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Senate Republicans Kill Bipartisan January 6 Commission; America Marks Unofficial Start Of Summer With Relative Normalcy; Quinnipiac Poll: GOP Support For Former President Trump Running In 2024, 66 percent; Texas Finalizes One Of Nation's Strictest Voting Restriction Bills; Will Matthew McConaughey Run For Texas Governor? Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 30, 2021 - 08:00   ET





PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST (voice-over): An independent insurrection investigation dies in the Senate.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Shame on the Republican Party for trying to sweep the horrors of that day under the rug because they're afraid of Donald Trump.

MATTINGLY: Plus, a COVID era first. A holiday weekend that is safe to celebrate as long as you're vaccinated.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You could see around you, people are coming back to the beach, back to the sun, back to the water.

MATTINGLY: And some are still fighting.

PAUL RYAN (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: If the conservative cause depending on one personality, then we're not going anywhere.

MATTINGLY: But the battle for the GOP soul for is now over.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): This is Donald Trump's party. Our way, America First, is the way forward for America.

MATTINGLY: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories, sourced by the best reporters, now.


MATTINGLY (on camera): Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Phil Mattingly, in today for Abby Phillip.

It's Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S. and it's the first relatively normal holiday the Americans have had since the pandemic began 15 months ago.

Now, President Biden was eager to trumpet the undeniable progress the county has made.


JOSEPH R. BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: COVID cases are down, COVID deaths are down, unemployment filings are down, hunger is down. Vaccinations are up, jobs are up, growth is up. Put it simply, America is coming back. America is on the move.


MATTINGLY: And then there is the U.S. Senate where this week underscored that the word "progress" doesn't belong anywhere what's alleged to be the world's greatest deliberative body. Republicans blocked the creation of a bipartisan commission to investigate the Capitol insurrection. If that strikes you as a little bit strange, well, maybe it's because a lot of them supports that very idea just a few weeks ago.

Now, totally unnecessary.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: We all saw what happened. We were witnesses. I think the basic goal of our Democratic friends is to keep relitigating in public what happened back on January 6.

SCHUMER: The commission was bipartisan, independent, straight down the middle. Trump's big lie is now the defining principle of what was once the Party of Lincoln.


MATTINGLY: Now, ten Republican votes were needed to approve and just six Republicans voted yes.

We'll have that and a lot more. Joining me now with their reporting and their insight, Seung Min Kim of "The Washington Post", Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times", Brittany Shepherd of Yahoo News, and "The Wall Street Journal's" Catherine Lucey.

And, Brittany, I want to start with you.

Look, I can't say I was surprised by how things ended up with the commission. I've been in this town long enough.

But can you walk through your sense of what the calculation was for Republicans to go against something that was drafted by Republicans and Democrats and that three months ago all of them seemed to support.

BRITTANY SHEPHERD, YAHOO NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think we're seeing any it is clear that Donald Trump has a vice grip on the party both on the macro and the micro level, and the calculation is that Mitch McConnell was going around reporting to Republicans saying do this to me as a favor, a favor to either get in Biden's space, to make the Democrats upset. But honestly it feels like a favor to the king pin of the party right

now which is Trump, which is kind of funny to say, he's in Mar-a-Lago and not here in D.C.

And it's really interesting to me that of the 11 senators who actually missed the vote we're out of town conveniently for some reason, four of them voted to impeach Donald Trump and convict him. And it is very curious to see where that consistency, where the backbone is and it is kind of curious if that extends further.

You could talk one way and be very vocal about your willingness to stand up for democracy and look at how many people lauded Mitch McConnell on the floor when he gave that speech after the insurrection on January 6.

But look at what is happening now. It is clear that someone has come in and had a very impactful essentially vice grip between now and then and the other person I could think of doing that is Trump.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. And, J-Mart, the irony of all this is Republicans would term as a Pelosi/Schumer commission, a partisan commission, that commission which was not a Pelosi/Schumer commission, it was a bipartisan commission, fails. And now, I think the likely end game is a partisan commission, select committee in the House and there is some strategic brilliance, whether intended or not.

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, two GOP senators who voted for the commission, Susan Collins of Maine, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, who explicitly said just that.


If we don't do a bipartisan commission that is filled with an array of figures like Lamar Alexander, who, you know -- and it is going to be a Nancy Pelosi-run either select committee or investigation through the standing House committees that is going to be entirely driven by Democrats. That's the alternative. It's not no investigation at all. And I think that is going to create challenges.

