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Inside Politics

Progressives Score Evictions Victory, Lose Ohio Primary; Gov. Cuomo Under Intense Pressure To Resign; Atlanta Schools Requiring Masks As Classes Resume. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 05, 2021 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Panel is back with us now to discuss. Molly Ball, this is one week, two big episodes in one week, we should be careful not to count any one is decisive. But this is going to be the constant tug of war of the Biden presidency, isn't it? Because there is an ideological generational movement in the Democratic Party, but many of the moderates say it just gets too much attention.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, it is I do want to point out that the whole House was on the side of the progressives in this. The House, working very hard to pass the buck from themselves and say, no, this isn't our fault that this isn't being continued. We want the White House to do it. So the progressives were backed by essentially the entire House Democratic caucus in this. They have not been successful in intra caucus fights when they want something that Nancy Pelosi doesn't want.

And they have not as been -- not been successful in elections. The squad has grown in numbers, in small part, but they still -- the extreme left is still not a huge amount of people in the Democratic caucus. So can they be strategic and use their leverage, use their clout in that, you know, razor thin House Democratic majority to accomplish more things, we'll see.

KING: Well, to we'll see part, you write about this in "The Post." To Molly's point, is this proof that with a mix of activism, the outside game sit-ins, you're out on though -- you're protesting on the Capitol steps, but also some inside game working the House Speaker, who then is pushing the White House, is it the mix, you know, people viewed Nina Turner, the candidate in Ohio as a firebrand, someone who's going to kick the system all the time, are there progressives like Cori Bush learning, you can kick but if you don't kick too hard, you can also maybe work inside?

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: That's exactly it now that they're looking at the takeaways of this win. It's not necessarily bucking Pelosi. Pelosi was calling Biden multiple times through the weekend to Tuesday. So they need her if they want these kind of, you know, the public pressure campaign behind the scenes, they still need help. So when it comes to infrastructure, sure, they do have that really small margin where if they want to try and append the reconciliation bill, they can do that. But they're not looking at that as a very strategic thing they can do instead, the takeaway from what Cori Bush did was, how can we actually pressure the Biden administration, we were able to do that. We were able to say, hey, you can actually act unilaterally. So that is more of what they're looking at. And the next fight for them is that student loan moratorium and how can they be proactive on that.

KING: To that point, we put up some tweets from some of the progressive members, Ayanna Pressley. Today is an excellent day for President Biden to cancel student debt. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, we can't let preventable crisis like this happen again. You see the same thing. The question, John, there's -- this is, again, it's complicated. There's been a lot of outreach by the Biden White House. There been a lot of things the Biden White House has done to try to keep these people happy. And there's been a lot of disappointments on issues where the President flatly like on student debt says no, I disagree.

JOHN HARWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And the question is, is he going to hold that line, I would expect that he would. Important to remember, Joe Biden beat progressives to win the Democratic nomination to become president. But this was a stunning and effective application of pressure on him. I talked to a White House official on Friday, said no gray area at all. We can't do anything on this. The Supreme Court was very clear. They thought about it over the weekend. Gene Sperling came out on Monday said, we've looked at it, we've kicked the tires, can't do anything, quick reversal. And that was a reflection of the fact that Joe Biden needs to keep his party together. A United Democratic Party is mandatory to get this infrastructure plan passed.

KING: Right. Going to be mandatory in the next couple of weeks, the whole Biden agenda and the progressive agenda, whether its climate issues, voting rights issues, are they in the spending bill or not? This all comes down in the next couple of weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right. You're exactly right. And progressives are feeling emboldened right now. They want to put their stamp on these bills that are coming up and so we'll just have to see.

KING: We will have to see.


Up next for us, he is defiant. The New York Governor Andrew Cuomo facing growing calls to resign as four separate prosecutors now across the state launch criminal probes.


KING: Today, a test of resolve for Democrats in New York. Right now, Andrew Cuomo still the governor that 48 hours after a damning report detailed sexually harassing conduct with 11 different women. Cuomo is now virtually without allies in the math and the state assembly says, votes for an impeachment are there. So now the timing is crucial if the governor remains defiant, how quickly will the assembly look to remove him? CNN's Erica Hill is in New York with the latest on that. Erica, what is the pace, the timetable?

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR & NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The short answer on that is it's a pretty quick pace. So here's the latest in terms of what we know. We know that attorneys from that Judiciary Committee which has been investigating dealing with this impeachment inquiry rather send a letter to Governor Cuomo's attorneys inviting them to submit additional evidence or any written statements that they want and giving them until next Friday a deadline of August 13th to submit those additional materials.

We're told that it's unlikely articles of impeachment would be filed prior to that deadline. But we also know, as you just pointed out, a majority of the assembly members have said to CNN that they would in fact vote to impeach. If that happens, of course, then this moves on to the Senate, trial on the Senate, during which time the governor would need to step aside. The Lieutenant Governor would step in, and then we would see what would happen in the Senate.

