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Jan. 6 Committee To Vote Next Week On Prosecuting Steve Bannon; Manchin & Sinema Detail Key Disagreements Over Biden Agenda; Youngkin Disavows 1/6 Flag Pledge: It's "Weird & Wrong". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 15, 2021 - 12:30   ET



CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Now they're moving into a space where there isn't a lot of precedent for how this referral or this process will go. And we haven't heard from the Department of Justice yet. It's not exactly clear what the next steps will be. So we have to see how this is going to play out.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And Elliott, you were just saying you want to be a prosecutor, again, because of the case against the Capitol police officer. And the evidence laid out here is, you know, pretty slam dunk and pretty stupid, frankly.


KING: In this one, though, what about this? It was 1983. I was not old enough to drink. The last time the Justice Department prosecuted somebody for contempt of Congress. That was Rita Lavelle in the Reagan administration, and she was actually ended up being found not guilty. But Congress is going to say Attorney General Garland, put Steve Bannon in court make an example of Steve Bannon, will he, can he?

WILLIAMS: I don't know. Now, here's the thing. Why it hasn't happened since 1983, is that most of the time you negotiate with the witness and get their testimony, this -- there's something -- there's a few special things happening here. Number one, they just don't have a lot of time. Number two, because, you know, Congress expires next December and it's a political season. You know, number two, they know that they have witnesses that aren't likely to comply.

So the step to take here is seek the criminal penalty. Now, the criminal penalty doesn't go into charging him doesn't get you the testimony. It punishes him and charges him with the crime, but it doesn't, you know, it might be leverage, but it's not going to make him any more likely --

KING: And as this plays out, Manu, the Committee has sort of given grace, if you will, a little bit more time to three other top Trump allies, including the then White House Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows, who knows everything the President was doing in the days immediately before and then on January 6th, important testimony also Trump, Dan Scavino, the President social media guy, he was the deputy of communications director then. Kash Patel, another Trump ally who was there.

These are people who understand A, what the President was doing and B, the President's how much information he had about who was coming and what was going to happen at that rally. They've given them a little bit more time. Do they expect cooperation? Or is that just another test case?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it's a test case. And it remains to be seen if they do come in which they might, what they will actually say, and how much they will whether they will evade, whether they will not answer the questions.

And look, it came at to your point, I mean, the concerns that the Democrats have is that they could very well lose their house majority next year, the Republicans come takeover and then this investigation is done come January 4th, 2022 in a Republican majority, and they have a ton of information requests that are out there, lots of data they're trying to pour through. Witnesses they're trying to get to testify. So if someone like Steve Bannon gets charged even with contempt, getting his testimony, that's another question.

KING: Which is an interesting point about the potential timeline, the potential timeline, which is why when you hear the chairman say this.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Are you ruling out or ruling in the possibility of eventually subpoenaing Trump?

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS), CHAIRMAN, COMMITTEE TO INVESTIGATE JAN. 6TH ATTACK: Well, I would say this at this point, Wolf, nobody is off limits to a subpoena from this Committee.


KING: It seems unlikely that they would try to bring in a former president. But if you're going to bring him in and if you have the potential time constraints, Manu, just noted, don't they need to answer this question now and stop keep holding, you know, they're holding, oh, well, we might, well, we might, well, we might, get the answer.

WILLIAMS: Look, they're being aggressive. This has only been two and a half months, they've subpoenaed 19 people, their criminal charges for a guy that could come as soon as next week. Look, if you're going to go after your President, you got to do it now. But you have to understand it's going to end up in court, and it's going to take a long time. He's a former president, whether you like him or not.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And it's going to be used, Trump is going to use it to his advantage, because he will always -- that's what he does. This will be a fundraising boon for former President Trump if in fact, they decided to do it that shouldn't, I mean, I doubt that's weighing into their opinion. But that is for sure. I'm sure it's already happening.

KING: You see a miniature version of that playing out with Steve Bannon right now --


KING: -- who is suddenly backed out there as the hero of the Trump resistance, if you will. So we will watch it play out. It's a fascinating point to make there.


Coming up for us, President Biden hitting the road right now to sell his agenda and we're learning some new details, important details, about the wishes of the two centrist senators critical to any compromise.


