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Inside Politics

New Book: Trump Glad To Be Off Of Twitter; Soon: Biden Signs Sweeping Exec. Order On Economic Competition; Schumer Warns Senators They May Be Working Overtime This Summer; Civil Rights Leaders Call For Urgent Action On Voting Rights; Alabama GOP Senate Candidate "Launches" Campaign; W.H.: Biden And Putin Spoke Today. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 09, 2021 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: The crazies have taken over. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned a colleague. That is not how Secretary Pompeo talks now about Trump in public. Quite the contrary.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: No. And you'd have to think this could be very damaging for him if he does try to run in 2024. Because embracing Trump, and not only Trump, but also the lie that the election was stolen is going to be a litmus test in 2024, for whoever is running. And so it's going to be interesting to see how he walks that line knowing what he said privately versus what he has said publicly.

KING: Trump today issued a statement criticizing Michael Bender, which means everything you wrote is true. That's my translation given how Trump is OK (ph). But one of the interesting things is, you know, the former president we all know is no longer on Twitter. When he was president, that was how he communicated with us every day.

Michael interviewed him about this. And I want to get to this part," Shockingly, he said he was glad to be off Twitter. His pre-written statements, now issued via e-mails, were 'much more elegant'. It's really better than Twitter', Mr. Trump told me. 'I didn't realize you can spend a lot of time on this. Now I actually have time to make phone calls, and to do other things and read papers that I wouldn't read.'"

Think about that in the context of when he was president. So now he says, I have time to think before I act. I have time to read before I lash out. So when you were president, got it.

ZANONA: Oh we know (ph) --

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That the President -- that those around him had difficulty getting him to read his briefings, getting him to pay attention when they were trying to talk to him about any issue, but also what's alarming is when it's about national security that Trump was not as tuned in. And then elegant, I -- that's not the word that I would use for his favorite (ph).

KING: That's a favorite Trump. That's he talks about elegant drapes and the like, elegant is -- well, whatever. There will be more of these books. And again, you read them in one context if it's a retired former President still find critical things. It's a different context when the President is very much in the day to day life of the Republican Party.

Ahead for us, the Democrat summer of consequence. The Senate Leader Chuck Schumer promises action on infrastructure, climate and more, but can all that really be done?



KING: President today signs an executive order designed to promote more competition in the economy. If this works, the White House says the cost of a hearing aid should go down. So might your internet bill if you live in a big apartment building. It is a presidential use of executive power at a moment of consequence for big pieces of the Biden agenda that require congressional approval.

A dear colleagues letter sent yesterday by the Senate Majority Chuck Schumer warns of long summer hours as lawmakers try to resolve conflicts over infrastructure and a broader budget package. Also part of this summer of consequence, new pressure for the President to do more on voting rights, we now know the President will deliver a big speech on that topic Tuesday in Philadelphia.

The panel is back with us. Let's start with the executive action. Presidents who are worried or nervous or stalled in getting their agenda through Congress use their pen. This is an executive order designed to create more competition in the economy. Banning or limiting non-compete agreements, makes it easier to switch banks, widens internet provider options, lowers prescription drug prices, makes it easier to get flight refunds. It's a consumer friendly attempt by the President with the White House says, as I noted, that, you know, maybe more competition, so lower prices for hearing aids. If you live in an apartment building, you can no longer be told x is your internet provider, and you have no option.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's because there are so many of these industries that are incredibly powerful, but there are very few people in charge. And that means they can depress wages, make competition -- essentially eliminate competition make it very hard for smaller companies to break in. And so, what this executive order that the President is signing today is really designed at is changing that. And some of the measures are really significant, some are really small, as you just saw on that list that you were reading. But I do think it can make a difference in day-to-day lives. Changing the flights, getting refunds if they miss your bags, or your internet doesn't work, but also things like hearing aids, which is something the Obama administration did trying to do.

