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Inside Politics

Pat Cipollone Testifies Under Oath; Interview with Axios Managing Editor Margaret Talev; Interview with Politico National Political Correspondent Meridith McGraw; Select Committee's Investigation on January 6 Attack; Interview with Bloomberg News White House Correspondent Jordan Fabian; January 6th Committee saying Cipollone's Testimony is Critical; Ties Between White House and Extremist Groups; Oath Keepers Seen Outside Willard Hotel with Roger Stone; Republican States Pushing Full Abortion Bans; GOP Leaders Worrying About Out-of-Mainstream Candidates; White House Hits Back at Progressive Critics; Tensions Boiling Between White and Democratic Activists. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 10, 2022 - 08:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY HOST: Under oath, Trump's top White House lawyer provides new details about the plot to overturn the 2020 election.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I expect they've got some real combustible stuff that's going to break big.


PHILLIP: Could Pat Cipollone turn out to be the January 6 Committee's most important witness yet?

Plus, President Biden says he is doing everything he can to protect abortion rights.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court to take away freedoms in our personal economy.


PHILLIP: Democratic activists are begging for more action and more passion.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need you, President Biden, to act like your life depends on it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: And pariah no more. President Biden once promised to punish Saudi Arabia for human rights abuses. This week, he'll visit the kingdom and meet face-to-face with the king and crowned prince. What changed?

"Inside Politics", the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters now.

Welcome to "Inside Politics Sunday". I am Abby Phillip. The top lawyer in the Trump White House spent nearly eight hours under oath with the January 6 Committee on Friday. Pat Cipollone is a critical witness to key episodes that the Committee is investigating. He was in the room during conversations about seizing voting machines, installing a new attorney general, and issuing last-minute pardons. And he was also with the president during the Capital riot.

Now, January 6 Committee member Zoe Lofgren, told CNN that Cipollone was careful but candid. And that the Committee came away with new information about what happened on January 6th. And a Committee spokesman, also says that Cipollone testified about nearly every topic that they are investigating. And that he underscored Trump's "Supreme dereliction of duty". The testimony was videotaped so you can expect to see some of it in public hearings this week.

Let's discuss all of this and more with our panel, Margaret Talev of Axios, CNN's Ryan Nobles, CNN's Eva McKend, and Politico's Meridith McGraw.

So, Ryan, this was a significant moment for the Committee. But still a lot of questions about what exactly Pat Cipollone had to provide to the Committee and what benefit it would be. I mean, the Committee seems to be pretty happy at the end of the day.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and I don't think it's understating it by saying that this may be the most important witness they've talked to yet. And that includes the Trump children, it includes some of his top associates and aides that have come before the Committee. Cipollone was at the epicenter of all of this. And most people view him as an honest man but a careful man who is going to be very measured in what he told the Committee. But I am told from Committee sources, that they're very happy with the information that they were able to gain from him.

They had a very specific mission as to what they were looking for. And part of it is they want to know about Trump's conduct. What was happening inside the White House on January 6th? But they're also very interested in that period of time after the election leading up to the insurrection, and the efforts that were made to overturn the election results or at least stand in the way of the certification. Cipollone was privy to a lot of that.

And so, we'll have to see exactly how this plays into their investigation and how they present it to the public. But the Committee feels as though it was worth their time to push him, to subpoena him, and bring him before their panel because they're learned a lot that they didn't before. PHILLIP: We have been spending a lot of time focused on what we learned, just in the last week from Cassidy Hutchinson, about what Pat Cipollone allegedly said in the White House. Take a listen to this. One of the big bombshells that she revealed to the Committee.


CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO MARK MEADOWS: He said something to the effect of, please make sure we don't go up to the Capital, Cassidy. Keep in touch with me. We are going to get charged with every crime imaginable if we make that movement happen.


PHILLIP: Now, that was a key moment for Cassidy Hutchinson. But what we are learning, what CNN is learning, what the "New York Times" is that the Committee didn't go there. They did not ask him about things that other people said that he said. Why?

