Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

U.S. Averaging 100,000-Plus Cases A Day For First Time Since February; Senators Hear New Details About Efforts To Undermine Election; Senate On Verge Of Passing Bipartisan Infrastructure Plan; House Democrats Divided Over Way Forward On Infrastructure; Is Economy Strong Enough To Withstand Delta?; Governor Cuomo Faces Criminal Probes After A.G. Report; California Gov. Newsom Facing Recall Election. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired August 08, 2021 - 08:00   ET





MANU RAJU, CNN HOST (voice-over): One hundred thousand cases a day and counting. The delta variant is preying on the unvaccinated and hospitals are overwhelmed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At the moment, I sit in my car and cried.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a tragedy. People are dying and will die who don't have to die.

RAJU: But some Republican governors say no way to new COVID rules.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: We can either have a free society or we can have a biomedical security state.

RAJU: The president on the cusp of a huge bipartisan win.

BIDEN: It's a bill that would end years of gridlock in Washington and propel us into the future.

RAJU: And from pandemic star to political pariah. Andrew Cuomo's career on the verge of collapse.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: I never touched anyone inappropriately. That is just not who I am.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: The governor must resign. He can no longer do the job.

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


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

Two big numbers for you to know about in the fight against COVID-19 -- 108,753. That's the new number of cases a day right now, the highest in six months. And 50.1, half the country is now fully vaccinated, a major milestone, but also means that half the country still is not.


BIDEN: Today about 400 people will die because of the delta variant in this country, a tragedy, because virtually all of these deaths are preventable if people had gotten vaccinated.

Get vaccinated, please. It's safe. It works. We'll save lives and maybe save your life.


RAJU: Polls show that most unvaccinated adults say they won't ever get the shot. Messages like Biden's are just not breaking through.

But perhaps this one will from a 43-year-old father in the ICU.


TRAVIS CAMPBELL, COVID PATIENT: At any second, it could be my time. And it's over. And I can't go back and change it. If I could, I'd go get the vaccination and take my family with me.

If you're on the fence, I want you to take a very sharp evaluation of what your life means to you and go get vaccinated, please. Please.


RAJU: And joining me now with their reporting and their insight, Tamara Keith of NPR, Astead Herndon of "The New York Times", CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, and "Time's" Molly Ball.

And, Dr. Reiner, first, I want to ask about the two different numbers we saw, rise in cases 50 percent of the country now fully vaccinated. To you, which is the more significant metric? Are we ever going to reach a point of herd immunity in this country?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I'd rather talk about community immunity because I think we are such a divided country that parts of the United States are going to have effectively community immunity, like already in Vermont probably, that's what you have. So many people, almost 90 percent of adults have been vaccinated in Vermont that you really do have a level of immunity.

But in places in the south, in places where only a third of adults have been vaccinated, we won't reach that for a long time. But the level of deaths that we're seeing now is really just the tip of the iceberg, so about 500 Americans died yesterday. But death is a lagging indicator. So typically it lags infections by two to three weeks.

Two to three weeks ago, there were 33,000 cases per day, so that generated 500 deaths. So, right now, we're three times that level, so I expect by the end of this month we'll be tipping 1,500 deaths per day. Almost every one of those folks unvaccinated.

RAJU: And we're seeing these vaccination mandates come in such as New York City. The federal government and some states talking about doing the same. New York City, if you go to a restaurant, Broadway show, see a movie, you have to show that there is a vaccine mandate.

Dr. Fauci said that once there is full FDA approval, we could see much more of this all across the country.

To you, how much is that going to change things, Dr. Reiner, and should the government go further than it has -- federal government go further than it has so far?

REINER: I think mandates -- I think mandates will move the needle significantly. I think the federal government hasn't done nearly enough.

First of all, we need to see the military vaccinated right now. It's a force protection measure. If you remember back in March of 2020, 1,200 sailors on the Theodore Roosevelt were infected and one sailor died.


I want to see all federal workers mandated vaccines, not vaccines or testing. Testing just tells you if you're infected. Vaccines prevent you from getting infected.

I think the federal government can force hospitals around the country to vaccinate all their employees by threatening to withhold a portion of the Medicare funds. Hospitals run on Medicare funds. If you tell hospitals that if you're not -- if you don't mandate vaccines by October 1st, we'll withhold 10 percent of your Medicare payments. You get all the hospitals will get vaccinated.

