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Biden Warns Of Coming Case Surge As Weather Turns Colder; GOP Feud Simmers Through Even After McCarthy Says "Stop It"; SCOTUS Appears Likely To Uphold Mississippi's 15-Week Abortion Ban; Ex-Chief Of Staff Meadows Now Cooperating With Jan. 6 Probe; Democrat Stacey Abrams Jumps Into Georgia Governor's Race. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 05, 2021 - 08:00   ET





MANU RAJU, CNN HOST (voice-over): Biden's battle. How to avoid an Omicron-fueled COVID surge.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to fight this with science and speed, not chaos and confusion.

RAJU: But Republican resistance stands in the way.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): The vaccine mandates are illegal, they're abusive and they're hurting this country.

RAJU: Plus, the Supreme Court may be poised to strike down Roe v. Wade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our body and we have the choice to do what we want to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roe v. Wade needs to be overturned.

RAJU: And Stacey Abrams jumps into the governor's race with the focus on voting rights.

STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: We are a democracy. This isn't about bipartisanism. This is about patriotism.

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.

President Biden is warning that colder weather and the new another coronavirus variant means another spike in COVID cases is here. This plan to control it makes it easier for kids to get shots, adults to get boosters, requiring insurers to cover at-home testing and new protocols for travelers entering the country. It does include new lockdowns or domestic restrictions. The president says there is nothing controversial about it.


BIDEN: It's a plan that I think should unite us. I know COVID-19 has been very divisive in this country. It's become a political issue, which is a sad, sad commentary. It shouldn't be but it has been. Now as we move into winter and face the challenges of this new variant, this is a moment we can put the divisiveness behind us I hope.


RAJU: But a lot of Republicans seem to believe any effort to fight the virus is going too far. Real America is done with COVID-19, wrote Congressman Jim Jordan. The only Americans who don't understand that are Fauci and Biden.

But if by real America he means red states, he's very wrong. According to a new CNN analysis, over the past 10 months, your risk of dying from COVID is more than 50 percent higher, in states that Donald Trump won.

And joining me with their reporting and their insight, Molly Ball with "Time Magazine", CNN's Lauren Fox, CNN's Phil Mattingly and Laura Barron-Lopez of "Politico".

Phil, you're at the White House every day. There's clearly a sense of urgency about this new variant. This is from our colleague at CNN reporting from Thursday. They say that the Omicron variant has lent a greater sense of urgency around our prior sense of urgency. That's from a White House official.

Take us inside the White House decision making right now and decision to react here. Is it purely on the science? Because there are things that they're not going -- they could go further on mandating vaccines on flights. They're not going that far. What is happening behind the scenes?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think there's a balancing act the president actually gave a previous window into in his remarks. I was surprised how candid he was about the idea that politically he believed that plan was something that everybody should support because it didn't include the mandates that drawn opposition from Republicans, mandates the president and his team initially didn't want to do and got fully behind over the course of the last several months.

In terms of urgency, this isn't just about Omicron. I think there's a very real concern about what the winter months will be. Delta is still the dominant variant inside the United States and case counts are ticking up over the course of the last couple months in a very concerning manner.

I think one of the elements the offshoots of what we have seen from Omicron and over the course of the last week is there's been a significant uptick in booster shots. There's been significant uptick in vaccines. Last three to four days averaging around 2 million shots in total, 1 million boosters. That's the key. I think that's the message the White House wants to get out.

Whether Omicron is as bad as people think or not, boosters are by far the best defense White House officials they have at this moment in time. Booster recipients only around 23, 24 percent of adults right now. That's the number more than anything else they need to get up and that's what they're going for more than anything else. Not the politics, not the mandates, not domestic flight vaccine requirements, just get people shots.

RAJU: Yeah, 2 million -- more than 2 million shots a day for the first time since May. This is something that they're talking about. But there is clearly a political fight that is going on conservative Republicans last week we saw this in the House and the Senate battling over these vaccine mandates. There was a brief scare potentially could be a government shutdown that was avoided. Trump appointed judges also are blocking these vaccine mandates from taking effect.

Listen to how Republicans are messaging this issue on the hill.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Why would I fund a government that is funding the tyranny over the people that I represent?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: In Florida, we will not let them lock you down. We will not let them take your jobs. We will not let them harm your businesses.

