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Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe Shot & Killed During Campaign Speech; U.S. Adds 372,000 New Jobs in June, Unemployment Holds At 3.6 Percent; Today: Ex-WH Counsel Cipollone Testifies Before Jan. 6 Committee. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 08, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And there was a significant turnout, but it was also a presidential year, and it was a Democratic leaning year. And so do we know in this midterm year, when there are other big economic factors? Is this the mobilizing turnout issue, the Democrats believe it can be?

DAN BALZ, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: the people I've talked to over the last couple of weeks are in a quandary about it, frankly. They recognize that this could be a significant factor in November, but they are not convinced that it will be a significant factor. We've kind of gone through this at different times. We know that the opponents of abortion have been over a long period of time, very well organized, and those who defend abortion rights kind of come and go on this issue and are not necessarily reliably organized. And I think it's going to take a significant effort on the part of those groups and the President and Democrats more broadly, to try to translate that anger and that frustration into mobilization. So I think at this point, it's still up in the air as to how big a factor it will be. It will be a factor. But how big is the question?

KING: How big is the giant question, so the President will face pressure there politically and on the policy front? We'll continue to watch that. Up next for us though, more on the global shock at the brazen political assassination, the former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gunned down on the street corner at a political rally.



KING: Back now to today's stunning global breaking news. The former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe assassinated allegedly by a 41- year-old gunman who police say has confessed to using a homemade firearm. Japan much of the world now mourning, in mourning this hour, including the President of the United States who just moments ago at the White House pause to acknowledge Abe's passing and said he plans later today to stop by the Japanese Embassy here in Washington to sign a condolence book. And the President of the United States saying he anticipates no impact on Japan stability or security, especially as a U.S. ally. Let's get some perspective now beginning in Taiwan, with CNN's Will Ripley. Will, the tributes have flowed in from very leaders around the world, Emmanuel Macron of France call him a great Prime Minister. The NATO Secretary General, defender of democracy. India's Prime Minister Modi, a towering global salesman. Even Vladimir Putin, a wonderful man. Leaders of very different perspectives praising Prime Minister Abe from covering the region. One of his biggest goals was to have Japan take a more assertive role on the world stage to rewrite some of the post-World War II restrictions on its military in part because of the North Korean threat.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, when North Korea was flying missiles over Hokkaido, Shinzo Abe was pushing for first strike capability, which would be, you know, monumental. Japan hasn't had its troops or its weapons deployed other than in a defensive posture since World War II. But Shinzo Abe wanted Japan to play a more assertive role militarily and economically as well. In his first year in office, he traveled to some 50 countries meeting with leaders around the world.

He was the first world leader to call and congratulate the former President Donald Trump when he was elected because he knew that given the fact that Japan is so close to China, and Russia and North Korea, these nuclear armed nations that Japan and the United States need to have a good relationship no matter who is elected, no matter who's in office. And so he took President Trump for golf and hamburgers in Tokyo when he was here not the formal kind of formalities or Japanese traditional dinners that might be afforded to other world leaders because he knew that he needed to coax -- to get what he needed out of the former president. And that's really what he's being remembered for was that ability to connect one on one, but also to connect on a larger level to a mass audience.

He's one of the only Japanese prime ministers that was a household name, arguably the most influential and famous voice in Japanese politics. Even after stepping down, he still was elected the head of a very powerful faction of Japan's ruling party. And he was working out, hitting the campaign trail just days before Japan's national election, working very hard to try to achieve the goals for -- that he had for Japan. John, he never did rewrite the Constitution. His Abenomics plan arguably is floundered. He dressed up like Super Mario to promote the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which of course, because of COVID were held at a dramatically smaller scale. But still, he tried hard. He tried hard to fight for the future of Japan, John.

KING: Will Ripley live for us in Taipei. Will thank you very much.