MARGARET TALEV, AXIOS MANAGING EDITOR: That's a very good question. We know from Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, she had said that Cipollone did not contradict anyone else's testimony. She did not say that he corroborated everybody else's testimony. And if there were Republicans, other than Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, on this Committee, I'm quite sure they would be asking that question publicly in the hearing, but they are not.

And so, I think we need -- part of what we will be looking for on Tuesday is a broader understanding of what he did affirmatively say. But there are so many other areas of interest. Everything from what was happening in the States?


What was happening with Mike Pence, the parties? And what we know about Pat Cipollone, from others' testimony, is that he was tremendously concerned. Not just about what was appropriate, but about potential criminal exposure from the activities, certainly on January 6th and also leading up to it.

So, I think we'll get a lot more detail on Tuesday. But we'll probably not see eight hours of video testimony, unfortunately, on Tuesday.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, we're definitely not going to see eight hours. I do want to read this tweet from Don Junior because I think it just kind of encapsulates just where Cipollone is in no man's land. Not making the Trumpers happy, not making anybody else happy necessarily. He writes, why are Pat Cipollone and his lawyers letting the J6 Committee get away with suborning Cassidy Hutchinson's perjury? Only cowards let the Left bully them into sitting quietly instead of speaking up and telling the truth. Stop hiding on background, Pat. Grow a spine and go on the record.

Look, I mean, you can read that in a number of ways. But I think that there are some questions. If he wants to refute things that were said about him, he certainly could do it, but he is not. EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: He could. And I think that this sort of illustrates that there is very little upside for a lot of these Republicans, politically, to participate and be cooperative. I would also say that the burden on the Committee, I think, for these last few hearings is not high. They have already established so much. There has been so much damning testimony already, especially the -- when the Department of Justice, the former Department of Justice officials spoke to what they saw and that they were on the verge of mass exits.

So, I don't think that the burden on them is all that high to continue to produce new information. We have already learned quite a bit.

PHILLIP: Well, let's talk a little bit about what they are going to do this week. This is supposed to be a set of -- a hearing about the ties between the Trump world and the extremists who actually broke into the Capital. Now, some of this has been reported in terms of conversations that were happening just these informal connections. But I mean the bar is, I think, pretty high to draw that line between the violence in the plotters.

NOBLES: Well, I think that is the question we're going to have to have answered on Tuesday is that we know the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers were there. We know they were part of what was agitating the violence. What we have not seen established is a definitive link between them and anyone connected to Donald Trump.

And if that -- what we'll see for the first time on Tuesday, Adam Schiff and others have hinted, that there is at least some level of evidence there because that's where the preplanning and coordination component of this comes into this investigation. You know, a lot of Republicans have tried to, you know, whitewash January 6 is just a peaceful protest that got out of hand.

What the Committee has tried to establish for a long time is that this was something that people went there with a purposeful intent. And if you do that, who is responsible for that purposeful intent and how close to Donald Trump doesn't get?

MERIDITH MCGRAW, POLITICO NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And the Department of Justice yesterday had, I think, a pretty eyebrow- raising, alarming filing that outlined just how these Right-wing extremist groups were potentially planning for more violence. That they had weapons. They had explosives, things like that.

And I think that there was a really interesting moment towards the end of Cassidy Hutchinson's testimony, where she mentioned that the former president wanted to talk to Roger Stone. And Roger Stone is somebody that we know had connections to the Proud Boys. They acted as sort of -- or the Oath Keepers acted as, sort of, defacto --

PHILLIP: That they were bodyguards.

MCGRAW: -- bodyguards for him, right.

PHILLIP: I mean, this -- that's such a good point because the Willard Hotel, is the scene of a really, kind of, honestly bizarre confab of who's who in Trump's world. You have a long list of people who are close to Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Roger Stone, Steve Bannon, Michael Flynn, Bernie Kerik, Jason Miller, others all there. And outside of the Willard Hotel where they were -- they had what they called a war room for January 6 were the Oath Keepers guarding Roger Stone.

So, that's what we know. The question is now, what more can we learn about what was going on inside that hotel as well?

TALEV: And we know that Mark Meadows was really struggling with whether or not to go. We know that Cassidy Hutchinson, at the time, 23 or 24 telling him, that would be a really bad idea. Don't do that. And it's --

PHILLIP: And that's hugely significant.