REP. RONNY JACKSON (R-TX): They need to keep the fear level at a certain point so that they can justify this.


They beaten people into submission over the last year and a half and they need to maintain that.

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): He promised he would shut down the virus and he hasn't.


MANU: I mean, to Phil's point, they're talking about what they're doing but do they recognize that there is this political, major political battle that could define his presidency, could define the midterms next year.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I mean, I think as Phil said, there's a clear effort to send a very explicit message that the White House is trying to stay away from the politics rather than have the political fight, which a lot of Democrats this they would win, by the way, because most of these measures are popular. Anything short of an actual lockdown and some of the mandates it depends how you ask the question. But the vaccine is popular. And obviously COVID is unpopular.

And the president wants to send a message that he's being proactive which is something that they feel they did fail to do some what during delta there was a feeling they were scramble. President said it chaos and confusion. So wanting to get out ahead of this even though we still don't really know what the shape of it is going to be.

And they have a huge advantage in the fact that now that the vaccines have been rolled out to almost all age groups. It's much easier than during delta trying to contain this variant and still not fully equipped to roll out particularly to kids who parents worry so much about their kids no matter what message you try to send it's hard to get around that.

So I think there's a feeling that they have some things in the arsenal now that they didn't have before, but it is still this political fight and there's no getting around that.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And the White House knows this -- as I reported last week, the White House is starting to get more aggressive in their messaging, whether the Republican attacks on inflation and the fact that inflation is taking off or Republican attacks on the fact that McCarthy is trying to say, well, the president doesn't have COVID under control.

Well, the White House is countering, you aren't helping. Republicans aren't helping, which is that they are actively sabotaging the pandemic recovery by states like Florida, other Republican-led states are deciding that they're going to give incentives to people to not get the vaccine, give them unemployment benefits. Florida decided to do that.

And there's a number of other instances where Republicans increasingly in the House or Senate candidates are deciding that they want to run on a campaign that is either anti-vaccine or trying to attack the administration is not getting this pandemic under control while they're actively encouraging their base to not go out and get the protections that would prevent them from potentially dying.

RAJU: You mentioned campaigning on, being anti-vaccine.

Just look at the number of adults who have been vaccinated at this point, 83 percent of adults have gotten at least one shot. So, why do Republicans see this issue battling on vaccines as a winning issue?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I thought it was fascinating last week when there was this threat over the government shutdown. We weren't talking about the Republican conference being united in this effort. In fact, most Republicans in the conference were very frustrated with their two colleagues who are pushing this narrative.

Look, a lot of Republicans are opposed to vaccine mandates for businesses. But at the same time, many Republicans do not want to be caught in this position of saying that the vaccine is bad or dangerous or their constituents shouldn't get it. I think that is going to be the line that Republicans are going to struggle and the Republican Party is going to struggle to find consensus on because there is such a vast difference in the ways that they are messaging this. And you have some governors talking about this in a completely different way than Republican senators like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

RAJU: While this is all going on, of course the economy, questions about how strong it is right now and whether people are feeling it. There was a confusing job report that came out on Friday, fewer jobs created than expected. Unemployment still very low and people still feeling the pain and Joe Biden responded to saying this --


BIDEN: Even after accounting for rising prices, the typical American family has more money in their pockets than they did last year. But I also know that despite this progress, families are anxious. I want you to know I hear you. It's not enough to know that we're making progress. You need to see it and feel it in your own lives around the kitchen table and in your checkbooks.


RAJU: Yeah, I mean, he's right. People are feeling the pain of inflation. This is from a Gallup poll, 45 percent of adults see a recent uptick in prices hurting them and making less than 40,000 adults who are making less than that amount of money, 71 percent are feeling that personal financial hardship. This is a difficult messaging because they want to say the economy is roaring back but people aren't feeling it.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, it's a very complex balancing act. You've seen the White House recognize over the course of the last two or three weeks they have to address the price increase, right? Clearly, showing up in their polling and clearly people are feeling it and they need to make clear the president has made clear and been a shift in his messaging he gets it, he understands, he sees it. They're working on it.

It's why you're seeing so many events about supply chains, why you're seeing policy actions trying to address the pandemic-driven demand shocks that have driven a lot of the price increases.


