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Inside Politics

Uvalde Parents Demand Answers On Police Response To Shooting; NRA Holds Annual Convention Three Days After School Massacre; NRA Speakers Insist Better Security Is The Answer, Not Gun Laws; Police Failed To Stop Shooter Despite Training, Security Funding; Congress Debates Narrow New Laws After Latest Mass Shooting; Trump's Revenge Tour. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 29, 2022 - 08:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tragedy in America again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my baby. I miss you, my baby.

PHILLIP: With 19 kids and two teachers dead, could police have saved lives by storming the classroom sooner?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Why was this decision made not to go in and rescue these children?

COL. STEVEN MCCRAW, DIRECTOR, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY: Of course, it wasn't the right decision. It was the wrong decision. Period.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: It's maybe, though, the tragically monumentally bad law enforcement decision I have ever witnessed.

PHILLIP: Plus, Democrats demand action on guns. Republicans say they'll come to the table. But will this time be any different?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Why are we willing to live with this carnage? Where in God's name is our backbone?

PHILLIP: And ex-President Trump takes his revenge tour to Wyoming.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: The people of Wyoming are going to tell her, Liz, you're fired.

PHILLIP: But after big losses in Georgia, is he dominating the GOP like he once did?

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



This weekend, a grim portrait of the state of this nation. In Buffalo yesterday, Vice President Kamala Harris comforted the family of 86- year-old Ruth Whitfield, one of the 10 black people killed in a massacre carried out by a white supremacist this month. And President Biden as we speak is on his way to Uvalde, Texas, consoling even more families marked by the scourge of gun violence.

Nineteen children and two teachers were killed in their elementary school classroom this past week. Their families will be forever changed. But grief this morning is turning to fury. We are now learning that the police stood outside that classroom for nearly an hour, instead of confronting the gunman.


ALFRED GARZA, DAUGHTER KILLED IN SHOOTING: Like every other citizen in town, you know, we're thinking, hey, the police are going to do their job and they're going to get them out of there. And, you know, after today, you know, hearing this information, it's like well, I guess I was wrong. Had they gotten there sooner and somebody would have taken immediate action, we might have more of those children here today, including my daughter.


PHILLIP: CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is in Uvalde, Texas, right now.

Adrienne, what is the mood and the reaction among these truly devastated families about what we have learned in the last several days?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Abby, I'll start with the reaction. Many of the folks that I spoke with here in town say they were failed by members of law enforcement. They're upset. They're angry and disappointed. Disappointed after hearing during that news conference earlier in the week that the site commander held those officers back. They were hoping after the -- after Tuesday, they were hoping things would get better. But, instead, these families say things got worse with each news conference.

I spoke with teachers who were here yesterday at the vigil, which has grown from the first day. Those crosses, 21 of them, were placed behind me. If you look behind me, you can see there is so many flowers stacked high in front of the crosses. You can barely see the names of the victims. And teachers we spoke with say they want those names remembered and they're asking why.


CINDY OCHOA, TEACHER: Officers go through so much training for these types of things. But at the end of the day, we're the ones that are going to sacrifice our lives and those cops that were out there waiting, what were they waiting for? What really is the truth that happened? (END VIDEO CLIP)

BROADDUS: And that is the big question. Why was the decision made to tell those officers to stay back, and as President Biden is expected to be here later and meet with all of the families, some say they welcome the president. But at the end of the day, they want action and they want him to take action if Congress doesn't -- Abby.

PHILLIP: Adrienne, thank you.

And as police were admitting their officers failed to stop the gunman in time, the NRA was holding its annual convention 280 miles away in Houston. And top Republican political figures in attendance still insisted that, quote, "hardening schools" is the answer.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one should ever be able to get anywhere near a classroom until they have been checked, scanned, screened and fully approved.


Classroom doors should be hardened to make them lockable from the inside and closed to intruders from the outside.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): What stops armed bad guys is armed good guys.


PHILLIP: And joining me now with their reporting and insights Jonathan Martin of the "New York Times," Laura Barron-Lopez of "Politico," CNN's Lauren Fox and CNN's Phil Mattingly.

