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McCarthy Plans To Appoint GOP Members To Jan 6 Committee; New Video Of January 6 Capitol Attack; Tropical Storm Elsa Makes Landfall On Florida's Gulf Coast. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 07, 2021 - 12:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Still unclear. We have to leave the conversation there though Christine Brennan. Thank you so much for the time. Always appreciate it.


SANCHEZ: Hey don't go anywhere. CNN is tracking tropical storm Elsa and of course Inside Politics with John King starts right now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello everybody and welcome to Inside politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Right now, millions under threat from tropical storm Elsa, cheering wind, unyielding rain, tornadoes and storm surge, all bearing down on Florida.

Plus a developing Delta variant crisis. Half - half of all new infections here in the United States right now are from this nasty COVID strain. And Kevin McCarthy makes up his mind. The Republican leader will appoint members to that Select Committee investigating the insurrection. The new CNN reporting today on how McCarthy's goal is not the truth.

And we begin right there with a benchmark decision from the top Republican in the House. Sources telling CNN Kevin McCarthy, yes, does plan to fill the five Republican slots on the January 6 Select Committee. That after an internal Republican debate over whether a boycott might be a better political strategy.

But the leaders objective we are told is not to aid the search for the truth. Sources familiar with McCarthy's thinking say the decision is less about cooperation and more about making sure Republican loyalists are in place to try to steer the committee away from facts that are inconvenient to Donald Trump and to the GOP.

Let's get straight to see and as Melanie Zanona up on Capitol Hill. Melanie, the leader has made his decision, now what?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: That's right, John, the strategy is really coming into focus for Republicans here about how they're going to approach this January 6 investigation. And ultimately, I'm told that Kevin McCarthy does plan to appoint Republicans because he wants them in a position where they can push back on Democrats, play defense for Trump, shape a counternarrative, and essentially throw sand in the gears of the investigation as much as possible.

So you can expect to see some of those trusted Trump allies on the committee, someone like Jim Jordan, Elise Stefanik, Mike Johnson, but at the same time, Kevin McCarthy also recognizes that it's important to have some more pragmatic and serious members who could have some credibility with middle America, who could bring some expertise to the bait - to the debate.

In fact, I had one source even telling me that they would not be surprised if they - if he doesn't appoint someone who actually voted to certify the election results.

KING: That would be very interesting as we go forward. Melanie Zanona, appreciate the groundbreaking reporting and we'll see where the leader goes with his picks. And we should note this, Republicans want to twist January 6 into something short. We've all seen this, short of an insurrection. New video we have today shows the obvious and the horrifying truth.

The Capitol attack was an attack, an attempted violent overthrow of the United States government. A caution to our viewers some of what we're about to show you in this new video is rather dramatic. You can see on surveillance footage here, rioters trying to breach the Senate chamber. This Instagram video shows accused Capitol rioter Thomas Sibick, promising to push through tear gas and the police.

Body camera footage then capture Sibick assaulting DC Metro Police Officer Michael Fanone, beating him, tasing him and stealing his badge. Videos are part of a giant Justice Department mosaic. 500 some cases now against the alleged rioters making their way through the courts.

The FBI also releasing scores of new videos this Tuesday, a dramatic reminder of the January 6 violence and that there are still insurrectionists at large. With me in studio to share the reporting and their insights this day, CNN's Abby Philip, Olivier Knox of The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal's Catherine Lucey and Julie Hirschfeld Davis of the New York Times.

The videos are just too disturbing. But just to remind people, there are some Republicans mostly trying to rewrite history. Leader McCarthy will now go along, there was an internal conversation should we boycott this? He will appoint some members, you heard Melanie Zanona say, leadership loyalists, Trump loyalists likely to be at least some of the five GOP slots. What is the - GOP leader saying we will at least point - appoint members?

JULIE HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS, CONGRESSIONAL EDITOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I think that the Republican Party wants to have a voice in whatever comes out of the Select Committee. They want to be pushing as Melanie said, the counternarrative that this was not so serious, that this wasn't an insurrection.