But I also think the other side of this is if you look in the jobs report, it's a great window into the post-pandemic economy. There's a lot of good things in that jobs report. The economy from a growth perspective, from a wages perspective, labor participation ticking up is in a very good place post one of the worst crises that we've seen from an economic perspective in 100 years.

So, how do you balance that I think has been evolving discussion in the White House for better part of ten months.

MANU: It's a challenge is also messaging their agenda now and the Hill still trying to get the Build Back Better bill through the Senate this month. Although seems this month will be difficult. Joe Manchin I'm told is expressed concerns about getting it done this month. You talked to Kyrsten Sinema is not a yes yet, but she'll probably get there.

Do you sense that eventually she'll be vote yes and this could get out of the Senate?

FOX: I think there's a timing question. I don't know if it's going to happen before Christmas for the reason that you mentioned about Senator Joe Manchin expressing concerns privately and publicly to all of us. There's also concerns about inflation and I think a few Democrats including Kyrsten Sinema brought this up in our interview that inflation may be a problem for the Democrat's agenda overall because if you're spending more money, Republicans will attack you and say you're just driving up the problems with inflation.

Now, Democrats are going to likely try to counter that and already are many of them, but it's a timing question. I think eventually they'll probably get Build Back Better through the Senate. Is it going to happen before Christmas? I'm not quite sure.

RAJU: Yeah, I'm not sure about that. The White House is arguing it helps inflation but they have to convince Joe Manchin who is not so sure. So, lots to come.

Next for us, can Kevin McCarthy lead unruly caucus of mischief makers?



RAJU: An ugly feud erupted last week between Republican freshman Nancy Mace and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Mace is one of few Republicans who publicly criticized Lauren Boebert's Islamophobic tirade. Greene responded by calling Mace trash. And Mace used some colorful emojis to describe Greene.

Now, Kevin McCarthy called them both into his office and said stop it but they didn't.

And here's Greene telling Steve Bannon she's not interested in party unity.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): It's not about the party. It is not about, oh, we have more Republicans. We have more Republican seats. It's not about that at all, Steve, and the people know it. It's about winning elections with the right people that are actually going to put America first, put America first policies in place and do the job they're elected to do.


RAJU: Now, McCarthy insists he's still capable of leading.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REPORTER: The clashes that you have seen within your caucus earlier this week, if you're speaker, would that make it difficult for you to govern?

MCCARTHY: No. We're going to be quite fine.


RAJU: Quite fine. Everything is fine. He obviously does not want to talk about this. He had a closed-door meeting conference afterwards, Kevin McCarthy did and barely mentioned the names of these people but he wants to focus on the issues. This is not a winning issue for them to focus on this fighting.

But how much control, Lauren, does Kevin McCarthy have over his conference right now?

FOX: He has a huge problem brewing if house Republicans take back the House of Representatives which right now looks like they're on a path to do, he's going to have a really hard time doing basic governing, doing basic things like funding the government, trying to cut any deals with Democrats on things like the debt ceiling. It is a major issue that it is constantly in the news that he has members of his conference attacking Democrats with, you know, terrible comments, constantly.

And then he has people like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Nancy Mace multiple day news cycle because they're fighting with each other publicly. He tells them both to knock it off. It doesn't really seem to help. Clearly, he does not have control over the Republican conference.

RAJU: I mean, look, looming over everything is Donald Trump. Mace called out Greene for essentially running to him as she said after their feud.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): If you can't stand on your own two feet and got to run to the principal's office to tattle tale, come on, right? I mean, it's sad.


RAJU: Yeah. That's after Greene said that she talked to Donald Trump about what happened here and said that they were both going to support a primary challenge against him. But this is also a problem, though, for McCarthy because if he goes after these Trump-supported congresswomen -- congresswomen or member of the House who is very close to Donald Trump, he could enjoy Trump's wrath.

MATTINGLY: Welcome to the window of the Republican Party generally. This is an acute example of what the entire party is dealing with when you look at primaries, when you look at people trying to run statewide or just in districts. That is there's recognition that inside the Republican Party, you

cannot win inside your party without former President Trump's support. And yet that causes problems, particularly when you have to govern or lead.

And the reality for Kevin McCarthy and you guys have done great reporting on it's not just Marjorie Taylor Greene or any of these types of people in the conference. Contrary to popular belief, there are still some moderate Republicans left.

