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Biden, Xi Speak Amid Rising Tensions Over Pelosi's Potential Trip To Taiwan; Jan. 6th Committee Sets Focus On Ex-Trump Cabinet Officials; New Third Political Party Created By Former Republicans, Dems. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 28, 2022 - 12:30   ET



M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And I think any conversation between the U.S. president and the Chinese president would have been complicated and complex. But I think you're absolutely right that the reports of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveling to Taiwan that has really complicated things even further, and it's tricky, particularly for the White House. And we've sent that sort of reading between the lines, they can't really say, given official comment on a trip that isn't officially confirmed.

And they also don't want to say out in public. Well, we contend the idea of going on this trip, we would not like for her to go. I think the closest that we got to that was the President himself saying, well, the advice I'm getting from the military is that it's probably not a good idea.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And I'm looking at the Chinese readout here. And the words Pelosi don't show up or plan trip, don't show up. But it does say that Xi Jinping emphasized China's principle on the Taiwan issue here. And it says here, that we firmly oppose Taiwan independence, separatism, and interference by external forces.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, that's I mean, I think that that's what that means, right? Pelosi in this case is an external force, in their view. And, you know, the politics of what Pelosi is doing are very, very interesting both internationally, but also domestically here. I mean, there have been Republicans who have said that they've been invited on this trip with Nancy Pelosi, obviously Republicans have in campaign settings talked about the threat that China poses, the massive chips legislation that was just passed in the Senate, also very focused on competing with China.

And in some ways it puts President Biden in a real box. I mean, if he is concerned, and his administration is concerned, as the military has said, apparently, that this is going to cause a potential crisis. It's really hard from him -- for him from a political perspective to step out there and say, don't go. But that said, like, it's also interesting to me that she's making his life harder in this way.

KING: And if you look at a lot of smart analysts, they say Xi Jinping is happy to have this controversy right now in the sense that he has a very controversial COVID locked down policy at home, the Chinese economy has slowed. This gives him a villain, if you will, the United States in the plan, Pelosi trip. But there are other huge issues is relationship, there's still the issue of Trump era tariffs that are still on the books. President Biden has been debating whether to lift or at least ease those, Chinese military activity in the South China Sea and elsewhere in the world. So that Pelosi trip has kind of become the headline. But this is an incredibly complex and hard relationship.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And national security Spokesman John Kirby yesterday was telling all of us that there are so many things for the President to talk to the Chinese president about what you just mentioned, whether or not Biden is going to ultimately lift these tariffs. Also the Ukraine war and Russia, which again, we know that China has not condemned the war in Ukraine and has not condemned Russia's actions. And it appears as though they may not be headed towards there even after this fifth call between the President and the Chinese president.

KING: Fascinating. We'll see if we get more, again, the initial Chinese read out it's pretty predictable. Sometimes it takes a day or two. We'll watch the Chinese media in the next couple of days and we'll see what the White House has to say a bit later today.


Up next for us though, a big shift to the January 6th investigations including team Trump cooperates. New details on a former White House aide now helping the Justice Department investigation and new details on several, yes, several Trump cabinet members now talking to the January 6th congressional committee.


KING: This hour some important new reporting about the January 6th Committee and the major inroads it is making with the Trump cabinet. Sources now telling CNN the panel has interviewed the former Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Today, the Committee interviews the former Trump Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney. Sources also telling us the Committee is currently negotiating terms for a deposition with John Radcliffe, who was the former Trump director of national intelligence. And it is negotiating in hopes of winning the cooperation of Mike Pompeo. Today, Pompeo, the former Secretary of State made sure on "Fox" to take a swipe at the Committee.


MIKE POMPEO, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm happy to cooperate with things that are fair and transparent and deliver good outcomes for the American people. I'll always do that, Bill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Do you today believe it's fair and transparent?

