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Inside Politics

This Week: DOJ To Submit Redactions For Mar-a-Lago Affidavit; GOP Lawmaker Suggest Trump Using Classified Docs To Pen Memoirs; Daughter Of "Putin's Brain" Murdered In Attack Near Moscow; Pence Leaves Door Open To Running For President In 2024; Focus On 2024 Sharpens As GOP Politicians Head To Early Voting States; DeSantis Fuels Talk Of Presidential Run With Rallies; Dr. Anthony Fauci Announces He Is Stepping Down In December; Secy. Of Ed: Student Debt Announcement In "Next Week Or So". Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired August 22, 2022 - 12:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm Abby Phillip in for John King in Washington. A major deadline, this week the Justice Department tells the court what it wants to keep secret from the Mar-a-Lago affidavit, as Trump allies go hunting for a legal defense.


REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Why not just ask him?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: I thought they'd been negotiating on Friday to get the information from him, and he cooperated. He didn't turn over boxes and boxes of materials for the Justice Department says.

REP. CRENSHAW: But he's been cooperating.


PHILLIP: Plus, big name Republican spent the weekend testing the 2024 waters.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) FLORIDA: We must fight the woke in our schools. We must fight the woke in our businesses. We must fight the woke in government agencies.


PHILLIP: And the Biden White House faces a critical decision on student loans.


MIGUEL CARDONA, EDUCATION SECRETARY: We know August 31 is a date that many people are waiting to hear something from. We've been talking daily about this, and I can tell you that American people will hear within the next week or so.


PHILLIP: But at first, a federal judge in plain English delivers a rebuke of Donald Trump and his legal defenders. The facts are reliable. Those words came from Judge Bruce Reinhart in a new court order this morning. And it makes clear that the judge views the affidavit that was used to justify the unprecedented surge of Mar-a- Lago as iron clad.

That order also coming as the Justice Department is now deciding what it wants to keep out of public view, including sensitive information about witnesses and steps in its investigation into former President Trump. Let's get straight to CNN's Katelyn Polantz for more. So, Katelyn, tell us about why the judge decided to put out this new filing today? And what the significance is coming ahead of this all- important deadline on Thursday?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, what we're hearing here is a lot of what we heard at that hearing last week, he's just putting it in writing. And one of the things we heard at the hearing that we are also reading here is how the judge is underlying that he agrees with the need for this search that the Justice Department wanted to conduct at Mar-a-Lago, even though it appears to be an extreme step at the hearing.

He said, it wasn't alleged probable cause that there was probable cause for the FBI to go in there. And then, in this order today, he writes, having carefully reviewed the affidavit before signing the warrant, I was and am satisfied that the facts sworn by the Justice Department are reliable. So those facts are reliable, even if we're not seeing them right now.

But what's going to happen later this week, Abby, is it a process. The Justice Department is going to propose redactions. They're going to do that confidentially under seal to the judge. The judge is going to look at them confidentially, potentially have a little bit more of a back and forth and go over what he views is the balance of transparency.

This need for the public to learn more about the search because of how historic it is, with protecting the investigation, especially the Justice Department's arguments for protecting witnesses they've spoken with and witnesses that they may need in the future as this goes on. So, we're not exactly sure what we're going to see, when we will see it next. There could be a lot that stays under seal, but we'll be watching very closely. Abby?

PHILLIP: We know you'll be all the way on top of it. Thanks, Katelyn. And here to share her legal insights and expertise is former federal prosecutor, Jennifer Rodgers. Jennifer, thanks for being here. So, there's a lot going on right now behind the scenes clearly for the Justice Department. They have to decide what they really need to protect.

But the judge also has to decide how much is necessary, it seems in the public interest. So, what are the considerations here for the DOJ? And do you think that there is a chance here that the judge could even in some cases override their preferences for redactions?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do Abby. So, what DOJ needs to do is they need to not be too greedy here. They certainly want to protect their investigation, their sources, and they'll propose redactions that do that. But the judge has indicated that there's vast public interest in this and he wants to, I think release some of the affidavits. So, DOJ can't go too crazy with their black pen and redacting.

I think some of the material that they may leave for the public to see is all of the back and forth the negotiations, the subpoena, all of which Trump team, the team Trump already knows about, and which demonstrates that, in fact, he did refuse to provide the documents and shows the basis for the affidavit and the search warrant.

PHILLIP: One of the things that's also happening is that you're seeing Trump allies going out there. I'm trying to provide rationales for why he might have had this information in the first place. Take a listen to Congressman Mike Turner, providing one potential explanation.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll bring it home with him to Florida.

