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CDC: Delta Variant One Of The Most Contagious Viruses On Earth; Millions Face Eviction After Moratorium Expired Last Night; Trump Wades Into Special Elections; GOP, Dems Battle Over Masks On House Floor. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired August 01, 2021 - 08:00   ET





MANU RAJU, CNN HOST (voice-over): Pandemic game changer. New evidence COVID-19 has become far more dangerous.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Yes, the delta variant is extremely concerning. It is very contagious and makes people sicker.

RAJU: So mask mandates are back and the president is pleading with the unvaccinated.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not about red states and blue states. This is literally about life and death.

RAJU: Plus, a big step forward for the bipartisan plan to overhaul the nation's infrastructure.

SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): At a time when Washington seems broken, this group came together.

SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (D-AZ): We can engage in bipartisan bipartisanship. We can deliver results.

RAJU: New revelations about how far Trump pushed the DOJ to help overturn the election.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It is absolutely an abuse of power. It's absolutely an abuse of the office of the presidency.

RAJU: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.


RAJU (on camera): Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Manu Raju, in today for Abby.

Let's be honest, the past few days have felt like a gut punch in our fight against COVID-19. The new CDC analysis revealed the delta variant to be one of the most contagious viruses on Earth. Eighty percent of the country lives in an area of dangerous community spread and the science now shows that vaccinated Americans who get infected can spread the virus, too.

So let's be clear. The vaccines still work. If you're vaccinated, you are extremely unlikely to get infected or get seriously ill. But if you still get infected, you can be a spreader. So health officials want everyone to mask up when indoors, in public, in a high-risk region.


DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: The best way to stop a new variant from spreading is to have less virus out there, and the best way to do that is to get people vaccinated and to mask up until they are.

The virus is smart. The virus is out to make sure that it can survive and it is an opportunist that will go where we are not vaccinated.


RAJU: And President Biden warned Friday that more restrictions on stricter guidance may be coming soon. And he's practically begging unvaccinated Americans no matter their politics to get the shot.


BIDEN: The vaccine was developed and authorized under a Republican administration, and it's been distributed and administered under a Democratic administration. If, in fact, you're unvaccinated you present a problem to yourself, to your family, and to those with whom you work.


RAJU: Now, joining me now with the reporting and their insight, Laura Baron Lopez of "Politico", "Punch Bowl's" John Bresnahan, Yasmeen Abutaleb of "The Washington Post", and Jonathan Martin of "The New York Times."

Yasmeen, I'm going to start with you. Your -- the internal CDC report that came out this week, you were the first to report on it, really game changing in a lot of ways.

Now, there's still just, you know, 4/1,000 of 1 percent of fully vaccinated people who have experienced a breakthrough case that require hospitalizations.

So rare that happens. But health officials are suggesting that the war has changed in a lot of ways.

What are they telling us in this report?

YASMEEN ABUTALEB, HEALTH POLICY REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: Well, one of the big issues that we have is that the CDC actually hasn't been tracking breakthrough infections that well. So, it's kind of hard to know right now in the United States at what rate they're happening.

They are rare, like you said. Unvaccinated people are really the ones at risk, not the vaccinated people. But in that report, the CDC suggests they need to revamp their public coms in light of what's happening with the delta variant, has really taken hold in the U.S. It's responsible for about 90 percent of cases.

And the big game changer is that vaccinated people can spread it, not that they get seriously ill from it but they can spread it and they are responsible for some small part of transmission and still majority of unvaccinated people. So, they say, you know, they need to figure out how to communicate to people that breakthroughs might happen.

It's not a reason to panic. The vaccines still work. It's still our number one tool against this, but they need to level with the people about what the vaccines can and can't do, that they're not a bullet proof vest.

RAJU: Yeah. I mean, this has been such a significant shift in tone from the administration. They were projecting optimism that this would be a summer of freedom.

So, Yasmeen, jus take us through this -- what's happening behind the scenes in the administration, this debate that happened and to where we are right now.

ABUTALEB: Well, there was a lot of concern as cases started to surge starting a few weeks ago whether you reinstate indoor mask mandates because, of course, the reason that they lifted it in the first place back in May for vaccinated people was they wanted there to be a reward for getting vaccinated, to show people why you should do it. There are still high levels of hesitancy in the country. They were afraid if they reinstated this, people holding out would say what's the point, vaccines don't work, which, of course, is not true at all.