KING: President Biden, you can see it right there, that's him stepping up Air Force One just moments ago. He's in Connecticut this hour landing just moments ago for a visit designed to promote childcare and other benefits in what the White House calls of course the Biden Build Back Better Plan. The plan remains a giant TBD because Democrats are still haggling over how much to spend and then just what to include.

What we do know today, though, about some of the key points being made by the two centrist Democratic senators, the Liberals blame for slowing things down. But we don't have much clarity on a timeline for action. Democrats missed one deadline a little more than two weeks ago. And the new goal of passing the plan by two weeks from now is also in clear jeopardy.

Our panel is back with me. Catherine Lucey, let me start with you first, on the President's challenge. I want to just show a number from our poll earlier this week. Only 25 percent of Americans think they will be better off if the Democrats get their act together and pass this plan. The debate in Washington has been about is a 6 trillion, is a 3.5 trillion we're going to have to shrink it to 2 trillion is not the President's number one challenge today to talk about this in a way that says if we pass this here is how your life will get better.

LUCEY: Absolutely. I mean, this has been a real concern for people inside and outside the White House is that so much of the conversation has been about the top line numbers and Democratic infighting and not on the proposals in the bill. So they are trying to get them out in the road to talk about specific things they'd like to see in it so that today the big focus is childcare.

So they'll be talking about, you know, at the proposal to subsidize childcare, provide pre-k to three and four year olds, those are things that they have seen as key priorities as part of what they call the caregiving economy.


And so, yes, that I think broadly and we're going to see more of that from the White House as they really try and sort of pitch what's in the bill and get away from at least with the public, this sort of haggling over the top line number.

KING: Right. So that's the outside game, the President is out there and the White House understands they see this polling too, that they want to try to get to the -- how this will change your life. Manu, you have some interesting reporting on Manchinema, how do we want to say it?

You know, the Liberals would say the two Democratic senators who are centrist are holding this whole thing up, they want it to be smaller, and then they have some key, the price tag is one thing, but they have some key points you've been learning more about the particulars of negotiations. We could put up here, you know, they want the House to pass the infrastructure bill first, progressive say, no way. We're doing this as a package deal.

But they also have questions about whether to expand Medicare or how about paid family leave and medical even how that would be done, who would be eligible and Manchin in particular West Virginia coal senator objecting to some of the climate measures?

RAJU: Yes. And look, they made very clear on a call with Democratic lawmakers earlier this week, I'm told, that this new price tag that Joe Biden has floated to Democrats by 1.9 to $2.2 trillion, that they are not behind it, and the belief among other Democrats was that he was floating that because he thinks he could get Manchin and Sinema behind that.

Well, Manchin and Sinema said privately is that they don't even -- they haven't even seen details yet from the White House about what that proposal would entail. Sinema has serious concerns, John, about the infrastructure bill, not getting a vote in the House at $1.2 trillion plan that she helped draft. She says that there's been a significant breach in trust by punting on that.

And she's almost suggesting that she's not -- won't sign on to the larger Democratic plan until the House gives final passage on the infrastructure bill. So you have that process fight. But then all the policy details underneath that, including, as you mentioned, climate change, so important for Joe Manchin from coal producing state, this is a huge issue for most Democrats, want this bill to be aggressive on climate change. He says, no way. So how do they get a deal by the end of the month, John, it just seems unlikely.

KING: And Jackie, you can understand if you look at the generational differences, the geographical differences, the ideological differences within the party. This is understandably a big fight. Some of the younger progressives want all in on climate. Joe Manchin says I'm not so sure. Some of the progressives want to change. They want Bernie Sanders. Let's reform Medicare. Others say no, let's build on Obamacare.

So you can get it when you look at it. But if you look at what's happening right after the President, right, the President at a time when gas prices are going up, inflation remains a nagging concern in the economy, the President is trying to get ports around the country and other things, truckers to help with some supply chain issues. A lot of those are COVID related. And so the President needs a win,

right, to change almost a psychology out there. Do Democrats get that part that, yes, you have legitimate policy issues that you need to figure out. But we should try to get this done. It's been too long, too messy.

KUCINICH: It depends on who you're talking about. You know, some progressives are saying, you know, getting nothing instead of something is if they don't get what they want is a possibility. Now, whether they're just taking a hard line as a negotiating tactic, that remains to be seen.

