Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Pelosi: Investigating 1/6 Is "Deadly Serious"; McCarthy Speaks Amid Fallout Over 1/6 Committee; Biden: Killing Filibuster Would "Throw The Entire Congress Into Chaos". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 22, 2021 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi today says the Select Committee investigating the January 6th Capitol attack will move forward despite a new Republican boycott. The Speaker said it is critical to build a record of what happened that day and why it happened. And she took sharp issue with new remarks from Donald Trump.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It was not all love, hugs, and kisses as it has been characterized and mischaracterized, shall we say.


KING: She's responding there to stunning new audio, the former president speaking to two "Washington Post" reporters nearly four months after the insurrection. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a loving crowd, too, by the way. There was a lot of love. I've heard that from everybody. Many, many people have told me that was a loving crowd.

In all fairness, the Capitol Police were ushering people in. The Capitol Police were very friendly, you know, they were hugging and kissing. You don't see that.


KING: We all saw what happened. And sadly, because he keeps saying things like that we need to show you again, five people died, 140 police officers were injured. Nearly 550 people have been criminally charged, a sacred institution of the United States democracy attacked and defiled. It was not loving.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It was not loving. And you saw people running for their lives, barricading themselves in their offices. You saw police confronting very violent people who were calling for the heads of lawmakers and wanting to overturn a free and fair election.

Hearing Donald Trump is just yet another example of how complete his break with reality is and how delusional he is and how he just lies constantly. But it's also a demonstration of how his lying has really caught on with Republicans. I mean, he -- this is sort of what you hear from average Republican, some people in Congress. So it was just a tourist, you know, visit.

So, you know, it's quite disturbing to hear from him in that way and more disturbing that there are millions of people who believe what he believes.

KING: Right. The proof is in the numbers. You make the critical point. If Donald Trump were talking to the portraits at Mar-a-Lago or Bedminster and saying this to himself, who cares, right?


KING: It's just that he still in control of much of the Republican Party. He says he wants to run again. And there are Americans out there largely honest Americans, some Democrats will get mad at me who voted for Donald Trump for their own reasons. Here's the CBS numbers. Do you strongly disapprove of the people who -- those who forced their way into the Capitol, 51 percent in January, 39 percent now, so there are more -- the more people listen to Trump and listen to people like Trump, their views are changing. Those are Republicans. Those are Republicans. Republican outrage, whatever you want to call it is softening.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, it's a clear attempt to rewrite history and it's dangerous. But those numbers are exactly why, you know, this investigation that's going on, on Capitol Hill is so important. I mean, Republicans killed this outside commission. They clearly did not want the truth to come out in an election year, and they were afraid of what that would mean for them politically.

Now, you know, there's this really ugly and nasty fight going on, on Capitol Hill about how are they going to do this Select Committee. And it's important that this Committee reach those people who are still having their minds changed. It used to be just a small segment of the Republican Party. It's growing. It's still growing because of the big lie and that's dangerous. And that's why this Committee needs to have, you know, some sort of impact beyond just Democrats. It's got to reach across the aisle --


KING: And how do they do that, Melanie? How do they do that in the sense that the Speaker was very clear today? We're going to try to lay out facts. We're going to try to explain. What happened, why it happened, who was there, did anybody do that? However, with this Republican boycott, in part, because she took the bold choice of saying, I'm not putting Jim Jordan and Jim Banks on this Committee. I'm not putting two people on there who every time we say the sky is blue is going to say, no, it's not. So therefore, we're not going to do that. That's a risk on her part, because it'll gives the Republicans the foil to say it's not legitimate.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Sure, I mean, Democrats feel absolutely comfortable with Pelosi's decision. Also worth pointing out, Republicans had an opportunity to vote for the bipartisan independent commission, which had been an even split. That being said, I think Democrats do recognize they need to do everything they can to make this as credible and legitimate as possible.

And so we actually at CNN have two new pieces reporting that show what Pelosi is doing. Number one, she's considered a Republican and anti- Trump Republican who voted to impeach to the Select Committee. And she's also considering hiring Republican staffers, potentially as outside advisors. So that's just an insight into how Pelosi is really approaching this Committee now.

KING: This came off the President's Town Hall last night, and he knows what Trump says. He knows what other Republicans say in an effort well put to rewrite history. And the President says you don't have to like me, watch with your own eyes.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't care if you think I'm Satan reincarnated. The fact is, you can't look at that television to say nothing happened on the 6th. You can't listen to people who say this was a peaceful march.