At the NRA this weekend, you heard Trump, you heard Cruz, Trump talking about doors. That is how doors work. They lock on the inside.


PHILLIP: And they let people from the outside not come in. But everything but talking about the guns. That is the one thing after all this time that has not changed.

JONATHAN MARTIN, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Yes. It wouldn't surprise me that Trump and Cruz wouldn't be for gun control. I think what we're asking is the possibility that you can have something done in Congress, which I think is also not likely. But I think it's more possible now than it has been in previous years. In part because I think Democrats are willing to do an incremental bill, Abby, and something that's not going to be super ambitious but that could potentially find 10 Republicans.

I'm not saying it's going to happen. But I think it's sort of more in play now than it has been for years. PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, I think that the contours of the discussion

we'll talk about that a little bit later on Capitol Hill, it will be really important. But as we look back at what we've learned this week, the school in Uvalde was in a lot of ways prepared for this kind of scenario. They had held active shooter trainings just two months ago, the police department. The school district actually had its own police force. They have received about $70,000 state grants for enhanced security.

Teachers had been instructed to keep the doors closed. We know the gunman entered through a propped door on a day that parents have been coming in and out of the school for an assembly. And the guidelines instructed police to take the shooter out. We know that that didn't happen.

As we're learning more, I mean I think one of the things that tends to stymie doing something is everybody on all sides of this saying, that's not going to work. That's not going to work. That's not going to work. And it feels like we're headed in that direction, too.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and you started to see that in the days after the shootings. As we were getting more information, Senator John Cornyn actually said to me on Thursday morning when he got back from Texas that one of his concerns was whether or not the police had waited too long to try to breach that classroom. We now know, given that news conference on Friday, that's exactly who had happened.

And his argument was this was not the protocol police were supposed to follow. Expect a lot of Republicans to start echoing that line. And while it is true, we are also not having the larger discussion then because we're focused on security at schools, about guns and background checks, about what other policies may help in this situation but may help in future situations as well, Abby.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, we know that there will be another mass shooting.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, POLITICO WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, the common denominator across Buffalo, across Texas, across all the mass shootings that we've seen increase in recent years are guns and the use of assault-style weapon guns, but, you know, I want to go back to --

MARTIN: Well, sick people, too, right?


MARTIN: Sick people, too, right?

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right, but it's not just the case --

MARTIN: A common thread --

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right, but you can't just blame mental health in all of the cases. MARTIN: No, but of course not. But there is a sickness out there, too,

right, that's caused people to do this.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. The rise in domestic extremism.


BARRON-LOPEZ: But guns are the common denominator across all these things. And one thing I want to mention is, you played the clip of Ted Cruz, Senator Cruz, who said that, you know, good guys with guns stop bad guys with guns. Well, there were 19 good guys standing in the hallway outside of this -- outside of the classroom, which is what we've discovered since. There were about 19 officers standing outside for about an hour.

And they went against all of their training and decided not to go in, even though that training that they had received just, what, two months earlier said even if you are a single officer, time is of the essence. And those documents show that you're supposed to immediately go in.

PHILLIP: Right. Yes. I mean, I think that that is going to become a really important factor in the discussions to come. We also saw outside of the NRA this weekend just a massive amount of anti-gun activism bubbling up yet again. I mean, this is a familiar process for this country. A mass shooting happens, there is outrage, there is anger.

What is the impact of all of this? I mean, does it matter?

MATTINGLY: Look, I try not to be called cynical. My short answer based on experience and especially having covered Sandy Hook very closely and then everything in the wake of that is it probably won't matter. However, it only takes one time for something to be different.

I actually think, to your point, the kind of good guy with a gun versus a bad guy with a gun, that fallacy being exposed in this process, allows for a different kind of conversation at this point in time.


Everybody can't just run to their corners. To your point on Capitol Hill, Senator Chris Murphy, who's running point for Democrats, I know we're going to talk about this later, but his willingness to really, I'm willing to talk about anything. I don't need everything. It doesn't need to be comprehensive and the fact that people are not asking for everything, are not asking for everything, are not standing there saying, this is going to be a panacea, they know there is no one singular answer to something.