But the fact that, you know, there is still an open question about what is going to be in this bill presents a huge challenge to the White House who's trying to sell it because it is kind of wish casting still at this very minute.

But in terms that you're hearing a lot of that from moderates, honestly about getting that infrastructure bill on the board, because they're the ones not the progressives as much who have to worry about winning their races and having something to run on come next year.

KING: Bernie Sanders, to his credit, I guess most Democrats would say has been say, look, there's a lot of things I want that I've stopped asking for, because I know I don't have enough support. I know there's not enough support in the family and I'm a part of a family.

That means I have to set my priorities aside. My question, are Manchin and Sinema ready to do that? Is there any indication they're willing to say, OK, I don't like that provision, but I will take it to be a member of the family?

RAJU: I don't see that at this point. They are saying that they don't have -- they're not wedded to any sort of deadlines. And the big debate is how to reduce the price tag. Liberals say why don't we just may limit the number of years so the limit the number of benefits over maybe five years rather than 10 years.

Manchin and Sinema are on that page, they say reduce number of programs, maybe offer three or four programs instead and drop other programs like tuition free community college, those are issues that have not been resolved. So John, I don't know how or when they'll get resolved.

KING: Meeting. You got to start by, you guys got to start by meeting in good faith. We will see if that happens. We will see.


Up next for us, an army of high-profile Democrats heading to Virginia in the final days of a heated race for governor. So should the Republican candidate bring in the GOP's biggest draw? Here his answer, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: The Republican nominee for Virginia Governor is not cooperating with Democratic efforts to paint him as a Trump clone masquerading and a button down. Democrats seized on a Republican rally this week. You see some pictures right there that included a call in from Trump and a flag, you see it again, that the organizer said was part of the riot at the Capitol on January 6th.

Glenn Youngkin, though, the Republican candidate did not attend that rally. And last night he issued this statement. It is weird and wrong to pledge allegiance to a flag connected to January 6th. As I have said many times before, the violence that occurred on January 6th was sickening and it was wrong. And this from Youngkin on Trump yesterday, courtesy of CNN's Jeff Zeleny.



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Would you like to see him campaign here?

GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA), GOV. NOMINEE: Well, so, no, the person that is going to be campaigning here for the next two and a half weeks is Glenn Youngkin. I'm on the ballot. I'm running against Terry McAuliffe. By the way, Terry McAuliffe wants anybody but Terry McAuliffe campaigning, he's inviting the world to come and campaign.


KING: With us to share his insights on this great race is Kyle Kondik. He's the managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, Kyle, grateful for your time today. I want to just put up in your update -- your latest analysis in the newsletter, you asked five questions about this close race.

Isn't what we just heard part of number one, why is it close? Because Glenn Youngkin at least so far has threaded the needle, and he has made it much harder for Democrats to say this guy is a Trump clone. Therefore, the suburbs have not revolted against Youngkin in Virginia like they did against Trump.

KYLE KONDIK, MANAGING EDITOR, SABATO'S CRYSTAL BALL AT UVA CENTER FOR POLITICS: Yes, I think that's right. And I think Youngkin is trying to keep his distance from Trump. And look, I think also Youngkin benefits from increased Republican enthusiasm that, you know, maybe it's connected to Trump in some ways, but Youngkin maybe feels like he doesn't need to have to cultivate it, maybe as much as, as maybe you might think.

And, you know, we see this in Virginia, too. And this happens in midterm elections as well, that, you know, the party that doesn't hold the White House sometimes has a turnout and enthusiasm advantage in these off your races.

And we see this in polling too, that, you know, the Youngkin voters and Republicans generally express a little bit more enthusiasm or sometimes a lot more enthusiasm about voting in this election. And so you're seeing Terry McAuliffe, you know, bringing in a lot of these National Democratic folks as a way to try to stoke enthusiasm.

The good thing for McAuliffe is that, you know, Virginia is not really a purple state anymore. It's kind of a bluish state now, you know, Joe Biden won it by 10 points. That was the biggest Democratic margin for victory for President in Virginia since 1964 with Linda Johnson. So Youngkin has to pull away a lot of Biden voters potentially or there has to be sort of a turnout mix that benefits Republicans as opposed to Democrats.