TALEV: It is.

PHILLIP: That he was thinking about physically going there to join these meetings.

TALEV: Yes, it's much harder to say, you had no coordination when you were there.

NOBLES: It's not --

TALEV: And so --

NOBLES: It's not hard to connect the dots from the Oath Keepers, who we know are connected to Roger Stone, and from Roger Stone directly to Donald Trump. Donald Trump has had a lengthy relationship with Roger Stone that goes back to long before he ever thought about being a politician. You know, Roger Stone brags about being the person who introduced Donald Trump to politics. We know that they have a close relationship.


The question is, does the Committee have the goods? Can they establish that definitively? They haven't produced that yet. So, it's a theory right now. And we have to see if on Tuesday they actually bring that theory to bear.

PHILLIP: The hearings are continuing much longer into the summer than they originally planned. How much, Meridith, is that penetrating into Trump world that this is a little bit of a metastasizing investigation that according to Zoe Lofgren and others, the more testimony they receive and that they air, the more testimony they are getting behind- the-scenes.

MCGRAW: Well Trump aids and his allies will say that, you know, this is a political witch hunt. Trump -- he didn't talk about it in his rally in Alaska last night. But he's been very frustrated and upset about what he feels is a lack of defense from Republicans. Part of that stemming from the fact that, you know, McCarthy pulled, having Republicans on the Committee itself. That's something that Trump has been really frustrated with. And, you know, with the letter of where Trump said he would waive executive privilege for Steve Bannon. And I think that's an example of him wanting to have a dog in his corner. Somebody who can defend him more thoroughly.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean it's a little late for Trump to now wants to engage with --

MCGRAW: Very late.

PHILLIP: -- the January 6 Committee. But everybody stay here. Well coming up next for us, Republican candidates are pushing election lies and embracing unpopular policies on abortion. But will voters punish them for it?



We are now two weeks into a post-Roe America. And nine States are already enforcing abortion bans, even without exceptions for rape or incest and many more are coming. The Guttmacher Institute says six in 10 women of reproductive age live in the States that are hostile to abortion rights. And these headlines show the consequences. Doctors facing difficult choices and potential prosecutions for miscarriages or stillbirth. Jordan Fabian of Bloomberg News is joining our panel now.

Margaret, there was a headline in "The New York Times" this weekend by Ana Marie Cox. And it seems to, kind of, encapsulate where Democrats are on this. It says, Democrats can win if they embrace the politics of fear. The politics of fear here going beyond abortion and into some of this other stuff. The effect on the treatment of women for all kinds of reproductive related issues, also, IVF. Does that work?

TALEV: I mean, it's a good question in the midterm year. There is traditionally much lower turnout in midterms, so it's very hard to predict who will turn out. But I will say that this is not just about fearmongering, there is actually concern among the legal community and the advocacy community that Roe is a first step, not the last step. And that there could be subsequent moves on all kinds of privacy issues, on gay marriage, on LGBT issues, and a push at the federal level on the antiabortion movement.

Where would that matter? It wouldn't matter in most red States. It could matter in some purple States, there seem to be fewer and fewer every two years, and in Congressional swing districts. I am not hearing any predictions about the House being able to be held could make a difference in Senate races and that could really matter for Democrats. And you're starting to see President Biden try to lean into this, but this is not -- his strength is not fearmongering and bashing the other party. That's not what he was elected to do. And so, there's been a real slow evolution that's been frustrating to progressives.

PHILLIP: And to be clear, the fear part is not an unfounded fear. I mean, these things are actually happening. And you know, on the Conservative side, they've been very clear on where in some States they want this to be headed. But Democrats need, to your point, Margaret voters to care. This is an independent voter who is probably where, I think, Democrats want a lot more voters to be. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: After Roe was overturned, I really feel like that's going to be a driving factor in my decision making as far as political views. You know, I'm going to maybe become a single-issue voter and really strongly only vote for candidates that are pro- choice.


PHILLIP: It is so hard to know though, I mean, from these anecdotes, how much of it is anecdotal and how much of it is going to move the needle.

