Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Supreme Court Sides With H.S. Coach Who Lost Job For Praying At Games; States Move Quickly To Ban Abortion After Roe Overturned; Arkansas Gov: I Don't Believe In National Ban On Abortion; Contraception, Same-Sex Marriage At Risk After Roe Ruling; G7 Leaders Commit To Supporting Ukraine "As Long As It Takes"; Zelensky Tells G7 Leaders He Wants War Over By End Of Year; G7 Leaders To Ban Imports Of Russian Gold, Russian's Second Largest Export; Political Fallout From Overturning Roe v. Wade; Dems Hope Roe Reversal Mobilizes Midterm Voters; House Dem To WH: "Give Us A Plan Or Give Us Someone To Blame". Aired 12-1p ET

Aired June 27, 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. Two Americans, Dobbs erases Roe immediately divides the country into places where abortion is legal, and places where it is not. It leaves millions of women in limbo. Today, another six to three decision reaffirms the new court math and pulls the country to the right.

Plus, and the war. Ukraine's president tells a big international summit including, the American president, he wants the conflict with Russia to end this year. To do that, President Zelenskyy says, he needs more weapons and for the west to starve Russia of oil money. And a Sunday shopping trip turns into a political assault. Surveillance video catches a supermarket worker slapping Rudy Giuliani in the back.

Up first for us though, the new Supreme Court math that will dramatically rewire American life. Just today, a 6-to-3 High Court ruling sided with a high school football coach, who lost his job for praying on the 50-yard line. It is another marker from the conservative majority.

Last week, the High Court tossed out New York's restrictions on carrying a concealed firearm, and of course, on Friday, the court shredded 50 years of precedent and overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision. That leaves us with two Americas. One where abortions are still legal and accessible. Another, where abortions are now against the law or the obstacles to getting one are nearly insurmountable.

It is a new frontier moment in both American law and politics, debates about contraception or what can be done to stop women from traveling to get an abortion or to get medications in the mail. Not to mention, the invitation from Justice Clarence Thomas as part of that abortion ruling for states to consider challenging other rights, like same sex marriage.

CNN's Jessica Schneider, live in Washington for us. Jessica, this decision today again, 6-to-3 again a conservative majority.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is, and it's yet another decision just in the past week. The second one in the past week that has this effect of eroding that barrier between church and state. So, the 6-to-3 court saying here that a school's concerns about coercion of students and the school's desires to keep it school free from outward displays of religion. Those are outweighed by a coach's free speech and free exercise rights.

So, the court really saying they viewed the coach's prayer at the 50- yard line as personal private speech. They compared it to making a phone call on school grounds or checking email. But the dissent here they included a picture of just how much of a public spectacle this prayer had become. With the coach being crowded by students as he prayed. The coach, coach Kennedy, he celebrated this win.

He's been litigating this for years. And in fact, he lost repeatedly in the lower courts before today's opinion, giving him a win. He issued a statement saying that God had answered his prayers. It's unclear at this point, if that coach might try to go back to the school. But John, this case along with others, we've seen this term, it really does seem to be rewriting those lines when it comes to that separation between church and state.

KING: And Jess, this is the first Monday after the big High Court decision on abortion rights on Friday. How is the state of American law different as we go state by state?

SCHNEIDER: Well, it's interesting, John, because it really is this rapidly changing statistics. And the exact numbers are somewhat up to interpretation. But right now, at least nine states have abortion banned. There are also about a half dozen other states that are just maybe in a waiting game before they ban abortion and potentially mere days.

And then you've got some states who have these so-called zombie laws, their abortion bans that were on the books before Roe, they could go back into effect soon. That's maybe pending some court action. And that's really the takeaway here.

There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to the extent of these laws, and in particular, how they'll be enforced, John. Who will be charged? Will women be charged? How will doctors be charged if they are? And of course, all of this as patients are beginning to think about maybe crossing state lines for these services. John?

KING: Jessica Schneider, kicking us off. Jess, thank you very much. With me now to share their legal expertise and their insights, our CNN legal analyst, Steve Vladeck, and the dean of the Rutgers Law School, Kimberly Mutcherson. Thank you both for being here.