One thing that struck me during Governor Abbott's press conference was talking about background checks. They're somewhat dismissive of them talking about all the different events that had transpired where background checks either hadn't worked or would not have an effect. Then he mentioned Sulfur Springs. Sulfur Springs led to a legislative change driven by Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, on the Fix NICS bill.

There was a legislative change that addressed that issue that Governor Abbott used to dismiss background checks. There are things that can be done. They may not be a panacea, they may not directly address what happened in Uvalde.

MARTIN: Right.

MATTINGLY: And my question right now as we try and figure out the political dynamics here and on groups on both sides is, is this time going to be the moment where people say let's just do something because something matters? It may not have solved the specific issue and specific occasion in Uvalde or in Sulfur Springs or in Sandy Hook but it will change something and may prevent something?

MARTIN: And by the way, then Governor, now Senator Rick Scott signed after the Parkland shooting in Florida as well, so this idea that nothing ever happens isn't totally true on the state level at least. Now the question is, can something happen on the federal level?

PHILLIP: I mean, everything should be on the table. And that means everything, including an 18-year-old being able to just walk on his 18th birthday and buy two high powered guns and hundreds and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.

I do want to raise this comment that Vice President Kamala Harris made as she was coming from Buffalo. She -- just take a listen to what she said.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let's have an assault weapons ban. You know what an assault weapon is? You know how an assault weapon was designed? It was designed for a specific purpose. To kill a lot of human beings quickly. An assault weapon is a weapon of war with no place, no place in a civil society.


PHILLIP: A lot of Democrats feel that way. She's expressing what a lot of Democrats feel. But it is not -- that is not on the table, as we all know. What's interesting, though, to me is I think people forget, the assault weapons ban only happened in the context of a crime bill that today Democrats would never even consider.

MARTIN: Right.

PHILLIP: And so something like that is not possible without a lot of compromises that I think wouldn't be on the table. But what's the impact of her saying it?

FOX: Well, I definitely think that when you talk to Democrats on Capitol Hill they will quickly dismiss the assault weapons ban as something that they can even bring up in the kinds of small-scale negotiations you're going to see on Capitol Hill. And I think her saying it is something that a lot of Democrats, like

you said, agree with. It's something that they feel passionately about. It's something that they feel like is a common denominator in a lot of these huge tragic shootings, but they also know they can't just start talking about it because it closes the door to so many of those more incremental changes if they hope they can get across.


BARRON-LOPEZ: This is also something that the vice president often talks about which is that when she used to be on the Hill, she would often tell lawmakers, I wish that you would look at autopsy reports after assault-style weapons were used in shootings. So this is something that she frequently returns to because she wants people to pay attention to the impact of this weapon.

PHILLIP: Yes, that's a good point.

Coming up next for us, though, it took more than an hour for police to confront that gunman. What went wrong in Uvalde?



PHILLIP: Seventy-eight minutes. That's how long the gunman was inside at the Uvalde Elementary School before police confronted him.


PROKUPECZ: What efforts were the officers making to try and break through either that door or another door to get inside that classroom?

MCCRAW: None at that time.

PROKUPECZ: Why was this decision made not to go in and rescue these children?

MCCRAW: Again, you know, the onsite commander considering a barricaded subject and that there was time and there were no more children at risk. Of course, it was not the right decision. It was the wrong decision. Period.


PHILLIP: A devastating acknowledgement. Joining me now is former Philadelphia Police commissioner Charles Ramsey.

Commissioner Ramsey, what went through your mind when you heard that exchange?

CHARLES RAMSEY, FORMER PHILADELPHIA POLICE COMMISSIONER: Well, I mean, he's trying to in a way justify what took place and there is no justification for what took place. Just about everything they did was wrong, with the exception of evacuating the additional children and teachers from the school itself. There's no way you don't make entry and confront the gunman.