RAJU: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: There are still some normal -- normal is not the right word -- traditional conservative Republicans inside this conference that hate this. They recognize that last week was literally the dumbest week on your timeline. That is a very, very high bar.

RAJU: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: And if McCarthy can't get those individuals to vote for him, or he leans one way or the other, then he has the problem to get the votes to the speaker.

RAJU: That's the issue also, alienating moderates in his conference.

BARRON-LOPEZ: It is. To me, the larger story is you don't hear many moderates speaking in or trying to wade in or steer their party away from what aren't fringe elements anymore. These are more mainstream elements of the Republican Party. The larger story is you mentioned that Trump, you know, Marjorie Taylor Greene has the ear of Donald Trump, so do people like Lauren Boebert.

And what does that mean?


Well, Trump wants revenge and he wants retribution for the fact that he continues to stay the false claims that the election was stolen. Marjorie Taylor Greene and all these people believe that as well. And so, they want to see McCarthy if he wins the speakership and they win the majority, they want to see him take action on that and also example of how not fringe this is, is that Scott Perry, congressman from Pennsylvania, recently became the head of the Freedom Caucus.

Scott Perry is now could potentially be a witness for the January 6th insurrection because of the fact that he was pushing DOJ officials to overturn election results, trying to recruit them and was part of a lot of the meetings that led into January 6th.

RAJU: And you're talking about Republicans, very few of them, speaking out that moderates. Here is one from a swing district, Congressman Don Bacon. This is what he said about the party in-fighting.


REP. DON BACON (R-NE): We should not shoot ourselves in the foot with in-fighting. We want to be the governing party next November, going into January of '23. And that requires winning people's confidence and right now the polling is great for us, but this undermines that effort of taking back the speaker's gavel.

RAJU: Uh-huh.


RAJU: But, Molly, is he right? I mean, the environment is so bad for Democrats right now. Is this internal squabbling really going to hurt their efforts to take back the House?

BALL: I mean, who knows at this point. There's a lot of ground to cover before the midterm elections happen and it's a widespread assumption I think universally among both parties in Washington that the Democrats face an uphill battle to say the very least given all of the different factors, history, how the president is doing, et cetera. That being said, Republicans would prefer not to be in this situation and you know, this really is Kevin McCarthy's speaker audition, right? That's what he's doing this whole two years.

And Marjorie Taylor Greene, you have to give her credit, she has really become a very effective ring leader against him because she has seen her leverage. She sees that she has power over him and she has become this sort of voice of Trump and what he stands for within the caucus and she's using it very effectively to torment McCarthy because his leadership style is to say yes to everyone.

And that's very tough to do when you have people who are up to the sort of hijinx, if you will, some of his members are up to. So you know, do the moderates want him to be speaker if he can't reign in these elements? And then is he able to bring in the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world to be team players? The answer to both of those is up in the air given how he handled this.

RAJU: I mean, the big question will be, narrow majority versus big majority. Narrower one, big problem, bigger majority, easier to lose some of those folks. What is also so interesting here is just how much turnover there's been among Republican leadership in the House over the years compared to the Democrats.

Look at this from 2006, the top Democrats in the House look at the names there. Pelosi, Hoyer, Clyburn. They're still the top Democrats.

Look at all the different Republican leaders from very scandal-clad Denny Hastert all the way down to Elise Stefanik came into the leadership this year amid the effort to successfully push out Liz Cheney because of her fight with Donald Trump. But what does that say? Does it say the rank and file really run things in the House Republicans versus the top down approach among the top Democrats?

FOX: I think that's spot on. I think the Republican Party has always been a party in the House of Representatives that -- and in the Senate, that functions based off the beliefs of the members in that conference. And you have a lot of folks who are changing the direction of the party constantly. I mean, I think about the style of Boehner and how he dealt with the

Freedom Caucus. Think about the style of Paul Ryan and how he dealt with the Freedom Caucus and McCarthy how he's dealing with the right flank, some in the Freedom Caucus and I think what you see there is three very distinct leadership styles an three different moments where members wanted different things.

Could that change in 2022? Absolutely. They may want something different.

RAJU: And the Democrats could see a whole different leadership team in 2022. Those three could not -- may not be the top three next time. That's going to be a big discussion in the months ahead.

But, up next for us, the most conservative Supreme Court in decades is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.



