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CNN: Trump Telling Associates He May Launch 2024 Bid This Month; Progressives Demand More Urgency On Protecting Abortion Rights; The Most Conservative Supreme Court Since 1931; WNBA Star Brittney Griner's Trial Begins In Russia; Newsom To Run Ad In Florida Slamming DeSantis Policies. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 03, 2022 - 08:00   ET





ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST (voice-over): Donald Trump moves closer to a 2024 presidential run. Sources tell CNN an announcement could come soon, even as more revelations spill out from the January 6th hearings.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Mr. Engel grabbed his arm, said, sir, you need to take your hand off the steering wheel, we're not going to the capitol.

PHILLIP: Are Republican voters ready to jump back on the Trump train?

Plus, America's post-Roe reality. President Biden says there's one way to save abortion rights.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If you think this decision by the court was an outrage, show up and vote -- vote, vote, vote.

PHILLIP: But is he showing the urgency that so many Democrats are demanding?

And WNBA star Brittney Griner's trial begins in Russia. The U.S. calls her wrongfully detained and her family says the president must do whatever it takes to get her out.

CHERELLE GRINER, WIFE OF BRITTNEY GRINER: I would love for him to tell me he cares. The only thing that the Biden administration can do for me is get my wife back.

PHILLIP: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories, sourced by the best reporters now.


PHILLIP (on camera): Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Abby Phillip. Yes, the 2024 election is more than two years away, but Donald Trump

does not want to wait. Sources are telling CNN that he's recently discussed a formal campaign launch this month, ditching plans to wait until after the midterms. One source says he knows that if he -- if he announces, he'll be center stage again.

And Trump's discussions about running again come as bombshell testimony before the January 6th committee is shedding new light on his involvement in the Capitol insurrection. Testimony like this from former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson.


HUTCHINSON: Mr. Cipollone said something to the effect of please make sure we don't go up to the Capitol, Cassidy, keep in touch with me. We're going get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.


PHILLIP: And on top of that, her revelation that Trump knew his supporters were armed.


HUTCHINSON: He was angry that we weren't letting people through the mags with weapons, what the Secret Service deems as weapons and are weapons. I heard the president say something to the effect of, I don't f'ing care that they have weapons, they're not here to hurt me, take the f'ing mags away.


PHILLIP: Let's discuss all this and more with Laura Barron-Lopez of PBS NewsHour, Camila DeChalus of "Insider", and Jonathan Swan of "Axios", and Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast."

Welcome, Camila and Jonathan, to the INSIDE POLITICS roundtable. It's good to be here with you, guys.

So, Jonathan, Trump is forcing Republicans to have this conversation about 2024 and right now, frankly, they just want some space.

JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, AXIOS: Yeah. I mean, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, wants Trump to wait until after the midterms. The next likely next speaker of the House, Kevin McCarthy, wants Trump to wait until after the midterms. Mitch McConnell wants Trump to wait until after the midterms.

Trump doesn't care about what any of them say. Of course, why would he? And so, he's going to make his own decision. It may be this month, it may be after Labor Day, I think it is highly likely based on the conversations I had with people who work with him that it's going to be before the midterms and he's going to want to take credit for whatever happens in the midterms with Republicans. He's going to want the conversation to be about him.

And here is the other important thing, he's going to want to make people choose, force people to choose, he's going to call the big donors, are you with me? Are you with DeSantis? He's going to put people in the situation of having to choose.

PHILLIP: He's kind of -- I mean, in some ways you would think the January 6th revelations would be something that would force him to maybe take a step back, but with Trump, he's, like, he's, like, well, we're going to put everybody on the spot, are you with me, are you against me?

And right now, there is also the possibility that he could have some challengers. Ron DeSantis is not staying at home and staying quiet. He seems to be laying the groundwork right now to challenge Trump.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He's been the beneficiary of all of the negative news about Trump in these January 6th hearings and elsewhere. Every time a Trump challenger -- Trump-endorsed person falls, everyone says, man, does Trump still have the juice?

PHILIP: DeSantis is looking good to some of the big money donors that Trump wants to --

KUCINICH: Exactly and has been noticeably quiet when it comes to defending Trump and getting behind him in the ways you have seen other governors and people who might potentially run for president some day.


