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Trump Lawyers In Talks With DOJ About Jan 6 Criminal Probe; Election Deniers On The Ballot In AZ, MI; Biden Agenda Gets Boost As Sinema Agrees To Economic Bill. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 05, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: There have been some criticisms on Capitol Hill saying, why is the Justice Department doing more? Now she says, maybe I should trust this.


REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): We're going to continue to follow the facts. I think the Department of Justice will do that. But they have to make decisions about prosecution, understanding what it means if the facts and the evidence are there, and they decide not to prosecute. How do we then call ourselves a nation of laws?


KING: The last part there in that interview with our Kasie Hunt is trying to essentially, you know, tell the Justice Department, you know, man up, be brave, don't back off at the last second, because he's a former president.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was been interesting to hear the Justice Department has been more public about what's happening. Well, of course, we don't know everything that's going on. And they won't confirm the nature of the investigation. Merrick Garland, you know, giving that interview just a couple of weeks ago, talking about how no one is above the laws and signaling that things are moving here a different pace than a lot of people had expected.

And the players who have testified before the grand jury are also significant. Some of those folks, including the people who are close to the former Vice President Mike Pence, testified, of course, in the Select Committee showing Donald Trump's concerted effort to overturn the election. How much of that is a focus of the investigation too, is a question here. And also the Committee too is indicating as well, and he's providing this information to the Justice Department. So whether they're pursuing similar lines here, Donald Trump's role, it appears that they might be.

KING: Is there a clear line on this privilege question, and does it impact privilege issues at all, if you bring it to a judge that many of the same people did testify to the January 6th Committee, is that complicated, clean it up?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think the privilege issues, first of all, the privilege, executive privilege really belongs to the current president. There's arguments that a former president can assert it. But President Biden has really made clear that as to January 6th matters, he is not claiming executive privilege, and he's the sitting executive.

The second thing is that crimes, as Laura said earlier, crimes are not of a -- allowed to be overcome by the executive privilege. So if there is evidence of a crime, then that is going to Trump claims of executive privilege or attorney-client privilege.

KING: Well played, pun intended, thank you very much.

When we come back, from the fringes to the ballot box, Alex Jones now faces consequences for his lies. But this election season, sadly, is full of evidence that lies and conspiracy are gaining a deeper and deeper foothold in American politics.



KING: Courtroom confirmation Thursday that lies do have consequences. A Texas jury ordering conspiracy theorist and disinformation kingpin, Alex Jones, to pay $4.1 million in damages to parents of a Sandy Hook massacre victim. Jones facing financial ruin or at least so he claims now says, sorry, sort of.


ALEX JONES, INFOWARS HOST CONVICTED OF DEFAMATION: I admitted I made a mistake. I admitted that I follow this information but not on purpose. I apologize for the families and the jury understood that. What I did to those families was wrong, but I didn't do it on purpose.


KING: Now it is easy to roll your eyes at Jones and snake oil salesmen like him, easy to assign them to the fringe. But the collateral and corrosive damage of these lies and conspiracies is now coming into full force this election year. The Infowars megaphone has helped sink trust in the television media and newspapers to historic lows. Jones has served up thousands of hours of fictions on Sandy Hook, on 9/11, on COVID, and on the 2020 election.

He shares of course that last hobbyhorse with Donald Trump, who to this day lies to his supporters and says elections are rigged and Joe Biden is not a legitimate president. Well, right now we are living the consequences. Arizona Republicans just nominated election deniers for governor, United States Senate, Secretary of State, and Attorney General.

And look, look sadly at this nationwide study from the Anti-Defamation League. The group asserts that nearly 25 percent of right wing extremists on the ballot this year have won their primaries. These are no run of the mill Republicans. These are candidates who subscribe to everything from QAnon quackery to militia movements who believe in white supremacy, anti-Semitism, and those who attack the Capitol on insurrection day.

I'm back with our panels and our legal analyst. Carrie Cordero, it is -- I speak as a sinner, for years you watch Alex Jones, and you think this stuff doesn't matter, it's out there on the fringe. We are seeing in real time, you look at that ADL report, just it's not in the bloodstream, lies, conspiracy.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, I think because the former president is so influential within the Republican Party. You can't just blame Alex Jones. It's coming from Trump. And it's coming from all the leaders on down which is why you saw everything from to school boards to state government on up, select these candidates because these candidates are defeating other Republicans. They weren't the only people on the ballot for Republicans to vote for. They were chosen. And it's because of this disinformation.

KING: And the Associated Press, forgive me, I jump in. I just want to show this graphic from this Associated Press reporting, fantastic reporting, just breathtaking reporting. They looked at insurgent candidates winning primaries, right? So start on the left of your screen, 2012 as a tea party, you see more Republican insurgents winning, 2014 a tea party a year more Republican insurgents winning. But come all the way over to 2022, the blues are Democrats, the red, those are election deniers who are challenging at the state legislative level and state campaigns.

That's the future bench of the Republican Party. It was Illinois State Senator Barack Obama who became Senator Barack Obama who became President Obama. It was Attorney General Bill Clinton of Arkansas who became governor who became president. When you see that line on the right there, it is the bench of the Republican Party.


