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Inside Politics

Trump Lies About 1/6, Calls Insurrectionists "Great People"; Trump Peddles Lies About Insurrection; January 6 Committee Chairman on What's Next in Investigation; Pfizer to Brief Government Officials Today on Need for Booster Shot; Fauci Calls GOP Anti-Vaccine Rhetoric "Horrifying". Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 12, 2021 - 12:00   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Cuba explodes with rage nationwide protests, overwhelmed city streets after months with little food, scant medicine and no work.

Plus, the Drug Maker Pfizer meets with top five and health officials today. Pfizer making its case for a third shot of COVID vaccine to fight the variant surge and Trump worship in Texas. The former president CPAC gospel is filled with dangerous insurrection lies.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: There was - a love at that rally. You had over a million people there. They were there for one reason, the rigged election. They felt the election was rigged. That's why they were there. And they were peaceful people.

These were great people. The doors were open and the police in many cases, you know they have hundreds of hours of tape and they're not releasing the tape. They ought to release the tape to see what really happened. But there was also a love fest between the police, the Capitol Police and the people that walk down to the Capitol.


KING: And we begin right there with the former presidents' January 6th mythmaking and his full embrace of the law breaking rioters who stormed the United States Capitol. Great people, the former president says of those who assaulted police officers. They attack to upend American democracy Trump says was a "Love Fest".

Now he insists you heard him there, there's some kind of a cover up to keep hidden what actually happened that day. Those are all lies and they are undercut, of course by graphic in public video. That is part of the federal government's giant January 6th investigation.

Take a look sorry, we have to remind you of this. But this is not peaceful. These are not great people. January 6th, was not a love fest. With me in studio this day to share their reporting and their insights, Julie Pace with "The Associated Press", CNN's Manu Raju, Francesca Chambers of McClatchy and Margaret Talev of "AXIOS".

You would like to be able to ignore it, and to roll your eyes at the fantasy. But he wants to run again, he is still largely in control of the Republican Party. And we know the people who attack the Capitol on that day, listen to him. It's dangerous, and it's reckless.

JULIE PACE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF & ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think that's the crucial point here. You know, we know from January 6th, that this President's words is now former president, but his words still have power, and they move people to action.

And the dynamic that we saw play out on January 6th, which is very real, and very dangerous, still exists. It is still out there. Sometimes it's a little quieter than maybe it was when President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office. But it is still out there. And he still has the ability to take his words and to engage his audience to engage his followers into action.

And that's a really dangerous thing. You wish that there could be a nonpartisan investigation that could put forth information that could be accepted by people on both sides of the spectrum. Unfortunately, I think the investigation that we're going to get on the Hill is going to be tied up in partisan politics. But he is just trying to fuel the misinformation even further. And again, I think that is a dangerous thing.

KING: Right. And we're going to talk to the Chairman of that Select Committee in just a couple of minutes. So stay with us. But that - this is where you get into the dangerous part that the former president who wants to have a comeback, who's still in charge largely of the Republican Party, who still has a following the size of which we can debate. It's all big lie. It's all big lie. He talked about that investigation we're about to have, listen.


TRUMP: They're going to do this, you know, very partisan investigation, because they couldn't get sport to do a straight investigation. A big part of that investigation is the reason that people went to Washington. And that's because of the fraudulent presidential election of 2020.

Those people want to talk about the reason they were there because to me, that's the biggest crime of all. We had a corrupt election, we had a rigged election, and we had a solid election. And that's why you had over a million people march to Washington.


KING: We did not have a corrupt election. We did not have a rigged election. We did not have a stolen election. He's the Former President of the United States continuing to undermine confidence in what is the most sacred part of our democracy. MARGARET TALEV, MANAGING EDITOR, AXIOS: So what you just heard is revisionist history, as we all know, and that's dangerous, because if you're a low information voter or if you just want to believe that this is a packaged opportunity for you to believe it.

I think what we're starting to see emerge here is kind of a two track way that both political parties are looking at the races to come. There's the midterm strategy, which I think is going to focus a lot more on the moderates this battle over what does woke mean and who's woke and is that good or bad?

And then there's 2024 which at this point is all about the base and it is important to understand that all there's only one other Republican right now who even comes remotely close to President Trump in terms of enthusiasm, Ron DeSantis and we don't really know how real that is or how it can exist?


TALEV: As long as they are not seen as arch rivals, DeSantis can play those numbers close to Donald Trump. But if someone has to make a choice, we don't know what's going on.

KING: But there should be a stack on this desk of papers, statements from Republicans across the country, saying, stop it, stop lying. We run in these elections. We won in that election; you say was stolen from you? It should be - there should be a stack like this. There is nothing.

TALEV: There's nothing.

