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Dems Hope Roe Reversal Mobilizes Midterm Voters; House Dem To WH: "Give Us A Plan Or Give Us Someone To Blame. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 27, 2022 - 12:30   ET




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Doug Mastriano is too extreme on abortion.



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: With me to share their reporting and their insights CNN's Melanie Zanona, Cleve Wootson of The Washington Post, and Jackie Kucinich of The Daily Beast. That in the Pennsylvania governor's race, the idea of 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.