You know, senators are falling all over themselves to praise the president and Ron DeSantis is just raking in the donors.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, we talk about the fallout from January 6th. Look at some of the quotes from people, I can't even say who they are, they're all unnamed and off the record.

"The New York Times," one trusted current adviser calls the testimony a killer.

CNN: The testimony will lead to indictments, this Republican lawmaker said anonymously. Enough to make me throw my lunch against the wall, said another person.

And this paints a picture of Trump completely unhinged and completely losing all control. But nobody wants to say it -- very few people, I should say, want to say it on the record, which I think it gives Trump an opening.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Yeah, I mean, the big takeaway from that is they're all anonymous, they are not willing to put their name behind any criticism of Trump, which shows the power he has over the party.

And also, you know, the whole factor of him declaring earlier, part of that, I know that Trump is likely denying it, but part of that is probably because he's worried about facing criminal charges. If he runs, it complicates that. I mean, the Fulton County D.A. is potentially pursuing charges in Georgia against Trump and against his allies. If he were to run, that would muddy it for her if she were to try to go after him with interfering in Georgia's election.

CAMILA DECHALUS, SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER, INSIDER: And Laura made a good point here, that is not just Fulton County. It's also the Justice Department is conducting their own investigation. You have all this evidence coming out in light of January 6th.

Let's not forget he can technically run from jail if he wanted to. But if he is convicted of just not getting constructing, engaging in an insurrection, if he's convicted of that charge of violating the Constitution, the 14th Amendment --

PHILLIP: It could be disqualifying.

How realistic do people around Trump or Republicans in general think the prospect is of actual criminal exposure for Trump? I mean, it seems that Georgia may be the most likely place where the biggest threat would come from.

SWAN: It is hard to know because the truth is they're not going to be honest about that.


SWAN: I talked to people who are on his -- who are legal advisers to him who are aides to him who are advisers to him, they -- I never heard any actual concern from any of them.

That doesn't tell you whether there is actual concern. He would never reveal that. Probably wouldn't even reveal it to his aides, just not the way he talks.

PHILLIP: Yeah, he doesn't -- he's a perennial optimist.

SWAN: If I ever I see a story saying Trump is freaked out about going to jail, I'm, like --


PHILLIP: Be a little skeptical.

KUCINICH: Republicans wouldn't even admit to watching the hearings.


KUCINICH: You know, Sam Brodey of "The Daily Beast" said they went around the Hill and asked Republicans what they thought of him, and seriously, he got three of them, I think, out of a dozen to say they actually were watching the hearings at all, so --

SWAN: I saw something, I'll probably get it slightly wrong, a quote that said, like, the fear factor is gone, said an anonymous person.

PHILLIP: Right, right.

SWAN: Interesting.

PHILLIP: Speaking of fear and lack of fear, Liz Cheney, you know, she is running for re-election against a Trump-backed opponent. Just take a listen to what was going on at her debate this past week where she is not backing down from really going hard against the big election lie and former President Trump.


HARRIET HAGEMEN (R), WYOMING CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: What people are concerned about in terms of the J6 committee is it is just totally unfair.

REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We need to recognize that if we're not faithful to the constitution, if we embrace lies, if we embrace the lies of Donald Trump, if we tell the people of Wyoming something that is not true, we will soon find ourselves without the structure and the basis and the framework of our constitutional republic.


PHILLIP: And Cheney dropped a bit of a bomb at the end of the past week's hearing, warning Trump and people around him, like the former chief of staff Mark Meadows to not tamper with her witnesses. She basically said, we have the text messages, where people are trying to influence Cassidy Hutchinson.

CNN sources are saying some of the messages sent by people close to Mark Meadows.

So, I mean, what does this portend for the future of the January 6th hearings? Witness tampering is a real problem. But I mean, people seem to be worried enough that they are willing to tamper with the witnesses to get them to not testify.

DECHALUS: I think it lays out possible charges that could come against Trump or his associates. You see witness tampering, there is also them laying out evidence of potentially obstructing an official proceeding. We counted four federal crimes he could have possibly violated.