And they also want to be able to have the procedural seat at the table to try to really stall out what Democrats are trying to do. And obviously Democrats, Nancy Pelosi has made it clear that she wants this committee to be very aggressive by putting Liz Cheney on her side of the dais. She is trying to instill sort of a sense of bipartisan questioning and investigation of this and trying to give it the veneer of something objective.

The Republicans' mission here is going to be to try to turn that on its head and say this is partisan. This is one sided and this is just an illegitimate - illegitimate inquiry from the get go.

KING: Any hope that just the bare facts, you look at those videos, it was an attack on the Capitol, any hope that just the weight, the gravity of the situation, the gravity of the evidence, would convince these Republicans? Maybe in the end, they don't want to blame Trump. Maybe in the end, they want to find some middle ground, but to at least not just be railroading a search for truth.

OLIVIER KNOX, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I mean, they've systematically played down the insurrection of January 6. After an initial burst of complaints, after an initial burst of blaming Donald Trump, for inciting the crowd that eventually fed into this insurrection.


They've now backed all the way off these - their earlier claims. So no, I don't - I don't think that that's what animating them. They've already said that they don't consider this a legitimate inquiry, they consider this a partisan score reckoning, if you will. They've already said that they can't accept a bipartisan independent commission.

They've already rejected all these other venues for looking into the January 6 insurrection, which we should remember, interrupted the certification of the election. So no, I don't I think this is much more likely to be a well, look, this is going to get coverage anyway.

There's going to be - people are going to be talking about this anyway. And for all the desire that they've expressed to move beyond a discussion of January 6, they figure if it's going to get talked about, they should be part of the conversation.

ABBY PHILIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And if you are a Republican who agrees to be on this committee at this point, you know that that means that you are probably a Republican who sees this the way that Kevin McCarthy sees it. And even if your name is not Jim Jordan, even if you're not a fire thrower, you're not going to accept this kind of assignment.

You know, it's not exactly a pleasant assignment for most Republicans, unless you're willing to, to go along with the main Republican line right now, which is to downplay all of this. There were some Republicans earlier in the process, like Congressman Katko, who tried to hammer out a deal with Democrats, who basically said after McCarthy rejected that, he basically said, I don't want to have anything to do with this. And I think that people in that vein who really wanted to get to the

truth, they don't want to touch this with a 10-feet pole. So inevitably, it's going to end up being this partisan flame-throwing exercise.

KING: The burden then falls on the chairman and the Democrats who still have the majority on the committee even assuming Liz Cheney votes with them on most issues to present the facts. And part of the what stuns me here is that Republicans still want to deny what we just showed people on video. That was Officer Fanone, one of the insurrectionists beat him, tasered him, stole his badge.

Officer Fanone says, I'll be a witness for this committee.


OFC. MICHAEL FANONE, DC METRO POLICE, ASSAULTED IN CAPITOL ATTACK: What's been most difficult for me is, you know, post January 6, seeing people downplay or just lie about the events of that day. I experienced firsthand an insurrection inspired by the, you know, head of our executive branch, the president at the time, Donald Trump, and his co-workers.


KING: The witness list, I mean, everyone asks, you know, will they get White House people to come in, including the former president to at least give any testimony? Will Kevin McCarthy, himself be called by a House committee? Unlikely, he'd probably fight that. But the - what - just the police officer, the dramatic testimony of men and women who were risking their lives that day, how did the Republicans on the committee say that wasn't a big deal or that almost didn't happen?

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: I think that's the question is, how do they react but then also the case Democrats are trying to make and who were they making their case to? And how does the American public respond to this? So I think one of the things you're looking at in the midterms, is the fact that they're trying to make this argument about January 6.

What led to it, feature people like officer, you know talking about what happened so that voters hear it and that - that - that then becomes the conversation right? Instead of how do Republican voters see it? Because we've - we've seen mixed responses from them as well.

