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January 6 Committee Members Prepare Criminal Referrals For Trump; El Paso Declares State Of Emergency As Border Crisis Intensifies; House Republicans Splinter Over McCarthy's Bid For Speaker; Trump Teases Major Announcement, Releases Digital Trading Cards; Is Wildly Popular TikTok App Headed For A Total Ban? Aired 8-9a ET

Aired December 18, 2022 - 08:00   ET





ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST (voice-over): Grand finale. The January 6 committee is set to end its investigation by urging prosecutors to charge Donald Trump with insurrection.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Our committee uncovered a wide ranging plot to overturn the election.

PHILLIP: What will it mean for the ex-presidents legal and political future?

Plus, a humanitarian disaster at the border threatens to engulf the Biden White House.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I fear the worst is yet to come. We are just seeing the tip of the iceberg.

PHILLIP: Did the president ignore a looming crisis for too long?

And, the clock might be running out for TikTok.

Top officials in Washington say it is a threat to national security, and should be banned in the U.S.


PHILLIP: A very good morning to you, and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Abby Phillip.

In just over 24 hours, the January 6 Select Committee will hold its final hearing, and then one of its last acts, the panel is expected to make criminal referrals to the Justice Department, recommending the prosecution of former President Donald J. Trump.

The referrals are expected to include three criminal charges: insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding, and conspiracy to defraud the federal government.

Committee members have been feeding with the unprecedented bill all week.


REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think we are all certainly in agreement that there was evidence of criminality here. We want to make sure the Justice Department is aware of that.

LOFGREN: We know from our hearings that Mr. Trump was at the center of the conspiracy to overturn the election.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I think he is guilty of a crime. I mean, look, he knew what he did. If he's not guilty of some kind of a crime, I mean, what we basically said is president are above the law and can do everything short of a coup, as long as it does not succeed.


PHILLIP: Let's discuss all of this and more with Todd Zwillich of the "Vice News", Daniel Strauss, of "The New Republic", CNN's Jeremy Diamond, and Jackie Kucinich of "The Boston Globe".

So, you know, you have a situation where now the criminal referrals are coming. The main thing that has really struck out to me was we are getting some indication of what those targets will be. I don't think the obstruction part came as a surprise to many people, you know, the other charge is, you know, it is pretty standard.

But, it the insurrection charged me stands out. Look at the code, it cites on foot, insists or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States, faces a consequences, a fine of up to ten years.

I think one Liz Cheney is focused on is, banned from holding future office. This hearing has always really been about Trump. But I think we'll probably see that again.

TODD ZWILLICH, HOST OF "BREAKING THE VOTE" ON VICE NEWS: It's a tough one to prove in court, insurrection. Let's be clear. The January 6 committee is making these recommendations, they are just that, recommendations. Nothing more. They don't have any legal weight.

And so, they will make headlines. They are important in terms of the amount of attention that the committee can garner, not on itself, but on the breadth, and the depth and seriousness of this coup attempt. That's why they are important.

The Justice Department is well into its grand jury investigation. They have been subpoenaing people away from literally the oval office including Mark Meadows and Donald Trump's lawyers, his White House cancels, out county clerks and election officials in Wisconsin, Arizona and Nevada.

So I think it is pretty unlikely that anything the committee says tomorrow will be suddenly like that file, ready for prosecutors at the justice department, maybe something they do not know in some of the evidence that the committee has collected, and they have seen a lot of that evidence, they will get more.

But look, to me, this report that is going to come out later this week, it is a record of things past, a record of the coup attempt, that is important, important for the public to really be engaged with that.

For me, what is more important, it really is an alarm bell and a warning for the future. I just want to say this, because it is important. A lot of characters in this report are people who still hold power in the United States. They hold positions of high power in the congress.

There are characters who participated in the coup plot.


You're going to read about Scott Perry. You're going to read about -- you might read about Kevin McCarthy, and you probably should. And that's going to be really important for people to understand. In many ways, this is not over.

PHILLIP: Yeah,, it is such an important point. Obviously, the justice department does not need these referrals, right? They will do what they will do. But the committee is trying to make a point, not just about Trump but also that there are consequences for all these other people involved.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's where you see the ethics committee also, where they will go home to actually matters, but they want to keep this in the spotlight, historical record as you said, as they prepare for Republicans to take over congress.

