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Inside Politics

At Least 15 Dead, 60+ Wounded In 10 Mass Shootings This Weekend In U.S.; Manchin To CNN: Raising The Age To Buy AR-15s "Makes Sense"; Sen. Murphy: "More Confident Than Ever" On Bipartisan Gun Talks; Scalise: Democrats Want To Take Away Guns; Trump And Allies Plan Targeted Counter-Attack To 1/6 Hearings; First Primetime 1/6 Cmte Hearing Thursday; Gas Price Surge 25 Cents In A Week, Now At $4.87 Per Gallon; WaPo Poll: Support For Biden Has Fallen Among Black Voters. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 06, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Today a secret vote with dramatic stakes that could reshape Europe. Boris Johnson faces a no confidence test from his own party, survive and he stays on as prime minister lose, and Johnson will be booted out of number 10.

Plus, President Biden seeks a late-night bump. He says yes to his first network interview since the Super Bowl, it's with comedian Jimmy Kimmel. And the insurrection in primetime. January 6 committee takes its finding and its evidence public this week. Brand new CNN reporting reveals Donald Trump wants his allies to try to drown out the damning evidence. But the committee's top Republican believes, America will tune in.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We are not in a situation where former President Trump has expressed any sense of remorse about what happened. We are in fact in a situation where he continues to use even more extreme language frankly, than the language that caused the attack. And so, people must pay attention. People must watch and they must understand how easily our democratic system can unravel if we don't defend it.


KING: But we begin the hour with an awful all to normal weekend in America, violence and gun deaths virtually from coast to coast. This is now routine, sadly. 10 mass shootings. 10 mass shootings since Friday. You see them on the map here.

In Philadelphia, multiple shooters turned south street, home to bars and cheesesteak joints into a scramble for survival. Three were killed. In Tennessee, two died and 14 were wounded. In South Carolina, a gunman turned a graduation party into chaos, killing one, wounding eight others. And in Texas, five more were wounded, another graduation party turned into another American scar.

Here in Washington, Congress arrives at a do or do nothing challenge. Senators are again negotiating over what if anything, they can legislate about guns, how Americans buy them, or how law enforcement can take them out of the hands of dangerous individuals.

Let's get straight up to Capitol Hill and our chief correspondent Manu Raju. Manu, many of those involved say this is a critical week. Why and where are we?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is the critical week because the Democrats are saying a deal must be close by the end of this week. Or they simply say that there is simply going to be not enough Republican support in order to overcome a GOP led filibuster, meaning at least 10 Republicans are needed to join the 50 Democrats on a deal that they've been discussing over the last several days.

Among the key contours of the deal is how to deal with state red flag laws, allowing states to take away guns from individuals deemed a risk, as well as a number of handful of other issues. And I just caught up with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who is a part of these bipartisan talks. And he told me any deal must include those provisions to bolster state red flag laws. And he also called to raise the minimum age to purchase semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21. Even as a number of Republicans object to that idea.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): We know we can do something would have prevented this, raising the age, making sure that the age least gives us a chance to work with that person, seeing and evaluating and have little maturity to them. And the second thing is that, that we know that the red flag laws do work as long as due process.

RAJU: What do you think raising the age from 18 to 21 for all gun purchases?

SEN. MANCHIN: Well, that's it's - where it is everything except for rifles and long guns right now. Or if it's just for these high- capacity weapons. Whatever they want to do, I'm open too doing something that makes sense.

RAJU: Why do you think people even need it AR-15? Do people need one?

SEN. MANCHIN: I mean, you have to ask the people that do I never thought I had a need for that type of high-capacity automatic weapon. And I like to shoot, I like to go out and hunt. I like to go out sports shooting. I do all that. But I've never felt I needed something of that magnitude.


RAJU: Now Manchin also told me that he is open to the idea of banning assault weapons, AR-15 style weapons. He said he wanted to see the proposal before actually supporting it. Now, that idea of an assault weapons ban will not be part of any final deal because of Republican resistance. So, John, the big question is what can they agree to?

