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Biden: It's "Sick" That Assault Weapons Haven't Been Banned; McCarthy Says House May Move to Impeach DHS Secretary Mayorkas; Trump Dines with Kanye West and Holocaust Denier at Mar-a-Lago; Georgia Voters Flock to Polls as Early Voting Begins; Internal Feuding Revealed Ahead of Jan 6 Committee Final Report. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired November 27, 2022 - 08:00   ET





ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST (voice-over): Another deadly week in America. Shootings out of Virginia Walmart and a Colorado nightclub take 12 lives. President Biden wants action.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The idea we still allow semiautomatic weapons to be purchased is sick.

PHILLIP: Will any amount of carnage change the politics of gun violence in Washington?

Plus, the GOP's 2024 front runner breaks bread with a well-known white supremacist.

ANDY MCCABE, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: This is what people like Nick Fuentes to thrive on.

PHILLIP: Will he pay any political price?

And, McCarthy's math problem. With a handful of Republicans lining up against him, can he win them over by threatening to impeach Biden's border chief?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Enough is enough. We will do whatever it takes.

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


PHILLIPS (on camera): Hello and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I am Abby Philip.

Another week in America has been marred by gun violence. Families of communities that should be celebrated Thanksgiving are now planning memorials for those who were killed. Since last Saturday, there have been 14 mass shootings all across the country, killing at least 26 people, including one in Atlanta, just last night. But two in particular at Walmart in Virginia, and an LGBT club in Colorado, capture the country's and the president's attention. President Biden says new gun laws must be back on Washington's agenda.


BIDEN: The idea that we still allow semiautomatic weapons to be purchased is sick, it's just sick. It has no, no social redeeming value, zero, none. Not a single solitary rationale for it besides profit for gun manufacturers.

REPORTER: Can you do anything about gun laws during a lame duck, sir?

BIDEN: I'm going to try. I'm going to try to get rid of assault weapons.

REPORTER: During the lame duck?

BIDEN: I'm going to do it whenever -- I've got to make that assessment as I get in and count the votes.


PHILLIP: Let's discuss all of this, and more with CNN's Jeremy Diamond, Jackie Kucinich of "The Boston Club", "The Washington Post's" Jennifer Bendery, and "Bloomberg's" Mario Parker.

So, in the lame duck, I mean, that's a really narrow window and that's a big kind of perpetual agenda item, assault weapons ban. Is that real, or is that just Biden kind of --

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think that's more of a talking point for the president and the White House. I mean, if you just look at the numbers, the numbers weren't there when House Democrats passed an assault weapons ban in July in terms of the senate. And they still aren't there. Even if all five republic, retiring Republican senators voted for this, which they won't, you would still need five more to overcome the filibuster.

So, the math isn't there. But the White House sees this as a politically winning issue. You know, you look at polls and typically, a majority of American support some kind of assault weapons ban. They see it as a way of putting more pressure on Republicans. They don't see any downside to continually pushing this issue. So, I think they will do it in the lambda, not from an actual legislative action perspective.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, I think there's something to be said about just the lack of timidness among Democrats on the issue of guns, and part of it has to do with the reality of what's been happening in America over the last few years. Since 2016, there has been an almost doubling of mass shootings in this country, just extraordinary numbers. It's, seemingly, happening every day.

So, the politics, I think for Democrats, seems pretty clear. MARIO PARKER, NATIONAL POLITICS TEAM LEADER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: No,

absolutely. It's a winning issue for the Democrats, as Jeremy mentioned, to really message on, But, again, just -- it's so just politically fraught. We finally had some kind of movement over the summer after the Uvalde shooting. It wasn't what the Democrats wanted, or the Biden administration wanted as well.

But I think, if you want to use a bellwether, or to where Republican stand on this issue, you look at Glenn Youngkin, Virginia's governor, who is considered a rising star within the party. The Chesapeake shooting and the aftermath, he immediately pivoted to mental health. He didn't say anything about limiting or banning assault weapons. His talking point was mental health.