Steve. just helped me pull this all together. 6-to-3 decision today in favor of this coach, a religious freedom issue there. The gun decision last week, the abortion decision last week. More broadly when it comes to the big questions of American law. What is this new conservative majority telling us? STEVE VLADECK, PROFESSOR OF LAW. UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS SCHOOL OF LAW: Yes, I mean, John, I think this new conservative majority is telling us that there is no mountain too high, and no precedent too well settled, really no principle too entrenched, not to be worth revisiting, now that they have the votes. And this is, you know, as Jessica said, the fourth major ruling in the last six days. Let's divide the court along these lines.


I think, Jessica is exactly right today's decision in the Coach Kennedy case, is further eroded with separation of church and state making it harder for public schools to keep religion out of their extracurriculars and eventually out of their classrooms.

And John, I think the common theme here from issue to issue to issue is we have a conservative majority that is in a hurry. And that really seems to be not that worried about the eroding public faith in the court, especially from those who find these decisions to be problematic.

KING: And dean Mutcherson, if you have a conservative majority in a hurry, at the federal level, the Supreme Court level, we can show a map, nine or 10 states, depending on how you interpreted currently, abortion is illegal or almost illegal as of today. You have up to 26 states, we believe will move quickly, the states that do not have trigger laws already. You were tweeting over the weekend about your concern for people who get left out, lost out, pushed out because of these decisions.

KIMBERLY MUTCHERSON, DEAN AND PROFESSOR OF LAW, RUTGERS LAW SCHOOL: Absolutely, right. I mean, you got to think about the fact that there were people who were at clinics on Friday, or people who had weekend appointments, who had made decisions about what their life was going to look like, and who were told that a bunch of folks sitting in Washington, D.C., who they did not elect, had just decided that they were no longer able to make decisions about their reproductive choices.

KING: And so, one of the questions is what happens now. We just showed 26 states. We expect given what's happening on the ground, perhaps by the end of the year. We'll have either outlawed or significantly restricted access to abortion.

One of the questions is there are many leaders in Congress, Republicans are poised. They believe to take charge after the midterm elections, who think maybe there should be a national law outlawing abortion. The governor of Arkansas, who is very firmly anti-abortion says, he thinks that's a bad idea. Listen?


GOV. ASA HUTCHINSON (R) ARKANSAS: I don't believe that we ought to go back to saying there ought to be a national law that's passed. We've fought for 50 years to have this returned to the states. We've won that battle. It's back to the states. Let's let it be resolved there. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: Governor Hutchinson, Steve Vladeck says, leave it to the states. But we are going to have a bunch of competing ideas, whether it's restrictions at the state level, outright bans at the state level or federal proposals.

VLADECK: Yes, John. I mean, I think that the most important point here is that there's just going to be a minefield of litigation, a minefield of uncertainty, lots of things up in the air for folks looking for abortions, whether in their states or elsewhere. And the real tension, I think, is going to be between those who really did actually strike the mantra of federalism. This is really about returning to the states versus those who just want to ban abortions in every possible respect.

That's where we're going to see whether states like my state of Texas, tried to ban people from traveling out of state to attend abortions, whether they ban obtainment of pressed on through the mail. That's where there's going to be a whole raft of litigation, John. And I think the only thing we know for sure, is that we have no idea how those cases are going to act.

KING: No idea. And so, to that point, Dean Mutcherson, and listen to the governor of South Dakota here. she says, she wants a state law that prohibits you from getting any kind of medication, abortion medication in the mail. And she explains her - while she opposes any exceptions, even for rape and incest. Listen?


MARGARET BRENNAN, CBS NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: This is a federally approved drug. Are you saying the state of South Dakota is now going to overrule the FDA and decide which drugs are going to be available to its residents?

GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R) SOUTH DAKOTA: And many of those decisions are made at the state level. They absolutely are. That's what states do.

BRENNAN: Will you stop (crosstalk) - if it's sent in the mail, will you intercede and stop it?

NOEM: I just have never believed that that having a tragedy, or a tragic situation happened to someone is a reason to have another tragedy occur.


KING: Dean, what is this new frontier? If you have state legislatures banning what you can get in the mail? If you have state legislators trying to crack down on even crossing interstate lines to go to another state to get access to an abortion. If is illegal in your state, what happens?

MUTCHERSON: I think what we're going to see now is the exact opposite of what Justice Alito or even Justice Kavanaugh claimed. We are not going to see, OK, now this is going to be settled, we are going to see is lots of legislation, lots of litigation, because state legislators are going to feel really emboldened now, right? They have the Supreme Court on their side. They can make a lot of choices that otherwise would have seemed completely fantastical, and now seem like they can actually be enforced.

