman, a red state, a major rejection of an abortion ban. What message does this send Republicans?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The message, Ana, is this, that there is intensity on the Democratic side on this issue. It's created a lot of energy, and, frankly, it's spiking turnout on their side.

Now, I don't know if abortion at the end of the day in a midterm...

CABRERA: Not just -- not just on the Democrats' side, though, in this abortion rights issue, apparently.

DENT: Yes, that's correct.

And, now, whether or not this is going to be a seminal issue in the general election, will it affect the midterms, that's unclear. But if you're a Republican, and you see that college-educated suburban women were particularly motivated on this issue, and that's a demographic that Republicans need to do better with. And they know that.

So, bottom line is, I think this abortion issue is dangerous for Republicans. For years, they had offered messaging bills, knowing that there was a backstop called Roe v. Wade. They were shooting blanks. But now that the goalie has been pulled, that Roe v. Wade is gone, their actions on abortion will have real consequences.

So they're firing live rounds now. And they're saying that this is -- even in a deep red state, that abortion politics may not be what they think it always has been. There are a lot of pro-choice Republicans out there. That is quite clear, based on that vote that we just saw in Kansas last night.

And I was the last pro-choice member of the House Republican Conference. And so I know what I'm talking about on this one.

CABRERA: Well, it's also interesting, because I spoke with a political science professor there in Kansas, who says this is really a rights issue.

So, you might have somebody who is a big pro-Second Amendment voter voting for the abortion rights issue here, at least on that side of this ballot measure specifically. So it doesn't necessarily translate into a vote for a Democratic candidate, so to speak, but it could have an impact on just voter turnout at large.

So, if that's the case, if this is an issue, motivating people to vote, how could that shake up things in November?

DENT: Well, it could easily shake things up in November, but I still -- I don't think we should lose sight of the fact that this midterm election is still a referendum on the party in power, and that's the Democrats and Joe Biden.


And I do believe that these bread-and-butter issues, pocketbook issues of gas prices, grocery bills, inflation generally, angst on the economy, will drive this election. But this can be a mitigating factor, just for the reason you cited. Turnout will be impacted, and particularly in suburban districts, where Republicans need to do well.

So I think this might mitigate some Democratic losses. But I don't think it changes the fundamental dynamics or the narrative of the midterm election going forward.

CABRERA: Congressman, stay right there because I want to discuss some of the other big headlines from the primaries last night.

Senior data reporter Harry Enten is with me now.

Harry, another Republican who voted to impeach Trump was thrown out by the voters, Republican voters.


So, essentially, last night, there were three congressmen who were on the ballot, Republicans who had voted to impeach Donald Trump. What happened to them?

Peter Meijer in Michigan's Third Congressional District, adios, amigos, loses to John Gibbs. There were two others also on the ballot, Herrera Beutler in Washington's Third Congressional District and Dan Newhouse in Washington's Fourth Congressional District. We do not know yet whether or not they will be advancing to the next

round. That is both in Washington. Both of these candidates were in top two primaries. So you have to finish in the top two. Right now, Herrera Beutler is in the top two. And Dan Newhouse is also in the top two. He's actually running first, but those races have not yet been called, Ana.

CABRERA: OK, let's talk about Arizona, where the Trump-backed candidates are doing well. He's hoping for a clean sweep. What's going on there?


So if we look right now, the only race statewide in which a Trump- backed candidate hasn't been called is the gubernatorial race, but the Trump-backed candidate, Kari Lake, is in fact ahead. In the Arizona Senate Republican primary, what happened? Blake Masters, endorsed by Trump, he wins. He gets the check mark.

Mark Finchem, the secretary of state's race, backed by Trump, he gets the check mark. Then, the Arizona general election -- attorney general Republican primary, the Trump-backed candidate again gets the check mark. So Trump, at this point, if the results hold, will sweep. He also gets a win in Arizona's State Senate 10th District, where Rusty Bowers, who is the speaker of the House in Arizona, who actually spoke in front of the January 6 Select Committee, goes down to defeat.

He was trying to win a Senate race. David Farnsworth wins that race.

CABRERA: And we should mention that all of those Trump-backed candidates are election lie believers.

ENTEN: Yes, they all are.

CABRERA: They are election deniers. Some of them have said they want to fundamentally change how elections are run in that state and even potentially give the legislature the opportunity to reverse election results.

So that is a really, really crucial state. And these are crucial positions.

ENTEN: That's exactly right.

I will just add, that's why that secretary of state race was so important, because they, of course, control the elections in the state of Arizona.

CABRERA: OK, how about in Missouri, because an Eric won?

ENTEN: Yes, it was not Eriq La Salle. It wasn't CNN executive producer in the morning vice president of morning programming Eric Hall. It was Eric Schmitt who won this race. He was one of the Erics who might have been backed by Trump.

I think Trump at the end of the day really want to endorse Greitens, but was looking at the polls, knew Greitens probably couldn't win. So he endorsed the Erics. And, again, in my opinion, he gets about half- credit for an endorsement win in that particular race.