So, I think when you see this latest evidence of witness tampering, that's very real. I've talked to former federal prosecutor who tries cases of witness tampering. He says that you really do need to prove Trump's intent and if he knew these calls were taking place and what was going to be said on the calls to really charge Trump and put him in connection with the witness tampering.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And I thought it was interesting that Michael Cohen, you know, Trump's long time lawyer, said to "The Washington Post" this week, after that hearing, that these are mob boss tactics.

PHILLIP: Which he should know because he was involved in it for quite sometime.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. He experienced it himself, he was a part of it. He used -- yes, he was part of all of it, but he knows Trump well and because he worked for him for so long. And, you know, I mean, clearly Congresswoman Cheney and a lot of other members of the committee are trying to present this to the Justice Department as illegal tactics because just look at their language.

I mean, she and others say it over and over again, in the hearings, illegal, illegality, and she has framed it very starkly this week as trying to tell voters we either have to pick the Constitution or you pick Trump.

PHILLIP: And she is making her re-election bid about that, which I think is really notable and by comparison to the rest of the Republican Party, I think fairly courageous as well.

But coming up next for us, Democrats call it an existential moment for women's rights, but many say that President Biden just isn't acting like it.




KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to recognize we're a nation that was founded on certain principles that are -- that are grounded in the concept of freedom and liberty. We also know that we have had a history in this country of government trying to claim ownership over human bodies.


PHILLIP: The reality of a post-Roe America is starting to become clear. Abortion bans are in effect or soon will be in half of the states and many don't include exceptions for rape or incest. And President Biden says the only way to protect abortion rights is for voters to send enough Democrats to Congress to pass a law.


BIDEN: I share the public outrage of this extremist court has committed to moving America backwards, with fewer rights, less autonomy.


PHILLIP: But many activists say Biden is being too timid. They want immediate action and they also want Biden to channel their rage.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): I am spitting mad over this. We have six extremist justices on the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court does not get the last word, the people do. And we are going to fight back.


PHILLIP: "Politico's" Chris Cadelago is joining us at the table.

And President Biden actually responded to that criticism from progressives, basically saying I'm the guy you got. Take a listen.


BIDEN: I'm the president of the United States of America. That makes me the best messenger. I'm the only president they got.


PHILLIP: He's, like, deal with it. I am who I am.

BARRON-LOPEZ: That's a classic tactic from Biden. He definitely gets frustrated as well as a lot of White House aides when they're constantly pushed or accused of not being proactive. But right now the White House, you know, definitely is reacting to the Roe versus Wade decision.

And they told me months prior to even the draft leak that they had been working on things to prepare for the fall of Roe for about a year. And so, the fact there weren't any executive actions lined up right when Roe versus Wade fell surprised a lot of Democrats, frustrated a lot of Democrats and evenly experts who advise the White House were wondering where all of their actions were.

PHILLIP: Yeah, go ahead.

KUCINICH: And there is no preparation, just even from the White House to the states. I mean, the Department of Justice hasn't given any sort of guidance of some of these states that had not only trigger laws, but some of the laws that are already old laws already on the books of how to deal with that once Roe came down. They had, what, 52 days notice since the draft leaked. They knew this was coming, and yet, not only there were no executive orders. There was no preparation seemingly at all.

SWAN: Right. We have to separate out two things. I think on one hand, you got to look at what they can substantively do through unilateral executive action. There is actually not that much. They talk about interstate travel and protecting the rights of people to get these abortion pills.

But there is also rhetorical anger and Biden can't really summon that because he has at least throughout his political career said that he's opposed to abortion for -- because of his Catholic faith. So, he's not a very good messenger for them on this subject, that's why they have led so heavily on the Vice President Kamala Harris to kind of step into that breach.

Biden himself, you can see it, he doesn't feel, you know, just compare what you saw with Liz Warren to Joe Biden. It's a very different reaction.

PHILLIP: Exactly. I mean, it's a very different --

SWAN: You can't fake that.

