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Split Decision For Trump-Backed Candidates In South Carolina; Big Primary Wins For Election Denier Candidates In Nevada; Accused Buffalo Shooter Facing Federal Hate Crime Charges. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 15, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Let's move now to House Republican primaries. Over here in South Carolina, it was a mixed verdict for the former president, first to this race here.

Nancy Mace won renomination. She's an incumbent Republican congresswoman. Donald Trump wanted her booted.

He wanted Republican voters to boot her and he endorsed Katie Arrington because she said especially after January 6th, some very unflattering things about Donald Trump. But Mace survives.

But in this district up here, Donald Trump did get the revenge he wanted. Russell Fry will be the Republican nominee likely the next Congressman because this is such a Republican district.

Tom Rice, you see, a two to one win for Russell Fry even more than that. Tom Rice voted to impeach Donald Trump. He said he was proud of that vote, and he would stand by that vote.

Tom Rice will now become a former congressman in January because of that.

One other race I want to make note of moved down to a special election last night in the state of Texas.

Now, we'll come down to the map and bring it out over here. You see the red down here, and pop this out. In some ways, Democrats might say, oh, this race is insignificant because this is only to fill the remaining term.

So this, Myra Flores will be the congresswoman only until January. The district has been redrawn. There'll be a new election in November. Democrats think they can win.

But this used to be a Democratic state that if Republican won is proof to Republicans that Latino voters are now trending more and more their way, something to keep an eye on as we get close to November.

But the Trump factor was the big issue last night. And in South Carolina, Nevada, those who had his endorsement said, thank you, sir.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RUSSELL FRY (R-SC), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: President Trump looked at this entire crowded field. Remember, we were 14 people I think at one point, we had a strong challengers and he trusted us with his endorsement. Mr. President, thank you.

ADAM LAXALT (R), NEVADA SENATE CANDIDATE: I would like to thank President Donald Trump for not only believing in me, but for believing in Nevada and leading an America First movement, a movement that is alive and well today here in Nevada.


KING: CNN's Jeff Zeleny is just back from South Carolina here in D.C. Appreciate the quick trip back up. You know, Tom Rice will be former congressman.

He says it's a badge of honor. But it tells you something about the Trump effect Republican voters if you openly defy him. Nancy Mace tried to have a more nuanced.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Without a doubt. You can cross him if you will, but you can't defy him because that puts you on the other side of the electorate. And that was Tom Rice's problem.

He wasn't only going after the former president at every turn, and it's so unusual to talk to a Republican who's willing to say what he will say out loud, he said Donald Trump is the past.

He's a cancer on the party. But that put him crossways with the electorate. That clearly showed last night in the results.

But I think at the end of the day, we can draw some lessons from South Carolina. And one is, candidates matter, that is why Nancy Mace beat Katie Arrington.

Republican voters there are well aware of the fact that Katie Arrington was the Republican nominee in 2020. She lost that seat to a Democrat. That was Nancy Mace's full message.

So yes, Nancy Mace was -- she across Donald Trump, but was not anti- Trump. She embraced his policies. She embraced his sort of spirit, if you will.

So candidates still absolutely matter in the race, and you cannot be sort of at odds with Republican voters. And that's what Tom Rice was.

KING: And so the question is, does that carry over as we go through it, there were 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump.

Last night was actually the first time one of them had a primary challenge, was on the ballot and a primary challenge because of course, that's because four of them, you see them in the left of your screen here, decided not to seek reelection, so you don't find out what happens in the primary. Then you see the four in the middle there. They are all Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump. They all face Trump-backed Republican challengers in August. So we're in the middle of June now. We got two ways to go to get there.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And this is Trump's number one priority in so many ways to defeat these people, to exact his revenge on people who openly defied him and crossed him.

If you are any of these folks, particularly somebody like Liz Cheney, I mean, she might be number one on his list of people he wants to see ousted. You have got to worry.

You know, if you look at South Carolina, for instance, the Republican support for Donald Trump in South Carolina is 89 percent. I'm actually surprised it's not 99 percent.

But if you look around in different states, it's similar. Republicans by and large, embrace Donald Trump. They believe what he says about the election. So running against him being virally anti-Trump is just not a winning strategy so far.

I mean, we'll see Liz Cheney is a horse of a different color because of her political pedigree. But the headwinds are tough.

KING: And some of these races matter more than others because of the competitive nature come November. Those two South Carolina Republicans are likely to be Congressman now because they're Republican districts.

But the Nevada, Nevada, A, is a fascinating state. This is the Senate map. Remember, it's a 50-50 Senate, right? So control of the Senate is up. Adam Laxalt will be the candidate here. That's a Democratic held seat right now.

Republicans believe not only can they win that seat, they believe they can win the governor's race there. They also think they can pick up maybe two or three House districts as well.