Look, I think there are two camps in the GOP. One, clearly scared of Donald Trump. They don't want to cross him. The other camp is, if we just don't talk about him, don't let Democrats talk about him, just look away, he will fade.

And I think that is the school of thought that you see in the Senate. The problem with that school of thought is they've been making that bet for six years.

SHEPHERD: It is naive.

MARTIN: It is now almost June of 2021. Literally six years now that is the standing bet of the GOP establishment. Don't engage him, don't criticize him, don't attack, don't feed, you know, don't bait, it just fade eventually and it is hasn't happened yet.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: For some in the GOP as well, if the commission that happens ends up being a Democrat-led effort as opposed to a bipartisan one, it is perhaps easier to do what Trump has been doing for a long time, which is label this as a Democratic witch hunt and try to frame it that way and just reject or disregarding findings.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, no, it ends in an easier spot.

And it's like you could beat up for two weeks, instead of dealing with a bipartisan commission over the course of a year and you could --

MARTIN: But real fast on timing, this was going to end at the end of the calendar year. A Pelosi commission she could -- for Labor Day of next fall, if the start of the midterms.

MATTINGLY: Seung Min, I want to get you on this, because I'm also reticent to draw too many conclusions about what X may mean for Y going forward, because we have literally no idea what's going to happen tomorrow, but I want to play video of Senator Joe Manchin, bipartisanship his North Star, he says every single day of every single week and that is what he said after the commission failed. Take a listen.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Betrayal of the oath that we each take is something that we have to live with and I'm sorry that my Republican colleagues an friends let political fear let them dough what they know in their hearts to do what is right.


MATTINGLY: Look, he's not going to vote to -- for the filibuster, OK? Let's just stipulate that so everybody stops writing stories about it.

But I think the question is, if you talk to Democrats over the course of the last several months, they said, we're going to put a bunch of bipartisan things on the floor. And if they get filibustered or they get blocked, we're going to take it to Joe Manchin and say, see, we need to go it alone on our agenda.

And so, from the border agenda, we're in infrastructure negotiations right now obviously, obviously, the families plan as well as hanging out there, does this push Joe Manchin closer to saying this bipartisan thing I'm talking about is not real?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It may on certain things, particularly on these contentious issues that we've talked about. But what senators are often able to do is kind of compartmentalize things. So, right now, the infrastructure negotiations going on, they are somehow still moving forward despite all of the skepticism in Washington that Joe Biden and Senate Republicans could come to some sort of an agreement right now.

I think the increased blockade, filibuster, done by Republicans, will push Joe Manchin to certain distances, say using reconciliation, that party only process for infrastructure for example, that could be one way Joe Manchin gets moved but right he's made it clear that he is not blowing up the legislative filibuster, he wants to keep the Senate the way it is, and all this is going to do is agitate others in his party, others in the base of the Democratic Party who are going to see President Biden's agenda stymied over and over again by Republicans all the way through the '22 midterms.

MATTINGLY: So, I want to drill in on infrastructure because that is the big negotiation that matters. It is the agenda. That's what we're talking about going forward.

There is a Memorial Day deadline. They've blown past that Memorial Day deadline. There are counter offers on the deadline.

I think you and I have both been reporting that June 9th is the new day that the White House is paying attention to. But I want to pull up President Biden's latest offer on infrastructure versus Republicans latest offer on infrastructure. You see, Biden's later offer, $1.7 trillion, Republicans bumped theirs up to $928 billion. But look at the yellow right there, $257 billion in new spending so you're operating on different baselines and they're not close on the top line as it seems to appear.

Is there an actual pathway forward here for bipartisan agreement?

LUCEY: That is the real question. That is what you're asking everyone as well. I mean, what we're hearing from the White House is they are pleased that the Republicans are negotiating. They feel like they did come up some and they see that as progress.

But we heard from the president this week that he's not going to weight forever on this. That that he does want to move forward. He said he would signal to Senator Capito, he wants to talk again. But the time is coming due here.


So -- and the big sticking point as you also know is how you pay for this. So it is not just, I mean, the spending numbers that are far and that is important, but also it is how do you do this? The White House and the president wants to raise certain taxes, Republicans say that's red line. Republicans say they want to look at these additional COVID funds. The White House says that's not an option.

So the pay-fors as we call them is the big issue.