REP. Mike Turner, (R-OH): Well, I don't know. I mean, you have to ask him, but certainly we all know that every former president has access to their documents that's how they write their memoirs. They don't have access, you know, great recall of everything it's a current administration. And we don't know that they were their class.


PHILLIP: Given what we know from the warrant, the parts of the U.S. code that indicate what the justification, the federal government used to explain the search. Does that explanation hold any water for you?

RODGERS: No, of course not. I mean, these excuses, they're really just trying anything, anything to try to explain what's happened here. They're not persuasive. And they are, frankly, not helpful. I mean, what the supporters of the former president should be doing is saying, listen, we don't know what happened here. No one has been charged. We have no real reason to believe charges are coming. We want to wait and see what happens here.

And in the meantime, innocent until proven guilty, because by going out there and throwing out all these ridiculous theories, I mean, you can't write memoirs using classified information. There's a whole process for doing that, too. And we know it's all spelled out in the regulations of the federal government. So, these are just - these are silly. They're nonsense. And I really do think they're unhelpful, ultimately to the former president. PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, I think there's a real question about how great legal advice he's really getting from his lawyers, but also some of his supporters now trying to point the finger elsewhere, actually back to the government. This is Kash Patel, a former Trump defense official, offering yet another deflection away from Trump into someone else.


KASH PATEL, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE CHIEF OF STAFF: Services administration is responsible for packaging and parceling those documents and you bring up a great point. They were the ones that move the documents to Mar-a-Lago. And they were the ones that have now admitted, they mistakenly move boxes. It's not like President Trump. Even if they get past the declassification farce, it's a ruse, I should say, it's not like President Trump put him in a backpack.


PHILLIP: Even if that were the case, would that be a defense?

RODGERS: It's not. I mean, now, Abby, we're saying basically that if you steal a household, a household full of stuff and hire movers to move it to a different house, they are guilty. I mean, this is all just silliness. And frankly, if I could offer a free piece of legal advice to Mr. Patel, he is implicated in this as a negotiator for the former president with the national archives.

So, to the extent that the government ultimately finds that the national archives were lied to and then all of this was part of a potential crime, Mr. Patel might be implicated. If I were him, I would stay quiet. And again, if you say anything, it's let's wait and see what comes out presumption of innocence etc.

PHILLIP: Maybe not the best idea to go out on cable news when you are at the heart of this all. Jennifer Rodgers, thanks so much for joining us.

RODGERS: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And to Russia now, the fallout from a brazen murder of a woman connected to Vladimir Putin's inner circle. Russia today has opened a murder investigation and is accusing Ukraine of carrying out a car bomb assassination of Darya Dugina. Darya was the daughter of the ultra-nationalist Alexander Dugin, who is sometimes described as Putin's brain. CNN's Fred Pleitgen has the latest from Moscow.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The murder of Darya Dugina could inflame the situation between Russia and Ukraine even more than it already is. The Russian Security Service, the FSB now coming out and squarely blaming Ukrainian intelligence services for the murder. They say that a Ukrainian woman who was working for the Ukrainian special services entered Russia and then killed Darya Dugina and afterwards managed to escape to Estonia.

Now the Ukrainians for their part are saying that that is absolutely not true. They say that these accusations show that Russia is "living in a fictional world." However, the father of Darya Dugina, who's an extremely prominent of philosopher and idealogue here in Russia, said to be very close to Vladimir Putin. In his thinking Alexander Dugin, he came out and he has already called for revenge and an escalation of Russia special military operation in Ukraine.

He said, "our hearts yearn for more than just revenge or retribution, it's too small, not the Russian way, we only need our victory." My daughter laid her maiden life on her altar. So, win please, he said in a statement. And there are other people in the top echelons of Russian state control media and politics, who are also calling on further escalation against Ukraine.

Again, the Ukrainians for their part have denied being any part of this or having any role in all this. But certainly, this is definitely something that could inflame the situation and is clearly dangerous between Russia and Ukraine. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Moscow.


PHILLIP: And ahead for us, potential GOP 2024 presidential candidates are fanning out across the country, stepping up their involvement in the midterms and pitching themselves.


PHILLIP: Voters haven't even cast their ballots for the 2022 midterms yet, but the eyes of a lot of people are already on 2024. And while it looks likely that former President Trump will in fact run again, that has not stopped other GOP politicians from leaving the door open to running themselves, including Trump's own vice president.


MIKE PENCE, UNITED STATES, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: After the first of the year, my family and I'll do as we've always done, and that is reflect and pray on where we might next serve, where we might next contribute.



PHILLIP: Here with me to discuss the reporting and insights, CNN's David Chalian, the AP's Seung Min Kim, and The Washington Post's Marianna Sotomayor. That was by the way, Pence in Iowa. And last I checked its August 22, 2022, but that's where we are. He's running around with the butter cows and with Chuck Grassley.

And he given an interview with the Washington Times that I think I found very interesting. Here's what he said. He said, that's what blew the roof off. It was the issues and the ideas that drove 2016, and that drove us 74 million votes in 2020, and I truly believe it's the pathway forward in 2022 and 2024. That's an interesting theory of the case. But I think that a lot of people would disagree. The issues are part of it, but it's also the personality of Donald Trump. DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: There is no doubt about that, that Donald Trump sort of struck a chord in American politics in a way that we hadn't seen politicians do. So, there's no doubt about that. But what I really think is behind that quote, that you just presented from Mike Pence was trying to get back pre -January 6, right. That is all about, look at what we accomplished in '16. Look at what we accomplished, even though we lost in '20 with 74 million votes. So, let's try and get back and recreate that and not get lost and mired down in a conversation about January 6.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean to your point that there's still an open question about whether the January 6 committee will still call Mike Pence. This headline, Pence's 2024 hopes loom over potential testimony in the January 6 committee. The Vice Chair Liz Cheney saying, yes, we might call him.

But Pence, to Chalian, to your point is always talking about the Trump-Pence administration. But it's a really hard and difficult and fine line to walk, when on the one hand, he was being, you know, hang my pants. That was the chant on January 6. And on the other hand, he wants to say that we should all take credit for what we did as an administration.

MARIANNA SOTOMAYOR, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. You said, it is a fine line. It's going to be fascinating to watch exactly how he navigates it. But if you really talk to, especially Republicans on the Hill, and many Republicans too behind the scenes quietly, privately, they're all talking about man, Mike Pence would be a good president, right? Because he stands for something.

We don't want this Trump, we don't know. You know, we like him. We like his policies, but we don't know how he is going to react, right? Or how he's going to necessarily be as president again. We've seen what happens however, they know that he mobilizes the base. So that's where they can't necessarily stray away from him.

But even a couple of weeks ago, on Capitol Hill, when Mike Pence went up to talk to a number of Republicans, they stood up and thanked him for what he did on January 6, they clapped for him. It's not necessarily something I'm sure that he will be touting or talking about on the campaign trail if he ends up running, but I think they do have a sense that there are some Republicans out there who might fall in line or at least support him.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, although notably that those are - that applause that he received privately with Republicans, that was before the FBI raid Mar-a-Lago, which seems to have, according to a Republicans change some things.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER. ASSOCIATED PRESS: Right, right. Well, what it's clearly done is to mobilize that Republican base energy behind Donald Trump at a time when he either, receded from the spotlight, voters perhaps started to look at other Republican opportunities. What that search did politically for Trump was to get that attention back on him and get the energy of the party behind him. And even if some Republicans may not mention the word Trump as they criticize the FBI for the search, they are criticizing the FBI and sometimes going as far as to say, defund the FBI, which has gotten some pushback from Republican officials, including Vice President Pence. But I think for now, it really has just kind of galvanized the Republican base in a way that we hadn't seen in some time.

CHALIAN: The other thing, Abby, that I think is interesting about Pence, and it's a big question that hangs out there, he's trying to do this in the most traditional way. Like, it's as if, it's like politics in 2011 again, or something like, you know, he is going up to New Hampshire and making speeches. He's making a visit to Iowa to the state fair. He's putting out a book out in November. He's going to tell his story that way. And I just, I think it begs the questions like, are our politics still responding to that kind of an approach?

PHILLIP: Meanwhile, the person who is not doing it quite in such a traditional way is Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida. He's taken a bit of a different approach by just - he's not an Iowan, necessarily, but he's out there campaigning for all these Republicans. So, he's making moves too.

KIM: Right, right. What I thought was really interesting is that he technically is on the ballot for the primary tomorrow, but yet he has the freedom because he has the political stand.

PHILLIP: Over $100 million in the bank.

KIM: Exactly, that he is able to go out and campaign for candidates in Arizona like he did a couple of weeks ago, and then Doug Mastriano in Pennsylvania over the weekend. But yes, this is another way of kind of collecting the support of Republicans across the country in critical state. He may not be necessarily making that trip to Iowa and New Hampshire. He does have to kind of contend with the Trump factor obviously, but it is interesting to see how he's getting out there nationally.