Can they agree to state red flag laws? Can they agree to increasing the mental health programs here in the United States? Can they expand background checks in some way? All big questions, but I'm told, John, raising the age from 18 to 21 is still an idea that is encountering stiff GOP resistance, so getting that into the final package will be difficult despite Manchin's support. John?


KING: We got several conversations in the days ahead, Manu as you report and the rest of our team reports on the Hill. Mana Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you. With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Melanie Zanona, Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast, and Cleve Wootson of The Washington Post.

So, let's start with you and the Hill dynamics because that's your beat. But first, I want to get out. This is one of these weeks where everybody watches he's going to talk. The question is, will they listen to a mate? Will listen to America, including the mayor of Chattanooga, one of the mayors, large cities, small cities, medium cities, they please Washington do something.


MAYOR TIM KELLY, CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE: I'm hopeful actually, that the Congress can come together this week to pass some commonsense legislation. And clearly, that's what we need more of the federal level.

BRIANNA KEILAR, NEW DAY CO-ANCHOR: If they can't, what is at stake for cities like yours?

MAYOR KELLY: Well, as I said, it's going to be a long hot summer.


KING: The question really comes down to how many Republicans in the Senate can you get to agree to what?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Exactly. The question is, what will Republicans accept? Democrats have made clear they're willing to accept far less than what their dream package would be in the name of a deal. But Republicans are making clear that it's not going to be something that can be construed as new gun laws or new restrictions on gun laws, it's going to have to be something that's more along the lines of enforcing the system that already exists.

And you've seen Manchin, or sorry, Mitch McConnell, talk about the fact that it needs to be a focus on mental health and on school safety. So, it's going to be something really small ball, which is important to keep in mind. We're not talking about things like raising the purchasing age or banning assault weapon ban. So, the question is, if they can get something done, is it meaningful? Does it make a difference? KING: And you mentioned Democrats, so Senator Chris Murphy has been a leader among Democrats on this issue for years, obviously, his state of Connecticut at Newtown. And he would like to ban assault weapons. He would like to raise the age. He would like to have gun restrictions.

But to your point, he has said, I'm willing to compromise here because we have to do something. We have to prove to the American people that we see, what I just went through the numbers again, every day, there are more of them. Senator Murphy says, he hopes Republicans will compromise for the nation's kids.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I think Republicans realize how scared parents and kids are across this country. I think they realize that this kind cannot be nothing. I'm more confident than ever, that we're going to get there. But I'm also more anxious about failure this time around.


KING: He knows the history.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And he knows how hard it is to get to 60. I mean, the last time Manchin and Senator Toomey had their background check bill. Going through, for example, they had to put language in it, saying there wasn't going to be a gun registry. It's not going to happen. And yet, you still had, particularly guns rights activists out there, saying that it was going to lead to a gun registry.

So, there're also going to be battling quite a bit of misinformation and spin on this from the other side, as they tried to push this through, which might weed away some of these Republicans who might even be on the fence. Because look what happened in the House.

You had Chris Jacobs, a freshman Republican from New York, who came out for assault weapons ban and for limits on high-capacity magazines. And what a week or two later, he decided not to run for reelection, because in part of the backlash.

KING: The backlash. And so, one of the questions is, where's the president done this? He had a primetime speech to the nation last week. He's spending several days on the west coast this week for international summit. So, I get that part. But it was interesting on Friday, I believe it was Friday. He said his staff is involved in this.

So, we're going to see and hear from the president. This is the key week up on Capitol Hill for bipartisan infrastructure. He brought them out of the office repeatedly, brought the Republicans in repeatedly. We're going see that or is these hands off?