But we also know that there have been a fair amount of senators speaking up about how they feel about how things are happening would need a two-thirds majority there to convict and then remove him from office. And of course it's not just the Senate here in New York state but also the seven members on the Court of Appeals.

KING: Right. So it's pretty demanding days for the governor. We shall see what the next move is, Erica Hill grateful for the important update there.


And among the important voices urging the assembly to act swiftly if the governor refuses to resign is the man all but certain to be the next mayor of New York City. Eric Adams is right now the Democratic mayoral nominee and currently the Brooklyn borough president. Mr. Adams, thank you for your time today. You say if the Governor won't go the legislature should act swiftly. As someone who is in a leadership position now and probably likely soon to be in an even bigger leadership position, will you pick up the phone? Will you try to convince him, governor, for the good of the state, the good of yourself, the good of your legacy, go?

ERIC ADAMS (D-NY), MAYORAL CANDIDATE: No, this is a process. And, you know, I just want to state that, you know, you don't win baseball games in the eighth inning as the ninth inning, the election is November 2nd to determine who is the next mayor. But my role right now is to speak directly and allow the assembly to do his job and then move over to the Senate a place that I served as a state senator, and the governor must make the determination if he's going to resign. I hope he will. But he has to make that firm final determination.

KING: In a different context, you tweeted this morning. It was a city council woman I believe was talking about when women are safe, a community is safe. You were retweeted an article in the context of crime and what you would do if mayor to help with crime. But should the women of New York feel safe right now with Andrew Cuomo as our governor given what even you conceded was a pretty damning report? ADAMS: Yes, they should. This city and state, we have many layers of protection. And really we show that the system works actually. You had an attorney general that happens to be a woman did a thorough investigation. She did her job. And now the documents will be turned over to the assembly. And so, yes, we should be safe because we have a process that's successful. That's what's great about New York State. That's what's great about America and New York City, that we do have a process where you can come out, when you feel you're violated. And it will be investigated in a thorough manner that the Attorney General actually put in place.

KING: Do you believe I'm going to get to some of the challenges you would face if you are the mayor of America's most popular city, do you believe Governor Cuomo can be effective on those challenges in the meantime, if that process takes a couple of months, the COVID crisis right now, the crime issue, I could go on and on about issues in the state of New York, can he be effective? Or should he step aside during the process?

ADAMS: I hope you will have. But, again, New York State in New York City, we have many layers of insuring that our government continue to operate. We have an amazing lieutenant governor who's extremely competent. We have two bodies of the State Senate and the Assembly. So we have the entities in place that make sure our city and state can operate. We're dealing with some real challenges around crime, around COVID, around recovering our economy. And trust me, this city and state is going to kick in gear and carry out what is needed for the New York City people.

KING: Let's move on to COVID because if you become mayor, you're essentially walking in, you know, to a major crisis in your city and in the country. We can put up on the screen just a map. The CDC right now has all of the boroughs of New York City, red, high transmission across the boroughs. And you look on the right side of the screen there, 60 percent of the city is partially vaccinated, 55 percent fully vaccinated. How do you get more New Yorkers especially in communities of color to roll up their sleeves, Mr. Adams?

ADAMS: Well said. And it's about being on the ground, something I did during COVID-19 first outbreak, I was in Rockaway today, where you have less than 40 percent vaccination rate. It's about hitting those communities in the crevices, credible messages, reinstitute I believe the census team, so allow them to go into those communities that often are ignored. And it's so important for us to get on the ground various incentives, the $100 program that the city is going to put in place for small businesses and those who do referrals.

And just thinking differently about ensuring that those who can attend restaurants, outdoor concerts, and other activities unless they're vaccinated, all these things are going to be needed to get a higher number of New Yorkers vaccinated. We're looking for 100 percent.

KING: When you look for 100 percent, that -- as you just mentioned, you don't need to prove to be vaccinated to go indoors to a restaurant or indoors to a gym or indoors to an entertainment venue. That's a policy put in place by the current mayor, Mr. De Blasio. A, is he in consultation with you as he does these things or is it too early for that? And B, are you 100 percent on board or if Eric Adams becomes mayor, are there things you would change right away?

ADAMS: I speak with the mayor from time to time. He's making the decisions right now. He is the Mayor of the City of New York. But we do communicate. And yes, I believe it's imperative that we have these one incentives for people to get vaccinated. Two to put in place, those things that we encourage people to say you're going to miss out what's great about the city if you're not following the basic rule of being vaccinated. Vaccines will ensure that even if you are impacted by COVID, you're not going to have the level of severity that we see without a vaccine. So I'm going to continue to encourage people to do so. And I think the mayor is in the right direction currently.


