Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Putin Names New General To Direct Russia's War On Ukraine; UK PM Boris Johnson Visits Kyiv, Pledges "Unwavering Support"; Biden And Jackson Celebrate History-Making Moment; Jackson's Confirmation Marked By Partisan Bickering, Personal Attacks; Biden Shifts Focus To Domestic Issues; Trump Says He Wanted To March To Capitol On January 6th. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired April 10, 2022 - 08:00   ET





ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST (voice-over): War in Ukraine. Civilians targeted, cities levels, children maimed, killed or on the run. Lives destroyed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I cannot think of a war crime that hasn't been committed yet by Russia. What they are doing is genocide.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's nothing less happening than major war crimes.

PHILLIP: Ukraine says it can win with more help from the West. Will they get it?

DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINIAN FOREIGN MINSTER: My agenda is simple. It's weapons, weapons and weapons.

PHILLIP: Plus, making history.

JUDGE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE DESIGNATE: In my family, it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States.

PHILLIP: But can anyone stop the court's lurch to the right?

And ex-President Trump says he wishes he marched with the crowd on January 6 as investigators find incriminating new text messages from his son.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: As early as November 5th, the people around Donald Trump were planning to pull off this feat.

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


A change in command. A new general takes over Russia's war in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed General Alexander Dvornikov as the new commander after Russian troops stalled in Kyiv and failed to take the capital city.

Russia is now believed to be preparing for an assault in the eastern part of the country. And the atrocities committed by Russian forces in Ukraine are piling up. At least 164 bodies have been found so far in Bucha, and these are very disturbing images out of eastern Ukraine, where Russians attacked a train station, full of civilians, whose only crime was trying to flee a war zone. At least 50 people were killed.

And the Ukrainian government released intercepted communications of Russian troops talking about killing civilians.


RUSSIAN TROOPS: A car drove by, but I'm not sure if it was a car or a military vehicle. But there were two people coming out of the grove dress as civilians.

Kill them all, for f**k sake.

Got it. But all the village here is civilian.

What's wrong with you? If there are civilians, slay them all.


PHILLIP: CNN international correspondent Phil Black is joining us now from Lviv.

Phil, tell us about this appointment of the new Russian general. What does it signal to you?

PHIL BLACK, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Abby, the man is General Alexander Dvornikov, and as you touched on there, yes, his history is going to add to concerns about the likely brutality of Russia's coming operations.

He was the commander of Russia's intervention in the Syrian civil war. That was a campaign, notorious for its brutality, for the terror, suffering and death inflicted on civilian populations, notably in the city of Aleppo. It is seen as another tacit admission that Russia has been trying to do up until now hasn't worked.

Up until now, the assessment has been that different -- Russian forces in different parts of the country have been acting independently and even competing with one another for resources and logistical support. This all adds to the sense that by pulling out of the north, focusing on the east, Russia is looking to mount operations that are more focused, more consolidated, and it is for these reasons that Ukraine believes the coming fight, the coming battles are going to be very difficult indeed, Abby. PHILLIP: And, Phil, you know, just yesterday the British Prime

Minister Boris Johnson made a surprise visit to the city of Kyiv. A city that recently had been, you know, in the shadow of Russian forces. Tell us about that visit.

BLACK: So President Zelenskyy has been full of praise for Boris Johnson for making that visit. Firstly for the symbolism of it, but he was also very full of praise for Johnson and everything the British government has done up until now. All the decisions it made in recent weeks in terms of the military support it has provided, but also notably on sanctions.

The U.K. just like the European union has promised to move away from Russian coal very quickly. U.K. has also gone a step further. It's promised to give up Russian oil by the end of the year.

This is something that the European Union hasn't been able to match. Not yet. It is talking about it, but such is the dependency on Russian oil that there is no obvious alternative without doing a lot of self- harm.


So the European Union is talking about making this step, but the point that Zelenskyy has been making for some time now is that this decision needs to be made quickly, and he was very keen to celebrate U.K.'s decision to having -- pointing to that intention already, Abby.

PHILLIP: Thank you so much for that reporting, Phil Black, in Lviv.

And joining me now with their reporting and insight, CNN contributor and former Moscow bureau chief Jill Dougherty and CNN's chief national affairs correspondent Jeff Zeleny.