KING: There is no one or two Republicans willing to stand up to him, including, including when now he's trying to rewrite his - he gave a speech that day. A lot of that speech was just typical Trump, but this is what he says about it now.


TRUMP: There was a big rally called, and actually, when I say big, who knew? But there was a rally called and a tremendous number of people, the largest one I've ever spoken before were called by people by patriots. And they asked me if I'd speak and I did and it was a very mild mannered speech.


KING: That "Very mild mannered speech" included this.


TRUMP: We fight, we fight like hell. And if you don't fight like hell, you're not going to have a country anymore.


KING: It is striking because he knows it's all on tape, but he doesn't care.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And look, this is also the challenge that faces Republican leaders right now, because you're right. They're not calling him out. They signed some questions. Even Mitch McConnell did say that Donald Trump was morally responsible for what happened that day.

He said that in the aftermath of the impeachment trial, but he has refused to repeat anything about Donald Trump says won't even say his name, basically. And then the House side, what does Kevin McCarthy do in deciding which members to appoint on his side of the aisle to serve on that Select Committee to investigate January 6th?

Do they perpetuate what Donald Trump saying? They challenge what he's saying? They sidestep it or do they try to create whitewash of history here? Those are all big questions that the leadership has to face given everything that Donald Trump is saying and the fact that they don't want to call him out.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: And when you talk about the Republicans who could stand up to this, Mike Pence comes to mind the Former Vice President, but when he's out there, the former vice president, who was a loyalty to Trump, who was originally on the ticket, in order to try and shore up that conservative base that Former President Trump clearly no longer needs Mike Pence for he's getting booed at events.

They're shouting him down. You have Republicans like Adam Kinzinger, who it's unclear what his political future will be as a result of this. And so you talk about the next election, it really will crystallize what direction also the Republican Party is going and who they're listening to?

KING: One of the questions heading into that election is, will we have the report of the new Select Committee? Let's bring it to our conversation right now the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, and now the chairman of the January 6th Select Committee, the Democratic congressman, Bennie Thompson. Mr. Chairman, grateful for your time today.

When you listen, as you just did right there, to the former president over the weekend doubling down, tripling down, quadrupling down, I don't even know what to call it on the big lie in the context of your investigation. Do you feel any burden to look back to bring people into document again, unfortunately, that the election was fair; Trump had every chance to challenge it he lost in court? Do you feel that because of what he is saying is going to continue to say that you need to get that as part of the record? Or will you just start with the morning of January 6th and go forward?

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): Well, you know, thank you for having me, by the way. The charge to our Select Committee is to look at the facts and circumstances surrounding January 6th, to some degree, we will look at information sharing, intelligence sharing, we'll look at the collected data that we've been able to pull together and go from there. Part of what you're hearing now is the misinformation. So much of that misinformation started before January 6th, and it continues up until this day, but our committee is committed to following the facts. We will not follow the misinformation other than to note that these things are being said and get it right.

And then come back with a product that we can share with the members of Congress to prevent this situation like January 6th, from ever happening again.

KING: Do you see, Mr. Chairman, any value in reaching out to the former president for information about his mindset and what he did that day, knowing that the responses are likely going to be along the fantasy world we just listened to right there?

Do you see any interest in trying either in person or even if it was done in private or through written questions trying to get answers from Mr. Trump or do you view that as a useless enterprise?

THOMPSON: Well, I think it's useful for the committee to follow the facts. Part of the misinformation chain leads to the White House will have to go there.


If they miss information chain leads us to other places. We'll have to go there too. But I think it's important that we hire the best professionals, we get access to all of the video and tape that's available to look at it without interfering with the prosecutions that are ongoing.

We plan to meet in the not too distant future with the Attorney General to kind of set the guideposts for the committee and its work. Again, we understand the prosecutions; our charge is to look at the facts and circumstances around January 6th. But we think the Justice Department has a plethora of information that could be useful for our committee.

KING: Inside the building you work in works Kevin McCarthy, the House Republican Leader who has yet to name you're waiting on the names for the Republicans who will join the committee? But he spoke to the President of the United States that day.

And according to several people around him, the President of the United States was essentially saying, you know, too bad, Kevin, and cheering on what was happening in the Capitol, listen to how the former president was asked about this by a Fox Sunday host and listen to how he described it.


MARIA BARTIROMO, FBN ANCHOR: On that day, January 6th, you did speak with Kevin McCarthy? Let me just point out that Nancy Pelosi is going forth with a commission to investigate all of this, it may very well be that Kevin McCarthy is called to testify under oath. Do you want to tell us what took place on that phone call? TRUMP: No, I don't have to because Kevin will speak. And I'm sure Kevin will be, you know, very good from that standpoint.


KING: There is often institutional friendliness, institutional passes, if you will, when it comes to colleagues, will you demand that Leader McCarthy testify under oath before this committee?