Let's shift to Beijing now in CNN's Selina Wang. Selina, you're in Beijing, but you lived in work in Tokyo as well. Again, one of the interesting tracks in Abe's career was initially tried to mend the long historical tensions between Tokyo and Beijing. But then of late came to be very skeptical of Xi Jinping, saying in the Los Angeles Times op-ed, recently, the United States must make clear to the world it will defend Taiwan against Chinese invasion. So an evolution like many world leaders, when it comes to China, what else comes to mind on the sad day? SELINA WANG, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He really did. And that really reflects the frosty relationship that actually deteriorated under his very long leadership. And reflective of that is the fact that Xi Jinping, Chinese Supreme Leader, has still not made any official statements about this assassination, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the global leaders, largely many of them rushing to send over their condolences.

And now this tension is partly over those contested islands and Kakudalyo (ph) islands over historical war time grievances. But really, Beijing is angered by the way that Abe really ushered and paved the way for this more hawkish security stance when it comes to China, the bolstering relations with the United States. He was a big proponent of the quadrilateral alliance. He was also boosting alliances across the Asia Pacific region, a lot of that in large part because of anxieties over a rising more powerful China.

And of course, Beijing was very angered over his recent comments earlier this year that the U.S. should abandon its policy of strategic ambiguity when it comes to Taiwan. But he was also incredibly divisive in Japan partly because of his desire to boost Japan's military capabilities but heartbreaking day transcending all of that is a fact that I was in Japan. It was one of the -- consider one of the safest countries of the world. And this is a heart wrenching moment that is shaking people's national psyches. John?


KING: Shaking, to say the least Selina Wang grateful for that reporting as well.

Let's bring the conversation here to Washington. Our chief White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins is here. Shinzo Abe in his first term as Prime Minister, I was still covering the White House and the George W. Bush administration. Then President Obama, he went -- President Obama went to Hiroshima. And President Abe spoke to the United States Congress and then Donald Trump. Shinzo Abe the first, you covered the Trump White House, the first foreign leader to meet with Donald Trump, understood Trump very well brought golden golf clubs to Mar-a-Lago, is that right?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He did. I mean, he was had this fascinating approach to Trump at a time when so many world leaders did not know how to deal with him. Obviously, Trump won by surprise. It left a lot of these world leaders stunned and they weren't sure how to approach him. And Abe really sought to take advantage of that. He was one of the first ones to go and meet with Trump at Trump Tower in the November in the year that he won. He of course traveled to Mar-a-Lago. He visited him at the White House. He did gift him these gold-plated golf clubs.

But also, when Trump went to Japan, which he did several times, you know, they played golf together. He fed him hamburgers. He even made these white hats that looked like the Make America Great hats, that talked about making the Shinzo-Trump Alliance strong again. He had all of these moments. And some people may see that and roll their eyes and say, OK, why was he catering to Trump in that way, but he sought to cultivate Trump and he studied his tastes. And he used it to his advantage to cultivate a relationship with a very mercurial president that a lot of world leaders did not know how to deal with, and it worked out for him because he did establish this good relationship with Trump.

And it was just a fascinating moment. And you talked about even with Obama, when Obama went and Hiroshima. Abe also went to Pearl Harbor with him. And it was just a moment where you saw how they tried to time and time again with very different U.S. presidents move the Japan-U.S. relationship forward. And so it is a stunning moment for the White House and for past presidents to see to see that this assassination has happened.

KING: The crime, the crime is terrific and stunning and the legacy of demand, controversial, yes, but important to look at and study Kaitlan, thank you, and all of our international correspondents as well.

Up next for us, the new jobs numbers in their impact on big economic questions, robust hiring, eases recession fears, but perhaps puts new pressure on the Fed when it comes to inflation.