So, Jill, a new general for Russia after a month or more of not really making the gains they wanted. Is this a signal that Putin is willing to go all out now, in order to get maybe some semblance of a victory by this May 9th date that is of significant to --

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN RUSSIAN AFFAIRS CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, I do think that's correct. You know, May 9th, number one, is a huge holiday, the victory over the fascists in World War II. And so, they made in the beginning of this operation, they made it unbelievably complicated to carry out.

So what they're doing is they're focusing on this one particular area, Russian speaking in the eastern part of the country, and if they can -- I would say essentially bludgeon that into submission, then by May 9th, they can say, you know, our original objective is met, and President Putin accomplished everything, but I do not think that's the end of the story.

PHILLIP: Well, Putin is basically signaling to the world, there are probably going to be more war crimes like we have seen in Bucha and in other places on the horizon. What is the world's response now in terms of sanctions? Is there more that can be done to get ahead of this? JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, we have

seen sanctions increase really almost by the day, by the week for much of the last three months and longer. But it has done very little obviously to stop what we are seeing now as war crimes.

Look, at the end of the day, it has -- the sanctions have shown one thing, the European leaders and the U.S., the Western leaders are unified in a way that they were not before. But beyond that, it has not done anything to stop these atrocities and it won't. I mean, of course, this is a longer conversation about energy, et cetera, and even though West has done a lot, China, India, other places are fueling Russia's war here. So, it will not stop.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, the Ukrainians are being pretty explicit here. Here is a video they produced basically to shame Europe about their consumption of Russian oil and gas.



SUBTITLE: You don't pay in euros or rubles for Russian gas and oil.

You pay in the lives of the same Europeans as you.


PHILLIP: So, I mean, basically saying you're paying Russia in lives, basically, for the use of oil and gas. I mean, Britain is doing some, what about Germany and the rest of them?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, it is complicated for each country is kind of different. I think at this point they're doing about what they feel politically domestically they can do. But I think, you know, if you look at the Biden administration, so many administrations would like to do more, to throw the book at Russia. But I think what they're trying to do is keep everybody on the same page, keep the alliance together.

And so sometimes that means they have to temper what they're doing. But, you know, if there is a crack in the unity of the allies, Putin's going to rush right in there and take advantage of it. So I think probably a good strategy.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, it seems like there has been a long history of underestimating Putin and his desire frankly to break up the European project and, you know, the idea of NATO at large.

Our John Harwood has a very interesting piece with the former -- the very first U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, it says this: President George W. Bush who famously said he peered into Vladimir Putin's soul, reacted cautiously to Russia's 2008 invasion of Georgia. President Barack Obama, who sought a "reset" with the Kremlin, did the same after Russia seized Crimea Ukraine. Both administrations fell short in realizing the threat, said the ex-ambassador to Ukraine, Roman Popadiuk. So, this is something that goes further. He also says the former

ambassador, that the Biden administration knowing that Putin planned to invade as an existential thing for the Russian empire should have provided the weapons sooner.

DOUGHERTY: Well, that's a big debate.


DOUGHERTY: Look, we can look back at that and say they should have done a whole lot of things.


But obviously, even if they did the maximum right from the beginning, it could be perceived as just going too far, and even at this point, they are doing about the maximum and it is not changing Vladimir Putin. I think what's changed is initially going back to Crimea, 2014.

The West looked at Putin and said, well, maybe they were even surprised. 2014, they were not prepared for taking Crimea. You know, previous, Georgia, et cetera.

But I think this time they looked at it and said, we know what he's going to do, and they used that intelligence and now, they're at the point where they have to figure out what is Putin's endgame. Where is he going with this? And that's the hardest thing of all.

PHILLIP: Well, I mean, that is the big question, and it -- I think all along there has been an underestimation of his end goals. People thought he was just going to be reserved to be separatist regions, that were contested. He wanted the whole thing.

So it has been a question of what his end goals are. Jeff, I want to get your take on this. You were there for some of this. Former president Obama discussed his role in this saga with Ukraine just a couple of days ago.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: I have been encouraged by the European reaction because in 2014, I often had to drag them kicking and screaming to respond in ways we would have wanted to see.

MODERATOR: If you can go back and do things over again, would you have done more?

OBAMA: I actually don't because the circumstances were different.


PHILLIP: Is this what you expect from him?

ZELENY: He is not that -- the former president is not one to necessarily admit that many mistakes like many presidents. He, of course, is in good company, except Syria, for example, he said that still haunts him.