KING: And how do people out in the country process this who care about trying to find out what happened on that event. Just some new CNN reporting today of one of the issues that will come up before the Select Committee, trying to look at the causes of this anger and white nationalism and extremism, call it what you will.

Now the FBI has infiltrated a Bible study group in Virginia, that after the January 6 riot had members discussing surveying the U.S. Capitol and their wish for secession from the United States, and investigators closely followed one members plan to build and test Molotov cocktails, according to recently unsealed court documents. There are serious significant life and death issues that need to be

explored by this committee and other jurisdictions, appointing members to try to railroad, it strikes me as a risk.

PHILIP: I mean, there's a domestic terror problem in the United States, according to, you know, federal officials who are looking at this. And it's multifaceted in nature. And one part of it is the ideology that led to the insurrection, that ideology is actually expanding. And it's becoming more outlandish and more extreme in some ways.

And there is a complete unwillingness on the part of Capitol Hill to get to the bottom of that. And that makes, I think all of us a lot less safe, because it's one thing to talk about razor wire and fences at the Capitol. But what actually causes people to plan and to plot And can we get ahead of those things?

I think that's the real issue. And I don't have any indication that that's really where this committee is going to be able to go in any real way.

HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS: And I think even if it was, Republicans have a real risk, a real issue with that - with that line of inquiry, because that's a lot of their voters. And a lot of the people who are voting for their candidates in primaries and elections, have those beliefs and so they are going to have an issue if this committee or really any law enforcement agency really starts to go down this road because they have a lot of members who have espoused these sorts of ideas.


KING: Build and test Molotov cocktails. Wouldn't want those as my voters anyway. Up next for us tropical storm Elsa has made landfall along Florida's Gulf Coast, millions of people now facing torrential rain, life threatening storm surge, strong winds, even in some cases tornadoes.


KING: Millions of Americans in the southeast riding out Tropical Storm Elsa right now. The storm made landfall in Florida. This is Taylor County. These pictures just south of there in Cedar Key. Elsa eventually will track along virtually the entire U.S. East Coast bringing dangerous amounts of rain. Let's check in with our meteorologist Chad Myers. He's in the weather center tracking Elsa. Chad, what's the latest?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, you couldn't see it really on that picture there but we do know that there was some significant storm surge on up toward Horseshoe beach and up towards Stein Hatchie, maybe three to four even five feet in some spots.


And that's always that - that risk of saltwater flooding. Now we have risk of freshwater flooding, very heavy rainfall coming down with it and it will move on up toward the Northeast. The winds aren't bad right now. Maybe some spots, we're going to still see some gusts, 50 or 60 but all the numbers you see back here below 40, at least at this point. Maybe the center isn't near a city and it probably will get to other cities. Brunswick on up toward Columbia, maybe even Raleigh, see how far this storm now is tracking inland.

It wasn't really the forecast a couple of days ago. It was closer to the shore. But now we're going to see a lot of onshore flow. A lot of onshore wind, significantly dangerous rip currents out there. This will be a very dangerous week to be in the water along the East Coast. Don't do it. The water will be going out just tremendously there. Keep the kids out of the water.

There's the rainfall coming down for the next few days all the way to Washington, DC, John.

KING: We'll keep in touch. This also moves this way. Chad Myers, appreciate the latest from the weather center there. Back to politics now where New Yorkers now know Eric Adams is likely their next mayor. CNN projects Adams will win the Democratic primary, narrowly defeating former Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, who conceded this morning.

The former NY police captain promising he will crack down on rising violent crime.


ERIC ADAMS (D) NYC MAYORAL CANDIDATE: It's a real message, I believe for the entire country. New York is a microcosm of what's taking place in big cities all across America.


KING: CNN correspondent Athena Jones joins us now with the latest. Athena, this was a close win in the end.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, John. This was the first test in a major city, the largest jurisdiction in the country to use rank choice voting. And early on, on election night, June 22, you saw that Eric Adams was out front. He's been out front the entire time. That - the district - the difference there in terms of his first choice, election, he won the most first choice votes 75,000 votes.