And I think that's a telling sign for Republicans who stand on this issue.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, part of it is also -- some of the -- you know, every shooting is unique in its own awful way. And I think Republicans lean on that to sort of say, well, this isn't going to solve the problem, that's not going to solve the problem.

But more broadly, about the lame duck -- I mean, we are entering this period where maybe something might happen, maybe it won't, maybe something might get done, maybe it won't.


But it's not just assault weapons. It's codifying same-sex marriage. It's protecting the Dreamers, electoral form, the Electoral Count Act, something that probably really needs to be done before 2024.

What do you think gets done?

JENNIFER BENDERY, HUFFPOST SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: We'll cut that in half, and then cut that in half and -- I mean, they're going to -- they have a limited amount of time to do things, some things they have to do, right?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Like not shut down the government?

BENDERY: Like first and foremost, their only basic job is to keep the government running. That's it, baseline. And that's what they still struggle to do.

So, that's a baseline. I've got to keep the government open so that they have to do that. And they have to pass the NDAA bill, which is the bill to authorize funding for defense issues.

Beyond those two things that are must pass, I think the only, in my -- from talking to my sources and discovering this, they don't think they can actually do that isn't just talking about stuff is the same sex marriage bill. They're already cleared the cloture vote, in that 60 votes, so that just means they're kind of in the clear. PHILLIP: Just -- let's take a moment and say if that happens, that

would be --

BENDERY: It's a big deal.

PHILLIP: -- really huge, really extraordinary.

I do want to pivot, though, to President Biden and his own future. He is up in Nantucket with his family, deliberating, perhaps, what he's going to do. Meanwhile, I think Democrats around the country, Democrats broadly, a couple of polls have given us a bit of an indication about where they are.

Here's one from Marist, asked Democrats, does Biden have a better chance of winning the presidency than another Democrat? Thirty-eight percent say yes. A Quinnipiac poll asked Democrats, do you want Biden to run again in 2024? Fifty-one percent say yes. So, what do we -- what are we to make of these numbers?

KUCINICH: I think one of the biggest factors and whether or not President Biden declares has nothing to do with Democrats. It has everything to do with former President Donald Trump, who declared his candidacy. If that hadn't happened already, my gosh, so, early I think we would be in a different position going forward with President Biden.

But I think that -- I mean, from what I've heard from sources, that weighs very heavily on him. As to who could beat former president Trump if he is able to vanquish another Republican field, who knows if you'll be able to do that. They don't seem as afraid of him as they have in the past.

But that -- what Democrats want, I think the question of "if not Biden, who?" is a haunting one for a lot of Democrats.


DIAMOND: And I also think that -- I mean, when I speak with my sources in the president's advisers, Biden fundamentally thinks that he's doing a good job. He thinks that he's accomplished a lot in the last two years. When you look at historical precedent, he has a point in terms of what he's been able to get through Congress. And so, ultimately, that is the biggest factor, I think, for Biden, is as long as he feels like he's physically capable, mentally capable of doing the job, which he very much thinks he is, as long as he thinks he's doing a good job, he will likely run for another term.

And then it comes down to this idea of, but who else? We remember that "SNL" sketch from a couple weeks ago that outline that fear among the Democrats of, you know, they're not sure who else to run. At the end of the day, this comes back to Biden, and everyone is pretty comfortable.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, Biden ran and kind of presented himself as this transitional figure, I mean, here's him back in 2020 talking about this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: Look, I view myself as a bridge. Not as anything else. There is an entire generation of leaders that you saw stand behind me. They are the future of this country.


PHILLIP: That might be a very long bridge.


PARKER: Absolutely. If you look at the Democrats bench right now, it's fairly thin, right? And that has to be weighing in on President Biden's considerations with deliberations as to whether he'll run again. If you talk to White House aides, people at the DNC as well, it looks like it's all systems go, right?

And then, if you add on to the point, the fact that President Biden has always said that Charlottesville was the impetus, right, for him to run again, you're going to look at signs and wonders, what does that mean when you're deliberating right now in former President Donald Trump was the GOP front runner, just dined with the weights process?

