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Tonight: Trump Expected To Announce 2024 Presidential Campaign; G20 Leaders Consider Draft Resolution Condemning War In Ukraine. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired November 15, 2022 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He had in 2015, 2016 that carried him to the White House, particularly given his focus on election denialism, which largely fizzled during Tuesday's midterms. So that's one thing to note here.
The other thing I want to point out, there's another reason that he is announcing now and that is to clear the fields. It is very becoming more and more apparent that this is going to be a likely very big Republican field in 2024. He wants to get out there kind of suck some of that oxygen out of there and secure down his voters before some of those other big GOP heavy hitters get involved. John?
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Kristen Holmes live for us in West Palm Beach, big night tonight there. Thanks, Kristen, for setting that up.
Reporters back around the table. You could make a contrarian argument that in 2016, he won because it was a crowded field. And he was able to have his base. So why does he want everybody else to go away? Is does he benefit from a crowded field? But here's the moment, here's the moment Donald Trump is just look, look, he has surprised us before. He has defied the laws of political gravity before. So for anyone who wants to say, forget about it. Be careful, be careful.
But this is from the exit polls. In Arizona, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all states critical on the presidential map. He is underwater, unfavorable, 57 percent, 53 percent, 53 percent, 58 percent, 58 percent, this from the midterms just over. So you could argue a political strategist might argue, let that heal a little bit or confront it. Donald Trump's got to confront it.
TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Yes. I mean, I think there are so many reasons why it might have worked more in his favor, including, you know, he wasn't the front runner in '15 and '16. He was considered the long shot that kind of had this slow burn, and now he's coming in as the juggernaut that everybody else is going to want to take out, and they're going to come for him. Now, of course, we know we cannot count President Trump out. We've seen how he treats his opponents.
But again, he's going to be on the defensive more than he was the last go round. And I don't know if he's calculating for that. Now, everyone is coming for you.
KING: Is it to freeze out other people, remind them I can raise tens of millions of dollars. I may not have the network I used to have but I have a very good network, stronger than anybody else at the moment in the Republican Party. Or is it, I'm maybe giving him too much strategic credit here to repair some damage. Look at this, again, from the exit polls in the midterm elections just last week, 20 percent of Republicans view Donald Trump unfavorably. It's not horrible, but it's twice as -- twice the number -- 10 percent of Democrats view President Biden unfavorably, 66 percent of independents view Donald Trump unfavorably.
You cannot win the White House if 66. You could win a republican nomination, it's mostly closed primaries, but you cannot win the White House with that number. Is that -- is this about repair and say, no, he needs time?
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think more than anything, one of the things that we've watched with Donald Trump and with the Republican base is that once you can get them on his side, there becomes, you see what develops is a certain defensiveness among the Republican base to any criticism that is launched Trump's way. I mean, I've heard countless voters describe to me the fact that they felt like when the media fact checked him, when, you know, the media, criticize certain things that the President did that were out of bounds, that that made them defensive about their candidate, their guy, right?
And so by getting out there first, I think he achieved that status once again, of showing Republicans that he is their champion, quote, unquote. I think the difference we have to see now is will Republicans who are anti-Trump coalesce around one candidate, as you said, I think a crowded field definitely benefited him back in 2016.
And also, are Republicans going to be willing to go after Trump with the same ruthlessness that Trump goes after them because that is something that we have not seen so far, even with these interviews for Mike Pence. You know, the comments that we've seen from Ron DeSantis. I mean, the level of ruthlessness doesn't even come close to what Trump is willing to do.
KING: So you mentioned Ron DeSantis and Mike Pence, two more nuggets here. One the Florida exit poll for the midterms, do you want to see this person run in 2024, 61 percent of Florida Republicans say sure about Donald Trump. That's not -- OK, 76 percent say, and I'm looking at a different graphic here. So we'll just move on from that one. But and Mike Pence is given a bunch of interviews. He has a book coming out. He says the Republican Party should be ready, must be ready to move on.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In the days ahead, I think there will be better choices.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Better choices than Donald Trump? PENCE: And for me and my family, we will be reflecting about what our role is in that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you run for president in 2024?
PENCE: Over giving a consideration in our house, prayerful consideration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: I have a hard time figuring out that Mike Pence lane. Christian conservative in the House has a policy record there that appeals to many Republican base voters was the governor of Indiana, record there that appeals to Republican base voters. But if you're an anti-Trumper he was on a Trump-Pence, Trump-Pence he was on the side with Donald Trump. If you want to move on completely, why would you go back -- what's the lane?
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And also -- it seems like there's a new lane developing. Trump policies without the Trump chaos and I think Mike Pence is trying to plow that lane. It's kind of the Ron DeSantis lane. That -- it's not so much never Trump as, let's just wait -- we liked what he did policy wise, but we're ready to go MAGA without, you know, King MAGA.