In the end, he ends up winning by only a percentage point less than 10,000 votes in this first test. But it's interesting to see how much the gap is closed when you begin eliminating all of the candidates in this rank choice process whereby each candidate is eliminated. And there's two that remain, he came out on top having run on - on the issue of public safety, rising crime being really important to a lot of voters here.

Putting together a coalition of working class voters, voters of color, voters in the outer boroughs of the city of New York. Kathryn Garcia, who came in second did the best in Manhattan. But Eric Adams put together a wide and diverse coalition, the same sort of coalition that helped elect Joe Biden, president, and it's clear that there's this focus on public safety really helped him, John.

KING: Athena Jones, grateful for the important update on the numbers. Let's bring the conversation back into the room with the panel. It's sometimes risky to have any national - you know, national extractions of what happened in New York City, does it mean something for the country? But you heard Eric Adams who's likely to be the next mayor, he has to beat the Republican in New York, sort of overwhelmingly Democratic city. He says crime is a big issue. He believes voters moving a little bit more toward the middle. The White House Chief of Staff happens to agree.


RON KLAIN, WHITE CHIEF OF STAFF: I think that the coalition that Mr. Adams put together in New York is not dissimilar to the coalition that President Biden put together, a coalition of working class voters, African-American voters overwhelmingly, and voters who want to see progress on core issues. And I think that is the coalition that got Joe Biden the Democratic nomination in 2020.


KING: The message there, at least Ron Klain interprets that as the country's not - the country and the Democratic Party, maybe not as far left as say, Twitter Democrats think the party is.

PHILIP: Absolutely, I mean, and that is true. I think that it has always been the case that the building blocks of the Democratic Party is, is not as far to the left, as you know, it seems if you were just in Washington, or just on Twitter, or just on social media, or even just watching television, watching the people who are the loudest voices, and black voters in particular, who are a big part of Eric Adams coalition, a big part of Joe Biden's coalition are in a lot of ways more moderate.

We talk about that a lot in the - in the geographic south of the country where we see that moderation. But it's also true in a place like New York City, a big metropolis. And so I think that that should just be a lesson to Democrats that you have to be very careful about what candidates you put up, what message they put up.

It's not just about what you hear in the echo chamber when you talk to individual voters, they want something a little bit more, a little bit closer to the center on some of these key issues, especially on the issue of crime and public safety.

KING: On the issue of crime and public safety. And let's put the map up as we continue the conversation. These are cities with the rise in homicides and aggravated assaults. It's coast to coast. It's a lot of America. This is going to be an issue in the 2022 midterms. It is an issue for the President of United States of America right now. It clearly was an issue that matters to New York City voters.


LUCEY: No, it's going to be an issue. And I think, you know, you hear Ron Klain saying this, Democrats and Biden are pretty enthusiastic about this message. There were a lot of Democrats who felt like after last year's elections, that the defund the police message really hurt them, that they really got targeted in that in some of these moderate districts in Michigan and Pennsylvania and those places, and so Democrats who are looking to sort of take a more centrist message on policing, on crime are really going to embrace this result.

HIRSCHFIELD DAVIS: Right. And I think, I mean, we saw the head of the Democratic House campaign arm endorse Eric Adams the day before the primary and - and what he said was that - what - you know, what Adams had to say about this issue is really important. It's what voters wanted to hear, it's that there is an issue, there's a problem that it's going to get confronted.

But it doesn't mean that we're going to turn our back on the issue and the very real issues of accountability and policing and reforms that need to be done. And you know that that was a sort of a balanced message that he said, Democrats really should emulate.

The issue, I think other than the fact that it's always a temptation to overread these single elections, is that Eric Adams is a very singular candidate. And it's going to be difficult for Democrats to find other Democrats who can carry that message as effectively as he did. You know, he is a black man, he was beaten himself by police, he says when he was a teenager.

