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Inside Politics

1.7 Trillion Dollar Deal Avoids Shutdown, Funds Govt; CNN: McConnell & McCarthy On Collision Course; Major Breakthrough To Avert Government Shutdown; McConnell: Will Back Funding Bill If Dems Avoid "Poison Pills"; Shooting Survivors Testify On Surge In Anti-LGBTQ+ Violence; Survivor: "Embarrassed" & "Disgusted" By Inaction On Gun Reform; Biden: "The Antidote To Hate Is Love"; Poll: Voters Tepid On 2020 Presidential Rematch. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 14, 2022 - 12:00   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Hello, and welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thank you for sharing your day with us. Let's make a deal. The top negotiators in Congress announced an agreement to avoid a government shutdown. So far, we know only some of the details, but there is heavy behind the scenes drama. House Republicans were excluded from this dealmaking.

Plus, fighting hate, survivors of the horrific Club Q shooting testify up on Capitol Hill. They're highlighting a rise in extremism and violence targeting the LGBTQ community. And many of you well, you're in the mood for someone new, when it comes to picking a president. We'll share with you in just a few moments brand new CNN polling on Donald Trump and Joe Biden, as we look ahead to the 2024 presidential cycle.

But we begin with where the top negotiators in Congress have a plan, not only to avoid a holiday season government shutdown, but to fund everything for a full year. And news today, House Republicans are angry about this $1.7 trillion spending framework. Detail still hard to come by.

But we are told the agreement is expected to include billions in additional aid for Ukraine, and a rewrite of the Electoral Count Act that measure designed to prevent another January 6. Out it's an extension of the Child Tax Credit championed by many progressives, as well as measures to help the cannabis industry, use the banking system. Noticeably missing from the deal announcement, any mention of House Republicans.

Democrats run the House until the end of the year. So, House Republicans at least publicly say any big decision should be punted until they take the gavel. The House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy telling members in a private meeting, quote, he's a hell no, on a full year spending bill. And because of that, we have new details about tensions between McCarthy and the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

Let's get straight up to Capitol Hill and our chief correspondent, Manu Raju. Manu, a deal and some drama?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No question about it. I've been speaking to Republicans up and down though this past - this morning. Nobody is happy about this deal, very few members were a part of it. Even the Republican senators who are probably going to vote for this and feel that they are being jammed here.

This has been a very regular process on Capitol Hill that they cut a deal among the leadership and the key appropriators and then they unveil the details and try to jam it through Congress in just a couple of days. Even though they had an initial deadline of September 30 to get this done, they couldn't get a deal there. They punted it until this Friday's deadline, and now they are going to extend that Friday's deadline for another week to get it done and we are still awaiting the details.

Now this has caused a rift among top Republicans, including Kevin McCarthy and Mitch McConnell. McConnell wants a deal. He in fact, came out yesterday and said that this deal will be brought - will be a broad agreement and was praised the deal on the Senate floor this morning.

There was a belief and understanding if you will, that Kevin McCarthy wanted to get this agreement, wanted a big spending package. But in recent days, he has gone on the offensive, criticizing this plan, just as he's trying to court the right wing of his conference to get the votes to become speaker.

Last week on Fox News, McCarthy called out Mitch McConnell for supporting this proposal, negotiating this with Democrats. He McConnell, I'm told was blindsided by those remarks. And this all comes, John, amid a key moment when Republicans will take power in the House next year. McCarthy of course, wants to be the next speaker of the House.

A new power dynamic will occur between the two men who have split on a whole wide range of issues from gun violence to infrastructure to de- raising the debt limit, another major issue that we'll deal with next year. But here on the spending package in the final days of the new Congress, real tension between Republicans in the House, Republicans in the Senate as they tried to come to a messy conclusion to this Congress. John?

KING: Manu Raju kicking us off live on the Hill. Manu, thank you. With me in studio to share their reporting and their insights, CNN's Phil Mattingly, Seung Min Kim of the Associated Press, and Rhonda Colvin of The Washington Post. Policy first because that's what's matters to the people watching at home. We don't have a lot of the details yet, but billions of dollars in new funding for Ukraine. The president would like that because House Republicans are more iffy on how much he gets there.


What else do we know from the White House perspective? The world is about to change for Joe Biden. House Republicans will have a lot more leverage in just a couple of weeks. Do they even have a sense at the White House of what's in this deal and what they like and don't?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: They're very read in, and the reason why is because one of the former top Hill staffers on all appropriation issues. Shalanda Young is actually the OMB Director, management and budget who has been leading for the White House on this as well as their alleged team, which is a large reason. The White House perspective, why they're on the cusp of a second major bipartisan deal to have full year spending bills locked into place.