KING: So is that the Mike Pompeo lane? Mike Pompeo, again, CIA director, Secretary of State for Donald Trump says, listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE POMPEO, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: One of the reasons I think we didn't do as well on Tuesday is we didn't make the case that we were the trusted hands, the serious leaders who had real answers for the American people. People are starving for real leadership that is serious. They're not looking for celebrity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Serious, not looking for celebrity. I think he might have had somebody in mind there.
MITCHELL: Well, in I think about this in the context of, you know, Marjorie Taylor Greene faced the same type of primary opposition from opponents who said I can give you the Trumpism, I can give you the conservatism without all the things that make Marjorie Taylor Greene controversial, and they could not raise the money, they could not raise the profile, they could not compete with her charisma.
And to me, that's the question when Donald Trump and we know he loves the campaigning, he loves the rallies, he loves the big crowds in the theater in the pomp and circumstance, he's going to do that well. Can they compete? Are they willing to throw the haymakers that are going to be required to keep up with Donald Trump? Because just offering Trump without the Trumpism, I don't know if that resonates with those conservative voters, who in a lot of ways, liked everything about Trump kind of short of the election denialism that for many voters is where it was a bridge too far.
DIAMOND: And we also need to be really clear, Donald Trump is the unquestioned frontrunner for the Republican nomination in 2024. And I think that over the last week, as much as bad as some of Trump's numbers were with independent voters, as much as he may have hurt candidates and Republican candidates in various states, his approval numbers with Republican base voters are still sky high. And I think there's been a lot of wishful thinking perhaps among the Republican consultant class, that things have changed. I don't know that that have changed.
KING: Well, we'll see, right? That's about to be put to the test. But it's a stunning point you make and that he is by clear, the most dominant force in the Republican Party, even though he is by far the most dominant force in there losing 2018, losing 2020, and losing 2022, again, three times and yet.
This quick programming note, the former Vice President Mike Pence will join Jake Tapper for a live CNN town hall. That's tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. And next, all the investigations Trump wants you to ignore. Just today, Georgia's Republican governor is a grand jury witness facing questions about Trump's effort to steal the 2020 election.
KING: Just one high profile reminder today of the legal peril facing Donald Trump as he embarks on another presidential run. Governor Brian Kemp is testifying before the Fulton County special grand jury, that grand jury investigating Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss in Georgia. Kemp is one of three major witnesses this week, the former White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson said to appear tomorrow.
You might remember from the January 6th Committee she worked for Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows. And Senator Lindsey Graham is expected Thursday, that after the senator lost his court fight to quash the grand jury subpoena.
Joining me now with insights, CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez and the former Deputy Assistant Attorney General, federal prosecutor Elliot Williams. Elliot, let me start with you on this Georgia investigation. There's been a big debate about this. Some people think this is the place where you can actually prove because of the phone calls to the Secretary of State and other pressure put on state officials, you can actually prove a direct effort to steal an election. Others say wait a minute, state federal boundaries, it's murky.
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Stop, you're both right. The proof is there, in terms of the President calling state officials directly and possibly violating Georgia election law. Look, he's got a decent case here to go into court and say number one, as a former president, you ought to sue me or charged me in federal court. Number two, I'm immune under the First Amendment and so on. Now, look, we're all in agreement that those arguments are probably nonsense, but you have to take them into court. And he's got at least plausible lawsuit there to challenge the charges in Georgia.
KING: And so innocent until proven guilty belongs to everybody in America, including Donald Trump. But just look at these investigations, there's two federal investigations. One about did you try to disrupt the procedures in Congress January 6th, the one is about declassified documents. There's a January 6th Select Committee, there's the Georgia investigation. There's the House Ways and Means tax investigation. There's a Manhattan criminal investigation of the Trump Organization. There's a New York Attorney General fraud lawsuit, again, innocent until proven guilty, but different to announce a presidential campaign with all of that around you.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. This is a highly unusual thing for, you know, for everybody involved. And I think, you know, the former President is making the play here that if any of those investigations go forward, that it actually just propels him and makes him more popular. I think that's the play he's making. We'll see whether these prosecutors, any one of these prosecutors actually goes ahead.
I mean, I think everybody though, is quite aware of this. I mean, people at the Justice Department have talked about this behind the scenes of like, you know, what exactly do we do when we get to the point where we can look at the evidence, and whether we would charge a president, a former president like this or a candidate for the presidency. It's kind of a place we've never been before.
WILLIAMS: But to this candidate question whether you charge Donald Trump with a crime today or tomorrow after he's committed or, you know, after he's announced as a candidate for presidency, he's still the most famous person on the planet after I think the rock and Justin Bieber literally nothing changes when he's a candidate for office. It's just a question of whether you think you have the facts and the law to charge him with a crime.
