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9/11 Family: "Shameful" For Trump To Host Saudi Golf Event; GOP Framing Economy As "Biden's Recession"; Biden Advances Agenda With Big Legislative Wins. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 29, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And is basically sort of unsympathetic to the obvious concern to the people who 20 years on desperately miss their family?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Right. And I -- you're almost being too kind to him I think in the sense that he's saying he doesn't know the facts. He's ignoring the facts. He knows the facts. And if not, we can mail him a copy of the 9/11 commission report. It's pretty damn effective piece of history here. It's just a matter of this is about money and attention.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, what Trump does. And, you know, the -- as you said, the 9/11 report dug in very deeply about what the cause of 9/11. But it also shows us the complicated relationship with the Saudis and Trump's close alliance with the Saudis when he was in office. He would not say that Jamal Khashoggi's murder was MBS, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia was responsible for that.

He align himself with the Saudis. You know, to be fair, Biden himself has his own complicated relationship with the Saudis too, say you made them a pariah in the world stage, but has taken a much softer approach as president, but Trump has handled them, it was trying to have much closer ties here. And now --

MARTIN: Because a lot of countries, there was always the question and the background of does Trump and his family have some private financial connection to fill in the blank government? Is there a hotel deal in the past? Could there be one in the future? Now, it's the golf tournament over there. It was always the ethics question hanging over the Trump presidency is, is this in the interest of American policy? Or is he doing this for some past, present or future personal financial interest?

KING: And more broadly, you've covered the broader debate before this tournament came to Bedminster. But here's the headline on your latest column. More LIV golfers destroy their reputations as a sports wash for MBS.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Yes, I mean, it's as if there is a sheet, a PR sheet and these guys read it. So for example, just two days ago, a man named Paul Casey, a Ryder Cup veteran from Europe. I've known him for a long time. I asked him, would he now -- with this platform, let's take a positive spin on this, you're getting all this money from them. You're important to them. Now you have MBS here, theoretically. Will you work on gay rights? Will you work on women's rights? Clearly, there's a lot, a ton to do in Saudi Arabia.

His answer, well, I played golf with a 17-year-old girl and she tells me things are better. That's his answer on women's rights. I then followed up, what about gay rights? He goes, oh, I don't know anything about that. Forty-five-year-old man traveled the world. I know nothing about that. So the Saudis are loving that, because they've got a big name in the sports world, John, as you know, well, and he is doing their bidding. He's doing exactly what they want him to do.

KING: Sticking your head in the sand trap.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And it speaks so much to the power of what MBS is trying to achieve. I mean, you even had President Biden heading over to Saudi Arabia, as Manu noted, after calling them a pariah, and then sharing that fist bump. And there was frustration, not just from "The Washington Post," which employed Jamal Khashoggi with his family, also the 9/11 families with Biden's trip there. And so it's something that you're seeing repeatedly even continuing into this administration.


KING: Next, the new report, and it's bad number about inflation and who wins the fact check in the debate now over whether the economy has tipped into recession.


KING: A new report today sheds additional light on something you see every day, persistent inflation. The personal consumption index shows prices up by 6.8 percent in June compared to a year ago. When you look closer, energy costs up year to year by more than 43 percent, food costs up more than 11 percent. That, another data point in a week of important economic indicators, including a negative growth number that raises the question of whether the economy has already slipped into recession.

Let's get some expertise and insights from Mark Zandi. He's the chief economist at Moody's Analytics. Mark, I want to start with another bad inflation report. In an analysis that you wrote, you talk about how right now, inflation in the American economy is driving up household spending, on average, about $500 a month, $78 of that going to the higher grocery bill. Is there anything in this new report or any of the data you've seen this week that gives you a sense of what you could tell the American people when they come out of this tunnel when not only gas prices which are going down but when will food prices go down? When will broader energy prices start to go down and so on?

MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: John, I think we're past the worst of it. I think June, that's the data you're referring to will be the high point for inflation and significant part because of oil prices, gas, that goes to gas prices, diesel prices, which feed into food prices, jet fuel prices, airline tickets, they're all coming in here pretty quickly. And we'll see some significant relief in the month of July.

And I also think more broadly, because supply chain issues are starting to iron themselves out across the globe, shortages are starting to abate, pricing pressure is starting to come down. I think we're going to see much better inflation statistics, if not by the end of the year, certainly by this time next year. And everything kind of holds together. Nothing else really goes off the rails here. I think by the end of next year, certainly by early 2024, we should see inflation that we'll feel more comfortable with.

KING: Well, one of the big conversations now after the GDP report this week, two consecutive quarters of negative of contraction in the economy, let me put it that way, negative growth. You know, some say that's at least that's a building block to the definition of a recession. The White House President Biden says nope, he believes the economy is strong, Republicans already though, listen, say this is a recession and they have a name for it.



SEN. ROGER MARSHALL (R-KS): I'm afraid you're assuming that Joe Biden wants the price of gasoline to go down and I don't think he does. He gave us Biden inflation. He's given us a Biden recession.

GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): My campaign will be laser focused on putting hardworking Georgians first, and helping you fight through Joe Biden's recession. This Joe Biden recession will likely have a negative impact on our state and its people.


KING: Are we in a recession?

ZANDI: No, we're not. I mean this -- the key here is jobs and recruiting, or at least certainly in the first half of this year, we've created a lot of jobs about 250,000 per month. And John in a kind of a well-functioning economy, you'd see closer to 100,000 jobs per month, unemployment is low, layoffs are at record lows, the number of unfilled positions at record highs.

It's just not, it doesn't square with the idea that we're in recession. Having said that, you know, recession risks going forward are high, inflation is high, the Federal Reserve is responding to that appropriately by raising interest rates aggressively, and that is hurting the economy, the housing markets taking it on the chin, the stock market's down because of those higher rates.

So in that kind of environment, recession risks are very, very high. You know, my own view is that I think we're going to make -- we can make our way through here without actually going into a downturn, but we need a little bit of luck, on the pandemic, the Russian invasion, and hopefully nothing else goes off script, and some really good policymaking by the Fed. But it's going to be a close call. It's going to be very tricky, but we're not, we have not experienced recession, at least not so far.

KING: At least not so far, you say. We will keep in touch in that. And I'll ask you quickly in closing about this, ExxonMobil reporting nearly $18 billion in profits in the second quarter. Chevron today reporting nearly $12 billion profits in the second quarter. The President and many other Democrats have said that sure, there are supply chain issues out there, but they see price gouging by the big energy companies, is that just a free market economy? Or is that greed?

ZANDI: I think that's free market. You know, I don't sense gouging. I mean, this is the age old, you know, when global oil prices go higher, energy companies benefit and they make a lot of money. Conversely, when oil prices are low and go down, they lose a lot of money. And that's invariable, that's been the case since the beginning of time. So I don't see anything different in the current environment than we've seen historically.

So, no, I wouldn't characterize what we're observing as gouging. And as you say, John, is we need energy companies to produce more oil, so we need them to make money to be able to -- and high earnings and profits to incent them to go out and put more rigs in the ground to produce more oil to get these oil prices down. Because that's the key to getting inflation lower.

KING: Mark Zandi, thanks for your time.

ZANDI: Sure.


KING: Up next for us, progress for the Biden agenda after months and months and months of frustration, legislation to boost American technology investment on its way to the President's desk. And Democrats hope to follow up quickly with landmark changes to climate and health care. You need proof Democrats are making some progress. Well, the top two Republicans in Congress are fighting about it.


KING: Democrats are celebrating a stretch of progress after months and months of frustration. Speaker Nancy Pelosi just today sending to the White House major legislation designed to boost the American semiconductor industry. The President will sign that bill next week. Last month the President signed new gun safety legislation and it's not a done deal. But Democrats believe they are on the verge of passing a package that makes giant climate and healthcare changes including steps designed to cut prescription drug costs.

Successful votes and bill signings are one way to document legislative progress. Here's another, watch Republicans fight about it. The gun measure and the chips legislation both passed with Republican votes, especially in the Senate. And that is the source of a lot of grumbling among Republican lawmakers who don't want to give President Biden any wins as we close in on 100 days now to the midterm elections.

Our reporters are back with us. There is, you know, the President's taken a lot of grief, a polite term, for not being able to get his agenda through, 50-50 Senate. There has to be some better mood at the White House that they're making some at least modest in the case of the chips bill and the gun legislation major progress.

SAENZ: Yes, I mean, what they've seen over the course of the past week has been that Joe Biden has a little bit of the wind at his back at this moment. Yesterday, you know, he could hardly help himself when they handed him that note saying that the chips bill had passed, and he declared it to a room. And it was a major moment for them as it was something that they had been pushing for a while even though it's a bit pared back from the initial proposal.

But then you have that surprise Manchin and Schumer deal that really is reviving some portions of Biden's initial agenda. Of course, there have been fits and starts with that proposal. There certainly could be some other roadblocks in the way. But I think one big question going forward is even if they are able to tick through these accomplishments is will it actually resonate with voters this quickly with the midterms in November, it takes time for these pieces of legislation to actually go into effect. And at the time being, inflation in the economy is still remains the top issue for voters heading into November.

KING: But one way to tell, again, I said you can count the votes, you can watch the President sign legislation or you can watch Republicans fight. That's how you know Democrats are doing something Republicans don't like. This the headline of the story wrote your colleague, Melanie Zanona, internal GOP tension rises as McConnell's deal-making puts him at odds with McCarthy. Those are the two leaders and you also have you read the piece, it's a great piece within the piece, a lot of other Republicans grumbling that McConnell especially because he's the leader, but other Republicans gave the key votes here.