PHILLIP: Yeah. We'll have a lot more to say about that coming up. But also extraordinary to me that Biden feels emboldened right now because of what happened in the midterms. They kind of defied history there.

BENDERY: He should feel emboldened. Yeah, there are actually going to hold on to the senate, and maybe even pick up a seat, which is -- 50/50 Senate is already Democratic majority, but a 51-49 seat if they win in Georgia, that makes it -- that's a big deal.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and it makes a huge difference in Washington.

Coming up next, the doors of Mar-a-Lago are apparently open, wide open, including if you are a prominent white supremacist and a rapper who spews antisemitic hate. We will have more on that dinner that former President Trump had, coming up next.



PHILLIP: In his quest to lock down the speakership in the newly minted Republican-led House, Kevin McCarthy is facing a math problem. There will likely be 222 GOP members in the next Congress, a tiny majority and the same one that Democrats had at the beginning of the current Congress.

So, to be elected speaker, McCarthy needs 218 votes on the House floor. So assuming every single Democrat votes against him he could only afford to lose four Republicans. But so far, five conservative members said they are hard nos and that number could very well rise. So, he is making lots of promises to change the House rules, to

conduct investigations pushed by the MAGA wing of the conference and potentially to impeach Biden's top officials.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Our country may never recover from Secretary Mayorkas' dereliction of duty. If Secretary Mayorkas does not resign, House Republicans will investigate every order, every action and every failure will determine whether we can begin impeachment inquiry.


PHILLIP: So coming off of a very disappointing midterm election cycle, the first order of business is impeaching the Homeland Security secretary?

KUCINICH: I mean, if he wants to be speaker. That is the price he might pay.

And every time he makes one of these promises, it reduces the power he has in that speakership so the fact that he is going to have to make the deals, I mean, they're going to come to roost and we're going to see a Republican Party that's focused more on apparel impeaching the Homeland Security secretary or maybe curbing inflation or some of the other things that they promised during this midterm election.

PHILLIP: And if you're wondering who's pulling the strings, it's Marjorie Taylor Greenes and Matt Gaetzs of the world.

Here's Matt Gaetz talking on Steve Bannon's podcast about Kevin McCarthy.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Kevin McCarthy will revert to the establishment mean the moment he gets power. Five of us saying publicly, we have no intention of voting for McCarthy. We are firm in our opposition to him. Well, that ought to trigger a realization among Republicans that we need a consensus candidate.


PHILLIP: In theory, that might seem to be the path forward, but so far, no consensus candidate has emerged. So, it will just be perhaps the case of McCarthy cutting off deals and then having to contend with that part of his conference if he's speaker.

PARKER: Absolutely. This is a colossal headache for him. He has cut deals with Marjorie Taylor Greene already. She sounds quite confident to get a pretty plush committee position, not only committee restoration as well.

So, I mean, he's cutting these deals left and right, in the lead up to the election. He mentioned that Republicans weren't interested in impeaching and then pivoted to that with Mayorkas.

PHILLIP: Well, Jen, what do you make of this Marjorie Taylor Greene kind of inconvenient friendship, or whatever it is, a convenient -- friendship of convenience I guess is really what it is.

She has decided to back McCarthy. And she's getting richly rewarded for it. But she is going to be quite the sort of de facto leader of the House, in this next Congress, perhaps.

BENDERY: I mean, I imagine this next Congress will be chaos. Because I think what we are seeing is Kevin McCarthy literally promising everybody whatever they want to hear just to coast right in and become speaker. And then, hopefully, maybe people kind of forget some of those things, and hope that people like Marjorie Taylor Greene in a more prominent position.

But there's so many competing factors here that I just don't see -- and I don't think she is going to rise to the top and be the voice of the party. I think they're just going to be people saying they got promised this, they got promise this, let's impeach him. Let's issue subpoenas.

And it's going to be, like, hey, remember how you get elected to Congress, to like pass bills and, I don't know, make policy.