THOMPSON: Well, let me say that no person is above subpoena. We will do whatever is required. And I don't want to get into specifics. But I can tell you that from our two meetings of the committee's so far; there has been no reluctance to go where the facts lead us.

So if they lead us to the executive branch, we'll go. If they lead us to the leadership's of Republican or Democratic Party we'll go wherever the facts lead us. So without trying to narrow our focus, I'd say that what we will do, will be as broad an opportunity for us to get on it and all the facts and circumstances around January 6th, no one on this committee of the eight people so far, has said, well, we shouldn't do X, Y, or Z.

Everybody is committed to finding out the causes and circumstances around January 6th, and to make sure that it never ever happens again. And the notion that somehow what people have been seeing on that televisions for the last six months, is something that didn't occur, or it was tantamount to a tour of the Capitol is just patently untrue.

And part of that misinformation, that if you repeat it long enough, somehow people will begin to believe it, even though they see otherwise with their own eyes.

KING: Mr. Chairman, appreciate your time today. I hope you'll come back and revisit us as we go through this process in the weeks and months. Again, as the Select Committee gets about its important business. Thank you, sir.

THOMPSON: Thank you.

KING: Up next, a big meeting today to discuss a giant COVID question. Do you need a third or a booster shot to better fight the nasty COVID variants?



KING: Well, the latest on the Coronavirus pandemic now including a meeting later today on the best science to fight the Delta COVID variant. Pfizer is set to brief government officials on data the company says suggests it would be best to give its vaccine recipients a booster shot meaning a third dose. For now top Biden COVID advisors say a booster is not necessary but some other experts disagree.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Right now given the data that the CDC and the FDA has they don't feel that we need to tell people right now you need to be boosted.

DR. SCOTT GOTTLIEB, FORMER FDA COMMISSIONER: We don't get started right now. We're not going to be in a position to have boosters available. Should we need to come the fall? I think quite frankly we've probably missed the window in terms of providing boosters for the Delta variant.


KING: This debate is happening as the unvaccinated drive arises in cases across the country and this important stat. More than 99 percent of U.S. COVID deaths in June are among those who had not been vaccinated.

With us to share his expertise and his insights is Dr. William Schaffner. He's a Professor of Preventive Medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Dr. Schaffner, it's good to see you today. I just want to note for the record that Dr. Gottlieb who at the end there was making the case for this to listen to Pfizer about the booster shot.

He's on the board of Pfizer. I'm not saying that's why he's saying this. But I just want to note that for the record. Where do you stand on this question? Do you think given the nastiness of the COVID variant, that the government should be moving to authorize a third booster shot or at least listening to Pfizer as opposed to saying we don't think it's necessary right now?

DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, PROFESSOR OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE, VANDERBELT UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: John, I think there's a big difference between authorization and administration. It would be wonderful to have a booster authorized by the Food and Drug Administration on the shelf ready to go if we needed. I'm in agreement with the CDC and the FDA. You know, there are two reasons to get a booster.


DR. SCHAFFNER: The first is if our protection is waning, and it's not, as you just said, it's not vaccinated people who are being hospitalized today its unvaccinated people. The vaccines are holding fast. The other reason is, if the vaccine doesn't work against the variants that are out there, but of course it is.

It's working against the variance, including the Delta. So at the moment, things are going well. But if we need the booster, it would be wonderful to have one on the shelf ready to go.

KING: So I just want to show our viewers a map of the United States there are 14 states where less than 40 percent of the population is fully vaccinated. That's the lightest screen you see on your screen. 14 states have less than 40 percent of their population fully vaccinated. I want you to listen here, not only Dr. Fauci but one of the Republican Governors trying to get more of his citizens vaccinated, talking about the risks.


DR. FAUCI: 99.5 percent of all of the deaths are among unvaccinated people. And what we need to do is to get those trusted messages which we're trying to do to get out into the community and explain to people, you know, in a non-finger pointing way, why it's important to get vaccinated.

GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R-AR): Republicans, Democrats, we all suffer the same consequences if the Delta variant gets us and we're not vaccinated.


KING: Have you had any luck, sir? Have you found any magic potion here, if you will, what works? What breaks through to somebody who, for whatever reason, doesn't want to get a vaccine?

DR. SCHAFFNER: Well, John, there are a variety of different reasons. And we have to do this now person by person to find out what everybody's reason is. I live in Tennessee and under vaccinated community, for sure.

And I anticipate that going forward through the summer and into the fall, we're going to have more people come into our hospital that we need to care for because they haven't been vaccinated. I would like to talk to everybody out there one on one. Please get vaccinated. The vaccines work and they're safe.