MCKEND: Yes, I mean, that woman is a dream for Democrats. That is who they are trying to target. I will say though, I think that even if people had staunchly antiabortion views, this was in a Roe world. Now, that we are living in a post-Roe world, I wonder if some of these views are going to shift once they deal with that reality, and to the political benefit of Democrats.

I spoke to a woman in Kentucky, just this week, and she shared her abortion story with me and talked about growing up in Eastern Kentucky, and the shame that she had and how she wished she didn't hold that shame so she could have helped others in her community. She said if she didn't get an abortion when she was young, she wouldn't have been able to feed the kids that she already had.

And so, I think we're going to see more and more of this. People now, sharing their personal abortion stories in the wake of living in a post-Roe world. I think that is what changes the political calculation for Democrats.

NOBLES: But I think the problem for Democrats here, is that they already have control of everything. And the average voter sitting at home doesn't understand what the filibuster is or is not. They just want you to explain to me why is it that you have the White House, that you have the House, and you have the Senate and you can't protect these rights.

And so, it's one thing to say, oh, we're now -- you need to keep voting for Democrats if you want us to protect all of these things.


I think you need to couple that with some tangible evidence that you are willing to fight for this now. And I think you start to see that happening with the Biden White House. He's finally breaking through this idea that a carve out of the filibuster is necessary for what is an emergency for many on the Left when it comes to this issue. And if you're not demonstrating that, if you're not also saying, well, just keep voting for us, and not following it up without tangible action, I think that becomes a problem when you're trying to make this message the midterms.

PHILLIP: This is also hand-in-hand with a message that the White House had been trying to execute, which is that Republicans are extreme. You heard it from the president this past week, Republicans are going too far. They have some evidence, if you look at who's running in some of these races, these are Republicans who are running for higher office in their respective States. Many of them, even the Republican establishment believes are too extreme for their own party.

But they have extreme positions on the election lies. Some of them want to ban, not just abortion pills, but talking about contraception, emergency contraception, things like that. Can Democrats actually make that case? I mean, do you see evidence out there that they are executing on this idea?

JORDAN FABIAN, BLOOMBERG NEWS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think we'll have to see more from President Biden and Democratic candidates as we're getting into the real midterms season this summer. But his political advisors know that in order to hold onto the Senate, they need the changes from a referendum on Joe Biden into a choice election, and part of that is painting these Republicans candidates as extreme. And you -- that's why you keep hearing Joe Biden talk about ultra-MAGA candidates, and yes -- we just talked a lot about the abortion issue.

It's part of a broader package as Ryan was leading to of just from election laws, on down. Taxes, entitlement programs, painting them as extreme across- the-board. And, by the way, if Donald Trump decides to launch his reelection campaign before the midterms, that's going to lot -- add a lot more fuel to the fire on Democrats arguments in that front.

TALEV: That's true, but put that all on the scale with the economy because that's --

FABIAN: Exactly.

TALEV: -- that's the big elephant, right? And are you going to be able to convince voters, a significant amount of voters, to say these issues are more important to me than the economy or to say, the economy would not be demonstrably better if Republicans were in charge?

PHILLIP: I guess -- I wonder -- you wonder -- I mean, how far out of step can, you know, Republican candidates be with the public on some of these issues? I mean, that's ultimately what the question is.

MCKEND: Right, and the challenge for Democrats is that some of this extremism comes in a lot more palatable forms, right. Ask some of these Republican candidates whether President Biden won the 2020 election, and you get a word soup salad, right? So, that's kind of --

PHILLIP: A word soup salad is a great descriptor.

MCKEND: Yes, so that's -- you know, that's kind of an extreme position, too. PHILLIP: Yes.

MCKEND: But it doesn't always come in, sort of, this flamboyant, far- right package. And so, Democrats, I think, their challenged or I think their mission is to try to paint them as one and the same.

NOBLES: And the other thing, (INAUDIBLE) is that, you know, you can't really look at a generic nationwide poll about some of these issues because the way the Congress is gerrymandered and the fact that every State gets two senators.

TALEV: Pennsylvania is different from Missouri.