KING: Except he gins up his people by saying it's another witch hunt. They're just after me, because I'm trying to save you. I'm trying to save America. I'm trying to be your president. That's his argument, which he has used effectively to keep his base. How big is that stuff? You know, so they had to pause at the Justice Department. They stop, but they get more quiet around election season. We're almost out of election season, I don't know where they restart the clock. We haven't called the house yet. Maybe it takes a week or two.
But when you look at the classified documents investigation, or the bigger January 6th investigation, and so did Donald Trump actively tried to obstruct the United States government from doing its job, moving on to the next president. Where are we?
PEREZ: Well, I think, you know, we still have one more election to go through, which is in December out. There has been no indication so far that, you know, the activity has picked up at the Justice Department. So it may well be that they'll wait another couple of weeks, you know, for the December runoff in Georgia. But, look, I mean, you can see Georgia is already starting to have their activity pick up. And the clock is ticking for the Justice Department. They have to start making some decisions of where they're going to go with these cases, especially the Mar-a-Lago case, which is frankly, you know, it's all there already.
KING: In the Mar-a-Lago case, "The Washington Post" today saying some of the prosecutors think it's was his ego. I'm not -- I'm going to take these documents. They're not mine. But I'm the former president and I want the Kim Jong-un letters and I want other documents from the United States government. Is that a defense?
WILLIAMS: Yes, no, why he did it is irrelevant to the statute, whether you're charging him, right? Now, they would have an argument when they go into court saying, look, consistently, this is why he kept possession of those documents, and document one, document two, document three, he all -- with each one thought that it was boosting up his ego. It just helps them build a narrative. But at the end of the day, the crime isn't why you did it. It's that you did it.
KING: Now we have parallel tracks, Trump candidacy, all these investigations, why we come to work every day.
Up next, President Biden on the world stage, he's in Indonesia at the G20 Summit working to strengthen global support for Ukraine, just as Ukraine today facing new missile strikes from Russia.
KING: Another fact day for President Biden today who was in Bali, Indonesia attending the world leader Summit, including the G20. The war in Ukraine, one of the big focuses behind the scenes. Leaders there said to be considering a draft resolution that condemned Russia's war. Russian President Vladimir Putin notably absent at the G20. CNN's M.J. Lee joins us now live from Bali, a new Russian strikes in Ukraine today, missile strikes across the country, M.J., as the President and others try to work on a resolution. What are you hearing?
M.J. LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, we are seeing this vivid split screen today of these missile strikes across Ukraine. On the same day that global leaders kicked off the G20 Summit to discuss in large part the war in Ukraine, both the destruction that we've seen across the country throughout the year, but also the global economic and political and humanitarian impact that it has had across the world.
And heading into today and the kickoff of the summit, U.S. officials had said that most of the G20 member countries do condemned the war. There was this recognition essentially that a handful of the member countries haven't always been fully and openly condemning and critical of the war. We are talking about, of course, countries like China, India, Saudi Arabia, even to some extent the host country, Indonesia.
But ultimately, we are told that most of those countries did end up signing on to this declaration condemning the war, which isn't insignificant for President Biden, for whom of course, the overarching goal of attending the summit was try to sort of elevate the collective voice of other countries that have been involved in been more vocal in condemning this war.
KING: And M.J., President Putin decided not to come. He did send this Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Is he active presence or just sitting and listening?
LEE: Yes, you know, Vladimir Putin ended up sort of being the elephant in the room, except just not physically here. There was a lot of speculation leading up to the G20 Summit on whether he would come, whether he would not, and ultimately he did end up sending Sergey Lavrov instead. But even until yesterday, there was a lot of speculation and senior administration officials on the U.S. side were being asked questions about what would happen if he showed up virtually, for example, would there be a boycott?
What kind of reaction would President Biden have? And officials were basically saying, you know, that's a hypothetical that we can engage in. But ultimately, what we saw was President Biden and other leaders discussing Putin and the very war that he started without him being actually here. John?
KING: M.J. Lee live for us on the ground at the G20 in Bali. M.J., thanks so much.
Up next, President Biden praising a new report back here in Washington that shows inflation, shows signs of slowing.
KING: Topping our political radar today, a brand new inflation report out this morning shows price increases are slowing down. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says wholesale prices were up 8 percent last month compared to last year. But that's a dip from September's number and a better result than economists expected. President Biden praising this new report calling it quote, more indications inflation is finally moderating.
A bipartisan group of senators says it has the votes to pass a bill that would codify same sex marriage. That bill expected to get its first procedural vote tomorrow. The Majority Leader Chuck Schumer echoing optimism on the Senate floor today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: The respect for Marriage Act is precisely the kind of bill that Democrats and Republicans can rally around together and which Americans across the country want to see us work on. It already passed the House earlier this year with significant 47 Republican votes. And I'm optimistic we can achieve a similar result in this chamber.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Appreciate your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you tomorrow. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage on a very busy day right now.