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Biden Touts His Plan To Fight Inflation, Attacks GOP Policies; Ex-Corrections Officer Dead, Escaped Convict In Custody After 11-Day Manhunt; Hypersonic Missiles Reduce Shopping Mall To Rubble In Odessa. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 10, 2022 - 12:30   ET



MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: The President is aware that even though this administration has tapped oil from the strategic reserve multiple times now, that hasn't had a significant or permanent effect on gas prices. In fact, gas prices reaching new records just this week, and also some of these other actions that the administration hopes to take, they are incredibly challenging because they might require congressional action.

You heard the President there saying himself that it is incredibly difficult to get 60 votes in the Senate for anything. Other things are just hugely complicated, like fixing the supply chain issue. That's not something that can happen overnight. Just two things that are really interesting here, the political messaging that you noted, John, multiple times, the President talking about the ultra MAGA agenda. And the President also acknowledging as we heard there, him saying to my colleague, Jeremy Diamond, that it is very difficult to sort of convey to the American people that he really understand how frustrated people are. John?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: MJ Lee, live for us outside the White House. MJ, thank you.

Let's bring it in the room now with me to share their reporting and their insights, Seung Min Kim of The Washington Post, Zolan Kanno- Youngs at the New York Times, and Tia Mitchell of the Atlanta Journal- Constitution. It was striking listening to the President, number one, why is he in the room? Well, this is from our new CNN poll, 81 percent of Americans think the government is doing too little, 81 percent of Americans think the government is doing too little to deal with inflation right now. Plus, the President says he's tapped the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Today, we hit a new record in terms of gas prices $4.37 today, 4.20 a week ago, one year ago, $2.97. That's the political imperative, the President trying to say, I'm doing as much as I can. But this was much more politics than economics.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Clearly. And you saw that with his repeated references to Rick Scott, who is from Florida, we should clarify.

KING: The President said Wisconsin. KIM: Not from Wisconsin. And the imperative is really clear, because we generally know that midterms are a referendum of the party in power. And President Biden said we are in power in Washington, we do control all branches of government. So the more that they can make this not a referendum on the Democratic Party, but create a contrast with the Republican Party with Rick Scott's plan, tax plan, his sun setting federal laws plan, which Democrats are translating into potential death for Social Security and Medicare, Medicaid, those programs, the more they can do that they feel like they're on a stronger ground.

But ultimately, as history shows, as you all know, it generally is a referendum on the party in power, which is why you see them try to grab all the political levers they have available to make this case to the American public.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Absolutely. And let's remember that members of the President's party have increasingly also been pushing the White House, the President to talk about these issues, to not just talk about the sprawling Build Back Better plan, to not just talk about some of his initial proposals that he came into office, really touting, but also to focus on these issues impacting the daily lives of American, sets moderate members of his party, as well as just allies adjacent to the White House.

Also, we saw a little bit I think of an increasing trend here when it comes to messaging from the White House dating back to really last week. For a while when we heard the President talk about inflation, we heard about him cite the pandemic and how that change consumer patterns as well, especially last summer. That factors into the changing messaging about whether it's transitory or here to stay. We saw him point to Ukraine, Russia's invasion of Ukraine as well. And now we're increasingly as you were just saying, hearing him say, well, look, this is what my administration is doing, including releasing oil barrels, but what are they doing.

And really, really intensifying the rhetoric there as well, ultra MAGA, responding to a question about Rick Scott's comments saying he's got a problem. This is a far cry from when we really saw him hesitant to attack the opposing party as he preached unity as well.

KING: Right. The challenge though, is the Republicans run nothing right now in Washington. So he can say what will they do or what they plan to do. But even he acknowledged to the question from CNN's Jeremy Diamond said, well, why are people frustrated? Why are they frustrated you because we control all three branches of government, as you know. So that's the giant challenge for the president. He says, don't blame me. This is because of the COVID pandemic, and now because of Putin's invasion of Ukraine, but he is the President of the United States and his powers, the President was candid about it, his powers are limited. This is largely the Fed.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: Right. I think his message was for the American people listening today, but with the eye toward the midterms, because again, a lot of what he's framing it as is, if you're just saying, are Democrats doing enough? The answer is always going to be, no, we think they should do more. So now he's reframing it as we'll look at what we're doing versus what you could get if you let Republicans back in power.

And again, he's trying to frame it as we're doing more, we're being active, and you can't trust the Republican Party to give you any type of relief. And matter of fact, he framed it as they're going to make it worse off by you by perhaps taking away programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in causing cost of living and your wages to go, cost of living go up, wages to go down. So the question is, is that a message that will resonate, as voters are already starting to have to make decisions about who's going to represent them in Washington next year?


KING: Can deflect some of the blame or at least get some patients from the American people? I did think it was striking. He said at one point, I can taste it, meaning the frustration of voters. He said he grew up in a family, you know, and he's sorry, he grew up in a blue collar family where you feel it around the table. But the question is, can you convince the American people, that empathy should matter when they vote.

A break for us, when we come back, an escaped inmate back behind bars. The former correction's officer who police say helped him, she's dead. The dramatic end for the manhunt, the new details next.



KING: Weapons, cash, and wigs, that's what authorities say they found when they tracked down an Alabama inmate and the ex-corrections officer allegedly helped him escape. The manhunt for Casey White and Vicky White, who are not related despite having the same last name, came to an end in Evansville, Indiana, more than four hours north of the jail they ran from. Their car crashed following a police pursuit. Officers say Vicky White shot herself in the car and later died from that gunshot wound. Casey White, you see on the right of your screen there is now back behind bars. CNN senior national correspondent Miguel Marquez live in Evansville, Indiana now where, Miguel, authorities just gave us an update on the case. What do we learn?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a couple of interesting details in all of this. One, that Casey White has now told investigators that if not for them, stopping him the way they did by ramming the car and forcing it into a ditch and arresting him that he was planning to basically conduct suicide by cop. There were several weapons, handguns, high powered semiautomatic rifles in his possession, that they believe that he was going to use to go after law enforcement and trying to end his own life and her life as well.

We know that they had about $29,000 left of about $90,000 that she had on her. And that was also recovered in the car. One other interesting note that the sheriff talked about today that the way that they got on to them is that they had Ford, there were three cars that they owned, there was a four really, there was a squad car then three cars that they owned. She abandoned one in in Tennessee, the Ford F150 that they had here, they left it, they abandoned it at a carwash here, and they had a Cadillac at that carwash that they drove off in.

Cameras caught that Cadillac driving off, a police officer doing, you know, gum shoe hard police work, watching and making sure that what license plates were at different hotels here was at a hotel, spotted that Cadillac, they called in all of the officials, they started surveilling them, not long after that, that's when they made a run for it. That's when they caught up to them. And that's when it all unraveled.

One other interesting fact that's come out of all this is that Vicky White was on the phone with 911 Dispatch, while that short chase was going on telling them that she had a gun in her hand, telling them that she was going to kill herself. And it appears, the sheriff says that she did in fact that just as that car was being rammed. Right now, Casey White has waived his right to an extradition hearing here. It looks like they believe that she killed herself. So it sounds like he will be headed back to Alabama as soon as possible. John?

KING: Remarkable story, 11-day manhunt. Miguel Marquez live for us in Evansville with the latest. Appreciate it Miguel.


Next for us, we go live to Ukraine, new Russian missile strikes on the port city of Odessa, a shopping center leveled.


KING: The Director of National Intelligence telling Congress today the war in Ukraine will likely become more unpredictable and escalatory in the months ahead. That warning coincides with battlefield gridlock along the front line and more missiles and more indiscriminate destruction in key strategic Ukrainian cities. This year, Odessa, the aftermath there from three Russian Kinzhal hypersonic missiles, those munitions colliding into a shopping mall and a warehouse, injuring seven and killing at least one person.

In Izyum currently under Russian control, 44 bodies were found in the rubble of a five-storey building. Ukrainian officials say locals who stayed behind had to dig out the remains by hand.

In Mariupol, a commander says many are wounded after another night of heavy shelling targeting in that Azovtal steel plant. But every day we also see new signs of defiance, remember that woman captured on video singing Ukraine's battle hymn in the middle of an underground bunker, she is alive, still fighting and has this message from Moscow.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Can I say that I will shoot the knees of those who spread information that I am gone. People, we are at war. I will outlive you all. Mariupol, we are fighting here. People, do recompose yourselves. How do you like Azovtal? The only thing that I can say is that Azovtal is holding on to the Russians. While they are here, we are fighting to the last.


KING: Let's get straight now live to Ukraine, Lviv. CNN Scott McLean is there. Scott, what's the latest?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, Odessa has been a pretty scary place as of late. It has been hit by a constant barrage of missile strikes over the last few weeks. And so officials were expecting more of that on May the 9th, Russia's Victory Day. And frankly, that's exactly what they got, with missile strikes up and down the Black Sea coast of the city. There was a warehouse hit north of the city center. There was also a shopping mall hit.

This is one of the largest in southern Ukraine. This is an American style mall, big parking lot, lots of international brands there. Remarkably, only five people were injured, security guards were told by the mayor and one person was killed. It would have been a lot more of course were it not for a government imposed curfew which went into effect on Sunday night and only lifted this morning. The mayor of the city says that undoubtedly saved lives.

Now all of this took place while there was a dignitary in town. European Council President Charles Michel was there to meet with the Ukrainian Prime Minister. They also did a video conference with President Zelenskyy as well. And during that meeting with the Prime Minister, Michel actually had to pause to take shelter from some of these incoming missiles. Other targets include hotels. One in particular was in the southern part of the city right along the beach there, owned by a pro-Russian businessman frequented by Russian elites.


There was also one other hotel south of the city as well, John, you know, a small village right on the coast, very close to a key bridge that's been struck multiple times by Russian missiles, a bridge, the only one that connects by road or rail, the very southwestern part of Ukraine to the rest of the country. And you mentioned as well, these hypersonic Kinzhal missiles being used only for the second time by Russia, in conflict.

And there's plenty of debate over just how significant this is. The bottom line is they are bigger, they have a longer range. But if you ask Lloyd Austin, the U.S. Defense Secretary, he says they're not a game changer. John/

KING: Scott McLean live for us on the ground in Lviv. Scott, thank you very much.

Ahead for us, a return to domestic politics and tapes notwithstanding, Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy share stage.


KING: Donald Trump and Kevin McCarthy want you to know all is fine. The former president and the House Republican leader both attended a big GOP fundraiser in Dallas last night. It was their first event together since the release of audio tapes on which McCarthy says among other things, it would be best for Trump to resign after the January 6th insurrection. CNN's Melanie Zanona says Trump spoke highly of McCarthy at the event. And that McCarthy called the former president the GOP's quote, secret weapon. Melanie Zanona is with us, so kumbaya.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, for now. Anyways, I think a lot of people were surprised that Trump who was notoriously hot and cold didn't sour in McCarthy after these audio tapes were revealed. But there's a couple dynamics to keep in mind here. And the first one being that McCarthy's criticism after January 6th didn't last very long, I mean, it was literally a few weeks at best, and he went down to Mar-a-Lago, has been sucking up to Trump ever since.

And the second dynamic to keep in mind is that Trump actually loves this. He loves that McCarthy is bending the knee that he didn't follow through on some of these punishments that he had threatened. And advisors close to Trump have said, now he feels like he has even more leverage over Kevin McCarthy.

KING: Even more leveraged. Let me just jump in, on those audio tapes we heard, Jonathan Martin and Alex Burns got this for their book that they wrote in "The New York Times" report, told members he considered asking Trump to resign. He never did ask him but he told that he would. Call Trump's actions atrocious and totally wrong. Said the 25th Amendment takes too long. And said he wanted to reach out to Joe Biden. Any one of those is enough to set Trump off. But you think Trump sees value in this?

ZANONA: I think he does, because he recognizes that he's essentially done McCarthy a favor here by not bashing him by, you know, saying I'm going to stick with him. And he's going to try to use that leverage down the line when McCarthy is trying to become speaker. And he's going to hold this over his head. And I think the other thing to think about here is this is a very symbiotic relationship. These two men need each other.

For McCarthy, he needs Trump to become speaker. And for McCarthy, what a lot of people don't realize is -- are for Trump with McCarthy, he was the one who rehabbed his image and kept him relevant in the Republican Party after January 6th, when he was considered disgraced and was persona non grata. So they recognize the upsides.

KING: Does this help McCarthy within the House Republican family where there are several members who maybe aren't as forgiving as Donald Trump?

ZANONA: Yes, I would say that they've forgiven but they haven't forgotten. I mean, look, Trump is still the North Star in the House Republican conference. Everyone told me that if Trump doesn't have an issue in the McCarthy, then there's not really an issue. That being said, they're just holding their fire for now because just like Trump, they want to use this down the line. And so this is a strategic decision.

For the most part, there's been a few of them like Matt Gaetz Andy Biggs, the former Freedom Caucus Chair who have spoken out. But most of them are keeping quiet. And they are going to try to extract some concessions out of McCarthy when he wants to become speaker.

KING: And Trump clearly for whatever reasons, I think your point about things he says some more even more leverage over McCarthy now, a much more kind to McCarthy, who has said these horrible things then to the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who's not caught on tape as often. We know what he thinks of Trump, but he's not caught on tape as often.

ZANONA: No, and Mitch McConnell hasn't kissed the ring. They haven't spoken since January 6th. And I think Trump sees that. Again, he recognizes the upside to having a Kevin McCarthy in power, especially if he's going to run again in 2024. He knows that Kevin McCarthy is going to be a reliable ally for him. And he's not so sure about Mitch McConnell.

KING: Not so sure about Mitch McConnell. It's going to be fascinating, though. We are in May. So this has a ways to go. Election in November, then if the Republicans take the House, then a vote, so Trump has time to perhaps change his mind.

ZANONA: Yes, we will see.

KING: He does. Melanie Zanona grateful for that reporting.

Don't forget, you can also listen to our podcast. Download the Inside Politics, podcast wherever you get your podcast. Appreciate your time today in Inside Politics. Come back tonight, I'll be here live as we count the votes in West Virginia and the Nebraska primaries. Tune in for that. Two big tests for the former president there.

Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now. We'll see you tomorrow.