And for this to go away, as remember that this talk about Republicans probing different parts of January 6. But the fact that they will try to disappear some of this and muddy the water, it is very much in the near future.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And so much of what they are doing is about the historical record. It is about putting out this information. When you think for example, about the hearings, for example, right, they were revelations that by and large the majority of what was covered by these hearings had already been reported by great reporters at CNN, "The New York Times" and elsewhere, right?

And this is just about the importance o getting the testimony on the record, under oath and being able to say look, Congress did this substantive, very thorough investigation of everything, and it will stand in the historical record going forward.

PHILLIP: But just to underscore what you are saying, one of the interesting things about the hearing is a produced it like a TV show, with the point of presenting it in a different way to make it more relevant to people. Take a listen to some of the key moments from the hearings we have had so far.


IVANKA TRUMP, ADVISER TO FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: It was a different tone than I had heard him take with the vice president before.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you remember what she said, her father called him?


BILL BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: I did not agree with that idea of saying the election was stolen, putting up the stuff, which I told the president was bullshit.

SHAYE MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: It threatened my life in a major way, in every way, all because of lies.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Something to the effect of, take the f'ing mags away. They are not there to hurt me. Let them in, let my people in. They can march to the Capitol after the rally is over.


PHILLIP: You know what, Daniel, I will say at the beginning of all of this, there was a ton of skepticism. I mean, I was a little skeptical of how much would it really penetrated to the American people.

But when you look back one month ago, we had a midterm election in which, this election denialism was pretty roundly defeated. It seems to me that these hearings were not operating in a vacuum. They have had some kind of impact?

DANIEL STRAUSS, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW REPUBLIC: Look, if we look at the election results from his past cycle, we can see that election denialism played a major role. And really, the mandate of this committee at its core is A, to make some recommendations and an assessment to the justice department and B, to make sense of what happened on January 6 in a digestible way to the broader public.

I think that is what is important to pay attention to in this final report. It is like, making these characters, making these lieutenants to Donald Trump, people who are household names, not just semiautonomous bureaucrats, or trivia figures, and show that their power, their influence played a key role in what happened that day.

DIAMOND: That being said, what the hearings did not achieve was, people who already downplayed the insurrection, people who did not feel like January 6 was as serious as it was, Republican voters, they were not swayed. Look at some of the polling, and numbers did not move a whole lot as a result of these hearings. Obviously, independent voters perhaps, they were swayed, but played a role in their decisions, in statewide elections in particular. But it was not able to move people, hardened already in the northeast before these hearings started.

PHILLIP: Although the independent voters, I mean, king makers in American politics, I think they had their say. But it seemed, Todd, you are talking about what we can expect tomorrow, the bar is pretty high? They have had some pretty blockbuster hearings. This is they are saying the final one before the report comes out. Can they meet their own bar?

ZWILLICH: For public impact, for ratings, I do not know. They have done pretty well in terms of viewer in judgment, I guess they call it? I think you should look out, we are focused on Donald Trump, and rightfully so. We're focused on his three charges, and rightfully so.

I think you should look out for other types of sanctions as well, Jacqui mentioned ethics committee. Also sanctions but lawyers can face for professional misconduct, for lawyer misconduct, misusing the bar.


There are a whole cast of characters. And don't forget, the committee has been very focused, and Liz Cheney has been focused on Judge Carter in California, a federal judge, who in the litigation over John Eastman's emails, said clearly in his rulings, that the evidence seems to indicate that John Eastman, Trump's coup architect lawyer, and Donald Trump entered into a conspiracy together.

So you think likely, I can predict, you are likely to see recommendations of criminal charges for people like John Eastman. Certainly, professional misconduct might fall under that as well.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I think, thus far, we have not seen a lot of consequence throws people who are central to the conspiracy. But now that their work is done, the evidence will be out there, the public sphere will see what happens then.

Coming up for us, there's a crisis at the border, it is about to get worse for the Biden administration. Are they prepared for what is to come? That's next.



PHILLIP: The crisis at the border is bad and it is about to get much worse. The city of El Paso declared a state of emergency last night ahead of what could be a record surge of migrants crossing the border this week. And that is because Title 42 is expiring on Wednesday. Title 42 is a Trump era rule that used pandemic restrictions that keep would be asylum seekers out of the country, and the mayor says that no one is ready for what is coming.


