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New Liz Cheney Interview With CNN About Jan. 6 Committee; Florida Governor's Campaign Team Sells Anti-Fauci Swag; Ransomware Group "REvil" Suddenly Offline. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 14, 2021 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Liz Cheney has some tough new words for Donald Trump and for the House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy as McCarthy now almost filling the GOP seats on the Select Committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. Congresswoman Cheney spoke exclusively with CNN's Melanie Zanona.

In her view, and the Republicans still questioning the 2020 election results are not fit for this committee. These are the Congresswoman's words, it's very important that we have members who are committed to upholding the rule of law and members who are committed to their oath to the Constitution. And I would certainly hope that the Minority Leader will be guided by that as he makes his choices.

Now Cheney, of course, is a conservative Republican but she was given a seat on that Select Committee by the Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Her decision to say yes, Cheney says, was an embrace of the mission, not of the Democrats. These again her words, when you have a situation that's as dangerous as this was, and a situation where President Trump continues to use the same language, continues to make the same claims that he knows sparked violence, I think we just have a duty to not make a political calculation.

The panel is back with us now, including Melanie Zanona who had this fascinating interview. The last part is very important, I think, to everybody listening, no matter who you support for president. Donald Trump keeps saying these things. We'd be having a different conversation if it was in the past, it would still be a major deal. But it's more of a major deal, because he keeps saying this. Her message to McCarthy, essentially don't put Trump ease on this committee. We don't expect he'll listen.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: No, I don't think he's going to take the advice of his former deputy who he ousted from GOP leadership. But it is still very interesting to hear her issue this warning to the Republican leader and say you should not be putting any Republicans who either are still challenging the legitimacy of the election results, or who, you know, are so whitewashed on January 6th. And of course, that applies to a very wide swath of her House GOP colleagues. So McCarthy definitely has a choice to make. He probably will be making a decision soon because they're going to have a hearing as soon as next week. But, you know, strong words from Liz Cheney clearly showing she's not backing down, and she's willing to call it the partisanship wherever she sees it.

KING: I want to come back to that part and more of the interview in a minute, but so she -- raises the question, it's been almost two weeks now. Kevin McCarthy has not named his members. Will he? Well, this is Kevin McCarthy twice on "Fox News" this week. Listen.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: I haven't made a decision yet, even to a point I'm discussing it with my members. This is the least bipartisan committee you can find. Think about the structure, it's not an equal number of Republicans or Democrats. She appointed Adam Schiff and Raskin, this is a impeachment committee. Only Democrats have subpoena power. The Speaker has control over anyone who is appointed.


KING: Speaker doesn't have control over anyone who's appointed. But that Tuesday, I haven't made a decision even to appoint. Thursday, he drops the impeachment committee in. He's under a lot of pressure. There's a certain gentleman named Donald J. Trump, who does not want this committee to succeed. I take that as my Kevin, as Donald Trump is fond of calling him is maybe looking for a way out if he does not appoint. Is there a scenario under which he does not appoint members to this committee and then just as well, it's just impeachment again?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: There's clearly a strategy or -- and a possibility that he would do that as he signaled on those "Fox News" interviews. And I also what I -- how I read those Kevin McCarthy comments is him just kind of systematically building his case for his own purposes, that this committee is not a legitimate one, is not going to be doing a serious investigation. And that's kind of him doing that right there.

But what just so ironic is that when he complained about this committee not having equal representation of Democratic and Republican members, he had that option.

KING: Right.

KIM: The House voted on a very, you know, split, equal numbers, Democratic and Republican, other concessions that Pelosi gave her -- gave to Republicans, that one of his own members actually negotiated, and he didn't take that option. So this is a scenario that he finds himself in where he's constantly going to be have to be playing defense for Republicans.

KING: And the person who was negotiating that was Congressman Katko on the Republican side, negotiating with the now chairman of the Select Committee, Congressman Bennie Thompson. It's interesting in your interview, Liz Cheney said so far, she's been impressed by Chairman Thompson. She said she was impressed with him and those bipartisan negotiations. She's been impressed by him since. But she also says, I will absolutely stand for the truth and I will reject partisanship wherever it comes in.

So while in this interview, if I'm Speaker Pelosi reading that interview, I think, OK, I think I did the right thing. But there's a risk here. There is a risk, right?

JOSH JAMERSON, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: For sure. I mean, I think one of the -- when you step back and just think about it politically, if you're Kevin McCarthy, and you're looking at the preponderance of the evidence of where the Republican Party is, it's not Liz Cheney. And so when it comes to how he approaches the January 6th Committee when it comes to how he approaches Donald Trump, it makes sense that there's a fisher there.

KING: There's a fisher, that's a polite way for you.

JAMERSON: To put it lightly.

KING: You are diplomat.