You have to. Shots had already been fired. Kids have been wounded. And people need to understand that the devastating injuries that many of those kids sustained, there is no doubt some of those children bled to death while waiting for police to make entry. There is just no question in my mind that that probably took place. You cannot justify 19 cops outside that classroom door. That's one cop for dead child. And they didn't make entry?

There's no way you can justify that. But it really does point to why those first couple of press conferences they were so evasive. They knew that they screwed up and they were trying to cover their tracks.

PHILLIP: Yes. It adds a certain insult to injury. I mean, if you look at this timeline, the time that goes by not only was it 78 minutes, but in that time, 911 call after 911 call from children in that classroom happening for, you know, probably a good half an hour to 45 minutes before police officers finally went in.


You know, Chief Ramsey, I also want to point out earlier, you know, Senator John Cornyn who is actually involved in some gun conversations on Capitol Hill, he tweeted out that, "The second guessing and finger pointing among state and local enforcement is destructive, distracting and unfair. Complex scenarios require split-second decisions, easy to criticize with 20/20 hindsight." What is your reaction to that?

RAMSEY: Well, last time I checked 78 minutes isn't a split second. I mean, that's a long time. And so I understand where he is coming from. But if we do not take a look at these cases that have taken place, and we don't learn from it, how do we improve? I mean, we learn from Columbine and we learned from Virginia Tech, we learned from Parkland, we learned from all cheese cases including this one, so, yes, I mean, political leaders can say whatever they want and I would argue that this doesn't stop with the incident commander.

I have been in a lot of scenes and one of the first things you do if you've got a major scene like this, you contact your bosses, so you would make phone calls to whoever it is that needs to be notified, and give him a heads-up, and say what you got and what's going on. What did they do during that 78-minutes period? Why did they not challenge why police weren't making entry?

PHILLIP: I do want to ask you about that.

RAMSEY: I mean, this (INAUDIBLE).

PHILLIP: I do want to ask you about that, though. I mean, why do you think that they did not make that entry. We heard some officers in Uvalde saying, well, they could have been shot. And we also know that the shooter had in his possession an assault-style weapon that is very lethal. Do you think that the kind of weapon, the amount of ammunition factored into the decision not to go into that room as soon as possible? RAMSEY: Well, of course, it's risky. I mean, that's all part of the

training. I mean, cops do risk their lives. But what about those children? I mean, you know, when you look at the footage those officers had long guns. I mean, they were holding the crowd back. You can see the guns right there. I mean, you make the decisions. You go in. Is it risky? Absolutely, it's risky. You make a tactical decision as to how you're going to approach it. This is on the first floor.

You've got windows there, things you can do to distract the gunman while someone is coming through the door. Is it risky? Yes, but you've got 19 children who have died as a result of that. What chance did they have at the time? I mean, that's part of the business, it's a part of the job, and to say that you didn't go in because you might get shot, I don't -- no, that's just not acceptable. I'm sorry. If you don't have the nerve to do what you need to do, then you should find another occupation.

PHILLIP: Literally, in one of the training guidelines that is what it says. If you're not willing to put your life on the line, this is not the job for you.

Lots of questions right there for these officers. Thank you so much, Commissioner Ramsey.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And when we come back, will this time be different? Democrats and Republicans say they're ready to negotiate on new laws that might make these massacres less likely.



PHILLIP: There have been more than 200 mass shootings this year alone, averaging more than one every single day. And after the Texas school massacre, Democrats are practically begging their GOP colleagues to help pass something, anything that might prevent some of this violence.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): We are not prepared to allow our schools to continue as killing fields. We will be engaged in bipartisan conversations to try to find a path forward to make our streets safer, to make our schools safer, and our goal and our hope and our belief is that we can find that common ground.


PHILLIP: It's not an exaggeration to say, Lauren, that there is a bit of believe it when I see it kind of feeling in Washington about this effort. But nonetheless, what is different it seems this time is that, especially on the Democratic side, there's a willingness to say we will take whatever we can get on this issue. And so as a result, these talks -- they're discussing perhaps red flag

laws, incentives for state's background checks, for gun shows, private sales, lengthening the background check waiting period, school security funding, mental health funding. Is that progress?