KING: It's important not only in the context of the President trying to say you don't have to like me for certain things to be true. But it seems to me to be an understanding on the White House part, that part of this, like it's crazy, but part of it just simply reminding people, this is actually what happened, not what these other people are telling you. It's going to be part of the midterm election campaign.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. And you can leave it to Joe Biden to use a little bit of a rhetorical flourish, right, to make his point. But what the President is really trying to do here is explain to people that they don't need to believe the lies that the President, that the former President Trump has been telling about the insurrection.

He's also really urging folks not to buy into these conspiracy theories. And he also puts it in terms of how it makes the U.S. appear on the international stage and the way that people are viewing the country as you still have people buying into these laws that the President has spread both about the status of the election, but also what was really at hand on that day.

KING: Right. We're told, what, members of the Committee are meeting in Speaker Pelosi's office just now. I'm fascinated to see how this plays out. It's going to be loud. We'll see if they can do their job.

Up next for us, why President Biden believes his bipartisan infrastructure deal is not dead yet. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KING: We'll take you straight up live in Capitol Hill. This is the House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): -- to say that the ranking member of judiciary, who would have jurisdiction cannot serve when she decides that Jim Banks who served his nation in the Navy and Afghanistan that he can't serve here, when she selects a chair of the Committee that believes Republican senators are equal to terrorist just dropped the lawsuit against the President and objected to the electors when it came to the election of George Bush. I think even you would understand that. Yes, sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you punish them in any way?

MCCARTHY: Yes sir?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could we talk about infrastructure for a second? I mean, how do you view the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure bill? Have you been briefed in the details by --

MCCARTHY: You know, they continue to move. I haven't seen all the details. I would say, first of all, I'd like the idea of people working together and having an infrastructure bill. I think if there's one thing we should be able to do, is infrastructure.

I laid out to the President what I thought a bipartisan infrastructure bill would look like. The first thing you'd have to do is agree on what infrastructure means, roads, bridges, highways, broadband, and airports. I think we would then look at the need of the nation. We'd want to make sure we could make some reforms with NEPA and others so you wouldn't wait a decade to build these, so your money would go further, and I think we could find compromise there.

The most difficult part is at that moment in time when they did get an agreement. The President said there was an agreement, but in the same day he said, no, I still need the other 3 trillion. You just listened to the stories. Since this new administration and Democratic majority, they propose a bill with a nice title, but it has nothing to do with it.

We watched what they did back at the beginning of the year when they called it a COVID bill with less than 9 percent going to it, but now we have inflation. I would like the idea of a bipartisan infrastructure bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is one, so do you have any view?

MCCARTHY: No, they don't have, they don't have. Even they tell you they can't vote on it yet because they don't have one. I think it matters in the details. I think a trillion dollars is a lot of money so I'd like to see the details. But in the concept of a structure of putting one together, I'd like to do that. Yes ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- a few weeks ago, you said that, I don't know in history where someone would go get the Committee assignments and speaker and expect for them to have them in the conference as well. Where are you right now as far as --

MCCARTHY: I'm right here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- as far as the committee assignments are concerned with Cheney and potentially Adam Kinzinger? Should they be stripped of their committee assignments, and have any members come to you asking that, asking them what about Cheney in this case, to have her be stripped of her committee assignments, as of now?

MCCARTHY: Look, our main focus is making sure that we stop the runaway inflation the Democrats have caused. The idea of securing our borders, of making sure the crime that is rising in California, throughout the entire nation because of defunding the police, that we stop all that. I understand from a standpoint that others could be busy on other things. I think it's a conference decision. The conference will look at it.


MCCARTHY: Yes ma'am?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- you got your vaccine at the end of last year and have been a proponent of them. In recent days and weeks, we've seen more Republicans advocate for people to get vaccines. Why the shift in tone?


MCCARTHY: I don't understand how I shifted my tone. I've been --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not your tone, I'm saying we've seen more Republicans come out advocating for a vaccine, so I'm saying just generally in terms of your party, why that shift in tone?

MCCARTHY: Well, I disagree with the nature because I don't think we shifted in our tone. I mean, the Republicans advocated for Operation Warp Speed, we funded it. We looked from it. When I sat back and I watched the then Senator of California criticize and question whether they should get a vaccine as she was running for vice president, or I watched the number of Democrats in the House go to the microphones and criticize for Operation Warp Speed and with the vaccines.