CLEVE WOOTSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: You know what, one of the things you've seen Biden say repeatedly, also is that he is trying not so much to be Senator president, right? He's trying to not be as involved in the day to day. There's reporting that he is, you know, attuned to it that his legislative affairs staff, folks are giving him updates and information, but that he's trying not to delve as much into it as he has on infrastructure or things in the past.

In part, I think that's because it immediately elevates it to this sort of hot button, Democrat versus Republican issue. And it's a question of whether it will help or harm.

KING: But it'd be interesting to watch them in week ahead. You mentioned Democrat versus Republican. So, the key fight now is can you get 10 Republicans in the Senate and where can he get? Can you get to 10 on what? So, everyone expects to be pretty modest. But I want you to listen here. This is the number two Republican in the House who - listen to here, he immediately goes into the political corner on this. Listen closely, Steve Scalise.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): It immediately becomes about Democrats wanting to take away guns. Let's go search for the root of the problem. How can we do a better job of connecting the dots and stopping something before it happens. Like we did after September 11, which has worked really well as it relates to stopping terrorist attacks.


KING: Sounds great, right? So, here's my question for Congressman Scalise. The FBI did, the government did change a lot after 9/11 We created the Department of Homeland Security. Does he want to create the department of gun safety? The FBI took 2000 agents retask them to counterterrorism, they shoe leather and electronic surveillance of terrorists.


Does he want us to have FBI agents outside of every gun store? They say these things. I don't think they think them through. But if the government is to react to gun violence like it did to 9/11, would Republicans support any of that?

ZANONA: You know, on the Senate side, the one to watch here is John Cornyn. He's the lead Republican negotiator and all this, he represents the state where the Uvalde school shooting occurred. He's tried to get a deal on background checks before, but he also wants to be GOP leader one day.

And so, he's not going to go out on a limb and support something and sign off on something that doesn't have the support of the wider Republican conference. So, you know, we're talking about 10 being the magic number, but realistically, it's going to have to have more support of that to actually get a deal.

KUCINICH: I mean, I don't know that there are many supporters for the current ATF nominee that's going through. So, I mean, that's an established agency that had infrequently has had ahead. So, I mean, that in and of itself kind of shows you exactly how much support there would be for Republicans having agency that goes after guns.

KING: Well, let's see if this is the big week. Let's see if we can get something and probably disappoint a lot of people to get something to a building block or something else, we shall see. Up next for us. The January 6 committee promises compelling new evidence in primetime this week. And CNN is learning, the former President Donald Trump is asking his most loyal allies to come to his defense.




KING: Former President Trump now organizing key allies in an effort to counter this week's big reveal by the January 6 committee. A series of committee hearings begins in primetime Thursday night. And those involved promised new evidence, new testimony and new context of how Trump's plot to steal the 2020 election unfolded, including the violence at the Capitol.

Some new CNN reporting, though, reveals how Trump and his allies are planning to hit back. Our reporters are back with us. You're part of this reporting. The former president knows, this is not going to be good for him. And so, who is he trying to get to help him and how?

ZANONA: Well, he has reached out to his several allies on Capitol Hill, including Kevin McCarthy, the GOP leader. He is of course, was also subpoenaed by the committee, so there could be damaging information about him as well. He's also under pressure to show support after he got caught on tape criticizing Trump in the immediate wake of January 6.

And then Elise Stefanik. She's the conference chair. She's in charge of messaging. She is a self-proclaimed, ultra-MAGA Republican. Actually, she'll be having a fundraiser with him later today up in New York. So, I'm sure the strategy will come into focus. But we should point out that most Republicans that we talked to you on Capitol Hill don't want to give any attention to the select committee hearings, they would rather ignore it, pivot to other issues.

And also, there's only so much spin, you could put on something when they're going to have cold hard evidence in the form of text messages and documents and firsthand witnesses. And so, this counter-attack that is being launched, it's mostly being done for an audience of one and that's Donald Trump.