Same thing for long term care facilities. Every airline should do this. We saw United Airlines announce all their employees will be required to be vaccinated. But Dallas-based American Airlines will not do that.

RAJU: Yeah. And you are also seeing President Biden get much more confrontational with the governors, calling out governors as he did earlier this week.


BIDEN: I say to these governors, please help. If you aren't going to help, at least get out of the way for people who are trying to do the right thing.

DESANTIS: If you're trying to restrict people, impose mandates, trying to ruin their jobs and their livelihoods and their small business, if you are trying to lock people down, I am standing in your way and I'm standing for the people of Florida.


RAJU: And, of course, that last comment there from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. So, is the risk here, is it a risk here for the president in picking fights with these governors?

TAMARA KEITH, NPR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, the last president picked a lot of fights with a lot of governors from the other party as part of his response to the coronavirus pandemic. It was wildly unproductive. In this case, President Biden has for a long time tried not to pick these fights, and at this point, the White House is frustrated and they are letting that hang out.

And certainly, it's good for Governor DeSantis to draw attention to himself, to get that oxygen from these fights, but the White House doesn't have a lot of options other than sort of making this noise to try to get the American people to make individual choices in states where local governments and businesses are being prevented from making choices for their customers or their constituents.

RAJU: And you've seen a dip, too, in the president's handling of COVID. Of course, that was central to his campaign. But recent polls show him in here dropping 12 points in three months as we see now 53 percent approval compared to 65 percent in May.

Molly, should Democrats, the White House be worried how the public is viewing this, what was once an advantage turning into a liability here?

MOLLY BALL, TIME MAGAZINE NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think there is a feeling the administration doesn't have a plan for what is going on right now. That was the central promise of Joe Biden's campaign. We didn't know the presidential election was happening a year ago a vaccine would be ready at this point. But the idea was that Trump had sort of been all over the map and not paying attention and disorganized, but this administration was going to have a plan.

And now we see, as Dr. Reiner was talking about, an administration that doesn't seem to know -- the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. The president is up there begging people, pleading, and waging rhetorical fight with governors. But where is the coordinated response?

I think that's what you see people responding to when you see the numbers going down, is this feeling like not only did we have this surge of optimism that now appears unwarranted, but just wanting to know that somebody has their hand on the steering wheel and has some vision for how to get us out of this.

RAJU: And we showed that clip from Governor DeSantis. But, you know, he's threatening school systems not to require masks. He's refusing to carry out other mitigation measures.

And look at the headlines in Florida just from the past week here. A lot of concerns about Florida being an epicenter of what's happening here. What is DeSantis' calculation in digging in, political calculation and just why is he taking this stance?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We know this is a governor with a two-prong fight. He has a reelection fight statewide he's focused on, but also has those views towards 2024, and possibly the presidential election. This is a Republican Party.

There's obviously still looking for its identity in the post-Trump era. He's someone who's tried to define that specifically on this issue of the coronavirus response and specifically how Republicans can push back against President Biden. This is an administration that is being pulled between public health advice about increasing kind of compulsory measures versus not wanting to seem overly harsh to those folks who haven't gotten vaccinated.

That's a tension that's going to stay there and created an opening for folks like DeSantis to really push on that front. What we don't know is if that's going to payoff for him in that first reelection fight going forward, because, obviously, President Trump tried to do this and experienced backlash for people who want their elected to officials to take the virus seriously.

But this is someone who's making a national play towards a Republican base audience that is really just say anything to oppose President Biden.


RAJU: A lot of -- go ahead.

REINER: Let me just say this. Things in Florida aren't just bad. They are epically bad.

You know, the case rate per capita in Florida over 90 per 100,000 is among the worse in the world. Louisiana is worse, and Botswana is worse. That's it.

If Florida were another country, the U.S. would consider banning travel from Florida. It is extraordinarily bad, and the governor's statement that we can either have a free state or, you know, a bio medically locked down state is a false dichotomy. You can do both.

He's doing nothing. He's doing nothing to stem this pandemic in Florida, and it's going to get much worse there.