They want to essentially make it less expensive. You can get it kind of like how you get reading glasses at a convenience store. And so these were really expensive devices, they're treated as really expensive medical devices. And with a change like this to change an industry that is ripe for competition and right now is very, very small and very insular. That is something that is small, but it could change someone's life and make it easier for them to go and get a hearing aid.

And so, this is just the start what we -- as what we've heard from officials. And this is a broader agenda item that the President does want to drive. We'll see how that actually works out with executive orders. But this is part of his bigger overall insight into this.

KING: What he would like to be able to say it's not only did I get your cheaper internet or a cheaper hearing aid, I got you that bridge, and I got you those solar panels. That requires passing an infrastructure bill, that requires passing records through reconciliation, maybe more of the Democratic climate agenda. Chuck Schumer sending a letter to his colleagues this morning, welcome to summer, senators. Don't think about the beach. "Senators should be prepared for the possibility of working long nights, weekends, and remaining in Washington into the previously scheduled August state work period".

So, if the leader follows through on this, that means no summer vacation for the United States Senate. The question is, this just warning that they might be stuck here? Will that force them to reach some agreements on these very complicated issues? First, is there a bipartisan infrastructure deal? Then second, what do Democrats put in a bigger Democrats-only package?

ZANONA: Yes. We are about to see the most consequential stretch of legislating since Biden took office really. They -- Democrats are trying to execute this two-track process, which is very complicated, very complex. They're trying to do the bipartisan bill and they're also trying to set the stage for this bigger partisan bill to focus on human infrastructure.


But also they have a couple of other deadlines that they have to worry about, government funding, the debt ceiling needs to be raised. Capitol Police funding is about to run out in August. And so, they have an incredibly full plate right now and not a whole lot of room for error.

KING: He had a meeting yesterday at the White House, the President, I shouldn't call he (ph), the President of United States had an important meeting. Vice President was there with some civil rights leaders, who want the White House to do more on this issue of voting rights. We have seen Texas is now has a special legislative session. We've seen at least 14 states so far, your -- the state of Georgia among them that have rolled back voting rights in the states. The civil rights leaders emerged from the White House yesterday, listen to one of them here say, we need the President's help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHERRILYN IFILL, PRESIDENT, NAACP LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: This is the moment. There is no more time. We must have legislation. We must have the President use his voice, use his influence, use his power. The President understands us to be in a moment of peril in terms of our democracy.


KING: It is a very quick response that the White House the very next day says the President will give a big speech on this Tuesday in Philadelphia. So symbolism, obviously, in going to Philadelphia for that. The question is what can the President do besides talk?

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: That's the question because I think there is growing frustration among Democrats and among voting rights activists, because they're seeing it's not getting done, you know, the For The People Act, this sweeping election bill got blocked in the Senate with the filibuster. And, you know, they want to do the John Lewis Act to reinstate pre-clearance, but it could likely face the same fate. And we know Biden can do some things through executive order.

But what they have asked and what activists are asking is that he used his bully pulpit, that he used the power of the presidency to indicate that this is important to him. And perhaps that will help encourage members of Congress to kind of ease some of these roadblocks that exists right now.

KING: Is there any reasonable expectation that the President through powerful speeches, through highlighting this issue can move the votes in Congress, or is it more likely he will highlight this, there will be a legislative failure for the Democrats on the issue and then they hope to use it as a motivation tool in (INAUDIBLE)?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I think the latter is what's more likely to happen here. But in addition to speeches and in addition to showing this as a priority for him, there are also an increasing number of Democrats who say, why don't you publicly endorse a carve out for the filibuster? Or why don't you go and lean LBJ style on Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema? The senators that we know do not support a change to the filibuster.

Now Biden, though himself likely doesn't support a change to the filibuster. His past statements indicate that. So, it's difficult to see any real legislative agenda on this making it through Congress to his desk.

KING: It was such a fundamental issue to the party. It's going to be fascinating to watch, one of the questions we'll watch.