KING: I hope we can have many conversations over the next several months because you're essentially in the middle of so many tests in American politics, COVID, kids going back to school, the crime fight, I want to talk to you as we close this conversation just about your role in the Democratic Party. You said after your win, you had this giant field of candidates. You were not a favorite in the race early on. You said you did something like a Biden coalition. And you said there was a message in that that the Democratic Party should get as it heads into the midterm election year, and then into the next presidential election year.

Every day, you see this around the country, and you're going to live in as mayor, many of the progressive so you met people more progressive than you, you may have beaten in the primary, they're going to be on the city council. They're going to be kicking the tires every day. Walk us through how you see the -- what is the message of this moment?

ADAMS: A big tent and kitchen table issues. Sometimes we move away from that. We are extremely philosophical and intellectual and theoretical. But that is not every day New York is in Americans. They want to ensure their streets are safe, their children are educated, and they can live in affordable housing and gainfully employed in a process. And we could do that by growing our economy right here in the city, getting COVID under control, and talking to everyday New Yorkers, this is a working class city and a working class country. And I believe sometimes we get away from that we don't communicate directly to everyday people.

And that's who I was. There was nothing special about me or fancy. I was a person that was a former dishwasher, went to school at night became a blue collar worker, moved up through the system. And when you speak to the average New Yorker, it resonated with them they knew I cared about the outcome of our city.

KING: I'm a former dishwasher myself. I knew we had something in common. We root for different base -- we root for different baseball teams, a lifelong Mets fan and Mr. Adams a lifelong Red Sox fans here. Sir, I hope we can continue the conversation as I said in the weeks and months ahead. Thank you. ADAMS: Yes. Thank you.

KING: Up next, Atlanta public schools reopen this morning. We'll take you there live as students and teachers head back to the classroom masked.



KING: We're seeing across the country now different efforts in many states to combat the Delta variant as the case COVID cases surge just about everywhere. In Arkansas right now, the legislature in a special session to talk about masks. The data on kids in that state is beyond alarming between April and July cases involving children under the age of 18 spiked 517 percent there in Arkansas. In Georgia, students are returning to class today in Atlanta with new mandates in place. Students and teachers must wear masks in school and on buses. CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Atlanta with details on that. Nick?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: School District here in Georgia, John, start earlier than many parts of the country and for Atlanta public schools. Today is the big day for an estimated 50,000 students in this school district. Many of whom haven't been back in the classroom since before the pandemic. There is a notable amount of anxiety and apprehension among the parents according to the superintendent here, if only because there's growing concern of the Delta variant which is why students and staff will be mandated to wear masks in indoor settings here, especially one of the schools here behind me were focusing on Atlanta public schools, but there's been a varying approach to what it means to reopen safely.

And while there will be surveillance testing here every week and also a push for vaccinations, other school districts in the more rural parts of the state have not required mask mandates. Some parents like that. They think that that requires or that's a requirement of mask is unnecessary. And they want their children the freedom to express themselves even if that comes at the risk of getting themselves or someone else sick. Here though they won't have that option, they will be required to a wear masks. And they think that is the good thing here as this is considered by the CDC a high transmission area. John?

KING: Nick Valencia thanks for that important live report. And we'll stay with this over the next several weeks as kids go back to school and we go through this experiment, yet again.


Ahead for us, why the State Department is searching for a missing bottle of whiskey.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, four of the Republican candidates hoping to replace the California Governor Gavin Newsom, attacking him on the debate stage. The Democratic governor who faces the September recall election was not there to defend himself last night. The Republicans largely avoided taking shots at each other instead, they railed against Governor Newsom for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic arguing in favor of a more hands off approach to leadership during the deadly crisis.

President Biden today will sign an executive order aimed at making sure half of all cars sold in the United States will be electric that by 2030. The automakers Ford and G.M. will be at the White House for this event. The White House pitching it is both an economic boost and a climate imperative.

The Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney hailing the former Vice President Mike Pence as a hero for his actions back on January 6th. Congresswoman Cheney crediting Pence with serving as a crucial bulwark between democracy and chaos.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Vice President Pence is a hero for what he did that day. There's no question no matter what you think about policy. If he had succumbed to the pressure he was under it would have been a very different outcome. And he did not.


KING: And a major international who done it playing out here in Washington. The State Department investigated the case of the missing whiskey, in this case, a bottle, $5,800 bottle. Give me that again $5,800 bottle of whiskey that was given to the former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by the government of Japan. American officials are legally allowed to keep gifts if they are worth $390 or less. Pompeo's lawyer telling "The Wall Street Journal," he doesn't remember receiving the gift, he doesn't know what happened to it.


Thanks for joining us in Inside Politics today. See you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up right now.