So, it just feels like there's all these competing crossfire demands within the caucus that Kevin McCarthy's going to be at the top saying, okay, like, I'll do that, and that, and this and that. Okay, next? And it'd just kind of move forward.

PHILLIP: And if you are one of these 18 members who were elected in districts that Biden won, take a look at this list and where these people are from, New York and California largely, places like Oregon. You were very uncomfortable with that kind of chaos. This is not something that you want when you have to run again in two years in a purple district.

DIAMOND: Yeah, there's a whole bunch of new frontline Republicans from traditionally Democratic districts who are going to have to contend with what this House does and then carry that baggage into the next election. And you make no bones about it, the White House is eager to take advantage of that, whether that's to try and peel away some of those Republicans on policy areas, which is difficult given the fact that the House speaker controls the floor.

But if not that, then to at least, you know, point out the inconsistencies, the hypocrisy of Republicans talking about issues like inflation and what that, and then coming into power and focusing on all these other issues.

But the reality is that the Republican House Caucus traditionally has always been driven by those further on the right, not by those moderates.

[08:20:06] And so, if Kevin McCarthy is being pulled in two directions, at the end of the day, he's going to be pulled more in the right wing direction because that's just the way that that caucus typically operates.

PHILLIP: And when you talk to Republicans, they say the weakness of their midterm message was a lack of actual solutions to solve inflation problems, et cetera. Will they resolve that before the next election, we will see.

But coming up next, former President Trump is once again associating with extremist. And this time, it's a man who compares himself to Hitler and, says, quote, a tidal wave of white identity is coming. We will have more on that.



PHILLIP: Former President Trump had room at his table at Mar-a-Lago for not one but two of the most prominent antisemitic figures in the country this week.

First, Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West who spent the last several months spreading vile, antisemitic tropes on social media and in interviews. And the second is this man, Nick Fuentes, the 24-year- old founder of the group America First Political Action Committee.

He's emerged recently as one of the most prominent and outspoken white supremacist. He attended both the January 6 and Charlottesville rallies, and he is an unabashed Holocaust denier. Trump spent the holiday weekend, though, on social media trying to explain away the gathering, claiming to not know Nick Fuentes and minimizing West's anti-Semitism.

But according to CNN, a source said that Trump appreciated Nick Fuentes' knowledge of his base and found him, quote, very interesting. And at one point, the source said, Trump declared that he liked Fuentes.

West had his own version of events.


KANYE WEST, RAPPER: Trump was most perturbed about me asking him to be my vice president. I think that was like lower on the list of things that caught him off guard. It was the fact that I walked in with intelligence.

So, Trump is really impressed with Nick Fuentes. And Nick Fuentes, unlike so many of the lawyers and so many people that he was left with on his 2020 campaign, he's actually a loyalist. When he didn't know what the lawyer says, you'll still have your loyalist.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: It is only just a latest example of Trump forging ties with individuals who have racist or extremist views, and his lack of willingness to condemn the stuff over and over again.

But, Mario, today what I think is striking is the deepening remaining silence among Republicans about this. Yet, again, here we are, and Trump is just opening the doors to these vile characters. And Republicans, the elected ones, aren't saying anything.

PARKER: No. We've seen this movie before, right? They tried to bury their heads in the sand when Trump was back on Twitter actively years ago. We would approach him in the halls of Congress asking -- excuse me, approach the lawmakers in the halls of Congress asking if they saw the tweet.

They didn't see the tweet that everybody else saw. They didn't want to hear. They want to just ignore this right now.

But the problem for Trump, I mean, A, the reboot is never as good as the original, right? He's trying to catch fire in a bottle with his 2016 run. It's just -- I was down in Mar-a-Lago for the rollout of his announcement.

It just didn't have the same pizzazz that you can think -- that you figure that he was treating for. And then he also -- I mean, the donors are fleeing him left to right. This is sure not to bring him back also as well.

So, this is a terrible moment for the former president's rollout.