KING: A new government report today tells us the American economy is humming and hiring remains quite strong. Look at this, 372,000 jobs added in June, the unemployment rate held steady at 3.6 percent. That robust hiring does ease at least somewhat worries the economy is on the verge of recession. But the strong job numbers and continued wage growth also suggests the Fed may need to do more to slow things down to tame inflation. Just moments ago, the President of the United States touting the report, but he does acknowledge inflation -- Americans are hurting primarily because of inflation. Jeanna Smialek from The New York Times joins our conversation. So I just want to show jobs added and we just look at the last year of life here across the screen. You see this robust jobs number. You would think, wow, this is great. It's great, but, right?

JEANNA SMIALEK, FEDERAL RESERVE & ECONOMY REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Great, but, exactly, I think is the right way to put it. So we're seeing this extremely strong jobs growth, we're seeing very strong wage growth alongside that. Obviously, wage growth sounds good. The problem is inflation is so very high right now. And that solid pace of wage growth means that employers are increasing their prices as they try and cover their climbing labor costs. And so from the Federal Reserve's perspective, as they try and bring inflation under control, what they're hoping to see is a real downshift in those wage numbers, in order to feel confident that inflation is going to come back under control. And we're just not there yet. We're sort of inching in that direction, but nothing decisive yet.

KING: So if we have nothing decisive yet, then when and what next from the Fed? SMIALEK: Probably a continued very strong response from the Fed when it comes to trying to cool down the economy and control inflation, what we're expecting is another sort of supersize rate increase at their July meeting coming up later this month. Most people think that it will be a 75-basis point increase, which is sort of three quarters of a percentage point about three times as big as what they usually do. And so the goal is to slow down the economy pretty sharply here to try and bring the situation under control. The risk, obviously, is that they could spur a recession.

KING: Right, could spur recession. So Dan Balz, we both covered many midterm election campaigns. If you're the president of th3 United States, you're now inside for months, you need the American psyche to change the way. Jeanna, the smart one at the table when it comes to the economy spells it out. That's not going to happen overnight. What does the President do now politically?

BALZ: Well, he'll continue to tout the job numbers. Continue to say that they have brought the economy back and try to get people to think at least a little bit more about that and a little bit less about inflation, but it's a very heavy lift to try to do that.

KING: It is a very heavy lift. There are some indicators. The jobs numbers today is pretty good, the unemployment rate today historically low. Gas prices are down some. The question is, do people give the president any credit? If you go to a year ago, it was $3.14. Today it's $4.72. But it did get as high as $4.96. Mortgage rates have come down a little bit. There are a couple of the indicators in Americans everyday lives are a little bit better. The question is, are people willing to say, OK, at least it's getting better or are they still stuck in this?


ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: What you were saying, I mean inflation is one of those issues that is so problematic for White House as well, because it really does shape perception as well of Americans. If your wages are going up, but you're going to the grocery store or going to get gas, and that's even higher, and you can't match that, then you're still going to have a negative perception or a negative outlook of the country. And that is a primary factor right now, of the President's low approval numbers.

One more thing, just to say, even if you think this is limited to the economy, inflation is factoring into so many policy decisions that the White House is making right now, whether or not he may live -- cancel student loans, left China tariffs as well, propose a gas tax holiday that many members of his own party disagree with.

KING: And look, to be fair to the President, inflation is a global problem. It's higher in the U.K., for example, then it is here. It's part of the reason Boris Johnson is losing support there, in addition to the scandals. But the challenge for the President, this is the University of Michigan Consumer Index, and I don't even need to read the numbers to you just look at the chart. If that's your heart, you're dropping. He needs that trajectory to be going in the other direction. And it just gets hard to get close to the election to get people to turn that around.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right for Democrats, it's going to be a mix of what we talked about earlier, and that Dan referred to, which is are they able to focus their base and, you know, Democratic leaning independents on the overturning of Roe on the January 6th hearings, on all of these other elements that are clearly very much animating for Democratic -- the Democratic base. As well as are they going to be able to get any more of Biden's agenda done before the midterms?

One opening they have is whether or not they resuscitate, you know, his economic agenda, specifically tackling prescription drug costs. You know, those are other ways that they could help people's pocketbooks. And it's a big question as to whether or not Congress is going to be able to move on that.

