Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

U.S. Continues Support of Ukraine's Defense Against Russia; FDA Could Pass Vaccines for Children Under 5; Trump's Support Could Influence 2022 Primaries. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 28, 2022 - 12:30   ET




KING: President Biden last hour responding to some of the tough words nuclear saber rattling, you might say, out of the Kremlin. And Putin's vow to meet foreign interference in Ukraine with "lightening fast speed."


JOE BIDEN: It shows the desperation that Russia is feeling about their abject failure in being able to do what they set out to do.

No one should be making idle comments about the use of nuclear weapons, or the possibility they'd use that, it's irresponsible.


KING: Let's take a closer look now at President Biden's new request that Congress approve an additional -- an additional $33 billion in aid for Ukraine. The new ask is more than double the $14 billion the United States is already pouring into the fight.

Much of the new money would go to new weapons and other military assistance, but there's also additional humanitarian aid, and money to help Ukraine keep its government and its schools up and running.

Abby Phillip, Laura Barron-Lopez and Seung Min Kim are back with me. The interest -- the fact that it's doubled, in the last couple of months you've already asked for 14, that's in the pipeline -- double that, they say that's for five months.

So the president says Putin is failing, however this is proof the president thinks this is going on for months, and months, and months.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY: Exactly, that the United States really is buckling up for the long haul here where this is going to conflict that not only requires transferring weapons that the United States already has, but potentially incentivizing even the military complex to arm Ukraine sufficiently. It's been interesting, just in the last week or so -- week and a half,

let's say. The rhetoric from President Biden has shifted, much more aggressive, much more firm about the United States wanting Putin to lose this war.

But also after this visit by Secretary Austin and Blinken over the weekend there's just a sense now that the United States government, they have a sense of what's going on on the ground and they are moving pretty aggressively to give the Ukrainians what they need for this part of the conflict.

Which everyone says is going to be potentially very protracted, difficult, necessary that there's heavy weaponry but the long-term needs that the Ukrainian government needs just to remain alive and viable, but also to continue to fight and defeat the Russians. Not just defend themselves, but defeat the Russians.

KING: And the president also seems determined. The remarks you just heard at the beginning there, General Eaton earlier in the program saying that Putin before he became president had this doctor in as an advisor to the Russian president of this tactical nuclear weapon.

Putin has used this muscular language, and the president seems to be saying we are not going to blink. Sorry, we are not going to blink we are in this fight. And making clear he is going to keep asking Congress for money, keep sending heavier weapons, and he believes he can keep the alliance together.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right, and that's kind of been his philosophy all along -- first of all emphasizing that this is not aggression on the U.S. and the alliance's part, and I think he made that point again earlier in his remarks this morning that we are doing this to defend Ukraine.

Russia was first the aggressor and the world is pitching in and helping to help Ukraine defend themselves (ph), to obviously stave off the propaganda coming from the Russian officials. But that is how he has operated all along, certainly how he will in the months ahead.

But yes, I was floored to see the $33 billion figure when that came across this morning, because they did indicate -- the administration officials did indicate that the money was getting low, that that $14 billion was getting low pretty fast. But this really shows that the U.S. is dedicated for potentially long haul.

KING: And beyond the money request the president wants new powers because the Treasury Department can impose sanctions, State Department can impose sanctions but there are limits to what you do when you freeze assets or even seize assets.

He wants new authority, the president does to seize and forfeit the assets -- essentially you seize a yacht, you seize a property then you sell it. He wants that money to go back to Ukraine directly. Clamp down on sanctions evasion, expand the time limits to follow the money. He wants new authority there. So that's both an effort to say guess what we can find even more

financial resources for Ukraine, but that's also a direct poke at Putin to try to get the oligarchs, all the wealthy Russians to begin to stir up some dissent.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yes, these actions -- yes, they do show that the U.S. thinks that this is going to go on for a long time. They also are clearly signals to Putin, clearly signals to Russia that look the U.S. is in this fight, they're going to stay in it, and they're going to try to stay united with E.U. allies and with NATO.

Because time and time again Biden keeps talking about we are not going to let our resolve go, that the U.S. is committed to this. And so showing that he's trying to find other avenues of how exactly can I get at the oligarchs, how exactly can we squeeze Russia's economy and people around Putin? That's what he's doing right there.

And to Seung Min's point, it was just striking that in his comments this morning again, he still is matching it with this very careful rhetoric of we are not attacking Russia, this is not an attack on Russia they started this first.


KING: Interesting, next week he's going to a military plant in Alabama where they make javelin missiles, essentially to thank American workers, he said, for supplying the fight. So he's saying no boots on the ground, but he's making very clear to Putin that yes, we're going to keep this up. It's a fascinating confrontation.

When we come back, there's major news today on vaccines in the COVID fight for children under five and younger. We'll have the details next.



Major news today for millions of parents with young children and babies, Moderna announcing this morning it will seek emergency authorization use for its COVID vaccine for kids, six months old through five years old. The pharmaceutical giant says its study shows strong antibody response, and it believes the vaccine will be able to safely protect children against the Coronavirus.