RAJU: What do you think -- we're heading into a school year, Doctor. Are you concerned about this going back to virtual learning in some places, kids having to learn from home? How concerned are you about the school year at this point in Florida and elsewhere?

REINER: Well, it depends where you live. Where I live in Maryland, case rates are still fairly low, and I think in that environment you can, you can have in-person learning with masks and, and frequent testing and get it done in-person. I don't see how that can happen in Florida when masks -- when mask mandates are basically banned and nothing is being done. And my biggest fear in the fall isn't that kids are going to get

infected very quickly. We're starting to see that in states that have had early opening of schools, hundreds of kids are getting infected. They're going to bring it home to families that are largely unvaccinated.

RAJU: Yeah, scary stuff. Clearly the pandemic not over. More to talk about in the days ahead.

Up next, though, for us, new details reveal how involved President Trump was in the attempt to change the 2020 election results.



RAJU: Dramatic new evidence raises questions about how far then President Trump was willing to go to overturn his election loss. During interviews over the past two days, former Acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen and his top deputy told a Senate committee that a Trump appointee named Jeffrey Clark went outside the DOJ chain of command multiple times to push Trump's election fraud lies. This new evidence comes the same way President Biden honored police officers who protected the Capitol the day of the insurrection.


BIDEN: It was a violent attempt to overturn the will of the American people, to seek power at all cost, to replace the balance ballot with brute force, to destroy, not to build. Without democracy nothing is possible. With it everything is.


RAJU: Paul Kane of "The Washington Post" joins our conversation now.

Tamara, I want to start with you. What we don't know from these investigations is Jeffrey Clark, the top Trump official in the Justice Department, was he acting on his own or was he doing it at the directive of the then president who tried to overturn the election, subvert the will of the voters? What do -- have we learned from the investigations that shows the mind-set within the Trump Justice Department at that precarious time?

KEITH: There are a lot of notes that have been released where there are Justice Department officials very nervous about the conversations that are being had. Obviously we know that the attorney general left, you know, Bill Barr left, and --

RAJU: As he called into question --


RAJU: -- whether or not there was fraud in the election.

KEITH: Yes. He walked out the door saying, I didn't see any fraud, and I'm out of here.

And every time we get a new piece of information, it confirms what was clear from the former president's public statements, which is that he was doing everything he possibly could to try to change the outcome of a free and fair election.

RAJU: And, Molly, a really interesting juxtaposition with Biden when he honored police officers who fought to defend the capitol as we are learning about these details from the former president.

You wrote about this in "Time Magazine" about the police officers, Michael Fanone, D.C. Metropolitan Police officer, who defended the capitol, was brutally injured that day.

But this quote caught my attention, this excerpt from your piece. He said, Michael Fanone said: I had convinced myself vocalizing the opinions of thousands and thousands of police officers, but I'm starting to think I'm vocalizing the beliefs of just one while there are still some officers that are very supportive of me, I can count them on one hand. The vast majority of police officers, would they have been there, been on the other side of those battle lines on January 6.

What did you think of that?

BALL: Well, you know, this piece -- and thank you for featuring it -- was really about what has happened since January 6, not what happened on that day. And about our failure as a country to come together and just agree on what happened and take it seriously.

And that's been incredibly painful for people like Officer Fanone who heroically defended the Capitol and prevented things from being much, much worse on that day and have now seen what happened that day be picked apart and politicized. And by everyone, you know, from former President Trump on down, there's no large portion of people in this country who refuse to believe what we all saw happen that day.

And a lot more, I think, who just don't want to deal with it, just want to, you know, move on. And so, you know, for police officers in this country whose profession has been so politicized and who have been under so much pressure, it's a very difficult situation.


RAJU: And you're still seeing -- despite all of this, you're still seeing Trump's hold on the Republican Party really has not gone in a lot of ways, particularly when it comes to Senate Republican primaries and the House Republicans. We saw this week the president try to exert his influence over the Georgia Senate race, a key race.

He's trying to push the former NFL running back Herschel Walker to run in the race. Mitch McConnell is concerned about this, concerned about Walker's past and Walker getting pushback, too, from one of his opponents, would-be opponents, given that Walker lives in Texas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HERSCHEL WALKER, FORMER NFL PLAYER: He's ready. I'm getting ready. And we can run with the big dogs.