CHRISTOPHER CADELAGO, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yeah. And one thing that Democrats are really worried about is we had these -- the shootings in Uvalde and Buffalo and you had guns come up as -- flare up as a national issue. You had Roe coming down the pike. You had the 1/6 hearings happening right now. You've seen in the generic ballot a gap go from plus seven Republican to a couple points in some recent polls in Democrats' favor.


But Joe Biden has remained at 38 percent. He has not moved in those polls.

And the reason that I think a lot of these Democrats are saying and some of them that I've talked to over the last couple of weeks say that he has not met the moment and he's not really thrown himself into this in a large part not only on the policy side, but in the rhetorical way they wanted him to.

PHILLIP: One other thing also going on here is that there is a whole generation of young people, young Democrats, who thought this was the world they were going inhabit and they're frustrated with the Democratic Party. Take a listen to this protester. This actually went viral and take a listen, you'll understand why.


ZOE WARREN, ABORTION RIGHTS PROTESTER: I received a text message from Joe Biden's campaign yesterday saying the Supreme Court had overturned Roe versus Wade, and that it's my responsibility to then rush $15 to the Democratic National Party. And I thought that was absolutely outrageous.

They have had multiple opportunities to codify Roe into law over the past 20, 30, 40, 50 years and they haven't done it.


PHILLIP: I mean, she makes a good point. She's basically saying stop asking me for money, stop asking me for votes, do something.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And the issue is -- I know Jonathan said that even though a lot of the executive actions that Biden could do are not as substantive and they can't -- they can't undo what the Supreme Court did, but a lot of voters like that girl as well as a number of Democrats in the party, they just want to see Biden do something, and do something quickly, which is whether it's expanding medication, you know, abortion access, or making it so Medicaid funds travel instead of the abortion procedure itself, they want to see the White House get creative and try these things, even if it means litigation.


SWAN: I don't know in what universe people could have just codified Roe. I mean, Joe Manchin exists.

PHILLIP: I mean, it is an oversimplification of the political history.

SWAN: And there used to actually be anti-abortion Democrats, you know, in the earlier era.


SWAN: So, I don't know what universe this --


PHILLIP: Well, I mean, I think that you're totally right. I mean, a 60-vote threshold that that -- in a 60-vote world where Democrats had 60, not all of those ten extra Democrats were pro-choice Democrats.


PHILLIP: But I do want to raise this -- there was a great piece in "The Atlantic" from Ron Brownstein. This was a quote from a pollster, a Democratic pollster who says Biden will be presiding over this critical period when so many people are losing rights. Can you imagine being the president when women lost the right to abortion and election subversion is advancing and the whole country is worried about democracy and you're like, the Supreme Court is fine?

That is where a lot of Democrats are coming from. It's not just on the abortion issue. He's pushing back on some of the more left-wing ideas, expanding the Supreme Court, what have you, but he's pushing back on those things that it's frustrating --

KUCINICH: Well, I think, you know, one of other things that I think that young woman is expressing is, yeah, we're Democrats, we voted for these people, and what are we getting from it? They were promised a lot going into this -- going into this Democratic-controlled Washington. And not a lot has happened.

And they said, okay, well, yeah, Kyrsten Sinema, Joe Manchin, there are logical explanations to this, but there were a lot of overpromising happening and they're having trouble explaining that to their voters now going into the midterms. And what did they -- what did they get for their vote? Infrastructure.

PHILLIP: I mean, look, Joe Biden has never been the kind of, you know, left wing, you know, kind of guy, puppet that Republicans have made him out to be. He's the center left Democrat, has been most of his career and is now.

SWAN: But there was a part of that analysis that's just wrong. And you know, it's not true that the whole country is worried about the democracy. It would be -- I'm sure it would be nice if it were.

PHILLIP: Democrats are worried about it. SWAN: Democrats are worried, but if you actually look at how polls, it's just not there. And we have to deal with actually objective reality. If Biden spent all day talking about this, that would be an honorable thing to do. But, again, like it's just not -- what that quote is does not comport with reality.

PHILLIP: It does highlight the gap between where the progressive left, activist folks are, and perhaps where the rest of the country is.

We will have to leave it there and continue this conversation.

Coming up next for us, abortion rights may just be the beginning. How the Supreme Court could reorder American society for decades to come.