CABRERA: All right, Harry Enten, as always, thank you. I know you were up late...

ENTEN: I was.

CABRERA: ... and up early. And you still got it, my friend.

ENTEN: I still got it. Energies abound, high in the sky.


CABRERA: You're bringing it. That's what I love about Harry.

All right, Charlie Dent is back with us. Also joining us, Karen Finney a Democratic strategist and CNN political commentator.

Karen, I'm sorry we missed you in that earlier segment. I was really hoping we could have had you as part of that earlier conversation, but plowing ahead, let's talk about what just happened last night.


CABRERA: And I do want to first start with Charlie Dent because of what happened in Arizona.

And you just heard all these election deniers won their GOP primaries. What's your reaction to the fact that Trump still has this grip over the party?

DENT: Well, look, it appears that Trump is going to go four for four in Arizona in those four statewide races.

So what he's done is he certainly has control of the Arizona GOP. The real question is, how do these candidates do in the fall? I mean, winning a nomination is one thing. Winning an election is quite another. And what we're finding with too many of these Republican candidates, they're seen by the public as too extreme and making themselves unelectable.

And, believe me, Republican leadership in the House in the Senate is very aware of some of these Trump candidates, especially in the Senate. They're aware that those candidates maybe unelectable. And Mitch McConnell has been burned before on this in 2010 with unelectable candidates and in 2012.

And I think he's also very concerned about what's happening right now with some of these candidates throughout the country. And Arizona may be another test case on that theory.

CABRERA: Democrats are hoping you're right.

And, Karen, Michigan is a case in point. Democrats spent money to try to prop up an election denier who ultimately defeat the Republican incumbent who had voted to impeach Trump. And, of course, the thinking is, this election denier would be easier to defeat in the general.


CABRERA: But, Congressman Adam Kinzinger, he took issue with this move.

Listen to this.


REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): Here's the thing. Don't keep coming to me asking, where are all the good Republicans that defend democracy, and then take your donors' money and spend half-a-million dollars promoting one of the worst election deniers that's out there.

I mean, the DCCC needs to be ashamed of themselves.


CABRERA: OK, so he is talking about that Michigan race. Could this all come back to haunt Democrats, the strategy of trying to boost election deniers on the Republican side, Karen?

Oh, those tech gremlins back at it again.

What do you think, Charlie?

DENT: Ana -- Ana, look, I think Adam Kinzinger is absolutely right.

I'm very close to Peter Meijer. Our families have been friends for a few decades. And I think it's terrible that the Democrats think that -- they're saying this is -- that these election deniers are an existential threat to our democracy. And they dumped nearly a half-a- million dollars on Peter Meijer's head.

They funded the guy's entire campaign, for all practical purposes. Donald Trump, I think, gave $5,000. His PAC gave $5,000 to Gibbs, and Democrats gave nearly a half-a-million. Hey, I get politics is a rough game. I understand invading another party's primary.

But, boy, oh, boy, they're taking an enormous risk. This man, I'm not saying this Gibbs is unelectable, but he will be harder to -- he will be harder -- he will be easier to defeat them than Meijer.


CABRERA: But, Congressman, as a Republican, as a Republican, what concerns you more, Republicans not winning seats in Congress this November, or people who tout election lies winning them?

DENT: What I want are more Republicans like Peter Meijer in Congress. I mean, he's a superb representative and a courageous one.

And this is the kind of member that we need more of. And, instead -- and the Democrats have just chosen to be cynical and to fund the very type of candidate they say scares them to death. They're going to have their fingerprints on this one.

Now, I get it. Again, I'm a big boy. I understand politics. I get how you want to invade the other team's primaries, but there are going to be consequences. And they may end up electing another guy who's one of the worst election deniers out there. And they're going to -- they're going to have some ownership of that one.

CABRERA: We have Karen back.

Do you want to respond to that, Karen?

FINNEY: You know, I guess the point I would make here is, let's remember that these issues about election deniers and the big lie would not have resonance if Republicans in Congress had firmly stood up against it over a year ago, supported the January 6 commission, and said, we are not going to ascribe to these fringe theories.

We haven't had that kind of leadership. And what we know is, yes, these issues still have resonance and have created a real fracture in the Republican Party. And, as Charlie said, there is politics in politics.

CABRERA: All right, thank you both so much.

Karen, you get the next -- we gave you lots of time, Congressman.


CABRERA: I got to leave it there. More news to cover today. But let's try this again another day. Appreciate you both. Thank you so much, Karen Finney and Congressman Charlie Dent.

FINNEY: You bet.

CABRERA: China now moments away from unleashing massive live-fire military drills on Taiwan's doorstep. It comes as Beijing rages over House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island. Will the United States respond?

Plus, first, it was the Secret Service. Now more text messages connected to January 6 are missing. And, this time, it involves top Trump military officials.

And it's a mistake that could cost you thousands of dollars through higher interest rates, how Equifax issued wrong credit scores for millions of Americans.



CABRERA: We're following two big developments in the January 6 investigation.