RAJU: Yes. And it's really interesting, this dynamic that's played out increasingly we've seen in this Congress, one of the big ticket items that have been passed on a bipartisan basis have happened because Mitch McConnell has gotten behind it, on guns, on infrastructure, on this chips deal. The chips deal is one in particular that got a lot of Republicans angry because he initially said, Democrats, if you move forward on this party line approach to move forward on this health care and energy package, a deal that Manchin and Schumer cut, we're going to block this chips bill from going forward.

He ultimately agreed to a pair back version of that chips bill that passes moments later, they announced this deal. And the Republicans said, if you make a threat, you should follow through on it. But it really also shows the different imperatives between side and the different conferences that these two each run. Mitch McConnell views important and some of these legislative efforts to win back the suburbs, win back a more diverse constituency, take Back the Senate. Kevin McCarthy runs a hard line conference of a lot of pro Trump supporters and this conference.

KING: And so dig at that tension in the sense that, Manu makes the key point, House districts largely drawn to, you know, conservative or liberal. They want to just say no, just say no, just say no, if Biden's for it, we're against it. Senate races, you got to win state wide. And if you look at some polling right now in Georgia, you look at Pennsylvania, states Republicans could and should wait if this is a Republican year, they're in a little bit dicey in this right now.

MARTIN: Yes. And the sort of nature, the culture, if you will, of the House and Senate GOP has changed the last 20 years. Look, the House GOP used to look more like the Senate. You had a more ideological diversity within the caucus. You don't have much of that anymore. And the folks who are, they're fed up into the world, for example, are retiring. The Senate, you still have a more nuanced caucus. So a lot of this, John, is caucus management. Kevin McCarthy is trying to keep his caucus happy in the -- 95 percent of the want no on anything that gives Biden a win.

McConnell has a different task, because a lot of folks in his caucus want to actually legislate, they will want to make laws, they don't just want to confirm judges and vote no on stuff. They actually want to do things and get things done. And so McConnell is trying to sort of keep some of his folks in the caucus happy. And yes, as Manu pointed out, the politics of this too, especially on the gun bill. McConnell, one that try and deny Democrats on issue in the midterms by taking some of the steam out of that, and that's part of the reason why he's supportive about that.

KING: And yet, here we are Friday on a week where Joe Biden should have a spring in his step. He's back from, you know, he had a quick recovery from COVID. He's going to sign this chips bill next month, makes big investments in American semiconductors, other technology, signed the bipartisan gun law last month, possibly we'll see that would have counted votes first, a little skeptical the Democrats can get this climate, energy, and health care deal to the finish line.

And yet today on the radio, Dean Phillips of Minnesota, a Democrat who has a tough race was asked should Joe Biden run in 2024?


REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): I have respect for Joe Biden. But to answer your question directly, which I know is quite rare Chad. No, I don't. I think the country would be well served by a new generation of compelling well prepared dynamic Democrats to step up.


KING: So a good week for the President, but not 100 percent clean week for the President when you have that in your own party because once one says it publicly, a lot more are going to get asked about it.

RAJU: You know, actually, I asked Philips about that. And he went on to say, I just believe it's time for generational change in Congress and the White House. Congress also given who was seen, Pelosi and others in the leadership, they're up there in age, they've also run the caucus for some time. There is a lot of tension internally and a lot of apprehension about whether Biden should run. You ask candidates, Democratic candidates, if they believe Biden should run again, they will just not answer that question because --

MARTIN: This is a great Washington gaffe, when you actually say what you think out loud.

RAJU: It's true.

MARTIN: It doesn't happen every day.

KING: We should put that in the book if you ever come to write one, right --

MARTIN: It will not pass in bookstores now. Thanks, John, for the plug.


KING: Later today, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi leaves for her trip to Asia, 24 hours after President Biden's tense call with the Chinese president.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, just moments ago, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dodging reporter's questions on whether she will make a very controversial visit to Taiwan during a trip of Asia. The Speaker called it a quote security situation and would not discuss if Taiwan will be part of her travel plan. Pelosi leaves today. Her trip includes stops in Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore all key U.S. allies in the region.

"The New York Times "reports today the Biden administration plans to begin offering updated COVID boosters in September. The new shots are expected to work better against the highly transmissible Omicron BA.5 sub variant. Officials are holding off on expanding eligibility for second boosters until the new version is available. Currently only people who are 50 years or older and immunocompromised people are eligible for a second boost.

The Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer plans another vote on that closely watched burn pits bill. A multibillion dollar legislation would provide critical help to veterans who suffered toxic exposure to burns during military service. Earlier this week though, 25 Republican senators who previously supported the legislation voted against it calling for additional changes in the bill. The failed procedural vote threw outrage from veterans and other activists. Leader Schumer says he will hold a new vote to try to break the Republican filibuster on Monday.


This quick programming note, join CNN as we explore the extremes of Patagonia's far south where the land is a wind blasted tundra but the sea is teeming with life. Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World, Sunday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only here on CNN.

Thanks for your time today and this week on INSIDE POLITICS. Try to have a safe and pleasant weekend. Fredricka Whitfield picks up our coverage right now.