KIM: That is a message the president is making privately and publicly as well. I had a negotiation between the details is what Roy Blunt told me, one of the negotiators. Blunt told me that he -- Biden made it clear to us in that meeting that he has a couple of options, he could do all of it without us. So this is a message that he's making clear to the negotiators as well.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, and I just one quick thing and I want to cite this for context, the president gave a speech on Thursday, an economic speech on Thursday, that a lot was going on and so maybe people didn't -- there were key elements that frame what is going on right now and I want to play something from it and you could tell me if this president will scale back 90 percent of my plans. Take a listen.


BIDEN: I just think after decades of workers getting the raw deal, it's time to be given a fair shake. We're in a reflection point in American history, it happens every several generations. We have a chance to seize the economic momentum in the first few months of my administration, not just to build back, but to build back better and this time, we're going to deal everyone in.


MATTINGLY: Yeah. He believes in the plans he's put on the table and that is an important element here.

I would note one thing, surface transportation bill, tax and new spending on top of that, maybe a bipartisan deal, this is very Washington speak but keep an eye on that. June 9th another day to keep an eye on.

All right. Moving on. Where did the COVID pandemic began? President Biden orders his intelligence community to figure out that issue.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kind of like the light at the end of the tunnel. Like we're finally like getting there.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It feels terrific. Everybody is enjoying themselves and taking precautions still, but have fun.


MATTINGLY: It is Memorial Day weekend here in the U.S., the unofficial kickoff of summer. But it was last Memorial Day, if you could remember back that far, that sparked what turned into COVID summer surge. This year, it is a very different situation. Let's take a look at kind of the case curb over the last year. In a strange twist, there are a same number of cases on average right now, 22,000 as there were in Memorial Day 2020.

But take a look at everything that has happened in between. It has been a lot and we're going to show you why. Cases back in 2021, 1.7 million, this year, 33.2 million. Deaths, 101,000. This year, more than 594,000.

So what is the big difference? Why are people going outside and having an actual summer. Right here -- 135 million fully vaccinated. You dig in on those numbers and you start to get a sense of the progress that has been made but still a lot to go.

Right now, 51 percent of the U.S. adults are fully vaccinated, 40 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. So, what that does mean on the unofficial start to summer?

Well, take a look at this poll right here. How will you spend your Memorial Day weekend? According to the Quinnipiac poll, same as before the pandemic, 73 percent. Normalcy is happening.

Still different, 24 percent is still a decent number but nowhere near 73 percent and if you talk to officials like CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, they say if you're vaccinated, have at it.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: All of this is possible because of vaccinations are going up and cases and risk of community transmission across the country are going down.

If you are vaccinated, you are protected, and you can enjoy your Memorial Day. If you are not vaccinated, our guidance has not changed for you. You remain at risk of infection, you still need to mask and take other precautions.


MATTINGLY: Yasmeen Abutaleb from "The Washington Post" joins us conversation.

Look, I know you've been living this ever single day -- obviously we all have -- but covering this every single day for the better part of 15 months. And a lot of progress has been made, 51 percent ,40 percent, a lot of vaccinations still need to go out.

Is there any concern in the administration that perhaps people returning to normalcy is happening a little bit too soon for the unvaccinated?

YASMEEN ABUTALEB, HEALTH POLICY REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: I think there is concerns, especially with the CDC's new mask mandate that vaccinated people don't have to wear masks indoors or outdoors. There's no way to really police that to know who's vaccinated and who's not.

So, obviously, if you are vaccinated, you could go back to your pre- pandemic activities with other vaccinated people. But I think the concern is, are unvaccinated people taking that as a license to also do that when they're not protected and if there are pockets of the country where you've got low rates of vaccination where you start to see cases go back up.

MATTINGLY: Is there an expectation that in maybe those pockets, you will see a little bit of surge, not from what we saw last year but some semblance of that this year?

ABUTALEB: I think concern with Memorial Day and travel expected to surge again that in some of the states, you know, Alabama only has about 29 percent of adult population vaccinated and cases that might see cases start to go back up especially if unvaccinated people are behaving the same as vaccinated without the same protection.

MATTINGLY: And you're at the point there -- you know, I want to pull up a Kaiser Family Foundation poll. Americans and the vaccines. If you look at this right now, already gotten the vaccine, 62 percent, one as soon as possible and only 4 percent left, wait and see, 12 percent, only if required and definitely not, 20 percent.


And the takeaway there, a lot of people have been vaccinated, there's no question about it. But there are a lot of people who still haven't and the pop who want the vaccine for the most part have gotten the vaccine. You cover the White House every single day and they're trying to address this in three dozen different manners at this point in time. What's kind of their sense of how effective they will be?