Joining me now is our CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

Elizabeth, Moderna says the data is great, but there is a difference in the efficacy when you look at the data in the vaccines kids two and under and then in those from the two years old to five years old, right?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: There is, John. And I'm going to preface this before anyone sees these numbers and goes, what's the big deal about? These numbers are not stunning, we remember, you know like 95 percent efficacy for the original vaccine back at the end of 2020. That is not what this is, Omicron is much more resistant to the vaccine.

So what we have is 51 percent efficacy for children ages six months through two years, and 37 percent efficacy ages two to five years. But John, as you pointed out it did create antibodies and that's efficacy against getting COVID-19 to begin with.

It's thought that the efficacy was even stronger, that it really does protect your child from god forbid ending up in the hospital or dying. But here's the key here, what are Pfizer's numbers going to look like? What you see here is two dose efficacy. Pfizer's is going to be three doses, it may possibly be stronger.

Dr. Anthony Fauci has expressed a reluctance to have both of these out there -- one a two dose regimen, one a three dose. It's confusing to doctors, it's confusing to parents. This may become a we're going to approve or authorize Pfizer or Moderna, it may come to that.

KING: Well then, let's -- if that's the case, let's walk through the process when it comes to Moderna here. The FDA, will it consult outside advisors on this? How will this play out?

COHEN: You know what, John, they don't have to. They can just -- you know, the FDA can do all of this themselves, they don't have to -- and sometimes they don't consult their outside advisors. But if they don't they're going to come under a lot of criticism. These are very little children and this gets very sort of confusing and messy with the two different vaccines. So the hope is they will convene their outside advisors.

KING: Clarity, we would like clarity. Elizabeth Cohen, grateful for the important reporting. Good to see you.

Up next for us we go live to Ohio, Tuesday is primary day there. And the Senate race in Ohio, a big, big early test of Donald Trump's sway over Republican voters.



Ohio voters head to the polls next Tuesday, and that kicks off a month of key primaries. Among the big questions we'll start to answer, how much sway does Donald Trump still have over the GOP? I say that because in a number of races, including in the Ohio Senate race Trump has a candidate, but other Republican factions have other candidates.

This kicks off the month of May, Indiana also has a primary on Tuesday, no big Senate race there. By the end of the month starts in Ohio, by the end of the month a key test in Pennsylvania, a key test in North Carolina, a key test in Georgia, a key test in Alabama, Arkansas as well has a Senate primary.

We will know by the end of May, we'll have at least a test of how much Donald Trump sway still holds. In Ohio, his candidate -- he was late to this, but his candidate in the Senate race is J.D. Vance the author and the businessman.

Other Republican factions say no, some of them support another candidate. Josh Mandel, here's one of the challenges, can a group like the Club for Growth which is spending a ton of money in Ohio, beat Donald Trump?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I might have to vote for Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People who voted for Trump, voted for him for racist reasons.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where does he get off saying that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got our own eyes and our own ears.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: J.D. Vance is a fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Club for Growth Action is responsible for the content of this ad.


KING: CNN's Jeff Zeleny is on the ground for us in Columbus, Ohio. CNN's Gabby Orr with me here in-studio, she's also covering this race.

Gabby, let me start with you. This is a huge test. The Club for Growth which has been a -- let me just call it a thorn in the side of many incumbent Republicans. The Republican powerbrokers over the last 15 years or so is now taking on Donald Trump.

GABBY ORR, CNN REPORTER: They are, and it's not going necessarily well for them. I mean, without question this is the most competitive Senate primary we're seeing on the Republican side. And nowhere else have we seen Donald Trump pit himself against allies like we have in Ohio. His endorsement of J.D. Vance in this race effectively destroyed the relationship that he had with the Club for Growth, as we saw with those ads.

You know, I'm told that Trump has not spoken to Club for Growth President David McIntosh since they doubled down on those anti Vance ads, and he has zero interest in patching up that relationship anytime soon. And I think that the fallout there -- the dissolvement (ph) of that relationship with the club really shows how nasty this race has become. And it's probably going to get even uglier between now and next Tuesday.

KING: Yes, in the few days left. So Jeff, you're on the ground there. I just want to give our viewers a chance, J.D. Vance -- the Club for Growth ad is factually correct, back in 2016 he thought Donald Trump was horrible. Now he explains himself this way as he's grateful for that endorsement.


J.D. VANCE, AUTHOR AND BUSINESSMAN: Now, I'm sure you've seen all these advertisements accusing me of being a never-Trumper, right? Because I'll be honest with you, I didn't like Donald Trump 2016 like a lot of Republicans didn't love Donald Trump in 2016.


The difference between me and them is that I've actually had the honesty to admit that I was wrong, amazingly, in politics -- just admit you were wrong, it's that simple.


