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Biden Calls For Dropping Filibuster Rules To Pass Abortion Rights Law; Sources: Trump World Sought To Influence Hutchinson's Testimony. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 30, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Big news from President Biden today. He challenged the Congress to pass a federal law guaranteeing abortion rights and for the first time the President said Senate Democrats should make an exception to the filibuster so that they could patch such a measure with a simple majority vote. President's comments came as he wrapped up an important overseas trip. He urged Americans who favor abortion rights to make it a defining issue in their midterm election votes. And he was asked about concerns voiced by some liberals who see Biden this perhaps hesitant to lead this fight because of his Catholic faith and because early in his political career, he criticized the Roe v. Wade decision.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your views on abortion have evolved in your public life. Are you the best messenger to carry this forward when Democrats, many of them, many progressives want you to do more?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I am. I'm the President of the United States of America. That makes me the best messenger. I'm the only President they got. And I'm feel extremely strongly that I'm going to do everything in my power, which I legally can do in terms of executive orders.


KING: CNN chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins still in Madrid live for us now and she was at that news conference. Kaitlan, the chuckle there from the President but this was an interesting gambit, the President saying carve out, we have a carve out in the filibuster and pass this.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and it's only the second time he said that, John. The first time it was on voting rights. And the President today saying that he does back an exception to the filibuster rule, of course, that's that rule that requires 60 votes to get any legislation passed on Capitol Hill. But the problem for the President with his suggestion and talking about everything he can do in his power is right now he still does not have the support among his own party to get that done to create that carve out because Senator Joe Manchin and Senator Kyrsten Sinema, two Democrats who have thwarted other plans that he's had since taking office, don't support changing the rules for the filibuster in order to codify abortion rights into law, the right to privacy as the President was talking about.

So that's where the issue stands for the president there because basically, the argument is that he won't be able to get that until Democrats potentially win two seats, two additional Senate seats in the midterms this fall. And John, as you know, they're facing pretty challenging headwinds as it is so that it's not guaranteed in any way, shape, or form. So of course, the next question is what can the President himself do? He was very critical of the Supreme Court today calling that decision, outrageous, saying that is destabilize the country. But when he was asked if he has any executive orders ready to go when it comes to abortion rights, he did not answer, John. He only said he is going to be meeting with governors at the White House to discuss this tomorrow.

KING: Kaitlan Collins for us live in Madrid. Let's bring the conversation back in the room. Kaitlan, thank you. We'll get to the governor's meeting and potential executive actions in a minute. But so the President, Kaitlan, mentioned headwinds, its inflation, the president's approval is under economic uncertainty. But now you add the possibility of Democratic dissonance if you will, telling the Democratic base I want to do something, telling the Democratic base I'm asking Congress to do something and then not being able to deliver. First, let's listen to the President's words. It's significant, as Kaitlan noted on voting rights, and now abortion rights. The president says the Senate should change the rules.



BIDEN: I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law. And the way to do that is to make sure that Congress votes to do that. And if the filibuster gets in the way, it's like voting rights, it should be -- we provide an exception for this. The except, the require an exception to the filibuster for this action.


KING: Important for any president, especially for a president who spent a lifetime in the United States Senate and who respects the filibuster and the rules. So progressives who have been wondering, will this guy lead the fight, are happy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeting this. Now we're talking. Time for people to see a real forceful push for it. Use the bully pulpit. We need more. The President's on Air Force One over the Atlantic right now, when he lands, will he push for it tomorrow? We push for it the next day? Will he ask Nancy Pelosi to pass it through the House and then asked Chuck Schumer to bring it to the floor?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, fantastic questions. I was at the White House on the White House complex three days ago interviewing the Vice President. And I pushed her on this very topic multiple times asking her actually used similar language about the bully pulpit understanding that right now they don't have the votes. But will you take a position? And her answer was, no, we're not going to because we don't have the votes. The change in the administration, I mean, I'm told it was an evolution and change in position. But there is no question that the outrage and the frustration that the White House was hearing from progressives over the fact that they do not think that the administration is fighting enough, was palpable, and it's hard to imagine that didn't play into that very big statement from the President.

KING: So the question is then, he's the President of the United States. He can ask. He can't tell but he can ask Chuck Schumer to bring it to the floor. He can. The question that is, you have a put up or shut up moment, if you will, for other Democrats. We always talked about Manchin and Sinema. There are other Democrats who are reluctant to change the rules. Among them in the past has been this Democratic senator from New Hampshire who's in a tough reelection campaign, who just launched this ad saying she's in the fight.


