Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Republicans Rally Around Trump After Mar-a-Lago Search; Interview With EPA Administrator Michael Regan About Investments to Combat Climate Change; School Districts Nationwide Struggle To Fill Teacher Vacancies. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 15, 2022 - 10:30   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: It was the first big GOP rally since the FBI search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago home, giving a glimpse of how conservatives might use that heading into the midterm elections.


KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: Our government created of the people by the people and for the people. That government has now turned against we the people and we will begin to fight back no more.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: These agencies have now been weaponized to be used against people that the government doesn't like.

CHARLIE KIRK, FOUNDER, TURNING POINT USA: The raid of Mar-a-Lago only makes me like Donald Trump even more.



SCIUTTO: Let's discuss with CNN political correspondent Sara Murray, also Daniel Strauss. He's senior political correspondent for the "New Republic."

Good to have you both on. And Daniel, others have made the point frequently that the Republican Party often aligned itself with law and order, with agencies such the FBI. Here you haven't, by the way, not for the first time because we've seen Trump have somewhat similar attacks before.

I wonder based on what you've seen so far, is that turning the focus away from the classified documents towards the law enforcement agencies? Is that working within the GOP?

DANIEL STRAUSS, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW REPUBLIC: I mean, yes. That seems to be the only sort of pattern that seems to be happening across the entire party. There have been a wave of explanations and sort of brush asides on why it's OK for Trump to have had these documents but the one uniting factor among all Republicans is that they feel that the FBI is now some sort of corrupt part of the deep state.

But this is something that Republicans on the hill have been telling me for months. I've been told that in the next Congress, they want to see investigations into the FBI. So it shouldn't be any surprise right now that the raid and this aftermath has only dialed up that rhetoric.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Sara, what do you make of the approach that many in the Republican Party have taken to support and to come rally quickly behind President Trump, former President Trump? We know his narratives have been shifting daily. It's reminiscent of what happened during both impeachment trials, too.

Is this putting more strain on the party itself as it's trying to keep up with all of these new excuses from Trump?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, I actually don't think that Republicans spend a lot of time thinking about what excuse of the day Donald Trump has come up with. I think that they are still very much in Donald Trump's pocket. They understand what a hold he has over the Republican base.

You know, even someone like Ron DeSantis who's looking at challenging Donald Trump in 2024 is out there talking about, you know, believing that the DOJ, that the FBI overstepped when it came to this.

They just think that this shows you, you know, how much they know Donald Trump has a hold over the base and how upset frankly the base is over the actions that we've seen taken at Mar-a-Lago and I think all Republicans, even the Republicans who are looking at challenging Donald Trump, want to be able to capitalize on that even though we don't have all of the facts of the matter and even though, you know, many of these Republicans were out there publicly criticizing Hillary Clinton for her handling of classified documents. You know, you could argue that that is one of the reasons that Donald Trump became president.

SCIUTTO: Daniel Strauss, you and your colleague have an article in the "New Republic" this week titled "The Bland Ambition of Kevin McCarthy" detailing his focus on becoming speaker of the House. In that article, you talk about how he has everything it takes to rise to the top in today's GOP, zero interest in policy, relentless thirst for power, slavish loyalty to Trump. How does this Mar-a-Lago investigation play into that description you have of McCarthy?

STRAUSS: I mean, it pretty much, as Sara was saying earlier, McCarthy is showing that his focus right now is making sure he has as much support among rank-and-file Republicans in Congress rather than acknowledging the facts or what we don't know about this raid, and right now, many of the more incendiary, the more radical parts of the GOP caucus that McCarthy needs to become speaker are casting doubt on the legitimacy of the raid and whether it was part of, again, some sort of conspiracy against Donald Trump.

This perfectly falls in line with how McCarthy has been conducting himself. For years, he's been trying to become speaker and with Donald Trump's support right now as long as he stays in Trump's good graces, he's on the verge of doing that.

GOLODRYGA: Sara, we should acknowledge where you are in Wyoming there ahead of that tough primary for Liz Cheney tomorrow, and unlike others in her party who have gone back and forth in terms of their response to some of the former president's actions, she has remained steadfast.

She voted to impeach the president, she supported his impeachment, she obviously sits on the January -- co-chairs the January 6th Committee investigation.

What is the response from Republican voters there on the ground that you're hearing?


MURRAY: Yes, I mean, Liz Cheney has been pretty unequivocal that she believes that Donald Trump's behavior is un-American, unconstitutional, and this is not an argument that is sitting well with Republicans in Wyoming.

You know, the polling is just highly unfavorable for Liz Cheney. I would really take a huge crossover for Democrats and independents to show up tomorrow in order for her to win this race.