KING: And Steve, we've been talking mostly in this conversation about abortion law, but Jim Obergefell, who of course, was the plaintiff in the case. They brought the United States same sex marriage. He read as much as many of us did. What Clarence Thomas said in one of his, as part of the opinion essentially say, hey, there are other rights too. Listen to Mr. Obergefell.


JIM OBERGEFELL, PLAINTIFF IN SUPREME COURT CASE THAT LEGALIZED SAME- SEX MARRIAGE: In Justice's Thomas language, I guarantee to you there are people out there who are starting on work on lawsuits to attack our right to marry. And I would like to ask those people, how has our marriage, how does my marriage, how this any same sex marriage harmed a single person in this country?



KING: Justice Alito, Steve, said no this was just about abortion. Justice Thomas seems to suggest no it isn't. What happens now? What other fundamental rights on the books that many - somebody in a state or somebody in the Congress might want to erase?

VLADECK: Yes, John, I think we are going to find out. I mean, I think we are already seeing efforts on the ground in states like, you know, Mississippi, Louisiana, Idaho, to actually test the limits of this decision to challenge these precedents to see if there really are five votes to reconsider decisions like Obergefell, like Griswold v. Connecticut.

And you know, it's easy to be sort of sympathetic. When Justice Kavanaugh says no, no, those cases are different. We are not going to overrule those cases. But, John, that's based on a view of how the Supreme Court approaches its prior precedents that really, I think, went by the wayside at 10-10 Friday morning.

So, I think the question for a post Roe Supreme Court is not just houses going to approach other rights. It's how's it going to approach the question of overrule and prior precedents on which so many of us have come to rely? That is a fundamentally different question today than it was 72 hours ago.

KING: And Dean, you convinced this Steve is right. Again, as you know, Alito says just abortion, Thomas says no, maybe it should be otherwise. When will we know?

MUTCHERSON: I think, we'll know sooner rather than later. Frankly, as I said, I think state legislators are going to feel really emboldened going forward. And quite frankly, I don't know why we should trust Alito, or any of the other folks who are in the majority here, who not so long ago, during their confirmation processes were very clear that Roe was settled precedent. And yet here we said that Roe being overturned. Everything is on the table now.

KING: Kimberly Mutcherson and Steve Vladeck, appreciate your insights. We'll continue this conversation, obviously very important issues and cases ahead of us. This quick programming known for us to a CNN exclusive. CNN Dana Bash sits down with the Vice President of the United States, Kamala Harris. It is her first interview since the Roe v. Wade decision was issued on Friday, to the first part of this exclusive conversation today at 4 pm Eastern here on CNN.

Next for us. The G7 summit underway in Germany. President Biden and his fellow leaders promise Ukraine, they are in for the long-haul. President Zelenskyy offers a bold timeline for victory.




KING: A critical summit underway today in Germany, President Biden and fellow G7 leaders huddling in person valley to support Ukraine for "as long as it takes." The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy joined the group virtually, telling them he wants to war with Russia over by the end of this year. And for that to happen, Zelenskyy says Ukraine needs more heavy weapons and more punishing sanctions on Russia.

Inside Ukraine today, you see these dramatic pictures, giant clouds of black smoke. That's a shopping mall set on fire by a Russian airstrike. The Ukrainian official says, we don't know how many people might be under that rubble.

Let's get to our chief White House correspondent, Kaitlan Collins. She is live in Telfs-Buchen in Austria near the G7 summit with more. Kaitlan, what is as long as it takes me?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's the question that Zelenskyy is hoping will be shorter rather than longer, because one of the things he did communicate to these G7 leaders today, including President Biden on that call, John, was that he would like to see this war end by the end of 2022.

Of course, we are already at the halfway mark here in June. But that is something, when it comes to the timeline here when there has been these concerns about this becoming this protracted conflict, this kind of grinding conflict.

That's been the concern about how long it's going to last. But President Biden's National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, said today that the top of mind for President Zelenskyy, when he got these world leaders on the phone, were those recent strikes that had hit Kyiv. Of course, it had been relatively quiet in the capital for the last several weeks. So, they were deeply shaken by that. And now of course, you've seen what's happened in this very crowded shopping center that Zelenskyy said had over thousand people inside, raising even more concerns about, of course, what the death toll could potentially be. And that is why Zelenskyy is making this argument to these G7 leaders that Ukraine needs better ways to defend themselves against the Russians.