And a little sad news as we go to break just in the CNN, a significant jump in the death toll in Surfside, Florida, 78 people now confirmed killed in that condo collapse. The Miami-Dade Mayor calling the number staggering and heartbreaking. And it is likely to grow, there are still 62 people unaccounted for, likely buried in that rubble.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KING: Little Friday campaign time now with our panel. In some ways, 2022 seems a long way off, right? But there's a big fundraising deadline just around the corner. And we always learn some important things there. The early campaign tone also can be telling, quite telling.

Take this new video from a new Republican entry in Alabama Senate race, Jessica Taylor. The rocket is fun. Twice, mispronouncing the name of the Vice President is vile.


JESSICA TAYLOR (R), ALABAMA SENATE CANDIDATE: The truth is, the left wants to keep lying and cheating. So they can steal our elections and silence our voices, indoctrinate our children. I'm Jessica Taylor, send me to Washington and I'll be Kamala's worst nightmare. Because I'm not afraid to go full crop into Pittsburgh (ph) to serve in the office. It's in the liberal agenda and to outer space where it last (ph).


KING: Our panel is back with us. I would hope you see a video like that most of it. You could have a little fun with that, except in the end you heard there and then at the beginning and there's also some grainy footage or for African American Vice President, woman of color at the beginning. It's just a blatant play of the race card.

COLLINS: Oh, it's also factually wrong because if you watch the full ad, she uses some of the footage from a protest that happened in Huntsville, Alabama, which is why the rocket, I believe, was in the ad. But that was from before Biden and Harris were in office and she was saying, you know, this is their America, look at this. This is what I'm going to run to change. That's -- they weren't even in office. Donald Trump was in office, Mike Pence was in office when that happened.

But I think this is what you're seeing, especially with this Alabama Senate race, of course, because Mo Brooks who was at the day of the insurrection, speaking at that rally beforehand was one of the people, you know, telling people to go and kick some ass. This is who they're running against. So it's going to be how Trumpy can you be in this race.

KING: That's an important point because we can show you the Senate map of the 20. There's 14 Democratic health seats up, 20 Republican health seats up, that Alabama seat right here. Pretty safe to say in the midterm election that one's going to stay red, we'll see what happens. But let me blank it again because it makes it neighbors (ph), you're going to have, you know, Senator Warnock trying to hold his seat in Georgia.


When you see -- I think we're seeing it everywhere but especially in these pro-Trump states, states that Trump won that, you know, saying, the liberals stole our elections. No, that's not what happened, but critical race theory. And forgive me, that's just the dog whistle of the race card in that ad.

MITCHELL: Yes. And, you know, in Georgia, you're going to have Republicans trying again, to label him as a radical, liberal, socialist, communist. But the Republican field, at least in Georgia, is kind of in disarray, because Trump has tried to recruit former football star Herschel Walker, but he would have to move to Georgia and then decide he wants to run. None of that has happened, but it's frozen the field and it's actually allowed Warnock to get a good head start and what we think is going to be a very competitive race, because, you know, Georgia still is -- it's a battleground, but Georgia is used to electing Republicans.

KING: It is, and the midterm election year you would think, the President's party normally suffers. We don't know if history will carry over.

Couple other great races. We know the Democrats trying to hold Arizona, that has traditionally been a tough state, but that state has been trending more to the blue. And Democrats hope it's a long shot, but they hope to knock off Senator Marco Rubio in Florida. And if you look there, we are seeing one of the things you need in a competitive environment is money. And we'll get the full context. We have some early numbers, though.

Mark Kelly, who's the Democrat in Arizona, for reelection, raised nearly $6 million in the second quarter and has some $7 million cash on hand. You moved to Florida, Congresswoman Val Demings, who's one of the Democrats running for the nomination to oppose Marco Rubio, raised nearly $5 million since her June launch and she's got 3 million cash on hand. Again, we have to see the Republican numbers as well. We know Marco Rubio came in with about $4 million on hand so -- but, a, the Senate races are going to cost a boatload of dimes. But number two, the Democrats are at least proving early on and what could be a difficult environment, they'll have money.