LUCEY: They are trying to encourage a lot of things that happening in the states and programs that are pushing themselves.

And another thing that the data is when we look at this many percentage are vaccinated, as Yasmeen said, it's not even across the country. So you have states that are -- some states are much lower, a lot of the South has lower rates so I think there are concerns about outbreaks or, you know, small episodes in those areas.

But some of the things the White House is talking about, they're praising programs like in Ohio, these lottery incentives to get people out. They see those things as effective and the president was talking about this week, a partnership with Uber and Lyft to try to get people free rides to get the shots.

So, they know and they said all along this is the hardest part, right? After people who want to get it, motivating the last sort of push of people and so they're trying to attack it from a number of approaches. And so, both in the states and from stuff they're doing themselves.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, J-Mart, what is your read on the -- look, Ohio is the best state in the union. That is an established fact. But like, it was kind of fascinating, the 1 million -- I remember when the headline came out and we're all kind of shaking our heads, like, wow, that's bonkers. And then you started that there was a tangible increase and other states have started to pick up on this. Is this like a viable solution there?

MARTIN: You could see the bump in the graph.

MATTINGLY: But people respond.

MARTIN: Yeah, to free money, yes.

Look, I think that this is a sort of a trait of state governments around the country. This always happens, when one state is doing something innovative, the other states rush in to copy it. So, I think you'll see more of this and even bolder as the summer and fall go on.

And to your point, Catherine, I think it is critical because there is that final third or so of the population that doesn't want to do it.


MARTIN: So you're going to give every possible incentive to get it done. But where we're ultimately going with this guys is, does this ultimately become a question of measles or mumps where you have to get to the shot to go to school, to go to business, to get on a plane. I think a lot of states are avoiding that question. But if you can't get everybody or most everybody vaccinated, do you have some to at some point go to the next step.


LUCEY: And there is the other group that kids under 12 still get vaccinated which is another at risk population that we have to think about it. I mean, you know well --

MATTINGLY: Yeah. No, I got three of them already.

By the way, Yasmeen, there was another -- another kind of big development this week that I think we're all covering and that's kind of the president announcing that he wanted a 90-day intelligence deep dive into the origins of COVID and whether it was a lab leak, whether it's passed from animals to humans and a lab leak, and there is a difference between a lab leak and, you know, engineered by the Chinese as some kind of bio weapon, but this has become a very real issue where it seemed to be put to bed by a lot of people probably in a poorly thought out manner.

What is your sense of where things stand right now and if we'll ever actually get an answer?

ABUTALEB: Well, I think the important thing to note is that the intelligence and the information that's out there publicly hasn't changed substantially for the last couple of months. I think this theory just gained credence over the last several weeks and a couple of months for a few reasons.

One was when President Trump first put the theory out there, he didn't offer any evidence and the whole debate was politicized because then Peter Navarro would take it several steps further. So it became kind of this fringe conspiracy theory. It wasn't all rooted in what was available and what wasn't, or that it was a possible theory.

The other thing is they have not found the animal reservoir for coronavirus which is not entirely unusual, but some people expect that we might have a better idea by now.

And the other thing is, you know, when President Biden put out the statement, one other remarkable things was he said there was a divide in the intelligent community over which theory was remarkable with low to market confident, so it was a divide in how the intelligence community viewed this. MATTINGLY: Yeah, all the dynamics of a decision to put out that

statement and to do the deep dive and if you go back and listen to Tom Cotton statements early on back in 2020, they actually seem very prescient right now. I think the president at the time conflated something and everybody kind of dove in against it and now there is a new relevance to it. It's obviously something we're all going to be keeping an eye on.

Yasmeen, thank you very much.

All right. Up next, Paul Ryan urges the GOP to move past Donald Trump and but the party's voters don't agree with Paul Ryan.



MATTINGLY: Former House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he'll be leaving Congress almost exactly three years ago today. It's actually April of 2018. It has gotten dark since he left his Capitol suite, but this weekend -- or this week, he popped up to make clear that he doesn't like where his party has gone.


PAUL RYAN (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: If the conservative cause depends on populist appeal of one personality, or of second rate imitations, then we're not going anywhere.


MATTINGLY: If you really wanted to see just how belated Ryan's appeal is in today's GOP, just swing across the country to Georgia.




REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Taking advice on party building from Paul Ryan would be like taking advice on how to interact with your in-laws from Meghan Markle. We're not going back to the days of the Bushes and the McCains and the Romneys. Our way, America first, is the way forward for America.


MATTINGLY: So hip and cool with the Meghan Markle reference.

I want to pull up a poll -- a Quinnipiac poll. GOP support for former President Trump running in 2024, 66 percent. Candidates that mostly agree with Trump, 85 percent.

People keep framing this as some kind of civil war. The war is over. Am I wrong? Am I -- you talk to members every single day. You talk to the political class every single day. Am I missing something here? I understand what the speaker -- Speaker Ryan was trying to do there but like there's no fight anymore it doesn't seem.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: There is no war. I mean for now Trump and more importantly Trumpism has won over the Republican Party for the time being which is what is driving so many actions of the Republican Party, right.

I mean we discussed the 1/6 commission. So much of the motivation for the Republican opposition was to not anger President Trump because this commission would have investigated his actions, his thinking, what he was doing or not doing on that -- on the -- on the day of the riot.

You have a lot of what Mitch McConnell has been -- a lot of what Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy have been trying to do as they try to win back -- win back Congress in the 2022 election is to keep the party united even if it requires dealing with the former guy who's now in Mar-A-Lago or I guess it is Bedminster season now.

And that's why you see, you know, when Marjorie Taylor Greene has repeatedly made such offensive comments, Kevin McCarthy is still keeping her on the conference because he knows she represents a part of the party that he needs to win back the majority in 2022.

SHEPHERD: That's such a great point. (INAUDIBLE) the last six months, people look at Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz as the bug of the party, right. But it's their future. They are where the party is now.

It is not just centrist Republicans up on the Hill, you know, just pearl-clutching trying to figure out what is going on and it's actually a fear of the White House and how they're trying to approach bipartisan talks.

Because it's not that to dismiss Marjorie Taylor Greene as a whack job is a smart approach because for (INAUDIBLE) they get elected in, folks like Lauren Boebert to get elected and for folks like Ronny Jackson to get elected is pudding proof. This is not where the party is headed, it is where the party is now.

LUCEY: You know, one way to think about it is the speaker series that Paul Ryan appeared in was called "A Time for Choosing", was the name of the series. They've chosen. They have chosen -- not just the party base, the party leadership. It is very clear where they are.

MARTIN: And the party leadership is following the party voters.

LUCEY: Exactly.

MARTIN: I mean this is the issue I think that gets confused. The GOP's challenge isn't that Donald Trump has this outsized (ph) power, it's that the voters in the party like Donald Trump.

And so they're the ones who are driving this. It's not even a Trump issue, it is a voters issue, right? If tomorrow the Republican primary electorate said, you know what, President Trump, it is sort of time to move on. Do you know how fast the governors and senators and members of the House would drop Trump? Just like that.

But they don't do that because of their voters, their primary voters to be exact.

MATTINGLY: Yes. It is a really great point. And I think if anybody thinks back over the course of the last five months there is like a five-day period post January 6 where you saw some people say let's take a shot at this and see if we can move it the other say, move it against the president, Mitch McConnell being among them.

And it didn't happen. And people like Mitch McConnell who understand his conference and understand their voters very quickly made the calculation, never going to talk to the guy again, probably never going to say his name again but I'm not going to go out there and attack him like Liz Cheney did in the recognition that you can't not win back the majority if you do to some degree.

And I think there's probably no better example of this than what is happening down in Texas right now. If you want to know what former President Trump thinks of the Bush family, take a listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Jeb Bush is a low energy person. For him, to get things done is hard.

This guy can't negotiate his way out of a paper bag.

Jeb's crowd, as you know, right down the street, they're sleeping.


MATTINGLY: This week, George P. Bush, who has grander ambitions statewide in the state of Texas, calling -- or tweeting a picture of himself calling President Trump, making clear that he was on his side. It is a fascinating dynamic to me how George P Bush would try and handle what going on right now. What is your sense of the balancing act --

MARTIN: If you have the ambition to rise in the ranks of today's GOP or even next year's GOP you are bound to a voter base that is hugely enthralled by Donald Trump. Therefore, you have to yourself show fealty to who, Donald Trump.


MARTIN: I mean George P. Bush can not win a primary next year in Texas if he's at odds with Donald Trump or even if he is like somewhat strained from Donald Trump. You've got to be engaged and almost hip to Donald Trump. At least that is the theory.

