Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Supreme Court Rules 6-3 To Strike Down NY Firearms Law; Biden "Deeply Disappointed" In Supreme Court's Ruling On Guns; Supreme Court 6-3 Decision Strikes Down NY Concealed Handgun Law; Jan 6 Cmte To Detail Trump Efforts To Corrupt His Own Justice Dept; Today: Jan 6 Cmte Interviews Documentary Filmmaker. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 23, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing a very newsworthy day with us. To begins with this, the Supreme Court chalk way (Ph). The conservative majority, majority throwing out a New York gun law and making clear, it holds a very expansive view of Second Amendment rights.

Plus, big and important developments in the January 6 investigation. Today, new testimony from top justice department officials who refused to help Donald Trump cheat and insisted, he peacefully yield power to Joe Biden, and a new front row view of the Trump family in those momentous day.

(Playing Video)

And Trump's social media stokes a new and urgent threat. January 6 committee lawmakers are upping their security as the number of violent threats against them multiply. We begin the hour though with that major legal decision, the Supreme Court ruling that significantly expands the right to carry a gun.

The justices this morning throwing out a New York law that required residents to prove they had a reason to carry a gun outside the home. The ruling was 6-3 with Justice Clarence Thomas writing for the conservative majority. Justice Thomas said, New York's requirement to show "special cause" to carry a concealed handgun was a violation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

CNN's Jessica Schneider is live with more details on this very dramatic decision. Jess?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Dramatic indeed, John. So, the immediate effect of this decision is to strike down this particular gun law in New York. It required people to show proper cause to get a license to carry a concealed handgun in public. It's now struck down similar laws in six other states will also be struck. But more consequentially, this decision will also prompt challenges to all kinds of gun laws across the country.

And that's because this decision is really changing the framework on how judges will evaluate gun laws moving forward. And this conservative court is saying for the first time that the constitution guarantees the right to carry a handgun outside the home. And because of that, Justice Thomas now says that a firearm regulation is really only OK. If it's consistent with the text and the history of the Second Amendment. That's it. Don't look beyond it.

And the majority has taken particular issue with this particular New York gun law, with how discretionary and wide ranging it is. So, Justice Thomas writing to that effect, saying expanding the category of sensitive places to all places, a public congregation that are not isolated from law enforcement defines the category of sensitive places far too broadly.

So, you're seeing there the conservatives in this decision, saying really that the New York - that New York state had too much discretion to issue permits. On the flip side, the dissenters hear the liberal justices, in particular Justice Stephen Breyer, saying that this decision will severely burden states and their efforts to curb gun violence.

So, John, this decision, of course, coming at the same time that Congress is trying to act, states are trying to tighten gun laws. And this ruling not only strikes down New York's gun law, but it really puts the fate of all other gun laws, including the ones that are trying to be enacted. It puts the fate of those into question here, John?

KING: Jessica Schneider, appreciate the breaking news context on this important decision. Just moments ago, the President United States Joe Biden reacting to this court decision, saying in a statement, he is "deeply disappointed." Let's get straight to our Phil Mattingly. He's at the White House with more. Phil?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. President Biden deeply disappointed, saying "the statement." The ruling contradicts both common sense and the constitution and should deeply trouble us all. The statement also goes on to mention what we've seen just recently as it relates to gun violence.

The horrific murders and Uvalde, the shootings and murders in Buffalo, and makes very clear that the president in his belief is that they - at this point in time, more needs to be done related to gun restrictions, not less. And he made clear that he and his White House will continue to press on that issue in the weeks and months ahead.

And Jessica alluded to this, the timing here could not be more interesting in the sense that at this moment in time on Capitol Hill, the Senate is in the midst of voting to break the filibuster on the most significant piece of gun safety legislation since 1994. Obviously, the White House is behind that.

The president has been involved in the background, in the efforts to get that towards a deal. They are on the verge of pretty significant gun legislation that the president supports. But when it comes to this ruling, specifically, the president making very clear, he's unhappy with it. He doesn't believe it lines up with precedent, and that he is going to continue to try and do more with his authority. John?

KING: Phil Mattingly, at the White House. Phil, thanks for the hustle. With me to share the legal perspective, CNN's Joan Biskupic, and CNN's Carrie Cordero. Let me pick up, Joan, right there with where Phil just left off. The president and his statement, says I urge states to continue to enact and enforce common sense laws to make their citizens and communities safer from gun violence. The president says, keep going. The Supreme Court just said, there is not much they can do. Isn't that what the court is saying?


JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST & SUPREME COURT BIOGRAPHER: This decision opens the door to more challenges to gun restrictions and close the door to the possibilities of many. This is a whole new court, John. It really does show how different things are from 12 years ago when the court first said that the second amendment would cover a right to have a handgun in a home for self-defense. This is the first time that it's outside in the very broad reasoning.

The robust approach by Clarence Thomas, joined by five other justices is really significant and will make it harder, harder to pass gun control and easier to challenge gun control. And Justice Breyer writing for the three dissenters said, think of mass shootings, think of road rage, think of all those things, they might not be able to be as dressed as potently as before this ruling.

KING: And Carrie, that's part of the fascinating debate now, between the six conservatives and the three liberals on the court. The conservatives are saying in this decision, read the text, read the text of a document written in the 18th century. Justice Breyer trying to say, hey, this is the 21st century. We have a lot of things going on.

And let's go through some of this. Justice Breyer writes this in his dissent. The primary difference between the courts view and mine is that I believe the amendment allows states to take account of the serious problems posed by gun violence. I fear the court's interpretation ignores these significant dangers and leave states without the ability to address them. That's Justice Breyer losing. He's on the three side that lost.

Justice Alito directly comes back at that. Why, for example, does the dissent think it is relevant to recount the mass shootings that have occurred in recent days. And how does the dissent account for the fact that one of the mass shootings near the top of its list took place in Buffalo? The New York law at issue in this case obviously, did not stop that perpetrator. It's a fascinating debate about whether the court should take into account, changes in technology, changes in culture, changes in just about everything. And the conservatives are saying, no.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. Well so, this opinion, is just I think, the perfect example that illuminates what this new conservative majority. How they approach analyzing the law? They make it explicit throughout the opinion, that the goal is to look, their analysis is to look at the text of the constitution itself, and to look at historical ways that that should be interpreted.

So, looking at history, and analyzing it from there, not looking at what one might assess is, as a matter of public policy in the current public interest, given our current environment with mass shootings. That's what this majority rejects in the court. And they're saying, only historical analysis and only the tax.

KING: And the former New York City Mayor, Mike Bloomberg, who has been a leader in pushing for gun control and in helping fund gun control efforts around the country. He says this in a tweet. The legacy of the Roberts Court is looking darker and more dangerous by the day. This decision siding with the gun lobby will lead to more innocent people. And he says join every town, join moms demand to fight back.

Again, like the president, Mike Bloomberg is saying stay at it. But Joan, when you go through this, what can and cannot state legislators or the United States Congress do if they're inclined to try to impose new restrictions?

BISKUPIC: Well, they will try to do more. And they will try to argue that what they're doing doesn't conflict with this new test that's going to look back at traditional history in America. And they'll make those arguments, just like New York actually made those arguments here, for this law that had been on the books for 100 years, but it failed. And what had happened up to this point, was that lower courts were much more receptive to gun control. After this, lower courts will have no choice. They'll have to follow this kind of precedent.

CORDERO: Here's what I think they might want to look to. So, if you're looking at this opinion, from the perspective of the gun safety advocates, and where did they go from here. There was a line deep in the opinion, where it talks about its historical analysis, and it says, but under common law, individuals could not carry deadly weapons in a manner likely to terrorize others.

And I thought that was interesting, because what's not in the historical part or in the constitution is assault weapons, and in the Senate bill, they're not including assault weapons. But if I was on the side of the gun safety advocates or the states looking to how they can regulate, that's where I would be looking.

KING: That's where you'd be looking. Let's get some more important perspective now. Joining our conversation, the Duke Law School professor Darrell Miller. He's the author of The Positive Second Amendment: Rights, Regulation, and the Future of Heller. Sir, grateful for your time today. Heller, of course, the last big Supreme Court decision on gun rights issues.

This decision today essentially says read the text. That's what you can and cannot do. I'm going to read the Second Amendment. It's pretty brief, a well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed. By that language and this decision today, sir, can I carry a gun to work? Can I carry a gun on a plane? DARRELL MILLER, PROFESSOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW: Well, I mean, this is the issue, which is the court actually says it's just not only just the text, but it's the text history and tradition. So, the text alone isn't going to answer a bunch of questions. It's actually the history tradition that is really going to do a lot of work in the future. And that's why this is such a blockbuster case because the court says, you don't need an exact duplicate in 1791 of regulation that exists.


Today you need an analog. But at what level of generality. There are regulations in 1791, about taking guns to fairs and markets, isn't a modern super dome like that is, is it because taking guns into crowded places was dangerous in 1791. Hence those regulations, that taking a gun onto an airplane could be prohibitive today.

