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Crisis In Cuba & Haiti Forcing Biden To Shift Foreign Policy Focus; Damning New Book Chronicles Election Night 2020 At Trump WH; This Afternoon: Biden To Deliver Major Voting Rights Speech. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 13, 2021 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: You do see the remarkable, you know, the demonstrations in the street, a reason to take notice. But is there any hope that there's anything an American president can do to change things?

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Not at the core here, no. We can have some issues, but I think what we really want to do is avoid making this a U.S. Juban (ph) dynamic. We don't want the regime to be able to use us as an excuse for their own incompetence and their own misguided policy.

But I actually think we want to keep our distance. But again, I would be willing to exchange some of our sanctions for serious reform either at home or abroad. But beyond that, I really think this is going to have to play out there.

KING: I mean, shift your attention to Haiti at the moment after the brazen assassination of a president who had his own political problems. But you have a prime minister now who says he's running the country who was supposed to step aside. You have another person claiming to be the Prime Minister, both of them asking the United States for help.

One of them, the man who says he's the Prime Minister at the moment, wants U.S. military help. What should the Biden administration be doing when it comes to Haiti?

HAASS: I would not be sending in the Marines or anybody else. I would be looking to organize some type of a regional force potentially, where the United States would not being the lead, we could give intelligence support, logistical support. The real question is, is whether countries in the region which have a large stake, are willing to get involved.

They don't have the same political historical baggage that we would have so that would be my first preference. If that failed, we could also take it to the U.N. and see if we get some type of an international force. But I do not think we ought to Americanize this with our troops even if we're welcome on day one. By about day five, history suggests we will no longer be welcome. KING: What do you say to those who say, you know, this is what happens when the United States routinely ignores its own neighborhood, if you will? Obviously, Russia is a bigger challenge. China is the greatest geopolitical challenge on the world stage right now. But you have these things pop up in your own neighborhood, if you will, in your own backyard. Are they just intractable, so you try to forget them? Or should the government be trying to do more?

HAASS: Well, there's a couple of things to be learned here. One is, no matter how we may want to avoid the world, and the Biden administration clearly wants the emphasis to be domestic, there's things happen, viruses breakout in Wuhan, terrorists do something. Here you had events, unpredictable events in Cuba and Haiti. That's just a fact of life. You don't control your agenda.

And in many of these situations, our tools are limited, our influence are limited. We do have other priorities. So but we can't escape the consequences. So you're almost looking to thread a needle. And I expect in the Biden White House, John, looking at Haiti, the last thing they want is another surge of refugees heading towards our shores. Given how explosive the immigration issue is.

On the other hand, they don't want to be sending military forces into Haiti the same week, we're taking them out of Afghanistan. That's why, again, it seems to me the best thing to look in for is some type of a regional or international response, not an American response, but also not doing nothing.

KING: Richard Haass is the president of the Council of Foreign Relations. Richard, thanks for your time.

HAASS: Thank you, John.

KING: Thank you.


Up next for us, the birth of the big lie, a new inside account of the Trump team's effort to steal the 2020 election.


KING: Donald Trump issued a statement this morning claiming again that the election was corrupt and that it was stolen from him, more big lie or big lies. This as we learn new details of what you might call the birth of the big lie. In a new book about the final days of the Trump presidency, Washington Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker share details of election night conversations among top Trump advisors, quote, Giuliani's grand plan was to just say Trump won, state after state, based on nothing, a strategy that other top Trump aides deemed quote, incoherent and irresponsible.

The panel is back to discuss. It is striking. You read the excerpt of the book, they put something in "The Post" today, essentially, that Rudy kept telling Trump just keep saying, just keep saying you won, even though the evidence was to the contrary, and that Trumps so like that, that it was almost impossible for anyone else to say, Sir, you didn't win. You're not winning, you're losing.

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, it's very striking account, very detailed. It's amazing to read what -- how that unfolded at the White House. But I will say that for weeks and months before --

KING: Right.

DAVIS: -- election night, Donald Trump had been setting up --


KING: Right.

DAVIS: -- this narrative for the American people. So it's not that surprising that on the night of when an advisor comes to him and says, just say you want he is primed to do that, because he had been telling people for weeks that he was going to win. And if he didn't win, it was rigged.

WALTER: Right.