So, I was a little surprised he didn't go a touch further here. But President Obama, ever since I cannot get this moment on that debate stage with Mitt Romney out of my mind, he said the 1980s are calling for their foreign policy back. And you do have to thread this needle.

He has always underestimated Vladimir Putin. In his book, he described Vladimir Putin as a war boss from Chicago. That is probably not an apt description of that at all.

Jill covered the Bush administration as well and, of course, Putin has changed since then, the world has changed since then, but it is fascinating to see from president to president to president, there has been a big underestimation, I think.

DOUGHERTY: Absolutely. I think, you know, there is a way, when you sit on K Street or at the White House, it looks very different from really what is going on. I mean, right, essentially, at this point in Russia we have a totalitarian government. And one man who has the power in his hands. Slight exaggeration, but really is Putin.


DOUGHERTY: So, trying to predict what Russia will do, based on rational principles that look normal here in Washington is useless, because it doesn't work that way.

PHILLIP: Yeah, it is a fascinating point. Stand by for us.

Coming up next, the worst may be yet to come. Inside Russia's plan to conquer all of Eastern Ukraine.



PHILLIP: The battle for Donbas will remain if you have -- will remind you of the Second World War. That's what the Ukrainian foreign minister is saying about the fight that is to come in the East. Ukrainian officials expect the Russians will launch a massive offensive.


MAJ. GEN. KYRYLO BUDANOV, UKRAINIAN CHIEF OF DEFENSE INTELLIGENCE (through translator): They plan to advance towards Kharkiv, first of all. They will try to finish off city of Mariupol. And only after that they might try to initiate advances towards Kyiv. Ukraine needs really serious support in heavy armament and they need it not tomorrow, we need it today.


PHILLIP: New satellite images here show what could be a large convoy of Russian forces moving into eastern Ukraine. These are images of an eight-mile long convoy moving east of the city of Kharkiv, made of armored vehicles, trucks and artillery, with support equipment.

So, Russia is trying to regroup, Jill, and trying to move into the south, perhaps encircle Ukrainian forces that are currently there, where, by the way, there has been fighting for a long time. And the Ukrainians have successfully held them off.

But this is coming, you know, over a month into this campaign, Russian troops are exhausted, poorly supplied, they already had some logistical and some tactical struggles. Do you expect they could execute?

DOUGHERTY: I think they're going to have some difficulty. I mean, look, the Russian way of war is to basically throw a whole lot of people at it. But you look at right now, the destruction that has been taking place of their troops in the field, you know, some units have been blown to smithereens, they no longer even exist, they're having trouble getting recruits.

We just heard the report from Phil about the fact that when they started this, they had five different at least command posts with no overall command. So I think at this point, they are intent on doing this.

But the way they're going to do it is still may not work because of the decimation of a lot of their forces. The only way they can do it again is to, I think, just bludgeon, bludgeon, bludgeon, you know, bring in a whole lot of missiles and just attack.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and that's why the Ukrainians are saying this is a new phase of the war, we need more.

Listen to the foreign minister of Ukraine talking about the deal is with Europeans.


KULEBA: I think the deal that Ukraine is offering is fair. You give us weapons, we sacrifice our lives, and the war is contained in Ukraine.



PHILLIP: And specifically what they're asking for, they need more tanks, artillery, they need different kinds of weapons, they need more ammunition. It seems like there is, though, some concern still in the West that doing so could antagonize Putin as offensive weapons as opposed to --

DOUGHERTY: You know, at this point, I think the antagonizing debate may be over. The only antagonism that they have to worry about is whether Putin would resort to nuclear weapons. Either tactical or, you know, God forbid big missiles coming to destroy the world. I don't think that's going to happen.

But tactical missiles or maybe you could have chemical, we have been talking about chemical weapons, things like that. But --

PHILLIP: To gain control -- right, to gain control of the population.

I do want to talk about what's going on inside of Russia. The Kremlin is now admitting they have suffered significant losses. Their words, in Ukraine, body bags coming home, what impact does that have?

DOUGHERTY: I think ultimately it can have a great impact. It has before in conflicts like Chechnya, where families just were distraught not knowing where their kids were. Some families in Chechnya actually went to that region in the south of Russia to try to get their boys back.

So this is just beginning. You mentioned, you know, we're in six weeks, seven weeks into it, but as the forces who have been killed, the boys who have been killed, when that dawns on people, it is going to have an effect, and economic sanctions and how the economy is really going to be hit.