FOX: Well, I think that one of the things that viewers back home should know is that this is not new ground for Senator Murphy and Senator Cornyn. They had worked in these negotiations for months over the last year. It's why Schumer did not bring up the House passed background check bills.

MARTIN: Right.

FOX: Because Murphy was begging leadership to give him some time. Murphy definitely views this moment and the fact that Cornyn is clearly affected by what happened in Texas as an opportunity to go back to the negotiating table. Perhaps Democrats are going to be willing to give up a lot more than they were six months ago, and perhaps Republicans will be willing to give up more as well, given what happened.

And it's significant that Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told me last week that he asked Cornyn to engage in these negotiations. That's significant because, A, McConnell doesn't talk very often in the hallways about what he is asking members to do. And B, because McConnell often doesn't really engage in a public way about what he wants his members to do.


The fact that he is giving his blessing there I think does make this a different moment.

I am skeptical. But I still think it's a different -

PHILLIP: Yes. And we should be clear, McConnell has been one of the most steadfast opponents of, you know, anything that resembles gun control. And yet, here's where we were. I think a lot of Democrats though wonder, is this a head fake?

MATTINGLY: Yes. I think the main thing I heard when Lauren -- McConnell kind of giving his blessing with Democrats including folks in the White House texting me, "What's his angle here?"

PHILLIP: Sure, yes.

MATTINGLY: Right. Is he just trying to give a blessing publicly, knowing that this isn't going to go anywhere because he understands how bad this looks right now? Or does he actually want his members to engage? It is the level of kind of absurdity of the fact that we are talking about Democrats are willing to give just about everything right now when Republicans have given absolutely nothing on this issue for the last 15 to 20 years, it kind of catches you a little bit.

FOX: Yes. MATTINGLY: But I think it also underscores the moment. I think one thing that people need to recognize when they look at how Republicans feel, having come to this issue for a long time, Lauren has as well, Laura and Jonathan is. This isn't an NRA thing when it comes to Republicans. When you talk to Republican members, it's not what the NRA says. It's about the members, right. It's about their constituents.

Andi think oftentimes Democrats misplace the blame here and say it's all about Wayne LaPierre. It's all about the NRA. No, it's about their members. Their members vote. Their members have money. It's not what the NRA donates.

And Republicans react as we have seen with the former president and his lock and control on the party currently to where their constituents are, where their members are.

If those individuals start to move, if the phone calls to their offices start to change that's where dynamics actually shift on the Hill and that's what I'm kind of waiting for.

PHILLIP: And just as a little programming note for our viewers. We're going to have a lot more on that very point later on in the show.

But Laura, what is the White House' place on this? President Biden is heading to Uvalde right now. Do they feel like there is anything that they can do? And what else President Biden as the person once again in this moment another elementary school shooting.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes. Right now, President Biden is giving Congress and lawmakers space. I mean he is not, the White House is not trying to get involved in the negotiations that are happening right now in the Senate or in the House.

And some, you know, gun safety advocates think that that's not wise. They would like to see him get more involved in the negotiations, but Biden in the past, to your point, Abby has been involved in these when he was vice president under Obama. He got involved after the Sandy Hook shooting again of the killing of some 20 children who were 6 and 7-year-olds and the talks went nowhere.

So the president has been there then. He was also involved in the assault weapons ban in 1994. And this time around, what people are looking to him on are potentially executive action. They want to see him not necessarily wait for Congress. Although it looks like the White House is going to wait see if the Congress talks go anywhere before he actually takes executive actions.

But A lot of gun safety groups, even the Fraternal Order of Police told me yesterday, that they would like to start to talking to him about potential executive actions that he could take on gun policy.

What the gun safety groups want is him to declare a national emergency. And they also want him to appoint someone who would totally oversee, you know, this the gun violence epidemic. But to date -- they have been asking for that for about a year now - and to date the White House is saying that they are not going to be taking that path.

MARTIN: If I could, you know, one of the recurring current themes of the Biden presidency so far is his concern about restoring America in the eyes of this world. He talks about this all the time that America has got to work. We have to show the world that our democracy can still work here after Trump.