GARY BLACK, GOP SENATE CANDIDATE: I'm ready. I've been ready. Herschel already runs with the big dogs. For fun, my ride's a tractor. And I've had Georgia plates all my life.


RAJU: So, Paul, is Trump a positive or negative force for the Republican Party come 2022?

PAUL KANE, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: I think he is -- in terms of the primaries, he is still going to be a positive force. I'm not sure he can take Herschel Walker who, while a star at Georgia when in college and won the Heisman trophy there, they won a national championship, I'm not sure he can take him and put him over the top in a primary. But in a lot of other primaries he's going to continue to be a force.

When you get to the general election, I -- you know, he has not been a positive force in the last two general elections if you look at the numbers. House Democrats have won a majority of the votes the last two. They hold a majority of the seats. The Senate is in Democratic hands.

So I think that dynamic continues to play out and, you know, he won't be on the ballot, so his most fervent voters are not going to be turning out. But also if he is a vocal force, he could really repel a lot of suburban voters again.

RAJU: Yeah, look, despite everything that we have learned about Trump's role in the run-up to January 6, everything since, some surprising poll numbers came out this past week. The Quinnipiac poll said, do you think he will run for president in 2024? Has 49 percent believe Trump will run. Just 33 percent believe Joe Biden will run for reelection.

What do you think about that, Astead?

HERNDON: I think that's interesting. We are used to Trump kind of publicly proclaiming his desire to be back in the White House. I mean, we've even heard that floating about speaker of the House. He is someone who wants to be in the mix.

I don't know about that 33 percent number. We know this is an administration that said repeatedly it sees itself in there for the long term. We know this is a Democratic administration that doesn't plan to go anywhere too fast here. But this is Trump still has the hold not only the Republican Party, but on kind of the scene at large. Not only in midterms and in primary races, but also just in the conversation about what we're defining.

Coming out of January 6, he helped arrest that narrative away from being specifically the attempts we saw to overturn the election to being, you know, against Black Lives Matter folks could have been there, all the other different conspiratorial lies we heard about the events on the 6th. That was partly to appease President Trump. And so, he is still someone who has control over the narrative and over the actual mechanisms of the Republican Party. We cannot doubt his influence is large.

But, you know, I fear the Biden folks, you're laughing at that thinking they're going to be here for a while.

RAJU: Yeah. And, look, obviously, they have a big agenda which, well, perfect segue to our next segment.

Two hundred days into office, President Biden is closer than ever to delivering a key campaign promise.



RAJU: On President Biden's 200 days in office, he's on the verge of a major bipartisan win.


MCCONNELL: Republicans and Democrats have radically different visions these days, but both those visions include physical infrastructure that works for all of our citizens.


RAJU: Now, the trillion dollar infrastructure bill is expected to be approved by the Senate by Tuesday morning.

Paul, this is obviously a big milestone. It's going to pass the Senate.

KANE: Yeah.

RAJU: Bill Hagerty, the Tennessee Republican, is holding up the final vote because of his concerns over the deficit. He doesn't want this to happen quickly. But it's going to pass. And then it gets to the House and things get much more complicated over there.

Just look at the back and forth that came out last night. A letter was sent to me by some House Democratic moderates raising concerns about the strategy from Nancy Pelosi, saying, this once-in-a-century investment deserves its own consideration without regard to other legislation. After years of waiting, the country cannot afford unnecessary delays to finally deliver on a physical infrastructure package.

Now, liberals fired back. Ilhan Omar said, the reconciliation bill needs to be tied to the infrastructure bill. If moderates are serious about passing the bill, if they want to take the Democratic agenda, that's on -- tank the Democratic agenda, that's on them.

And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted: And just because something is bipartisan doesn't mean it looks good. Look at Wall Street bailouts.

And this all has to do with strategy, right, because Nancy Pelosi has made clear she will not move on the bipartisan bill until the Senate passes the larger $3.5 trillion Democrat-only reconciliation bill.

How is Pelosi going to get this done?

KANE: It's very tricky. We have spent the last seven months covering Manchin, I guess, in the Senate. What is Joe Manchin going to do? It's a 50-50 Senate. He's one vote. He can -- he can make something pass or fail.