PHILLIP: His former U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, tweeted this: To my friend, Donald Trump, you are better than this. Even a social visit from antisemitic like Kanye West and human scum like Nick Fuentes is unacceptable. I urge you to throw these bums out, disavow them and relegate them to the dustbin of history where they belong.

That is a pretty strong statement. But the question is, I mean, given all that Trump has said and done, I mean, is he really better than what we are seeing here?

DIAMOND: I -- look, when somebody shows you who they are, you should believe them and Trump has shown us time and time again where he stands on these kinds of things -- taking days to disavow David Duke, the former KKK Klansman who expressed his support for Trump.

And you have to remember with Trump, his fundamental, rule the way he operates, if someone like me, I like them. And that's it.

It doesn't matter who they are. It doesn't matter if they're antisemitic, it doesn't matter if the racist. That is the bar for Trump every single time.

And you also know when you look at these denials from Trump, when there's a blatant lie in them, you know that the whole thing is BS. Because Trump here says that Kanye West unexpectedly showed up with three of his friends, Nick Fuentes, but one of the friends was Karen Giorno, who ran Trump's Florida campaign in 2016 who I know very well, who Trump knew very knew very well on sight.

So, you know, it's just -- and then there's the issue of Trump himself, of course, has also spewed anti-Semitism in the past, including very recently when he suggested that American Jews are essentially not grateful enough towards him because of his support for Israel going on that antisemitic trope of dual loyalty of American views.


PHILLIP: I just want people to understand here this Nick Fuentes situation. This is someone who, I mean, has some degree of fame in the very dark right wing corners on the Internet. But to understand the vileness (ph) of it all, he attended the Charlottesville rally, said a tidal wave of white identity is coming.

He says the U.S. has a white demographic core that's central to its identity. He says he is just like Hitler and that the real holocaust is Jesus Christ being crucified.

Notably though Marjorie Taylor Greene, who were just discussing, Congressman Paul Gosar spoke at his white supremacist conference in the past. And both of those people are member of the Republican Party in good standing.

JACKIE KUCINICH, Washington BUREAU CHIEF, BOSTON GLOBE: He's a power broker now in the House Republican conference. This is -- Nick Fuentes is very much a known quantity. Yes, he inhabits the darker corners of the Internet but he also inhabits the House floor now.

So because of his -- these individuals that have appeared at his conference. So there has been this permission structure created by the Republican Party to not cast individuals like Nick Fuentes, you know, back to the dark corners.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And this just tells so much about what a Trump term would look like. Like no vetting of people just like anti-Semites (INAUDIBLE) walking through the door. I mean it tells us everything.

KUCINICH: Exactly. Because of the silence that Abby mentioned at the beginning of this segment, that's why this continues because there's no one in the Republican Party who with any sort of power that's willing to stand up and rebuke him.

Now the question is should other people get into the presidential race if this is something that's called out by some of the potential challengers of the former president?

JENNIFER BENDERY, SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER, HUFFPOST: I mean this is all tracking with exactly the Trump that we know and it all tracks with Marjorie Taylor Greene -- it is all the same stuff we have been seeing for years. This is like, to me it is nothing surprising to any of this. The only thing that stood out to me about this meeting with President Trump and Kanye and Nick Fuentes and then the Marjorie Taylor Greene connection, the thing that really stood out to me was the absurdity of it all because I only wish I could have watched Kanye West turn to Trump and say, I'm running for president. Would you like to be my vice president? And just watch that one blow up. Because that is not the thing that Trump wants to hear at all.

PHILLIP: But if you are a Republican right now, right. They are watching this slow-moving train moving forward and Trump, he's announced that he's running again in 2024. The base of the party seems to be to some extent right there with him.

Just look at the poll -- the Quinnipiac poll about asking whether Trump running for president is a bad thing. Democrats say it is a bad thing, 88 percent. Independents 58 percent say it's a bad thing. Republicans 27 percent. So a majority of Republicans are fine with it but Independents are not there. And if you are a Republican, if you want to win that should be a red flag.