Stay with us.



PHILLIP: Abortion, guns, religion -- the three of the biggest fault lines in American politics and all three are areas of law that the Supreme Court's conservative supermajority has already transformed. Overturning Roe versus Wade was their biggest move yet, but it is unlikely to be their last.

The three remaining liberal justices put it this way in their dissent on the abortion case. Quote: The majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason, it is because they always despised them and now it has the votes to discard them.

This is the court that Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson officially joined on Friday, becoming its first black woman and only public defender, former public defender in American history, she joins a diminished liberal minority on the court.


And CNN Supreme Court reporter Ariane de Vogue is joining our conversation. So Ariane, I mean this is a historically conservative court and one that is making it very clear that they are not -- they're not interested in incrementalism on some of these big (INAUDIBLE).

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: You're absolutely right. Look at John Roberts. He's a solid conservative, we saw it in the Second Amendment and the religious liberty cases this term. But he is unwilling to go as fast and as far as the Trump nominees. They are looking at the law in a completely different way.

Look at the Roe case. He was looking at -- Roberts wanted to seeing some more incremental. He said, ok, let's allow the Mississippi law, but let's leave Roe for now. That had no takers on the conservative side. They have left him behind, and they're now moving really quickly in other areas as we're going to see next term. PHILLIP: Yes. I wanted to show folks. I mean these are the major

decisions that this court has handed down this term. Abortion rights, gun rights, school prayer, criminal justice, and on regulations this EPA ruling on curbing carbon emissions.

But the next term is no less big. Affirmative action, they are taking on gerrymandering in North Carolina, redistricting in Alabama -- both issues that have to do with race and the political lines and how they're drawn, environmental regulations and LGBTQ rights.

This is a court that is now they have another vote to take on bigger cases. And they are taking those cases.

DE VOGUE: No question about it. They're moving forward because they can, and what is interesting about it is the divide is so stark on the court. They see everything differently. And it mirrors what is going on in the country.

Abortion: one side says it is in the constitution, the other side doesn't. Gun rights: one side says, look, it is necessary to stop mass shootings; the other side says we need protects against mass shootings. Environmental cases, religious liberty -- it is just irreconcilable the way they're going.

PHILLIP: One of the other case that they're taking up has to do with -- you know, I'll tell you what it is, probably will mean nothing to folks at home -- independent state legislature doctrine. But long story short, it basically is this idea that state legislatures have basically supremacy over federal elections in their state, overruling state courts, et cetera. It could have really profound implications on federal elections going forward and the court says, yes, we're going to take up this issue.

CADELAGO: Yes, and people who have watched the redistricting process for years have always thought about, well, it gets kicked over -- a court takes it over, a state court and they look at it and they're sort of an independent arbiter here.

And so that's been sort of a back stop for them. Governors have been a back stop, particularly for Democrats, where Republicans control 30 of the legislatures right now. so this would have -- including many of the battleground states -- so this would have a really disproportionate effect on Democrats.

What this case, you know, I think it is four justices so far that have shown some semblance of support for this theory, which has been a theory that has been sort of hanging around the fringes.

PHILLIP: In conservative circles.


CADELAGO: In conservative circles. And what this could do is hamstring Democratic governors who Democrats say are the back stop in these states. If you look at a 2024 election scenario, taken to its, you know, most extreme case, and it would put the -- power in the hands of these Republican state legislators.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And also potentially handing it back to states at a time when we're increasingly seeing candidates running on Trump's election denialism, which is that one, they said that 2020 was rigged and then two, they are implying that they would potentially, you know, go along with similar plots in 2024 and in other elections.

So that's the broader context here when we're talking about the Supreme Court potentially handing this power back to the states.

PHILLIP: One other way -- I mean this court is in so many ways the Trump court, he appointed three of these justices that swung the court to the right.

But here's another thing that could be coming down the pike. There was a religious liberty case that the court handed down this week, cheered by conservatives, allowing this coach to pray after a game.