PHILLIP: Exactly, and these congressional -- there are just fewer of these purple districts --

NOBLES: Right.

PHILLIP: -- on the Congressional --

NOBLES: And States.

PHILLIP: -- side anyway, and purple States.

NOBLES: Right, yes.

PHILLIP: But coming up next for us, President Biden's toughest critics right now might be his fellow Democrats. And this weekend, the White House hit back.



For weeks now, tensions between the White House and Democratic activists have been simmering. And now, things seemed to be boiling over. On Friday, President Biden delivered the impassioned speech that his base had been asking and begging for on abortion rights.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Just last week, it was reported, that a 10-year- old girl was a rape victim. 10 years old, raped, six weeks pregnant, already traumatized, forced to travel to another State. Imagine being that little girl. Just -- I mean, serious, just imagine being that little girl, 10 years old.


PHILLIP: But that did not stop the criticism that the White House had acted slowly and still left some bold actions on the table. And it appears that Biden aids have had enough. Communications Director Kate Bedingfield telling "The Washington Post" this weekend, "Joe Biden's goal in responding to Dobbs is not to satisfy some activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party." This is an intraparty squabble, that is starting to really reveal some tensions here between the White House and their own supporters who have just been pretty unrelentingly criticizing of President Biden, his leadership, his actions, the White House in general.

FABIAN: Yes, and the White House is completely fed up and frustrated with that argument. Their view is that Democrats need to come together ahead of the midterms and row the boat in the same direction, rather than engage in the circular firing squad over issues from gun rights, environmental issues, abortion rights. They want everyone to get on the same page and they're tired of this criticism.

At the same time, there is a kernel of truth to it, especially when it comes to abortion, because this decision leaked six or seven weeks ago, and the White House really did not have ready-made executive orders and things ready to go on the day that the Roe decision was handed down by the Supreme Court.


And a lot of activists are rightly asking why was that. Why didn't you have all these things ready to go in a forcible response. It took two weeks to materialize.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: I mean there are two sides to this, right? The White House says we acted but we are not going to act in a way that we think is illegal. That is their line.

But the activists are saying, you've got to show a sense of urgency if you are going to go and ask people to then cast a ballot for you. This is a really, I think tough thing, to kind of sort out who's right here because from the White House's perspective, they are like we are the ones who won.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: This is like on brand for Democrats. We always see them having these disputes out in the open.

And I think look, the left wing of the party, they would say that this is righteous rage and they are speaking to the frustration that they are hearing from on the ground, go to any of these protests and the people will tell you there, we are tired of voting for Democrats.

But also, I would say, President Biden not only taking heat from the left, moderates also waffling as well, some of them running away from him on the campaign trail when he comes to their states.

And so this, I think, is emblematic of a larger issue among Democrats who just don't see this level of public disunity among Republicans. They do not marginalize or isolate their most fringe members.

Most often, they sort of stay in line, but we do see often this very public dissension among Democrats.

PHILLIP: I mean look at some of these headlines real quick and I will let you respond. "Rudderless, aimless, and hopeless," that is from a member of Congress. "There is no fight, what you want to see is the president out there

swinging", another member of congress. And "there is a leadership vacuum right now and he is not filling it".

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think the White House is also kind of frustrated because they do feel like they have accomplished a lot, right.

I mean $1 trillion infrastructure package, how many different presidents have tried to accomplish that. They had $1 trillion COVID relief package, the first tangible movement on gun control in a generation.

These are all things that under normal circumstances, and incumbent president would be shouting from the rooftops and the base of his party would be cheering right along with him.

But because of the inflation fears, the concerns about the economy, and then, Roe being overturned, there is just this sense of anxiety within the Democratic Party, that is bubbling to the top, and all the good stuff that has happened is sinking to the bottom.

And unfortunately for Joe Biden, that just makes life even more difficult when he is trying to navigate all of these problems he is having.

He is not getting the air support he needs despite the fact that he has delivered on some of the things that they were looking for.

MARGARET TALEV, MANAGING EDITOR, AXIOS: And this is the chicken and egg because the divisions inside the party are not helping him, but he is also not helping himself.