MARIO PARKER, NATIONAL POLITICS TEAM LEADER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: And that's the issue, right? I mean fresh off of a midterm election where Trumpism was repudiated by many of the voters, right. Many of his election deniers, they lost. Many of his candidates that he endorsed, they lost as well.

So Independent voters are showing no appetite for a Trump 2.0 run again even as parts of the base agitators stay behind him. And so Republicans have to figure out how they're going to forcefully cut the cord with former President Donald Trump if they want to win.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean it strikes me as a lot of chatter quietly about whether or not other people are going to run but it's going to come down to making some tough decisions that it can't be a field of 20 people like it was the last time.

BENDERY: Well, I will say that whenever we've asked on the Hill, we've gone up to Republican senators and said oh, what do you think of Trump announcing he's running for president right now. Good idea?

And either they don't want to talk about it or if they do talk about it, they'll say well, you know, it's not my decision. It's his decision.

But I also think that there's this guy Ron DeSantis. Have you heard of Ron DeSantis? Ron DeSantis. There's a guy named Ron DeSantis in Florida who maybe he might run and you can see they're like desperately trying to weave through the Trump mess and somehow end up at Ron DeSantis. They really in some way want to get to him already even though here we are in November of 2022. And Ron DeSantis has not announced because it's so early but they're like desperately trying to get there.

DIAMOND: But what they're also trying to do is they're avoid doing what they have to do which is dismantling the lie of Trump's appeal to his base, right. Dismantling the lies that he's told about his business life, in politics and dismantling this kind of aura and this hold that he has over that base.

PHILLIP: Until they are willing to push back on the crazy I don't see how you can make an argument against, you know, what Trump is running on.


PHILLIP: But coming up next, top surrogates are filling the air waves across the Peach State with just a few days to go until that runoff in Georgia and one of them has four legs.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You would think that Herschel Walker would want to explain what he would do in the Senate if he actually wants to represent Georgia. Instead he repeats the same lies, trying to distract from what we all know is true about him.

But what I think Georgians will see his ads for what they are. Don't you?



PHILLIP: Thousands of Georgia voters flocked to the polls yesterday after early voting began in some of the counties ahead of the December 6th runoff elections. With just nine days to go, top surrogates are making their way to the Peach State.

Former President Barack Obama heads to Georgia on Thursday to rally with Democrat Senator Raphael Warnock. But it may be one of Georgia's own who is the runoff's most consequential campaigner.


PHILLIP: Republican Governor Brian Kemp fresh off of a decisive reelection victory is flexing his muscle to get Herschel Walker across the finish line and if the voters who came out for him earlier this month, who very well could decide whether the next senator from Georgia is named Walker or Warnock.


GOV. BRIAN KEMP (R-GA): Families are struggling because of Biden's inflation and Washington won't change unless we make them.

Georgia is doing better than the rest of the country because we stood up for hard working families.

Herschel Walker will vote for Georgia, not be another rubber stamp for Joe Biden.


PHILLIP: That is about 203,000 voters who cast a ballot for Brian Kemp but did not for Herschel Walker. And if Walker's going to win this thin, he's got to get those people back out.

KUCINICH: Absolutely. And so (INAUDIBLE) have a great piece in the Boston Globe about this, about the split ticket voters that voted for Brian Kemp and Warnock and how everybody -- how they're all kind of going for them because -- that because they're not allowed to register any new voters, which is part of this new Georgia law during this runoff, there is a set pool and there are only so many persuadables at this point.

So Warnock has also been campaigning with Republicans who said that they voted for Warnock during the general election.

But I want to say one thing about this Brian Kemp thing. It is noteworthy that he did not campaign with Herschel Walker during in the general election. This is new. And he's using his network to help Walker over the finish line is new.

And you know, Walker didn't have some nice things to say about Kemp while he was campaigning.

So this all-out effort is very much a new thing in Georgia and Kemp asking his voters to vote for Walker is new.