POMPEO: No, it's been, it's been a monkey court. It's been a circus. It's been totally unfair.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Our great reporters are back at the table. It's been fascinating to watch this. Even as Mark Short, Mike Pence's chief of staff was just on our air with Kate Bolduan last hour criticizing the Committee even though he gave a very important evidence filled deposition to the Committee. In public, the Republicans still Mike Pompeo wants to run for president. I think I have to trash it. But maybe I'll go talk to it.

HUNT: Yes, well, because, you know, his own hide might be on the line, right? I mean, there are things here that we don't necessarily know. And this is, it's very interesting to hear the members of the Committee talk about the dam breaking. You know, I think you'll probably have found this to in your career, reporting can work the same way, right? You start to get to know a little bit more about what's going on. And suddenly, other people who are involved want to make sure that their side of the story is at least heard, which it's -- the fact that it could actually reach as far as Mike Pompeo seems incredibly telling to me considering he wants to run.

KING: One of the best editors ever had said, you know, you're waiting to get more to have the big huge stories, have published the little you got and then more will come in. Publish what you got and more will come in. This is our CNN reporting on Pompeo. Pompeo's potential appearance comes as the Committee has shown an increased interest in members of the Trump cabinet. A source connected to the Committee's investigation says they are particularly interested in conversation surrounding the 25th amendment after the events of January 6th.

And we saw that from Secretary Scalia, the labor secretary, who's to the Committee has released some of his testimony that after January 6th a number of Trump loyalists the people who stuck with Donald Trump to the end were thinking even though it's only a couple of weeks left, maybe we should remove him.


BARRON-LOPEZ: And even Kevin McCarthy brought that up with other Republicans. So this was something that was clearly whether it was, you know, within Republican lawmakers, but also within Trump's cabinet was a very real discussion that was being had because of the fact that time and time again, the President was sticking with his lies about the election and sticking with his attempt to try to get his own vice president to go along with it, even when his vice president was resisting it all the way up until the very end.

So it'll be interesting to see how many details the Committee has gotten on that. But of course, the more interesting thing to me is also how many of these people are cooperating with the Justice Department probe, which we're hearing more and more that people that the Committee is speaking to, are also talking to the DOJ.

KING: And it has been remarkable in the sense that we thought the Committee would be shutting down by now at least with the public hearing part, we'd be waiting for the report. But they say to your point about reporting, or investigating that if you make progress that, you know, the snowball starts going down the hill, and you get even more progress. So now they have the Trump cabinet is clear. They're going to from election day, what caused January 6th, but also then the internal conversations among team Trump not just about the violence that day, but their judgments of the abilities, the temperament of the President of the United States at that moment.

LEE: That's right. And I think the January 6th Committee members have alluded to this too, in recent days that as they have interviewed certain people, other people have either approached them, other people that it is clearly important for them to interview have surface. And so the idea that we had even a couple of weeks ago that this might sort of be it, that this might be the end of the public hearings. I mean, that's in the rearview mirror, right?

We have this clear picture of an investigation that is only continuing to grow. At one point I just wanted to make an observation from the White House's perspective is that we saw earlier this week, President Biden really weighing in on the January 6th Committee's work. And it was kind of rare, you know, the President has weighed in on what happened on January 6th in a pretty sporadic way.

But I do think this could be a turning point in terms of sort of the messaging coming from Democrats and the President specifically, you know, from the folks that I have talked to in the sense that I've gotten, because it's always a question, will the President stick with this new messaging? Is that he probably will, because they do see that if there is a 2024 matchup between President Biden and former President Trump, the strongest and most consistent messaging that they can have is that the other side is unacceptable. It's why we keep hearing sort of the ultra MAGA GOP language coming from President Biden and his ally.

KING: And when you hear it, Pompeo call it say a sand monkey court, I think it's important just for the factual record, you can criticize, you know, that you can criticize how the Committee came about. The testimony from the committee has been dozens and dozens and dozens of people who worked for Donald J. Trump. So you're calling it a monkey court. These are your colleagues, Secretary Pompeo. In the administration saying the President knew was illegal. The President's team knew it was illegal. The President knew those people were armed. The President's team knew there's a threat of violence.