Well, you know what? Over in the House, Nancy Pelosi basically statistically deals with a similar margin. There are 220 Democrats, 212 Republicans. Any four Democrats, any one Democrat just needs three friends, and that means she doesn't have enough votes to pass it. That's even a smaller percentage than one senator.

So, you now are going to watch as the moderates -- and that letter that you got last night that you scooped on, there are going to be members of the Blue Dog coalition who say, take the easy victory now. Let's take the easy victory on the bipartisan infrastructure.

You're going to have the squad, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Cori Bush, and others, they're going to form their own little faction and all you need is four.


RAJU: Yes.

KANE: And when you can have -- when you have four or more you can try to leverage yourself the way Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have been trying to leverage their moderate centrism.

RAJU: Yes. And the question is will they vote no? That's one of the big questions still. And also the question is Joe Biden. Will he get involved to twist arms in the House to get this through?

He didn't really in the Senate. Yes, some people are more (ph) of negotiating this bill but he didn't really have and didn't need to. Do you think he will in the House?

KEITH: Remember, he did have conversations, many conversations with Joe Manchin and Senator Sinema. In the House I'm sure he has some someway with moderates. I'm not sure how much sway he would have with the progressives really.

But in the end there likely will be a calculation at some point that something is better than nothing. And so at some point Democrats will make that calculation. It just depends on which one does make that calculation and when.


KEITH: And in the meantime, it is this very careful balancing act. It is just -- any little movement in one direction and you could lose more people and you're in trouble.

RAJU: It's a real challenge. And the former president, Donald Trump, he did come out strongly against this bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Republicans in the senate, there were 18 of them who voted to move forward. Mitch McConnell one of them, ignoring those calls from the president. Listen to how Senator Rob Portman, the Ohio Republican central to the negotiation, talked about Donald Trump when I asked him about Trump's position last week.


SENATOR ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): I have encouraged President Trump to take credit for this. President Trump's effort to raise the level of awareness about the need for infrastructure improvement should help us get this done. You know, he proposed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill.


RAJU: Well obviously, Trump is not taking credit for this. He's trying to tank this. But what does it say about Trump's influence on Capitol Hill that they essentially ignored him, a lot of them, at least half -- almost half the Republican conference?

BALL: It's really remarkable like the degree to which they ignored him. It is as if he never said any -- and he has been putting out statement after statement over the past couple of weeks, going very hard against this infrastructure deal.

And, you know, if you go to the United States Senate and ask Republicans about it, it's like what statements? No. They're just completely oblivious to it.

RAJU: Just like, where's that tweet. I didn't see that tweet.

BALL: Yes. And so it's a real -- you know, once you're not in office anymore, your sort of policy statements and also I think as Senator Portman was saying, the sort of hypocrisy of a president who is very strongly in favor of infrastructure because he knows how popular it is with the American people. He knows that, you know, the reason for this bipartisan bill --

RAJU: That's why he pushed it.

BALL: -- is because Democrats and Republicans on a voter level really support the idea of infrastructure spending.

And so for the former president it looks very nakedly like he knows this is popular. He wanted to do it because it was popular. If the current president does it and it's popular, that redounds to Jo Biden's benefit and therefore he doesn't want him to have that win.

But the senators also know that it's popular and they want to do popular things.

RAJU: Exactly and they want to campaign on it as well.

And you know, Republican squabbling, let's talk about Democratic internal squabbling as well.

We saw progressives last week in Ohio set back in a special election. They had Bernie Sanders-backed candidate, Nina Turner, losing to a Congressional Black Caucus backed candidate in the Cleveland area House district.

Listen to how a top House Democrat Hakeem Jeffries, had a warning for the left in speaking to "The New York Times". He said, "The extreme left is obsessed with talking trash about mainstream Democrats on Twitter when the majority of the electorate constitute mainstream Democrats at the polls. In the post-Trump era, the anti-establishment line of attack is lame."

Now this is someone who could potentially the next speaker of the house or potentially be a successor to Nancy Pelosi. What did you think about it.

HERNDON: Yes, this is a long-standing war of words between Hakeem Jeffries and the Justice Democrat kind of coalition. And I think that This, though, speaks to the squeeze that the left is in right now.