And one of the truths about leadership, is that when you are in charge, you get what you get, like you have got the circumstances that you have got, and you have to be able to use leadership skills, communication skills, the networks and relationships that you have, to message to the public, to communicate strong messages, and I don't want to like reduce this to strength, you know, whatever, we had experience with that.

But if the president cannot message to his own party that they need to rally around him, it weakens him, and we are seeing him weakened by the economy, by his own messaging stumbles and by a divide Democratic Party.

PHILLIP: The point a lot of people have been making this week is that Democrats seem to want Joe Biden to be like a Democratic Trump. And here is David Axelrod's response to why he doesn't think that would work.


DAVID AXELROD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He was elected for the very things that he is being criticized for. He was elected because he was considered a calm, conciliatory figure, after the tumultuous years of Donald Trump.

People say why isn't he, you know, more angry out there. When he tries to do that, you know, he comes across like Clint Eastwood in "Gran Torino" chasing kids off the lawn. It is not a good look.


PHILLIP: Yes. "Get off my lawn" doesn't really work right now for Joe Biden.

FABIAN: David Axelrod is right, and that line in Kate Bedingfield's statement about ignoring the activists, ignoring Twitter was one of the mantras in 2020 but I would say you don't need to go as far as Donald Trump to still show that you are having some fight on this issue.

I mean look at what Barack Obama did when he was under attack from immigration activists during his presidency for not doing enough. He did the DACA program. That was a risk.

It is still being litigated in court today. But he went out and did that and then tried to get legislation done in the next Congress. And I think that is what Democrats want to see.


FABIAN: They don't want to see him go all the way in that other direction to Trump where he is just throwing all the norms out the window but just do a little bit more to show activists that he cares and is trying.

PHILLIP: And in the meantime, there is a kind of, a bench of people -- Democrats, perhaps trying to fill the void. Take a listen.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is no reason that we have weapons of war on the streets of America. We need reasonable gun safety laws.

GOV. J.B. PRITKER (D-IL): I am furious. I'm furious that yet more innocent lives were taken by gun violence.

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Where the hell is my party? Where is the Democratic Party? We need to stand up. Where's the counter offensive?


PHILLIP: A lot of other Democrats are out there testing the waters here, about how they can try to channel some of this energy.

NOBLES: And I think some of these Democrat governors in particular had kind of stayed back. They wanted to let the president have his moment in the spotlight, allow him to establish himself, get his footing and put himself out there as the leader of the party. And they are now starting to recognize the leadership vacuum and that is why you are starting to see them attempt to fill that void. Whether or not that is because they are positioning themselves for the possibility that he may not run for reelection, that is one thing.

But it may be a combination of things. You know, Gavin Newsom in particular is somebody who has said, I just feel like this needs to be done and so that is why we are doing it.

And you know, it could ultimately be a good thing for the Democratic Party because there is a lot of these individuals, who have now started to get some attention who many Democratic voters across the country maybe we're not familiar with and now we're talking about them.

PHILLIP: And if you're Vice President Harris, you have to both to defend what your administration is doing but also step out especially on abortion, guns, et cetera.

TALEV: Get your own position, definitely.

PHILLIP: Exactly.

MCKEND: One more thing I just wanted to say, I think it would be to the administration's benefit to make peace with these activists. When you are on the ground, the grassroots work, the dirty work, the knocking of doors.

They are doing that work. They are actually turning out voters. They're registering voters in places like Georgia. So it's their political benefit to maybe not have this tit-for-tat and make peace.

PHILLIP: The fighting does not help when you're trying to get out the vote, that is for sure. Coming up next for us, President Biden promised to punish Saudi Arabia

for human rights abuses and instead, he is headed to the kingdom to meet with the young crown prince.



PHILLIP: President Biden is jetting off to the Middle East this week for the first time as president. And this trip will include a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman.

It is a reversal for Biden who earlier refused to even speak to MBS because of alleged human rights abuses including the murder of a U.S.- based journalist.

Take a listen to what Biden said during the campaign on this issue.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Trump has not punished senior Saudi leaders, would you? JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, we are going to in

fact make them pay the price and make them in fact, the pariah that they are. There is very little social redeeming value of the -- in the present government in Saudi Arabia.