He was a policeman himself. He's been in public service and - and he is able to speak in these terms about this issue, this very difficult issue in a way that some Democrats really can't or haven't been able to be effective at. So it'll be interesting to see if they can take what he - his message was, and sort of more broadly communicate that.

KING: And interesting how they communicate it, heading into the midterms, because sometimes you will hear the Biden White House, the Democrats say, you know, Republicans are trying to create a crisis at the border, are trying to create a crisis to some Biden initiative. Voters across the country believe this is an issue. This is from ABC, Washington Post polling.

57 percent of Democrats think crime is a very serious or an extremely serious problem. 69 percent of Republicans, 55 percent of independents are more so Republicans, but that's a big chunk of all of America that thinks this is a big deal. They want to hear from politicians. What are we going to do about it?

KNOX: Yes and that's part of the reason for what you're hearing this almost impossibly stupid argument about who was actually in favor of defund the police. You know, you've got this, you got this, I know you are, I know you are but what am I kind of conversation in Washington, DC inside the beltway.

And I think Julie's point about Adams' biography is supremely important here. This is a unique character that the messages getting from - from national Democrats, Joe Biden is basically saying, look, I have a career of supporting law enforcement, I have a careers worth. It got me in trouble in the primaries, for Pete's sake. I'm interested to see how much of this stuff sticks to Biden versus

how much it sticks to this or that House member. I think that's going to be interesting to see how different that is. We've seen individual House members come out and complain quite vociferously, that the defund the police part of the party cost them votes.

I don't - it seems like a tough - a taller order, I'll say to make that stick to Joe Biden.

KING: I think we learned that in 2020, it was hard for the Republicans to push Biden to the left, but their success in House races proves somebody with a less identifiable history, maybe you can do it. It's an excellent point. Up next for us. We'll continue this conversation with surprising new details on how Joe Biden, just how Joe Biden won the 2020 election and it is a party in New York City. Look right here.

This is the parade honoring essential workers, hometown heroes parade in the streets of New York right now.




KING: Let's go inside some new numbers now. Numbers that force us to rethink how Joe Biden did this. How Joe Biden won the 2020 election. These numbers come from a Pew Research Center analysis combining a giant pool of survey information and then validating against 2020 voting files, meaning making sure those people in the survey actually voted.

The findings tell us the Biden coalition, this coalition might not be exactly as you imagined. And they offer both parties some clues about shifting voter preferences. Here's one big takeaway. Joe Biden is in the White House because he was more competitive among white men. Look at these numbers over here.

62 percent for Donald Trump, 32 percent, a 30-point gap when you go back to 2016. Look, Donald Trump won in 2020, but by a much more narrow margin. So how do the numbers translate into the map? Well, let's just go to the map and remember this I could give you 100 examples of why that matters. I'll just give you three. Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

Blue on the 2020 map for Joe Biden. Everybody remembers, you go back to 2016. They all were red. Why? Because Hillary Clinton did not perform well among white men. Joe Biden still lost them. He performed better though. And it helped him including in those three battleground states right there. Let me take this off the map right here.

We also knew the suburbs were key for Biden, but this brings even more clarity. Come over here. This is among white suburban voters. Look at this 54 percent to 38 percent. Donald Trump wins big among white suburban voters in 2016. He wins again in 2020. But look, only a four- point gap. Joe Biden had nine-point jump from where Hillary Clinton was among

white suburban voters. So why does that matter when you come into the map? Well, again, you want just one example? Here it is the state of Arizona. Joe Biden wins Arizona and he wins it narrowly. Phoenix, big giant suburbs around Phoenix, that is where you win in Arizona. You win here. That's blue.

Let's go back four years. That's red. Donald Trump carries Arizona. Then one of the examples you could do this in Georgia as well. Donald Trump runs strong among white suburbans, he carries a state like Arizona. Joe Biden runs stronger four years later, he takes Arizona and changes the map. That's why this data is so illuminating when you look at the Biden coalition, I could give you more examples of that but another big lesson is the shifting mood of Hispanic voters.