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Court Filing: DePape Wanted To Stop "Lies Coming Out Of Washington"; CNN: McConnell, Scott Battle Over Credit For Possible GOP Wins; CNN Poll: Economy Most Important Issue To Midterm Voters. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 02, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And Evan, often we see in big cases that involve both state and federal issues, the state and the Feds will get together and decide you have a stronger case or you have a stronger penalties on the books, you take it. In this case, we're expecting both state and federal prosecutions, right?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we are, John. I think it is possible that the Feds are going to end up going first. The he has yet, by the way, to enter an appearance on the federal charges. The state has seems to be going ahead at this point. But look, I mean, you know, just what the court documents said yesterday, you know, the irony of this being that the assailant was what he said was he was motivated by the lies coming out of Washington. And the irony is that, you know, the lies that are coming from some of our elected leaders with regard to this attack is what's probably going to fuel additional similar incidents, right?

And that's one of the things that the Capitol Police is trying to address. We know, for instance, that they had cameras that captured him getting into the house, into the home of the Pelosi's, but because the Speaker of the House was not there, those cameras are not monitored, you know, at the same time, so they caught it after the fact after they saw the lights of the police cars at the scene.

So there's clearly going to be need -- a need for more resources for the Capitol Police to be able to protect members of Congress and perhaps even their family members with the help of local authorities. John?

KING: Paul, I want you to listen to a little bit here. There's a public defender appointed to defend Mr. DePape, and he says that as he builds a defense, it could revolve around this.


ADAM LIPSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: There's also been a lot of speculation regarding Mr. DePape's vulnerability to misinformation. And that's certainly something that we're going to look into.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Can you go and try to convince the jury, don't convict this person because they believe COVID fantasies and conspiracies because they believe Mike Lindell that the election was stolen. Is that a valid defense?

PAUL CALLAN, FORMER NYC PROSECUTOR: No, it's not a valid defense. It's an absolutely ridiculous defense. They can assert an insanity defense. But to prove that they would have to show that he did not even -- that his mental illness was so severe, he did not even understand that he was committing a crime. And obviously he knew exactly what he was doing because he planned the crime, brought the weapon engaged in cogent conversation with Paul Pelosi while he held him captive.

So I don't think he's going to have a valid insanity defense. And certainly that defense is ridiculous, so no chance there.

KING: Evan, you mentioned the conversations among the Capitol Police, they want more resources. There'll be some questions about, you know, should they have been monitoring that camera or should the technology be better but look at these, look at these numbers, violent threats made against lawmakers. In 2016, there were 902, in 2017, 3,900, 2018, 5, 200, 2019, nearly 7,000, 2020, 8,600, 2021, 9,600. I'll leave people at home to figure out what happened between 2016 and 2017. What does this do in terms of prosecutions, police, law enforcement, security?

PEREZ: Yes, no, exactly. It makes it a lot more -- there's a lot more work for the prosecutors and the investigators to follow up on, John. It's just going to be a lot more resources. They're going to have to be dedicated to this.

KING: Evan Perez, Paul Callan, grateful for your time and insights.


Up next for us, a giant test big, test blossoming Republican rivalry, Mitch McConnell, the undisputed GOP leader, but Rick Scott angling for more credit if Republicans retake the Senate Majority.


KING: Washington being Washington isn't waiting for your votes to be counted. The jockeying to take credit or assign blame is well underway here. Democrats pick up a newspaper in a very public debate about midterm strategy. And now some brand new CNN reporting on a Senate Republican drama, Mitch McConnell is the Senate Republican leader. And he's the force behind a very powerful Super PAC. Rick Scott is the head of the Senate GOP's campaign fundraising committee.

Well, the two are jostling now over who should get credit, who will get credit if the GOP rate takes the Senate, and then of course the flip side, who gets the blame if they fall short.