The question -- one of the questions is whether Liz Cheney in the sense that she's going to face a tough primary. We can put up the fundraising numbers. This has not hurt her. It's hurt her among her House Republican friends. It's hurt her among the Trump part of the Republican Party, which is sizable and vocal. We should not underestimate it, including in her home state of Wyoming. From a financial standpoint, it has not hurt her you might argue it has helped her with a record setting fundraising quarter, but there's still a giant question mark, right, about the future of Liz Cheney.

OLIVIER KNOX, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Sure. You know, she's going to face challenges. She's going to face challenges by people who are supported by Donald J. Trump. She's going to face the -- I mean, I was talking to somebody earlier today about whether she could sort of pull off from Murkowski, right, where she was, let's just pay homage for just a moment to a senator who can get elected, you know, right in campaign right, with a last name Murkowski.

But wondering about, you know, in a state that Donald Trump won so convincingly, where people still are very much Trump Republicans. Can she -- does that money, does that money outweigh the former president and the hostility from the Republican base? My gut says no, but.

ZANONA: Well, the one thing she does have going for is that the primary field is so packed right now that lane --

KNOX: That's right.

ZANONA: -- the pro Trump lane is so crowded, that she might be able to overcome this. The question is, if and when Donald Trump endorses someone, do other people get out and what impact does that have? But we'll wait and see.

KING: Right. That's the Trump role is a fascinating question. And then back to yours, I think that the power is the Cheney personal brand more powerful than the Trump brand in Wyoming. We are going to find out in the months ahead.

Up next for us, Florida's COVID cases are on the rise again. But don't expect Florida's governor to turn to Washington for advice. He's raising campaign funds now, by attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci.



KING: Florida is quite an interesting test in the latest chapter of COVID policy meets COVID politics. You can see right here new COVID infections are rising in Florida at more than double the national average. Governor Ron DeSantis, though, made clear long ago he is no fan of COVID restrictions and no fan of Dr. Anthony Fauci. It is a policy dispute in fact that DeSantis sees as a political cash cow.

Don't Fauci my Florida is now a slogan for DeSantis campaign merchandise including t-shirts and drink koozies, you see them right there. Our panel is back here to discuss. Everything is fair in love and war and politics. It is fascinating. Is it risky for Ron DeSantis in Florida to be so anti-Fauci and to be selling, trying to make money off anti-Fauci at a time? I know when they printed these maybe the case count, when they made these case count wasn't doing what it's doing but it's doing that again.

KIM: It's certainly risky, because as we've seen with the numbers with questions, and how -- about how potent the Delta variant is, things are OK for now, but we don't know what's going to happen in the coming months. But you certainly see Republican political officials, especially those who have 2024 ambitions, clearly have seen this, as you know, for better or for worse, something that motivates their base.

And you see, one example that I found fascinating in recent days was how South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. Not so subtle job at Ron DeSantis himself about her ability to keep South Dakota open despite the high infection levels in her state. So it's clearly going to be an issue several years down the line.

KING: And he gets it, clearly Governor DeSantis does because here's a tweet from last month, Florida just hosted the largest concert since the pandemic began because Florida chose freedom over Faucism. Clever, clever Fauci -- if this is an old June data, 87 percent of Democrats approve of Fauci, 55 percent of independence, 30 percent of Republicans trust Fauci. So it clearly works in a Republican primary. Is there a risk that then the general electorate says, excuse me?

JAMERSON: Certainly, but I do think it's important to realize that I go back to the CPAC conference earlier this year, when Ron DeSantis in the way that he ran Florida was the model that all Republicans there were praising the fact that they could have an indoor event with unmasked, you know, almost --

ZANONA: And they cheered when talk about --

JAMERSON: Exactly.

ZANONA: -- American not being --

JAMERSON: And just seeing also people just see the hotel people come out and beg people to put their masks on in the room blew them off the stage. Like you said, it's definitely something that motivates a lot of Republican voters, the risk in the general to be seen.

KING: Just as we have the conversation, we'll show you a live picture of the White House briefing room, because the White House promises to start doing a better job countering what it says is misinformation, oops, she just walked away. We get Jen Psaki, who is fabulous in her own right but she should not have pop songs like Olivia Rodrigo. I was going to make everybody cite their favorite Olivia Rodrigo song but we'll just -- we'll come back to this.

Look at let's up. Bad timing on my part, it happens. Let's show some headlines of recent months too because DeSantis is not alone in trying to make Fauci a rallying point among Republican politics. Ted Cruz says, it's time for Fauci to go. Marjorie Taylor Greene offers bills to fire Fauci. Rand Paul, little dictator Fauci. So there is a slice you could put all of those people in sort of the same part of the Republican Party. Forget science, let's make politics.

ZANONA: Yes. I mean, I think all of this, everything we were just talking about really underscores what the Biden White House is up against as they try to get these last remaining populations vaccinated because it is becoming to a point where it's falling on party lines, people are so entrenched in the politics and getting, you know, the low -- the lower hanging fruit is gone. So how do they reach those people, those Republicans, you know, frankly that are not getting vaccinated. Fighting disinformation is one thing. They're also trying to reach younger populations who were more likely to go out and spread. You saw Olivia Rodrigo at the White House today.