You have that group of the party trying to say we're not a rubber stamp for Joe Biden to say anything. We represent the more energized section of the base, the more activist wing of the base.

But they also are under real pressure to help deliver a Democratic win for this administration. And also, you know, they have said that bipartisanship was not going to be possible in Washington. It seems slightly possible now.

But that actually tests the core of a lot of the messages that they have been saying over the last year and a half.

But I think this also is not only Ohio. You have the New York City mayor's race, that was a tough moment for progressives, too.

And this is the central problem. Can they get that message to working class black voters, working class Latino voters who make up the kind of core moderate base among the Democratic Party?

And until they get that community motivated around those messages they will continue to lose to the Hakeem Jeffries of the world --

RAJU: yes.

HERNDON: -- who are crowing at every single step.

But you have the other side. Cori Bush made a lot -- Cori Bush, someone who overcame that same level of opposition, certainly showed her strength in the last couple of weeks.

[08:34:57] HERNDON: Because I think you have two sides of the coin for the left of the party here, both of which can be either encouraging or dismayed depending on which side you're on.

KANE: Exactly.

RAJU: Clearly this inter-party squabbling not going away. The economy central to a lot of these concerns as well, something we'll talk about next.

Is the economy strong enough to withstand the delta variant?


RAJU: Economists are cheering a blockbuster jobs report on Friday. The White House is celebrating, too.

But let's take a look at the Biden economy as we head into the fall. The jobs report -- this was a blockbuster jobs report. Nearly one million jobs created. Look at the unemployment rate, 5.4 percent. That's the lowest now since before the pandemic began. Wages growing as well. Driven in large part by low paying jobs in the leisure and hospitality industries.

Now look at the hiring situation as well. Real-world examples of higher wages means a worker-friendly jobs market. Companies competing for workers -- all these perks companies are offering in order to get more labor into their workforce.

Now compare where we are now to where we were at the beginning of the pandemic. CNN's business and Moody's Analytics partnered to create this measure of the economy. It compares to days economy versus where things were at the beginning.

100 percent means where we were last year, February 2020. We are at 92 percent after a major dip that actually led to where we are now. But still 8 percentage points off of where we were.

Now this represents potentially trillions of dollars in economic output. Now why is that still an issue? Look at this map. The delta variant still the dominant strain throughout the United States. 95 percent of people live in counties with high or substantial community spread.

So the July jobs report is just a snapshot in time, you know, around mid-July before new CDC masking guidelines went into place. And let's not forget there are still nearly six million jobs that haven't come back.


RAJU: Biden though, still optimistic. He says there's more work to be done and his COVID and economic plans are working.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: While our economy is far from complete, and while we doubtlessly will have ups and downs along the way as we continue to battle the delta surge of COVID, what is indisputable now is this.

The Biden plan is working. The Biden plan produces results. And the Biden plan is moving the country forward.


RAJU: "The Wall Street Journal's" Greg Ip joins our conversation.

Greg, is the economy as strong as this job report indicates or should we be concerned about the delta variant setting things back.

GREG IP, CHIEF ECONOMICS COMMENTATOR, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Actually, it's very encouraging for a number of reasons. It was the strongest number in over a year. There had been some lagging in those numbers a few months ago. That seems to be over.

The -- you know, the three-month average running around, you know -- we're over a million jobs when you include the revisions.

And the other really positive thing in this report is that we've worried for a long time, just like after the last recession, all those millions of people unemployed would stay unemployed for years, we call that scarring of the labor force.

But we saw big drops in the number of people who are unemployed for 27 weeks or longer. Big drops in the number of people who are permanently unemployed. And even when you adjust for the fact that some people aren't looking for work, we saw improvement.

In fact, the labor force got a little bit bigger. So no, no sign yet here of (INAUDIBLE) the delta variant.

Of course, big question mark going forward because that thing is only just hitting us. And you know, the president is worried about it. The markets are worried about it.

I think it's going to be ok. And the reason why is that we've seen with each successive wave of this virus it's had less economic impact. Couple of reasons for that. I think people have learned to adjust their behavior. The medical interventions are more effective. And governors and mayors, you know, for better or for worse, just do not have the political desire to like create more disruptions.