PHILLIP: It's not just the ads, not just the campaign, it's also the ground game as well. But Raphael Warnock is also going after these voters knowing that keeping them or bringing them over to his column could be critical for him, too.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I voted Republican most of my life and I was proud to support Brian Kemp. The more I heard about Herschel Walker, I became concerned about his honesty, his hypocrisy but also just his ability to lead. I just can't get past Herschel Walker's lack of character.


PHILLIP: Yes. I mean that honestly in this final stretch of this runoff, it seems like the Walker campaign -- or the Warnock campaign, I'm sorry -- is circling around this idea of Herschel Walker's unfitness for office and leaning into that.

PARKER: No, absolutely. And if you talk to GOP strategists on the ground in Georgia, they don't sound very confident in this runoff right now, right. Especially since the seat won't be deciding the control of the chamber right.

But then one thing that's notable when former President Barack Obama visited Georgia right before the election he made this case in the way that only Obama can that Walker's candidacy was absurd, right. He spoke about his prowess on the football field but said that hey, you know, what, that doesn't translate into the halls of the Senate.

I think that's notable because you got, a, the first black president saying this about another black Republican and in defense of the first black senator to represent Georgia in Warnock, right. So I think that has a certain salience to black voters, particularly black male voters who, there was some angst about whether that's not going (ph) to show well.

PHILLIP: For sure. And Jen, just take a look at these numbers. This is the ad spending since November 9, ok. $25 million on the Democratic side compared to $15.7 million on the Republican side. Actions speak a lot louder than words. People can say what they want but the money is talking.

BENDERY: I mean it tells you that this Senate seat is huge now because before the general, it was like which way is the Senate going to go? What's going to happen. And now, we know, it is 50-50. And this is the one seat that could give Democrats the edge that they could use to do actually even more than they could at 50-50. So this seat is a big deal.

But I think what's interesting to me is the Trump factor, right? Because in this period now, what has Raphael Warnock done? He's run an ad literally just Trump like Trump talking and then say -- like talking about Herschel Walker. And then that's the ad.

And then what struck me on the Hill is talking to Republican senators about this race and Lindsey Graham who cut an ad with Herschel Walker, his response to all of this has been on the Hill to reporters again and again and again. I really wish that Trump did not -- he would not announce his presidential run until after the December 6th runoff. He said that over and over and over again, made it very clear that doesn't want Trump around. He doesn't want Trump in the news during this runoff because now (INAUDIBLE) and then it's going to fall on Herschel Walker.


PHILLIP: Jeremy, Jen makes a good point about how the expectations environment has shifted since the Democrats held on to those Nevada and Arizona seats. Now this extra seat is incredibly consequential if you are a Democrat, right? It gives them the breathing room they have been dying for.


PHILLIP: Republicans on the other hand seem to have taken their foot off the pedal a little.

DIAMOND: Yes, it matters less to Republicans and it's also a trickier argument to make, to get voters jazzed about like Senate procedure and the difference that it's going to make in terms of --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're going to have subpoena power.

DIAMOND: -- like it's a little bit different. And I also I think you can't understate the importance of the abortion issue in Georgia. When you look at the Georgia Supreme Court recently reinstating that six- week ban.

If you look at those exit polls from the midterm election, it was -- abortion was the second most important issue to voters. I think it came it at somewhere like 28 percent.

PHILLIP: And it was -- it was the top issue for people who voted for Raphael Warnock in the state of Georgia.

DIAMOND: Right, right. And so I think that that being once again in the news in this ecosystem in a special election where you know, you're looking for anything that can motivate your base to get them out turn out in an off-year, off-date election that matters.

PHILLIP: Yes. Cannot underestimate how consequential the issue of abortion has been across the map in this cycle.

But stay with us. With just weeks to go until the final January 6th Committee report is published, behind-the-scenes grievances are being aired now publicly. So we'll talk about who is at the center of it all next.



PHILLIP: The January 6th committee is embroiled in drama, this time from within its own ranks. So as the panel races to complete its final report before the end of the year, a new story by the "Washington Post" is revealing growing frustrations among staffers over what they view as Congresswoman Liz Cheney's push to focus the report primarily on former President Trump at the expense of other investigative findings.