This group, America First Legal is a group that is largely by former Trump officials. They put out a statement praising that ruling but also saying this. "AFL is hopeful that the justices will build on this ruling and eventually dis-incorporate the establishment clause" -- here's the key part -- "which fully protects the rights of states to decide whether and to what extent they will establish religion within their borders."

So it seems like a fringe idea at the moment that you could have lawyers come -- try to bring before the Supreme Court this idea that individual states can establish their own religions, but that is what is being talked about in conservative circles. I mean would you be foolish to discount this kind of talk?


DE VOGUE: Well, don't forget with the independent state legislature, that was floated in Bush v. Gore and nobody took it up. It was fringe all the way back then. Rehnquist brought it up.

So that's how these things build. So now you're looking at what this conservative court is doing with religion and it used to be that government wanted to be neutral, right. Because there were so many different kind of religions.

And this conservative court is now equating that neutrality with the discrimination. So why not? Now the states are coming forward and saying we want you to go even further.

That's how these seeds (ph) start and it may seem fringe now, but we've seen them grow (ph).

JONATHAN SWAN, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, AXIOS: There is nothing fringe about it. America First Legal is run by Stephen Miller, one of President Trump's most important advisers. He will be one of the most important and powerful advisers if Trump gets elected in 2024.

PHILLIP: And if he runs for re-election, presumptively as well.

SWAN: Yes, that's right. If Trump wins in 2024 and becomes president again. And this is not -- this is not a group that is some fringe group, they're not fringe at all. In fact, they're at the center of the emerging conservative infrastructure around these issues.

And the fact is now that Republicans have this super majority on the court, they're willing to be much more creative and aggressive and pursue more edge of the envelope legal theories because they know that for a lot of these things that the ultimate deciders will be potentially quite favorable towards them.

PHILLIP: And look, as the liberal minority road in their dissent in the Roe case, the conservatives have the votes. And they're going to take up these issues and potentially make some big, big changes.

But coming up next for us, the U.S. officially says it is a top priority to bring WNBA star Brittney Griner home. And in an exclusive interview, her wife Cherelle told me that that is just not enough.


CHERELLE GRINER, WIFE OF BRITTNEY GRINER: It's really hard to be doing some of the hardest things in my life right now without her here very single day just being my friend.


GRINER: You know how she has a gazillion fans and all those people that care about her, I don't have all that, I don't need all that. I have her, you know, like she is my biggest fan.




PHILLIP: WNBA star Brittney Griner has been in a Russian prison for nearly five months. And her trial on drug-related charges officially began on Friday. The U.S. says she is being wrongfully detained, but her case is now caught up in worsening geopolitical tensions between Russia and the west. And if convicted, Griner faces ten years in a Russian penal colony.

And I spoke with Griner's wife, Cherelle, this past week and asked whether she thinks that the United States is doing everything it can to bring her wife home.


GRINER: No. I don't. And I hate to say that because I do trust that the persons working on this are very genuine people. That I do believe.

But I don't think the maximum amount of effort is being done because, again, the rhetoric and the actions don't match. And the most beneficial thing I've been told is that, you know, you meet with President Biden. You know, he has that power. He is a person, you know, that ultimately will make that decision for BG to come home.

So while everybody wants else to tell me they care, I would love for him to tell me he cares.


PHILLIP: And I also asked her about a rumored prisoner swap that could possibly end Brittney Griner's detention.


GRINER: You know, how big is your ask. Is it something that we would even say yes to type thing and that scares me. Because at this point, I want us to be able to say yes to what they want because I want my wife back. So I'm hopeful because our government is telling me she's a priority. So I'm very hopeful that whatever their ask is that our government loves my wife as much as I do, that they're willing to say yes. Because at the end of the day, no Russian is worth more than BG to me.


PHILLIP: And CNN's Russia affairs analyst Jill Dougherty joins us at the table here.

Laura, I'll start with you, the White House is under a lot of pressure from their constituent groups in particular, and the public to address this issue. But really, I mean, I have to say, all of the families of wrongfully detained Americans have put a lot of pressure on this White House including Paul Whelan who is still in Russia. How are they dealing with this?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I mean right now, you know, the White House is essentially saying that exactly what Griner's -- what they told Griner's wife, which is that this is the highest level of a priority that the president is regularly, you know, in conversations about it, talking to his Secretary of State Antony Blinken, talking to national security adviser Jake Sullivan -- both of whom have specifically, you know, regularly communicated with Griner's wife and have talked to her.