And you've seen as this invasion has gone on, how - what the U.S. has been sending, what other allies have been sending to them has changed. And we did get word overnight that the United States has purchased a more advanced defense system, air defense system for Ukraine. It's similar to the same one that protects Washington, actually the one that they have now purchased for Ukraine.

Though it will take time for it to get in place for the Ukrainians to be trained on how to use it. But that is all part of this effort where Zelenskyy is saying he wants these G7 allies that had been supplying Ukraine with so much military weaponry that they want to use maximum. They want to make maximum use of the next several months, John, because basically he is focusing on years when he's speaking with these leaders, are focusing on in the next few months, not years, according to Jake Sullivan.

And so, just hoping that this conflict doesn't get drawn out any further this invasion by Ukraine, but obviously very concerned about making sure they have the capabilities to defend themselves in the meantime.

KING: Kaitlan Collins, covering the G7 for us. Kaitlan, thanks so much. Let's get some important perspective now from Leon Panetta. He's been the defense secretary, the CIA director and the White House chief of staff. Leon Panetta, good to see you. On this day, when you hear President Zelenskyy saying, I want this war over this year, knowing what you know about Vladimir Putin, who seize Crimea back in 2014. Is that realistic for President Zelenskyy to think, I want this over this year? And if so, what would it take from the United States, the G7 and the west, writ large to even make that possible?

LEON PANETTA, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, you have to focus on what is Putin's goal at this point. And I don't think there's any question, but that his goal is to wear down the allies with a very prolonged war of attrition, because he knows that the longer that war of attrition goes on, the more likely it is that the U.S. and NATO will begin to weaken in terms of their unity.


So, I think there is some sense in Zelenskyy trying to get more aggressive in terms of trying to bring this war to a conclusion. And I think the way that can happen is if the United States and our allies remain unified and provide them with the weapons that they absolutely are going to need. They need to have medium and long range, artillery, air defense systems.

They need to have radar systems that can target a where those shots are coming from. They need to have advanced weaponry and ammo in order to be able to push back the Russians. Right now, the goal has to be, not to simply go back to a war of attrition, but rather get much more aggressive with the Russians. That's the only way we're ultimately going to prevail here.

KING: And we'll watch that part of it. What is the United States and its NATO partners, other G7 countries maybe be ready to give more in terms of heavy weapons? We do see some evidence that Russia is taking a hit here, it defaulted on his foreign obligations for the first time in decades and decades. So, you do see some economic pain. The G7 leaders say, they want to ban imports of new Russian gold.

They're trying to come up with some mechanism for placing a cap on Russian oil prices, essentially trying to manipulate oil markets to pressure Russia that way, and new sanctions as well on the Russian supply chain. What especially, when it comes to trying to manipulate the markets to essentially cap the price that Russia gets for its oil. Is that possible?

PANETTA: Well, it's a tough challenge to be able to establish that kind of cap and get countries to go along with it. There's no question. But I'm glad that President Biden and the G7 leaders are talking about steps being taken to further try to impact on Russia's economy. Russia is still making money on the sale of oil. They've got to find a way to cut those funds. And this would do it.

They're also acting against gold to cut them off from gold. And taking some other steps. I think that's important. But I also think providing these weapons systems may be even more important, because there's only one thing that Putin understands, and that's force.

And if the Ukrainians can go after their artillery, can go after what we saw happen over these last few days, which is 60 missile strikes by the Russians, that has got to be brought to a stop. And the only way to do that is with the advanced weaponry that the United States and others can provide.

KING: If you look at the math, so far, $6.1 billion in U.S. aid to Ukraine, just since the start of the war on February 24. There was some additional aid before that. You talk about the weapons right now. And as you answered the question, I just want to show it the time lapse of a map. If you go back to February, so you go back over the last four months. And you do see Russia is the red. Russia loses some ground in the northern part of the country.

But in the east, where you have Luhansk, where the Donbass region where Russia has been gaining significant gains. Leon, what are we talking about? What are we talking about in terms of not just the type of weapons, but at what scale and how fast? If you want to change the battleground dynamics in a quick way, because Ukraine would not have to just play defense, it would have to go on offense.