First on CNN, text messages about the insurrection between key Trump Pentagon officials are now gone. According to court filings, the Defense Department wiped their phones before they left the administration. And the Justice Department has now sent a major signal that its probe is heating up. The DOJ has subpoenaed former Trump White House counsel Pat Cipollone to testify.

Lots to discuss with CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who joins us now. He's also the author of "The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age of Terror and Trump."

Great to have you here.

First, what does this DOJ subpoena of Cipollone tell you about their investigation?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, Ana, it tells me that, in the kind of typical way that the department walks itself through a very complicated and challenging case, they start with the folks who are the furthest out on the edges of that potential conspiracy.

So we saw that here with the first indications that people who had signed the affidavits attesting to be fake electors, those folks had been brought in for interviews and in some cases received subpoenas. Well, now what you're seeing with this subpoena of Pat Cipollone is that they are getting to the red hot center of that investigation.

This is the president's lawyer, the White House counsel. And the fact that he is now the subject of the grand jury's interest is very, very telling that they are dialing right at a case in which the former president is the center of.


CABRERA: Yes, because, recently, they executed the warrant on Jeffrey Clark's home. He is the former DOJ official who was in support of having the vice president overturn the election results that were coming in from the states.

We now know that they have talked to Vice President Pence's aides, like Marc Short, and now we have Cipollone going in. He already testified in the House committee investigating this attack. So we heard some of that Cipollone testimony, but he also invoked executive privilege to avoid certain lines of questioning in that case.

Will the DOJ get anything more, do you think, than what we already know?

MCCABE: It's a really interesting question.

And it depends on tactically how DOJ decides to go after Cipollone's invocation of presidential privilege. It's possible that they take the same tack that the committee did. That is essentially negotiate the terms of how questions will be asked and what he will be expected to answer.

That's the quickest way to get him in front of the grand jury and get his testimony locked in, as they like to say. If they decide to challenge how he is invoking privilege, and maybe they think the privilege is not that expansive or has been waived, they're going to have to pursue that through litigation.

The fact that they're in front of a grand jury is the first step in that process. But litigation, taking this stuff, those questions into court takes a long time. Now, this is DOJ. They have more time to work with than the January 6 Committee does, because they're not on the same sort of a clock.

But that could slow down their ability to get Cipollone's testimony, if they decide to really fight over the privilege issue.

CABRERA: Let's turn out to those missing texts. It seems like this is becoming a pattern, the Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security officials, and now Pentagon officials, texts that are just gone.

What's your sense about this? Could it all just be a coincidence?

MCCABE: I doubt it.

Right now, we're talking about the essentially the same situation across three separate agencies, the Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and now the Defense Department. And, quite honestly, Ana, the idea that the Department of Defense doesn't have a very complicated and effective policy and a system in place for securing the records that the absolute highest-level officials leave behind when they leave their office is unthinkable to me.

But if you're talking about patterns, let's look a little more broadly. This is the same administration that was possibly taking -- inappropriately taking classified records to Mar-a-Lago. This is the same administration in which the president himself has been accused of destroying records, ripping things up that had to be re-pasted together by the National Archives, maybe flushing records down the toilet, which is unthinkable, really.

So my question is, how broad is this denial or failure to observe federal records requirements? Are there other Cabinet-level officials who performed similar escapes on January 6, when they walked away from their jobs or were resigned and had their devices wiped on the way out the door?

This is an issue that needs to be investigated by a competent investigative authority that's going to look across all these agencies.

CABRERA: Right. What don't we know at this point? January 6 Committee member Zoe Lofgren said that the committee didn't even know about the wiped phones at the Department of Defense.

What's your reaction to the fact that there are still so many new details and revelations coming to light over a year-and-a-half after the insurrection?

MCCABE: It's really incredible.

And it shows you how important the work of this committee is, the fact that, now that they are so publicly engaged in this vigorous investigation, that's -- every investigator can tell you -- I had this experience myself in the FBI. You maybe spend months and months investigating someone, and it's only after you arrest them and the investigation becomes public that other witnesses start coming forward.

Other people who have information start calling the government and helping out and are less afraid to come in and share what they know. Well, that's clearly happened here. And we really need the committee to keep doing their work to get to the bottom of all of this information, if we hope to walk away with a coherent picture.

CABRERA: Andrew McCabe, thanks, as always, for the conversation. I appreciate you taking the time.

MCCABE: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's high-stakes trip to Taiwan wraps up, but was it high reward?



CABRERA: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has wrapped up her highly anticipated and controversial visit to Taiwan.

And she's promised the U.S. will not abandon the self-governing democratic island that China considers its territory.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Today, our delegation, of which I'm very proud, came to Taiwan to make unequivocally clear we will not abandon our commitment to Taiwan and we're proud of our enduring friendship.


CABRERA: China is reacting to the visit by flexing its muscle. It is conducting military drills and exercises today.

CNN's Selina Wang joins us from Beijing.

Selina, China's trying to send a strong message. The question is, what's China's next move?