It's just that we're dealing with a different variant. And the big concern, I think CDC Director Rochelle Walensky articulated this when she announced the new masks recommendations on Tuesday, she said, this -- the vaccine still work against delta.

They're still preventing severe illness and hospitalization, but we could just be a few mutations away from a variant that evades the vaccines altogether. So, as long as you have high numbers of unvaccinated people, you're going to keep getting variants like delta and that is the big concern right now is what's next.

RAJU: Yeah. And, Laura, you cover the White House for "Politico". What's happening in the White House right now? How concerned are they from seeing the economy take a hit potentially, especially if people decide to work from home or schools go virtual again? What is happening inside the White House?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah, they are very concerned because at the beginning of July, as you mentioned, Manu, they were hoping -- Biden declared on July 4, look, we're free of masks, we're not going to need to wear masks again. This is going to be a totally different summer than the last one everyone just experienced.

And now, a few weeks later, we barely are ending the month and it's a totally different world. The delta variant is now taking over. And they are clearly trying to make sure that it doesn't end up just totally getting out of control because they want to be able to talk about all the other items on their agenda. Of course, Biden was elected saying that he was going to manage this pandemic and get Americans on the right foot and make it so this doesn't go on for years and years.

And right now, it's looking like there are very real possibilities that, as Biden said leading this weekend, that we could enter more restrictions again, a lot of Americans don't want.

RAJU: Yeah, that's what Republicans in particular are jumping on. Take a listen to the messaging coming from the top Republicans as we're seeing people -- different governments go back to mandates.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: There will be no restrictions and no mandates in the state of Florida.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): It's your choice if you want to get vaccinated. It's not some drunk on power Democrat in Washington's choice to force you to do it.

REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): I think the CDC has been politicized in this case I think from pressure from the administration. Again, because I think the Democrats love to instill fear in the hearts of Americans and I think Americans are really sick of this.


RAJU: So, obviously the Republicans think this plays well with the base, but how does Kevin McCarthy, House Republican leader, view this as playing with swing voters in the run up to the midterms?

JOHN BRESNAHAN, PUNCHBOWL NEWS CO-FOUNDER: I think right now they're -- listen, everybody is trying to deal with this now we're up to 78,000 cases I guess yesterday.

I think they're thinking that this is the -- Americans are sick of any kind of mandates, sick of masks, sick of being told what to do. They want to go back to life the way it used to be.

And I think they think this is a popular message, but it's clearly an irresponsible one. The country is not free from the pandemic, so I think they think there is an advantage here, but it's just outraging Democrats that the Republicans are playing this card this way.

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a clear and present danger politically for Joe Biden for this reason. His best numbers in the polling were on his handling of COVID. His handling of other issues, for example, crime, the border, fairly mediocre.

The reason his numbers have been steadily above 50 overall is because he was getting good marks on the COVID response. If that starts to ebb, that spells danger for him and his party going into the midterms.

That politically speaking is why it's so urgent for the Biden folks to get delta under control here in the weeks and months to come.

RAJU: Take a look at some of the numbers here about how the U.S. is doing with -- compared to other countries, fully vaccinated as a percentage of the population. The U.S. is still down significantly compared to other parts of the country. There are areas of the country that are -- have been improving, though, over the last two weeks. Southern states in particular, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Missouri as you can see there.

MARTIN: The diagram, there we go.

RAJU: That's right. Louisiana, over here.

So, Yasmeen, I mean, we have seen some companies like Disney, Walmart move to require vaccinations.

How much do you think that is going to change the equation in terms of pressuring more Americans to actually get the shot?

ABUTALEB: I think it's probably one of the most effective things that businesses can do to try to get the country back on track because we've seen in France and in a lot of Europe they've basically said, if you want to go to a restaurant, if you want to leave your house, you have to have a proof of vaccination. And it works. It makes people get vaccinated.

Whatever their reasons for hesitancy or holding out, there have been protests, people are angry about it. It does work. It does end up making people get vaccinated. And even in focus groups in the U.S., where they look at people change their minds. I remember, I read about one guy who said, I want to go to the Bahamas. If I want to go I have to get a vaccine. So, he went ahead and did it after holding out for months.