And, you know, frankly, there might just not be enough of that in the state. You know, Harriet Hageman is looking very strong here. She obviously got the endorsement of the former president. He has been here campaigning for Hageman, telling voters here to fire Liz.

And this is a state that Donald Trump won with 70 percent of the vote, his widest margin anywhere across the country. So Republicans here are just not buying into this argument Liz Cheney is trying to sell.

SCIUTTO: Daniel, if Cheney does lose, there is talk that she is not tamped town, we should note, that she might run for president. Does she have a shot for the nomination?

STRAUSS: For the nomination? Probably not. I actually had a separate story last week on this. It seems that a book deal would be inevitable and she is -- I mean, people close to her, people who have known her for years do expect her to test the waters about running in the Republican primary, not as a conservative independent of some sort.

But her goal would probably be to complicate if Donald Trump runs for president or some Trump-like figure complicate that candidate's route to the White House, and really just try and resurrect sort of the Republican Party that she grew up with. That would be the real motivation. And it's a serious possibility after this primary.

GOLODRYGA: Quite a political environment we're living in where her survival tomorrow may depend on Democrats switching parties to support her. But here we are.

Daniel Strauss, Sara Murray, thank you so much.

SCIUTTO: Well, President Biden will sign the most ambitious climate bill in U.S. history. It's going to become law this week but activists say it still doesn't do enough to combat climate change. After the break, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency joins us to explain why proponents say the bill will help fight the climate crisis while saving Americans money.



SCIUTTO: President Biden is expected to sign the landmark Inflation Reduction Act as it's known. He'll sign it into law this week. It represents the largest climate investment in U.S. history.

It comes at a crucial moment for the planet. A new study out this morning found that extreme heat will become a fact of life for 100 million Americans in the next 30 years. Scientists say an extreme heat belt stretching from Texas to the Great Lakes would see temperatures over 125 degrees during the hottest parts of the year. Goodness.

Joining me now is the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, Michael Regan.

Michael, thanks so much for taking the time this morning.


SCIUTTO: So, first, I want to get in to the details of this because the law does include many tradeoffs. As you know, that's the nature of Washington. You have to make compromises to get things passed. For instance, any new wind and solar energy project can only be approved if a new lease is approved for oil and gas drilling as well.

In climate terms, is that awash? Right? Does one cancel out the other in terms of controlling emissions? How should folks understand that?

REGAN: You know, Jim, first of all, I think people should understand that this is the largest investment in climate mitigation or climate adaptation in the United States history. It's not awash.

When you look at all of the package, you will see that clean energy and clean tech outpaces our fossil fuel investments by far which puts us on the path that the president wants to see, which is net zero by 2050.

This is a large shot in the arm. You know, the president campaigned on and pledged that the United States would emerge as a global leader combatting the climate crisis. What the inflation action does is just that.

It shores up the energy security in this country. It reduces our carbon footprint by far. It provides thousands, if not millions of good-paying jobs and the president did it by beating special interest.

He brought together unions, the environmental justice community, the business community which culminated into this historic deal. SCIUTTO: OK. One way that a lot of Americans will experience this will

be incentives, tax incentives to buy electric vehicles but there is language in here that requires car manufacturers to move sourcing away, for instance, for batteries from China for those particular cars to qualify for that tax incentive.

I mean, manufacturers have made clear it could take a couple of years or even longer for that to be the case. Is that clear to drivers that these incentives might actually be years away? And you know how long you may have to wait for an EV, it could be 10 years before you actually get that car.

REGAN: You know, Jim, some of these investments will happen on day one, which is spurring the manufacturers to move much quicker than they had predicted in the past. When we look at the big five auto manufacturers in this country, they're already moving toward zero emission vehicles. So these tax incentives, these tax credits are only going to expedite that. So we're not looking at as many years as we once did.

But there is a suite of options there, not only with cars. We're also looking at tax incentives for rooftop solar as well. We're also looking at tax incentives for HVACs and cooling centers and all types of ways that we can begin to mitigate climate pollution. So the transportation sector is one target but there are multiple targets.


The other thing, Jim, I'd like to say is, I don't want to lose focus on the notion that we are reducing climate pollution but we're also reducing public health pollution. You know, as we reduce these climate toxins and these climate pollution that we're so focused on, we're also, you know, reducing those health based pollutants that many of our communities have been struggling with for far too long.

SCIUTTO: OK. I want to ask, because as you know the Supreme Court had a decision that affects in fact narrows the EPA's ability to regulate carbon monoxide emissions specifically from power plants, which was not an insignificant part of the work that your agency does. How significantly does that impact, does that carry, you know, hold back the EPA's ability to act on climate change?