KING: Donald Trump and the Trumpy conservative silo. I don't even want to call it conservative anymore. The Trumpy media silo there. So, the question is, can the committee meet its test? It says, it will have all this new evidence, new testimony. A lot of the depositions were videotaped. We may see Ivanka Trump for example. We may see Donald Trump Jr. for example, talking about what was going on that day there. Listen to Liz Cheney. She is not with the Republican leadership. She of course, and Congressman Kinzinger, the two Republicans who agreed to serve on the committee. She says America needs to tune in with an open mind.


REP. CHENEY: We are not in a situation where former President Trump has expressed any sense of remorse about what happened. We are in fact a situation where he continues to use even more extreme language, frankly, than the language that caused the attack. And so, people must pay attention. People must watch and they must understand how easily our democratic system can unravel if we don't defend it.


KING: So, here's a test, as she makes that point, and it's an important point, take all the names out of this important point for what happened on that day. It's also important point, though, for the Trump legacy, including whether he runs again in 2024. And if you look at the polling, this from an NBC News poll. Is Trump solely or mainly responsible?

Now 45 percent of Americans say that, right, immediately after it was 52 percent, somewhat not really responsible 55 percent. So the numbers are trending in Trump's favor, if you will. People have a less damning impression now, it's still bad, but it's less damning now. What part of the committee's challenge in their view is to change that again?

WOOTSON: Yes. It is shocking, right? It is primetime. It is compelling text, it is compelling video, it is all of this stuff. That is by and large, meant to influence American opinion. And you know, some of that is political. Some of that very much relates to how we're going to view Trump in perpetuity, but they're competing for eyeballs against all of these domestic issues and trying to bring this issue right to the fore.

KING: And so, the question is part of the times we live in the two most famous names in journalism, Woodward and Bernstein wrote, it's 50 years since Watergate wrote a piece in The Washington Post. This weekend in which they say both Nixon and Trump created a conspiratorial world in which the U.S. Constitution, laws and fragile democratic traditions were to be manipulated or ignored, political opponents and the media were enemies, and there were few or no restraints on the powers entrusted to presidents.

In today's age, can you capture the country's attention like you could in the Watergate hearings, when you had the network news? I remember 10 years old, sitting next to my dad, watching the Watergate hearings. Our media is fractured now. Everyone has this - a lot of people live in their self-segregated media silos. Can you get capture the nation's attention?

KUCINICH: It'll be hard. It just will, because you also have all of this counter programming that will be directly undermining what's happening right there on the television screen. I mean, not only is Trump himself trying to discredit the committee and trying to discredit it through his allies on the Hill. He's endorsed candidates in various states who will be on the ballot. If some of them in the midterms already, who are doing that work as well and we are continuing to spread disinformation about the 2020 election. So, well Watergate, we didn't have that in the same megaphone, as you do now.


KING: The committee, I mean, Congresswoman Cheney clearly understands that, but again, she gets caught up in a lot of Republicans say, well, she just wants to run against Trump, or she has a primary later this year, with a Trump back challenger. How do they deal with the politics which are inescapable and the history which is critical?

ZANONA: They are absolutely cognizant of that challenge. First of all, that's why they're thinking about it in terms of how to make a splash, right? They're holding these hearings in primetime. They even brought in a network executive to help choreograph other hearings are going to go down. So, they are thinking about how to break through.

And the other component of this is the witnesses that they're going to bring in. And they're trying to bring in people who are conservatives, people from Pence world, people that could maybe break through to that remaining pocket. If there is any segment of the population left who isn't convinced that this was something that Trump and his allies coordinated and did.

KING: And you mentioned, most Republicans would prefer to be in another country or away from this because they understand, most of them privately understand what happened that they don't have the courage to talk publicly is for you to decide at home, whether you're a private - listen to Tom Rice. Tom Rice is one of the 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. So, forgive him forget.


JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: There's no way you could support him for president again.

REP. TOM RICE (R-SC): No. There is one way, if he apologized.