And the reason why that matters more than anything else, is because there's a very real possibility. This is the last one for the next two years. And the White House officials are keenly aware of those dynamics. What it means agency by agency to have full year spending levels is obviously extraordinarily important. We've seen the letters from Merrick Garland and from the Department of Defense across the board as to why continuing resolutions are bad.

But let's think more broadly, if you talk to White House officials, they're looking at what else is on this. You mentioned the Ukraine funding, which is critical. They've been having classified briefings to tell lawmakers why it's so critical, but also the Electoral Count Act don't minimize that being added on to this and having a very clear pathway to being signed into law.

That is a huge moment, a bipartisan effort. The White House wasn't deeply involved in, that now has a pathway and that is a big end of year when given everything that's been in place over the course of last year.

KING: So, this deal was negotiated by two veteran appropriators in the Senate Pat Leahy and Dick Shelby. Pat Leahy Democratic Vermont, Shelby former Democrat, but now Republican for a long time with Alabama and they're both retiring. They view this as a legacy for them and they view this as this is our job.

And let's find the government for a year. Let's not have this drama, especially with the transition about to happen in the House. Let's not - let's have stability in government as this plays out. Mitch McConnell empowered Richard Shelby for these negotiations, the Republican leader. But listen to Mitch McConnell this morning, even though we know he wants this deal, he's been careful.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MINORITY LEADER: If a truly bipartisan full year bill without poison pills is ready for final Senate passage by late next week, then I'll support it, for our armed forces, particularly.


KING: Why is he's keeping his powder dry a little bit. They're leaving himself a little wiggle room because he knows he has a tough sell too.

RHONDA COLVIN, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: That's right. I think even though there has been this announcement that there is a framework, I think things are still a bit tenuous right now. I think the fact that you're hearing senators say, we're optimistic we'll have a deal, of course, are going to do a stopgap measure to give negotiators more time next week to figure out all the details.

We still haven't seen a framework. We still don't know exactly what's in it. And that's important to me, because anytime you see, Senator is quiet about a deal that has been made, not really celebrating it too much. That tells me that there's still a lot of negotiating to do.

And I know even from what I've heard so far, even later with this day, we might see a press conference from some Republican lawmakers who may stand in the way or at least put some stalling tactics in front of any sort of deal.

Rand Paul has announced he's having a press release today. I'll be watching that because it does say that there - just as Mitch McConnell doesn't seem quite sure, it does show that most senators aren't sure if they're going to get this type of framework done.

KING: So, some Republican resistance possible in the Senate, a whole lot more Republican resistance definite when you get to the House. And this is what has McConnell a little upset. He was at the White House. All the leaders came down to meet with the president. McCarthy did not say he was for this. But McConnell's view, as he didn't say he was against this, and McConnell essentially got it. Y'all negotiate it. He's got problems in the House. Just let me do this. And then McCarthy went on Fox and said this.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY, (R) MINORITY LEADER: Any Republican that's out there trying to work with them is wrong.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST, THE INGRAHAM ANGLE: So that chose Mitch McConnell? Does that include McConnell?

REP. MCCARTHY: Yes. Why would you want to work on anything, if we have the gavel inside Congress?


KING: You heard him say yes. When Laura Ingraham asked him if he meant McConnell. And he now is saying that was a message to Democrats. He said, yes, Mitch McConnell should not be doing this. That is proof Kevin McCarthy doesn't have the votes to be speaker yet. And he is looking to his right, if you will. But can House Republicans really can't stop this as long as Nancy Pelosi in her last act and keep all the House Democrats together, right?

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Right, right. Pelosi can only lose I believe two votes, but that's still a little bit of room to spare. And she can always try to rely on for example, retiring House Republicans for whom this would be important and for whom they would face no political consequences. But I just find the McConnell and McCarthy dynamics, so fascinating. You can almost see McConnell sort of channel to McCarthy across the Capitol, helped me, help you. This will help you clear the decks for next year. You don't want to have to deal with a major spending fight as you're trying to shore up your position in House leadership.

But as you said, he is facing this really tenuous bid for speaker. Right now, where he is trying to do everything, whether it relates to House procedures, or promises on spending or anything else to try to shore up that support from the right.

And McConnell to a certain extent, or a much lesser extent, but still a certain extent does, is facing more resistance from his own right flank that we've seen before. And he's losing a lot of allies next year when they retire. So that relationship and making sure that McConnell and McCarthy on the same page will be more important than ever.


KING: The last act of 2022 is going to tell us a lot about how divided governments going to work in or not in 2023. Up next for us, emotional hearing on Capitol Hill. Survivors of mass shootings impacted the LGBTQ community, share their stories and their fears.


JAMES SLAUGH, SURVIVOR OF CLUB Q SHOOTING: Several pops rang out and I immediately felt a searing pain in my arm. I fell over on the ground, knowing I had been shot. I saw everyone on the ground, glass panes shattered and blood running from my arm and chest where shrapnel had come through.