But when you ask the White House, you know, about anything in terms of the methods that they are using to try to get Griner released, you know, it is a black box there because again, national security, confidentiality -- they're not going to discuss that.

They also won't be -- they haven't said at all or answered questions about whether or not President Biden is going to ultimately meet with Griner's wife. You know, I know you asked them as well, Abby and I asked them again on Friday, and they have not answered then.

PHILLIP: So Jill, tell us a little bit about what Brittney Griner faces. I mean this 99 percent conviction rate, it really spells out a legal system that, you know, people have described as not a legal system. I mean what should people know about what Russia -- how Russia deals with criminal cases?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN RUSSIA AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, it is their system whether we like it or not. But in their system usually by the time you get to trial, as we know the statistic 99 percent conviction rate. So the chances that you are going to be convicted are just, you know, ridiculously high.

That said, this is a different case. Brittney Griner is a very well known person, in fact, in the Russian media, just this morning, I was reading, they're calling her an icon, sports icon. So that -- it raises it to a different level and I think the complication here is how cases like this, unfortunately, have to be handled. There is some in the public eye, there is a lot behind the scenes.

And this comes at the worst time in the middle of a war in Ukraine, in the middle of the worst relations between Russia and the United States, in living history practically, and that -- that just makes it even worse.

PHILLIP: I want you to take a listen to Sheila Jackson Lee, the congresswoman from Texas, where Brittney Griner grew up, talking about what she thinks needs to happen in order for Griner to be brought home.



REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX): I think there is a personal relationship between the arms dealer and Mr. Putin. So I do think that a swap, a prisoner swap that would include this individual, that seems to have this relationship and a special concern by Putin to be an individual that could actually bring both Brittney Griner and Paul home.


PHILLIP: She is talking about a prisoner swap with a man named Viktor Bout, who is known as the merchant of death. He's an arms dealer, he's been convicted in the United States prison. And this is the name that is at the top of the list.

He seems to be someone who the implication from Sheila Jackson Lee would be a very high value to the Russian government and could bring not just Brittney home but also Paul Whelan who has been in prison there for years at this point.

DOUGHERTY: Possibly. I mean the Russians have been trying to get him out forever. I actually interviewed him in the Moscow bureau when I was a bureau chief back in 2002 and he was on the lam at that point. We interviewed him. And then six years later he was arrested and now he's in Illinois prison.

But I think, you know, if you look at his history, he was with, I believe, the air force. So he's a military person, and there were -- there have been implications that he was close to Russian intelligence. And if that is the case, perhaps that's what's being referred to there by Sheila Jackson, even more sensitivity.

They definitely want him back. But the question is right now, for Putin, dragging this out may be beneficial, just as they are dragging out the war. The war, because people will forget, they're hoping, about the war.

But you know, with Brittney it is more maybe as we go on the pressure increases, the United States -- it is more difficult for her.


PHILLIP: They're willing to perhaps roll the dice on time.


PHILLIP: Jill Dougherty, thank you so much for joining us. Laura, stay with us.

But coming up next for us, California's Governor Gavin Newsom says that it is time for his party to get tougher. Is he gearing up to take that message on the presidential campaign trail?



PHILLIP: Two rising political stars: one a Republican governor in the east, the other a Democratic governor in the west. One is banning most abortions and mocking COVID precautions and the other is expanding abortion access and touting public health rules.

CNN's Isaac Dovere and Steve Contorno have a report out about California Governor Gavin Newsom who's been eager to pick a fight with the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. And so much so now that Newsom is dropping a campaign ad in Florida and it will start airing tomorrow on Fox.

CNN has the first exclusive look.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): It's Independence Day. let's talk about what's going on in America.

Freedom, it's under attack in your state. Republican leaders, they're banning books, making it harder to vote, restricting speech in classrooms, even criminalizing women and doctors. I urge all of you living in Florida to join the fight or join us in California where we still believe in freedom.