So, these mandates from businesses, the Biden administration, of course, doesn't want it to come from the federal government. They've pushed people to do it.


They've encouraged them to do it. They've encouraged states to give people money to get vaccines. But these big businesses I think set the stage for other people who might want to do it and give them a bit of cover.

So, I think that's one of the most effective things in getting people vaccinated.

MARTIN: And this should have been obvious months ago. In fact, Kathleen Sebelius, the Democratic former health secretary under President Obama, they just commented to colleagues of mine at the start of July, which is we're just dancing around the issue here. The issue is you're going to have to mandate vaccines, right?

And we're now at the point where August is here and we're facing two options. We either mandate vaccines or literally pay people to get vaccinated. That was the essence of Biden's speech a couple days ago.

Those are the two options left. The fact we're at that point entirely caused by the growth of this variant is traffic, but frankly it was fairly predictable.

RAJU: Yeah, that's the messaging. We're going to have to continue here in the weeks ahead. We'll see if it actually works.

Up next for us, Congress heads home for the August recess without extending the eviction moratorium. So, Congresswoman Cori Bush is staying put and sleeping outside the Capitol.



RAJU: It is August. Congress is supposed to be on vacation, but the Senate is still working on a bipartisan infrastructure bill. And House members went home without extending a nationwide moratorium for evictions for millions of people behind in their rent due to the pandemic.

A tweet from Speaker Pelosi blaming them calling it an act of pure cruelty.

And Missouri Democrat Cori Bush went even further, leading protesters who are sleeping at the foot of the steps outside the House of Representatives.


REP. CORI BUSH (D-MO): Either the president and the CDC extended moratorium, or the house reconvenes. We come back, come off of vacation, and come back and get this done because I just don't understand how we go on vacation, knowing that people's lives are at stake.


RAJU: Joining the conversation now is Eva McKend of Spectrum News.

Eva, you were outside the Capitol on Friday night.

You spoke to Congresswoman Bush. What did you see outside there? How many people were there and what was the mood like?

EVA MCKEND, SPECTRUM NEWS CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was about two dozen people, and there was a deep sense of frustration on her part. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, another leading progressive, was there as well. Their argument, look, Democrats control the White House, the house and the senate. We should not be leaving town to go on vacation while millions face the threat of eviction.

They believe that it is because of their constituencies that Senator Schumer is majority leader right now. That Joe Biden is president. And so when you have this was very much viewed as a progressive priority, that they should, they should deliver.

And this is something that congresswoman bush knows personally. She's not speaking about this from a policy perspective. She experienced homelessness, so you could feel how deeply personal the struggle is for her. They will continue to be out there today is what I'm learning.

RAJU: And, look, the issue, though, they're dealing with a narrowly divided house, 50/50 Senate.

And Democrats, John Bresnahan, they didn't have the votes themselves. Pelosi is blaming Republicans, but their party was divided over this. At the same time, the White House dropped this on the -- told Congress to do this even though the Supreme Court ruled a month ago.

Why would -- how would the Democrats mismanage this so badly?

BRESNAHAN: Yeah, it was a disaster. It was a disaster all the way around.

It was a disaster, the White House -- I mean, part in their defense, I think they were thinking before the delta variant took over, I think they were thinking, well, things are going to get back to normal.

Sadly evictions and these kind of incidents happened to people. It's sad, but, you know, now we're going to be evicting people and the resurgence of the COVID, which is the worst possible outcome.


BRESNAHAN: I mean, I asked Speaker Pelosi this the other day, how can you leave if you feel so passionately about this? And their answer -- she was there with Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn. And their answer was, look, we can come back in August.

I think that's what they're thinking right now. But they tried to get it through December 31st. They couldn't get a majority of Democrats. They tried to do it October 18th they couldn't do it.

I mean, the problem was moderates didn't want to vote for it if they knew it wasn't going anywhere in the Senate. So, it's what like, you know, the whole thing, if you really believed in this passionately, you keep the House and you vote.

RAJU: Yeah, and, look, they can vote and still -- she can say they're coming back, but the bottom line is they don't have the votes and people are looking to Congress for relief. Sadly not going to get it. But at the same time, the Senate was in session, a rare Sunday session

today, John Bresnahan. But they are working on a bipartisan infrastructure deal. Actually, they voted earlier this week to move ahead with the infrastructure bill, earlier last week. They still have not finished drafting the bill. They are still working on drafting a $1.2 trillion proposal that would implement Joe Biden's effort to move on the country's infrastructure.