HUNT: Everybody knew. And it's, you know what, John, it's not even just Trump loyalists who've been testifying. These were people who were with Him until the very bitter end, the end being January 6th. I mean, there was a lot -- and a lot of people who left the White House well before this point. I mean, these were the most loyal, the most staunched supporters of the President, and they looked at what happened on January 6th, and they said, no, no, we can't do this anymore.

And that's, you know, the argument that's being that's being put to the American people. And, you know, I will say also, John, you mentioned the provenance of the Committee, Republicans are kind of having some doubts about how to handle that. They think, well, maybe we should have been a little bit more involved. And I don't think we should let Republicans off the hook. They had an opportunity for this to be nonpartisan, bipartisan, outside the Congress, and they said, nope, that was a political decision.

KING: Right. They blew that up. They have -- we have what we have today, and the Committee has done a damn good job of digging up valuable information. We have what we have today because Republicans walked away from another day.


When we come back, just moments away from the President of the United States at the House -- at the White House, and what he hopes is a huge deal in reviving big parts of his agenda.


KING: See a live picture there the White House. The President of the United States any moment now will celebrate a by -- a Senate deal, an all-Democratic deal in the Senate between Joe Manchin and the Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to revive key pieces of the Biden agenda including some significant landmark investments in climate if, if they can get the votes and pass it, the President any moment now at the White House. We will take you there live when it happens.

In the meantime, a new third party effort here in the United States by Democrats, Republican senators fed up with a Washington where they say nothing gets done hard to argue with that. And they argue extremes dominate both political parties, this veteran group of politicians from both sides now planning to launch and create a new party.

In a "Washington Post" opinion piece, they write this. Most third parties have failed. Here's why ours won't. The pieces written by David Jolly, Christine Whitman -- Christine Todd Whitman, and Andrew Yang, a former Republican congressman, a former governor of New Jersey, and Andrew Yang, of course, ran for president in the last cycle. Listen.


ANDREW YANG, CO-CHAIR, FORWARD PARTY: The fact is the majority of Americans actually agree on really even divisive issues, the most divisive issues of the day like abortion or firearms. There's actually a common sense, coalition position on these issues and just about every other issue under the sun.



KING: Our reporters are back with us. Again, we may have to interrupt the conversation for the President. But Andrew Yang is right. There is a consensus on most issues in the middle, at least to get some things done, maybe not everything done. However, I remember covering the pearl campaign back in 1992, I thought after that we would have an independent or a middle, a third party in the United States of America, their foreign party had candidates for a couple years, won some elections in states, including New York, then fizzled, it takes a huge financial and personal commitment to make it happen. HUNT: Yes, you're dating me a little bit, John, I will cop to not having covered the pearl campaign in my early youth. But I will say that, in the years that I have since then covered politics, it does seem like this moment is perhaps if there was ever a moment for something like this, we have so many Americans, and this is one of the things I think is, you know, I try not to talk about this all the time. But I'm a little bit obsessed with it from a reporting perspective, which is that there are so many people in that sort of middle, right, people who are going about their daily lives, who are fed up with the tone and tenor of our politics.

They just don't want anything to do with it. And that is leading to situations where the most extreme candidates, I mean, especially on the right, MAGA candidates who, you know, are willing to go along with Donald Trump's election lie, are able to win primary elections and then gain more power than they really should, compared to where the center of gravity is in the country.

And that's a problem. And I mean, it's a huge challenge, as you know, to create party infrastructure from the ground up. And, you know, I'm going to be skeptical of this until proven otherwise. But there's a lot -- there's something there.