PHILLIP: Meanwhile, the authoritarian turn of Russia internally is accelerating. People being urged to report their neighbors and teachers and things like that for talking against this war.

DOUGHERTY: Yeah, it is very, you know, Stalinist, we have seen this before in the Soviet Union. Report on your neighbors, be a snitch, tell the government what's happening, and also attack people, you know, kick them out of universities, spray paint the Z, which is now the symbol to the Russian fight, on people's front doors. It's very serious.

PHILLIP: So the public, the effort from Putin to control the narrative, it is not just suppressing information, but also getting the populists to suppress the talk of this war at home.

Jill Dougherty, thanks for being with us as always.

Coming up next, Democrats are celebrating Judge Brown Jackson's elevation to the Supreme Court to Justice Jackson. But how much influence will she really have on the conservative court?



PHILLIP: When Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is officially sworn in this summer, it will be first time in American history that the Supreme Court won't have a majority of white male justices. And the significance is not lost on President Biden. He and Jackson celebrated as they watched the Senate vote on her confirmation.

Later she acknowledged her place in this country, and in her family's history.


JACKSON: The path was cleared for me, so that I might rise to this occasion. And in the poetic words of Dr. Maya Angelou, I do so now while bringing the gifts my ancestors gave.

I am the dream and the hope of a slave.


PHILLIP: And joining me now with their reporting and their insights, Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast", Zolan Kanno-Youngs of "The New York Times", and Jeff Zeleny is back with us.

A truly historical and incredibly significant moment for her but against the backdrop, of course, of this process of Supreme Court nominations and confirmations, perhaps being irrevocably broken. I want you to listen to Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been one of the people on the forefront of making it clear times are changing.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): The game has changed.

Remember Amy Coney Barrett, how they came after her, remember Kavanaugh? I do.

Compare that hearing with what happened to Judge Jackson is ridiculous. She wasn't ambushed. I asked her hard questions and she gave bad answers.


PHILLIP: So, unclear exactly why Lindsey Graham decided to make this video, except to say he's going to be the person, you know, on this vanguard of what is it going to look like next, for the next Supreme Court nominee? Can they get a vote if the Senate is of a different party of the president?

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Absolutely. One, I don't think that you can say enough what it means just in terms of the moment of the confirmation and what it means to see somebody who looks like you in that high place. That being said, as you're noting, look, this these hearings provided a glimpse into the divisiveness in the country, as well as the Republican strategy going ahead of midterms to portray Democrats and as well as the nominee of -- as well as the president's nominee as a party that doesn't have control over crime, as a party that, you know, is going to be weak on prosecutions as well.

Some of the lines here, especially from Senator Graham's questioning there shows a blueprint of what you'll see Republicans continue to employ.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Which is what you heard from Lisa Murkowski, Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska when she announced her vote to support her, saying that this process has just gotten so awful and it's gotten so partisan and raw that -- this was a vote as much against the process as it was for her because now soon-to-be- justice Ketanji Brown Jackson became just an avatar for all of these grievances and the as you mentioned kind of campaign slogans for the midterm elections.

ZELENY: And it's been a slow motion getting to this. I mean gone are the days of course of massive majorities -- big majorities supporting a president's nominee.

We saw, of course, Senator Obama voted against John Roberts at the time. But he did not -- and he was on the committee -- he did not treat him in the way that these Republicans treated her. So it's gone from voting against to really using this as a theater, if you will, for 2024 campaign. It was really incredibly striking. But to your question before, will anyone -- let's say there's a vacancy in the second two years of the Biden term if Republicans control the Senate, there will be a vacancy on the Supreme Court. Mitch McConnell has made that very clear --

PHILLIP: For years potentially.

ZELENY: -- that he will not confirm. So that is what has changed dramatically. We thought that the Merrick Garland situation during the end of the Obama administration was an outlier. That turns out not to be the case in McConnell's eyes.

PHILLIP: And she -- Ketanji Brown Jackson will be seated in the court later this year. But the reason all of this matters is because the court has made a right word (ph) shift in recent years.

And just this year and in the coming year, on the docket are pretty much an array of issues that cover so much of American civil life from abortion to gun control to religious liberty and LGBTQ rights, affirmative action, and voting right. The architecture of legal rulings going back to the 60s currently under review.

But her vote won't be a swing vote and yet I think it makes you wonder, I mean what is the future for the court with her on it?