PHILLIP: All right. Everybody standby. Next for us, Dr. Fauci is going to step down by the end of the year after decades of being the nation's top infectious disease expert.




PHILLIP: The most prominent public health official in the country is now put a date on his retirement. Dr. Anthony Fauci says, he will exit government service in December after nearly four decades. Senior White House correspondent Phil Mattingly joins us now live with more on this. So, Phil, tell us more about what Dr. Fauci and President Biden had to say. PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, Abby, you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in U.S. history really to serve at the level in the U.S. government that Dr. Anthony Fauci has for as long as he has served in that level, the top infectious disease official for the federal government. For as you noted, almost four decades in government service, for more than a half century serving directly seven presidents, across parties playing critical and often leading roles in every infectious disease and crisis that's occurred in the country over the course of that time period, a leading role in the HIV/AIDS crisis Zika.

You pretty much roll through them, and obviously, most notably COVID. And that is where he became a serious political hot button issue. He is somebody that progressives and Democrats continue to hold up as kind of a paragon of what the government is supposed to be about. And he has become somebody that conservatives have largely vilified.

He's become the face of many of the policies, conservatives push back very sharply against whether it's masking or the government - or the shutdowns that transpired in the early days of the COVID pandemic. He obviously had a very sharp disagreements with former President Donald Trump, most of which were behind the scenes in the beginning and then spilled out very publicly, in the wake of that and has become a rallying cry, for some Republicans fire Fauci, which I would note didn't start with Republicans and COVID, who was actually AIDS and HIV activist who started that.

When he was leading in that role, he eventually came to side with them on many of those issues. That has not happened with COVID. As you noted, he's been the chief medical adviser to President Biden, President Biden, very laudable. In a statement today about his service, about his contributions, he will step down in December. There's no question though, about his legacy, at least the scale of it over the course of the last several decades. Abby?

PHILLIP: Absolutely the end of an era. Phil Mattingly, thank you. And the Biden administration is teasing some highly anticipated news on student loan debt. Saying that, relief could come as soon as this week for millions of Americans who are set to begin to repay their student loans at the end of the month, payments on and interest have been on pause since the pandemic began in 2020.

So, it remains to be seen whether or not the White House will extend the payment freeze, cancel some debt for each borrower or do a combination of both. But here's what education secretary Miguel Cardona told NBC over the weekend.


CARDONA: We know August 31 is a date that many people are waiting to hear something from. We've been talking daily about this. And I can tell you that American people will hear within the next week or so.


PHILLIP: Our panel is back with me to discuss. This is something that has been looming over this White House. I know you're laughing because, I know that you have heard as much from them behind the scenes publicly about this, as they are hearing private - publicly from advocates on the left. They have been kicking this decision down the road for a long time. Is this really D-Day for student loans?

KIM: For now, it is, but I recall back in May when word started to trickle out that he was actually considering canceling some student loan debt, that President Biden went out there and said in May that, I'll make this decision in about two weeks. Well, that two weeks has turned into several months now. But right now, administration officials are telling us and as you saw Secretary Cardona say that the decision will come sometime before August - before the end of August, which is what the president has indicated.

And now with the student loan cancellation decision will be really interesting to see what he decides. I think the expectation at this point that they White House is kind of hinted towards is that he is open to a cancellation of about $10,000 per borrower, depending on their income level. But at the same time, that might not make everybody happy. We know there are very loud voices on the left, including Elizabeth Warren, who has been demanding that President Biden cancel about up to $50,000 per borrower. So, their reaction to whatever the president does will be very interest.

PHILLIP: But this is why they are wanting to stay in this $10,000 range. This is a NPR/Ipsos poll from June, that shows that that even among people who, just the whole universe of people, 55 percent support, canceling up to $10,000. That number jumps up to 85 percent. If you yourself have student loans, but if you look at levels of forgiveness, 50,000 and all debt.

The number of people who support canceling those levels goes down, especially among the broader universe voters. And the reality about student loan debt as well, it disproportionately affects many Democratic constituencies that a lot of low-income voters. It's not something that everybody has. A lot of people never went to college in this country.

SOTOMAYOR: Yes. And that's the bigger question too, is how is - does this affect future students? Right? This obviously affects people who already went to school have debt. Hopefully get a leg up and whatever they want to do in their lives. But it's not like it's changing the university system to either, you know, help more students in the future.