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Pence: Garland Should Give "Full Accounting" On Mar-A-Lago Search; CDC Director Announces Plan To Overhaul Agency; Biden Signs Sweeping Health, Tax, Climate Bill Into Law. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 17, 2022 - 12:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We're told that that is -- the part of that answer to look and listen to it. There is no change in his stance. There's -- he does not feel the need to testify at this time according to somebody close to him.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It's also classic Mike Pence, by the way, where a lot of words to actually say nothing. I mean, that's a classic technique that he uses.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and, you know, he says, sure, I'll consider it. But the but part was much longer than, you know, the idea that he would consider it.

KING: But there were some very significant words, especially at this moment when you have threats against FBI agents, threats against the federal judge who signed off on the search warrant at Mar-a-Lago. You have Trump supporters talking about war. You have Marjorie Taylor Greene in Congress saying defund the FBI. You have Donald Trump saying maybe the FBI planted evidence. You have -- you had an attack in Cincinnati. You had a man arrested in Pennsylvania for threats on the FBI. Mike Pence says, everybody calm down and watch your words.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I also want to remind my fellow Republicans, we can hold the Attorney General accountable for the decision that he made without attacking a rank and file law enforcement personnel at the FBI. These attacks on the FBI must stop. Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.


KING: Those are important words, especially given the moment and the threat against hard working honest people in law enforcement. The question is, will other Republicans heed them?

BASH: Maybe or maybe not. But the fact that he planted that flag intentionally in his speech in New Hampshire, where it is a place where he might be visiting a lot more if he actually does decided to run and potentially challenge his former boss. He's sticking out a place where I mean, if you take a step back, and you think about the non-Trump Republican Party, the party has been and should be if they're sticking to their ideals and their philosophy about where law enforcement should be. He knew what he was doing. He was separating himself from Donald Trump in a very deliberate way.

CHALIAN: And yet, trying to make sure he didn't separate himself from all of Trump supporters out there who were outraged at the search, because what he did, but that was the line about Merrick Garland, and making sure to say, you can hold the Attorney General accountable, you could demand full transparency. That was to say, I'm with you. But I'm not with when you go so far right to actually threaten law enforcement literally endanger people, there has been violence from this kind of rhetoric, and he's having none of that. And he's trying to steer the party back.

So he's -- we'll see if it's an impossible task or a possible task, but his task here is to try and bridge the divide, and try to be a little something to both pieces in the party.

HENDERSON: Yes, you know, I mean, in so many ways, he is like walking a tightrope in high heels. I mean, this is just a precarious and nuanced position, he is trying to stake out against someone, you know, and against sort of base of the Republican Party that isn't about nuance, you know, it's about the extremes. It's about passion. It's about emotion. And there you have Mike Pence trying to sound rational and trying to sound like a statesman.

KING: To that point, remember, he served in the Trump White House, there have been stories in recent days about how meticulous team Pence was in collecting its documents, labeling its documents, making sure the classified documents got back to the right places, right? That's a deliberate contrast to how Donald Trump handled classified materials. So you mentioned is there a sweet spot? Is there a middle ground for Mike Pence? This is his take again, Merrick Garland, we want some answers. But listen how careful this is.


PENCE: A call on Attorney General Garland to give the American people a full accounting of the reasons why this action was necessary. We never before in American history has the personal residence of a former president been subjected to a search warrant.


KING: He's right on the last part, it is unprecedented. And he said I called for a full accounting. He did not say like many Republicans, this is a weaponization of the Justice Department. He did not talk about the Gestapo. Like many Republicans and other Trump allies.

BASH: He's trying to be responsible. As I was listening to him, I was thinking about one key challenge that he has that no other potential 2024 candidate has, which is that the people who were not only there on January 6th, but actually believe what Donald Trump says, think that he's responsible for Donald Trump losing. He is singularly responsible for Donald Trump not being able to get back into the White House. That's a big challenge that he has. It's flat wrong. It's totally misleading. It is not true. There is no factual basis. But it's a perception that the former president is still --

KING: Right. He's on this battlefield from a different angle than Liz Cheney, but needs to change a lot of minds to get any traction.

HENDERSON: I think that's right. You know, in looking at Mike Pence, he is such a politician, right? He's sort of an old school politician, he reminds you of Reagan and his mannerisms and the way, you know, he talks and he gives his speeches like that almost everything in his applause line. In so many ways politics has sort of moved beyond that approach to being a political figure. But listen, he's going to give it a whirl. He owes much of his standing to Donald Trump. But at the same time, he's got to try to separate them. It's a tall order.


CHALIAN: Dana noted he was in New Hampshire. He heads to Iowa in the next is to be at the state fair. So obviously, we're going to see a lot more from Mike Pence.