Think about what we were able to accomplish in such a short amount of time, or even Dr. Fauci said it was impossible to do that quickly. And the idea that we could have not one, but more, more than three vaccines out there, the investment we made, I think many times people will study that, the number of lives we were able to save after this virus has come from a foreign land.

I think Republicans will go down from a perspective of looking forward and saving a lot of lives, and I don't think we've changed from that position at all. Maybe at times through media and people are just now hearing it, but it wouldn't be here if it wasn't for that leadership. And President Trump deserves a lot of credit for that.

I know when President Biden, I know he got the vaccine before he was sworn in and somehow he thought he created it. But his own vice president criticized it, which was not good for the American public, which was real concerning to all of us that people would sit there and criticize something that could save a lot of lives. Yes?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On vaccines again, there was a meeting or an event with some GOP members earlier this morning, advocating their constituents to take the vaccine. Should House members, Republican and Democrat, be putting out statements, doing events to show that this isn't a partisan issue?

MCCARTHY: Well, think when members first got the vaccine, that's what they were doing and showing. I mean, I believe that's continuing to be going forward. More information should be provided because at this moment in time, I think anyone that wants a vaccine should be able to get it. But I think the aspect to it, many times, if people have questions about it, let's answer the questions. Let's not say, oh, you can't put any information out.

I think what would really have people have greater trust, provide all the science, provide all the information instead of trying to withhold something, that would bring somebody more doubt. And I think that's the wrong approach, and I think at times we hear that from the White House, and that's just wrong. Yes, sir?

KING: The House Republican Leader, Kevin McCarthy, there taking questions at his weekly press conference. Some of it on important substantive issues on the day, some of it get ready for this over the next 18 months or so, a midterm campaign messaging, asked him about one thing he's going to talk about Joe Biden inflation, ask him about something else, he's going to talk about Kamala Harris, that's how politics works. The Democrats do it, as well, in some cases.

But there were some interesting things here from Leader McCarthy. Number one, on the end there, should Republicans be, you know, promoting vaccines, and he said everyone should be to get a vaccine. But he does not want to deal with the fact. He just punts and moves on to other things that many members of his own Republican family either continue to spread Marjorie Taylor Greene being one, misinformation about the vaccines, or either refuse to get them or refuse to tell us whether they're going to get them. They're just not good messengers at a time of a pandemic.

ZANONA: Right. And that is refrain we've heard a lot from Republicans, I asked around a lot about this this week. And Republicans would say, yes, I believe they're safe and effective. Yes, I have even received it. And I encourage other people to get it. But at the end of the day, it's a personal choice. It shouldn't be mandated, even though to be clear, the Biden administration is not pushing for mandates.

But again, it's a nod to the base, the base favors small government, and the base is skeptical of vaccines. And so that's why you're hearing leaders like McCarthy trying to walk that sort of fine line.


KING: It's an interesting perspective. Another issue he talked about was would he be open to a plan being negotiated now in the Senate bipartisan infrastructure framework? He said maybe, but he'd like to see the details. We'll talk about that just a moment.


KING: A missed infrastructure deadlines shifts the timeline for the Biden agenda. Monday now the target date to put the bipartisan framework on paper, yes, there are still disagreements. But there's also some new optimism on Capitol Hill about that deal coming together. Last night President Biden says compromise will happen.


BIDEN: The answer is absolutely positively yes. We're going to fix that damn bridge of yours going into Kentucky.


KING: A tribute the optimism. Is it, look, this is who he is. He's a creature of the Senate. He believes if you put people in a room, they'll work it out. Does he have evidence they will after they lost a vote yesterday?

SAENZ: Well, he's certainly hoping that this will come together at the bipartisan support for that infrastructure plan. But one thing that I always go back to and remember about Biden was during the campaign, there's this moment when he said that he believed Republicans would have an epiphany when President Trump was out of office. That epiphany has not come.

And so what you're really seeing here is this key test with this bipartisan infrastructure proposal to see whether Biden can actually get what he promised to the American people that he can work across the aisle, even if it's just on this one very narrow plan.


But you also heard him talk about an acknowledgment that there has been toxicity that the former president had poisoned the well. But he still believes that ultimately bipartisanship will thrive. Maybe it'll happen on infrastructure, but I'm not so sure it's going to happen on every other issue.