CNN's Michael Warren joins our conversation now. Michael is behind this great new reporting. In this reporting, you quote a Republican lobbyist, Liam Donovan, who says McConnell wants to be leader, Scott wants to legend. The old Saturday Night Live skit, quien es mas macho. Rick Scott or Mitch McConnell?

MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: Well, this is a sort of a part of a long running feud between McConnell and Scott. And it really reflects the two different strategies to this cycle. McConnell has made it very clear that it's about getting the majority and it's about getting majority efficiently. It's about getting it sort of safely. And some people including supporters of Rick Scott say too conservatively. Rick Scott, on the other hand, has been sort of standing behind more controversial candidates has been sort of coming in where Senate Leadership Fund, which is the McConnell aligned Super PAC has been pulling out.

It's a different strategy. It's a more ambitious. Of course a lot of Republicans think Rick Scott wants to run for president. And some McConnell allies say, essentially, he's used this perch to promote himself and not necessarily the best interests of Senate Republicans. And we saw this play out a couple of weeks ago in New Hampshire, SLF pulls out. The NRSC goes back in. Poll showing maybe it's a little closer. There's going to be a lot of fingers pointing if they fall short, for instance, in that race.

KING: Right. You mentioned in New Hampshire race, Maggie Hassan, the Democratic incumbent, Don Bolduc the Republican, McConnell Super PAC pulls out, Rick Scott comes in. A small amount of money but still some money, same thing happened in Arizona, the SLF, the McConnell Super PAC pulls out and Rick Scott comes in with some money. This is a -- just a Washington parlor game or does it matter?


MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, I think for Rick Scott he certainly thinks it's going to benefit him regardless if they win or not. He's going to be able to say I stood up for these MAGA candidates. I did not give up on them when you had the party establishment pulling out. So if he does try to run or whatever his political ambitions are, he's going to be able to try to claim that mantle which could be very advantageous for him in today's --

KING: You made the point and you made it politely. Some of the text messages, they're not so polite about a lot of people around McConnell think Scott is using this committee to prepare for a presidential run. And here's one of the things they would cite for it. If you look at T.V. ad spending, T.V. ad spending actual money going into beyond T.V. ads, from October 1st to Election Day. The McConnell Super PAC has spent $131 million, $131 million, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, $23 million. That's a pretty good exhibit.

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yes, this is one of the oddest things in Washington. These -- this -- the chairman of the campaign committee, and the leadership usually work really in concert. The whole thing is cooperating.

KING: McConnell had that job a long time ago.

HULSE: Right. And so here is the sense in the Senate, and you'd nailed it, among the Republicans, is that Rick Scott has used this job that's usually used to build credibility in the Senate to try and build this outside image. And if they don't get the Senate back, Rick Scott is going to hear about it much more than Mitch McConnell.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And listen, you heard Biden sort of make use of one of the things that Rick Scott was saying about maybe they would cut Social Security and Medicare if the Republicans take over. So he's made Republicans a target in some instances.

And listen, I do think it's about burnishing his identity, creating an identity in many ways, because I think nationally, he's not very well known among Republicans, certainly not MAGA Republicans. So he's trying to tie himself closely I think to that Trump brand. He's got a lot of competition, not only Trump, but people like Rick, DeSantis, Abbott, and other folks as well.

KING: So Trump, DeSantis, Scott, maybe Rubio, if Florida Republicans have to have a primary first to send one flirty and out for the Republican presidential nomination?

WARREN: May be, we'll have to see. But look, I think at the end of the day, it's a money question. And, you know, I talked to Republicans who say, look, it's -- this is still Mitch McConnell's conference, Republican conference, one Republican told me, it's McConnell's the leader. He has the support of the donors. He has the support of the senators. That's it. Really, that is the final word.

KING: That is the final word, although we shall watch, I'm guessing, the jockeying plays out anyway, even if the math is clear.

Up next, losing the middle, our new CNN poll shows independents not happy with the President. And they are a key piece of why the late midterm trend line favors Republican.



KING: Back to our new CNN poll now for some expert analysis. President Biden's approval rating you see right here is down and his disapproval is up. That translates into a Republican edge now when we ask Americans which party they plan to support for Congress. Republicans also have an enthusiasm edge as Election Day nears. So is there a big red wave in the works? Let's ask two great posters. Democrat Margie Omero, Republican Kristen Soltis Anderson.

Margie, let me start with you. I went through this late last night reading and reading and reading through the data trying to find, well, there must be a silver lining for Democrats in here somewhere. I can't find it in this poll. Including this is the most important thing, what's the most important issue for you right now? More than half of Americans say, 51 percent say the economy, inflation. Democrats thought after Dobbs, maybe abortion would jump up, it is 15 percent, is the most important issue. That signals change election, right?

MARGIE OMERO, PRINCIPAL, GBAO STRATEGIES: Well, I don't think any Democrat is saying the economy isn't important, we shouldn't be talking about it. And abortion has never been this high in the list. When people talk about --

KING: Apologies, I need to stop, we need to fix your microphone, we need to fix your microphone. So let me, as we fix your microphone, I'll start here as we come in. It happens. It's so called live television. If you're the Republicans looking at this poll, you got, you know, a handful of days left, I guess the strategy is don't do anything wrong?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This just shows that we've reverted back to that moment we were in in March, when March, April timeframe when Republicans really felt like red wave was coming. That momentum got blunted with the Dobbs decision with gas prices beginning to go back down. But we've now reverted back to that that place where Republicans were feeling great. And this poll underscores among independents, Republicans doing better.

With Joe Biden's job approval, one thing you'll notice in this poll is the intensity around those who approve of him. It's not very strong of those who disapprove of him. It's quite strong. And so that intensity is what's fueling this higher enthusiasm on the Republican side. Republicans more likely to turn out at this point. It's a lot of dominoes that are all sort of falling to shape up --

KING: And so how, especially with little time, can you try to fix -- fix the things that are, fix your problems, your issues, if you will? If you look here, are you motivated to vote, 60 percent, 59 percent of Democrats. So six and 10 say they're motivated to vote. About half of independents are motivated. Seven and 10 Republicans are motivated to vote. We've seen this before in midterm elections, this is how it works. This is why Nancy Pelosi is speaker because of Democratic intensity in 2018. You have time to fix this for the Democrats in 2022?

OMERO: So I would say a couple things. First of all, you've had millions of people who have already voted. And those folks are disproportionately Democratic, a lot of analysis has shown. So those are people are already particularly motivated to vote. And it doesn't serve me or Democrats watching this. People who work in Democratic politics are active on these issues to overreact to the motivation results in a single poll. I think that the motivation fluctuates a little bit. Democratic motivation has been much higher post Dobbs than it was before Dobbs in the aggregate.

And then the last thing on I'll say is when you look at that list of issues which we started talking about what's at the bottom of the list is crime. And that's an issue and that Republicans have spent like a zillion dollars on the air in every race around the country talking about crime, the fact that that's low shows that their messaging has not borne out and motivating voters on their side.


KING: We talk a lot in midterm years about tribal politics because of the polarized times we live in. But one of the things that's interesting I looked at our poll is the middle of the electorate, maybe a shrinking middle, but independents are still important. Biden's job as President, independents grade him very poorly, only 38 percent approve, 62 percent disapprove. Does Biden have the right priorities?

Independents grade him poorly, only 30 percent say he does. Are things going well in the country, only 24 percent of independents say yes, 76 percent say no. Again, that is a giant challenge if you're trying to win these very close, competitive races across the country. What do you do?

OMERO: Well, so a few things I would note, I mean, first, if you look at which I thought was interesting is people rating their own economic situation actually more positively than they feel about the country. And there you see the partisan gap really shrink. So when people are rating the economy, the country, there you see a real partisan split. But if Democrats and Republicans feel a little bit more optimistic about their own economic situation, I think there's an opportunity there to talk about things that are going well, things that are improving, things that were better than a couple years ago, and what our plan is for next and talk about optimism.

