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Midterm Countdown: 16 Days to Go; Inside Elections Moves 13 House Races Towards GOP; Ten Most Competitive Governor Races; Trump: Past, Present and Future; New Police Videos of Florida Voter Fraud Arrests. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 23, 2022 - 08:00   ET





ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST (voice-over): Sixteen days until the midterms with America's future in the balance.

SEN. RAPHAEL WARNOCK (D-GA): Are you ready to win this election?

PHILLIP: Democrats want to keep the focus on abortion.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First bill that I will send to Congress will be to codify Roe v. Wade.

PHILLIP: But Republicans have the momentum, with voters saying inflation is still issue number one. Plus, why the stakes are so high in the Arizona government's race.

KARI LAKE (R), ARIZONA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: What I'm seeing now is a movement of people who are ready to save our republic.

KATIE HOBBS (D), ARIZONA SECRETARY OF STATE: It's not just about Democrats or Republicans. It's a choice between sanity and chaos.

PHILLIP: And how much longer will Donald Trump wait to announce a 2024 run?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: In order to make our country successful safe and glorious again, I will probably have to do it again.

PHILLIP: INSIDE POLITICS, the biggest stories sourced by the best reporters, now.



PHILLIP (on camera): Hello and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Abby Phillip. We are just now over two weeks from one of the consequential midterm

elections of our lifetime. Millions of voters are already streaming to the polls and the stakes could not be higher. So, this morning, we want to break down the races and take an in-depth look at the state of play in the House, the Senate, and the governors' mansions all across the country. But first, we will start with the Senate. While control of the chamber still remains very much a jump ball the latest polls show that voters are inching towards Republicans in many of these key battleground states.

Whoever wins two of the toss-ups are likely to win the majority. That is the stark reality that we are in, and candidates are now leaving that up to chance.


LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN (D), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: He uses it as a photo op, shows up and pretends to care.

DR. MEHMET OZ (R), PENNSYLVANIA SENATE CANDIDATE: He seems to care more about the criminals than the innocent. That's what I'm hearing, especially in the urban populations.

HERSCHEL WALKER (R), GEORGIA SENATE CANDIDDATE: When you look down and you see Raphael Warnock, you know he's not for Georgia. You know he's not for the United States.

WARNOCK: He, on the other hand, claimed to be the police officer. He's not, even though he produced a badge.

AD ANNOUNCER: Laxalt supported overturning Nevada's abortion protections. He let states outlawed, even for victims of rape and incest.

AD ANNOUNCER: Catherine Cortez Masto rubberstamps Joe Biden's reckless, triggering record inflation and sky high prices.


PHILLIP: Let's discuss all of this and more with Jonathan Swan of "Axios", Jeremy Diamond of CNN, CNN's Audie Cornish, and Maggie Haberman of "The New York Times". She's also the author of the number one "New York Times" bestseller, "Competence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and the Breaking of America".

It is really striking to me in those ads, the degree to which these races are all over the place. Whether it's Herschel Walker's badge or abortion or what have you. But big picture where we are right now, two weeks before Election Day is actually a race that is coming back to expectations. But the economy will be driving the issue and voters will be turning against the party in power.

We thought this would be a weird election but now maybe we are in a normal election.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And in some places, I think it's still going to be different. I think it's a race by race but generally speaking, if the elections, many of them were held today, Republicans will do very well. There are 16 days left, and so we don't know what exactly will happen. But certainly the trajectory of these races returned to a quote/unquote, normal framework.

I do want to stress though again that because of gerrymandering House races and because of candidate quality in a bunch of these races, it's not entirely certain what it's going to look like.

PHILLIP: Yeah, for sure. I mean, that -- the candidate quality especially I think is played such a big role. But I want to play -- I want to take a look at the math. I mean, I alluded to this earlier.

This is what our battleground looks like according to Inside Elections Race Rating. Everybody has a little bit of a different version of this. But if you take a look at these yellow states, you got Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. This is the real battleground. These are the toss-up states.

And just given how closely divided things are, they -- one of the two parties needs to win only two of those states, and then we are basically done. So that's just how, you know, this is a bit of a coin flip at this point.