RAJU: The Supreme Court heard arguments last week in a case that could spell the end of Roe v. Wade.


JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, U.S. SUPREME COURT: Usually there has to be a justification, a strong justification, in a case like this beyond the fact that you think the case is wrong.

JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, U.S. SUPREME COURT: The fetus has an interest in having a life. And that doesn't change, does it, from the point before viability to the point after viability?

JUSTICE STEPHEN BREYER, U.S. SUPREME COURT: To re-examine a watershed decision would subvert the court's legitimacy beyond any serious question.

JUSTCE BRETT KAVANAUGH, U.S. SUPREME COURT: This court should be scrupulously neutral on the question of abortion, neither pro-choice nor pro-life.


RAJU: The court's conservative majority appeared ready to uphold Mississippi's ban on a abortions after 15 weeks and possibly overturn Roe all together. Now, that would trigger immediate bans in 21 states that already have anti-abortion laws ready to take effect.


Now joining the panel now is CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic. Joan, you spent -- you spent your life studying, reporting, talking to folks about the court. How likely is it right now that the court will overturn Roe and what will that mean for abortion activists and for Americans? JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Well Manu, let me put you in

the courtroom for a second. It was so dramatic but it was also startling. What we thought going into it the discussion would mainly be about, would be this viability question, because both Roe in 1973 and Planned Parenthood versus Casey in 1992 said that state cannot interfere with the abortion choice before a fetus was viable. That at about 23 weeks.

And you know, that's where I thought a lot of the discussion would be. But no, it went right to should Roe itself, the entire abortion rights, go out the window?

And there clearly are five votes for that. The question is whether Chief Justice John Roberts who wants to move with less speed against Roe, can work some sort of compromise. So I think -- I think if we took it just on the oral arguments, you could see end of Roe versus Wade completely. That's a half century of abortion rights in America.

And Brett Kavanaugh used that word "neutral" about the constitution being neutral -- that's not really what's going on here. This was a right that was established under the 14th Amendment due process liberty guarantee that women can choose to terminate a pregnancy before viability. So that would be taking away a right.

So that -- that would be, as I said quite dramatic and really change, I think, how American see the Supreme Court.

RAJU: And Americans, according to both polls, show that most American oppose stricter abortion restrictions, including a couple of key demographics here, white women and Independents, from a Quinnipiac poll from earlier last month, actually. White women, 12 -- more than support, plus 12 in opposing stricter -- abortion restrictions. Independents, you can see there as well and all adults by a 12-point margin.

What kind of impact, Molly, would this have on the political fight going forward?

BALL: Well, all bets are off and it will depend of course, on the scope of the decision. As Joan was saying, we don't know and we don't know when.

But there has been a feeling for many years, I think, that while Democrats are on the winning side of Roe v. Wade overall, right -- most Americans support Roe v. Wade by a large margin, they haven't been able to activate voters on the issue, right?

Cycle after cycle, you have Democrats running ads saying that Republicans want to take women's abortion rights away and over and over you go out and you talk to voters and they say, I just don't believe it. I don't think that's going anywhere. It's been here for half a century.

So this is now a live issue in a way it has not been, no matter what the court decides, I think, because they have shown this willingness to take it up. They are almost certainly going to, you know, restrict the right to abortion further than it has been before.

And so we're going to have to see how the candidates in the field take that up and it's going to depend also how, you know, the state and federal governments try to attack this issue. Because you are going to have, you know, everyone from Congress down to state legislatures trying to grapple with this new landscape.

RAJU: And here are the states actually in which it would actually have an immediate impact either to outlaw all or most abortions, because of states that are -- or laws that are already on the books in those states.

And you can see that in some of those states there are some key competitive Senate races and governors races. In Wisconsin it's the governor, senate race for instance. The same within Georgia. Look at Arizona there, governor and the Senate race there. Michigan there's a governor race. Ohio, governor and the Senate. In Kansas also, it could be in play there with the governor's race.

This is going to be -- it could be the defining issue come next year.

BARRON-LOPEZ: It could be. All depending on what happens with the Supreme Court decision. But we saw in Virginia and New Jersey that abortion wasn't really an animating issue after the Texas six-week ban. But it's totally different if the Supreme Court decides to effectively gut Roe or fully overturn it.