ZANONA: Yes. And Democrats were worried without Trump on the ballot, whether they were going to be able to motivate their base, whether there was going to be this excitement. Now money isn't everything, as we saw in 2020. It is a good sign for someone like a Mark Kelly, who Republicans are feeling pretty confident about being able to be very competitive in that state. Even though Kelly is a good fundraiser, he has a compelling back story. Now he has a record in the Senate where Republicans feel like they can run against that.

KING: And money helps but the climate, what are the big issues? Can Biden make it about path back from the pandemic, the economics better, or can Republicans make it about the border and critical race theory, et cetera? That's the question mark still.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. Does the White House's bet that if they are able to get this bipartisan win, the White House thinks that a play at unity, getting a bipartisan bill passed will actually help them politically, is that going to trickle down to the Senate in the House races?

KING: Yes. Just looking at the Senate map, a lot of fun places to visit 2022.

Up next for us, there's not much a president can do about gas prices but Joe Biden going to have to deal with summer pain at the pump.



KING: And the breaking news just into us, a very important phone call today, a Friday phone call between President Biden and the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Our Chief White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins is still with us. And Kaitlan, the White House is provided readout in which it makes clear that ransomware, the ransomware attacks based in Russia on institutions here in the United States were part of this conversation.

COLLINS: And we had been waiting to see what President Biden was going to do after that attempted hack of the Republican National Committee this week, but also that global ransomware attack that happen affecting hundreds of businesses around the world over the weekend, over the July 4th weekend. And President Biden had kind of hinted this was coming.

He said the other day, when he was asked what is your message to Putin on cyber, that he would be delivering it and the White House says that during this conversation today, they spoke about the ongoing ransomware attacks by criminals based in Russia that have impacted the U.S. and other countries. And the White House says that President Biden underscored the need for Russia to take action, to disrupt these ransomware groups that are operating in Russia and emphasize he's committed to continued engagement on the broader threat. And said, he also reiterated that the U.S. will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure in the face of this continuing challenge.

This is incredibly notable because they just sat down three weeks ago in Geneva where President Biden said that he essentially laid down the gauntlet for Putin saying that you need to crack down on cyber gangs in Russia, you also need to stop going after critical U.S. infrastructure. He gave him a list he said of things that were essentially his red lines. And Putin has clearly not been deterred by that yet. So the question is, does this statement and this readout from the White House or phone conversation come with any operational activity? Is there any actual retaliation, because this seems to be another warning to me? But of course, the question is, whether they're doing any process (ph)?

KING: And when you talk about the response, what's fascinating is will it be something that we see in the sense that, traditionally, cyber crimes or cyber attack responded with a cyber attack? Sometimes you don't see it. The case has been made that to get Putin to dial back, you have to do it publicly. You have to embarrass him or humiliate him. That's why that sentence you read.

President Biden reenter (ph) the United States will take any necessary action to defend its people and its critical infrastructure. The question is, when? How big and will we see it?

COLLINS: And also this comes as -- we're checking to see if this is still the case, but U.S. officials and Russian officials are supposed to meet next week to talk about ransomware and cyber attacks. That's something that they'd come out of that summit setting up but that is, I think, also one of the reasons why you saw the way Biden responded the way he did at the end of that press conference leaving Geneva was -- which was, you know, is Putin going to change his behavior. And he said he believes that they would only if the world's democracies put pressure on Russia.

So the question is, you know, he's putting pressure on him in this phone call, what does that look like when it comes to an operational in some way (ph)?

KING: It is fascinating. Also the former Secretary of State now climate czar John Kerry, going to Moscow to talk about climate issues. That'll be the first Biden administration official to go to Moscow. It's complicated. It's important and it's timely.

Kaitlan, thank you very much. Thank you for your time today.

Ana Cabrera picks up right now.