RAJU: Yes, and because it's what the electorate believes because of what Donald Trump has peddled to the conservative base about the election being stolen and rigged, and him giving his endorsements only to those candidates who espouse those falsehoods. You're seeing none of these candidates really pay a price for telling the truth about the election. In fact, telling the truth about the election could actually hurt you.

I mean, we saw that happen in Michigan just this past week, when Peter Meijer was one of the impeachment 10, who voted to impeach Donald Trump lost his primary. The person who lost to John Gibbs when I was out there in Grand Rapids told me he thought the election was stolen. He had no issue saying that at all. He said -- I said, what about the fact that there is no evidence that the election was stolen. He said, well, it's like the mafia. There's no evidence that the mafia was killing people, but we believe it just happened. So these are the kinds of things that they're saying to the electorate, and they're being rewarded. KING: So what is the price when you mainstream lies into political discourse when you mainstream violence, militia members, anti-Semites, white nationalists?

CORDERO: Look, it's a very tenuous time for American democracy going into the next elections, because we still have a portion of the country and most importantly, a portion of the political leadership, as you guys have been describing, that is not accepting both the results of the past election. And so they are going to be using that same strategy going forward.

There has to be in -- for politics to function and for democracy to function, there has to be basic acceptance about results of elections, especially when all of the experts and those involved in administering them say that they are conducted fairly. We've never gotten beyond that point with the last election. And so this environment is going to continue, it makes lawmakers unsafe. There was recently a hearing on a Hill regarding threats to lawmakers that some feel that the law enforcement, federal law enforcement isn't taking it seriously enough.

We have the example Peter Meijer who was someone who stood up against in the impeachment, voted against his party, stood up for principle, and was the subject of many, many threats. And now, both the Democrats and the Republicans have moved to unseat him.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think another really important thing for viewers to know for the public to know is that, well, all these election deniers are winning this week and have won their primaries to potentially control elections next go around. Former Vice -- former President Trump met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban this week, who is an autocrat, and who has essentially been successful in consolidating power in Hungary with only a third support of the public.

And I've been talking to a lot of scholars who are experts in authoritarian governments who are experts in autocracies and they are very concerned by the fact that the American right with Trump has been embracing Orban and has been looking to the blueprint that he's used since 2010 to essentially consolidate power in Hungary.

KING: And to that point, CPAC not only invited, CPAC is a Conservative Political Action Committee, it brought us Barry Goldwater, it brought us Ronald Reagan. Now it brings us, they invited Viktor Orban to their meeting, they've also had their Mike Lindell, Steve Bannon, Scott Perry, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Sara Carter, Lauren Boebert, election deniers, conspiracy theorists, liars, liars. The question is, how do you win the fight, right? And we talked about Liz Cheney and her role that January 6th Committee earlier, she may lose her primary on August 16th there.

Her father, who represents the conservative Republican Party spoke at CPAC himself a couple times, it's kind of new ad for her. This is part of the fight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In our nation is 246 year history, there has never been an individual who is a greater threat to our republic than Donald Trump. He tried to steal the last election using lies and violence to keep himself in power after the voters had rejected him. He is a coward. A real man wouldn't lie to his supporters. He lost his election and he lost big. I know it. He knows it. And deep down, I think most Republicans know it.


KING: What will it take? How many cycles will it take? Obviously, the denying part, the conspiracy theorists are winning at the moment. When if how the more principled Republicans --

RAJU: Well, look, I think Liz Cheney is in a real trouble in her primary in two weeks. She could certainly lose to Harriet Hageman, who has saying that the election is stolen. Democrats are hoping to face some of these in the general election and some of these more swing states because they -- in districts because they think they can defeat these candidates who will be seen as too far right in a general election. But the challenge is that a lot of these candidates will win because they're representing conservative states and districts like Harriet Hageman as she wins her primary which seems likely at this point. She's probably going to be a member of Congress.

KING: The Republicans just announced Milwaukee will host their convention in 2024. I think the person who accepts that nomination what we know that, we will know as this fight turned, which way has this fight turned by the time we get there.

Don't miss this, a CNN Special Report, Alex Jones, Megaphone for Conspiracy, it airs tonight, very important program, tonight, 11 o'clock Eastern right here.


Up next for us, a week of big wins for President Biden.


KING: Whatever your politics just a fact, President Biden is having a week to remember. Just today, a blockbuster jobs report and a deal on Capitol Hill with all 50 Democrats now on board to pass a sweeping climate and health care package. Next week, the President will have signing ceremonies some big legislative wins.


So let's discuss with our great reporters. And here's the paradox on my word, pick another one, a better one if you have one of the Biden presidency, let's just put the list up there. The Dems now have a deal on this economic package, climate initiatives, health care initiatives. He's going to sign burn pits legislation to help veterans and their families next week. He's going to -- the Senate passed to let Sweden and Finland joined NATO, 95 to 1, the CHIPS Bill invest in the semiconductor industry, it passed with bipartisan support. A month or so ago, the gun safety bill passed. That is a very impressive list of getting things done.