PHILLIP: Now, that government hasn't changed at all, but Biden's circumstances and certainly those of the entire world have changed. CNN's global affairs analyst Susan Glasser is joining us at the table.

Susan, this is a trip that Biden really has to make at this point and he put out an op-ed this weekend explaining it.

He says "My aim was to reorient but not rupture relations with a country that has been a strategic partner for 80 years.

My aim will be to strengthen a strategic partnership going forward, that is based on mutual interests and responsibilities while also holding true to fundamental American values."

It is a tough spot. I mean I think a lot of people are looking at this and saying, the Saudi's have violated fundamental American values.

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: If the president sounds defensive, Abby, that is because he is. You know, there is no way to sugarcoat it. There is no way to call it anything other than what in fact is happening here which is an embarrassing reversal.

You know, the reason of course, is Russia and the war in Ukraine, and the resulting spike in global oil prices.

What has been a little bit surprising is that Biden I think has sort of turned this into even more of a story that might've been otherwise by refusing to own it. You know, rather than just --


PHILLIP: Acknowledging the reality -- the real politics of it all.

GLASSER: -- we're here because the real politic is the oil. The oil -- people understand that, and I think that the defensive tone, you see that very clearly in the op-ed.

So I would say oil is in fact the agenda for this. And you know, the other part of it of course is great power politics. People may not realize this but China is in fact right now, a bigger customer of Saudi oil than the United States.

PHILLIP: Well here is the gas price story, today, $4.68 a gallon. June 14, about a month ago, a record high of $5.02 a gallon. And a year ago, just into the Biden administration, $3.14.

There is a real imperative here to just get the Saudi's to the table on increasing supply. And he has to sacrifice something in order to do that. TALEV: 100 percent. And it's interesting, because if you actually look

at the polling around this issue, and the president acknowledged this in his op-ed himself, this trip is unpopular to the extent that people have thought about it.

When people are asked what you think about him going to Saudi Arabia, voters in both parties say they don't support the trip.

They don't think it is a good idea. But for him to not go, to have gas prices above $5 any time, but especially in an election year, is deeply problematic for a president and has implications for the economy.

There is two other aspects in this trip I think worth noting. One is that Israel wants this, and that part of the political consideration for an American president, that is important, what Israel wants. who is going to be the leader of Israel in a few months? That is a (INAUDIBLE) different question.

PHILLIP: Yes, yes. He might meet with Netanyahu who's not currently in power but could be.

TALEV: I don't know.


PHILLIP: Yes. So I mean -- well, let's talk about that --


TALEV: And he will want to be in power because it's also important.

PHILLIP: -- let's talk about that for a second, because I mean, the Saudis -- Biden came into office saying he wanted to get back in the Iran nuclear deal.

He's going to meet Saudi Arabia leaders in Saudi Arabia. He's going to meet with the leaders in Israel. What do they want when it comes to Iran?

GLASSER: Well, that's right. He's going to be hearing a lot of, you know, please don't work too hard on those talks, Abby. But you know, it is notable that this was a key promise.

Democrats came back into the White House, they said we are going to reverse Donald Trump's reversal and get back into the nuclear deal. The geopolitics of that deal have changed a bit, you know, with the spike in oil prices, with the changed political situation.

But also the Iranians have not basically been willing to come to the table. They have also had a change in government and to Margaret's point, it is very significant that we are looking at the fifth Israeli election in just the last four years.

It has been a period of, you know, internal political disruption for Israel at the same time that they have been more integrated into the world around them, than ever before.

The Abraham Accords have led to a real change in the region. Israel is doing business with -- is working openly with partners that perhaps it was working in a more covert way with before U.A.E. and others in the region.

Saudi Arabia, did not join the Abraham Accords, so one interesting aspect of Biden going back and forth between the two countries this week, will he move Saudi Arabia any closer to being willing to you know, join in those accords and openly do business with Israel.

TALEV: And the fact it will be a piece of history when you see that American president get on the plane and fly from Israel into Jeddah.

PHILLIP: Yes, absolutely.

Well, thanks both for being here on that topic.