One of the reasons they think that is because they think and Donald Trump did this in the last presidential election, and the Republicans think they're seeing a continue is improving standing among Latino voters.


TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Yes. And I do think we do see the shifts, we do see that some of the messaging from Republicans to Latino voters, on jobs, on the economy, on the fact that perhaps Democrats policies have made it worse, to be an American resonates with Latino voters, also, you know, some black male voters as well.

I think in a general election and a statewide election in a state like Nevada, it's still going to be difficult for Republicans to win, especially on a message tied to close to President Trump, that could be a turn off in a general election. But I think Republicans think that if they get enough support, they

can push it through. It also depends on where our economy and all these other factors are come November.

KING: Right, and that's the key point there. But if you're just talking about can Democrats hold the Latino vote, it would matter here, it would matter here.

You could argue it matters in the suburbs here. You could argue even it matters here. Black voter turnout is key there too. But in a very close race on the margins, if the Republicans are running a point or three better among Latino voters.

So the question is, you know, MJ, will those candidates, those Democratic candidates, will they invite the President in to help?

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That is a really, really good question. I think if you are a Democratic candidate, and you potentially face a very competitive race come November.

Yes, there's going to be weariness because of everything that you just laid out, particularly about the economy. The President is the face of the Democratic Party.

And right now he's the person that is the easiest, single individual for everybody to blame for all of the economic woes.

So, yes, it is going to be difficult for some of these candidates to fathom the idea of bringing on stage the President who again, sort of represents some of the hardships that we are seeing across the country when it comes to the economy.

KING: It may not be fair, it may not be contextual, but welcome to politics, right?

ZELENY: We've seen it with every sitting President always in the first midterm year, do you bring the President out or not?

There's also an argument though, look, you know, you're a Democrat, you have that D on your jersey, so why not at least try and get out some people who, you know, might like to see Air Force One land in your district.

If you're -- the White House is still planning on sending President Biden out there to places like Wisconsin to go after Ron Johnson. But, you know, it's hard to hide from your President and your party.

KING: Ask Democrats who lost in 2010, who ran from Obama.

ZELENY: It was 63 seats, 68 seats.

KINGL Yes, there are 63 seats.

Up next, we continue the conversation, the big lie and the ballot box. Republican voters again reward election deniers despite all the new evidence that Team Trump knew, yes, Joe Biden won fair and square. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


KING: An election denier in Nevada now one step closer to overseeing the very elections he calls rig. Jim Marchant just won that state's Republican primary for Secretary of State.

And Adam Laxalt, who is also known for pushing 2020 election lies, is now the silver state's GOP nominee for Senate. Our great reporters are back with us. And that is one of the challenges in this election cycle. Even though we heard from everybody on Team Trump, the Attorney General Trump's daughter, to campaign manager people inside saying it's not true.

We knew it wasn't true. We exhausted our options. Joe Biden won fair and square you have these Republican candidates. Let's listen, saying, nope, Joe Biden stole the election.


JIM MARCHANT (R), CANDIDATE FOR NEVADA SECRETARY OF STATE: People are excited that there's somebody doing something behind the scenes to try to fix 2020 like President Trump said.

LAXALT: Well, there's no question that they rigged the election. There's no question that they set about changing the rules of the game.

SEN. DOUG MASTRIANO (R-PA): So I'm thankful that the President comes to loyalty to those that stand for truth, and are trying to fight for voting integrity in our state, which needs to happen. I can't believe 60. But it's so hard to find out how that actually happened in 2020.


KING: Just a great example there, Republican candidate for governor in Pennsylvania, Republican candidate for Senate in Nevada, Republican candidate for Secretary of State in Nevada, the people who actually count the votes, who are, forgive me, living in a fantasy.

HENDERSON: Yes, listen, the saving grace of 2020 to the extent there was one was that there were people in place who Donald Trump was pressuring to do his bidding and overturn the election, there were people who defied him all over the country in places like Georgia, places like Arizona, Michigan, and Pennsylvania.

Now, what we see is that there are people who will likely be in place in 2022, 2024, who could actually do Donald Trump's bidding, and are essentially saying they would, right?

I think the gubernatorial candidate in Pennsylvania, I think said well, he would be in charge of this appointing the Secretary of State who, of course, would be overall the election there.

So yes, this is, you know, in some ways, 2020 was a bit of a dry run. In 2024, could actually you could see what Donald Trump wanted to happen in 2020 --

LEE: And if you are an election denier, I mean, that in and of itself should be disqualifying if you are seeking any elected office, but the idea that there are candidates running for governor, for Secretary of State of a state, these rules that are so closely tied to overseeing election results of a state, I mean, that should be incredibly disturbing.

And also, by the way, some of the sound that you played of these Republican candidates saying these conspiracy theories, we also don't even know that they actually believe that. It's very possible as of January 6th hearings have shown that they are saying it just for political effect that's even more disturbing.