OSCAR LEESER, EL PASO MAYOR: We know that the influx on the border will be incredible, it will be huge talking to some of our federal partners. They really believe that on Wednesday our numbers will go from 2,500 to 4,000, 5,000 or maybe 6,000. And when I asked him, I said do you believe that you guys can handle it today? The answer was no.


PHILLIP: And it's not just El Paso. Here is California Governor Gavin Newsom as well.


GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D), CALIFORNIA: The fact is, what we have right now is not working and it is about to break in a post-42 world, unless we take some responsibility and ownership. And I am saying that is a Democrat, I am not saying that you point fingers.


PHILLIP: This is obviously a perennial problem in our politics, but this week is going to be very visceral for, especially for the border communities, but the images are not going to be able to be ignored by politicians in Washington or the rest of the country. The Biden administration, they have kind of been treating this like a political problem, but it's more than that at this point now.

DIAMOND: No doubt about it, and those images that we are going to see this week on title 42 ends is going to be unavoidable and a possible for the administration to ignore. And they have been preparing of, of course, we know that the Department of Homeland Security has been warning internally that there will be immediate increases in the flow of migration through the U.S.'s southern border after Title 42 ends, they have tried to get ahead of it somewhat by putting out the six point plan outlining the resources that they are serving to the border and all these different things.

But by and large, what we are still finding is that this is an administration in the White House that has really been reactive to this migration problem. And oftentimes Republicans really leading the conversation in terms of why the president has not been to the border, in terms of why we are seeing the kind of record numbers we are seeing at the border under the Biden administration, and for the first two years what we have largely seen is the Biden administration blaming Trump era policy, we are now two years in, and his Title 42 now ending is something that the Biden administration initially saw in force to do by a federal judge is something they are very much going to have to own an own the consequences as well.

PHILLIP: And I want to be clear. Washington writ large has been asleep at the wheel on the issue of immigration for years. You can argue for decades, but just look at this scene reported by one of our reporters at Lavandera at the border, just in the last few days.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's 39 degrees and getting colder. This is Roberto Cordoba's first night sleeping on the el Paso streets. He says he has never experienced anything close to homelessness. He left Cuba last month, and is hoping to get to Miami soon. He says this is the first time in his life he has ever had to spend the night on the street and he feels completely lost.


PHILLIP: These border communities are genuinely at a loss for what to do. What the El Paso mayor is basically saying is that they have been dealing with a few thousand coming a day and let out on the streets of the town, it could be 6,000 by Wednesday or Thursday.

The question now is, given that Biden is in the White House, is the Biden White House presenting this to the American public as something that needs to be solved and solved right now?

STRAUSS: Look, I don't think we have seen much of that, and like Jeremy said, this has been a subject where the White House has been on defense. And Republicans that I have talked to are very eager to move the conversation toward impeaching DHS Secretary Mayorkas, who isn't really a well known figure across the country.

And really, I think the problem is they do not have a partner at the negotiating table that has much of an incentive to talk about this. For Republicans, taking a strong stance on the border is really sort of a act of defiance against their political opponents.

And that is what they've been trying to do and looking to do for the past few years, and every time a Democrat is in the White House, they say that Democrats are weak on the border, this is a security issue, this is about jobs, this is about Americans versus some kind of others, and that has worked for them a lot.

KUCINICH: Yeah, I would say they're not asleep the wheel, they are more focused on using this as a political cudgel than actually fixing it. And we were talking during the break.


We remember when Lindsey Graham and Mark Rubio were trying to find the charge for immigration reform.

ZWILLICH: When they were the reasonable centrist making deals, imagine that now, imagine it.

KUCINICH: It is completely -- it doesn't even make sense.

PHILLIP: To that point, there were talks happening, quietly on Capitol Hill between the Democratic senator, now independent, Kyrsten Sinema, and Thom Tillis, the Republican.

Here is what Greg Sargent at "The Washington Post" said about that. A genuine opening to address to major national problems is slipping away, there is the absurdly unjust legal limbo endured by dreamers brought here as children, though no fault of their own, and then there is the finest challenge of managing soaring numbers of desperate people seeking refuge in the United States. Both will now remain intractable problems for years to come. A deal that could've packaged dreamers with asylum reforms and border

security money, no one is talking about it. And as far as Sargent is reporting, it's dead. It's not happening.

