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AT&T To Delay Part Of Its 5 Rollout; Aide: "Trump Wants To Be One Of The Leading Indicators Of Why" GOP Has "Good" Midterms; Tomorrow: Biden To Take Questions At 1-Year Mark Of Presidency. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 18, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Let's get some more from CNN's Pete Muntean. Pete?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you know, this 5G network was to be rolled out tomorrow. So this changes coming at the 11th Hour AT&T saying, it will voluntarily turn off some of these 5G towers near commercial airports, it says, certain airports in particular although does not list which ones. What is an issue here, airlines say is that the 5G cell spectrum is so close to the frequency of a specific type of instrument that is critical to the safety of flight. It's called a radar altimeter sends a beam down to the ground, it gets bounced back to the plane to give a hyper accurate reading of exactly how high the plane is above the ground.

It is critical for commercial airlines, for cargo planes, for helicopters, especially in low visibility conditions, when seconds really count very low to the ground. AT&T has says it will pause this rollout after so much pushback from the aviation industry. It says the aviation industry has not utilized two years they have had to responsibly plan for this deployment, so a lot of frustration from AT&T. Mind you, AT&T is the parent company of Warner Media, which is our parent company here at CNN.

This all comes after this letter from 10 airline CEOs to the Department of Transportation and the Biden administration in which they say the ripple effects across both passenger and cargo operations. Our workforce and the broader economy are simply incalculable. This, according to airlines would have caused thousands of flight delays, disruptions, and cancellations a really big issue for the airlines after they've dealt with so many flight cancellations recently.

Now the telecom industry has said that this is really not all that much of an issue in 40 countries. They have found solutions for aviation and 5G to coexist. We know according to the White House that talks were taking place today between the Biden administration and the FAA, and the FCC, the aviation industry, and equipment manufacturers. And those talks really focused on trying to build a buffer zone near those critical airport runways where this could have posed a real issue, John. It seems like we are getting close to that. We've not also heard from Verizon, which is the other company that is rolling out 5G as planned tomorrow, it was already delayed once.

KING: It's just stunning to me that these things that have been obvious for some time always get left to the last second, Pete Muntean appreciate the breaking news reporting very much.

Coming up for us, Donald Trump looks to 2022 as a chance to strengthen his hold on the Republican Party. Some brand new reporting on the former president's plans, next.



KING: Some new reporting now on the Trump debate, maybe tug of war is the better term in the Republican Party. CNN's Gabby Orr today takes a detailed look at the former President's hope of using this midterm election year to strengthen his grip on the GOP and as a springboard to a 2024 comeback. CNN's Jake Tapper has a reporting on a call earlier this week involving roughly three dozen former Trump administration insiders who see him as dangerous and are looking for a way to thwart any Trump comeback.

And from the "New York Times," an inside look at Trump's unhappiness with the Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. The "Times" account includes this gem from conservative commentator Ann Coulter, quote, Trump is done, she said in an e-mail, you should have -- guys should stop obsessing over him.

Maggie Haberman of the "Times" joins us now. Maggie, I love that at the end of the piece you wrote with your colleague, Jonathan Martin, because Ann Coulter knows better. She wishes Trump would disappear. There are a strong core of Republicans who wish he would disappear. But everything we see and everything you and your colleague report is just to the contrary. He has not -- he's not going to disappear. And in fact, he's planning on having a big year.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. And, John, look, I would say that Ann Coulter knows better than anyone, you know, that you can't just wish Donald Trump away because she tried that before he became the nominee and then a change of heart years before he became the nominee.

Look, Trump doesn't go away. It's not anything he has ever done in his history. And just because he doesn't get coverage in mainstream media, it does not mean he ceases to exist. He is clearly planning on spending this year with an aggressive rally schedule. I'm told it's going to be to a month or so may not exactly be that but close enough. And he is going to try to push a bunch of candidates through in Republican primaries and in general elections. And this is going to be a test of his strength, John, because in some cases, he is making people, you know, pledge some fealty to his false claims about the 2020 election having been stolen and that Biden is somehow not a legitimate president. If Trump does not do well in those primaries, and I think that you will see some Republicans in 2023 look more closely at challenging him. You may see that anyway. But at the moment, Trump remains the leader of the Republican Party the same way every former president is until there is another nominee of their party, and that's where we're at.

KING: So you spent a lot of time on this, so help me understand what you see is the 2022 midterm test, if you will, from Gabby Orr's piece today, I mentioned the top of the program on CNN politics. Bryan Lanza, who's a Trump advisor says this, it's clear Republicans likely to have a good year, President Trump wants to be one of the leading indicators of why the GOP had a good year at the ballot box. So you can travel if you're Donald Trump, Republicans can have a good year, and you can try to claim credit, but it's more than that. You mentioned the involvement in the primaries. You mentioned trying to enforce his litmus test or his fealty test. How did you as you start the year say, OK this is what I'm going to watch to see is this a good year for Donald Trump.