KING: Almost saw her.

ZANONA: Almost saw her. Olivier can maybe sing some tunes and --

KNOX: Yes. I'm going to kill all of you.

KIM: Olivier Rodrigo.

ZANONA: Olivier.

KNOX: That's right. Well done.

KING: She said she would be at the podium forever but never mind.

Up next for us, a very important global cyber mystery, notorious Russian hacking gang vanished from the internet, so where it'd go?



KING: Cyber who done it is getting global buzz today, REvil. The Russia based ransomware group linked to major attacks, including one on a major U.S. meat supplier is now offline. But how and why that happened is that mystery perhaps some members of Congress could get some clues today when they're briefed on cybersecurity and ransomware issues by Biden administration experts. Let's check in with CNN's Alex Marquardt. He's covering this mystery for us. Alex, what do we know?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, on those briefings, there are two briefings tonight to both the House and the Senate from some top Biden administration officials generally about ransomware and what they're doing in terms of cybersecurity is not we believe linked to the disappearance of REvil but it's hard to imagine that they won't get asked about that because this is quite the mystery.

It's still not clear why are evil all of a sudden has simply disappeared. The sites where they negotiate, the sites where they collect payment have simply gone dark. Did the U.S. government mountain operation against them, the Biden administration is not saying did the Kremlin pressure them to shut down their operations. The Kremlin has said that they don't have any knowledge of why REvil simply disappeared. But we have to of course take that with a grain of salt.

It is possible that REvil themselves shut down their own operations that things got too hot for them after those twin attacks against JBS foods that you mentioned, as well as the recent attacks -- attack against Kaseya. So they could be feeling the heat. There's a very good chance, John, that this group simply is disbanding, disappearing for now. But will come back later in a different form and possibly under a different name, John.

KING: It's a fascinating mystery maybe, maybe, maybe, maybe, we'll get some answers as we go. Alex Marquardt, thank you so much for the update there.

And up next for us, help wanted, the White House still needs to fill some very critical senior positions. So what's the holdup?



KING: Topping our Political Radar today, a White House staffing problem, a border crisis without a confirmed border commissioner, a budget battle without an official budget director and an evolving pandemic without a confirmed Food and Drug Administration commissioner. CNN's Kristen Holmes is here to explain why.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. And there's a couple of reasons that we're seeing this. I mean, first of all, I want to note that Biden, while he is behind several of his White House predecessors, he is ahead of the Trump administration where they were at this point in terms of putting nominations forward and getting people approved.

But there are still these critical roles, as you mentioned, that are left open. And there's a number of factors for this, the two main being one, weak candidates, candidates who can't get approved by the Senate. And two, the Senate itself, we're seeing this 50-50 split, which really raises the bar and makes it much more difficult to get people through the Senate.

But experts are telling us that this kind of delay could pose both health and national security risks. So what you're seeing now is an increased pressure on both the Biden administration and the Senate to get these nominations passed. And I got to note, the Senate is sitting on an enormous number of these nominations. When they came back from their July 4th break, 200 nominations were slated to still have to go through that confirmation process, John.

KING: Wow, 200 plus. Well, the President is up there and just a few minutes that might come up during his conversation with Senate Democrats. Kristen Holmes, thank you so much.

Just moments ago, the pop star Olivia Rodrigo spoke at the podium at the White House. You see it right there. She wanted to share an important message about youth vaccinations.


OLIVIA RODRIGO, POP STAR AND ACTRESS: Its important to have conversations with friends and family members encouraging all communities to get vaccinated and actually get to a vaccination site.


KING: The former President George W. Bush says the Biden decision to fully withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan is in his view, a mistake. The former president rarely speaks out on current events. But he told the German news outlet that pulling American troops will have quote, unbelievably bad consequences especially, Mr. Bush said, for Afghan women and girls, and he highlighted the dangers facing local interpreters who worked alongside allied troops in Afghanistan.

Just today the Biden administration is launching a new initiative aimed at relocating Afghans who helped the United States throughout the two decade long war.

Huge fundraising numbers for House Republicans this quarter, $45 million in just the second quarter of this year, it's the most, biggest amount of money the NRCC has ever raised in three months of a non-election year. That's 9 million more than their Democratic counterparts. The House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy also reported a huge fundraising haul this quarter, California Republican raising $16.5 million. Here's a note for you, politics could impact the nation's credit rating between the fights over voting rights. And the January 6th insurrection, credit ratings from Fitch wrote governance is a weakness it could cost the U.S. its perfect credit score. The report also pointed out that former President Trump's refusal to concede the 2020 election has contributed to a decline in governance and confidence in the government.

This quick programming note the topic in Jerusalem has been centuries in the making. A new CNN series takes you back 3,000 years through six epic battles for one of the most coveted cities in the world. Jerusalem: City of Faith and Fury premieres on CNN right here Sunday night, 10:00 p.m. You don't want to miss that.

Thanks for spending your time with us today inside -- on Inside Politics. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now. Have a good day.