DAVIS: So that so that narrative had so sunk in, I think to his own mind that when on the night of, you know, he had been told obviously that it's going to start looking good. And then it's going to end up looking not as good because these votes are going to come in, in ways that more Democrats both Republicans and he is thinking to himself, well, this is the way I'm going to play it because it's the way I've been playing it for weeks.

KING: Right. And you make a key point because he did build that narrative. So the question I don't know the answer to because I can't read minds, is does he actually believe it? Or is he just a fraud? Is it just all a constant? He's lying and he knows he's lying, and it's a fraud because in the book, Trump and his family became apoplectic is the night ticked on. They're stealing this from us, Trump said. He seemed to truly believe he had been winning.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's always a combination of the two with Trump. You talk to people around him, they will say this, that he, you know, me -- he can make himself believe things that are not true so much so that, you know, Maggie Haberman of the New York Times has reported that after the Access Hollywood tape, he was telling people that that wasn't his voice on an audio tape that everyone heard him on.

I mean, it's a classic example of something that happens with Trump all the time, convinces himself that things that are obviously and apparently not true, are in fact true. But one of the reasons this became so problematic for the White House was that leading up to the election, yes, he had been seeding the ground, but they were expecting a lot of problems on Election Day.

And in election week, they were expecting things to go wrong, because things always kind of go wrong in elections. But this time, if you talk to election officials, they said things were much more smooth than even they expected because they had been so primed for these problems, they tried to prepare for them. And the White House and Trump in particular was not prepared for a relatively clean election. And so they had to go all the way to the crack in and the conspiracy theories in order to make this work for them. And it turns out, you know, not even the crazy conspiracy theories was too much for Trump and his allies,

KING: And the continuing cancer of the big lie is that it crept into so many other Republican institutions and Republican offices. And when people have reason, in fact, and math and experience tried to raise their hands, it was like, well, the President says, or Rudy says, and they're afraid to defy him. This is some reporting from Josh Dawsey today in the Washington Post, the Republican Party's top lawyer called election fraud arguments by Trump's lawyers a joke that could mislead millions.

He said that in an email to one of the party's top communication aides. But the culture of the RNC then was the President says, therefore, and that still persist to this day.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It does persist to this day. I mean, when more than 100, Republicans decided they're going to vote against the certification of Biden's election, even after the insurrection took place, that pretty much shows the public all that they need to know. And it has continued with the rejection of the January 6th Commission, and the decision to just constantly be wedded to Trump.

What I found also striking was when Trump's recent remarks at Seabeck, there was a banner under "Fox News" that had to say, no evidence was found of voter fraud, as Trump is continuing to spew these lies, as Republicans on stage are also continuing to spew these lies. And so that is where the party is at right now. And what they're going to continue to say heading into 2022.

KING: And so is there a price for that? Midterm elections are normally about the incumbent president, about the state of the economy, in this case, about the, you know, pluses and minuses in the COVID pandemic. This is John Thune, a veteran of the Senate Republican Conference, saying who knows every day, Trump is out there saying this. John Thune says bad idea.


SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): I'm trying to rehash and revisit and relitigate the past election is not a winning strategy for trying to get the majorities back in 2022. He's going to keep saying it. There's not anything we can do about it. But like I said, at any time you're talking about the past, you're not talking about the future.


KING: He is not the first to try to say without saying it directly. It would be really nice Mr. Former President, if you would just shut up. WALTER: Well, they've lost. They lost control of the Senate, based on this argument that the President made that the election was rigged, right? That was Senate runoffs in Georgia, where did voting drop off in rural parts of the state, right? So it has consequences, electorally. But more importantly, it has consequences to our system of government to belief in the system. And I think so many of us are going to be watching what happens, not just in places like Georgia, where those who stood up and said, no, Mr. President, I'm not going to switch votes, or I'm not going to say that this was a rigged election.

They are getting primaried. Do any of them survive? It's going to be tough for Secretary of State in Georgia, for example. But even at the lower level, are we going to see those, you know, county level administrators who do this out of civic duty, and they're not getting paid? They're doing this to become a national figure? What does it tell them and next generation about the durability of our democracy, that that's more worrisome, quite frankly, than what happens in the next election?

KING: Great, a million percent. One of my favorite things when you travel is meeting those people --


KING: -- year in and year out, count the votes, no glory.


KING: -- just doing the bricks and mortar of democracy. You're absolutely right.


Ahead for us, one of the civil rights leaders who met with President Biden in the Oval Office last week joins us to tell us how the White House should make the case now of voting rights.