KING: Today a powerful hearing on the rise of hate and homophobia in the United States. Congress hearing directly from the people who were terrorized in that mass shooting last month at Club Q, an LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado.



MICHAEL ANDERSON, SURVIVOR OF CLUB Q SHOOTING: I was bartending that evening when the attack began. I felt more terrified than I ever have before in my life. I saw my friend lying on the floor, bleeding out, knowing there was little to no chance of surviving that bullet wound. I had to tell him goodbye while I continued to fear for my life not knowing if the attack was truly over. I can still hear the rapid firing of bullets today. It's a sound I may never forget.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Also testify at that hearing the club's owner and several others who raised concerns about what they see as a direct connection between the hate and the state of politics in America. Joining our conversation is Imran Ahmed. He's the CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate. Thank you for being here this day.

Let's start with your view of the cycle if you will, hate, prejudice fear are nothing new. But your take is in the studies show that in this digital age, the social media age, where hate can just be spread and spread and spread. Just I noticed these statistics that you have, just since Elon Musk took over Twitter, for example, and said he's for quote, free speech.

Racist tweets up to 202 percent, transphobic tweets 62 percent, homophobic tweets 58 percent, misogynist tweets up 33 percent. Explain the cycle, if you will, the hate gets magnified, gets exacerbated and gets spread and how you would propose to break it?

IMRAN AHMED, CEO, CENTER FOR COUNTERING DIGITAL HATE: Well, hate something that we've worked so hard to make unacceptable in our society. But where is it acceptable these days? It's actually social media. That's the pool in which hate actors are able to spread, spread their disinformation and often underlying hate allies.

One of the things that we've looked at going back was even before Elon Musk took over Twitter is the rise in people saying that gay people are grooming children, that trans people are grooming children, which really spiked. We saw a 400 percent increase after the passing of the don't say gay bill in Florida. And that's been sustained over time.

So where do people spread these lies, these rumors that lead people to think, to think the most awful things that that lead directly to real life harm, like Club Q, is on social media platforms. And they have failed singularly to meet that task, even though they claim that these are outside their community standards.

We actually did a short study a couple of months ago, 99 out of 100 times, when you reported tweets that broke Twitter's own rules on eliding being gay with being a groomer, with being a pedophile, they failed to take any action on those tweets whatsoever.

KING: And that was even pre-Musk. That's pre-Musk. And so, at the hearing today, it's interesting and it's brave of the victims to talk about, well, you know, if I had a vote, this is what I would do. Among them, Michael Anderson, one of the survivors of Club Q says, gun control, please, yesterday.


ANDERSON: Not only am I embarrassed for our country's international reputation of inaction on gun reform, but I am frankly disgusted. Following the exploration of the assault weapons ban, which the Republican Party allowed to expire under President Bush, we now have an epidemic of domestic terrorism and violence. The time to do something is now.


KING: Please straight ahead from an American victim of a horrendous crime, but in this town at this time, gun reform? No, right?

COLVIN: It doesn't look likely, especially with an incoming GOP House. We know historically that gun reform is hard to pass in the legislature. Of course, there was that sweeping bill that President Biden signed into law this year that tried to shore up some of the gaps in our gun laws. But does it go and go far enough? Is it being enacted in states where we saw in that Colorado shooting in a Club Q shooting, the shooter was able to get a gun that day.

So that, those are the things that we're seeing that are playing out in the country. But are they heard on Capitol Hill? And I'm just not sure, after covering the Hill for years, I'm not sure we're going to see any sort of extra gun reform, especially when you have House Republicans who typically don't want to vote for any gun reform, don't want to bring it up. They'll be in the lead.

KING: And then out in the states and you watch this play out now. If you just look at red state versus blue state. You mentioned the Florida, don't say gay law, as it is noted the shorthand is also a number of Republican governors, Republican legislatures moving whether it's athletics, you know, trans Americans, and how can they, you know, athletics and other laws, as well the president of the Human Rights Campaign saying today that when the legislators do that, the haters react.


KELLEY ROBINSON, PRESIDENT, HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN: These unrelenting efforts by extremists, lawmakers help reinforce inflammatory narratives about our community, regardless of whether or not the underlying bills are enacted. These narratives have been weaponized many times in the past against our community to enact discriminatory laws, to encourage extremist rhetoric and to enable violence.


KING: This is I think, the next 10 or 15 years of American life in the sense that whether you pick the abortion issue. The Supreme Court says it's up to the states and you're seeing red states and blue states doing very different things. And gay rights, transgender rights are the same issues coming ahead to us, right?


KIM: Right. It's certainly what sort of the rights and the access and the protections that you have, may really depend on what state you are in. And another point what I'm just struck by today, listening to these stories coming from the hearing this morning. It is a contrast that that there is with what we saw actually at the White House yesterday.