KING: But the cancer is in the system, if you will. We need competitive political parties in the American democracy. We need people who respect the system and follow the rules.

This is a lawsuit filed by the Mexico Secretary of State against one of the counties in her state because the county commission refuses to certify election results from our primary that is over.

One of the members of that county commission says this, I have huge concerns with these voting machines. I really do. I just don't think in my heart that they can't be manipulated.

This is the Dominion voting fiasco that Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell set on America, essentially, Hugo Chavez is somewhere in Venezuela from the grave manipulating voting machines. I mean, really?

MITCHELL: Yes. And Georgia is a Dominion state too. And Georgia seen those types of attacks. And it's -- there are people that could be in really powerful positions that have worked hard to overturn and question the 2020 election.

And again, when it comes to 2024, where there's likely to be another close presidential election.

It could have grave impact. You know, there's been a lot of talk about how in Georgia, Brian Kemp, and Secretary Raffensperger defeated, stop the steal Republicans in their primary.

But Georgia's lieutenant governor, the Republican candidate is a stop the steal state senator. And in Georgia, the lieutenant governor position is very powerful.

And so now, I spoke to Democratic Rep. Nikema Williams at the first January 6th hearing, and that's what she said.

She said, she was disturbed, and she wants to hear from Senator Jones. Do you still believe this because you could be one of our state's top leaders?

KING: It'll be interesting to see if the testimony from the Attorney General, Trump's campaign manager, people in Trump's White House Counsel, Trump's daughter, convinces some of these Republicans to let it go.

This car is already on the track unfortunately for this year, so they're not going to raise their hand and say they're wrong. But wait, we'll see if anything can crack that spill.

Attorney General Merrick Garland is in Buffalo, New York. Remember 10 people killed during the mass shooting in a grocery store? A new federal charges the suspected shooter faces, that's next.



KING: The Attorney General Merrick Garland just announced multiple federal hate crime charges against the man accused of killing 10 victims in last month's mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket.

Let's go straight live now to CNN's Brynn Gingras. She's outside of the Tops supermarket, the side of course of that racist attack. Brynn?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, the Attorney General saying he came here to Buffalo to tell the victim's families personally about these charges that are now filed in the Western District of New York, 26 federal charges related to hate crimes and firearm related charges against this 18-year-old alleged shooter.

And in the affidavit, there is so much detail that federal authorities say they uncovered in this investigation within the last month, details some we knew about at the time of the shooting, details that we didn't know about.

We know that the shooter, alleged shooter, targeted this specific area because of the fact that it's a predominantly black community. And we're learning that he fired as many as 60 shots inside that grocery store where 10 people were killed.

And we also learned that he, you know, left a note in his home basically apologizing to his family and explaining why he had to do this saying that the future of the white race was really in jeopardy. I want you to hear from the Attorney General himself.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We will be relentless in our efforts to combat hate crimes, to support the communities terrorized by them, and to hold accountable those who perpetrate them.

No one in this country should have to live in fear that they will go to work or shop at a grocery store and will be attacked by someone who hates them because of the color of their skin.


GINGRAS: This issue obviously so important to the Attorney General done with these new charges, the death penalty is a possibility for the suspect. When the Attorney General was asked if that will be seeked, he didn't really answer.

But said of course, there's still an investigation going on here and an indictment still needs to be filed.

And essentially there will be some consultation with the victim's family members and also the people that were inside the grocery store who survived. John?

KING: Brynn Gingras, thanks so much, important day for the Buffalo community for us, Brynn, thank you.


Ahead for us, President Biden, we are just learning had to new phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, as Mr. Zelenskyy and his country plead for more heavy weapons.


KING: Topping our Political Radar, just moments ago, the Republican Congressman Barry Loudermilk directly responding to the January 6th Committee accusing it of a smear campaign.

The Committee this morning put out a video of a tour led by Loudermilk, and a man on that tour taking pictures of the Capitol complex that man caught on video, the next day screaming threat of Democratic lawmakers, the next day being insurrection day.

Loudermilk on Twitter says the Capitol Police confirmed nothing about that visit was suspicious. Loudermilk calls any suggestion he led a reconnaissance store quote, viably false.

And the Congressman says to his knowledge no one in that group has been criminally charged in relation to January 6th.

Also knew today, the Biden administration planning to send another billion dollars in military aid and equipment including Howitzer and ammunition to Ukraine.

The announcement comes as we learned President Biden and President Zelenskyy today had their first call, phone call, since April. Listen here, the Secretary General of NATO saying supplying Ukraine with weapons is an urgent priority.


JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: We are extremely focused on stepping up and providing more support more advanced weapons and also to do that in the best possible way for Ukrainians because we support them in their just fight against the brutal Russian invasion.


[13:00:02] KING: Thanks for your time today in Inside Politics. We'll see you tomorrow for our special coverage of the January 6th Hearing. Don't go anywhere, busy Newsday. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.