KING: President Biden is getting plenty of advice as he prepares for a big speech on voting rights a bit later this afternoon. Democratic Congressman Mondaire Jones of New York, for example, is challenging the President to confront senate moderates. POTUS must demand federal legislative action and call on reluctant senators to end the filibuster. There is no alternative, the congressman says on Twitter. The American people understand democracy is at stake, does the President?

The President discuss voting rights the other day with several civil rights leaders, one of them joins us now the National Chairwoman -- President the National Council of Negro Women, Johnnetta Cole. Dr. Cole, grateful for your time today.


You were in that small meeting with the President. The White House announced shortly after that meeting he would deliver this big speech. Do you believe, as many progressives argue, he should say, I have changed my mind. And now Joe Manchin and other Senate Democrats, you must change your mind. We must abandon the filibuster to pass federal voting rights legislation.

JOHNNETTA COLE, NATIONAL CHAIR & PRESIDENT, NCNW: I believe, John King, that the President of my country must do everything that is possible to indeed protect the American right to vote. This is a very complicated situation. The numbers, as we know in the Senate, are 50- 50. We know that across our country, there is like a tsunami of Republican legislators. They're signing bills that literally will deny the right to vote for black Americans.

And let me say this, John King, it is not only black Americans, you mess with the most fundamental expression of American democracy, you mess with all of us. And of course, very specifically, voter suppression laws, they affect African Americans, indigenous Americans, brown folk, people who are elderly, disabled people.

And so for all Americans, we've got to pass federal legislation, specifically the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, and the For The People Act. But we've also got to stop what's going on, on a state level.

KING: But the President can't stop what's going on at the state level, voters would have to remove those Republican governors or Republican legislators, but he can make the case for that in this speech. But here in Washington, here in Washington, it's a question of priorities. He wants to pass an infrastructure plan. He wants some Republican votes. He wants Senator Manchin's vote, for example, who says he would like to meet with some of those Texas Democrats who left their state and came up here. He'll see if he can get that meeting with them.

But he has shown no willingness to change his views on the filibuster. Do you think the President and not every American needs to be in a small meeting with the President and you are in one? Do you think is of the mindset that he is willing to change his mind and push Senate Democrats to change their minds? Or is this not enough of a priority for him?

COLE: I am convinced from being in that meeting with my seven colleagues, the leaders of legendary civil rights organizations. I saw in President Biden, I saw in Vice President Harris, a total commitment to protecting the rights of black people to vote. John King, I've been on this earth a long time, including living during the wretched days of Jim Crow laws.

What's going on in my country now? It's a sinister version of the same effort to keep black people from voting. And so we're shifting now from count the number of marbles in a board or on a board. Now we're going to, well, you can't have any water. And so if you're going to actually stay there long enough, we're going to make sure that it was very difficult for you to get there. And we're going to mess with anything you do as an American to vote.

We're talking about an assault on American democracy. And efforts to reinforce both ideas and practices of white supremacy must cease. KING: Dr. Cole, grateful for your time today. I suspect part of the answer to this question will be a new movement across the country to try to protect and defend and reverse some of these state laws. We'll continue the conversation as that plays out, grateful for your time today. It's a privilege.

COLE: Thank you.


KING: Up next for us, Liz Cheney's fights with Donald Trump, you might remember cost her, her leadership posts in Congress. Yet, you might say right now she's laughing all the way to the bank.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today. Key senators have a couple of big meetings today on infrastructure. But President Biden's bipartisan deal already facing some key GOP pushback, 11 GOP senators you recall originally signed off on an outline of the plan that would include $600 billion in new spending, six of those you see them right here now voicing concerns about some of the details including how to pay for it and possible plans for Democrats to follow up with a much larger proposal.

All the controversy surrounding Liz Cheney, well, not getting in the way of her fundraising. Why only Republican brought in more than $1.8 million in the second quarter topping a record setting first quarter fundraising. The surge comes amid intense scrutiny of course over changes criticism with the former President Trump which led her to be stripped of her GOP leadership post.

And it has now confirmed, the First Lady Jill Biden will travel to Tokyo for the Olympics later this month. The White House announcing the First Lady will participate in the opening ceremony alongside American athletes. Because of a COVID surge in Japan spectators now banned this year's games.


Thanks for your time today in Inside Politics. Hope to see you back here tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now. Have a good day.