But interesting what happened last week was Mitch McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, came out and supported moving ahead and suggested he could even be open to supporting the bill on final passage.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: Our country would benefit a whole lot from some targeted investment in the kinds of real tangible projects that fit the common sense definition of actual infrastructure. I was happy to vote to begin moving the Senate toward what ought to be a robust bipartisan floor process.


RAJU: Jonathan, you covered Mitch McConnell a long time. What do you think his calculation is?

MARTIN: Oh, I can feel a few things off the top of my head.


Number one is he's an appropriator, he doesn't mind spending money. That's in his blood. He's done to for his state a long time, a state that's poor that relies on the federal government.

Number two, he's more passionate about keeping the filibuster at this point in his career than just about any policy issue. He believes if he show the Senate can still work in a bipartisan fashion, that takes the air out of the effort to end the filibuster.

He also wants to show his members the Senate can still work to keep the quality of members in the senate. He wants to make laws, they don't want to be potted plants. They want to do stuff. This is their way of saying we're doing stuff in the Senate.

Lastly, two words, Kyrsten Sinema. I think he wants to elevate her. He wants to prop her up. He wants to keep her firm and protecting the filibuster, and this is a win for her, his buddy across the railroad, Rob Portman who he also is close to. I think Sinema especially.

RAJU: And, politically, he believes they can attack the Democrats over the $3.5 trillion -- the package was the next, will drown out this.

MARTIN: You can't say he's pure obstructionist which Democrats want to say if he personally voted for this massive bipartisan bill. It gives him cleaner hands to attack the next bill. Correct. RAJU: But Democrats are not in the House are not happy with the bipartisan infrastructure package, particularly on the left. A lot of them already pushing back.


REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): I think it's inadequate on many levels, not just the top line number.

REP. PETE DEFAZIO (D-OR): This was written by three people who have no knowledge of -- nor expertise in transportation infrastructure.

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): I think it is going to be a challenge, and I think that we're going to need Republican votes.


RAJU: And that second congressman was Pete DeFazio who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

I thought I'd clarify, three people you were referring to, Kyrsten Sinema, Susan Collins and Rob Portman, the senators, and I said, what about Steve Ricchetti, the White House adviser? You said, oh, I mean, four people who don't know anything about transportation infrastructure.


RAJU: So, Laura, what is the speaker going to have to do to keep her caucus in line to get this through because she can't afford many defections here?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yeah, she has this balancing act because progressives are looking to Pelosi to hold the line or to stick to her commitment that she made, which was I'm going to make sure reconciliation comes up at the same time as the bipartisan bill. How do you do that when moderates on the other end also say we want the vote on the bipartisan infrastructure bill before we do reconciliation?

So, she has these two factions of her caucus who are not in line. On top of that, Democrats want to do their own things to the infrastructure bill. Do they end up putting earmarks, which members really want to do -- does DeFazio get his on it and does she let him make any changes? Because he's really upset his bill they passed out of the House, that there are elements of it that are not included in the bipartisan infrastructure bill. So far as we know, there aren't that many.

I know the White House as they were negotiating was trying to find ways to add pieces of DeFazio's bill, aware that he was very upset in the House. But again, yeah, this is a long road ahead for Pelosi, for Steve Ricchetti, who DeFazio took a whack at, who is trying to make sure he's very much -- his reputation is on the line with this bill, and he really wants --

RAJU: And there were challenges. They change anything in the House. This is such a delicate compromise.

They're still not done drafting and changing anything could upset that balance. Really a complicated balancing act ahead. We'll see how it plays out.

Next for us, the new CDC guidelines, how the delta variant is changing the way Americans deal with the pandemic.



RAJU: President Biden's message on Thursday was simple.


BIDEN: My fellow Americans, this nation has never failed. We have to come together as the United States of America, so I say to all those who are unvaccinated, please, please get vaccinated.


RAJU: Now, this is why the president now is almost begging people to accept a life-saving vaccine. Cases were up 530 percent in July, and now exceed 75,000 a day. Hospitalizations and deaths are rising, too. The reason the far more contagious delta variant, this graphic explains what that means.