That would have an entirely different effect because already, you know, in other states, especially some southern states that I was in, you hear voters -- female voters voluntarily bring up the abortion issue about their concerns and they legitimately now think that the Supreme Court could overturn it, you know.

And I know women maybe in prior elections and other people across the country didn't think that was a possibility but now with the dynamic on the court, the more conservative-leaning court, they do see it as a genuine -- as a genuine possibility that the court would do that.

RAJU: And Sonia Sotomayor, the justice, talked about this during the oral argument saying she's concerned about the court public perception of overturning Roe.


JUSTICE SONIA SOTOMAYOR, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the constitution and its reading are just political acts?


SOTOMAYOR: I don't see how it's possible. If people actually believe that it's all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive?

(END VIDEO CLIP) BISKUPIC: Manu, two things about that, the word "stench". I can't remember anything close to that word ever being invoked in that courtroom. You know, usually it's a lot of legalese, a lot of things about rights.

"Stench" was so raw and you could feel her colleagues draw back a bit. And again, they're not masks. She's masked because she's taking extra care of her health but the rest aren't masked so you could see their reactions throughout the entire hearing.

And then that phrase at the end when she referred to political acts. It rang at first as if she was political hacks, which is an echo of -- no, I don't know if you remember, Amy Coney Barrett had said just -- I think it was in September when she came -- went to McConnell, the senator and said I come to you to argue that we are not just political hacks.

And so that's the atmosphere. It's a very serious atmosphere about the integrity of the Supreme Court. And Sonia Sotomayor, who is not very persuasive inside the courtroom with her colleagues because they know exactly where she is, speaking to people outside the courtroom and resonating I think with what people are starting to believe about the Supreme Court, that it is all political.

RAJU: Yes. I mean look at Brent Kavanaugh. There's a lot of discussion about him after his 2018 confirmation proceeding when he talks about precedent. And when he assured Senator Susan Collins of Maine that Roe is settled law.


JUSTICE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the important things to keep in mind about Roe v. Wade is that it has been reaffirmed many times over the past 45 years as you know. And most prominently, most importantly, reaffirmed in Planned Parenthood versus Casey in 1992.


RAJU: And he talked -- you know, when he was in the oral argument, he said if we think that the prior precedents are seriously wrong, if that then why then doesn't the history of this court's practice suggest that the right answer is to return to the position of neutrality -- suggesting that those words are maybe just words.

MATTINGLY: Yes and also that we wasted a lot of time focused on star (INAUDIBLE) and precedent and super precedent during these confirmation hearings, which I feel is like the basis of half of our reporting when talking to lawmakers.

Look, I think the most interesting from a Capitol Hill perspective from the group covering those hearings, you know, there seems to be, at least as it was relayed to us, the promise made to Senator Susan Collins, a lot of Republican senators who support Roe versus Wade unequivocally that he was not going to pursue overturning precedent. And I think it's different -- we don't know what he's going to do. We don't know where he's going to go.

But as we were all listening I think and you were in the courtroom, it was hard not to listen to Brett Kavanaugh. And to be very clear that whatever he told Susan Collins, if what she said he said was what he said, he's moved in a very different direction in the last two years.

BISKUPIC: You know, that's exactly right, though. But one thing Phil just said that I want to remind everyone about it isn't over until it's over.


BISKUPIC: As Ruth Bader Ginsburg used to say. We are not going to see this ruling until the end of June. I could probably predict that it's going to come out on, you know, June 30th, if that's a Thursday or Friday, because that's just how they operate.

And I will never sell short Chief Justice John Roberts' ability to persuade but everything Brett Kavanaugh said from the bench, you know, he knew it was all in public. He knew how he would respond was all the opposite of how he had testified.

RAJU: That is such a consequential day for huge, huge months ahead.

Joan Biskupic, thank you for joining our conversation.

But up next for us, ex-Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows set to testify this week about his boss and the insurrection. But just how forthcoming will he be?



RAJU: Now, ex-Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows is set to testify this week before the committee investigating the January 6th insurrection. Meadows has promised to cooperate with the probe to a point. He says he'll answer some questions but plans to claim executive privilege on others.

Now, there's a problem though here because he just wrote a book that also talks about some of the things that happened on January 6th and he also talked about his conversations with Donald Trump. How is that going to impact his efforts to try to shield some of these comments?

