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Trump Plots Political Future Amid Intensifying Legal Storm; South Carolina Court Blocks 6-Week Abortion Ban, While Federal Judge Lets North Carolina Reinstate 20-Week Ban; Homes Sales Slowed In July For The Sixth Month. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 18, 2022 - 12:30   ET



ASMA KHALID, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: It's anger. And anger, as we all know can be a real, you know, potential motivating factor for voters.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: You can see it's also -- it's a huge motivating factor, it has been since day one for Donald Trump's fundraising. The Washington Post reporting, you know, look at this, look at these numbers, contribution some days topped a million dollars a day after the search. That's up from 200,000 to 300,000 per day on average. His political committee has already -- is raised over 100 million. The number is higher than that, because we haven't seen a report in some time. But turning grievance into political money, he did it with the Mueller investigation, he's done it with the impeachments, and now with the FBI.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He really, it has been kind of a critical part of his fundraising operation witch hunts. I mean, I was looking at my text messages from Friday, and there's been three e- mails a day since then, every day about Donald Trump and eight of them I think were about the FBI raid specifically. We were just talking about the e-mails that we've received --

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: I was counting e-mails, one day, almost eight, almost eight fundraising e- mails.

KUCINICH: My beautiful home was the subject line of the one I received this morning. So all that said, you know, Donald Trump from -- he was even before he was President, making grievance work for him has been very effective for him both in his personal and his professional and his government service life. And there's no reason to think that would change. I mean, the fact that they were thinking of using this as a launch pad for a 2024 presidential run tells you all you need to know of whether they think this could be turned into a positive for his votes.

KING: Right. It's an upside down world in the sense if you think the FBI executing a search warrant at your home because it has to take away classified materials that you have refused to give back. Somehow, that's a good that is the upside down world. But you mentioned my beautiful home is the headline of one. And there's another one that headline is the FBI and it's from Eric Trump, the president son, but it's the same fundraising operation.

And like the fundraising e-mails from Donald Trump, Eric's Trump has some factual errors or things that are simply not proven. Democrats are showing just how threatened they are by my father. They're coming after him like never before. We need all hands on deck to fight back. Can we count on you for your support right now? The headline is the FBI. There is no evidence despite what Donald Trump has said and what his sons have said. And Joe Biden -- and the White House has said Joe Biden has done nothing about this city, he has been briefed on none of this. But that doesn't stop Trump from saying the FBI planted evidence, and that Joe Biden is behind it.

CHAMBERS: And we were discussing the e-mails in addition to all of the text messages, and it was saying that there are, there were eight one day, there's several a day in the fundraising. But it's not just driving money for Donald Trump, a Republican strategist who works with some of the Senate and House candidates was telling me that this is driving campaign money to the other candidates also.

But John, there's a difference between driving money towards your campaign and driving people to the polls. And we saw this in the 2020 election, that the grievance politics. It did drive a lot of Republicans to the polls, but not enough to beat Joe Biden. And our voters really concerned in the election who are going to the ballot box about this or are they more concerned about the economy and inflation housing prices going up, rent also going up. And also gas now below $4 a gallon but higher than it was a year ago.

KING: We know this, go ahead.

KUCINICH: No, just to say, one of the other things I noticed in some of these fundraising asks, they are coming for you was the text -- was the text of one of them. So they are trying to make this into a, you know, a bigger than Donald Trump. They're coming for your political ideology. This wasn't outrageous on Mar-a-Lago. This was a raid on, you know, everything that Trump believes in.

CHAMBERS: And we've heard him do that as President and also, when he was trying to say this --

KHALID: I have received a fundraising e-mail. I don't believe it mentioned Donald Trump by name, but it spoke about the rate itself from Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida. I mean other Republicans also feel like this is a successful strategy.

KING: And this is why the former Vice President Mike Pence tried to step into the middle of this yesterday because if we know it plays with the Trump race, we know DeSantis is trying to essentially, you know, try to coop that space, compete with Donald Trump for that space. The worry of Mike Pence and the worry of many others is if you talk to people in the suburbs who don't consider themselves more Trumpy that attacks on the FBI will backfire. Listen, to the former vice president.


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. Calls to defund the FBI are just as wrong as calls to defund the police.


KING: And yet the Trump echo chamber says he's the problem.

KUCINICH: Mike Pence trying to walk the line of, you know, being kind of a more traditional conservative Republican versus what the Republican Party has turned into. It just -- when you hear that, it seems it's like sepia tone that's kind of a throwback, because he talks how he did, you know, 20 years ago. And the party, the energy that is driving the base of the Republican Party is saying something very different.


CHAMBERS: This has been a real division. We've seen emerge among Republicans because on the one hand, they're for funding the police. They're also for backing the blue. And we've heard even on this network Republicans come out and say that. And then on the other hand, you have these attacks on the FBI over this and so this is definitely something they're going to have to reckon with if they continue along this line of attack, and not just this election when they're talking about safety and communities and crime and violence, but also in the next one.