SEN. MAGGIE HASSAN (D-NH): This decision catapults us backwards. And there are politicians like Mitch McConnell, who've made it clear that their objective is to ban abortion nationwide. We will not be intimidated. I will fight and never back down.


KING: If Senator Hassan will fight and never back down, would that include, she has been reluctant in the past to change the filibuster rule, will Chuck Schumer bring it to the floor and say, let's find out.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: And that's the -- Chuck Schumer is likely to bring something to the floor. He brought the abortion bill passed in the House to the floor. It couldn't get the votes to pass through the filibuster. So he can continue doing these messaging votes, they can continue to talk a lot about these issues. But that I don't think will change the perception among many progressives. And that won't change, I think, the perception that could go down in the history books, quite frankly, that Democrats wasted this trifecta of power that they have and didn't actually do anything when this landmark case came down on voting rights, they could just squander it and say, well, we talked a lot about it and we talked a good game.

KING: Talking a lot about it, risks demoralizing the Democratic base in an election in which they already, why I'm corrected on climate, why haven't you done the childcare piece, why haven't you done this? Before you jump in, I just want you to listen to one more time to the President who says no matter what, whether he does whether Congress does anything, whether he can do anything, this is should define your vote.


BIDEN: The one thing that has been destabilizing is the outrageous behavior of the Supreme Court of the United States on overruling not only Roe v. Wade, but essentially challenging the right to privacy. If you care, if the point that is correct, and you think this decision by the Court was an outrage or a significant mistake, vote.


KING: What is he prepared to do to give them a reason about to think that, you know, my President, to Democratic voters or Republicans who support abortion rights, you know, my President says I need to vote on this and he's doing what?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right the obstacles in the Senate specifically within his own party are the reason why so many progressives are pushing him right now to come out as quickly as possible with executive actions, whatever he can legally do. And they're also trying to push him to not be afraid of what potential legal challenges would come because I was talking to lawyers, legal experts yesterday who advise the President, who advised the White House, and they said that almost everything he could do, whether it's expanding access to medication, abortion, or whether it's declaring a public health emergency, any of the things that are out there right now, they will be legally challenged. And so they're trying to convince him to not be intimidated by that and to move forward.

KING: It's a fascinating conversation ahead, especially can you prosecute someone across the state lines. Can -- will states try to get access to women's data if they're seeking abortion advice? It's a fascinating conversation that will continue.


Up next for us, though, another fascinating story, brand new reporting, important reporting about the January 6th Committee, standby.


KING: Some important new reporting this hour on the January 6th Committee and at least one of its witnesses. Sources now tell CNN the panel star witness from the other day, the former White House aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, was contacted by former colleagues in an attempt to influence her testimony. CNN's Katelyn Polantz is with us in leading this reporting. This would be a wow. What do you know?


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It would indeed. So Cassidy Hutchinson did tell the Committee that she was contacted by someone attempting to influence her testimony. This is being confirmed now by Kasie Hunt, Ryan Nobles, Zach Cohen, all of our colleagues doing this great reporting. And this is something right now that is fleshing out a mystery that Liz Cheney teed up at this hearing on Tuesday, on Tuesday, as Cassidy Hutchinson is sitting there at the end of the testimony. Liz Cheney turns and says she raises the specter of witness tampering. And she describes that the Committee as they're bringing witnesses in, has been asking them, has anyone contacted you? Has any former colleagues contacted you? Can you tell us about any attempts to impact your testimony?

And Cheney did not reveal the -- what, who the witnesses were. We can say now, one was Cassidy Hutchinson. But both witnesses that Cheney gave examples of received phone calls and these phone calls, Cheney quoted them being things like people saying, telling witnesses do the right thing. You want to stay in good graces in the Trump World. Trump does read transcripts of these hearings. Make sure you're aware of that. Another call someone received was that someone was saying to the witness that he, an unnamed person, wants me to let you know he's thinking about you. And you're going to do the right thing when you go in for your deposition.

So we don't have more information about exactly which one of these examples Cassidy Hutchinson is. But she did sift for four closed door depositions with the Committee, and it is something that the Committee has promised they'll return to.

KING: And I'm guessing we don't know the answer to this question yet. Congresswoman Cheney, the Vice Chair did promises would come up with a further hearing. Do we know -- in her and Cassidy Hutchinson's case, who the phone call was from?