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well look, I mean as you were just saying, as historic as this is, the path forward is one of likely dissent for soon-to-be Justice Jackson. And you can even look at some of the cases that -- the last cases that Justice Breyer will be overseeing as well.

You know, he is going -- they're still going to be in the minority here as you were saying. They're still been a right-word shift here. A lot of people say that would be kind of the lasting imprint of the Trump administration and some of the work of Senator Mitch McConnell a well.

So when you also look at a case like EPA regulations, when you also look at the fact that Justice Jackson did indicate that she's going to recuse herself from the affirmative action case as well for Harvard. The impact when it comes to actually the cases that are going to be overseen, that trend may not change with this nomination.

PHILLIP: It also highlights why the court has mattered so much to Republicans. They have been able to produce this. I do also want to play this bit from Senator John Cornyn talking

specifically about one of these issues -- the issue of same-sex marriage and whether or not he thinks that should be relooked at by the Court.


SENATOR JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): Whether it's the Court's decisions on abortion or the right to marry same-sex partner or separate but equal or even things like the Dred Scott decision, all of these involved the use of this substantive due process doctrine as a way to cover up and hide the fact that it was judges making the law and not the policymakers who run for office.


PHILLIP: That's pretty clear. Republicans are preparing for an era in which those things are all going to be re-looked at.

KUCINICH: I mean look at some of the laws that are being in place when the so-called "don't say gay" laws that you are seeing pop up around the country. It's very clear that the most conservative factions of the Republican Party feel extremely emboldened. And intend on pushing that agenda as far as they can.

PHILLIP: Is there anything that can bring us back from this brink, do you think?

ZELENY: Look, I mean we say it all the time. But I think on the elections have consequences, but no more so on the Supreme Court. And President Trump had three -- his legacy will be three justices on the court.

So unless there are some unexpected retirements soon and Democrats hold the majority in the Senate, the court is locked in for a decent share of our professional lives going forward. The average age of the justices, I'm sort of struck by, is only like 62 or something. Consider the age of the president, 79. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is what 82. So it's a young court.

PHILLIP: And the fight will always be it seems, at least for the foreseeable future, incredibly, incredibly political.

So stand by for us.

Coming up next, Democrats are trying to tout their accomplishment. But are voters listening?

Before we go to break, there was no one like Anthony Bourdain. This is the story that you haven't heard from the people who knew him best.


PHILLIP: "ROADRUNNER" is a film about Anthony Bourdain that premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, FORMER CELEBRITY CHEF: My life -- it's a gift, a dream, a curse. I shall explain.

I got very lucky. One minute I was standing next to a deep fryer. The next, everything in my life changed. I was unqualified for the job. I was in deep waters and fast flowing ones at that. The currents could change at any time without warning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was definitely searching for something and it was kind of agony for him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was such a romantic about life, about families and reality was never going to live up to exactly how he pictured it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it was about Tony learning how to be a better person.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a good karma.

BOURDAIN: How is this food related? (EXPLETIVE DELETED) if I know.



PHILLIP: President Biden's public schedule has been consumed by Russia's invasion of Ukraine. But now he is pivoting back toward his domestic agenda.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If this changed (ph), it's estimated that 200,000 presently uninsured Americans are going to gain coverage.

Workers who join a union gain power, the power over decisions that affect their lives. We're going to look back and see this as a moment of real change in American history.



PHILLIP: So Jeff, the White House has -- their theory has been all along frankly that what matters to, you know, the midterms and to the president's prospects is what's happening at home. Can they make this pivot back?

ZELENY: Look, they're trying. And it's clear that the White House and the president has to do more than one thing at a time, which all presidents of course do. They cannot set their agenda entirely but what they cannot also do, clearly as we head, you know, into the spring here, almost into the summer, the president can't only talk about Ukraine. You have seen a dramatic shift. It's always a key just to watch his schedule. What's he saying and what's he doing? And since he came back from Europe, the president, he has not given any major addresses on Ukraine or Russia. They are trying to talk to voters about.

So we will see the president traveling this week for the first time in several weeks, going to Iowa on Tuesday, talking about infrastructure, trying to remind voters what they have done. Go to North Carolina later in the week.

It's a tough lift, of course, because Ukraine is still such a dominating force. But at the end of the day, the president cannot do much, if anything, about inflation, gas prices, et cetera. They can try and talk about their accomplishments.