The case really just does throw open the doors to all kinds of challenges and what we thought was well settled, reasonable regulation to keep hands out of the hands of people that are, you know, potentially dangerous.

KING: So, what other specifics? There are a half dozen states that like New York, say, to carry concealed - a concealed carry permit, you need to show special cause or some cause. Why do you need that? So those laws, obviously this decision says sorry, no, what else?

MILLER: Yes. So, the court is very expressive, saying it's not striking down what's known as shallow issue. So, as long as there's some kind of objective metrics that the state puts in for issuing these licenses. The court majority, reiterated in the concurrence by Justice Kavanaugh, and Chief Justice Roberts says, that you can have what's known as a shallow issue, as long as you have these objective determinants to issue licensing. So licensing isn't all struck down.

It's just that you can't have this sort of discretionary system. But the issue that I was watching, and the real fire of this opinion, is this text history and tradition only approach to figuring out whether something is constitutional or not. And so, I think what we can expect is not just about where to carry guns, but what guns are protected.

Who gets to carry guns? Who can have a gun? All of those are going to be challenged as insufficiently analogous to some kind of regulation that exists in 1791. And so, one thing I can guarantee is that we're going to see lots and lots and lots more litigation of existing regulations based on the strength of this majority opinion.

KING: A giant decision that opens the door to additional challenges. Darrell Miller, grateful for your time. Grateful for Joan and Carrie as well. We'll come back to this issue a bit later in the program. But next to January 6 committee convenes its next public hearing in just two hours. Top Trump department officials - justice department officials will detail, how they resisted the former president's effort to ignore the election results.



KING: Public hearing number five, the January 6 committee starts in just a couple of hours. The witness list today includes former Trump justice department officials including, the former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen. Rosen plans to tell the committee that Trump and his allies never produced any proof of widespread election fraud.

That Rosen refused to let Trump make the justice department coconspirators, turning down requests to appoint special prosecutors, for example, or to send letters to state legislatures and to make public statements. He wanted the justice department to lie about the 2020 income and of Trump's insistence the election was stolen. Rosen says this, "that view was wrong then and it is wrong today." That is his testimony.

Let's get more now from CNN's Sara Murray. Sara, a very important day as the committee tries to show Trump asked, even the justice department help them cheat.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It is. It's important day. Rosen is an important witness because he and his colleagues at the justice department at the time really had to stand up to Donald Trump's efforts to try to use the justice department to essentially investigate his baseless claims of fraud and try to overturn the results.

Remember, Rosen was the one Donald Trump wanted to push aside, so that he could install Jeffrey Clark, someone who might go along with this wild plan. So of course, we are going to be watching his testimony closely today.

The other thing though, that we are going to be looking for is any mention of these Republican lawmakers, who may have been seeking pardons from Donald Trump before he left office. Obviously, we've seen it come up in previous hearings, but we also saw members of the committee sort of teasing, you know, perhaps we're going to hear more of that today. So, we are definitely going to be listening for those details. John?

KING: Important afternoon ahead. Sara Murray, appreciate you're teeing it up. With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, Jackie Kucinich with The Daily Beast, Olivier Knox at the Washington Post, USA Today's Francesca Chambers, and Carrie Cordero our legal analyst is still with us as well.

I want to read to you, Olivier, a piece of Jeffrey Rosen's prepared statement to the committee. We thus held firm to the position that the department would not participate in any campaigns or political party's legal challenges to the certification of the electoral college votes. We also insisted that there must be an orderly and peaceful transfer of power under the constitution.

That an attorney general of the United States had to say that to the president of the United States, it's just we - orderly and peaceful transfer of power, the most cherished American tradition, the attorney general had to remind Donald Trump, sir, you got to go.

OLIVIER KNOX, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: You had daring Donald Trump in effect to duplicate the Saturday Night Massacre from the Watergate and daring him essentially to fire these senior officials. And of course, part of this weeklong celebration of guardrails, right?

We have an emerging guardrail party, all these Republican folks who told Donald Trump know, Rusty Bowers, you know, the various elections officials from around the country, from Georgia, for example, really remarkable. And we've talked on the show before about the fragility of American norms and how they safeguard democracy. This is the real deal. These are the officials who stood up to him.

KING: But stood up to him to the very end, including again, Trump had tried at the state level. He was trying to pressure Mike Pence. And here you have, Bill Barr had left because he wanted no more of this and he got out, so they had the guy on Bill Barr's place. And then there was an effort. We are going to hear about the committee today to get rid of Jeffrey Rosen because he wouldn't do it.


JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. And I was the only to be told by a subordinate that he was going to take his place. And that Jeffrey Rosen was going to be fired, now that never happened. But this was after he was asked to circulate a letter through emails, this is all written down, excuse me, that the FBI had found fraudulently. If the FBI had found evidence of election fraud. And Rosen, as I said, absolutely no, we're not doing that. Also, Richard Donoghue said the same thing. And because of that, they almost lost their jobs. But they stood firm. And you know, here we are today.

CORDERO: Here's the thing, John. There was not a peaceful transfer of power. People died on January 6. There was an attack on the Capitol. And they were coming for the Speaker of the House, and they were coming for the vice president, and they were coming for other members of Congress. So, I am really interested to hear Jeffrey Rosen's testimony, because clearly, he and his deputies was stood pressure from the president.

But he was awfully quiet, leading up to that. He never - during the - leading up to January 6 came public in any way. It wasn't until, I believe, January 13, of 2021, where he issued this very sort of odd public video statement that just said, we are going to support law enforcement and make sure that we have a safe inauguration. So, we turned all his attention to the inauguration. But I will be really interested to hear how clear he is about what it is that they were pressured to do, leading up to January 6.

KING: So, the statement certainly tees up to the committee, asked me about this, ask me about this, ask me about this. He's very clear and doing it. And we are going to move on from this as well. The committee has done a very meticulous job of building its case. It's also done a very smart job of using people around Donald Trump to tell the story. So, that you're hearing for people who were in the room, people who were appointed by him, people who are family members from him.

And Francesca, we are going to hear Alex Holder's, this documentary film producer, who had this unprecedented access, apparently to the president's family members in these days. He's met with the committee today and said, he's planning to cooperate and help them, and he's released a bit of a trailer from his documentary, where you see, Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and the then president the United States, watch?

(Playing Video)

Just for full disclosure, Discovery+, obviously part of the parent company of CNN as well, as we watch this play out. But the power of this number one is, Ivanka Trump saying, my father always tells the truth or Donald Trump. They're going to use that, and then show other statements from them and communications. That is what the committee has done a pretty good job of putting together. People were saying these things publicly, here is what they were doing privately.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: And they have testimony from the children of the former president of the United States. And they have highlighted that and will continue to highlight that. And to your point, though, I wanted to say about the department of justice officials, that many of the things that we've seen, we had already known about when it came to the election officials and the counting of ballots and what happened there. It was meant to dispel disinformation and put that in a really public way.

But when it comes to the Department of Justice officials, we may be hearing for the first time some of those efforts and how deep they went in the Department of Justice, potentially how wide they were in the White House about those efforts to try and overturn the election.

KING: And as we wait to hear from the Trump justice officials today, Carrie, we now have this from CNN reporting about the Biden justice department. Federal investigators subpoenaed the Georgia Republican Party chairman for information related to the fake electoral scheme there.

As the justice department has issued a fresh round of subpoenas to people from several states who acted as rogue electors after the 2020 presidential election, multiple sources tell CNN. What does that tell you? There's been a lot of grumbling from Democrats, is the Biden justice department being aggressive enough to look into this? What does that tell you?

CORDERO: Well, so this is where it's always really hard to figure out is whether the justice department is doing things that are responding to what they are observing or learning from the congressional investigation, or whether there is just this whole other parallel track, which is usually the way that I think about it, where the justice department is rolling along, and they're just going to keep plowing forward where their investigation takes them, regardless of what's going on in the political environment. So, sometimes it's hard to tell which one it is, but clearly, the justice department has a really serious investigation executing search warrants, a serious criminal investigation into this fraudulent electoral situation.

KING: We'll watch that today and remember the hearing a little bit later today. Up next for us. Back to the big Supreme Court decision significantly expanding gun rights, and it's happening just as the Senate is voting. Today, see it right there, a new gun safety legislation.




KING: The Supreme Court today dealing a major blow to gun control, advocates the court striking down in New York state law that restricted concealed carry of handguns outside the home. New York's Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand pushing back.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): This is clearly an activist. We've seen a draft decision that intends to undermine roe. We have a decision undermining states' rights where they want to protect its citizens. This is what Donald Trump intended to stack the court with Ultra extreme conservative justices who are so far out of step with the American people.


KING: See right there a live action on the Senate floor. The Senate is voting right now to advance what would be the first major gun safety bill to become law in decades. Our reporters are back with us.