And I think this even applies to the gun issue. In the book that Alex Burns and I wrote, that's out now, we have a scene from the White House last year where Biden is meeting with gun control groups and he says, we have to show the world that we can keep our people safe here in America. Because Biden is consumed with this. This idea that we're in this moment of democracy versus autocracy and the world is watching and we have to show at every level, whether it's infrastructure even or gun control or anything else the yes American democracy and democracy itself can still function in today's world.

MATTINGLY: Can I just add to that? Because the most interesting thing is the decision by the president on his way back from his trip to Asia to hold primetime public remarks in the Roosevelt Room was notable. It underscored urgency. It underscored kind of the significance of the moment in his eyes.

But it was during those remarks where he said, as he was crafting his speech, when he was coming back on Air Force One, he kept thinking about the countries he was coming from, the leaders he just met with. And the fact that this simply doesn't happen anywhere else in the world. Why is that?

And I think putting that into kind of review here as people look around the world and look at the United States and why this happens here and nowhere else I think is actually a pretty effective way to try and urge people to address this problem. This only happens in the United States.

And the president hit on that moment coming back from a foreign trip, that's what you're going to hear him talk about more.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean think that speech you really saw a lot of frustration from Biden but as someone who has been bookending this conversation from the assault weapons ban to today, he's seen it all. And he seems pretty -- frankly exhausted by it all.


PHILLIP: Coming up next for us, after a big loss in Georgia, does Trump have the juice to purge his party of his top critics?


PHILLIP: Former President Trump's revenge tour hit a snag in Georgia this week. Nearly all of the candidates that he endorsed lost badly. And he is hoping for a different result in Wyoming. He was there last night to campaign against his number 1 Republican foe Liz Cheney.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We need you to vote that crazy rhino - and that's what she has become beyond anybody's expectation -- out of office. We got to get her out of office.


PHILLIP: Cheney says that she is not backing down.



REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): There are some things you can count on. When I know something is wrong, I will say so. I won't waiver or back down. I won't surrender to pressure or intimidation.

I know where to draw the line. And I know that some things aren't for sale. That's the code of the west and that's what Wyoming voters deserve and expect.


PHILLIP: There's not a whole lot of people better known than Liz Cheney though. But yet, she is facing a really tough situation politically.

Is there any lesson that she can learn from another target of Trump's Brian Kemp in Georgia who won by a landslide about how to handle this moment?

MATTINGLY: You know I think it's -- and JMart might disagree with me -- I think it's pretty apples and oranges to some degree in the sense that one, Wyoming is a different state than the electorate expected in a Republican primary than Georgia is. Two, Kemp was a governor who had a very, very real - a very, very record of conservative results, one of the better campaign teams in - at the state level that I've seen in a very long time.

And I think Trump's voice there, particularly in the wake of the runoffs was a little bit in question as is. Wyoming is very different, you know, 70 percent Trump approval rating. Obviously, the entire Republican leadership in the House is behind Liz Cheney's opponent.

But one thing that I think is interesting here that I've heard is, one, the Wyoming state party is not necessarily representative of Republicans in the states, right. And a number of western states have been like this where the party has gone even further right than maybe where the Republican electorate is.

Two, in the state, you can change your registration up to the day of the primary. I think when you talk to Cheney folks or people around her, they're looking at expanding the electorate as the real shot. She's got six times the money that her challenger does. Maybe there's something there as well. But it's a tough time.

MARTIN: Well, and unlike Brian Kemp, she didn't swallow her tongue. And this is the thing.


MARTIN: I mean Brian Kemp has gone silent. He's taken the Mitch McConnell approach to Trump which is just don't say anything at all and just you know stockpile money and govern as a sort of conservative and hope that Trump doesn't have organizational have to drive you out of office, which was a pretty good bet.

Cheney has taken a very different approach, which is sort of openly confronting Trump at every turn and sort of engaging in the fight in a way that a lot of the people Trump is targeting just don't engage the fight.

FOX: And that's only going to intensify in the month of June and the January 6 Committee -


PHILLIP: Yes. They're really getting into the --

FOX: -- all of their hearings, right.