On the left you can see the transmission pattern for the original virus. Each person infected by two more, so one infection became two, which then became four, which then became eight. But on the right is delta. One person infects at least five others and potentially many more.

And those five to 25 who then infect 125 more exponential spread.

Now, Dr. Megan Ranney doctor joins us now. She's an ER doctor and associate dean of the Brown School of Public Health.

Dr. Ranney, thank you for joining us this morning.

You know, the chances of a breakthrough infection among the unvaccinated are very rare. Vaccines are much more effective in preventing against severe illness and hospitalizations as you know. But if you're a vaccinated individual, and what do you take away from all the news that we saw last week about the delta variant, and what precautions should you take as a vaccinated individual?


RANNEY: You know, Manu, my e-mails and texts have been filling up with exactly this question. So many of us have gone out and done the right thing and get vaccinated and we feel like we're back at square one.

So here is the thing. First, these vaccines do continue to protect you marvelously well against hospitalization and death. But with this new delta variant, the chance of a breakthrough infection is not zero.

And worse yet, there's that small chance that you could pass a breakthrough infection on to someone who you love. Many of us have kids at home or parents who we're worried about.

So what I'm telling most people right now is to wear a mask, if you're in an indoors location with people who do you don't know, who you aren't sure are vaccinated. And if you're in a crowded location, wear a mask no matter what.

RAJU: Yes. And the CDC is urging cities to move ahead with mass mask mandates. Reimpose those. We now know that it can spread. The delta variant is so contagious. It can spread even if you're vaccinated. So that being the case, is wearing a mask going to be enough indoors?

DR. RANNEY: So I really think of it as being like a level of layers of protections. You know, when we drive a car, we wear a seat belt. We also don't speed. If it's raining, we slow down. Most of us now have cars with air bags and anti-lock breaks and we sure as heck try to avoid driving drunk.

A vaccine is a critically important part of all of that. I say it's the equivalent to the seat belt plus air bags put together. But you also need to make sure you're not driving drunk or speeding or in a big traffic jam.

So vaccine plus mask keeps you way more protected. And then if you're in an area with high surges, I would go back to doing things primarily outdoors instead of indoors.


RAJU: And what about --

DR. RANNEY: And my own hospital is now -- oh, go ahead.

RAJU: I was going to say, you know, outdoors -- you mentioned outdoors. What about wearing masks outdoors? Is it ok still not to wear a mask outdoors?

DR. RANNEY: So for right now, it is still ok to not wear a mask outdoors. And I'm here in Boston right now. I'm not wearing a mask when I'm walking around on the city streets.

But if I were in a crowd outdoors, I would be wearing a mask. I would not be in a crowded concert or ballpark without a mask on at this point.

RAJU: So how should we, you know, as vaccinated people, I mean you mentioned some of the ways to change the behavior wearing a mask in high risk areas.

What about going -- today I'm hoping to go to the Cubs-Nationals Game with my -- to watch my Cubs hopefully survive today with my five-year- old twins. Is it safe to do something like that? Obviously, they're not vaccinated. I'm vaccinated. If you're a parent with kids who don't -- have not gotten vaccinated, is it ok to do things like that?

DR. RANNEY: So I'm going say there's nothing in life that is zero risk. And you could live your life in order to entirely avoid COVID, then you're not going to be living your life. Something like taking your kids to a ballpark right now is a relatively safe activity especially if you are all masked up.

Again, I'm here traveling now. I've brought my unvaccinated child with me as well as my vaccinated child but my kids are masked when they're out and about in public locations. And really that's the thing that we're doing. That outdoor activity with a mask is still going to be relatively safe for your kids.

RAJU: Well, I want to get your take on the debate over masking in schools. Obviously there's the debate about whether schools should mandate masks or not.

You're hearing some pushback from various corners in the country. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm concerned that we are creating a generation of isolated anti-social children.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's how you build herd immunity. When you're exposed to it. What we have is a very transmissible virus that is not very deadly to our children.


RAJU: What is your response to that level of criticism?

DR. RANNEY: I honestly think it's absolute baloney. As parents, our job is to protect our kids. Many of our children can get vaccinated and they should. But in the meantime, they should be wearing masks in schools.