PANETTA: No, absolutely. And the fact is that Russian forces are depleted right now. They are having a hard time maintaining the forces that they have. They've been pushing it. They have problems with resupply with reinforcing their position. This is a moment to put pressure on the Russians. They've been putting pressure on the Ukrainians, no question about it. And they've made some advances.

But in the end, what I see happening here without any kind of advanced weaponry is that we will go into a war of attrition in which Russia will make some gains. Ukraine will make some gains, but this thing could go on for months, if not years. I think the goal here has to be to give the Ukrainians what they need to try to put much more pressure on the Russians right now. That is the key. Because frankly, what we cannot afford to do is have a prolonged war of attrition at this point.

KING: Leon Panetta, grateful for your insights at this important moment. Thank you, sir.

PANETTA: Good to be with you.

KING: And Democrats turn a big summer loss into a win at the polls in November. The role reversal and the midterms. That's next.




KING: Democrats are moving quickly to test whether they can turn a giant loss at the Supreme Court into a winning midterm campaign issue. There were weekend demonstrations across the country, marking the court decision ending the federal right to an abortion. Democrats see an opportunity to motivate voters particularly suburban women. The Democratic candidate for Pennsylvania governor, for example, already up with a new ad.


GOV. DOUG MASTRIANO, PENNSYLVANIA: My body my choice is ridiculous nonsense.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mastriano would make all abortion illegal.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Forcing pregnancies, even in cases of rape or incest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even to protect the life of the mother.

MASTRIANO: I don't give a way for exceptions either.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doug Mastriano is too extreme on abortion too extreme.


KING: With me to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Melanie Zanona, Cleve Wootson, The Washington Post, and Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast. That in the Pennsylvania governor's race. The idea Democrats say is, a lot of suburban women may be trending back toward the Republicans.


Maybe they're nervous about inflation looking to either sit out or vote Republican. The Democrats think it can help them. The governor's race here, the governor's races here, Michigan and Wisconsin. There's a big governor's race in Kansas, governor's races elsewhere. But they, you know, build -- the Democrats believe out of the box, it should help them especially with suburban women, the question is can they deliver?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That is the question of whether they keep talking about this because what Republicans are counting on is that the focus continues to be on the economy, on inflation, on the price of every day, everything, gas prices. So if Democrats are able to switch the conversation and make it more about abortion make about some of these things that are being taken away, perhaps, but I just don't think we know quite yet.

KING: If you look just at the early polling, and again, it's early, the decision was Friday. We're in the first weekend after starting the first work week after. Does overturning Roe make you more likely to vote in November? This is an NPR/PBS News hour Marist Poll, 78 percent of Democrats said more likely to vote, 53 percent of independents, 54 percent of Republicans. So the Democrats there see what they believe would be the quality intensity advantage, which they think again, would help in some of these embattled House Democrats, for example, come from suburban areas.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: No doubt. I mean, that's exactly the pole Democrats want to see. There's been an enthusiasm gap, especially among young voters. So they're hoping that they can turn the anger and galvanize voters. And for Republican candidates, especially in some of these suburban swing districts that are going to determine the majority, they are going to have to answer a tough question now about the support a nationwide ban. At what point do they want to ban the procedure? Are there any exceptions? And we've seen in the past how that has tripped up Republican candidates before.

And so they are being very careful the Republican Party about how they're messaging this. They're trying to focus on so called late term abortions, which are rare, you know, usually occur when the mother's life is at risk. But they know the polling is on their side. And this is not what they want to talk about.

KING: It is interesting that Republicans didn't rush out to hug, not a lot of Republicans rushed out to celebrate.

CLEVE WOOTSON, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, you know, Republicans want people focus on gas prices, they want people focus on inflation. But I would also, you know, 72 hours out cautionary tale, right? Five months is a very, extremely long time. And I think for a lot of people, the frustration also cuts both ways, or may eventually, now it's directed at Republicans, but I think a lot of Democrats you talked to out on the states are like, what are Democrats doing to protect it? What are they doing to, you know, further access to abortion? And if that does not happen, we could be singing a different tale in a couple of months.