PHILLIP: D-Day for this.

FOX: She is one of the only Republicans sitting on that committee who is going to be going out and making a case over and over again against Donald Trump. So it is a very, very, to me, apples and oranges assessment between Georgia and Wyoming.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And also -

PHILLIP: Go ahead.

BARRON-LOPEZ: -- to Phil's point about her trying to extend the electorate, I have been seeing a number of Democratic base like midterm voting focus groups a lot of them mention Liz Cheney without even being prompted. They will say that they like the way that she has talked about the threat to democracy, that they wish that Democrats, including Biden, would actually borrow some of her language.

So that will be interesting to see, not just in her primary and whether or not she is able to stay in the house. But also into the future of 2024 right because even if Liz Cheney ultimately loses this primary and loses her seat, she's not going to go anywhere. She's not going to go silently into the night.

PHILLIP: Yes. I think that there is a big question now about what happens with Trump's endorsements in general. He's made a lot of them. Some have won, some have lost.

I do want to take a moment to reflect on another sort of political dynasty that may have died out this past week. The Bush legacy. There is no Bush running for office. No Bush in office. George P. Bush losing badly to Texas attorney general Ken Paxton. This is kind of an end of an era-type of situation here -- MARTIN: Yes.

PHILLIP: For the Bush family --

MARTIN: Yes. The Bushes -

PHILLIP: -- and maybe -


MARTIN: -- don't have anybody in office for the first time in decades. Yes. I think George P. Bush made a bet that he could sort of try to accommodate Trumpism and Trump himself. And even went so far as to create - a picture of himself with Trump on a coozie (ph).

And look it didn't work. Trump endorsed Ken Paxton and obviously spurning (ph) George W. Bush. And now George P. Bush has nothing to show for his efforts to stroke Trump. It tells you a lot about where the Republican Party is today. It's much more Trump's Party than it's Bush's Party, yes, even in Texas.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean I should say at the rally in Wyoming yesterday, there was a composite image of Liz Cheney and George Bush, just to tell you that crowd, they are an anti-Cheney crowd and an anti-Bush crowd.

MARTIN: And Kevin McCarthy got some boos when he was introduced too.

PHILLIP: Yes. That's a real --

MARTIN: Jim Jordan got a lot more cheers.


MATTINGLY: I mean look, we were talking during the break about how the kind of make-up of the parties in Congress has shifted so dramatically just in the kind of 10 to 15 years that we have been here and so on and so forth.

And probably there is no better look at that than the Republican Party in the way that George W. Bush who was extraordinarily popular within the party. The grassroots loved him. The political class loved him, the elites loved him right until about 2006. And how that has just done a total 180 over the course of the last decade.


PHILLIP: And really, it's because of Trump. I mean all of this is because of the power of Trump.

MARTIN: It's accelerated by --


MATTINGLY: He tapped into -

MARTIN: The populist shift started happening before --


MARTIN: Huckabee, (INAUDIBLE), Santorum as well and then Trump capitalized.

PHILLIP: Absolutely.

Coming up next for us, Democrats are blaming the NRA for stalling gun safety laws. But has the group itself become a paper tiger?


PHILLIP: Three days after the schoolhouse massacre in South Texas, the NRA still went ahead with its annual convention a few hundred miles away in Houston.


GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R-SD): Let me tell you the truth about the enemies of the Second Amendment. They are schooled in the ways of Marx and Lenin. They play the long game.


TRUMP: We all know they want total gun confiscation, you know that. This would be a first step. Once they get the first step, they'll take the second step, the third, the fourth.


The NRA itself has been hobbled by financial and legal problems in recent years but the pro-gun movement has never before been this powerful.

Frank Smyth is the author of "The NRA: An Unauthorized History", and he joins us now.

Frank, this cycle alone, the permeance of a pro-gun message is everywhere if you take a listen to some of the ads like this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But our Second Amendment is not just about hunting. It's about our constitutional right to protect ourselves from intruders or an overly intrusive government.