One former staffer who spoke anonymously telling "The Post" that quote, "When the committee became a Cheney 2024 campaign, many of us became discouraged." And a spokesman for Cheney though, fired back saying "Some staff have submitted subpar material for the report that reflects long-held liberal biases. Congresswoman Cheney won't sign on to any, quote, narrative that suggests Republicans are inherently racist or smears men and women in law enforcement or suggests every American who believes God has blessed America is a white supremacist."

There is a lot going on there, but at the heart of it is this tension between Cheney, the most prominent of the Republican members on the committee and the rest of the committee, mostly Democrat and the staff it seems that has a little bit of a disagreement with her relentless focus on Trump's role on January 6th.

KUCINICH: I mean yes. That is one way to say it. There seems to be a little bit of a disagreement about that. But you know, I mean just taking a step back, I mean Liz Cheney really was used by Democrats to legitimize this committee from the get-go. And now there seems to be a lot of people upset, the fact that now she's become the face of it.

And so that would have a drawback because, you know, they used her a lot to point to the fact that this was a bipartisan committee. So the fact that she's taken it and run with it, I mean that's sort of that -- they seem to be having a problem with that now.

PHILLIP: It's really striking to me, though, just the way some of these statements in "The Post" story are really like eye-popping.

Here is another one from Tim Mulvey (ph), a January 6th committee spokesman who says they've forgotten their duties as public servants and their cowardice is helping Donald Trump and others responsible for the violence of January 6th.

I mean they're kind of complaining about process here. But it really just goes to show Cheney is not just the face, but I think behind the scenes really driving the train here on the committee.

BENDERY: I can understand that people who worked -- I mean this committee has been going for how long? I mean months and months and months. I can understand people who worked hard to like add all the pieces necessary to make this a really impactful report are like, we're done. And then they see like oh Cheney is potentially like, commandeering the report into the direction she wants.

But I mean this "Washington Post" story was -- it's just like heady drama right among staff who are probably exhausted and are like, wait a minute, did Liz Cheney just kind of like steal our thunder with this committee? Like this is a Democrat committee with a couple of Republicans on it and now it's Liz Cheney's committee.

So I can understand that there's some tensions there.

DIAMOND: To me, what's interesting also, is the fact that it seems to be a group of staffers who have these complaints. But when you see those complaints there, they're from the Cheney spokesman and the majority committee spokesman.

So it seems like Bennie Thompson and Liz Cheney, you know, are on the same page about where this report should be headed, but there are complaints from certain staffers on the committee who maybe worked on certain more specific issue areas.

I mean I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that this report is going to focus largely on Donald Trump. As much as this has been an investigative effort, it's also been a political committee with political aims as well. And Liz Cheney has made it very clear that her central mission going forward in the Republican Party or outside of it is going to be to try and stop and prevent Donald Trump from ever becoming president again.

PHILLIP: And to be clear, we don't know what the substance is of the parts of the report that are not going to be included perhaps. But one of the complaints, and I have the resolution here is that, the resolution that established the committee called for it to look not just at Trump's role but also the preparedness and response of the United States Capitol Police and other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.

Sounds kind of like that is going to be -- if it is included at all -- a very minor portion of this report. [08:54:58]

PARKER: No, absolutely. And to Jeremy's point, I mean Trump is the proverbial shiny object, right. He's the one that'll get people to pay attention to the report in the first place.

But you do have to understand and sympathize with some of these staffers who are very interested in the nuts and bolts, as you mentioned, Abby, the law enforcement shortcomings or failures as well that led up into the -- let to the insurrection also.

So there's a tough balance that Cheney is trying to walk right there.

PHILLIP: Maybe some of it is about her 2024 ambition but some of it is also about Trump's 2024 ambition as well.

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

Coming up next on CNN, "STATE OF THE UNION with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana's guests this morning include Congressman Adam Schiff and Governor Asa Hutchinson.

Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning with us on this holiday week. Have a great rest of your weekend.