KUCINICH: Yes, and to your point, I think some of the things you're hearing -- I was hearing over the weekend is what did we vote for exactly, when they give Biden and Democrats -- put Democrats in power? They feel like they really, particularly some of the suburban voters, they feel like they really, you know, made a leap, and what have they gotten for it. And it's not necessarily Biden's fault that or it isn't his fault that Supreme Court ruled this way. But, you know, this is just and another thing that has happened while Democrats are in --

KING: Right. And you make a key point about let's wait and watch how this plays out, how it feels today may not be how it feels come November. But you do have a number of states, Michigan, for example, Wisconsin is another one, Kansas is a third, we have Democratic governors, in places where you have Republican legislators so you're going to have some tug of war. In Kansas, for example, this from "The New York Times" and early test of energy around this issue will come in August as Kansans vote on whether to remove the right to an abortion from the state constitution. In a fundraising e-mail on Friday, Governor Laura Kelly declared I could be the only Kansas leader standing in the way of new abortion restrictions. So the biggest test will come in November. But we will have some tests in the meantime,

ZANONA: I think Pennsylvania is another prime example of that. Both of the chambers right now are controlled by Republicans. They're going to go -- voters are going to go to the polls since November and determine whether to elect another Democrat or to elect Doug Mastriano, who's extremely far right, who's extremely pro-life. You heard in that ad, he doesn't even support exceptions. And that will determine whether women in the state will have access to abortion. So the stakes could not be higher in a race like that.

KING: And so as it plays out across the country, you have some of the fallout here in Washington, Susan Collins, Republican senator of Maine says she's disappointed, she's upset, she thinks that Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch for that matter misled her, I think is her word. And you have some Democrats saying this is the reason we need to expand the court or Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says, you know what, if Gorsuch and Kavanaugh lied or misled a senator, maybe they should be impeached.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): We had two conservative senators in the United States Senate Senator Manchin and Senator Collins come out with a very explosive allegation that these -- that several Supreme Court justices misled them in their -- during their confirmation hearings and in the lead up to their confirmation. This is a crisis of legitimacy. I believe lying under oath is an impeachable offense.



KING: You can understand the frustration among liberals, progressives. But is the any mood in Congress to impeach, any mood in Congress to take up the court, you know, expanding the court right now? The Democrats don't have the votes, period, right?

KUCINICH: No, they do not. There's a lot more energy and getting more Democrats in the U.S. Senate and keeping the House majority than there is in, you know, adding more Supreme Court justices to the court at this point, because that's something that, you know, they feel like they can control is getting more people out to vote.

KING: Up next for us, we'll continue this conversation the decades long road to the Roe reversal. Mitch McConnell had a giant role. Some liberals are mad at RBG. And yes, Donald Trump changed his mind.



KING: Abortion and where it will be legal now faces a very uncertain future. But how we got here is pretty clear, a growing partisan divide over how Democrats and Republicans view the procedure and the issue, an incremental chipping away at the law organized by the conservative right, a dramatic Republican shift at the Statehouse level and a blockbuster election year gambit by one senator denied the President to vote for a Supreme Court nominee.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I can't imagine that a Republican majority Congress in a lame duck session after the American people have spoken, would want to confirm a nominee opposed by the NRA, the NFIB, and "The New York Times" says would move the court dramatically to the left. This nomination ought to be made by the next president.


KING: CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic joins our conversation. And Joan, the Chief Justice John Roberts said on Friday he would not have gotten this far if it was Merrick Garland did not one of the three Trump appointees if there were only two Trump appointees, we'd be in a -- we'd have a different conversation today.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Completely go back to that night, in February of 2016. When Mitch McConnell on his own, the Senate was in recess, he was on his own in the Virgin Islands decided he was going to make that statement. He got everybody to stick with it. And this is where we are without Merrick Garland there. You know, there are a bunch of other pieces that came to it. But this is clearly a quart made possible only because Neil Gorsuch took that seat in 2017 then Brett Kavanaugh took his seat in 2018, exceeding somebody who was for abortion rights, and then of course, Amy Coney Barrett succeeding RBG. KING: And the Biden administration appears to have learned the lesson, though President is nominating judges, especially for federal, you know, appeals court levels very quickly. But that was all on McConnell. That was all McConnell's slowing the nominations under Democratic precedents and then putting them on a fast track with Republicans.