And this is why the Liz Cheney primary next year, Murkowski potentially and a few other races in the House are so fascinating, Phil. Because they're going to tell us, could you confront Donald Trump or can you at least break from him and still survive a primary? And if you can, that may actually tell us more about what the former president's influence is in the GOP because right now it is all theoretical. It's all I couldn't dare break from him because our voters love him and I would lose my primary. I think next year we're going to see if that's the case.


MATTINGLY: Yes. That's a very good point.

Seung Min, we have about a minute left. Want to pull up some headlines because, you know, you talk about the Republicans, J Mart you mentioned it earlier, just kind of want to ignore it and hope that President Trump kind of fades away to some degree.

They want to focus on the agenda. They want talk about President Biden's agenda and you see these headlines: "Prosecutors in Trump criminal probe contains a grand jury", "Republican governors face the Trump witness test".

Trump is starting to put together his own contract with America. We talk to Republican senators every single day for the most part when they are in town.

Give me the behind the scenes in terms of their frustration, their sense of things when perhaps they would rather be talking about President Biden's $4 trillion agenda on the table.

KIM: Sure. I mean there is nothing more that Mitch McConnell and other Senate Republicans would love to do than to talk about President Biden's agenda which they say is, you know, a tax and spend Democrat who's going to drive the country into socialism.

But their message get overshadowed almost every day by, you know, something stemming from the former president. Whether it is his legal woes or, you know, again stemming -- you know, fall out from the commission or what not.

And it's is been really interesting to watch two members of the Republican caucus in the Senate. Obviously, one is Mitch McConnell and how he navigates that post Trump era but also Florida Senator Rick Scott who has the mandate of winning back the majority for Republicans in 2022, very close to President Trump.

I actually spoke with him in Mar-A-Lago earlier this week and has made clear that his -- at least for the NRSC, his NRSC strategy will defeat hug -- Donald Trump so tight going into the midterms which is something that Mitch McConnell would love not to do. But that relationship, that tension I think will be a really interesting thing to watch.


MATTINGLY: Yes. Yes. No, no question.

For the record, make me sound like a nerd but the policy debate with the president's agenda would actually be really, really interesting. It is not like the president is running away from it. He wants to have that fight. He gave that speech in Cleveland.

Ok. Up next, Republicans are advancing a sweeping voting bill in Texas that President Biden calls an assault on our democracy.



MATTINGLY: You know, a feature of President Biden's administration has been racial justice, equity pretty much at the center of everything. Talks about it constantly. It's at the heart of his legislative agenda, whether it is coronavirus relief, his infrastructure package, the $6 trillion budget they put on the table this week and his daily schedule.

He and Vice President Harris met with George Floyd's family in the Oval Office one year after Floyd's murder. And on Tuesday Biden will visit Tulsa for the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre.

Abby Phillip spoke to one of the three remaining survivors.


VIOLA "MOTHER" FLETCHER, SURVIVOR OF THE TULSA RACE MASSACRE: I don't remember what time it was but it was at night. On our way out, we could see people running and people laying on the ground probably bleeding from being shot and killed.


MATTINGLY: The horror of what transpired in the Greenwood District, obviously a lot people know about it, a lot more people I feel has been learning about it over the course of the last year which is both a necessity and very good.

But from a micro level, we'll talk broader race in a second, but the Tulsa visit from President Biden, walk me through kind of the thought process there and the meaning the White House is hoping to convey.

LUCEY: I mean this is a significant moment for him. They obviously wanted to mark the anniversary there in person. He's going to meet with some of the surviving members of the community while he is there.

The White House says he wants to really stress the moment. And to your point think more broadly, this has been a big theme of his campaign and his administration. Racial justice, dealing with inequities, and you see it across the board both in the things that he's doing like this visit, like the time with George's Floyd's family this week but also in the policies.

They really feel like in the infrastructure bill, the families plan, the things that they're doing they are really working to try and address what they see as real inequities that need to be dealt with. MATTINGLY: And it is so interesting how forward the administration is

on this because if you flash back to the last Democratic administration, with the first black president, you know, you often felt like you could talk to administration officials who felt like they were constrained about what they could say and what they could advocate for even if it's something they believed in and the president, former president Obama, kind of got to this. Take a listen.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even while I was in the Oval Office, I was viewing it I think through different prisms, part of me was wildly enthusiastic just to see this resurgence of activism. At the same time there were some frustrations for me in my institutional role.


MATTINGLY: So President Biden has a similar institutional role, literally the same institutional role --

KIM: Sure.