REGAN: You know, it's a disappointment. Obviously the Supreme Court decision is a big disappointment and it does create some constraints. But let me be clear, it does not take EPA out of the game.

And the president knew from day one that he had a number of tools in his toolbox. So we will continue to move forward. We have not lost our ability to regulate greenhouse gas pollution from power plants and in 2023 you will see a very strong regulation that does just that.

SCIUTTO: OK. Big picture, and again, we've said it in the introduction, this is the biggest climate investment in the country's history. That's a fact just based on the numbers.

That said, as you know, there are scientists who say it doesn't go far enough. Robert McNally, president of the Rapidan Energy Group, an energy consulting firm, told the "New York Times" it's like losing 20 pounds when you need to lose 100 pounds.

So I wonder for folks who say OK, this is a step but boy, the effects of climate change are coming so quickly, what's next? What can you do to solve, you know, that shortfall?

REGAN: Well, let me be clear that as I've traveled the country, I've been in the basements in Detroit where families are digging out from floods. I've spent time in California with the governor as we look at the impacts of wildfires. I was just in Nevada and Oregon as we looked at people who are dealing with heat islands and dealing with the impacts of that.

We are laser focused on tackling this issue. The president has a number of tools in his toolbox and the Inflation Reduction Act is another tool that gets us on that path. We can't forget that we just passed the bipartisan infrastructure law which has some climate remedies in that, as well.

The American Rescue Plan had climate remedies there. Then we have a whole of government approach where we all are leveraging existing authorities. So yes, we are on the path to meeting the president's goals.

SCIUTTO: Michael Regan, we'll be watching closely. Thanks so much for joining the program this morning.

REGAN: Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Bianna?

GOLODRYGA: And straight ahead, at least one school district in Iowa is offering some teachers $50,000 to delay their retirement. So the question is, are big money incentives the best way to keep schools fully staffed? We'll discuss, coming up.



GOLODRYGA: As students nationwide begin returning to classrooms, the second largest school district in the country is saying that it's dealing with a teacher shortage. Here is what Los Angeles School District superintendent Alberto Carvalho has to say.


ALBERTO CARVALHO, SUPERINTENDENT, LOS ANGELES UNITED SCHOOL DISTRICT: There are economic conditions that have made it difficult for teachers to be recruited into the classroom. Critical hardship, the pandemic did not help certainly the (INAUDIBLE) endured during virtual learning and then back to school. With extreme conditions faced by many. Certainly had a chilling effect on many.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: And it is not just Los Angeles. Districts across the country are having a tough time now filling their teacher openings.

Here to discuss this further, CNN senior political writer Zachary Wolf.

Zachary, some are not calling this a shortage but even anecdotally I've heard similar stories at schools in the D.C. area. So help us understand what the facts show.

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER: Well, I mean, look at Los Angeles, the superintendent which is quoted is talking about a teacher shortage. He also in that same interview talks about how there's a credential teacher for every classroom.

So often especially in larger districts, it's a matter of there not being enough of the right kind of teachers, so they will (INAUDIBLE) license requirements. They don't have enough special ed teachers or (INAUDIBLE) positions, they will often be bus drivers in particular.

Districts are desperate for the people who help teachers like (INAUDIBLE). So it's a little difficult to say there is a nationwide teacher shortage because every district is a little bit different and often when you drill down it's a lack of being able to fill open positions that they might be adding because of an increase in funding, pandemic funding, a lot of districts didn't lose as much money as they thought during the pandemic, and then there was a big infusion of federal money. So some of these open positions are in addition to what they might have had before.

GOLODRYGA: And we should note that this has been an alarming trend that has predated COVID-19. It's only been exacerbated really and brought to the forefront since the pandemic began.

WOLF: Yes, I think the problem of teacher pay lagging compared to the rest of the economy is something that was just exacerbated by the pandemic.


There is also these political discussions around what can be taught and how, and a lot of teachers feel micromanaged now by school boards. And it will be interesting to see if that, you know, pushes people from the profession. But it's been a building problem this idea that there aren't enough qualified people who want to go into teaching in the future.

SCIUTTO: Just quickly, are there incentives that schools are offering?

WOLF: You're seeing schools get really creative with signing bonuses, thousands of dollars, you know, supplementing retirements and then the other interesting thing you'll see is teachers bringing in veterans in Florida. They're trying to bring in veterans that have no teaching experience to go into schools. So they're doing all sorts of different things.


GOLODRYGA: Yes, one of my favorite teachers was asked to come back from retirement given the shortage of teachers in that school district. It is something we're seeing across the country.

Zach Wolf, thank you. We appreciate it.

And thank you so much for joining us today. I'm Bianna Golodryga.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" will start right after a quick break.