HABERMAN: There's a handful of endorsements that he has made in either primaries in specific races or candidates who, for instance, he is trying to volt ahead like Max Miller in Ohio, who is an aide of his, Max Miller had been running against Congressman Anthony Gonzalez in a primary in Ohio. Gonzalez was one of the Republicans who voted to impeach the former president in his second impeachment trial. Trump has been trying to pick off those Republicans. He has had some success.

This is also a bad climate for all members of Congress in any party, and a bunch of them would rather retire than continue kind of grinding away in this partisan gridlock. And so there are a lot of factors going into why people aren't running. But the end result is the Trump gets to claim credit. Does -- do Trump's candidates win in these races is a big sign. Every single one, probably not. But the bulk of them, if they do, that's going to be a sign that the wind is at Trump's back within the Republican base.

And that in some places, in more purple districts, purple states, if Trump is able to do well with his candidates, and that's a real open question, John, the main thing that you have heard from Trump folks over and over is, voters don't care that much about the January 6th riot at the Capitol. And that may or may not be true, that doesn't mean that it's not deserving of the attention that it's getting. But it might not be the issue that voters are voting on.

KING: That's one of the things we'll watch. You your colleague, Jonathan Martin, as I mentioned at the top, have a fascinating piece on this inside tension between Ron DeSantis, once one of Trumps favorites, because he won't rule out running against Trump. He won't say some other things to please Trump and lately he's actually criticized Trump. In your piece, you say things like this, Mr. Trump and his aides are mindful of Republicans increasingly public fatigue with the drama that trails Mr. Trump. Mr. DeSantis is often the first name Republican site as a possible Trump-style contender, not named Trump. And that's what gets under Trump's skin, right?

HABERMAN: That's a big piece of it. You know, I don't think that's the only thing. I think that Trump is, is genuinely angry that, you know, DeSantis does not show him the difference that he thinks he deserves. Because DeSantis was very unlikely to win his primary for governor in 2018, against a better known challenger, if Trump had not endorsed him, and if Trump had not had lent him staff. So I think that -- I think those are real things that his folks point to is something he cares about. It's not just about having a ring kissed for the sake of it.

That having been said, you know, there are people who have their own political careers in their own lives. And Trump's view of loyalty is that if he does something for someone he believes he's owed, you know, in perpetuity, for whatever he wants. And I think that that is a big piece of where we're at. DeSantis is, you know, in the middle of a reelection campaign, I don't actually think he wants to have a distracting fight with Trump in the middle of that. So, watching DeSantis's moves are going to be very interesting here.

KING: Yes. One of the many fascinating things to watch in the year ahead, Maggie Haberman as always, grateful for your time and reporting. Thank you.

Up next for us, a rare and big event for President Biden, his news conference and his challenges at the one year mark.



KING: President Biden holds a rare news conference tomorrow to reflect on his first year in office and to look ahead to the second. I say rare because take a look. Mr. Biden holds far fewer formal press conferences than did the three presidents who came before him. The President hits the one year mark with slumping poll numbers and rising frustration within his Democratic Party. The red here on this graphic is the source of that frustration. Yes, big year, big first year wins on COVID relief and on infrastructure. But take a look, Democratic hopes on issues ranging from climate, to criminal justice reforms, to immigration, voting rights all unrealized as the critical first year of the Biden presidency comes to a close. Our great reporters are back with us.

Francesca Chambers, you cover the Biden White House. Some of those were goals. Some of them may have been unrealistic goals. But the Democrats had all this energy, especially when they won those two Georgia Senate races, that this was going to be a giant year and it wasn't.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, MCCLATCHY: And President Biden will have the opportunity tomorrow, John, to try and explain essentially what went wrong for Democrats over the last year and how he wound up with roughly 42 percent approval rating just one year in office and have the opportunity to really shift, try to at least to try and shift the narrative that's developing around his presidency. But the Democrats that I'm talking to, John, they feel like they put a lot of trust in Democratic leaders, including the president around a lot of these key issues that he said that he was going to focus on and that reservoir has mostly run dry is but one Democrat told me today.

KING: And Rachael, we just had the poll polls, the President's average approval rating on the screen, we can show it again. He has his first year at around 42 percent, the disapproval number 53 percent. If you study midterm election campaigns, that is just a horrible way to start the year. We're at the beginning. We're at the beginning. We can also show you this, this study from Gallup shows the decline in voters. Look, at the beginning of the Biden presidency, 49 percent of Americans said they were Democrats. At the end of the year that was down to 42. And you see the Republicans rising. That leveled out a bit at the end of the year. But it does tell you, you know, Joe Biden and his party had a very tough year. Now the history of Joe Biden is they write me off and I bounce back. The question is can they come up with a plan to do that this year?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I mean, it depends on what they're going to do. And I think a lot of Democrats are going to be watching this press conference to see specifically what tone does the President take. Does Biden try to sort of double down on this? You know, we're going to get these things done, we're going to pass Build Back Better, we're going to continue to push on voting rights, or does he try to lower expectations and say look we tried, we did our best but we're going to move on and try to get something thing maybe more narrower done, can they try to just pass a couple bills through the Congress to actually say they had something and they can run on something that was in Build Back Better, but that they removed?