PHILLIP: I think it's the "join us in California" line that's probably going to raise a few eyebrows.

But Chris, what is Gavin Newsom doing here? I mean, he's on Truth Social. He's putting out this ad in Florida. He's taking the fight to DeSantis. I'm not sure that DeSantis is really engaging at this point but what is he up to?

CADELAGO: Yes. DeSantis hasn't been very much. I think we should get out of the way that this is basically a very expensive troll of Ron DeSantis.

PHILLIP: It's like $100,000 worth of advertising.

CADELAGO: Yes. But you know, underlying it, Newsom came out after the leaked draft of the Foe decision in Politico and basically said that the party was not fighting Republicans hard enough, particularly on cultural issues and the culture wars. And so question was, what would Newsom do to respond to that?

And so, essentially he's trying to put his money where his mouth is. You know, he's sitting on $25 million in the state. He has no competitive re-election fight coming up in the fall. He just defeated this recall.

One of his advisers sort of said to me he's in his Bulworth mode. And so that kind of underlies the reason why he's doing this is basically to come after Republicans. You saw a post from him on Truth Social where he said murder rates in red states were higher than in blue states.


CADELAGO: So you know, he's trying to sort of be this voice that takes it after Republicans. Doesn't just lean on the Biden administration from the left but basically goes after the right.

PHILLIP: To your point, he told Isaac and Steve that "The success of the right to define the terms of the debate, the success of the right to dominate the narrative, they're winning in ways that are alarming to me, and things have changed. Rules of engagement have to change. You have to take the fight to them."

So, is he right in some ways?

BARRON-LOPEZ: I mean, in the focus groups I've been watching in recent months, a lot of Democratic base voters ask why aren't Democrats fighting fire with fire? Why aren't they going more aggressively against Republicans or using this ruthless messaging because a lot of voters, and I know Chris, you heard this in Pennsylvania as well, they just are asking, why isn't President Biden out there more. Why isn't the administration out there more?

And that they also say they think that the president is too trusting of Republicans in Congress, specifically Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

PHILLIP: So Newsom is not like tamping down the 2024 chatter. If that's what this is all about, it puts him on a collision course with the Vice President Kamala Harris also from California. Those two have a long history -- friends but political rivals. Where does this all go?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, he said that -- I think he said in another interview that he has a subzero interest in running for president, but that thaw happens fairly quickly.

I think it's like his adviser is like, well, you know, if she decides to not run. I mean it's like -- you always want to be the last guy standing or the guy standing there going like this if everything else clears.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hard to see him going up against Kamala Harris, but you know, stranger things have happened in politics for sure.

He has got the money. He's got the donors if he decides to do something in the future.

SWAN: He's filling a vacuum. I think the most important point is he's filling a vacuum. And I hear this from even people working in the Biden administration, including people in the White House. There's a feeling that they haven't been aggressive enough.

And they haven't been fighting these cultural -- basically the early 2021, all the Republicans were talking about all this nonsense, CRT -- ha, ha, ha -- Dr. Seuss. There was this like mocking knowing, you know, then they saw the Youngkin race and they're like, oh, no, this stuff is actually kind of working. We better kind of engage and not just step away and let them own these culture fights.

So he's stepping into the fray and filling this vacuum. And he's obviously seen -- I haven't talked to Gavin Newsom but I have no idea of his motivations here, but it's pretty obvious. He's seeing that Ron DeSantis has built this incredible national brand by owning these culture fights. And he's seen this giant yawning gap on the Democratic side. He said, I can be the left's Ron DeSantis.

PHILLIP: Yes. I think it's pretty clear to Democrats now, they can't just ignore it. They have to put something out there on the table for voters to choose between.

But that's it for us. We'll be talking about this for quite some time. Thanks for watching INSIDE POLITICS.

But stay with CNN., Coming up next, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana's guests this morning include South Dakota's Governor Kristi Noem and Illinois Congressman Adam Kinzinger.

And don't forget, you can watch Dana again Monday night on "CELEBRATE THE FOURTH IN AMERICA" with coast to coast fireworks and incredible music starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning. Happy Fourth of July and have a great rest of your day.