KING: Well, he believes it so much that he is unwilling right now progressives in his party are saying, Mr. President, at least on voting rights, at least on voting rights, you got to bang heads in the party and get them to suspend the filibuster for at least this one issue. President last night, maybe it's not epiphany you speak of says I don't think so.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: I've been saying for a long, long time, the abuse of the filibuster is pretty overwhelming. I would go back to that. But you have to maintain the floor. You have to stand there and talk and hold the floor. There's no reason to protect it other than you're going to throw the entire Congress in the chaos and nothing will get done.


BIDEN: Nothing at all will get done.


KING: So he says nothing will get done if you throw out the filibuster. On his left are a whole long line of Democrats saying, sir, nothing is getting done because of the filibuster?

BADE: I mean, yes, exactly. The argument for ditching the filibuster, specifically to pass all these Democratic bills that he -- these things he campaigned on? I mean, I do think what's interesting in that answer, he didn't articulate sort of the flip side of it. And that, you know, there's a lot of concern that if you get rid of the filibuster, what happens when Republicans control everything and undo all of those laws very quickly, and start passing the realm, for instance, you know, antiabortion bills, or something like that.

And so, but I mean, Biden, President Biden is a creature of the Senate. And because of that, he has the sort of institutional framework and belief that, you know, a lot of the party doesn't particularly care about right now. So he's trying to both, you know, say voting rights are important, but he's not going to get rid of the filibuster.

KING: So let me steal Arlette's epiphany phrase again, because it's a good one. Joe Biden believes he's still holding out hope that the Republicans will have an epiphany, a change of heart, something on voting rights.


BIDEN: But I also want to do, I want to make sure we bring along, not just all the Democrats, we bring along Republicans, why no, no better. They know better than this.


KING: A lot of them may know better than this, when you talk to them off the record private conversations about these state voting laws, we're up to 18 states now that have rolled back the way you were able to vote in 2020. They may know it, but they're not doing anything about it, because they see it as their path to power.

HENDERSON: That's right. And it's been this way for a few years now, right? We've been talking about voting rights. We saw the Supreme Court act on it over the last couple of years. And the idea that Congress would come in and repair some of the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. At this point, there are essentially three options, right, that have been floated in terms of voting rights for The For the People Act, the John Lewis Act, and then a sort of Manchin skinny voting rights bill, or list of wishes.

And none of those are really gaining any traction with Republicans. So I do think you hear somebody in Joe Biden who is waxing nostalgic for an old Senate and an old Republican Party, that doesn't really exist anymore. And there's no indication that it's ever coming back.

KING: And he's hearing it from members of his own party. This is Mondaire Jones newly elected progressive from New York. The idea that the For The People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act will pass without filibuster reform defies reality. So when the President does what he did last night, and he's standing by his positions, he's causing a ripple, if not worse, to his left.

ZANONA: Yes, those frustrations on the left are really starting to boil over on voting rights, even on this infrastructure bill back to where we talked about before. He's really giving -- Biden is giving time for this bipartisan deal. And Democrats are starting to get worried that Republicans are playing them. That they're not serious, that they're just trying to run out the clock. But it's important to remember at least with the infrastructure bill, that it's not just about Biden's, the lower bipartisanship.

He also knows that he needs to convince Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema to go along with this massive $3.5 trillion spending bill. And the only way to do that is to get a bipartisan infrastructure deal or at least exhaust all the options. But in the meantime, it is causing a lot of heartburn among progressives.

KING: Set specifically aside for a minute and the minute we have left in the hour, the President out during this town hall last night, there's been a lot of questions, really do more press conferences, really travel more, some of that's the pandemic, some of that's his own personal style. Midterm elections are about the president. Do they get -- is last night a trial run of sorts? Are they testing things out? Do they plan to be active, get him out more?

SAENZ: Well, I think they like these types of town halls because they feel that it's a chance for him to actually connect with people. And you've seen him slowly kind of over the course of the past few weeks are really starting to head out and he likes to go to these states, or areas that are also Republican areas. Ohio, is obviously a state that President Obama had won but has really flipped and gone to the Republican side.

Biden is still arguing he has that appeal with working class voters, but they understand that Biden he also just enjoys, right, being face to face with people and not just at the White House. So I think you probably will see him out when he want.


KING: And he did know that that bridge from Cincinnati goes to Mitch McConnell's Kentucky, again, remember that. Thanks for joining us today in Inside Politics. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Don't go anywhere. Busy day, Erica Hill picks up right now.