FOX: Well, you've already heard Adam Schiff talking about the fact that he thinks that this essentially erases the claim of executive privilege.

If you're going to write a book and you're going to talk about January 6th and you're going to say that the president didn't mean for people to literally march to the Capitol, that you were just talking metaphorically about people marching to the Capitol, that is getting into conversations with the president, intent of the president. And I think that Democrats are going to make a claim that you don't have an executive privilege claim at this point given the fact that you've written this book.

RAJU: Well, do you think -- do we think he's going to be loyal to Donald Trump? Do you think he's going to -- he's going to tell them then things that they want to hear or believe -- stick to his former boss?

BALL: I think we can see in the approach that he's taken to his book rollout, he's sort of trying to have it both ways, right? He's revealed some juicy stuff in the book. I think we don't know exactly how much so far. But he's trying to position it as sort of a pro-Trump book and stay in Trump's good graces.

Historically that's been a tough balance for people in the Trump ecosystem to strike. So we'll see where he ends up.

RAJU: You mentioned the stuff in the book. One of the things he talked about was how Donald Trump tested positive for COVID before the first debate. Now, he said he later tested negative but it does show just how the Trump White House dealt with COVID at the time.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. And how they dealt with the fact that they were fine potentially with positive tests and then exposing other people to a president who was potentially carrying COVID at the time, knowing the transmission rates, knowing that this was before vaccines.

And so President Biden tried to say I don't think about the former president this week, but it is a big deal that the former president exposed not just Biden but everyone else in that auditorium during that debate.


RAJU: Yes. And Biden says he didn't think about -- doesn't think about Donald Trump. He has to think about Donald Trump. I mean he may face Donald Trump, assuming he runs again and assuming Donald Trump runs in a couple of years.

MATTINGLY: I think he thinks deeply about Donald Trump maybe not necessarily through the 2024 lens but most certainly what it means for the country and what his movement has meant for the country and I think the direction of things.

There's no question when you talk to officials that that's -- if he's thinking about the former president, it's through that lens and what it means for the future of the country.

I think more broadly though, we've tried probably for the last 11 months to get the White House officials to bite on anything related to the former president and they just refuse to do it. They don't see any value to it for the administration.

I think Particularly this week when you're talking about COVID-related issues or the debate in the positive test or not positive test, who knows at this point. Their view of things is, is this going to help us try and address the concerns right now with delta and potentially omicron? And their view has long been no. They will ignore it, at least publicly.

RAJU: There's a political fight to be had and that's going to had especially come 2022.

Thank you all.

Coming up next for us is Dr. Oz, the miracle cure for Senate Republicans.



RAJU: There may be three more weeks in 2021, but in Georgia the 2022 campaign is in full swing. Democrat Stacey Abrams announced she is seeking a rematch against Republican Brian Kemp. She came within a point and a half of defeating him in 2018.


STACEY ABRAMS (D), GEORGIA CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR: As in every campaign, we always have to guard against those who are willing to game the system rather than put their ideas forward and use their ideas as their catalyst for success.

I'm willing to put my ideas up against Brian Kemp every single day of the week.


RAJU: Now Kemp must first fend off a potential primary challenge backed by Donald Trump who is still furious Kemp didn't help him overturn the 2020 election.


GOVERNOR BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Anybody else that wants to get in the race, you would have to ask them why. You know, why are they going to do that.

Do they not like how great our economy is? Largest teacher pay raise in state history. And simply fulfilling the promises that I made when I was running.


RAJU: Now Laura, I mean, Stacey Abrams says she's ready for this challenge and she's ready for this rematch. But in 2018, she came within a point and a half. And that was a much different political environment than they're right now.

BARRON-LOPEZ: It is. But I was in Georgia over the fall. And one thing that I was surprised by was how many people just mentioned Abrams and wanting her to run. And this was clearly well before she had declared. And a lot of Democratic base voters also involuntarily mentioned abortion rights issues, which was something that was happening right after Texas had passed their six-week ban.

And so I think that a lot of Democrats are hopeful. I mean, there still is a question whether or not it will become an animating force.

But I think in a state like Georgia, which is neighboring to a lot of these other states, if Roe v. Wade is ultimately effectively gutted, then Democrats think that in a state like that Abrams can really run a strong race on that issue.