KARL: So, if he came out and said, I'm sorry, I mean, all that---

REP. RICE: If he came out and said, I'm sorry that I made a huge mistake on January 6, then I might consider.

KARL: What will it mean for the Republican Party if he runs again?

REP. RICE: I think it will hurt us.


KING: There're two interesting pieces of that. Number one, saying candidly, it will hurt us if Trump runs again, in his view. South Carolina, that's important state for Republicans. But then the idea that, you know, Trump, apologize. Hold your breath. (CROSSTALK)

ZANONA: Tom Rice is also in a primary next week. He's going up against a conservative Trump backed challenger. So, he's like leaving that little door open, but Tom Rice knows Trump is never going to apologize. But it is interesting to hear him outright admit going to be damaging for the party if he runs.

KING: A lot of Republicans clearly don't agree or they're afraid to say so otherwise, we will see as it plays out. It's a very important week. President Biden's heading west this week, and his plans include a late-night TV appearance. California has the nation's highest gas prices. By this interview with Jimmy Kimmel part of an effort to sell the White House inflation plan.




KING: There are more bad numbers for President Biden today. And now word, he will try a late-night TV appearance to make his case directly to you. His trip to California this week will include a presidential sit down with Jimmy Kimmel, that's Wednesday night. It's the president's first late night talk show appearance since taking office and his first one-on-one interview since back in February around the Super Bowl.

Our reporters again, back with us to discuss. The priority number one. Let's show record high national gas prices. If we just put them on screen, one of the things I drive the show staff crazy with tying them, follow the trajectory. In any poll, any indicator follow the trajectory. The trajectory today is on the right of your screen is still going in the wrong way for the president. $4.87 the national average $3.05 one year ago. He's going to be in California, where he's going to see $6, $7, $8 on some of the signs out there. What can he say and why Jimmy Kimmel?

ZANONA: That's a great question. I think that's what the White House is actually grappling with right now is, how do you convey this message of, A, he's trying to set expectations, right? That's part of it. I can't do every - I can't just snap my fingers, make this problem go away.

But how do you instill confidence in the voters that you do have a handle on the situation and that you do have a plan in place, and you strive to do that with gas prices, inflation? And it seems like they're behind the wall when it comes to messaging. And that's driving some of the frustration right now inside the White House.

KING: And some of these things are the president's control. But again, if you look at trajectory, your part of the reporting on a fascinating piece. One of the challenges in a midterm election is to turn out your base. Now the Republicans, they are just ginned up because they want to kick the Democrats out of Congress. They want to kick Biden in the teeth, essentially, metaphorically. You know, he's the president shorts. And so, the opposition can always gin it up.

You are part of a piece of new poll about African American voters, black voters what they think of the president. Do you think Biden is sympathetic to the problems of black people? You see in 2020, 74 percent said yes, in the most recent poll, that's down to 66 percent. That's still a pretty positive number, two thirds, but it's down, it's trending in the wrong direction. Black vote is likely to cast ballots as the Washington Post Ipsos poll. 64 percent now say, yes.

You look back in the 2020 presidential campaign, you're looking at 83 percent and 85 percent. That's very troubling for the president to have a dip among the base of the Democratic Party that you need to turn out in these elections. That could be the Georgia governor's race and the Georgia Senate seat. That could be the Pennsylvania Senate seat and the other races there too. Again, more numbers not trending the president's way.

WOOTSON: Yes. And what you don't have, we talked to a lot of folks, and they didn't say, you know, we're turning tail. We're not going to be Democrats and all of that stuff. But you see a lack of enthusiasm from a lot of people. And what that means is, you know, support for the president's policies, support for people lower on the ballot, that they're just simply not going to get that.

I think if you look at Biden in a historical perspective, as somebody who ran as, you know, I can uplift minorities. I'm going to help specific groups of people. I think that also takes a personal ding sort of at how Biden looks in the grand scheme.