Only about 30 percent of those 12- to 17-year-old age group are fully vaccinated and certainly those of us who have kids under age 12, none of them are vaccinated.

Moreover, now that we know that delta variant can spread to vaccinated people, it's important to keep our teachers safe, as well.

You want to know what is going to create a class of socially isolated children is having them out of school again. Put them back in school but put them back in school with mask mandates to keep them and their teachers safe.

RAJU: I want you, Dr. Ranney to listen -- to hear what an infectious disease expert at the University of Maryland had to say about this. Said "We really need toward a goal of preventing serious disease and disability and medical consequences and not worry about every virus detected in somebody's nose. It's hard to do but I think we have to become comfortable with coronavirus not going away."

Do you agree to that? Is the coronavirus not going away? Can we ever go back to a pre-pandemic reality?

DR. RANNEY: We are never going to go back to a pre-pandemic reality. And I do agree that we do have to become comfortable with the fact that this virus is going to be sticking around.


DR. RANNEY: Our goal is to decrease severe illness, hospitalization and death. But there are still some things that we don't really know. We don't know how much this novel variant -- the delta variant affects children. It is our responsibility to keep them safe until they can get vaccinated. And it's our responsibility to stop these surges while there are still so many who are unvaccinated.

Listen, there are 200 hospital workers in San Francisco who have gotten sick over the last couple of weeks because of exposure largely to unvaccinated people who caught delta who then got the vaccinated sick. That's not fair.

So yes, we have to learn to live with this but today is not the moment where we drop our precautions. When we get all of our kids vaccinated, when we know a little more about the long-term effects of the breakthroughs, then that's the point in which this becomes yet another virus that is part of our day-to-day life.

RAJU: Serious words -- never going back. Dr. Megan Ranney, thank you for your insight and for joining us this morning.

Up next for us -- is a Trump endorsement still the best path to a Republican primary win?


RAJU: Two special elections this week in Ohio could give us a glimpse at how both parties will battle for majorities in Congress, including a progressive versus moderate Democratic showdown. And outside Columbus a test of whether an endorsement from the former president can win in a crowded field.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mike Kerry endorsed by President Trump. A fighter. An outsider. And just like Trump, Mike will fight for Ohio and his country.



RAJU: Now that race gives Trump another shot at proving his endorsement is the golden ticket for Republican candidates.

You know, J Mart, the power of a Trump endorsement is on the line. MARTIN: Right.

RAJU: Last week we saw what happened in --

MARTIN: Texas.

RAJU: -- Texas.


RAJU: He backed someone who lost the race there.

MARTIN: Right.

RAJU: But what do we think, you know -- I want to show you -- read you what Trump said after his candidate who he endorsed in that Texas special election lost her race.

He said "This is the only race -- this is not a loss, again. I don't want to claim it as a loss. This was a win. The big thing is we had two very good people running that were both Republicans. That was the win."

That's what Trump told Axios. You know, this is a low-level turn out special election. But what do you think it said, if anything about Trump's power in the primaries.

MARTIN: He gets coaxed into these endorsements in races he does not have a lot of skin in the game by people who do have skin in the game in these districts. This has been a recurring theme for four years. And repeatedly it has blown up in his face.

Now, much more often it has worked out. And he has been able to engineer victories for the candidates as he endorsed pointing out his record is much more wins than losses.

But I think it's befuddling why he keeps getting involved in some of these special house elections --

RAJU: Yes.

MARTIN: -- where he has nothing to really prove and there's much more downside than there's upside. We know why because folks get in his ear and sort of appeal to his resentment or his vanity. And he does this.

But I think he's taking a risk in Ohio. It's one thing to lose a special in Texas. There's low turnout, middle of summer. If you lose two in a row, different story.

RAJU: And so much of this about Trump is defending him over his claim, his lie that he won the election. That's almost a litmus test in so many ways.

There were some newly-disclosed notes from then deputy attorney general detailing how Trump directly pressured the Justice Department to claim the 2020 election was fraudulent. Just a note that was turned over to Congress that came out on Friday.

"Just saying that the election was corrupt and leave the rest to me and the Republican congressmen".

Is there a point John Bresnahan, in whether Republicans will call out Trump over this? Or is the fact that he is so --

M1: No.


RAJU: Even if he continues to lose in these primaries. Even his endorsements -- it doesn't really matter.