ZWILLICH: And a story that Greg could've written 2013, in a different version of it before dreamers existed, in 2007. And that is just the latest iteration of this intractability.

Jackie mentioned it, Marco Rubio and Lindsey Graham are at the center of these bipartisan gains for all of these years to try to come to an agreement on consequence of immigration reform. And now, this was a very limited, very limited deal that you just described. It was basically two things, this or that. Not comprehensive. This one thing for that one thing, and it really never achieved and grabbed velocity at all.

And now you look at the incentives, I think, of the Republicans especially on Capitol Hill, compare it to the days when Lindsey Graham and Marco Rubio were trying to broker big bipartisan deals on immigration, now this is a Republican conversation.

Especially in the House, but a Republican Party that is out to impeach, the secretary of homeland security, that has centered great replacement theory in their fund raising. Talking about Elise Stefanik of New York, which is an insidious racist conspiracy theory, and I want to see pat this year.

The rhetoric among the Republican base when it comes to immigrants is deeply dehumanizing, there just is no is incentive for them to do this.

PHILLIP: Immigration, this issue, is so much more useful to them as a tool to run on then to solve. And for the border communities with migrants, for the children whose lives are at risk as they are trying to get into the United States, that is an enormous tragedy.

But coming up next for us, Kevin McCarthy's fight for the speaker's gavel. Some allies are now worried that it might be truly beyond his grasp.



PHILLIP: The never Kevin caucus, that's a tiny group of House Republicans are calling themselves, vowing at all awed to deny Kevin McCarthy the speakership. This week, McCarthy and is more moderate allies decided to label themselves the only Kevin caucus. They even made these handy little okay buttons, which can be read a couple of different ways, as only Kevin will be the next speaker of the House, or that their guy, the Republican leader who led them to the majority in November, is just, well, okay?

So the question now remains, can those moderates drag their leader across the finish line, 16 days from now? And what cost are they willing to pay in order to do that? We are back with our panel. Okay, Kevin. Is this going to be the time

that the moderates are able to stand up to the hard-liners and make Kevin McCarthy speaker? Is that going to happen?

ZWILLICH: They don't have the numbers. They don't have the numbers right now. Not by themselves to do that.

So some deal has to be struck here. And what can Kevin McCarthy give the far-right, what can you give the Freedom Caucus, essentially, the pro-coup caucus? Not all of it, some of the pro-coup members aren't for McCarthy as well.

What else can you give them? He's already committed to discrediting the January 6 investigation. He's already committed to whitewashing and trying to rewrite the history of the coup, when he told his colleagues Donald Trump should resign the presidency for. So, the only thing that he can give them now is the very weapon they will use later to destroy him. It is called emotion to vacate. It's a little bit of House floor procedural-ism, which says any member can call a vote to depose a speaker at anytime.

And it is real. If you want to know how related, ask John Boehner, it existed back when he was bigger, it's the sword they held over his head that eventually destroyed his speakership.

PHILLIP: This has become a major sticking point. As you said, it is a little bit of kind of arcane language. It basically means they can get rid of the speaker at anytime, just listen to the back and forth between one lawmaker who was pushing for this, and another who is saying, at the end of the day, this is all going to cause chaos.


REP. SCOTT PERRY (R-PA): There's no CEO in the country that doesn't have accountability. There's nobody that goes to work any to who does not have accountability. The country can't wait two years for accountability.

REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): You can't govern with a gun to your head, you know? And that's what they are asking for. You can scream the word accountability all you want, that's what they do, and they get our moral high horsemen. In the end, it is just after chaos, not stability.



PHILLIP: I do wonder though, I mean at the end of the day, will even giving this to the Freedom Caucuses secure the votes for McCarthy?

KUCINICH: I think -- I just want to take a step back. Let's say that McCarthy does become speaker. He can't even get his caucus together right now to elect him speaker. How are they going to legislate? How are they going to do anything next year if this vote is this problematic? You saw the "Wall Street Journal" editorializing on this --


PHILLIP: The reality is that they weren't planning on legislating, anyway.



PHILLIP: So I think that that is part of the challenge --

STRAUSS: No. But the question was like what investigations would they put forward, focus on during the next two years. Would it be on Hunter Biden, would it be on the DHS secretary, would it be on January 6th?

And that is -- for McCarthy, that's been the real incentive he can dangle in front of dissenters and people who are not sold on him yet. But it doesn't seem to have sold enough people at this point in time.