POLANTZ: We don't at this time.

KING: We don't at this time. Let's bring the conversation. Shan Wu was in that very chair. And we were having this conversation yesterday. And he said the significance of this is that it's hard to prove a conspiracy. It's hard to prove some of these things. And sometimes it's hard to prove legal intent if Trump is going to continue to insist he won the election, even though that's ludicrous. It might be hard to convince a jury. He knew what he was doing is wrong. Witness tampering, Shan, made the point is pretty clear cut under the law. If you have an e-mail, you can trace back where it came from. Somebody's paying attention.

MITCHELL: Yes, and I think it just, again, goes to the point of if Trump world felt that what they were doing leading up to January 6th, and stop the steal efforts, was totally aboveboard, and that they had nothing to do with the violence that occurred that day and therefore have nothing to hide from this Committee, then why would they need to reach out to people before they're going for that positions? Why would they need to remind people that Trump world is watching and they should, quote unquote, do the right thing? So I think it just further highlights that they are nervous about the investigation and perhaps do think that some things might come out that are not, if not criminally liable, could kind of expose them to the perception of wrongdoing.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And the Committee has made clear, Congresswoman Liz Cheney has made clear that she thinks even prior to the witness tampering, that what occurred was illegal, and that the actions that were taken were illegal. She uses the word illegal a lot when she's talking in that Committee. And there's a reason because a number of those members on the Committee want the Justice Department to pursue this with its full force. There's also just a quickly note, the Fulton County D.A. in Georgia is having its own investigation, and they are potentially looking at racketeering charges, because those are possible in Georgia. And what's that? That's RICO, that's conspiracy under a boss.

KING: I started my career in Rhode Island. It was an organized crime family. They're called the Patriarchalism. That's how you bring cases against the mob through racketeering statutes like that. That's why it's so interesting. We were talking about statutes against organized crime and the mob coming into play here. One of the things Vice Chair Cheney has done and every member of the Committee is essentially, look, the people who won't cooperate the eye and say you don't know how much we know. We are getting so much cooperation, maybe it's in your best interest to come. Tell us your story.

Among those people as Pat Cipollone, the former Trump White House Counsel. We now know the Committee has issued a subpoena for Mr. Cipollone. Liz Cheney has publicly at several hearing said, why don't you come in and talk to us because you know, just about everything. Here's what she told ABC.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think that we will see Pat Cipollone testify?

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY), VICE CHAIR, JANUARY 6TH COMMITTEE: I really hope we will. I think that this is an instance where the presidency, the American people, where we've been through, something we've never been through before, and where very real and significant chance that, you know, there -- that there was behavior underway, about which Mr. Cipollone expressed significant legal concerns, and I think he has an obligation to testify.


KING: Congresswoman Cheney says he has an obligation. Cipollone has cited privilege issues. He's the White House lawyer. He's not really the president's lawyer, but he's lawyer for the institution. And he was involved in a lot of things where his own conduct would come into question you have some reporting on whether this is a possibility or not.

BASH: The answer is, it is a possibility, a very strong possibility. This is according to a lawyer who's familiar with the negotiations. The question is, what is the this? At this point, there is very little expectation that you're going to see him raising his right hand in a live public testimony, not saying it's totally out of the question, but the more likely route at this point is a behind closed doors, transcribed interview, TBD on whether it would be recorded either with video or audio, and you can expect him to try to limit the questions and he will be citing privilege on some of the issues.


KING: No one needs to call Pat Cipollone. He already has your reporting that the President reads transcripts and the like about things like that. Appreciate that important reporting for us. Up next for us, other highlights today from President Biden's very important trip overseas and his news conference?



KING: Right now, President Biden aboard Air Force One over the Atlantic heading home from G7 and NATO Summit. The trip included some big Biden wins, including getting Turkey to drop its opposition to NATO adding two new members, Finland and Sweden. A new NATO troops alignment was also announced, along with additional weapons commitments to Ukraine. There was some domestic politics, many European leaders for example, who saw Biden were stunned at the recent Supreme Court decision erasing federal abortion rights here in the United States. At his news conference though before heading home, the President rejected the idea that his political difficulties here at home diminish his stature on the world stage.


BIDEN: We haven't found one person, one world leader to say America is going backwards. America is better positioned to lead the world than we ever have been.


KING: Thanks for your time on this very busy Inside Politics. We'll see you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage after a quick break.