KING: Dr. Schaffner, grateful for your insight, sir, we'll continue the conversation. I'm looking at a map you're right, Tennessee, one of the states where the numbers are going up right now let's hope that changes as we get closer to the end of summer and return to school and all that Doctor, thank you so much.

And politics, sadly, is a constant in this COVID fight. And yes, this past weekend brings us a fresh example. South Dakota's Kristi Noem, a potential 2024 presidential contender is now attacking other Republican Governors who allowed mask mandates or other restrictions designed to slow or stop the COVID spread.


GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): If that Republican Governors across this country, pretending they didn't shut down their states that they didn't close their beaches, that they didn't mandate masks that they didn't need to issue shelter in places. Now, I'm not picking fights with Republican Governors. All I'm saying is that we need leaders with grit.


KING: She is picking fights with other Republican Governors, or at least she's trying to say that they're somehow soft.

TALEV: Yes, nothing to do with grit, its science. So you can tell you can like stare down a virus. You know, I mean, we know from - we know statistically that the unvaccinated population of the United States is disproportionately white, and way, disproportionately Republican.

So this is about political messaging. And now we're seeing as we move into the summer in the Delta variant, we're seeing now disproportionate impacts in red states were in the population of people who could be vaccinated are healthy enough to take the vaccine and don't want to be back.

KING: I never thought risk your life vote for me, would be a plausible political message. But just to put up the South Dakota stats, it's 46 percent of its population. It's fully vaccinated. That's just below the national average. But if you look back of history of this, it's had over 14,000 cases per 100,000 people.

So that's the third highest case rate in the country by population, 230 deaths per 100,000 people that's 10th, ranks 10th highest among the 50 states in terms of death. And yet, Governor Nome says her ways the right way.

PACE: Absolutely. You know, you do have some Republican Governors in some other states who are trying to be more responsible about this, who are trying to encourage people to get the vaccine, though they are also caught up in this to that it's just fascinating that the Republican message on this is essentially, you know, we were right to let this virus flourish across the country.

And I do think that, you know, we're in a place this summer where you do have these more isolated outbreaks. But as we get into the fall, as we get into the winter, its huge open question about what the state of the virus is going to look like in this country? If you do have this unvaccinated number, looking as large as it is, you know, people don't stay contained in their state borders, they travel and so I think there's a lot of uncertainty about where this is going to head.

KING: Right. I know that some of them traveled to what used to be called the Conservative Political Action Conference. I'm going to call it the conspiracy political action conference now or I could go worse there.


KING: Governor Nome is not alone, listen?


ALEX BERENSON, FORMER NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: I was hoping that they could sort of sucker 90 percent of the population into getting vaccinated and it and - it and it isn't happening, right? There are younger people.

DR. FAUCI: It's horrifying. I mean, they're cheering about someone saying that it's a good thing for people not to try and save their lives.


KING: It is Dr. Fauci - Dr. Fauci is now viewed as evil by these people because he tries, he tries. The government hoping they could sort of sucker the population into getting vaccinated. You mean the government was recommending and sped up during the Trump Administration mind you a production of a vaccine that saves people's lives?

RAJU: Yes, I mean, look, it's just becoming a cultural war on the right. And you mentioned Fauci to me, he is not the perfect message for the right because he has become a Boogeyman for the right for pushing what they view some of the folks on the right as overly restrictive efforts to combat the virus based on scientific evidence.

So it is reality now among that faction on the right on the Republican side, there in the House Republican conference side, more sizeable than the Senate side, but there are still Senate Republicans to align with these, you know, maybe not anti-vaxxers. But push back against the notion that the government should be promoting vaccines. We brought Senator Ron Johnson have question that as well. So you are seeing that game--

KING: And it tells you there's no page turning. The history of Trump during this pandemic is sad, reprehensible, reprehensible, but there's no page turning in from Governor Nome who either wants to be the next nominee or if Trump runs again, maybe be there. Mr. President, you need a running mate.

Mr. Former President, there's no turning of the page, which you would think they would turn the page and burn the book.

CHAMBERS: So going back to the 2024 argument for a minute, I've heard from hard right conservatives, those hardcore conservatives that they like Kristi Noem. They see her as someone who could potentially be the GOP nominee if Former President Donald Trump does not run in.

You heard her there trying to carve out that lane for her, distinguish yourself from other Republican Governors who are also potentially thinking about running for president. She is competing for a very specific segment of the Republican primary base here as she gears up for 2024.

But to your point, what we were talking about earlier, if you assume that even if Donald Trump runs Mike Pence wouldn't be his running mate this to this point, then Kristi Noem is also trying to tee herself up for that position as well.

KING: It is interesting weeks, months, and couple years ahead for the Republican Party. We'll leave it at that. Up next for us the policy and the politics of crime. The Biden White House urges local governments to spend more on police and gets an assist from the ex-cop likely to be New York City's next Mayor.