And yet, and yet, if you look at Biden's approval at this point in his presidency, it is historically low, lower than Donald Trump. He lost 40 seats plus in the House, lower than Barack Obama, he lost 63 seats in the House. What is it?

RAJU: Yes, look, I think that people aren't giving him credit for these legislative wins, because they're not feeling it. They may not either, they're still getting hit in their pocketbook. They're still paying more for groceries and gasoline. And when people are not happy they take it out in the incumbent party. You know, in addition to those lists, they also pass a major infrastructure bill last year. They also passed it down the Democrat that was -- those are all bipartisan achievements, they passed that nearly $2 trillion bill to deal with the economic recovery, which Republicans blame for helping cause the inflation crisis here in the United States.

But they will pass this massive proposal that will, I mean, they will almost certainly will this weekend out of the Senate, and next week dealing with climate change, giving Medicare the power to negotiate prescription drug prices and posing a corporate minimum tax, if they get the votes in line, which it looks like. But again, John, voters may not feel that, they may not see this giant piece of legislation being implemented before the midterms so Democrats may not benefit a whole lot.

KING: Senator Hickenlooper was here earlier in the program. And he said part of that, part of that, in his view, is a White House failure to find a better way to communicate the way to break through. Is that it? Is that what Democrats who are, you know, Joe Biden is not on the ballot this year. But everybody, every Democrat in the House is and, you know, 20 Democrats in the Senate.

KUCINICH: It's -- I think Manu is right. I think the fact, you can always blank communication. But if inflation is still blotting out the sun and people are still paying for way too much for goods that they paid last year, that is going to continue to drag because pocketbook, unless you're feeling it, the -- I mean, you know, people aren't checking to see, you know, whether the carried interest loophole is closed, I think, on a daily basis, if these things start, I mean, once candidates start selling this on the campaign trail, we'll see.

KING: Please.

BARRON-LOPEZ: I just going to say I think this is a weird like juxtaposition going on, which is that we saw this week where the pro- choice forces and pro-abortion rights forces had a huge victory. And so that could potentially be factoring into a lot of these races, and that Democratic candidates down ballot are seeing more of a boost in their numbers, you know, on the generic ballot, even well, Biden is at very low approval ratings.

And Democrats are hoping that, you know, a lot of the bills that you put up there, in that, there's climate change stuff, which could potentially speak to Biden's problem with Gen Zers and Millennials. He's had a lot of issues with getting -- with keeping his approval ratings up with younger voters. So there's a number of things, the prescription drug negotiation, seniors may end up moving more towards them. So with the potentially good messaging, maybe they're --

KING: And one of the challenges in politics is, you know, Joe Biden won the presidency. But there's still a lot of generational angst in his party, people who want the older guard to move aside. And when you have a president, who's at 40 percent, it just happens that some Democrats just feel the pressure. This past week, Dean Phillips, Democratic congressman from Minnesota, two Democratic congressman from New York or older guards, Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney said, I don't know if he's going to run or we'll talk about that later. Marty Walsh, the President's Labor Secretary, who happens to be from the greatest town and the greatest city in the world earlier on T.V. said this.


MARTY WALSH, LABOR SECRETARY: Well, certainly I think some of my party needs to take a step back and maybe shut their Twitter's off. It's easy to be a Monday morning quarterback or on the sidelines taking shots at the President. But he took over office with 10 million Americans out of work. He took over office with no plan on the pandemic. And quite honestly, he's done an amazing job in my opinion of working across the aisle.


KING: Son of Dorchester, Marty Walsh, the Labor Secretary, they shut off their Twitters. That has been part of the President's problem, the Democrats problems since that the, A, they raised expectations this high. So when they're passing, you know, a piece of their agenda, maybe they don't get credit for that. And B, they do tend to take shots at each other.

RAJU: And look, it's not going to end because there are Democrats and there a lot of Democratic voters who want a new candidate come 2024. They don't think that Biden would win. They're concerned Trump could win or anybody else that they don't have a better candidate. But if he doesn't run it just opens up a free for all who's the person who would succeed him.

KUCINICH: Everyone should have a hype man, like Marty Walsh though.


KING: Manu say he has that Boston accent. We'll take it any day. There should be bipartisan support for Boston accent. We'll be right back.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, China announcing new sanctions against Nancy Pelosi and her immediate family. That of course over the Speaker's visits to Taiwan. Chinese officials call that trip quote, vicious and provocative. China also suspending climate talks and canceling future calls and meetings with U.S. officials. The Biden administration in turn, summons China's ambassador to the White House.

Russia now says it is ready to discuss the prisoner exchange with the United States for the WNBA star Brittney Griner. The United States will pursue that offer, that according to the Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Griner yesterday was sentenced to nine years in prison for drug smuggling, the judge said, she had criminal intent. Griner's teammates have the moment of silence Thursday night hours after learning that sad news.


Join CNN as we explore Patagonia's magical and ancient forests. Patagonia: Life on the Edge of the World, Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Pacific, right here on CNN.

Thanks for your time today on Inside Politics and throughout this busy week. Erica Hill picks up our coverage right now.