And so a lot of Democrats again, they're going to be looking to try to take a signal from Biden, does he stick it to -- does he stick it to his original plan? Does he totally change? And I think at this point, nobody really knows what he's going to do?

KING: We'll have to watch it. And part of the struggle for the president Abby is presidents get too much credit when things go well, they get too much blame when things go bad. We're in the middle of a COVID funk that is affecting the economy in dramatic ways. Look at the price of food and look at inflation. The price of chicken is up the price fish and seafood is up, the price of bacon is up, the price of a meal in a restaurant is up. Again, this is a global pandemic with global supply chain issues that are affecting inflation here at home. But he's president United States at this moment so you are responsible for those numbers, whether you can fix them or not.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, he is between a rock and a hard place. You have so many Democrats in the base saying, why didn't you work on some of these issues that we really cared about? Why did you focus on infrastructure on all of this other stuff as your first priorities? And the Biden thinking was, if we get COVID under control, if we get the money in people's pockets, then we have a better chance of going into the midterm election cycle. They didn't foresee the impacts of COVID and on that extra money in their -- in people's pockets on inflation.

And so they're in a really tough spot, because they made some choices a year ago that that are coming back to them in a way that they did not anticipate. And at the same time that that is happening, their base is so angry that all of those other things on the list that you ticked off at the beginning are undone. And there's not any time or really any political will right now to get most of them done.

KING: And one of the issues is -- two challenges, if you will, when you show that list, the Democratic base says, hey, you raised our hopes, hey, we won those Georgia seats, we should have done more with our power when we had it. Those are Washington conversations or Democratic Party conversations. The country writ large is more focused on this, if you just show the COVID case count across the country. Back in July, the President is an optimist. And back in July, he gave a very optimistic speech about the summer of freedom, then Omicron came along, Delta and then Omicron.

You see, we went from 13,000 cases, Rachael Bade, back on July 4th, to nearly 800,000 cases. Now, I guess the question is, if by the next July 4th, when people are starting to think about how to vote November, if that comes way down, we might be having a different conversation.

BADE: Yes, absolutely. Because the reality is that while Democrats talk often about their agenda, and a lot of Democrats are angry that they didn't pass something and say that's going to hurt them next year. When you look at voters and what they really care about right now, it's those COVID numbers. It's the economy right now, its supply chain issues. And so, you know, if the economy sort of continues to sort of do well, and inflation starts to come down, and those COVID numbers start to come down, sure, Democrats will absolutely get a boost. The problem, though, as Abby just pointed out, is that that's entirely out of their control right now. And there's no way to sort of predict that going into an election year.

KING: And so Francesca, the president again, to his credit, his optimism normally serves him well. Is that what he brings tomorrow? Or is it a bit more sober?

CHAMBERS: Well, the White House has been pushing the message, John, that they're only you're in, they have three more years left in the presidency. And before the midterms, they have several months before that. So they're trying to push an optimistic message that they can still get this done. However, there is a lot of how do you say among Democrats there, I mean, more than frustration, at this point, outright pessimism about being able to get parts of the agenda done before the midterm elections and in time for it to have the kind of effect that Democrats would need. And while you've mentioned that this is a part, a conversation that's often taking place within Democratic Party activist, those are the voters. The Democrats need to turn out in the election, those energized voters in the Democratic Party base that they are now getting very concerned will not turn out.

KING: That's a critical point. Motivation is the biggest issue in the midterm year. Ladies, thanks for coming in for the smart reporting, appreciate it very much.


When we come back, the former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, makes a big announcement about his future plans and look up. Yes, up to the sky, a giant asteroid bigger than the Empire State Building will whiz by Earth today.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, the former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will not run for governor. That ends months of speculation. In a video posted to Twitter, Blasio said he will continue to fight, quote, inequality in the state of New York. The election for New York Governor is later this year. The incumbent governor now Kathy Hochul who took office in August is running for a full term. The lead plaintiff in that landmark Supreme Court ruling legalizing same sex marriage is now running for the Ohio House of Representatives.


JIM OBERGEFELL (D), CANDIDATE, OHIO STATE HOUSE: I think I've proven with my fight for marriage equality that that I don't mind being an underdog. I don't mind fighting a very big fight when it's the right thing to do. And that's what this decision is. It's the right thing to do for me. It's the right thing to do for the people I care about and for this community.


KING: Jim Obergefell sued Ohio in July 2013, after it did not recognize, not legally recognized his right to marriage, longtime partner. Supreme Court ruled in his favor back in the summer of 2015.

Look up to the sky. Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No. It's an asteroid. An asteroid larger than the Empire State Building, larger than the Empire State Building, will have a close call with Earth today. Zooming by our planet at precisely 4:51 p.m. Eastern Time, by close I mean 1.2 million miles away. NASA says that's the closest pass it will make for the next 200 years.


Thanks for your time today in Inside Politics. We'll see you back here tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.