MATTINGLY: -- but obviously a very different approach. I think it's an obvious answer as to why. But like walk me through kind of your thinking as to why he's able to do so much more and not get lambasted for it than what President Obama could do.

SHEPHERD: Well, just to clear the elephant in the room, Joe Biden is a white man. And Barack Obama is a biracial person -- a black biracial person and the thing about being a black president, he's a person I could speak to very earnestly is that you can't win. You're either kind of too black for white America or you're not black enough for black America and everything you say is politicized.

And obviously he's the president, of course, everything he says is charged. But he's very easily victim to a narrative either the angry black man, or the scorned black man. And if he doesn't go too far, like say talk about reparations toward black America, he's seen as a race traitor and it puts him and Michelle in a really interesting corner. And it's really fascinating if you actually go back to all their speeches, they were pretty light on the conversation about races, or the kumbaya --



SHEPHERD: -- and only after at John Lewis' funeral do we hear a little bit more charged language from Obama and actual anger. And I think that -- no, Joe Biden just doesn't have that. He has all the trappings of an old white man and it allows him to legislate and to say, you know, we can't do this now. We have to kick this legislation on the road and not face ire at every turn.

MATTINGLY: Yes. All right. It is such an interesting dynamic to watch. MARTIN: Just a real fast plug.

MATTINGLY: Yes, shoot.

MARTIN: My paper in the journal both have great weekend stories about Tulsa and about what happened 100 years ago. Check them out.


MATTINGLY: There you go.

MARTIN: We're pro-- right here, Phil.


MATTINGLY: One quick thing -- not quick. Another important issue that's going on and it kind of falls into this prism at least from President Biden's perspective and thanks to Republicans who disagree but obviously the House has moved forward on their voting bill right now that I think would deploy some of the most restrictive measures in the country. We've seen this throughout the country.

Start ticking through what is in that bill. The Senate's going to consider it later tonight -- bans unsolicited mail-in ballot applications, bans overnight and Sunday morning voting, ID and signature matching for mail-in-ballot applications, stops drive- through voting, expands access to partisan poll watchers.

Look, we've seen this throughout the country right now in a lot of states that President Trump won by the way. What is your sense of kind of where are they going with this? What is the end game here?

KIM: Well, one -- another fascinating provision about this proposed Texas voting law is that it also makes it easier to overturn election results which is something that is very concerning, voting rights advocates and also really continues to put this issue of voting rights voting access on the national radar.

You have President Biden issue a very forceful statement on this proposed legislation yesterday. He has spoken out very, you know, vociferously about the legislation in Georgia and Florida as well.

And this is going to come into the national radar in the next couple of weeks. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer laid out his June agenda before leaving town earlier this week and he said that For The People Act, the HR1, S-1 that is such a centerpiece of the Democratic agenda will come for a vote on the senate floor in June.

Now we all know what's going to happen. It will be filibustered. We actually are not quite sure what Joe Manchin will do. He's not yet on board with that legislation. There have been several private caucus meeting where they tried to kind of put together a unified front on that legislation.

But clearly this is going to be an issue that is going to take much more prominent spotlight in the coming weeks. MATTINGLY: J Mart, we have like 20 seconds.


MATTINGLY: 20 seconds on the very complicated voting laws. Will this have a tangible impact on things? I mean I understand both sides, there is hyperbole going around and seems to be some misinformation about some of the bills. Georgia in particular. But there's intent here and this is all happening through the lens of President Trump claiming the election was rigged.

MARTIN: Unintended consequences on two fronts. One. I think Republicans could unintentionally actually drive away some of their own voters with some of these procedures.

And secondly, I think this also has the impact of energizing Democratic voters. And we've seen this movie so many times. Democrats have a challenge driving up their voters typically in midterms.

Not every midterm but oftentimes. And this is a lever with Trump gone, they need a lever to get their voters out in a midterm.

SHEPHERD: Every story needs a villain, you know.

MARTIN: And this offers that.

MARTIN: They don't want you to vote, they've gone through all of these hoops to stop you from voting. It is important that you show that you're not going to be this way. Now you can see the rally now.

MATTINGLY: Yes. No question about it. That was 34 seconds -- went long.

MARTIN: I'm a print guy.

MATTINGLY: All right.

Up next, Matthew McConaughey on his maybe next role -- will it be running for governor of Texas?



MATTINGLY: An area Austin man did two interviews this week that hint at his next role may actually be running for governor of Texas. That -- it's Matthew McConaughey. See the roll -- see what I did there?