RAJU: Yes. And there's also, of course, the Trump factor in all of this. And we talked about that about how Trump is still mad at Brian Kemp for Kemp essentially following the law, certifying Joe Biden's victory.

This is what Trump said when Abrams got into the race, he said about this about Kemp. "Some good Republican will run and some good Republican will get my endorsement and some good Republican will win." There's talk of David Purdue, the former senator who barely lost his reelection in the Senate in January, running against Kemp.

But can Kemp survive Trump's wrath? And will this fighting ultimately help Democrats?

BALL: That is certainly the hope right. That's the major thing that Stacey Abrams is looking out and seeing has changed since the last time she ran.

Number one, the divided Republican Party, as you said, because of Trump and his animosity toward Brian Kemp. The hope being that that, you know, divides the other side and helps the Democrats.

And then Democrats have proven that they can win statewide in Georgia, which wasn't the case in 2018. It looked like a lot more of a long shot before the Democrats, you know, had won two statewide elections including the presidential election in Georgia.

So there's different factors lining up for Stacey Abrams this time than last time. And she as Laura was saying, she's much more of a celebrity.

RAJU: Yes. And things --


BALL: And she's associated with this issue of voting rights that has become a huge hot button on both sides and is the reason that the Republicans are so divided.

RAJU: There's a big Senate race -- there is a also a big Senate race in Pennsylvania. A big celebrity, Dr. Oz, getting into the race. He cut an ad when he jumped in the race last week.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. OZ, PENNSYLVANIA SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: COVID has shown us that our system is broken. We lost too many lives, too many jobs and too many opportunities because Washington got it wrong. It took away our freedom without making us safer and tried to kill our spirit and our dignity. Pennsylvania needs a conservative who will put America first.


RAJU: Can celebrity win in a crowded primary in the Republican primary in Pennsylvania?

MATTINGLY: Can a celebrity win in a crowded primary, Manu? I don't know. You were covering a primary in 2016 where a celebrity won? Look, anything is possible.

RAJU: He is a New Jersey resident.

MATTINGLY: Yes, exactly. Right. And I think in his announcement I don't think he used the word "Pennsylvania" at all in the op-ed that he wrote, which is an interesting play in a Senate race.

Look, name recognition matters, particularly in a primary. Money matters. Clearly he's going to raise. His first TV ad looked like it was actually part of his show, actually filmed on his set.

But I think the primary still has a lot of things to play out. I don't think there's any question about that.


MATTINGLY: It's a fascinating state. Obviously Republicans see it as an absolute must-defend for them. Democrats see it as a big -- one of the biggest pickup opportunities.

The element that I think would evolve (ph) and we still need to wait to see how it lines up is Dave McCormick, he's a former Bush Treasury official, very well regarded inside the Republican Party, can raise a ton of money --

RAJU: And spend a lot of his own money.

MATTINGLY: -- can spend a ton of his own money. He's currently running one of the largest hedge funds, if not the largest hedge fund in the world.

If he gets in, that shifts the dynamics even more. I think the most fascinating thing about this is all trying to game out -- what does it mean for former President Trump in these primaries? Who's going to get in? How do they win?

Pennsylvania, every step of the last just like 14 days between the Trump-backed candidate dropping out -- who is getting in, when they're getting and how they're getting in -- it is just such a good window into how this process is going to play out in a number of states over the next couple of months.

RAJU: And more broadly, I mean, the senate battleground is in play. The Senate majority is in play -- it's a 50/50 Senate.

In the House, you know, Democrats will essentially need a miracle to keep the House. The senate is much different. Here is the map if you look at the Republican pickup opportunities versus the Democratic pickup opportunities.

Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, New Hampshire -- Democratic incumbents. It's clear opportunity for Republicans to win. Democrats have their opportunities too in the mostly open seats there.

Lauren, what do you think the chances are that Democrats can hold the Senate?

FOX: Well, this all becomes how popular is the president? I mean it all ties back to where is Biden in the moment of the midterm elections? And can Democrats be riding on his coattails or are they running away from him?

I think that that's going to be a key factor going into the question of whether or not Democrats are going to be able to hold the Senate. It's a narrow majority.

RAJU: Yes. It is. I mean so much can happen, will happen in the next year. We will see if the dynamic will shift as well.

And 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 at noon Eastern.

Up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Jake's guests include Dr. Anthony Fauci and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar.

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