BRESNAHAN: Well, he's still the king of the party. I mean, he got $102 million that he can use. He's raising money. He's out there doing political -- listen, the Texas special -- the guy that won, Jake Ellzey he actually lost to the congressman who died Ron Wright in a runoff. It was a close runoff.

And then he defeated his widow Susan Wright in a closed runoff. I mean look, I think -- I was reading "The Philadelphia Enquirer" today and they're talking about one of the leading candidates now in the Senate race is a woman who's talking about the election was stolen.

RAJU: Yes.

BRESNAHAN: I mean, you know, in Pennsylvania. I mean it's like this is Trump -- this is Trump's party.

RAJU: Yes.

BRESNAHAN: And you know --

RAJU: He may lose a couple of times but they still are kissing the ring.

Now, in the Democratic primary to fill the open congressional seat. That's become another (INAUDIBLE) showdown too between the more progressive and the more establishment wings of the party.

Just take a listen to what we heard on the campaign trail yesterday from leading members of the Democratic Party.


SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Why is corporate America so worried about this race. And the answer is they understand, you understand, I understand that (INAUDIBLE) is prepared to take on the powerful --

REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): What we need is a hand -- a support in Texas (ph) in Washington who will work with this president.


RAJU: Eva, do you think there are bigger implications for the party here or this is just an interparty squabble?

MCKEND: I think we have to be careful on how much we glean from it. I want to give a shoutout to my colleague at Spectrum (INAUDIBLE) who covers Ohio who has done some great reporting on this.

You know, it's easy to classify this race as the progressive outsider versus the more establishment candidate. But there are a lot of personal relationships at work. Both of these women have spent a long time in these communities and voters are going to vote for them for different reasons outside of sort of what we see at the national level as progressive versus traditional.

They are going to vote for them based on their records in those communities and the relationships that they have with the people on the ground.

RAJU: How do you, Laura, see this playing out in the Democratic fight between -- it was clearly a concern among the more establishment members not being pulled too far to the left. You saw what happened in the aftermath of last year's elections. Democratic leaders -- a lot of them were concerned about the defund the police movement hurting them in some key House races. What is your take?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Well, here you also see the Congressional Black Caucus in a split generationally.

There are the younger, more progressive members now who have all lined up behind Nina Turner.


BARRON-LOPEZ: And then there are the older ones like Clyburn and the chairwoman Joyce Beatty who are behind Brown.

And so I think that there's a lot of frustration from the older CBC members that they feel that progressives are challenging their members more and more, and you saw that play out last cycle, as well. And so they're trying to really come in here and show that they can protect who they want.

Not just their own. Not just their members that are incumbents but also who they want to see get elected.

RAJU: Yes.

BARRON-LOPEZ: So that's one of the big things that will --


RAJU: Yes. We'll see. In just a couple of days, we'll see. We'll glean, maybe we'll learn a lot from that, maybe we won't.

Tensions in the House of Representatives boil over after a new mask rule and the first January 6th hearing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) RAJU: Partisan pressures over the new mask mandate broke out on the House floor into a shouting match.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: They want to mandate. They want to impose. They want to tell you when you can go to school. When you can eat.


MCCARTHY: You know what they're if you walk into this building without a mask? They're going to charge you $500. Why? Because they've got the power to do it.

REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): We have a crisis at our border and we're playing footsie with mask mandates in the people's house. This institution is a sham. And we should adjourn and shut this place down.

REP. TIM RYAN (D-OH): Stop. Just stop with this craziness. We're trying to be safe. Trying to protect our family members, our kids, our parents, close relatives.


RAJU: Now amid all of this Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, goes after Kevin McCarthy, you know, about his criticism of this mask mandate. He said that the science wasn't there. She calls him a moron.

And then this morning Democrats are going after McCarthy for apparently making a comment last night at dinner suggesting that he would hit Nancy Pelosi with a gavel should she win -- they take it back from her after the mid terms.

You've been covering this place for a very long time. How is the relationship with Pelosi and McCarthy right now? It is absolutely poisonous.

BRESNAHAN: There is now relationship. She will do this thing where she says she can't remember his name. She'll be like Mr. -- you know, she'll pretend she doesn't remember his name when she doesn't want to talk about it.