KING: A lot of politicians don't admit they were wrong, or decide to change their position because they think they need to be close to Trump. The question is, can he sell it?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That is the question. And you could hear J.D. Vance confronting, really the elephant in the room directly there as we spent some time with him on the campaign trail yesterday talking about the words that he had said previously, and that is exactly what is on the minds of many Republican voters -- that is exactly what many that we spoke to yesterday are saying.

And some are saying, look, we -- if President Trump can forgive and forget, so can we. But John, we also ran into at last half as many who said look, they're still bothered by that, they are still assessing the field. The challenge here is this is a very crowded primary field, and J.D. Vance is not well known at all among the Republican family, if you will, that's what this primary race is.

It's expected to be a low turnout affair here in Ohio next week, in part because the primaries have been split. There's been a legal challenge over redistricting, so all of the state primaries are in August, the federal races are next week. So that complicates everything, but it is a big test of the former president, but it's also a sense of the 25 percent or so of the electorate (ph) that is still undecided.

Will they follow the former president, or will they not? And it is a very, very close race here. Another race going on, the governor's race. Incumbent governor Mike DeWine an establishment candidate. He could also play a role in some of the Senate races as well, John. So this is a fascinating test for Trump coming now in just five days.

KING: Well, and you mentioned you were talking to voters out there. Let's listen to some of the voters because I think it's critical as we deploy our reporters across the country this year. Let's listen to the voters in both parties to hear it in their words, because they often speak a little differently than they do in Washington. Let's listen to a couple.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JANET RIEGEL, OHIO REPUBLICAN VOTER: I think it's great that Trump came out and endorsed him. But I'm not making my decision based on Trump's choice, I'm basing it on what J.D. Vance stands for, or what any of the candidates stand for.

BONNIE BOYD, OHIO REPUBLICAN VOTER: I can't in good faith, vote for him, because of things he's said against Trump. But then when Trump endorsed him, I thought, OK I can vote for him now.


KING: Jeff Zeleny, not your first rodeo. Is it a sense that most of Trump's voters are still extremely loyal, or just because he's not in office anymore, because there are other issues like inflation for example, are they drifting away?

ZELENY: John, I still think we have to say they're pretty extremely loyal here. The difference in this race is a lot of these voters already had their minds made up. So are they loyal enough to change their minds? That's an open question. But for those who are undecided, I think the majority of people we spoke with and just our sense on the ground talking to a variety of people, that Trump endorsement is gold for J.D. Vance.

Without it he would be in the bottom tier of the candidates, with it he's in the top tier. The question, can he close strong here? There are going to be several other top named Republicans here in Ohio this weekend. Ted Cruz, for example, is supporting Josh Mandel who is a very familiar face to many Republican voters here, he's run three times or so before.

So this is certainly too close to call, but J.D. Vance without a doubt has momentum heading into the final stretch.

KING: And Gabby, when you see that split, if you will -- you see team Trump essentially with Vance, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Matt Gaetz are on team Trump in the Congress, and Donald Trump and Donald Trump, Jr. Then you see the Club for Growth and Ted Cruz is playing out in Ohio. There are similar dynamics playing out in Pennsylvania. You note in your reportings similar dynamics play out in Alabama.

May is going to teach us a ton about Donald Trump's sway.

ORR: It absolutely is. And it's not just the Senate primaries, I mean, there will be gubernatorial contests (ph), there are Congressional races where Donald Trump has made endorsements that are somewhat dicey right now. They could either give him a boost to his scorecard overall, or they could really open up some new questions about his influence over the Republican party.

But you know, I do want to go back to that Fox News poll that we had on screen that showed that 25 percent of voters in Ohio are still undecided four days before the primary. That's a big number and shows just how unpredictable this race is.

KING: Volatility, still with us. It's been with us for the last several years, and it is still with us right now.

Jeff Zeleny on the ground for us in Ohio, grateful for the reporting. Gabby Orr, as well with me here.

Up next for us, the January 6 Committee gets a crack at -- yes, Rudy Giuliani.




Topping our political radar today, Joe Biden making his first visit to Asia as President next month with stops in South Korea and Japan. President Biden will meet with the new South Korean president just days after his inauguration. And in Tokyo, he will meet with Japan's prime minister and the other leaders of the so-called quad, Australia, India. The White House says this visit meant to deepen U.S. ties across the region.

Rudy Giuliani now expected to appear before the House Committee investigating the January 6 Capitol attacks, next month. That testimony comes after months of negotiations between lawmakers and Giuliani who served, of course, as President Trump's personal lawyer. The panel alleges Giuliani actively worked to overturn the 2020 election.

And back to the drawing board, New York Democrats must now recreate the state's new Congressional map, that after the highest court in the Empire State ruled the Democratic drawn boundaries constitute unlawful gerrymandering. That decision likely will push back the state's planned primaries from June 28 until August.

This quick programming note, Stanley Tucci is back, brand new episodes, new food and new discoveries, Stanley Tucci Searching for Italy. The new season premiers Sunday night, 9:00 PM Eastern and Pacific, right here on CNN.