So we're seeing mask mandates coming back. Nowhere have you seen restrictions or lockdowns come back.

RAJU: And look at how the White House, the president's handling of the economy is being looked at by the American public. 43 percent say they approve of his handling of the economy; disapprove, 48 percent. Those numbers have to be a concern for the White House.

KEITH: You know, I think what the White House is particularly concerned about is what happens in the next month with schools and maybe what happens in the months after that. You have the education secretary come into the White House briefing room this week and talk about sort of willing it into existence -- schools are opening in the fall.

And schools are opening. The question is whether they can stay open. And this is absolutely critical to the economy because there are a lot parents whose ability to return to the work force, who's ability to maintain their job are all related to those kids being in school.

So it doesn't necessarily seem related but a big economic question is what happens with the schools which is part of why the White House is fighting so much with governors about mask mandates.

RAJU: And the red (ph) state Democrats are concerned as well.

This is the -- this is how the Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee told Democrats in a closed-door meeting just recently. "If the election were held today, we would lose," this is according to a source who I talked to, who heard Maloney say this.

Paul, you wrote about in the "Washington Post" today about the concerns have comparing it to what happened during the fight over the Affordable Care Act. How much concern is there about the economy and their failure to have a sharp political message heading into the midterms?

KANE: Greg's points -- all those data points show a really strong economy. And that is usually what they're most worried about heading into an election. But they just see a disconnect to their not getting credit for the economy.

And there's fear that they're taking their eyes off of just the messaging of we're bringing America back. We just pumped $1.9 trillion into it.

All those stimulus checks that people got. They've already kind of forgotten them as Biden's numbers are softening. So Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer and the DNC have basically given people marching orders.

When they go home for August recess, they are all supposed to be holding events about what they have already done. And they've tried to slim it down. Don't go home with these -- really like the 48-point Democratic vintage things. Instead it's we're cutting your taxes because of child tax credit. We are building roads and bridges and we're going to try and lower health care costs. So keep it simple.

RAJU: Greg -- go ahead.

IP: Well, I was just going to say. I mean if you actually look at the polling data, people feel really good about the job market right now. It's kind of a shocker.

The thing that's really eroding Biden's support on the economy is inflation. It's like a 13-year high of 15 percent, right. So the 95 percent of Americans who kept their jobs, they're paying more for air fares. They're paying more for cars. They're seeing rents go up.

Every company is complaining about shortages of metal, of lumber. They can't get -- book a container ship.


IP: I think the really hard thing for the administration here is there's nothing they can do about it, right. These things are all, you know, kind of like structural features of an economy slowly coming back to life.

You know, there's nothing Biden can do to suddenly ramp up production of semiconductors in Taiwan, literally nothing. You're not going to go after the Federal Reserve to suddenly raise interest rates to 15 percent, right. That wouldn't help.

RAJU: Right.

IP: There's no solution to that but time. I think probably time is on Biden's side here. I think certainly most economists think by next year most of these shortages will have resolved and some of those concerns will be on the back burner. But in the meantime --

RAJU: Just take a look at the companies that have had to raise prices here. Just all major brands having to do so in the last week ahead. Clearly concerns, Molly, about inflation, should that be a political concern for Democrats heading into 2022.

BALL: Yes. And we've also seen this become one of the main Republican lines of attack against the administration, because it's obvious -- as Greg was saying it's obvious in everybody's life. Everybody is feeling it. Everyone is seeing it.

And the feeling in the administration is just exactly as Greg was saying. They're waiting it out, very nervously, hoping that they're right about it being temporary. They continue to insist that it is temporary. But we won't know that until it goes away.

And so, you know, if this persists or gets worse, you're going to see them looking for more solutions to it, I think.

RAJU: Yes. Clearly concerns among Democrats charged now of (INAUDIBLE) as well next year.

Up next for us, sexual harassment and retaliation. Why top Democrats are calling for Governor Andrew Cuomo's impeachment or resignation.



RAJU: In Albany, a political firestorm, the county sheriff is investigating a claim of sexual misconduct against Governor Andrew Cuomo. And the majority of the state assembly is ready to impeach him after a report alleged he sexually harassed 11 women. And Cuomo says he never acted inappropriately. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NW): I do it with everyone -- black and white, young and old, straight and LGBTQ, powerful people, friends, strangers. People who I might on the street.