KING: All right, when we come back state by state changes to abortion access, three significant court rulings just this week.



KING: Three important new rulings this week as we try to keep track of an explosion in legal fights now that the Supreme Court has left the question of abortion access up to the states. South Carolina Supreme Court temporarily blocking a six week abortion ban. But a federal judge in North Carolina allowed that state's 20 week ban to go back into effect.

And in Florida, a pregnant 16-year-old girl was denied a waiver to get an abortion without a legal guardian's consent, the court ruling she did not prove she was mature enough to make that decision. Our reporters are back with us and also our legal analyst, Elliot Williams. And Elliot, let me start with you. How should we look at this? There are more than a dozen legal challenges, some have been settled, some are brewing, some will be appealed. How should we look at this? Should we look at this as, this is going to go on for a year or two? And then it will go up through the appellate courts back to the Supreme Court? Or is this going to be a state by state and if you live in state X, you should only worry about the challenge in your state.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: All of the above, John. Look, Dobbs, this Supreme Court decision that was recently decided around abortion did not end abortion. What it did was usher in what I think might be decades of confusion as to what the laws are across America. So by way of example, what happens when somebody lives in a state with a six week ban, but crosses state lines to have an abortion in a state that has a 15-week ban, can the state -- can their home state crack down on then? What happens in a state like South Carolina that has, in its constitution, a right to privacy but an abortion ban?

Well, you could amend the South Carolina State Constitution. But maybe that affects the right to contraception. And so these will all be questions that will be litigated across the country at the federal and state level for quite some time.

KING: Quite some time. And as that plays out, we're going to show you a map. This is the after the Supreme Court overturned. You see the states that either have more restrictive abortion and some most restrictive abortion laws, and then you have all these legal challenges which again, let's -- from a policy perspective first, then we'll get to the politics to Elliot's point, this can be incredibly confusing.

KUCINICH: Particularly for doctors who are trying to you know, know what is legal, what is not. And in the middle are patients who are trying to seek care, who are trying to seek medical procedures. So it really, you have a lot of, you know, you have a lot of lawyers, and a lot of people involved and the clock is ticking, so it is -- it really, this really has created chaos in a lot of states.

KING: Elliot, as the chaos plays out, is there a particular question that you see is relevant for moving up the chain to ultimately go back to the Supreme Court. Dobbs is pretty clear, this is now up to the states. Is there -- did they leave a question on the table, that after you get, you know, a Circuit Court of Appeals in one region of the country, perhaps disagreeing with the Circuit Court of Appeals in another region of the country, what is it?

WILLIAMS: Right. So, I mean, you're touching on an important legal point, John, when the federal courts of appeals are in disagreement with each other that makes it more likely that the Supreme Court will take something up. Now, look, there's a raft of questions and Dobbs left open this idea of so for instance, I mentioned privacy earlier. To what extent does the right to privacy still exist to the Supreme Court or constitution? How does it affect things like in vitro fertilization, or if you go all the way down the line, interracial marriages and all sorts of questions like that, about how people conduct their daily lives. These are all questions that are at least implicitly at issue, post-Dobbs. And these will percolate through the courts tied in a way to this abortion question.

KING: So we'll follow this for years. Elliot is almost always right. So I assume he is correct that this will go on for years and years and years. Eighty-two days from now America votes in the midterm election. They'll be early voting, but that's when we counted 182 days. And listen here, Democrats believe especially in these battleground Senate states that are very close, where close elections are decided in the suburbs, they believe listen to these ads, it helps.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ron Johnson got his way. And abortion access is ending in Wisconsin. He doesn't understand your family or care about you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you support a similar statue on a national level?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's a religious sacrifice to these people. I think it's demonic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Laxalt has made a career pushing to limit abortion rights. He's coming after our freedom. We need to tell him no.


KING: Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada there, you will see it in other states as well, Democrat believes the Dobbs decision while they disagree with it profoundly helps them politically.

CHAMBERS: And in Nevada, you've seen Senator Cortez Masto really focus on this, you've also seen in New Hampshire, another tight race. Senator Hassan has also been focused on this. And from the White House level, we know that President Biden will be campaigning on the issue of abortion but also Vice President Harris who's really been leading on that issue. On the policy aspect of it, though, the Whitehouse also looking for ways that it can help women to travel across state lines to be able to try and get abortions if their state doesn't allow it.

The President has issued Executive Order to tell his administration to look into that more and certainly they're looking for other things they can do to help --


KING: You mentioned you were just in Florida, that's one of the states where a lot of Republicans for years were able to say I'm pro-life or I'm anti-abortion, and I couldn't do anything about it because of Roe v. Wade. Now, now they're being pressured by the interest groups on that side to do something about it. If you look at the polling here, shouldn't abortion, your state allow abortion if, and you see there's broad support for allowing abortion if the life of the mother is threatened, if there are health concerns about the mother, if it's rape and incest.