In the McConaughey's AART interview he says he doesn't know whether his next step would be a leadership role in politics, publishing, or maybe a ministry, but that he wants to help others and inspire unity.

This is what he told Ozzy's Carlos Watson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEW MCCONAUHEY, ACTOR: I'm not interested in going and putting a bunch of band-aids on there that are going to ripped off soon as I'm out. I'm interested in building something that can last and I'm measuring what category that is. I don't know if that's politics.

Got to make some sacrifices for larger rewards tomorrow. I think the best example from my mind, this last year is the damn dispute over the masks that got -- that got politicized.

I'm like, come on, man. I'm not believing you're really scared of this little cotton thing. And I'm (INAUDIBLE) feel that takes away your identity and your freedom. This is a short-term inconvenience for long-term freedom. Come on, man.


MATTINGLY: I love the emphasis on freedom -- it's good.

All right. Brittany Shepherd, you made clear you were going to make at least 76 McConaughey movie references as it pertain to his political future. So go.



SHEPHERD: Well, I think, his reference, him running for office living some Democrats dazed and confused. Celebrities running for office is not necessarily an interstellar idea right now.

And It's really interesting. I feel like every two years I have a story in my cue that like Texas will finally go Democrat. And a lot of Democrats in the state feel that celebrity politicians can get them there, someone like Beto.

Those celebrities who are trying to be politicians are a very different fit. Like the yang versus the Schwarzenegger is very different.

So it's really an interesting fit how he's trying to capitalize on this moment by having kind of amorphous thoughts about masks like it's last year in the pandemic and I think going to unfair to just get any support from the ground, at least from Democrats.

They feel if he runs as a Republican or Independent is their worst fear. Cause folks think that, Matthew McConaughey. He's interesting. He's tan. Let me see what he's about. And folks actually will engage and that's really frightening too --


MATTINGLY: Yes. And he's able to wear a shirt with at least the top three buttons unbuttoned.


MATTINGLY: J Mart, how should -- should I be taking this seriously? Should I start paying attention to Matthew McConaughey politically?

MARTIN: You can't discount celebrity in American politics especially recent years has shown the kind of power of celebrity in American politics. I think I'll be more curious for his path to the governorship of a state that is pretty conservative.

And by the way, we've seen in the past what happens in that state when you have a Democrat in third party candidate run ups. The short version is it helps Republicans. Any (ph) comment.


MARTIN: But now, let's be honest. I'm not saying that this is all a ruse to help UT recruiting but the Longhorns have had down a few years (ph). McConaughey is the biggest Longhorns booster there is, where better to promote your state and your program than as governor.

So that could well be the round-about strategy here. I'm not saying it's true. I'm just saying it is possible.


MATTINGLY: Yes. Texas is not back in football. I just want to put that out there. But you make a good point.

And Catherine I want to go to you with this for the last 30 seconds. You look at what the Texas legislature has done over the course of this session.

It's the most probably conservative legislature we've seen in terms of new voting restriction, bans on teaching of critical race theory, eliminates permits and training handgun rules, new restrictions on abortion, punishes cities that defund police.

Texas turning purple, legislature says no thanks. What's your read on the politics in the state?

LUCEY: Well, that's right. It's a state that we've seen Democrat make gains in recent years but it's still a conservative state. It is a state where Republicans hold both house and state legislature, the governorship, state-wide rules.

But to follow-up on Brittany comment (ph) I want to stay with Matthew McConaughey, is he going to make contact or is this going to be a failure to launch situation?

MATTINGLY: That was so good. That was a six -- sick movie -- six movie references. I feel so good about our efforts there.

All right. Thank you guys very much. before we go. I want to close with a quick note on this weekend. Barbecues, beached, beers -- it's been a hell of a year. By all means you've all earned it, have at it.

But I would like to ask you to take a moment to think about those who sacrificed everything for those freedoms that you get to enjoy this weekend. People like Lt. Col. Thomas O'Day (ph) who was killed in Teinen (ph) Province, Vietnam on Christmas Day 1968. For his family, for so many families, this isn't some amorphous long weekend. It's equal parts loss and love, pain and pride.

Thomas O'Day is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. You can see his headstone right there with the red roses in front with so many thousands of others who gave their lives in service of their country.

Now, those flowers in front of his headstone, his daughter brought them to his grave on Friday morning. His daughter is my mom.

Thanks so much for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS.

"STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash is up next.

Please, have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend.