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WH Prepared With Contingences If N. Korea Conduct Missile Test; Biden Confronts Consequential Foreign Policy Challenges In Asia; Hadley: U.S. Has Chance To "Get Off The Back Foot" Versus China; About 1,000 Votes Separate Oz, McCormick In PA GOP Senate Primary; Record Early Voting Turnout In GA Ahead Of Tuesday's Primary; David Perdue's Campaign Spending Zero Dollars On Ads In Final Week; Advisers: Trump May Hold Off On More Endorsements For Primaries. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired May 20, 2022 - 12:00   ET



MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Let me just show you an example. If you borrow $300,000 a year ago at those mortgage rates, you monthly payment was around $1267, that is now $393 more simply because the cost of borrowing has gone up. That is a lot of money that translates to almost $5,000 a year. This is also forcing people who wanted to buy, they're renting instead we're seeing rental rates go up dramatically as well.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR, AT THIS HOUR: All great news. Thanks, Matt. For everyone around. It's good to see you. Thank you so much.

EGAN: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: The crisis continues. Thanks for being everybody. Inside Politics with John King starts now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your Friday with us. President Biden just beginning a big trip to Asia. He sees a crossroads in how the world stands up to Russia and to China. And the president says, the choices will echo for decades.


JOE BIDEN, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: We're standing at an inflection point in history, where the decisions we make today will have far reaching impacts on the world. We leave our children tomorrow.


KING: Plus, some new numbers in the too close to call Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary. Georgia's headlines. Georgia is the big headline state next Tuesday, already an early voting record there and in several of the big Georgia races, choosing a candidate means saying yes or no to Donald Trump and his big election lie and phone calls, handwritten notes. New details today about Trump's deep personal involvement in the strategy to try to steal the election. And the January 6 committee asks the Republican lawmaker to explain a tour of the Capitol complex he gave the day before the riot.

Up first, though the president's overseas juggling act. This Asia trip, the president is on right now. The priorities are hugely consequential. A China suddenly with a stagnant economy, a North Korea seemingly hell bent on provocation, a Russian war in Ukraine with no sign, no sign at all going cold anytime soon.

Our first day stop for the president at a South Korean Samsung plant put focus on the global supply chain mess. That adds to the president's big economic challenges back here at home. We start the hour in Seoul with CNN's Jeremy Diamond. Jeremy, hugely consequential trip for the president.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No doubt about it, John. And it comes at a moment of increased tension here in the region. North Korea according to U.S. intelligence appears to be preparing to fire off an intercontinental ballistic missile as a test, or even potentially a nuclear test while President Biden is in the region.

That would, of course, be a provocative and headline grabbing move. While President Biden is here, U.S. officials prepared for that possibility, but President Biden is seeking to bolster that relationship that alliance with South Korea, which he called earlier today, a linchpin of peace, stability and prosperity.

The president wants to send a signal that this relationship is important, not only from a national security perspective, but also from an economic security perspective. And that's where we saw President Biden drawing on the war in Ukraine and those supply chain issues that we've seen there, as he talked about the importance of allies relying on each other and not on autocratic regimes.

President Biden didn't mention China explicitly, but that was the clear subtext of his remarks. And a point that I expect, we'll hear President Biden make over and over again, as he spends the next few days here in South Korea, and then in Japan, where he'll also meet with U.S. allies, including India and Australia. President Biden is trying to shore up those alliances, you know, increase, a push back on this competition with China, and all of this critical as President Biden is in the region.

Now, meanwhile, even as President Biden focused on the diplomatic aspect, we know that two U.S. secret service employees, they are being sent home after returning from several bars, getting into a physical altercation with a taxi driver here as well as two other Korean nationals. A secret service spokesman says they're being sent home and placed on administrative leave. John?

KING: Jeremy Diamond, live for us in Seoul. At the beginning of this important trip, Jeremy, thank you very much. With me in studio to share the reporting and their insights, CNN's Manu Raju, USA TODAY's Francesca Chambers, and David Sanger of The New York Times.

David, I want to pick up. We played a little bit from the president there. Let's listen to a little bit more because the president is essentially trying to ask the world, the world whether you were focused on Putin or the focus on China to rethink and forget the last 20 years of policy. Listen to something the president said today at that Samsung plant.


BIDEN: Putin will not provoke war in Ukraine, as further spotlight the need to secure our critical supply chains, so that our economy, our economic and our national security, are not dependent on countries that don't share our values.


KING: Not dependent on countries that don't share our values. For 20 years, the United States and most of its allies have said, we don't like Putin, we don't like what China is doing. Let's try to invite them to the club. Let's just slap them on the wrist for what otherwise would be major infractions. Let's just hope if we kind of buddy, buddy, it'll work.


Now, we know with Putin failure. The president's message in Asia is we need to be more aggressive and standing up to Chinese aggression. Is the world ready to do that? Is he ready to do that? The United States ready to do that. In the last 20 years haven't worked, it's time to do something different.

DAVID SANGER, WHITE HOUSE & NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So, there are two things, I think to unpack, John, in what he was talking about. The first is, that the concept of letting China into the World Trade Organization of trying to integrate Russia into Europe was that the power of that integration would prevent this kind of aggression. And now, you're seeing a huge rethink, even within the Democratic Party. Remember, it was Bill Clinton, who was making those arguments when we were going around the world, listening to him in China and in Russia.

And so now, the president is basically moving back to a more nationalistic strategy. And that's what the visit to the semiconductor plant was all about, because Samsung is now building in the United States, not fast enough to make a difference. And so, what is this essential message was, is just as we couldn't rely on Russia, for gas and oil exports, we can't rely on China in case they cut off our supply of semiconductors for political purposes.

KING: So, George W. Bush is former national security adviser, also served with the previous Bush administration. Veteran Republican foreign policy, Stephen Hadley, says this in the Washington Post in a column by David Ignatius. This is an opportunity for the United States to get off the back foot. Putin has delivered a strategic blow to Russia by his failed effort to absorb Ukraine, and Xi by his policies has derailed the Chinese juggernaut.

Well put, but not easy. The question is, does the president feel when you're trying to deal with two giant crises at once? Plus, his domestic challenges here at home, he can keep though, it's a complicated job. He knew that when he ran for it. But that he can get China - I mean, Japan and South Korea, for example, to put aside personal rivalries, neighborhood rivalries to say this is how we have to a unified approach to China.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: And the White House really views this as an intersection of all three of those things, because the leaders that President Biden will be meeting with this week, he's also meeting with the quad after this as well. When he goes to Japan, he says that they are important to those export controls on Russia.

And at the same time, when you're talking about China, also, you know, the competition this week was pushing while he was at that Samsung factory for legislation that the White House says, would reduce costs, and also would be in response to Putin's aggression.

So again, the White House really thing is all those issues coming to a head here in South Korea, where he says that he wants to get to know the new South Korean leader better and really establish these firm ties with an important partner in the region.

KING: And the president has to do this all at once. He has no choice. And so, even while he's in Asia, trying to say, look, the COVID pandemic delayed me coming here. I should have come earlier, which I would have liked to come earlier. He's talking about these semiconductor disruptions that's COVID too. He's trying to deal with that piece of it.

But to show how complicated his challenges the moment they're flying, this Ukraine aid bill that was just passed by the United States Senate. They're flying it because the president has to have the actual documents to sign them. They're bringing it to him. What does that tell you?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Look, it's a lot of it is optics. I mean, they could do the good side, during the Obama years, they used what was called an auto pen where he could actually sign legislation into law on traveling overseas. But what the White House wants to show is that they are taking a strong, unified stand against Russia, this is a massive bill than $40 billion of U.S. aid is about to go to help Ukraine with the war, this comes just after $14 billion was approved last month, so during March.

So, in both sides, they're making clear that there's going to be much more money coming down the line. So, this is all part of the president's come at a time when foreign policy crises, they're not expecting for a policy crisis. This is a huge test for this administration. He wants to show unified United States support, which is why they're making this showing of this bill coming across these room design. KING: And watching this trip as closely as anyone or any of the stakeholders just China, President Xi and his inner circle in China. There were some interesting cartoons in the Chinese state media, USA such as the United States that's trying to divide the world. It's not China and it's not Russia, trying to do essentially pro Putin public propaganda in the Chinese press this today.

In Xinhua commentary, Washington's plot, Washington's plot with the sinister intent of sowing divisions and peddling block confrontation to Asia should be vehemently opposed. Washington's dangerous narratives of China threat and its anti-China united front are counterproductive at best. By stirring up trouble after trouble, Washington is anything but a responsible player in the Asia Pacific.

We've seen this from time to time. The Chinese are very good and very effective and very belligerent in their propaganda and their message. But is there any difference in what she is saying today, as opposed to if we were on the tape back pre-Putin invasion?

SANGER: Well, the difference is timing. First of all, she is going to be looking at what's happened in Ukraine and asking himself two questions. Is my military as good as I thought it was because Vladimir Putin just discovered his wasn't, right? And the second question he's got to be asking is, could this set of sanctions that had been so effectively deployed against the Russians, also be deployed against China, which is off far more complicated process.


Now, for President Biden, I think he's got to recognize along the way, and he has that there are some things for which he needs the Chinese. One of them, of course, is the environment and dealing with climate change. But the second working over the trip, you mentioned it before.

There's North Korea, an area where the two have cooperated before, neither country wants to see North Korea begin to flaunt its nuclear weapons. But as they were leaving for the trip, Jake Sullivan, the president's national security adviser told us that he is fully expecting, and they are preparing for the possibility of a seventh nuclear test or a missile test.

KING: But that is a pattern that goes back a long time. Yes, it's been 16 years since I covered the White House, but when North Korea doesn't feel it's getting attention, the toddler does something provocative. In this case, the problem is the toddler has nuclear weapons. David Sanger, grateful for your time here. Francesca and Manu are going to stay with us.

Next for us. New numbers in the too close to call Pennsylvania Republican Senate primary. And the final weekend of the primary campaign in Georgia. Donald Trump and Mike Pence are on different sides there. Will go live to Georgia on the ground, next.



KING: We're still counting some votes from Tuesday's primary in the rearview mirror. And we're preparing for a big, huge primary next Tuesday as well. Let's focus on Tuesday, still undecided. That would be this, the Pennsylvania Senate Republican primary and look how close it is.

Dr. Mehmet Oz, he was endorsed by Donald Trump in the Pennsylvania Senate GOP race. He is 1,120 votes ahead. David McCormick does still have a chance to catch up as they count some remaining Election Day ballots, then some remaining mail-in ballots, and then there are military and provisional ballots as well. Kathy Barnette, in a distant third. This Senate race could decide control of the United States Senate.

Let's look before we go out to the field at the latest dynamics. Number one, let me just bring this up. This is the Pennsylvania Senate GOP primary. The statewide absentee ballots counted so far, the report. This is why the McCormick campaign thinks, thanks, it can still catch up because if you look at the absentee ballots overall so far, 32 percent for Mr. McCormick, 23 percent for Dr. Oz.

So, if you're in the McCormick campaign, you're 1,120 votes behind. You think they keep counting these, we might be able to catch up. Now the biggest pool of votes still out, we are told is out here, Pittsburgh area, Allegheny County, and again, this is where overall, McCormick leads in the vote count 39 percent to 32 percent on the Election Day ballots counted.

That's one of the issues out there because they had a problem with some memory cards in the machine. So those ballots were cast on Election Day. They're still being counted today. There, McCormick 39, Oz 33. So, when you look at those trends there, those numbers you say, OK, McCormick has a chance to catch up. But just today, as the count has come in, Dr. Oz has actually had a very modest about 28 to 30 vote gain in the count.

So, let's get straight out to the field. Well, we have coverage of the primaries across the country. Our Jeff Zeleny is in Atlanta for a preview of Tuesday votes. Melanie Zanona, right there in Pennsylvania for us in Lancaster County. Melanie, as we go through the counts today, McCormick campaign says we can still catch up. The Oz campaign says well, the clock's ticking.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: That's exactly right. McCormick has really been chipping away at Oz's lead. The question though is whether he is gaining enough to actually close the gap. And all eyes today been on Allegheny County, that is the county where the largest pool of possible votes left to be counted, is worth noting that McCormick actually lives in Allegheny County.

He also had a strong showing on Election Day of the votes that were tallied up on that day. But both camps are projecting competence. McCormick says the overseas and military ballots are going to benefit him. He's an army veteran. But Oz's campaign says the math is just not there from McCormick, but there's not enough votes left out there. And that is essentially hitting a wall.

But John, I'll tell you one thing that both campaigns do agree on, as its - this is likely going to be headed to a recount, which will be automatically triggered if the race comes within half a percentage point. And both campaigns are clearly preparing for that scenario. They are adding lawyers and experts who have experienced with recounts.

In fact, McCormick's campaign in April added a GOP operative, and Mike Roman who is known for challenging election results. He was actually Donald Trump's director of Election Day operations. He became a key figure and trying to toss out Pennsylvania's reelection results. And meanwhile, Trump has already said that Oz to just go ahead and declare victory and suggesting without any evidence that there could be fraud in the race. So, definitely getting some 2020 deja vu here, John?

KING: Yes. Said that, without any evidence part is the critical part. Now as it was back then. Melanie Zanona, thank you. And Jeff Zeleny, I'm going to come out of the map in Pennsylvania, just to remind people, we moved down to Georgia next Tuesday, and in Georgia, you might call this grudge match state for Donald Trump and the big lie in 2020. He wants to defeat the governor, the Republican incumbent governor. He wants to defeat the Republican incumbent secretary of state, and you have Donald Trump in one race versus Mike Pence.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's really remarkable. As Melanie was saying their 2020 deja vu that certainly extends here to Georgia, John, where that messaging is really hanging over the entire primary. Governor Brian Kemp is fighting for a reelection. And he's having a strong race, no question against former Senator David Perdue, who of course lost in 2020. But he is now challenging the incumbent Republican governor with the support of the former president.

Well, he has been - there's been some question about exactly how much support the former president has been giving in the final days. He's not scheduling any rallies. And he is not on television at all. But this morning, Perdue had this to say about Trump.



DAVID PERDUE, GEORGIA GOVERNOR CANDIDATE: He's still all-in in this race. He always has been. He's going to do another tally rally for us this weekend, probably Monday night.


ZELENY: But the reality on the ground quite frankly is something different. This is not a tale of two equal campaigns, that Purdue campaign is not advertising at all. Governor Kemp's campaign up with more than a million dollars in ads, just his own in the final week here. But the early voting is certainly interesting as well, John.

Look at these numbers. This is the final day of early voting but going into this morning, some 710,000 Georgians already cast their ballots, of that of 406,000 were Republicans of course, in the most competitive races here. Nearly 300,000 were Democrats. But take a look at the final polling going into next Tuesday's primary.

Governor Kemp certainly is showing a strong lead and it has grown over time, Purdue's only chance here is to get the governor in a runoff election. Georgia, of course one of the handful of states across the country that requires candidates to get more than 50 percent. So that's what this race is about in the closing days.

Can he keep him under 50 percent, John? Monday evening, on the eve of the primary, former Vice President Mike Pence is coming here to campaign for Kemp is the biggest break he's had so far, at least with Donald Trump.

KING: And of course, in the biggest state of grievance for his former boss, Donald Trump. Jeff Zeleny, grateful for the reporting, Melanie Zanona as well. Let's bring the conversation in the room and joining the conversation, is our CNN's Dan Merica. So, you just heard David Perdue there say, Trump's wait to use with me, he'll be there in the end.

So, we'll be able to have this conversation Tuesday night and Wednesday morning because we do know Trump was all-in in Pennsylvania, for Dr. Oz at least at the end. And you can just show right here. He called into Oz rally on May 16. Just before the vote, he had a robocall that was going out to Republicans across the state, saying turnout for Dr. Oz. Called on a radio show to support Dr. Oz.

So, we will be able to see. But to the point Jeff, was just making, the polling is overwhelmingly Kemp. We have seen Trump in the past, say, you know I'm for her, until he sees her struggling in the polls. And he says, why didn't really care all that much.

DAN MERICA, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: It's unlikely to happen here given who Kemp is and who Kemp is in the mind of Donald Trump. And you're right about Oz. But I think Oz is the exception. He got Trump back to Oz really early. For the most part, Trump's endorsements have been in either easily winnable races or in races where the outcome is known.

It's kind of like he picks the favorite in the Super Bowl, an hour before the Super Bowl. An example of that is Mastriano. He endorsed Mastriano, the weekend before the primary. When every poll showed, Mastriano was going to win big, and he did. And you know, it doesn't seem like what's going to happen.

What happened in Pennsylvania, where you have Oz as a leader, you know, and you have Mastriano backed by Trump. You know, as the Oz, as the clear winner. It doesn't seem like it's going to happen in Georgia, where it's pretty clear at this point, given the ads on TV, and everything Jeff said that this is, this is not going to be Perdue's race.

KING: But let's look, well, before you jump in, I just did to Dan's point. And Jeff made me, well to put up the ad spending on the screen and just show our viewers. I mean, this is surrender. This is surrender. The Perdue campaign is spending nothing. A pack that he's associated with his campaign is spending $280,000, which sounds like a lot of money. But Atlanta is not a cheap media market.


KING: And you have other media markets around the state of Georgia, in the state and around the state where you'd have to campaign if you're serious. Look at the money, $1.2 million from the Kemp campaign, $762,000 from the Republican governors' association. I mean, forgive me, that's tantamount to surrender.

RAJU: Yes. And look, I mean, Trump is going to have a hard time, washing his hands of this, right. So, he can't simply say that, you know, Perdue was not a good candidate, and he imploded and had nothing to do with my endorsement. Perdue really would not have run if it were not for Donald Trump. Donald Trump made Brian Kemp target number one. David Perdue jumped into this race on the notion, the false notion, the made-up notion that this was a stolen election, and filed a lawsuit on that issue, cut ads on that issue, and multiple debates.

And the first thing he said was, this select, I want the first thing I want you to know is that the 2020 election was stolen. This was a central reason why Purdue ran to align himself with Donald Trump. So, if he does lose big, it'll be a big black eye for Trump. Now, what Trump will point to on Tuesday is unlikely victory in the Georgia race, and Herschel Walker in that primary.

And in that case, there was not much of a contest because the field was there. He's got opponents but Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, also endorsing Herschel Walker, the party unified behind this candidate, but in contested primaries where it's been - it has been a mixed bag for Trump so far in this primary season.

KING: Right. And the governor's race gets a ton of attention. But and you mentioned the Senate race, that secretary of state's race where Congressman Hice is running against the incumbent Brad Raffensperger. We've all heard Brad Raffensperger on the phone with Donald Trump. Remember, back in the day when Trump wanted him to find 11,000 plus votes. So, it's a really fascinating test.

So, Francesca, let's listen to some voters here because this is one of the things we're learning throughout the primaries. Most Republican voters, A, lot of them still advocate the big lie, B, most of them still say they like Trump, mixed on whether he should run again, but not all of them are saying, oh, Donald Trump is for x, therefore I'll vote for x. Listen?



BRAD STURGEON, BRIAN KEMP SUPPORTER: I believe President Trump's endorsement does affect their race here in Georgia for governor at least, and probably some of the other down ballot races where he's endorsed candidates. but I do believe it goes both ways.

DALE SIZEMORE, BRIAN KEMP SUPPORTER: The ability of Brian Kemp to be able to execute on his promises and have a track record right now, is a lot more important than having an endorsement of Trump or anybody else. Right? Quite frankly.

MELODY EUCHMAN, BRIAN KEMP SUPPORTER: Trump's endorsement of Purdue did absolutely nothing. I was on board with Governor Kemp. From the day I knew he was re-run. He was running again.


KING: So, Trump is powerful, no one should think he's not powerful in the Republican Party anymore, but he's not all powerful.

CHAMBERS: So, there's a couple of different things at play. There's a difference between the Senate races where he has been having success, more success with his candidates. When you look at J.D. Vance, potentially Dr. Oz, Ted Budd, we're talking about Herschel Walker, and some of these other races. When you talk about the secretary of state race, it's very murky, what will happen in that race. There's not been significant polling on that.

And another key point to remember when it comes to Trump's endorsement, groups who are for Trump and against Trump have all done polling on this. When people know, Republicans know that he is endorsing a race. It does tend to make them support that person. But without him being on major social media platforms and them always knowing what he's doing anymore, now that he's ensconced in Mar-a- Lago, Republican voters don't always know who's he has endorsed in these races, if he's not out there telling them.

KING: And we're going through the primary on Tuesday, but one of the reasons these races are so important in the primaries. How important they will be in November, and Stacey Abrams will be the Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia. Raphael Warnock is the candidate for that Senate race. The big question is, will Democrats' turnout in a midterm election year? Will the Republican fracturing over Trump and other things have an impact? Wow, what's that state, it's going to be a great laboratory.

MERICA: Absolutely. And I actually to bring it back to social media. I think there's a lot of Democrats that would love to have Trump back on social media, especially for the general, not necessarily for the primaries, but especially for the general because they can use what he says on social media, not everyone is following him on true social and use that in ads and trumpet that in turn, what he says against the candidates you ban.

CHAMBERS: Which untrue social, he does say by the way, he still backs calm. He said that this morning.

KING: Thank you for that that. (crosstalk). We'd be having a very different conversation, if he had said that. All right. Next for us. Donald Trump in his own handwriting, new court filing details the former president's deep and desperate involvement in late efforts to overturn the 2020 election results.