We saw thousands of people on the South Lawn. I think the biggest crowd the White House has had, during President Biden's term in office, celebrating the signing of the same sex marriage bill. And it was a really joyous moment, people were dancing. And to see today's hearing is really a sobering reminder of what so many people in the LGBTQ community still face every day.

KING: Well, let's jump in. Let's hear the president you are saying. And then I want to come back to you Imran on this idea. You know, we had our first black president, and for the history and the majesty of that for American progress, then you had all the, you know, that gets you Trump, get you nativism. Let's listen to president quickly yesterday.


JOE BIDEN, 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT: Racism, antisemitism, homophobia, transphobia, they're all connected, but the antidote to hate is love. This law, and the love of defense, strike a blow against hate in all its forms.


KING: And he's got the biggest platform in the world, the bully pulpit there to make, you know, what he sees the very important point at a critical time.

MATTINGLY: The question, and one of the White House officials have been grappling with since their first days in office, frankly, they've been grappling with it since the campaign and before everybody's very clear eyed about the fact that this is a significant problem. And the exact issues you're pointing out have served as a dramatic accelerant over the course of the last half decade or so.

What I was struck by yesterday was the president's willingness to really sharply go after the Supreme Court decision and the kind of conservative bent of the Supreme Court, but also in pushing on gender identity issues, on homophobia issues, making very clear this is a central focus of the White House right now.

KING: And so, how does this play out when you're tracking this? You have a message of love, support, openness community from the president. You had the testimony from the Human Rights Campaign about what happens in the states in terms of the digital commentary, that gets damaging. Who wins that debate?

AHMED: But we all know the secret that actually the platform's don't reward, love, and they do reward hate. Actually, the amplification that hate gets because people engage with it. People respond to it saying, I think that's disgusting. Then they sit around on the platform waiting to see how many people agree with them. That is disgusting. And they see how many people will retweet them.

And of course, that builds the engagement around messages of hate. Hate has a - this is an asymmetric playing field. And hate has the advantage on these platforms. And they like it that way, is part of the fundamental business model, controversy, crunchy things that people can get angry over, can feel emotional about. And that's why on these platforms that have these business models that prioritize only engagement, nothing else, it's very difficult for love to counterbalance hate in terms of visibility. And with that increased visibility comes normalization. With normalization come people that believe that it sucks, you know, other people believe what I believe too.

And so, therefore I feel empowered to take the kinds of actions that we saw in Colorado Springs, that believe that what they're doing might actually be righteous. And of course, what it was, was an atrocity in which innocent people were killed just for loving who they love.

KING: Appreciate your perspective. Thank you for joining us today. Up next for us. Your early take on the next presidential election. Our brand-new CNN poll ranks, the thought of a Biden-Trump 2024 rematch, right up there with that holiday fruitcake.




KING: I'm going to share some new CNN polling with you now, that gives us an interesting baseline as we say goodbye to the 2022 midterm year, and yes, perhaps early but stepping into the 2024 presidential cycle. Donald Trump is already a declared candidate. President Biden says, he intends to run for reelection and will let us know for sure early in the new year.

So, is a rematch what you want? Well, most of you think not. We asked this question on a new poll. This is just Republicans and those who say they are Republican leaning voters. 62 percent said they would prefer a different candidate. 38 percent, of nearly four in 10 Republicans say, Donald Trump's fine by me. But look at that. More than six in 10 Republicans and Republican leaders say, please give us someone else.

But if Trump is the nominee, two thirds of Republican and Republican leading voters say yes, they would support him. That's significant, though a third at least at this early moment say, no they would not. So, what about the incumbent president? Well, he also has a - we want something new mood in his party. 40 percent say renominate Joe Biden and that would be our preference. This is Democrats and Democratic leaders.

But nearly six in 10 say, I would like a different candidate next year. Again, though, and the president is even stronger on this one. If he is the nominee, eight in 10 Democratic or Democratic leaning voters. 78 percent say yes, of course, we would vote for the Democratic candidate. No, 22 percent say.

But Phil Mattingly, here is the question I want to ask you, as our chief White House correspondent. 59 percent of Democrats, a Democratic leader say, we would like somebody different. The president promises us a decision early in the new year. Will that number impact his thinking at all that that fact that many people, many Democrats want something new?

MATTINGLY: I don't know. I mean, it's tough to say anything definitive at this point. Look, the reality is the president's final decision won't be made until he has his final discussions with his family. But I do think it's important to note right now that, when you talk to the president about these things, or when these issues come up with the president, one thing he's always clear about is, is he read the polls anymore, and then he takes through very specific data in the polls, typically with numbers that show that something is ticking upward for him.

And I think White House officials reporting to the fact that now and this poll number kind of tracks along these lines, it's better than it was three months ago, it's better than it was six months ago, and they feel good about where they are on several fronts.