JONATHAN SWAN, AXIOS NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, I started to have some strategist from both parties probably a month ago that the battlefield had narrowed to those three states. I think now it is arguably slightly expanding just because momentum is dipping towards Republicans and I don't think you can completely rule out Arizona.


PHILLIP: Yeah, for sure.

SWAN: Even though Mitch McConnell was not over the moon about the quality of Blake Masters as a candidate in the Senate in Arizona. The polling is very, very tight there now. And Kari Lake at the gubernatorial level may lift him up a little bit as well.

So, yeah, you're right. It's narrowing that way. It's a weird election to try to forecast. For all the normal reasons because polling and the polling industry has had such a terrible track record in the last few cycles, but also because you've got history against these very strange factors.

You got the history telling you what happened to a president in the first midterms, his party, and then you have the Dobbs decision which is not a retained piece of legislation. This is something that has awakened a lot of people out there in the country. And it's not actually that easy to visualize.

You go to a Trump rally and you see 10,000 people in the stadium fired-up, they're all pumped up. You don't have stadiums full of suburban women but they're out there. PHILLIP: Yeah.

SWAN: And they are angry. And it's defused. And it's picking up in voter registrations and picking up in some polling. I do think there is still a lot of uncertainty.

PHILLIP: I think that signals that political reporters usually rely on that figure out what is going on don't really apply in this cycle.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: It can also be way too broad? Rate during the summer it wasn't just Roe v. Wade but there were also multiple shootings. That is going to again stop moment can have things -- you have people thinking about things differently. That can affect the race so to speak.

But at the end of the day, they're not nationally in that way. It matters what happens in the Philly suburbs. It matters what happens in Maricopa County with that specific subset of voters. And so, in a place like Philadelphia where Oz is like, you know, getting crudite or whatever, maybe the inflation argument doesn't work so well against the Democratic candidate. But in another place, right, like these crime issues may come to bear.

Some of it is we have a tendency to nationalize every race and there are still big complex issues state by state.

SWAN: Not to mention the fact that each state has different abortion laws.


CORNISH: Exactly.

PHILLIP: Well, one clear sign that some of these races are tightening, especially in the three key states, for example in Georgia, Raphael Warnock was not really wanting to touch the Herschel Walker abortion story. But now, take a look at this ad that came out this week.


WARNOCK: I'm Raphael Warnock and I approve this message.

AD ANNOUNCER: For you, Herschel Walker wants to ban abortion.

WALKER: No exception in my mind because I believe in life.

AD ANNOUNCER: But for himself --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Herschel Walker paid for an abortion for his then girlfriend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She supported her claims with a $575 receipt from the abortion clinic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even his own son is saying walker is lying. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: Now, they're running ads on these abortion allegations, which seems to indicate that they see that the race is perhaps more tight than they were comfortable with.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHTIE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, I spoke with a Democratic strategist who said look, it's also they don't want to leave anything on the table. They want to make sure they haven't left anything on the field and they are using everything that they possibly can in these final weeks and making sure this is something that, as it fades from the initial breaking news aspect of this, that it still sticks in voter's minds, but there's no question is they're worried, right? They're worried that the race is tightening, that perhaps it was not as easy as they thought it would be to run against Herschel Walker, and they want to make sure that they can go after him with this. It's also just broadly Democrats wanting abortion to be one of the central messaging aspects of this election in these closing weeks, despite Republicans, of course taking --

PHILLIP: And despite people like Bernie Sanders telling Democrats this.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): In the year 2022, we should not be telling women what they can do with their own bodies. But I also happen to think that given the fact that for the last 50 years, real wages for American workers are lower today than they were 50 years ago, that people can't afford health care, they can't afford prescription drugs. I think those are issues, Anderson, you just cannot ignore. People are hurting.


PHILLIP: One is the economy.

HABERMAN: It is, but I think one of the things that was interesting about that Georgia ad it was an effort to tie Walker's personal issues to a larger issue of abortion which then becomes a larger issue of health care. And so, I mean, one of the things that Sanders is talking about is the presentation of abortion that is different how Democrats want to talk about it. There are Democrats who wanted this to be more of a holistic, national argument, and there hasn't been that, it has been state by state and it's largely been the media talking about some of the more extreme, awful examples of what happened to women over the course of the last several months.

What Sanders is talking about is where I think the bulk of the national party wants to be, and that's not what you're seeing in individual races.


DIAMOND: And it's also striking when you look at this data about ads, for example, and the messages that different candidates are using, Republicans almost in every case, number one and number two, they're talking about the economy in these ads. They are dominating the airwaves with ads about the economy, with a lot of Democrats, it's not even in the top five of the most common issues that they're talking about in these ads. And that, according to strategists of both parties is a problem for Democrats. They are running away from the economy in many cases when perhaps they should be taking it head on.

That's why we saw Joe Biden talking this week, for example, about inflation, talking about gas prices, talking about infrastructure to try and make sure that the party is handling both of these messages at the same time.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, I think the reality is, what we're seeing in the tightening is that you cannot outrun the fundamentals of the economy at this particular moment.

But coming up next, Republicans are on the verge of perhaps winning back the House. But could it be seats in blue states like New York that get them over the finish line?



PHILLIP: If the magic eight balance for the state of the play in the Senate is, cannot predict now, the magic eight ball answer for the House seem to be, at least right now, outlook good for Republicans that is.

This week, Inside Elections shifted their ratings of 21 House races, and of those 21, 13 have shifted in favor of the GOP. Democratic-held seats in blue states, like New York and Oregon, are now moving away from them. And as a reminder, Republicans only need to gain a net of five seats in order to win the House majority.

The House picture has always been tough, right? But I mean, that graphic that we just showed, there are only 18 seats rated toss-up right now. That is the narrowest of narrow battlegrounds, and Republicans don't need to do all that much to ultimately win a majority. And they know it.

CORNISH: It's a logical conclusion of many years of gerrymandering.


CORNISH: We sure everyone will say that.

Also, you should have a magic eight ball segment.

PHILLIP: Yes, we're working on it. We're working on it.

Yeah, it's definitely -- I think it's more acute now, because we are in this first cycle after redirecting. These districts are gerrymandered to the hilt, and Republicans have an advantage in a lot of these districts. But it's so interesting to look at the history of this, there was a

time when the largest margin in the House was 116 votes. It's like 100 years ago, 1937 to 1939. We will never, ever see that again.

In fact, we might be closer to R plus one in this cycle than anything -- than anything else at this point.

DIAMOND: Yeah, that's also going to be key to looking at what this likely Republican majority actually does, what it looks like, how much power Kevin McCarthy has, and how much of a headache they are for the Biden White House. I keep going back to the White House, that's what I cover, of course. But, you know, the White House is looking at that in particular, not just the idea of will Republicans win, but by how much and how much of a thorn in their side will they be?

The reality is, regardless, even if it's just a slim majority, there will be investigations, there will be inquiries, there will be all the typical things that come when the party in power in the House is not the party in the White House. But there will be limits to how much leeway they have, and how much leeway people in the party will give him.

SWAN: I think the margin really matters mostly for functioning of government. Like if it's a super narrow majority, if Kevin McCarthy has no breathing room, basic functioning of government is going to be difficult. Passing continuing resolution is going to be difficult. There's going to be a storm over the debt ceiling.

If he has a healthy margin, they're still going to wage a jihad against Hunter Biden and the Biden family and large sections of corporate America.

To me, like the most interesting thing with this new house is they won't actually going to do much. It's all going to be oversight basically and a lot of noise, a lot of obstruction, as well. But the way you're going to see now how the Republican Party's relationship with corporate America has changed, and McCarthy has told me on the record and others that he will not take a meeting with the head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

That's an amazing thing to dwell on.


CORNISH: In 2012, which Biden is familiar with, right, when the Tea Party came to power, it was, we need to be fiscally responsible, of course, with your agenda, we're going to stop, you know, raising the debt ceiling, it was government shutdowns like every three to six months.

SWAN: But Boehner was still comfortable with the corporate wing of the GOP.

DIAMOND: That was the entire party.

SWAN: This is the different. The point now is you're going to have like Larry Fink hold before three different committees, the hand on the Bible, how dare you do ESG, working with trial lawyers to eviscerate these people. It's going to be a real spectacle.

PHILLIP: Exactly. So McCarthy has been kind of telegraphing some of this -- a lot of this stuff to you and to others. It's Ukraine funding. It's, you know, investigating the withdrawal of Afghanistan. It's removing Democratic lawmakers from committees.

And speaking of removing and putting lawmakers on committees, Marjorie Taylor Greene, this is what she said to "The New York Times." I think that to be the best speaker of the House and to please the base, i.e., her, he's going to have to give me a lot of power, and a lot of leeway.

If he doesn't, they're going to be very unhappy about it. I think that's the best way to read that. And that's not a threat at all. I just think that's the reality.

HABERMAN: Nice speakerships you have, it would be a shame if --


HABERMAN: I mean, look, I think that Marjorie Taylor Greene is overstating her power, number one.


I do think that there are other members of the hard right caucus within the House majority, what would be a House majority, who majority, what would be a house majority, who are going to make life hard for Kevin McCarthy.

But a number of them are going to take their cues from what Donald Trump wants. Because at that point, Donald Trump, even if he's not a candidate, is going to be dictating a lot of what he wants to see his allies in the House do. I think you're going to see Kevin McCarthy raising hell in the ways that Jonathan said in part so he can accomplish just basic --

CORNISH: Yeah, he's not John Boehner, right? He learned a few lessons and we're seeing them play out.

HABERMAN: Correct. But it will be how he can justify getting the basics of governance done, getting continuing resolutions passed, passing a budget. It is going to mean the noise to signal ratio is going to be hard to --

PHILLIP: For sure.

I want to take a step back. I know we are weeks away from the election. People have not cast their ballots, but the trends of what we're seeing is what we're talking about here. We've got have states like New York, Oregon, and California, seeing some for Democrats very troubling signals toward the Republican Party, in places that should be more comfortable for Democrats.

And some of this is playing out on public safety issues. It's obviously playing out on the economy. But that is the trend that I think Democrats are struggling to address, that it's not just dissatisfaction with the economy. A lot of these Republicans are running on crime, particularly in New York, that's resonating.

HABERMAN: So, I want a couple of things. New York, this happened in 2010, too, in the House races in New York. I remember talking to a Democratic strategist and asking about how many seats the Democrats would lose. This person predicted it would be no more than three. It was a lot more than three.

So New York is a different area than people think. It's been gerrymandered like crazy, because the map was thrown out and the new process was put in place. I do think in some places in New York, crime is more resonant. I don't think it's as resonant in the gubernatorial race as people are trying to suggesting it is. What I do think is an issue going back to abortion laws in different states, I don't think there's a lot of voters in New York think that, they are at risk in relation to the Dobbs decision.

PHILLIP: So maybe in the blue states, that message is not resonating.

HABERMAN: Correct.

SWAN: And Lee Zeldin has explicitly kind of addressed that in ads, you know, he's not going to be changing abortion laws.

PHILLIP: That's very interesting.

Stand by for us. Coming up next, who's up and who's down in the high stakes governor's races and how the winners could affect the 2024 presidential election. That's next.



PHILLIP: A lot of attention gets paid to which party controls Congress, but there is a very good chance that sit your governor who affects your day-to-day life more than any other affected official, how much you pay in taxes, the quality of your education, even access to health care is determined by who lives in your state's governor's mansion. And it's in these ten states where is the race for governor is the most competitive.

These governor's races are really emblematic of all of the battles we're talking about, whether it's inflation, cost of living, health care, abortion. And I think people just don't plug into how important they are, even when it comes to some of the issues that end up on the national stage. The governors set the table.

HABERMAN: They do. And governors are more specific to people's day- to-day lives than their president, than their senators. I'm a little astonished at how many of these races are as competitive as they are. Look at Pennsylvania, right? I mean, the fact that one is as competitive as it is pretty surprising, considering Doug Mastriano's behavior around the lead-up to January 6th when Trump was trying to stay in power.

It does speak to how polarized the electorate is. So many of these races that are so close, speaks to how few actual persuadable voters remain.

PHILLIP: But also, you're seeing on this abortion issue in states like Michigan, in Pennsylvania, other places where this is happening, the issue is so salient at the gubernatorial level, because you're talking about the state legislatures, and the governor being a true backstop. It's easier for a Democrat to make that argument.

DIAMOND: Yeah, there are two key issues Democrats want to talk about, it's abortion rights and the issue of democracy. On both of those fronts, governors are key, right? So the message from Democrats has a chance to be particularly salient in those cases, but it's not playing out like that in every one of these key states.

CORNISH: That's because in each state the atmosphere is so different. Like Kemp was not an election denier, so you can't throw that in his face and he can take advantage of the good economy.

Mastriano, who by the way ran no ads basically until the last couple of weeks is someone who says no abortion, so he's creating a scenario where a candidate can say look, there's real-life consequence to this person coming forward. So I think nationally, like media wise, we don't always focus on governor's races because the Senate is so significant. But like people in their states very much, it can alter the whole atmosphere of an election cycle.


SWAN: And what's interesting is this contrast -- I find the contrast between Pennsylvania and Arizona (INAUDIBLE) fascinating.

Because Mastriano and Kari Lake are indistinguishable on the issue of elections. They are both equally likely to use every power at their disposal if there's a Democratic victory to try to overturn that. They've made that completely explicit, they've said the elections are stolen.

But Kari Lake has 25 years of experience as a local TV anchor. And because she's so good on television, the Republican establishment in that state has just -- it's lock step behind her.

Doug Ducey is helping her behind the scenes, fundraising, the donors love her, the corporate wing of the Arizona GOP loves her. It's not just the far right.

Mastriano, again, you have to assume for aesthetic reasons, because on substance, they're virtually indistinguishable, he's been sort of abandoned by large --

(CROSSTALK) CORNISH: I mean what was going on in Arizona, that's like a part of a broader movement. I think that that state reflects in terms of the election denial wing of the party.



DIAMOND: -- in terms of like, what's acceptable now in the Republican base.

SWAN: What I'm saying is the establishment, the GOP establishment in that case that were not -- Doug Ducey was against overturning elections. He said that Joe Biden is the legitimate president, but he's stepped in line behind Kari Lake.


CORNISH: And he was against -- he was against Kari Lake.


SWAN: And he was against Kari Lake in the primary. That's the difference. She's co-opted the establishment whereas Mastriano hasn't.

ABBY PHILIP, CNN HOST: You're seeing people like Glenn Youngkin who --

SWAN: 100 percent. Exactly.

PHILLIP: -- who wants to be seen as, you know, regular Republican, you know, going to Arizona and campaigning for Kari Lake. But I mean let's zoom in on what's going on in Arizona because I think it is actually really emblematic of what is happening just up and down the ballot in that state.

You've got Kari Lake running for governor. She is an election denier. She is involved in the stop the steal effort, staunch Trump supporter. But then you have Mark Finchem running for secretary of state. He's a member of the Oath Keepers. He's also an election denier. Attorney general Abe Hamadeh also an election denier.

You know, these are up and down the ballot in the state of Arizona, in by the way, to your point Audie, a state where they have done audits. They have proven, basically, that there was no election fraud in that state --


CORNISH: Well they were trying --


PHILLIP: But they were trying to prove the opposite.

(CROSSTALK) PHILLIP: But Up and down the ballot there are election deniers on the ballot. And I think that is worth emphasizing, that a lot of these folks could get elected.

MAGGIE HABERMAN, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "NEW YORK TIMES": Not only could a lot of these folks get elected, but I think that you're hitting on a really crucial point that I think that there has been some coverage of this, this cycle.

Arizona to your point, in particular it is partly about the co-opting of the establishment. But part of that is because Arizona has been sort of the crucible for the changing GOP. And we have seen that over the last seven to eight years. This is the state where John McCain was the senator. And there is no other state that has just swung so dramatically away and a lot of it has been on the issue of immigration. A lot of it has been Trump demagoguing immigrants, said that the state where he was doing that, very intensely --


SWAN: Good point.

PHILLIP: But I mean you could argue that a lot of it is just Trump. I mean Trump just decided that McCain was enemy number one, and the Arizona Republican Party went --

SWAN: He was already hated by the base.

CORNISH: Yes. I have to say, that was an uneasy relationship.

HABERMAN: Yes, going back --

CORNISH: I mean just a bigger piece of context though for all of us not living in Arizona, the new Electoral College Reform Act legislation, one of the provisions says governors are the ones who approve and send the slate of electors, right.

This is one of the things they're trying to sort of codify so it's not so loopy-loopy figuring out who can do it.

So if you have someone explicitly in that position, who has already said, you know, I have questions, this is how I would behave, that's very important in these super tight presidential races. And Arizona does not have a lieutenant governor, right. After her, it goes to the secretary of state.

PHILLIP: The secretary of state. And to that point, we asked voters out in Arizona, do they even know what the secretary of state does? Just listen to what they had to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because of what happened in the last couple of years, I think we're more aware of the secretary of state than ever before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know much about that particular race.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I only probably know from a very, you know, general standpoint. Yes, you're right, I don't know that I know.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want to say a majority but maybe a big chunk of people have no idea what the secretary of state does.


PHILLIP: To be fair, this might be the first time in their voting lives that this has really been a major issue on the ballot.


DIAMOND: Yes. And when you look at Arizona, given the slate of candidates, that graphic that you had up before in terms of all of them being election deniers, I mean I think it's both -- to the discussion earlier, Arizona is both emblematic of this national shift in the Republican Party. It's also its fullest realization of that potential for what Donald Trump has tried to turn the Republican Party into.

PHILLIP: Yes, absolutely. I mean it's a state that we will be very focused on come November.

But up next for us, we just so happen to have two of the best reporters covering Trump sitting right here on our panel. So coming up next, we will ask them what they see when they look into the future and see what the president's past is going to do -- to what we might do coming down the pike, up next.



PHILLIP: We are very lucky this morning to have two of the best reporters on the Trump beat. Maggie and Jonathan have been breaking stories on the Trump presidency and the post presidency for many, many years now. And Maggie, of course, is the author of the great book "Confidence Man".

So we want to pick their brains about what is happening in Trump world right now. But also really what it means, because, you know, some people who are watching may want to wish that it was the past is the past, but it's the present and the future for our political system.

Let's start with this past week, though. This has been a week of a lot going on in terms of investigations and legal dealings when it comes to Trump. Almost all of it seemingly bad news, and there's more, right, Maggie?

HABERMAN: Well, the criminal tax trial of his company is beginning this week. And so he's not personally charged, you know, I don't expect that that's going to change although it obviously could.

It's not going -- a company can't go to jail, but this can be very, very problematic for his company. And so, you know, when you add that to the myriad of investigations that he's facing, it's a lot. Even, you know, as he's looking at his political future. And I think he's looking at his political future partly as a distraction. The weight of this is becoming very large.

PHILLIP: How does it affect what he might do in the coming months in terms of when he might run, if he will run. It seems like he's running.

Go ahead.

SWAN: I'm not sure it affects it that much. I mean I think that it probably makes it slightly more likely he's going to run. I do know from people I've talked to that he feels that being a current political candidate gives him some level of protection against some of these investigations.

Again, when I can't predict this stuff with precision, but most people around him seem to think he will announce soon, whatever that means, after the midterms. I don't know when that is. And I'm not in the prediction of Trump business, because it's a very flawed business.


SWAN: Yes, a losing -- a losing business.

PHILLIP: And what does that even look like? I mean I think a lot of people wonder with all the Trump figures, indicted, in jail, whatever, charged, out of the orbit, in the orbit. What does his political operation look like? Are there enough left?

And certainly that's a question for what would a Trump presidency look like? It seems like there are various (INAUDIBLE).

SWAN: He does have a serious political operation. Susie Wilds (ph) is a very experienced political operative. Brian Jack (ph) is younger, but he's a very serious political operative. Tony Fabrizio (ph), a very serious pollster. Chris (INAUDIBLE), again, respected -- so I think there's a misconception that there's no -- you know, he's surrounded by, you know, a circus clown with paint on his face.

You know, there's actually like seasoned political operatives in his core orbit. That's a separate question from who does he stuff his administration with, which is a much more colorful question.

And, you know, from what I understand from my reporting, and I did a big series on this for what his administration might look like in 2025, you know, it's a question of what can he get away with? Who can he get confirmed, and if he can't get them confirmed, he will just put them in the White House.

So take someone like Kash Patel, right, who bill Barr who was the attorney general said, over my dead body will you make him the deputy FBI director or deputy CIA director. Trump would like to make him a senior a position as humanly possible in the national security infrastructure. If he's uncontrollable, he will just go into the White House.

HABERMAN: Which is what he did when he was president before. I mean we should know that this is not a departure from what he was doing. But it will be in (INAUDIBLE) and it will be different.

PHILLIP: I mean -- Kash Patel went to a federal grand jury --


HABERMAN: It is actually -- that is exactly what it is. Literally 2020 began with Trump feeling his oats, wanting to restock the NSC with --


HABERMAN: -- putting John McEntee in. he wanted to restock the NSC with people who had been taken out by H.R. McMaster, and then COVID struck and it became different. But this, it would be what he wanted 2020 to be like.

I do think though he absolutely has serious people around him politically. I think that's important, and I think people don't understand that. That doesn't mean he always listens to them.


HABERMAN: And that -- you know, he is going to listen to himself and do what he wants and sometimes he delights in doing the opposite of what he's told.

PHILLIP: Real quick, I just want to show this. This is the headline that got some attention from the "National Review". Why Kari Lake will be Trump's running mate, you guys know better than most people what's going on there in terms of Trump's VP options.

HABERMAN: Nothing.

SWAN: I think people -- there's a misperception that Trump is sitting around thinking, well, I need to do better with this part of the electorate, so I'm going to pick this. He doesn't think that way. He's doesn't think he needs a VP. He's not thinking about a VP.

Like it's just not even --

PHILLIP: It's not what it was back in 2016 --

HABERMAN: But he didn't even think he'd even win in 2016.

SWANT: I mean it's sort of a inconvenience that I needed an VP, you know, fine, I'll pick one. But --

HABERMAN: He's not talking about this right now.

SWAN: The idea that there's a list --

HABERMAN: It's not their reality.


PHILLIP: We could do this for a little while but --

HABERMAN: And we should.


PHILLIP: Thank you, Maggie and Jonathan.

Coming up next for us, newly released body camera video shows the reality of Ron DeSantis' hunt for voter fraud in the state of Florida.


PHILLIP: Shocked and stunned. That was the reaction of some of the 20 Florida residents who were arrested back in August for allegedly illegally voting in the 2020 election.

Take a look at this newly obtained body cam video showing how those arrests went down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. So I know you're caught off guard, but unfortunately that's how this stuff works. Ok?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm like what the hell.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm like voter fraud?

I voted. But I didn't commit no fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, so that's the thing. I don't know exactly what happened with it but you do have a warrant. That's what it's for.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got out. The guy told that I was free. Free and clear to go vote or whatever. I had done my time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A bond. I didn't do -- what did I did wrong?

Why they doing this to me?

I didn't do nothing to nobody, man.

Voter fraud.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't worry about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is voter fraud?

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: So here's what happened. A state law prohibits convicted murderers and sex offenders from voting after they've been released but the state also restored the voting rights of other former felons back in 2018 which has led to widespread confusion.

Now, the majority of those arrested in this effort which was by the way pushed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis were black. And the videos now provide a glimpse into the reality of this operation to crack down on voter fraud which by DeSantis's own admission was not widespread in the state of Florida.

And what is also notable about this video, Audie, is that these people clearly did not understand why they were being arrested and neither did the police officers who were arresting them.

I don't think anybody -- I think DeSantis believed that nobody is going to have any sympathy for, you know, convicted murderers, sex offenders, and what have you. But there is clearly in many of these cases no intention on the part of these individuals to actually commit fraud.

CORNISH: Yes. I mean you're going to hear me say this a lot but context matters. And I'm not sure it's going to make a lot of sense to have videos of black Americans being arrested and related to voting. I don't know if that is a bear you want to poke. I think that is an electorate that will respond especially --

PHILLIP: For sure.

CORNISH: -- a lot of times when we see police videos they do not end well.

So as soon as that imagery is evoked I think you're inviting comparison and you're inviting criticism that is probably going to be well deserved.

And I think the other thing is it doesn't help as you said for the officers in the video to sort of be like, I don't know. They told me to. Like, that's not really making the case.

So I think this time -- this is important because if other governors follow suit, if other politicians say, hey. This is a way to prove our voter fraud sort of argument, it can backfire I think when the sort of reality hits about whether it looks like intimidation or not.

PHILLIP: To me, scope matters. 20 voters? There were 11 million ballots cast in 2020.

DIAMOND: Yes. And Ron DeSantis has launched this entire effort, right to go after voter fraud and it kind of says a lot about that effort, the fact that this is the result. This is the result. These 20 people who seem to have no -- have had no intent to violate those laws.

You know, he wasn't able it seems despite all of the money that he poured into this and all of the effort to create a special law enforcement unit dedicated to pursuing voter fraud. He wasn't able to get people it seems who intentionally violated this law. At least that's what it seems right now.

PHILLIP: Some of those charges have been actually been thrown out in some of the cases. I just want to play real quick Maggie, before you come in. We talked to one of these individuals who was arrested and just to hear his side of the story. Take a listen.


RONALD MILLER, MIAMI RESIDENT ACCUSED OF VOTING ILLEGALLY IN 2020: They're going to check if I had a card. Why are you saying it? It wasn't my mistake that was made. I trusted in the state of Florida to let me know what's going on. And they failed me.


PHILLIP: This is by the way Ron DeSantis's administration that sent these people who were ineligible to vote voter cards for whatever that is worth.

HABERMAN: And what I just was starting to say before as Jeremy was saying, you know, these efforts over and over again prove the opposite of what the intent is supposed to be. The intent is supposed, look, we're going to show there's widespread fraud. And every single time that is the opposite of what gets shown whether we are talking about this, these cases that Ron DeSantis has put in play or whether we're talking about what Donald Trump was talking about in 2020.

There is no evidence of widespread fraud. There are individual instances and in this case this is just confusion. These are just people who were told they were going to be able to do something and then couldn't.

SWAN: The motivation is to show then that they're being watched.


PHILLIP: That's right.

SWAN: In fact Kari Lake, who is running for governor in Arizona, said in July to all the mules out there, you're going to be on camera. We're watching you. We're filming you.

And that is really the motivation here is to show you that you're being surveilled and monitored and, you know, you can imagine that might have a suppressive effect. It also might have a motivating effect. We've seen in Georgia --

PHILLIP: Yes. That's right.

SWAN: -- the turnout was much higher than expected.

PHILLIP: To that exact point in Arizona over the weekend we've seen a lot of examples of people going out to these ballot boxes.

But look at this. This was video that was tweeted of these armed men standing outside of a polling drop boxes, ballot drop boxes in Mesa, Arizona to the point where Maricopa County had to put out a statement warning people, do not do this.

When you show up like this, at a ballot drop box, the intent is to intimidate voters it seems at least.


CORNISH: This is not going to be unusual. I mean a bit of history here, back in the 80s under the voting rights law there was an incident I think in New Jersey with Republicans using a kind of election police that sort of prohibition is over and I have been actually looking and watching to see if the next step is the kind of return to this attempt of people to say I'm watching. I'm the police. I'm like somehow related to security of the ballots.

I don't think this -- what I'm hoping is that this is a bug not a feature of our system going forward, but that kind of thing --

DIAMOND: What is different now is how widespread it is because the Republican Party for decades has been overplaying the notion of voter fraud making it out to be that there are more cases than there actually are. What is different now is it is central to the party's identity since the 2020 election, because of Donald Trump and the way in which he spewed these lies.

PHILLIP: And we also know now that there is a strain of violence in all of this. It's been proven. And so that's the other part of the coin that I think we have to watch for as well.

But that's it for us on INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. Don't forget you can also listen to our podcast and download inside politics wherever you get your podcast. Use your phone, scan that QR code at the bottom of your screen to get more information on that.

But up next on CNN "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bush. Jake's guests this morning include Senator Bernie Sanders and Congresswoman Nancy Mace.

Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Have a great rest of your day.