And I think I also wouldn't think, you know, the notion that things in the country are not going well is that automatically hurt Democrats. And I would push back on that, I don't feel good about the way things are in the country, not because of the way that of what's happening in Congress and what Democrats have been able to do with the President. But because of misinformation and division and negative campaigning from the other side and lies and the fact that people are, you know, trying to promote chaos and doubt of the election results. Those kinds of things, I think are causing a lot of people to feel unhappy.

KING: You mentioned the Republican trepidation when Dobbs was rising. So when Trump returned as well, the suburbs were moving in that way. Do you see a key moment if this holds up? Well, is there a key phase or was this just we gradually came back to a traditional President's first midterm?

ANDERSON: Well, interestingly, in the real clear politics averages, Joe Biden's job approval hasn't been above 50 percent since the day that the Taliban took Kabul. It's interesting. This downward trend is not just about the economy, it's not just about a Supreme Court decision or, you know, any of that, it's a lot of different things that have made Americans feel less secure, less secure physically, less secure economically, less secure about our institutions and our democracy. And right now, that is favoring Republicans any port in the storm.

KING: President speaks tonight to the democracy question, we'll see. A few days left. The numbers are bad for Democrats now, but we're not done yet.

Ahead for us, some stunning new details into the former president, Donald Trump and his lawyers efforts to delay the certification of the 2020 election.



KING: There's important new information in the January 6th investigation today. New e-mails from the former Trump attorney, the election attorney, John Eastman, give us a window into the former president's inner circle. Those e-mails detail a plan to make Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas the decider on a Trump challenge to the 2020 election. They also detail concerns about Trump making false statements in court documents. CNN's Sara Murray is here with more details. Sara, Clarence Thomas?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Look, these are emails that were handed over to the House Committee investigating January 6th, and they're between Trump lawyers. And they're making clear in these e-mails that they see Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as their only chance at preventing Congress from certifying the 2020 election, you know, essentially what they were hoping was that Thomas would tentatively issue an order that held the Biden electoral votes from Georgia were not valid because of election fraud.

Of course, this did not happen. You know, further down this e-mail chain, one of the Trump attorneys even acknowledges there was a less than 1 percent chance of this strategy before the Supreme Court being successful before the January 6th certification. John?

KING: And the e-mails also detail, walk us through how concerns from some of Trump lawyers that he was making false claims in court documents.

MURRAY: That's right. And we've heard about this before, because the judge said in this case, you know, forcing John Eastman to hand these emails over that he was worried, you know, crime could have been committed. And what you see in these e-mails are Trump's attorneys essentially worried that he could be prosecuted if he signs on to this court filing that's reiterating some of these false claims of election fraud about, you know, people who they said were dead who voted or were felons who voted, you know, they say that they have information that these are inaccurate, that Trump has been briefed that these aren't accurate.

At one point in the e-mails, Eastman says, I've no doubt that an aggressive D.A. or U.S. Attorney someplace would go after both the President and his lawyers once all the dust settles on this. So you can see in real time, they had very serious concerns about Trump's signing onto these court filings, John.

KING: And there's an issue here about trying to get a notary over zoom, sounds bizarre, helped me.

MURRAY: Yes, there was an issue about sort of, could we change the way that we're phrasing this? Could we get a notary over zoom so that we're not essentially saying all this stuff is true under punishment of perjury, so they were sort of spit balling these options. I think it gives you an indication of sort of how chaotic this all was, how they wanted to try to prevent the former president from having legal exposure. But they also wanted to continue to reiterate these claims of fraud that of course have been debunked.


KING: The more you learn the more bizarre and the more corrupt it gets. Sara Murray, thanks for that important reporting on.

On election night, remember to join us, join CNN for our special coverage. It starts Tuesday, Election Day, November 8th at 4:00 p.m. Eastern. Learn what's happening. Join us what's happening in your state around the country.

Thanks for joining us on INSIDE POLITICS today. Ana Cabrera picks up right now.