KING: Right. Some of those questions may be answered in the next week or two. We'll see what that one plays up. You mentioned the January 6th hearings.

Up next for us, it is a huge day for the January 6th Committee. The Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone is testifying under oath and on camera.



KING: Today the January 6th Committee is hearing from its biggest witness yet. The Trump White House Counsel Pat Cipollone is at the Capitol under subpoena. Cipollone was in the know and in the room for some of the most pivotal moments being investigated including two sources now tell CNN with Trump as he watched the riot unfold on television.

Our great reporters are back with us to discuss. Dan Balz, he was in the Oval Office on January 3rd, stop Trump plan to replace the acting Attorney General with an election denying lawyer. He expressed legal concerns, the President about going to the Capitol. He was with Trump watching the riot unfold and then demanded the White House Chief of Staff intervene. He wanted Trump to call the day after for prosecution and to talk about the violence. He knows a lot important to this Committee.

BALZ: He absolutely knows a lot. And the question is how much will they be able to get out of him because of the relationship that he has as the White House Counsel to the President of the United States? We don't know the answer to that yet. There'll be a lot of reporting aimed at that throughout the day and in the coming days. But if he is forthcoming, he has the ability to corroborate some very, very damaging evidence that's already been presented and possibly some additional stuff that we don't really even know about.

So there is great anticipation about this. But one thing we know about this Committee so far is that they have they have generally delivered more than they have promised. And I think the question now is, will that be the case with him?

KING: They absolutely have delivered more. And so one of the big issues I mentioned that January 3rd meeting, we got to count from that from one of the other witnesses. This is Steve Engle, the former U.S. Assistant Attorney General Office of Legal Counsel, talking about that meeting when Trump wanted to put an environmental lawyer in charge of the Justice Department because Jeff Clark had agreed to do what Trump wanted to do. They all met in the Oval Office and Pat Cipollone among those who told the President, this is nuts.


STEVE ENGEL, FORMER ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR OFFICE OF LEGAL COUNSEL: All anyone is going to think is that you went through two attorneys general in two weeks until you found the environmental guy to sign this thing. And I think at that point, Pat Cipollone said, yes, this is a murder suicide pact, this letter.


KING: That's a conversation and a meeting of several people. It's not a private conversation with the President of the United States. I mean, Pat Cipollone, even if he says I won't say directly what I said he can say whether that's true or untrue.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Yes, he can corroborate, as Dan said, a lot of what other people also in the meeting said, you know, we expect that he's going to exert executive privilege on some stuff, but not all. So it's going to be really key and interesting to hear what he has to say about that meeting, what he has to say about all the other meetings that he was in, in the lead up and on the day of with the President.

And again, you know, the Committee up until this point had been really pushing for him to come before them. We saw Congresswoman Liz Cheney be very forceful, one of the most forceful on the Committee saying -- essentially calling him out in multiple hearings to come before them and now they finally got him.

KING: Right. The other witnesses have said he was there to tell that then President United States this is wrong. This could be illegal, including Cassidy Hutchinson talked about her conversation with Cipollone as the President wanted to go to the Capitol on January 6th.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE AIDE: 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 to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.


KING: Powerful if Cipollone tells the Committee, yes, I told the president he either was breaking the law or was on the edge of breaking the law. KANNO-YOUNGS: Absolutely. That was one of the more when you talk to folks who watched Hutchinson's testimony, one of the more consequential allegations of her testimony that the former president knew at that point of the illegality of the legal questions of going to join an armed mob attacking in the Capitol. And that he still wanted to go. And if he's able to corroborate that, that would be quite a finding coming out of these Committee hearings as well as, as you were just saying the other meetings here corroborating whether or not there was an attempt to cease voting machines as well, as well as actions that day.


KING: Right. And the public hearings resumed next week. We'll see some of this. Then appreciate your time today. A busy breaking news today on Inside Politics. Try to enjoy your weekend. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage right now.