ZANONA: Right. And also, let's not forget eliminating the filibuster or presidential SCOTUS nominees. I mean, I guess you could even link it back even further in that Republicans refusing to advance any of Obama's nominees. So Harry Reid, the Democratic leader then eliminated the filibuster for presidential nominees, not SCOTUS nominees. So there's a whole bunch of different dominoes here between Mitch McConnell, Trump getting into office and appointing, vowing to appoint people who were pro-life and there's a lot of different reasons why we're here right now.

KING: And you've mentioned Trump. Obviously, it's the three Trump appointees who create this six to three clear, clear, clear majority. Donald Trump was once a Democrat. And in 1999, he was thinking about running for president as an independent, his mind changed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would President Trump ban partial birth abortion?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, look, I'm very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But you still I just believe in choice.

Look, I'm pro-life. But that's their opinion. And if they want to do that, hey, all I can tell you is this. As you know, I'm pro-life. I've been pro-life for a long time.


KING: Politicians do change their mind and do change their position. But this is a change that has now rewritten American law.

KUCINICH: Well, in Trump, what, particularly conservative Republicans got was a vessel who was very amenable to what they were saying to get elected, frankly, I mean, he was given a list and he picked from the list from the Federalist Society. So McConnell didn't really have any pushback from Trump, and he was just as happy to, you know, appoint his justices that were handpicked by, you know, conservatives.

KING: And Trump's not alone here, Joe Biden in 1970 said he thought the court went too far with Roe v. Wade. Now he is the Democratic president who has to essentially lead his party at this moment where it's been knocked on its heels by this decision.

WOOTSON: Yes. And that's one of the biggest questions that endures for Joe Biden, if you talk to abortion, you know, people who are pro- choice two years ago when Biden is running, you know, do they feel like he is the strongest person, he's the best person to lead this fight going forward? And now he's at the, you know, in the presidency in the front of the Democratic Party. The question is, how far is he going to go? And that's one of the biggest questions we're seeing now.

KING: Another piece that come up and you saw, I saw especially on liberal Twitter, a lot of criticism is the right word, a lot of anxiety over Ruth Bader Ginsburg decision to stay on the bench when she was having health problems. I want to read. This is from a woman named Joan Biskupic back in the day when she worked at the -- back in the day, like me, why are experienced with it? This is from Reuters in 2014, asked what she believed Obama might think about her future, she said, I think he would agree with me that it's a question for my own good judgment.

BISKUPIC: I remember when President Obama invited her to lunch to try to feel her out, to try to get her to step down or say something. And I remember saying to her, do you think he was fishing for you to say that you're going to retire? And she said, no, I think he was just there because he enjoyed my company and I enjoyed him. And that was that. But here's the thing for all the people who blame this on Ruth Bader Ginsburg and clearly her untimely death in 2020 leading to Amy Coney Barrett was a major piece here.


But think of all that came before, think of Leonard Leo, from the Federalist Society, think of Don McGahn from the White House Counsel's Office, think of Mitch McConnell, think of all the pieces that were put in place dating back to the Ronald Reagan administration, when he ran on this kind of agenda and started putting this in place, Hillary Clinton, I mean, just think of all the other people. And I do think that if Ruth Bader Ginsburg had lived just a few more weeks that, you know, she was so close, she died on September 18th. And she had just made it to right after the election, this probably couldn't have happened. But there we have it.

KING: Yes. And yet, you do see this is from after this draft, the opinion leaked Michele Dauber, the Stanford Law professor, she gambled, but she didn't just gamble with herself. She gambled with the rights of my daughter and my granddaughter. And unfortunately, that's her legacy. I think it's tragic.

ZANONA: I mean, there's a lot of anxiety as you said, there's a lot of Democrats right now just looking for answers because they are powerless right now. And, you know, another piece of this is that Republicans recognized very early on years ago that the key to chipping away was Roe was at the state level. And they started investing ton good money in resources into flipping state houses. They did that in 2010. We saw Tea Party conservatives really rise and they started passing restrictions. And that's another piece of why we're here today.

KING: Right. It's an important point that, you know, the Republicans throughout the Obama years at the Statehouse level and the federal court level, they have been methodical about this for decades, but especially in the last 10 years, boom. Ahead for us some brand new CNN reporting takes us inside the White House as it faces stiff pressure from Democrats on the economy, and more.



