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Supreme Court Strikes Down NY Gun Law As Senate Voting To Advance Gun Safety Bill; Top Dems Resist Biden's Call For Gas Tax Holiday; Poster On Truth Social Threatens To Hang January 6 Committee Members. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 23, 2022 - 12:30   ET




SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): Donald Trump intended to stack op the court with ultra-extreme conservative justices who are so far out of step with the American people.


JOHN KING, CNN HOST: You see right there, 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. Senator Gillibrand there voicing frustration that Donald Trump is getting what Donald Trump wanted when he got all those vacancies. But that's just fact six to three majority.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And I think that's why you saw I mean, there were so many protests, of course, for several of these justices. But you know, at the end of the day, they kind of have to deal with what they've been dealt. But you know, one of the things that's been really interesting about this current legislation that's going through, the optimism, that it's going to pass, the optimism that this could end up on Biden's desk, which honestly is someone who's covered this for this debate for quite some time too long, honestly, at this point, it really is noteworthy that there is a thought that this actually could happen.

Now, whether or not you're doing it for cynical reasons whether it insulates them, some of the more gun control opponents, whether insulates them from, you know, criticism, that's something else entirely. But you know, it does look like something might get done.

KING: Something might get done. But the reason it's going to get done is that it doesn't have any actual gun risk, gun controls in it, it expands some gun safety things if you want to call gun control, perhaps the expanded background check if you're 18, 19, or 20 years old, it will take a little bit longer if they do the background checks. But to Jackie's point, this is Chris Murphy, the Democrat leading the debate saying he believes if you pass this and expect to get 15 or 16 Republicans to it, he believes to pass this that a year from now you can come back for more. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Once Republicans start voting for gun safety bills, they will find out that there is enormous political benefit. And there's just not that much political downside. You're going to have, you know, probably close to 20 Republicans vote for this bill today. And then on final passage, and I think you will see the opportunity for compromising the future.


KING: Does the Supreme Court decision today put a damper on that last part that if you thought you're going to pass this and get 15 or 16 Republicans, and then come back and say, OK, can we raise the age to buy a gun? Or can we ban assault weapons again, can we do something like that? This Supreme Court decision seems to say, if any legislature, federal or state is going to do that, you better read this decision.

OLIVIER KNOX, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: A 100 percent, 100 percent it does that. Now the math is there to get this to Biden's desk by the end of the week, as long as they reach a deal to limit the amount of time to debate but it looks it looks OK. But the Supreme Court decision he's going to call into question pretty much every piece of gun restriction across the country, federal state and the rest, it opens the door for a number of lawsuits. Not just striking down New York's law, but also these six or seven other states that have similar provisions.

And yes, of course, it's going to have an effect on federal legislation. One quick point to Senator Murphy's political point, he's talking about the Senate, watch the GOP margins in the House on this bill, where the leadership is fighting the bill, and where they are, frankly, much more exposed to political pressure from the right when they run for reelection. So watch, watch that, watch that debate play out.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: Well, even if you, so I was going to say even though if you look at the Senate, again, I know we had a discussion before, but a lot of Republicans are voting for things again, not up for reelection, retiring. The one way we might see this play out in the election real time is Lisa Murkowski. She is someone who voted for cloture on this and someone up for reelection.

But you are not seeing Republicans, right, you are on the ballot rushing towards this measure as something that they think will be helpful to them in this election in response to this point, though.

KING: We are likely to be sitting at this table next week having the same conversation about the draft Supreme Court decision on abortion rights, assuming they did not change it and they strike down Roe v. Wade. The question is then what happens in politics. We'll have that conversation next week when we get there. But we're having it today, the six to three decision by the court says this New York state law, you cannot do it. They didn't give a reasonable reason to restrict gun access. The governor of New York says we will continue the fight.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): As governor of state of New York, my number one priority is to keep New Yorkers safe. But today the Supreme Court is sending us backwards in our efforts to protect families and prevent gun violence. And it's particularly painful that this came down at this moment where we're still dealing with families in pain from mass shootings.


KING: It is striking but inevitable now gun rights today, most likely abortion rights next week, a country that is pretty evenly divided and polarized is going to go through some highly emotional debates accelerated by the Supreme Court of the United States.

KUCINICH: And it's going to be these local officials who are going to be, you know, bearing the brunt of it, really. But you know, it just goes back to -- I'm just going to go back to the crass politics of it all. Republicans are very energized by the Supreme Court. They vote for justices. They get out there and vote because of these issues.

Historically, Democrats have not. And that I mean, it just has been a kind of a truism in politics whether this changes that, we'll have to see. It's kind of too late for, you know, a little bit because of, you know, how many justices were recently put on the court.


KING: Right. This six to three majority is cement, the cement has dried on that, at least for the time being, we shall see.

Ahead, President Biden calls for a summer gas tax holiday but leaders of his own party quickly dismiss the idea.