KING: He is keeping his options open. I think it's the polite -- I think a diplomatic way to say it.

This important story when we come back, a culture of mistakes. The Centers for Disease Control admits today that it needs an overhaul and that its pandemic response fell short. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next to break it down.



KING: Today, the CDC, the Centers for Disease Control, acknowledging big COVID pandemic failures and announcing sweeping changes it promises will improve its efficiency and bring more clarity to its public health guidance. The CDC director, Dr. Rochelle Walensky says this, in our big moment, our performance did not reliably meet expectations. As a long-time admirer of this agency and a champion for public health, I want us all to do better and it starts with CDC leading the way. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here. Sanjay, walk us through what Dr. Walensky promises will be big changes.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, as a broad sort of point, John, I think this is an acknowledgment that the communication coming from the CDC was often too slow to reactive instead of proactive and oftentimes too heavily influenced by politics instead of pure public health. And there has been an erosion of trust that that has all led to, John.

You know, back during H1N1 days back in 2009, trust in the CDC hovered around 80 percent. Now it's closer to 60 percent. So that's obviously a significant concern. And you know, especially with COVID, but also now, polio and monkeypox and all the other public health challenges that we talked about, even the most recent CDC guideline changes, only about 19 percent of the country said that it was really clear what those changes are. So I think that Dr. Walensky and, you know, others at the CDC are reacting to all that. There's sort of several sort of pillars, if you will, that they want to focus on, they want to focus on sharing scientific information more quickly, getting that data out there more quickly, it was oftentimes very slow. They want to translate that science into practical, easy to understand policy. They acknowledge that most of what they had written in the past even was for scientists, as opposed to for citizens in the in the community, that's going to change, prioritize public health communications, sometimes we heard of changes in policy before we understood the science behind those changes.

So, you know, these are some examples. And that last one, John, being prepared for future emergencies, they're happening. I mean they're happening, you know, COVID is still ongoing, as we all know. But we are talking again, about things like polio and monkeypox. So this was a pretty significant acknowledgment of those things, John.

KING: So we can't do this. But if we were able to rewind the tape and take these new priorities, this new blueprint, if it were in place during COVID, what might have been better or different?

GUPTA: I think a very tangible thing almost near the beginning would have been the testing. It's a complicated issue. The CDC's role in testing, and no one was saying that was easy. But as a result of some of those, those mistakes that were made, and some of the sort of reactive instead of proactive stance, we got, you know, a few months behind in testing, from the very start, and that sort of really ballooned. And I think, as I've often thought of it as one of the sort of original sins of what happened with COVID in this country.

When I talked about the fact that politics was influencing public health, there were changes that were made to the CDC's website, all of a sudden saying, asymptomatic people don't need to be tested. That was absolutely false, flu in the face of science, and again, probably allowed the pandemic to spread unchecked for a period of time. So those are some tangible examples.

But I think that the idea overall, that the CDC even in terms of its communication should come from the CDC, as opposed to the White House could help disentangle the politics from public health.

KING: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, grateful for your insights as always, appreciate it.

GUPTA: Yes. Thank you.


Up next for us, Democrats say they're keeping their promises to the American people but Republicans say read the fine print. And there's a big Biden promise being broken. A closer look at the historic climate and health care law, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KING: President Biden is getting some playful support from his former boss. Barack Obama labeling as a BFD, the new health care and climate bill the President signed into law yesterday. BFD, of course, was what Joe Biden and vice president called signing Obamacare into law back in 2009. Back then, Democrats did celebrate a giant policy win, but they still got pummeled in the next midterm election. President Biden hopes history does not repeat itself.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For a while, people doubt it whether any of that was going to happen. But we are in a season of substance. No president should be judged not only by our words, but by our deeds, not by our rhetoric, but by our actions, not by our promise, but by reality.


KING: Seasons of substance, the President says. The question is and this is the most significant policy achievement for the Democrats since Obamacare in 2009, if you look at the health provisions and the climate provisions, here's some of it. Five to 7 million people on Medicare could pay less for prescription drugs, 3 million more Americans will have health insurance, 7.5 million more families can install solar panels up to 7,500 in tax credits for electric vehicles. The White House says no higher taxes for family making less than $400,000. We'll come back to that point in a minute.

But the challenge is have they learned the lessons of 2009 when Democrats passed something Democrats had wanted for years said great but that failed to sell it.


BASH: They're trying. They're trying to sell it they have a whole plan to sell it. But you can learn as many lessons as you want. The reality is that these policies have to actually get enacted or not just get enacted, but start to actually take hold, and then sink in to the consciousness of Americans and American voters in particular. It took a while for Obamacare. And yes, maybe it was a selling thing. But it was just that, it took a while, it take this -- these are giant new programs, and new pieces of policy that don't get felt right away. And that is a political challenge for the Biden White House, just like it was for the Obama-Biden White House.