He complains she never consults him on anything. Anything to do with -- like when they put metal detectors outside the House chamber, she didn't tell him. When proxy voting, she didn't tell him.

So he complains that she just doesn't treat him at all like a minority leader. She treats him with no respect. And then he's out there now talking about her husband's finances, he's talking about conking her on the head with a gavel if he gets it.

You know, I mean it's just -- I've seen some pretty toxic relationships between speakers and their minority leader but nothing like this. RAJU: Nothing like this. And a lot of this has to do with January 6th

and the aftermath of January 6th. Things are just really toxic right now.

Watch this exchange from earlier this week when Congressman Jamie Raskin went after Congressman Andrew Clyde after Clyde infamously referred to January 6th as a normal tourist visit.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-NY): I'm asking did you watch the testimony of the Capitol officers who defended our lives on January 6th or did you not? It's a yes or no question.

REP. ANDREW CLYDE (R-GA): It's irrelevant.

It's irrelevant. It's absolutely irrelevant to this amendment right here and I'd like to stick to --

RASKIN: Ok. Reclaiming my time, sir. Reclaiming my time.

CLYDE: Is that what you want to do, Mr. Chairman?

RASKIN: Excuse me, Mr. Clyde. I have the floor, not you.


RAJU: And of course, this is after that testimony that we heard police officers talk about how they defended the Capitol and Raskin going after Clyde there.

But I mean, how toxic is it right now in the House? And what's it really going to take to get back to normal, if it's possible?

MARTIN: In a lot of ways January 6th hasn't ended in the house, at least between members of the two parties. There is a deep mistrust, especially Democrats towards their Republican allies -- or toward their Republican adversaries, I should say.

They don't even feel like adversaries anymore. They feel more like the sort of enemy encampment. Those are the words I hear from Democrats all the time.

Bres has been there for a lot longer than anybody else but I mean it is a very, very unhealthy situation. It is at the point now where, you know, I think a lot of us expect one day there is going to be some kind of a scuffle.

RAJU: Yes. It's been really close to breaking out a number of times.

MARTIN: A number of times.

RAJU: You know, and a lot of this is obviously the fight for the majority come next year. You know, the Republican strategy going after Pelosi, blaming her. They've done this time and again each election cycle. Do you think, Eva, that this cycle will be different? Oftentimes it falls short when Republicans do that. But now they're in striking distance of taking the majority next year.

MCKEND: That's right. You know, House Republicans really have made Speaker Pelosi out to be the bogeywoman. So that is -- they have focused on her intensely.

Republicans held a news conference before the first hearing that the Select Committee held and they all but blamed her for the January 6th attack.

I will say though, unpopular opinion. I do not think that rank and file members, Democrats and Republicans, are going after each other all of the time. That a lot of this bitterness is displayed among leadership but they are not at a 10 all the time.

I am on Capitol Hill. I see Democrats and Republicans speaking to each other. These moments are snapshots. They are not what happens every minute on the Hill.

RAJU: And there is a lot of hard (ph) bravado for rank and file members to work together right now, too.

But you know, a lot of times with Democrats you've seen the strategy also play out to take the majority. The Democrats kind of paint the most extreme members of the Republican conference as mainstream like Marjorie Taylor Greene, or that the Republicans are doing the same with the squad. Trying to say all Democrats are like the squad.

How do you think that plays out come next year, the fight for the majority? Is that going to be an effective strategy on either side?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I think it's going to animate both. Democrats as you said are going to try to use the Marjorie Tailor Greenes of the world. But also, I mean getting back what you just mentioned, I mean I don't think there is a getting back to normal on Capitol Hill.


BARRON-LOPEZ: I mean you see the way -- I don't know if it's majority or so -- but a good chunk of the Republican conference is not vaccinated or wouldn't say whether or not they were vaccinated. And delta is raging and so I think that that is going to be a big factor going into 2022 and Democrats are going to paint Republicans as anti- science.

RAJU: Yes. And we're going to see a lot more of that in the months ahead.

And thank you all for joining us. And thank you as well.

That's it for "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY". Join us back here every Sunday at 8:00 a.m. Eastern and the weekdays show as well at noon Eastern.

Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Jake's guests today include Senators Joe Manchin and Susan Collins, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and the director of the National Institutes of Health Dr. Francis Collins.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Have a good day.