KING: Right. That's another one of the questions you pose, is Virginia to blue for Youngkin. As an even if you run a great race, sometimes you can't win in a state if you're a big number. We just saw that in the California recall election. Virginia by no means is that lopsided. But so if you look at the polls right now, Terry McAuliffe, 51, 46 in the new "Fox" poll, so that's a five point lead there. Other polls have been a little closer than that, but it's a close race going into the end.

You just mentioned intensity. Are you extremely interested in the governor's race, that's where you do see Youngkin support as the Republicans have an advantage there. Jonathan Martin wrote about this in "The New York Times," he's bumping up against a fatigued electorate. Voters here are drained from the Trump administration's round the clock drama.

And we have seen that so now, you know, former President Obama is going in, Jill Biden is going in, Stacey Abrams is coming in. Pretty clear what that's all about trying to motivate people that perhaps Terry McAuliffe has not been able to motivate himself to vote.

KONDIK: That's right. And look, you know, we had huge turnout across the country last year, including in Virginia, there were almost 4.5 million votes cast for president. And in the last Virginia gubernatorial race, it was only about 2.6 million votes cast. And so you're going to see a big drop off in terms of who shows up compared to the presidential that happens, you know, in every race and in, you know, midterm environments.

Just a question is who's dropping off? You know, there are the Republicans, you know, more enthusiastic than the Democrats aren't, again, is that the poll you noted shows that, so that's all important in this race.

And, you know, it goes to also, you know, McAuliffe is really trying to nationalize this race, bringing a national figures tying Youngkin to Trump. Youngkin wants to be his own person in a state where the Republican brand has been kind of weak over the past 10 years.

KING: And you can't change who you are. And I think Terry McAuliffe largely understands that. He is a former governor. He's running to get his job back. He's the former national party chairman. He's a, you know, iconic figure here in Washington as a fundraiser and as a Democratic insider. And listen here where he says, Yes, I'm friends with Joe Biden, longtime friends with Joe Biden, but dammit, Washington's got to get something done.


TERRY MCAULIFFE (D-VA), GOV. NOMINEE: I am frustrated. We have a infrastructure bill that passed the Senate with 69 votes two months ago. Do your job and pass this and get money out to us and help us. And this is everybody in Washington. So, you know, and I love Joe Biden. I've been friends with him for 40 years.


KING: Kicking Washington saying please, I'm trying to run saying I can get things done, will you people please prove you can get something done. The last part jumped out at me though he has been Joe Biden's friend for 40 years. But there's little danger in that. Isn't that elections are often about change and about new things. And he's essentially admitting there of what is true. I've been around a long time.

KONDIK: That's right. And you know, the Virginia governor's race going back to the 70s. The non-presidential party almost always wins this race. The one exception was Terry McAuliffe in 2013, he won, while this fellow Democrat Barack Obama was in the White House. Look, you know, McAuliffe has been around for a really long time. He's been around electoral politics for a really long time. You know, he can read the numbers. I mean, he was caught on video recently, talking about how, you know, Biden's unpopular in the state.

You know, we know that Biden's approval rating nationally is probably about 45 percent or so maybe disapproval around 50 percent. If you look at the averages, his numbers are probably a little bit better in Virginia. But at best, you know, I bet he's about 50-50 in terms of approval, disapproval. And so I think McAuliffe feels a need to kind of distance himself from what's going on in Washington.

And look, I think he's also, you know, he's the -- one of the -- this is one of the first big races coming up, you know, after the presidential election, I think other Democrats can afford to wait for Washington to, you know, do some more in terms of passing these bills. But McAuliffe wants something done now because he wants something he can run on.


KING: He's got 17 days, 18 days until we count the votes, fascinating race. Kyle, really appreciate you coming in and share your insights. Appreciate it very much.

KONDIK: Thank you.

KING: A big update ahead for us affecting pandemic travel and foreign visitors who are fully vaccinated.


[13:00:04] KING: Some good news today for fully vaccinated travelers, the White House announcing, if you are fully vaccinated, foreign travelers will then be able to come to the United States beginning November 8.

Thanks for joining us today on a busy INSIDE POLITICS. Have a great weekend.

Ana Cabrera picks up right now.