KING: So the timing gets interesting. If you look back at history in 2010 and 2014, Obamacare hurt the Democrats. In 2018 and 2020, it was a huge boost because it had passed. It had been enacted. It had gotten into the bloodstream of the healthcare system. And people said, oh, I actually like this. Republicans are rushing into the void. This is a Republican. It's a Twitter ad put out yesterday saying Joe Biden is breaking a promise here.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Biden breaking his promise not to raise taxes on the middle class.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senate Democrats look to fast track a bill that multiple now nonpartisan experts say would raise taxes on nearly all Americans.

BIDEN: I give you my word as a Biden, no one making less than $400,000 a year will see a penny in their taxes raised.


KING: Republicans trying to say the President is breaking his signature promise. The White House says he is not. This is from an Associated Press fact check, nothing in the bill raises taxes on people earning less than $400,000. There are no individual tax rate increases for anyone in the bill. It's possible, though, that the bill's new corporate taxes, including a minimum tax of 15 percent for large corporations, could cause indirect economic impacts. The Republicans are basing this on the idea that if you tax a company more, they're going to pass on a charge to consumers, but there is no direct tax increase in the legislation.

CHALIAN: That is precisely correct. So is that a tax, right? So therefore, is it a fair line to say he's raising taxes or not? Republicans say it's totally fair, because undoubtedly, Americans will pay more. So call it anything you want. But he is not lowering costs. He's -- their argument is this is going to be passed on to the consumer.

HENDERSON: That's right. And this has been an argument that Republicans have made about Democrats for years, right, that they're essentially tax and spend liberal, so it's easier for them to deliver that message. It's easier for average voters, certainly Republicans, maybe some independents, also to believe that yes, look, Democrats are tax and spend liberals.

I think the most important thing that's happened over the last couple of days with this administration is gas prices are lower than they were and seem to be going lower still.

KING: Sixty something days in a row.

HENDERSON: Exactly. That's been great for this White House and also just the atmospherics and the feeling of something other than failure, right? Because that is what people were thinking Democrats were like, what is this administration? What does this President actually going to be able to accomplish? And now they do have accomplishments. Listen, Americans might not feel them immediately. But they do feel I think the shift in tone and a sense that, OK, we elected Biden, he has gotten something done.

KING: And they're home for August now. So they're home, they'll do their town hall, so to talk to their constituents. My biggest question is when we get to Labor Day, are there more lawmakers who if you ask them two weeks ago, would you invite Joe Biden to campaign for you would say, I don't think so. Will they come back and more of them say, you know what, let's give this a shot. Because running from your president can be just as harmful as distancing yourself, you know, running from him then embracing him, Democrats know, he's their President.

BASH: Yes, exactly. And there certainly could be like, I think like any year, it depends on where we're talking about, what the dynamics in either that district or for the Senate in that state are? Because, yes, you have to worry about the swing voters but the most important thing across the board is getting your base out and getting your base excited. And if the calculus is that the President is going to do that, no matter what the national approval rating is, then you bring them out.

CHALIAN: And to Nia's point especially after actually delivering on some of these promises right now. He's numbers were down in large part. Yes, he's bad with Republicans obviously and independents, but it was Democrats, and they may be a little more enthused now, which may invite him into more of these districts.

KING: Fascinating to watch. We're in August again, maybe we'll get some town halls, cover some town halls, see some areas where they can make.


Come up next for us, Ernie, Chuck, Kenny, and Shaq, guess what, I'll be working but they get November 8th off the NBA, leaving a scheduled blank on election day, and urging its players and its fans to go vote.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, Americans continuing to spend money even as people deal with inflation. New numbers out today show people spent more on groceries in July compared to June. But they are balancing that out with savings at the pump. Overall, consumer spending remained unchanged month to month after a nearly 1 percent increase in June.

The National Basketball Association taking a timeout from games on Election Day this year. The League wants to encourage basketball fans to vote in the midterm elections on November 8th. All 30 teams though will play the night before the election to promote civil engagement. You might remember back in 2020, many teams turned their arenas into voting centers during the pandemic.

The Virginia Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin heading to Michigan this month to campaign with the state's GOP nomination for Governor Tudor Dixon. Youngkin has also been to Nebraska and to Colorado this summer to support Republican candidate. Like Youngkin and Tudor now making education, a key campaign issue she is running against the incumbent Democrat Gretchen Whitmer.


This quick programming note, join Dana Bash as she goes inside the fight against the world's oldest prejudice. This new CNN special report Rising Hate: Anti-Semitism in America airs Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Thanks for your time on Inside Politics today. We'll see you tomorrow. Alex Marquardt picks up our coverage right now.