All of this of course, is to try and remind the Democratic base of what the Biden administration has been doing, which has largely been forgotten about in some cases.

PHILLIP: About what they're doing, although there is a lot of talk about what hasn't been done. This to-do list unfinished.


PHILLIP: Whether it's student loan forgiveness or the child tax credit.

You have an interesting story Zolan about the Title 42 decision which is about whether the Biden administration -- they now say they will remove Title 42, which had largely prevented migrants from coming into the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And here in your story you say, if they didn't find a way to deter illegal crossings at the southwest border, claims that accusations about border chaos would grow worse, anger moderate voters and potentially sink the party during the 2022 midterms.

Inside the White House, there's a concern that this is huge political problem for them --

KANNO-YOUNGS: A concern that dates back to the early days of the administration. And you're seeing play out now. We are not seeing more Dems than we have seen since Title 42 was implemented by the Trump administration that have come out in support of restoring this thing or have come out criticizing the Biden administration's plan to lift it.

Let's remember, this was a policy that was criticized by then Senator Kamala Harris, various Democrats, including the Homeland Security Committee as denying asylum seekers the right to seek asylum.

Now we're seeing Democratic Senator like Raphael Warnock criticize the administration's plan here. And that concern was reflected in the White House, whether it be around March as the story says, the president at one point getting so frustrated with his different cabinet officials all blaming each other asking, who should I fire here?

Obviously, nobody was fired at that point. But then you continue weeks later into the summer where his chief of staff is approaching a group of senior aides and saying yes, that this is something. This is an issue that could impact the midterms here as well as the entire team within the White House and DHS as well, at times scrambling forth to try and find a solution, even if it was embracing Trump era policies at the border to try and deter illegal crossings.

It really shows that deterrents and it shows the anxiety of what high border crossings would mean politically.

PHILLIP: On the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue though, there's some reporting about Speaker Pelosi and her views about what might be going wrong for Democrats. This is reporting coming from an upcoming book that says, "In a few strictly confidential conversations, she pointed the finger leftward. Pelosi told one senior lawmaker that Democrats had alienated Asian and Hispanic immigrants with loose talk of socialism."

This is a book from JMart and Alex Burns (ph) coming up. But it seems to be an indictment of the Democratic Party from Pelosi herself privately, that things are trending in the wrong direction writ large.

KUCINISH: Well, I mean, look at all the resistance. And you never used to have resistance to Nancy Pelosi because of her ability which is why she has been speaker twice at this point. Because she would lead and they would follow and she has received so much resistance leftward from where she tried to take the party on a number of issues.

But you know, look no further, not only Nancy Pelosi. I mean Joe Biden's state of the union had a line about not defunding the police, about funding the police. I mean the trend leftward is rattling every corner of the Democratic Party, except the left going into the midterms.


PHILLIP: And notably, before we go, one of the lines from this upcoming book apparently, you know, Speaker Pelosi says that AOC and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal both vying to be the Queen B of the left -- some pretty sharp words from her.

But thank you all for that conversation.

Coming up next, texts from Donald Trump's son plotting a coup in the days after the 2020 election.



PHILLIP: A remarkable "Washington Post" interview with former President Donald Trump this week. He blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser for not stopping the riot on January 6th. And he said that the Secret Service blocked him from actually going to the capitol with his supporters.

He bragged about the crowd size at the coup and is still repeating the fiction that he'll be reinstated. He told "The Post", how has it not happened, if you're a bank robber or you're a jewelry store robber and you go to Tiffany's and you steal their diamonds and get caught, you have to give the diamonds back."

That is of course, not the right analogy for something that is not true. But all of this leads to the question, is there anything that Trump can do or say that would be too far for the GOP? And the Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's answer is apparently no.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said Donald Trump's actions preceding the January 6th insurrection were a quote, "disgraceful dereliction of duty". How do you go from saying that to two weeks later saying you'd absolutely support Donald Trump if he's the Republican nominee in 2024?

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): Well, as the Republican leader of the Senate it should not be a front page headline that I'll support the Republican nominee for president.


PHILLIP: So this is like Groundhog Day for the Republican Party. Trump continues to lie about January 6th, continues to push the envelope with those lies, but McConnell you know, he has a different approach about the midterms than he does for the general election. With the general election, he's like, if the guy is on the ballot, I'm going to vote for him and support him.