On the question of any reason, it is more split. Florida is one of those states. We have a Republican governor who says he is pro-life and the state law now is a 15-week ban, is that right? And so the pressure is do more. Ron DeSantis might want to be president.

KHALID: And there certainly is. And I -- when I was down in Florida actually, i spent some time I interviewed an OBGYN who works in the St. Pete Tampa area. She performs abortions, and she says that her patients have been really, really upset and frustrated. And when they say to her what to do, she says to them, vote, because there's issues that have been created by the Florida State Legislature.

I think the big unknown to me, though, is you hear voters on both sides saying that they're angry and I talked earlier. Anger, I think is a superb motivation for voters. But it's unclear to me as to which party actually has angrier voters right now.

KUCINICH: One of the interesting things, I think it was a story today in POLITICO that said for the first time, abortion is a top five issue for Latino voters and they overwhelmingly and in some of these critical states support abortion rights. So that is a group of particularly that Republicans have been targeting and that Republicans have really been trying, like spending a lot of money for years trying to court so.

KHALID: -- for Democrats so is to connect the dots, right? We always go back to that Kansas referendum. It's different to vote for policy and to vote for people.

KING: Right. That's again, just like legal challenges. I think these political question is going to be with us for several cycles as we try to sort it out. Up next for us, some new reports, and they're very mixed messages about the U.S. economy.



KING: A slew of new reports today confirm the economy still on a bit of a seesaw. The good, mortgage rates fell amid signs inflation may have peaked. The bad, existing home sales fell nearly 6 percent last month. That's the slowest sales pace since back in 2015 other than just near the start of the pandemic. CNN business reporter Matt Egan is here to break us down. Matt, walk us through the good and the bad, I guess and the uncertain.

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS REPORTER: Well, John, the housing market was on fire through much of COVID. But now it is cooling off big time existing home sales down to the sixth month in a row, as you mention, the coolest pace since the spring of 2020 when COVID was shutting everything down. And, you know, this is happening across the country. We saw double digit sales declines in all four major reasons led by a 20 percent decline in the south, 30 percent in the West. So why is this happening?

Well, prices got too high. And mortgage rates went up sharply as the Federal Reserve moved to try to put out this inflation fire by aggressively raising interest rates. People still need homes, they just can't afford them at these prices. But because demand is strong, and because supply is really weak, you know, prices are still going up. Year over year in July, we saw a 10 and 11 percent increase in the median home sold $404,000. That's 125 straight months of year over year price increases. But the prices are not going up as quickly as they were. This is actually the slowest price gain in two years. Now the good news I think for homebuyers is that the cost to borrow has actually come down just a bit. The average 30-year fixed rate mortgage is now 5.1 percent down from 5.2 percent. That's still up from a year ago. But it's starting to head down if mortgage rates head lower and home prices chill out. That should take some of this pressure off the housing markets.

KING: And something people do every couple of days so the price of gas continue to go down, right?

EGAN: Yes, it is down, the national average is now down 65 days in a row. The average is now 3.93 a gallon. Remember it was over $5 in mid- June. Diesel prices, John, they're also heading lower below $5 a gallon for the first time since March. That is a big deal. Diesel powers, trucks, trains, boats, tractors, construction equipment, that is also feeding some hopes, John, that may be inflation, the worst of it might be behind us.

KING: Matt Egan thanks for helping us sift through all that.


Up for us next, you don't want to miss this. The lone survivor of that deadly lightning strike near the White House shares her harrowing experience, next.


KING: Topping our Political Radar today, amid some strong public criticism, the White House now rolling out an aggressive plan to boost the supply of monkeypox vaccines across the United States. This new strategy involves providing 1.8 million additional vaccine doses making antiviral treatments more widely available and a targeted release of the vaccine at events in high risk communities. The CDC reports there are currently more than 13,000 cases of monkeypox nationwide.

President Biden we have now learned called Congresswoman Liz Cheney after the Wyoming Republican lost her primary who had Trump back challenger by an overwhelming 37 points. The details of that conversation were not disclosed, "Bloomberg" was first to report news of that call.

The only survivor of a lightning strike near the White House today revealing some horrifying details of her ordeal, 28-year-old Amber Escudero-Kontostathis took cover under a tree in D.C. when it started raining. Six bolts of lightning reportedly hit her, near her, three other within half a second.


AMBER ESCUDERO-KONTOSTATHIS, LIGHTNING STRIKE SURVIVOR: Like you were dead twice, like you are completely unresponsive. My body was Blue basically from the waist up and gray from the waist downs. I've been reminded that they have never had a patient that has kind of survived and gone through what I have.



KING: It's an amazing story. Thanks for your time today in Inside Politics. We'll see you back here this time tomorrow. Busy Newsday, stay with us. Alex Marquardt picks up our coverage right now.