KING: President Biden's call for a summer gas tax holiday is being panned and dismissed by leading members of his own Democratic Party. Look, here's just a sampling. We will see where the consensus lies, that from the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Adds, the Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, we've all expressed reservations. Over in the Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin calls the administration says should be honest about what the proposal would actually accomplish. I'm hesitant, says Virginia Senator Mark Warner.

And even Biden confidant Chris Coons, Delaware senator who took by the seat quote, I don't know whether it will get the votes. Our reporters are back with us.

KUCINICH: When you lose Chris Coons.

KING: Can you help me here? Can you help me here that a Democratic president, his party is in trouble, he's in trouble in an election year, he has a major policy announcement, and his own party dumps on it within seconds?

KUCINICH: It's almost like he shouldn't like run it by a couple people like college friend Chris Coons, who's basically the Biden whisperer on the Hill and just run this by them. But no, listen, Democrats are expressing concern that this would hurt the Highway Trust Fund, right after they passed all of these infrastructure projects. Also, there's no guarantee oil companies would pass along any savings to the consumers. And, you know, you've got a lot of Democrats who are saying, oil companies are at fault for all of this. So this seems, I don't know if there was a miscommunication or what this was, but it's clear this White House wants to do anything to lower the price at the pump, or at least look like they're trying to do something.

KING: Should the policy conversations maybe have happened in private beforehand, part of Joe Biden's calling card was I know how to get things done. This is the number one issue for Americans inflation, gas prices is a big piece of that. So it's -- is it not embarrassing to the President of the United States for his own party right out of the box to say go away?

KNOX: It's not great for this White House that a three second internet search turns up a Barack Obama video, you know, heaping scorn on the idea of cutting the gas tax, that's not great for them. So there's some muscle memory in the Democratic Party against this proposal. Yes, they clearly should have done a better job of running this past, Senators, you don't -- one, you don't want to catch him by surprise, because you don't really know how they're going to react. And it might have a smooth way a little bit.

But I think Jackie's points central here, which is there's no guarantee that this reduction in the gas tax would ever reach the pump. And so they're not happy because they see downsides. And the upside is entirely up for grabs.

KING: But the President says I want to try, right? That was the President's message yesterday, I want to try, I want to try to do anything. And you do see now, I don't know whether it's generational, whether it's geographical. But you see this split among Democrats. This is Elissa Slotkin, who represents a blue collar district, people who have to drive to work, people who work with their hands. Lots of discussion in Congress today about my bill to suspend the federal tax, I pushed for a year-long break, the administration is back to three- month break. She says, I'll frankly take what I can get. And she says it's not a silver bullet. It's not perfect policy, you know. But let's do something. So you have this push, some members say like this is what is hitting people in the head every day. Let's do something.

CHAMBERS: Yes. And it's not really clear other than that, why the President decided to do this now because lawmakers within his own party had been pushing for this for a month, these conversations started back in February. And then suddenly, they -- it's almost as if they turned on a dime over the weekend, and decided that this was something that they were going to do. And you talked about being on the same page and messaging, his own Energy Secretary was just out a couple of days before he did this, being very skeptical of this, saying that it could take money away from paying for, you know, roads and highways, and then you have the President coming out and saying no, it absolutely won't be able to -- it won't do that, we're going to backfill that money.

And so it is again clear that in their effort to show that he's doing everything that he can to bring down prices and bring down inflation. They're really going for any effort that they can hear in order to be able to show that he's doing that.

KING: And so you have this policy challenge, which is significant. A lot of these things are beyond any president's control. They just simply are. But the President is trying to do something. But then you have the political challenge. Democrats need to keep their base motivated in a midterm election in anxious times in the country, which is difficult. So when Republicans see something like this, this is the poster Frank Luntz, they feel like they don't have to say a word.


FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER & COMMUNICATION STRATEGIST: The American people for the first time are going to feel the full effects. And Congress is saying no, both Democrats and Republicans. It shows you how weak Joe Biden is. Here's the problem. The Democrats control the House, they control the Senate. And when your own party doesn't back you up, that says a lot.

KING: Is a lot of what you hear from pollsters is, you know, spin for their party. It's hard to argue with that.

KUCINICH: I mean, as Olivier said it, that is not great. And Joe Biden's approval ratings, particularly in these districts where people actually have races, these purple districts, he doesn't have any juice and that's not great. And so maybe some of these places, you know, he did well, when he first ran but, you know, he ran on people returning to normal and things aren't normal out there.

KING: Things are not normal out there. Some other major stories to note for you quickly here that major gun legislation we talked about just cleared a major hurdle. The bipartisan gun safety bill advancing in the Senate, 15 Republicans voting with Democrats to break a filibuster, the final vote in the Senate on that bill could come as early as this afternoon. And just moments ago, the New York City Mayor Eric Adams weighing in on today's big Supreme Court decision on guns, he says the justices have made his city less safe.



MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NY): We cannot allow New York to become the wild wild west. That is unacceptable. This decision is created will not allow our city to live in fear that everyone around us is armed.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Ahead, some brand new CNN reporting on violent threats circulating on right wing social media aimed at members of the January 6th Committee.



KING: Accusations of treason and demands to execute members of the January 6th Committee, that just some of the very public threats circulating on Truth Social, that's Donald Trump's preferred social media platform. As part of a complex security situation now confronting that Committee investigating of course the insurrection. New CNN reporting revealing members of the panel now taking extra steps including requesting security details, the height protection measures follow a dramatic uptick in threats to the lawmakers just in this past week.

Joining our conversation, Andrew McCabe, the former Deputy Director of the FBI, CNN legal analyst, Carrie Cordero, still with us. Andy McCabe, I just want to show quickly, and I apologize for showing it but we need to show this to show how deep it is. This is a post on Truth Social, showing a gallows saying that we should hang them all, hang them all. We have a First Amendment right in the United States. But is that enough to get a knock at the door from the FBI or the local police department?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Oh, I should think it probably is. I mean, and that's not, you know, let's be clear that's a knock at the door isn't necessarily a criminal prosecution and sending someone to jail over what they said, which would likely run afoul of the First Amendment. But the Capitol Police and the United States Secret Service all have a responsibility to protect these dignitaries.

And when they come across threat information of this nature, they typically make contact with the sources of those threats to conduct a threat assessment to figure out is this just online puffery by somebody who doesn't have the means and the capability and the intent to carry out such a threat? Or is this something that we have to factor into our protection of this individual? So I think it's a pretty good, pretty -- the odds are pretty good that some of these folks would be contacted at some point.

KING: And Carrie I guess the where are we, is the question in the sense that you now have members of the Committee saying they are getting routinely, regularly, death threats against them. We had obviously the violence of the January 6th insurrection, and we have, listen here, several other people have cooperated with the investigation. And several the people who stood up to Donald Trump say that threats are now part of their daily lives.


RUSTY BOWERS (R-AZ), HOUSE SPEAKER: They have had video, panel trucks with videos of me proclaiming me to be a pedophile. BRAD RAFFENSPERGER (R-GA), SECRETARY OF STATE: After the election, my e-mail, my cell phone was doxxed. And so I was getting texts all over the country. And then eventually, my wife started getting the text and hers typically came in a sexualized attacks, which were disgusting.

JOCELYN BENSON (D-MI), SECRETARY OF STATE: Are they coming with guns? Are they going to attack my house? I'm in here with my kid, you know, it's -- I'm trying to put him to bed. And so it was, yes, that was the scariest moment just not knowing what was going to happen.


KING: Political violence used to be on the fringe, used to be rare. How did it get so regular?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that's the important thing. I think, John, for our viewers to understand is that this latest post, this latest set of threats against the members of the January 6th Committee is not an isolated event, just the testimony in these proceedings, these hearings alone have revealed the threats against elected officials from the most senior levels down to election workers, just everyday people from Georgia to Arizona, to Michigan.

And so this environment of violent extremism or individuals who are threatening to engage in violent activity, it applies to our lawmakers. It applies to our justice -- our judges and our justices. There was a former Wisconsin judge who was killed recently. There have been threats against Justice Kavanaugh, which someone was arrested for. And so this is a much, much bigger problem than just the members of the January 6th Committee.

KING: So Andy McCabe, you were part of an FBI that essentially rewrote how it did its business after 9/11, counterterrorism became priority number one. Where are we now with domestic political violence being so prevalent threats of it, but then actual violence as well? What the law enforcement agencies have to do to rewrite the books, if you will?

MCCABE: Well, we've heard from the FBI in the last few years, John, that they have elevated the priority of domestic violent extremist. We heard the FBI director testified to the Senate at one point that they felt that the greatest threat on the counterterrorism side of the FBI's house comes from not foreign terrorists, but from domestic violent extremists.

So we can assume, I'd like to assume that they have shifted resources and personnel and focus in the same way that we did after 9/11. After January 6th, they should have done those same sort of shifts and focus of resources and priority to domestic violent extremism quite frankly I'd like to hear a little bit more detail from the FBI and from other law enforcement agencies about exactly how they're doing that. I think the public deserves to know how they're addressing this elevated threat environment but so far we haven't heard too much.

[12:55:17] KING: Elections and public debate should be celebrated. It is a sad statement that it appears we need to fortify them not celebrate them but fortify them. Andy McCabe, Carrie Cordero thank you for your time on this important issue.

And thank you for your time today on a very busy Inside Politics. Don't go anywhere right after a quick break, join me and our entire team, special coverage to hear new details of what happened inside the White House on January 6th.