ZELENY: For sure. And look, I mean the key question there is nominee. Of course, Mitch McConnell would not prefer that Donald Trump be the nominee. He has no control over that.

But look, for him it's all about judges. It has nothing to do with the president. It has to do with the judiciary. So Senator McConnell is hoping he is the majority leader next fall and he's hoping that he can block Biden judges and he's hoping a Republican wins in 2024 so he can add more Republican judges. For him it's that simple.

He's able to triangulate this in his mind. He's not close to President Trump which we know he never will be but he also will never break from him because it's about other things.

KUCINICH: He also knows that President Trump is more popular within the Republican Party than he is.

ZELENY: By a mile.

KUCINICH: By a mile, exactly. So yes, you're absolutely right, Jeff. He's using him as a means to an end as he always has. And that will continue if Republicans take the Senate next year. PHILLIP: We also learned this week, actually just in the last day, new

reporting from CNN about these text messages between Donald Trump Jr. and the former president's chief of staff Mark Meadows. He says, "It's very simple. We have multiple paths, we control them all."

But he's talking in just the few hours frankly after the election before all the votes are even counted. And in subsequent text messages lays out a strategy that includes the fake electors, includes the vice president doing something that constitutionally he has no authority to do. What does this say?

KANNO-YOUNGS: Well this has been now in a line of text messages that have been revealed with some of these different investigations going on, looking into not just January 6th but the days leading up to it, looking at the communication around not just the former president, but those around him. We've now had text messages from members of Congress. We've now had Donald Trump Jr. We know that Ivanka Trump was testifying as well recently. So this is what really the investigation is all about.

And it also goes direct to some of the misleading statements that were said in that interview with the "Washington Post" as well.

You know, Trump was deflecting blame for some of the security failures there. Part of revealing some the documentation here is trying to fill in the gaps around what the former president was saying, what those close to him were saying, not just on January 6th but also the days leading up to it to try and undermine the electoral procession.

PHILLIP: So I want to switch gears a little bit here because just last night former president Trump made a big endorsement in the Pennsylvania Senate race. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Dr. Oz, great guy, good man. He's a good man, Harvard educated, tremendous, tremendous career. And they liked him for a long time.

That's like a poll. You know, when you're in television for 18 years, that's like a poll. That means people like you. But he's a great guy.


PHILLIP: It's all about television, of course but in this case there are a number of Trump aides working for the other candidate, David McCormick and Trump made a different decision.

ZELENY: Right. But he explained there exactly why. It is all about television. It is all about celebrity. So I think this is what -- it's what I expected all along. We didn't know necessarily when he would give the endorsement.

But the primary is in about a month or so. So it's -- time is of the essence. This will be the most closely watched Trump endorsement of the cycle. Because David McCormick who is running a very tough campaign against Dr. Oz. He's a former Bush administration official. His wife Dina Powell worked in the Trump administration.


ZELENY: They worked very hard for this endorsement. They didn't get it. So this is pitting the former President against a lot of his former advisors in a very high profile race.

PHILLIP: And McCormick was even at Mar-A-Lago just a couple of days ago trying to get this endorsement. But a lot of MAGA world, the right wing very angry about this endorsement.

KANNO-YOUNGS: You've seen some former Trump staffers as well. You're seeing some people, yes in that world even just last night on Twitter saying those around the president are giving bad advice which is a little bit confusing, because it seems very clear here what this situation is.

Oz was a celebrity, and one of the characteristics of the former president is that he values people who are celebrities. He came from a reality TV background. He thinks entertainment is a huge factor in political wins here. So to put it on those around him giving bad advice, this was Trump's decision.

KUCINICH: And Dr. Oz did Trump a solid in 2016 when he had him on his show and said he had a clean bill of health, or whatever the actual quote was.

But you know, "Daily Beast has reported, I know a lot of other people have reported, the president has been angry with his former advisers, current advisers for pushing him in a candidate one way or the other and feeling and that person loses or that person doesn't do as well, and the president being mad at that.

So I think we might see more of Trump kind of trusting his gut and going with what he knows of this celebrity and what not with these endorsements.

PHILLIP: This is someone who was a president of the United States, so one presumes he knows how to make decisions.


PHILLIP: Well, that is it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Don't forget, you can listen to our podcast, "INSIDE POLITICS". You can download it wherever you get your podcast. Just scan that QR code at the bottom of your screen.

Coming up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper live from Ukraine. His guests include national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Have a great rest of your day.