RAJU: But top Democrats say it's time for him to go.


BIDEN: Let's take one thing at a time here. I think he should resign.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: Because of these allegations, the governor has lost the confidence of his governing partners and of many New Yorkers, and he should step down.

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: It's time for him to leave. Let the lieutenant governor take over.


RAJU: But, Molly, a majority of New Yorkers, top Democrats, as you heard three from Biden on down, are calling on Cuomo to step aside. But can he weather this storm, these calls to resign, an impeachment inquiry and now a criminal complaint?

BALL: It's getting harder and harder to see how that would happen, just given the sheer volume of things coming at him at this point. There is a feeling, you know, he is notoriously strong-willed, I guess you could say, a difficult and determined politician.

And so there is a feeling that he will make this as difficult as possible. He's not going to go without a fight. He's not -- clearly, he hasn't resigned thus far. If he was going to, he probably would have done it by now.

And so it could be a very long, drawn out and ugly process. But there is a feeling that the walls are closing in.

RAJU: And you know, Astead, you -- you've written extensively about other governors and scandals like Governor Ralph Northam who went through a scandal, separate scandal but also said he was not going anywhere despite calls for him to resign.

Do you think Cuomo is taking lessons from that or even Trump himself as he tries to hang on here?

HERNDON: Yes. I certainly think that's what the Cuomo aides say that he's trying to do is trying to inspire a kind of confidence in the public to stick around.

But these are different incidents. You know, Northam had the support of a black community there that decided to rally around him for political purposes. You don't have people who need Governor Cuomo in that sense right now.

And yes, that circle is shrinking and getting smaller by the day. You know, we have the top Democrats say that he should step down previously. We're now seeing those local officials, people who have stuck by him for months and months at this point of the investigation say he has to go.

It is coming down to the ego of one man about whether he's going to do that. But the general sense that I have heard is those impeachment proceedings have to be imminent. Otherwise you should not expect Governor Cuomo to really ease those calls. I think that's the general sense people have around him.

RAJU: And look at polls. I mean it's clear where New York voters stand on this right now. It's about 70 percent say that he should be gone. Only a quarter say that he should stay, that's according to a Quinnipiac poll from last week.

There's a re-election next year. I mean yes, he may be removed by the legislature. But what does this mean for those chances.

KANE: They all go with self-interest. You and I have covered Congress for many years. Self-interest becomes the governing thing here. And that's what the lesson from Northam is the wrong lesson.

In that instance, Democrats looked around and realized they actually needed Northam to stay put because choice number two, the lieutenant governor, had his own scandal as did state attorney general. They would have had to had to turn over the governorship to a Republican if they continued to force them all out.

So that's not the option here. They have a lieutenant governor, Cathy Hochul, former member of congress, perfectly fine. No scandal. She would be a history-making woman in the governor's office. That's what Democrats want.

Those state Democrats, legislative Democrats don't want to run facing questions about are you going to impeach or are you not going to impeach?

RAJU: Yes. Are you standing with the governor?

KANE: The whole election campaigns will be about that.

RAJU: Right.

KANE: They want to get rid of him then.

RAJU: And he is not the only one who's in trouble. Governor -- Democratic governor in California, Gavin Newsom, facing a recall there in the state.

Democrats are getting concerned about it even though registered voters in California outnumber Republicans 46 percent to 24 percent. Do you think that Democrats can actually lose in the state that they've typically dominate in? KEITH: This is certainly different than the last recall, which I

actually covered back in the day when Arnold Schwarzenegger ended up winning. That was a big name Republican opponent.


KEITH: There are some -- it's a divided Republican field, certainly. And there is not a lieutenant governor, big-name Democrat running as an alternative. But Democrats in the state of California are doing what Democrats in a lot of places do, which is worrying.

RAJU: Yes.

KEITH: And also that worry sort of breaks through potential complacency.

RAJU: Yes.

KEITH: And complacency and people not voting would be the real problem for Governor Newsom.

RAJU: Running scared. And also a huge race with major national implications.

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

Up next, STATE OF THE UNION with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana's guests include Senator Bill Cassidy and Dick Durbin plus Congresswoman Cori Bush.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. See you next time.