And coming up next for us, he is trading Indiana for Michigan, is Secretary Mayor Pete looking to add a new title?



PHILLIP: He's officially no longer a Hoosier. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has moved from Indiana to the state of Michigan.

The father of young twins says it's to be closer to his in-laws in Travers City but others see a potential opening for an ambitious, young, one-time presidential hopeful and that is that its is much easier to get elected in state-wide office in purple Michigan than in ruby red Indiana.

And Pete Buttigieg knows what it's like to come very, very close but not quite make it. But he has been working in this Biden administration and doing a lot of things that people are looking around and saying -- what's going on there?

NOBLES: Yes, it seems like he is the most available for a television interview among the --


PHILLIP: Especially on Fox News, right?

TALEV: That's right.

NEWTON: But to his credit, that is part of his strategy, right? He wants to be the kind of Democratic candidate that can go beyond the Democratic base and reach out to these voters that are in the middle and speak to Fox viewers about the things they care about.

I don't necessarily think Buttigieg's problem is with the mainstream of the Democratic Party. It's with the progressive wing of the Democratic Party. And there will be many members from the Squad to Bernie Sanders and

others that would have a real problem if Pete Buttigieg raised his hand and said that he was running for president.

PHILLIP: And of course his challenge is with non-white voters, black voters, and others which if you look at his schedule, he's been spending a lot of time -- he was with Jesse Jackson recently -- spending a lot of time with those communities.

But I will say this, a former top aide to Buttigieg told Politico that he's touring Alabama media markets and is tweeting about airline mile reimbursements. Not high on the list of plays you'd call if you want to run as a Democratic nominee.

To be fair, that is probably true, but if you do take a look at his schedule, he was in Birmingham. He's handing out some cash -- $1 billion for transportation projects. $100 million in California.

He was in Colorado, highlighting infrastructure improvements. It's never a bad thing to be handing out a little money.

TALEV: For sure. And clearly he's interested in boosting a national profile for himself, but also if you were going to stick to your home state, there are some noteworthy upcoming races in Michigan that one could run in in 2024 for senate and 2026 for governor or for senate.

So there are places in Michigan to run where I think, you know, Michigan went for Biden like 50-51 percent of the vote. Indiana went for Trump, 57 percent of the vote. Michigan is a much more comfortable climate.

I'll also say there. There are real concerns all over the country about LGBTQ rights in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling.

Michigan has some also unfriendly laws toward same-sex marriage on the books and in the constitution, but also has a Democratic governor. And if you are a gay American with adopted children, that is also part of your concerns.

Politics aside, and I think politics is what's driving most of this.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean I think that's such a good point. I mean he has now in his position an opportunity to speak to some of those things.

But as we were discussing earlier, needs to find a way to kind of shore up some of the weaknesses that he demonstrated in his presidential bid.

MCKEN: Right. I think he is speaking to those vulnerabilities. He's been very intentional about I think reaching progressives, speaking to black voters. He has, I would say, a close relationship with the black press.

We saw him earlier this year speak to the ways in which highways intentionally separated black and white communities.

So, I think he has been very intentional about addressing potential political weaknesses because he has his political future in mind.

PHILLIP: And of course, there's an undercurrent of President Biden. What is he going to do? There are just so many people waiting in the wings, trying to navigate the situation themselves.

FABIAN: Yes. You hit the nail right on the head. I mean Kamala Harris, first and foremost as vice president. I think any time her or one of the cabinet members is getting out there and boosting their profile, that's, of course, something the administration wants. They want force multipliers for their message.


FABIAN: But anything they do -- I mean this little move to Michigan is going to get attention for 2024 because of all of the questions --

PHILLIP: And he has to know that it will. He has to know that it will.

MCKEND: It could be just kind of live (ph) his best life on the lake.

PHILLIP: And as a mom, I will tell you, being close to the in-laws is not a small thing.

But that is it for us on INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Don't forget that you can also listen to our podcast and download it wherever you get your podcast. Scan that QR code at the bottom of your screen to learn more.

And coming up next for us, "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Jake's guests this morning include Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu.

Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Have a great rest of your day.