KING: The mood is there. This is just from our latest CNN poll, and I could give you 100 data points like this. But let me give you this one. Is the candidate -- the candidates in your area, do they have the right priorities? Democratic candidates, the answer, no, 67 percent, Republican candidates, the answer, no, 65 percent. The American people of all stripes are just mad at the dysfunction in our politics. There's no question that the appetite is there, or the opening is there.

But you mentioned primaries, the forward party, as they call themselves, here's part of their platform or top rank choice voting in all elections, implement nonpartisan primaries, create independent redistricting commission, every state. Most of those -- some of those things might be great for America, we should have a debate about it. But guess what? To have that happen, the Democrats and Republicans that control the states would have to essentially disarm, right? Right. Unilaterally disarm and let a third party in, which is why it doesn't happen. It's the only thing that two parties agree on. Don't create the terrain for a third party.

LEE: Yes, but, you know, to your point about they're maybe being an appetite for something like this and they're just being this kind of mood and the desire to see something like this, I mean, maybe it shouldn't be so shocking. But there's an Andrew Yang out there who thinks that there could be an appetite for this, enough of an appetite for this, because think about how many times on the show, we have to have the discussion about certain previously fringe ideas becoming increasingly mainstream.

I mean, all of the conversations we have about our election denying, for example, that's just one example on the right of an idea, that would have been completely unacceptable, or we would have thought was completely unacceptable not that long ago now being engaged in by public officials, with some regularity. And I think on the left, I mean, this is obviously a different kind of extreme, but there are many establishment Democrats who often feel like well, is this a party that is operating for the good of the party? Or are we constantly catering to the AOC wing of the party? And there's real frustration there, too.

KING: The question is, again, these are accomplished individuals. The question is, do they have the years of commitment years and years of commitment it will take and the finances it will take to win a race here and then win a race there and build momentum because it's just so hard. Perot had his he was self-funded, he put tens of millions of dollars of his own money in 1992 and again in 1996. But then what he lost, it was about him, he did not stay, he could have built a party, but he walked away because he because of his ego.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. And you were also talking about the presidential seat, right, which is that this takes years. Part of the frustration I think Americans are feeling is because of the 50-50 Senate, you know, they're wondering why can't an assault weapons ban pass? Why can't you know, big climate change bills pass or immigration reform? Well, because it's a 50-50 Senate Democrats don't have the numbers to do that. Because a lot of those policies that Yang mentioned are ones that Democrats have tried to pass and they can't put the numbers.

KING: It'd be fascinating to watch as it plays out, again, as they note, those who have tried before them have failed. We'll keep an eye on.


A quick break, when we come back, again, we're waiting to hear from the President United States on a very big deal, a Senate agreement on key pieces of the Biden agenda, including big health care provisions and big climate provisions.


KING: Let's take you straight to the White House with the President of the United States.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yesterday, I spoke with both Senator Schumer and Manchin and offered my support for a historic agreement to fight inflation and lower costs for American families. It's called the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Some of you will see a lot of similarities between the beginning of the Build Back Better initiative. It's not all of it, but we've moved a long way.

I'll be going into detail in a minute. But simply put, the bill will lower healthcare costs for millions of Americans. It will -- and it will be the most important investment, not hyperbole, the most important investment that we've ever made in our energy security, and developing cost savings and job-creating clean energy solutions for the future. It's a big deal.

It'll also, for the first time in a long time, begin to restore fairness to the tax code, begin to restore fairness, by making the largest corporate nations, the largest corporations in America pay their fair share, with any -- without any new taxes on people making under $400,000 a year.

Experts, even some experts who have criticized my administration in the past, agree that this bill, this bill will reduce inflationary pressures on the economy. This bill will, in fact, reduce inflationary pressure on the economy.


It's a bill that costs, will cut your cost of living and reduce inflation for and it lowers the deficit. It strengthens our economy for -- in the long run as well. This bill has won the support of climate leaders like former Vice President Al Gore who said the bill is, quote, "long overdue and a necessary step to ensure the United States takes decisive action on the climate crisis."