KING: I want to share some new CNN reporting now detailing internal White House debates about the economy and growing frustration among congressional Democrats. Three top Biden advisors recently met with the House Democratic Caucus to assure members that fighting inflation is a top White House priority. But there was a fair amount of blowback, quote, give us a plan or give us someone to blame was how one House Democrat explained the mood. This Democrat said the White House has been quote, vacillating somewhere in between. And that's not helpful to any of us. This reporting comes from CNN, Phil Mattingly. He joins me now. So Phil, you talked to a number of congressional Democrats for this story. The question is do they have faith in the President and his team as we get closer and closer to the midterm elections?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: So important separation between the President and his team, you won't find a lot of congressional Democrats that are going to take any shots at the president. I think the frustration generally lies with his team, which is not unique to this moment, or this White House or this caucus of House Democrats or Senate Democrats. The frustration is the problem itself, right? There is no easy fix. There's a bill that can pass. There's no executive action that can be taken.

And as such, they want to see action from the President. They want to see something that they can take home to voters, particularly this close to the midterm elections. You know, I was talking to Abigail Spanberger, who's a frontline Democrat from Virginia, one of the top Republican target, she said, quote, I think where there's been a bit of disconnect is some legislators and I think some folks at the White House are like, quote, oh, my gosh, this won't solve the problem. So what will solve the problem? People are in sort of a frenzied place.

Though Spanberger actually led a bill that passed the House dealing with food and gas prices, and I think that's the type of thing that a lot of these frontline Democrats want to see. What they don't want to see anymore of is a White House that behind the scenes is very engaged and intensive and very complex debates that don't necessarily result in anything the Democrats can talk about when they go home for the weekend.

KING: So what does the Biden economic team say about this, especially some people get a little prickly when they get pushed back, some people learn from it?

MATTINGLY: Yes. I think it's a little bit of both. One thing that and again, I spent several weeks working on this story, they're very candid about the problem. They recognize the problem. And they recognize that there's no fix, they recognize that there's nothing they can do that's going to make everybody happy. However, you look at what the President's done on gas prices, a million barrels a day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, opening up access to ethanol, blended gasoline, the efforts that they've made with OPEC plus.

You know, it's pretty unprecedented what they've done on gas. Gas is an international market oil is they can't control that fact, when it comes to inflation, smaller bore bills, as one official put it, we're trying to hit singles and doubles. And maybe that's not satisfying everybody. But if you hit a lot of them that could add up to a lot of runs to kind of complete the metaphor to some degree. That's what they're going for. The issue is, is it happening fast enough? And is that satisfactory? In a messaging sense, given the attacks that are coming their way.

KING: You essentially have another month or so before Congress has gone through the rest of the midterm year. Do they couple more singles and doubles, is that the idea?

MATTINGLY: That's the idea, obviously, they're still working on the broad Build Back Better package, a very slimmed down version of that. The hope is that you can have a little bit of a deceleration inflation. What their big point is right now is it's not necessarily that everything gets back to normal. It's that they show progress. That's what they want more than anything else. The big unknown, obviously, is Ukraine, and that's gas prices, that's the energy, and that's a big problem.

KING: Trying to move the trajectory arrow there. Phil Mattingly grateful for the reporting.


Up next for us, Rudy Giuliani claims he was assaulted at a supermarket in Staten Island. We have images of that encounter, next.


KING: Topping our political radar today you see it here, a new and rare video of Brittney Griner, the detained WNBA star in a Moscow courtroom today. A Russian trial starts this Friday and Griner faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of drug possession. He has been detained in Russia since February. And an ESPN reports this, fewer than 1 percent of defendants in Russia in criminal cases are acquitted.

Rudy Giuliani took a slap to the back at a Staten Island ShopRite. Video shows a store employee coming up as Giuliani was leaving the men's room. The NYPD tells CNN, the employee said, what's up and then used a derogatory term.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: I got hit on the back as if a boulder hit me. It knocked me forward, a step or two. It didn't knock me down. But it hurt tremendously.



KING: The worker was charged with secondary second degree assault. Illinois representative Mary Miller says she misspoke after she said this at a Trump rally on Saturday.


REP. MARY MILLER (R-IL): President Trump on behalf of all the MAGA patriots in America, I want to thank you for the historic victory for white life in the Supreme Court yesterday.


KING: Miller's campaign says she misread her prepared remarks which said right to life. Thanks for joining us on Inside Politics today. Hope to see you back here tomorrow. Fredricka Whitfield picks up our coverage right now.