GOV. KAY IVEY (R-AL): Lipstick, an iPhone or maybe a little Smith and Wesson .38.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If any criminal comes one of my daughters -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will be the last thing he ever does.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom's still a better shot.


PHILLIP: This is a gun culture, Frank. Is this really still about the NRA?

FRANK SMYTH, AUTHOR: I think this is -- it's gone beyond the NRA. The NRA is responsible for cooking up an ideology. An ideology that maintains that gun ownership and any form of gun regulations are fundamentally incompatible.

But the NRA is weak and divided and may end up in our in our rearview mirror, dying in the future. But the ideology they have helped create is stronger than ever.

And that ideology is rooted in fear, spread largely by the gun lobby led by the NRA. Fear that you could be attacked by a criminal on the street or in your home and you need a weapon to defend yourself and fear that if we have any gun control, like better background checks, that might lead eventually to gun registration, to registering your weapons. And that opens the door to tyranny and some kind of totalitarian takeover and ultimately genocide.

And that may sound hyperbolic, and it is, but that is what the NRA and the gun lobby have been cooking up and what people that go to NRA conventions and pro-gun people across the United States now believe. That they have to oppose even the slightest background -- improvement in gun reform, background checks or -- because that will lead to a tyrannical takeover and genocide.

PHILLIP: You know, it's been ten years since the Sandy Hook killings in another elementary school. The Parkland shootings happened.

In that time, it seems that the right and the pro-gun wing of the political class, they've become less likely to support gun regulations. What do you think has happened in that time?

SMYTH: Well, the first thing that's happened is the rise of President Trump. Trumpism, which seems like it could outlast Trump now, is rooted in gun rights.

It's also increased acceptance of white nationalist ideas within the Republican Party and within the conservative body politic. Those white nationalist ideas are now integrated with gun rights in a way that it's as powerful for that group as a pro-life or abortion is.

And this is what is stopping gun control. And it's based on myths and fantasies. Fantasies like the idea that the early NRA helped arm freed slaves. This is a complete canard, completely cooked up by the NRA.

Or the one that is even more pernicious in terms of its impact, they falsely claim that the Holocaust was enabled by gun control and nothing could be further from the truth.

But Josh Hawley last year raised in the senate hearing and nobody noticed and no Democrats objected, he raised the idea that, well, background checks wouldn't work without gun registration. Therefore, we have to oppose background checks because they would inevitably lead to gun registration. And we all know that's a slippery slope to genocide.

And last month Ted Cruz introduced a resolution claiming -- wishing to oppose the Biden administration's attempted crackdown on ghost guns claiming the Biden administration plans to register gun parts would again be the beginning of a step towards gun registration on the slippery slope to genocide.


SMYTH: So what's causing the reality of these tragedies is a fantasy.

PHILLIP: One interesting part about all of this is that since 1990, the NRA's, you know, contributions to politicians have gone from being 65 percent to Republicans and 36 percent to Democrats to being 100 percent to Republicans. You talked about the integration of gun culture into Republican politics.

But what do you think is the future, Frank -- quickly before we go -- the future of the NRA as an organization?


SMYTH: I think the NRA is an organization that's going to be firmly embedded into the Republican Party. Remember, the NRA never spoke at any major party's convention until 2016 in Cleveland at the same RNC that nominated Trump.

So the NRA and the Republican Party are now walking in lockstep. But the NRA itself is weak and divided and may not survive, but other groups -- Gun Owners of America, Hunter Nation, a new organization, now whose face is Ted Nugent, they're going to pick up the slack.


So the NRA will die tomorrow but their ideology will live on.

PHILLIP: And those groups are in some ways even further, you know, to the right or what have you than the NRA itself.

Frank Smyth, thank you so much for being with us. Thanks for your expertise on this issue.

SMYTH: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And that's it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Don't forget, you can listen to our podcast. Download INSIDE POLITICS wherever you get your podcast and scan the QR code at the bottom of your screen for more.

Coming up next on CNN, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana is in Uvalde, Texas this morning with all the coverage of President Biden's visit. Her guests include Senator Dick Durbin and Congressman Dan Crenshaw.

Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Take care.