ZWILLICH: He's already committed to those things.


ZWILLICH: Those things that you listed are real and he's already done it like he's running out of bullets.


PHILLIP: And he also has the support -- he also has the support of former President Trump who told Breitbart on Friday, "Look, I think this. Kevin has worked very hard. He is just -- it's been exhausting. If you think he's been all over. I think he deserves a shot. Hopefully he's going to be very strong and going to be very good and he's going to do what everybody wants". Which is maybe a great endorsement or maybe also a very tepid endorsement?

DIAMOND: Yes. And look if Donald Trump in calling some of these members can't convince them to drop their objections (ph) for Kevin McCarthy --

PHILLIP: Exactly.

DIAMOND: -- then like what's going to do it? You know. And I think that shows the extent to which these five members in particular who are in this quote, "Never Kevin" group are doing this because they see the political incentives in their district and they think it elevates them as stars on the far right.

But to the question of what can Kevin McCarthy do? There's been this question since the midterm elections since he secured this narrower than expected majority of is this going to -- who is this going to empower?

And so far, even though the moderates are kind of stepping up a little bit here, we're still seeing that the freedom caucus, the far right folks in that caucus are the ones who are still holding the card and that's because that's always where the incentives are in a House Republican caucus and we're seeing that continuing.

PHILLIP: Yes, absolutely. I mean I think if anybody, the winner here is President Biden who now kind of by default is going to get a Republican conference that doesn't have its act together.

But coming up next, former President Trump made a major announcement this week and "SNL" offered its take on the former president's latest venture last night.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You may have seen this week, I made a major announcement. I'm doing my first official collection of Donald J. Trump digital trading cards.

You'll get me as a cowboy. Or me melting Biden's ice cream with my big laser eyes.

It sure sounds a lot like Pokemon but trust me it is not Pokemon.




PHILLIP: A lot of ears perked up when former President Trump teased a quote "major announcement" on Wednesday. So was the 2024 candidate going to take action to right the ship of his failing campaign or would it be some kind of bold, unexpected political move?

Well, you'll never guess what happened next.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm doing my first official Donald J. Trump NFT collection right here and right now. These cards feature some of the really incredible art work pertaining to my life and my career. It's been very exciting.

Each card comes with an automatic chance to win amazing prizes like dinner with me. I don't know if that's an amazing prize. But it's what we have.

Go to right now and remember, Christmas is coming. And this makes a great Christmas gift.


PHILLIP: $99 and dinner with Trump. And so, the so-called announcement befuddled and even angered some of the president's closest allies.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEVE BANNON, ADVISOR TO FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: If ever my business partner and anybody in the Trump team and anybody at Mar-a-Lago, and I love the folks down there, but we're at war. They ought to be fired today.

SEBASTIAN GORKA, ADVISER TO FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: It never should have happened. I mean look. It is fun. It's hyperbolic. But whoever wrote that, that pitch should be fired and should never involved in any -- I don't want them making the presidential napkins for Mar-a- Lago.


PHILLIP: So once you lost Steve Bannon and Dr. Seb Gorka, I think you got a little bit of a problem.

KUCINICH: But he didn't lose them. They weren't blaming the former president even though this is completely in line with stuff that he's done in the past pre, during and post presidency. They're blaming the staff.

DIAMOND: I mean I think they're just mad that they weren't cut in.


DIAMOND: Especially Steve Bannon who has, you know, made money on border wall funding and that kind of stuff that got him in trouble legally.

PHILLIP: The undercurrent of a lot of this is that it seems like Trump is just sort of like kind of maybe running for president, maybe he wants to and maybe he just wants to make money from it.

ZWILLICH: I mean the announcement -- the announcement running for president, when was it? A month ago now. I mean it clearly it was not a campaign. There is no campaign. This was a bid to try to stave off prosecution or make it more politically difficult to prosecute or to go after him and nothing more.

There hasn't been anything campaign or anything since until the announcement of these NFTs. My favorite part of that is "pertaining to my life and career" and it's like Trump with a jet pack. Trump with laser eyes.


ZWILLICH: This is surreal.

PHILLIP: They really are (INAUDIBLE) quite something.

ZWILLICH: There it is.

PHILLIP: I mean Trump as Superman I guess?

STRAUSS: Astronaut.

PHILLIP: Astronaut.

STRAUSS: Directly from his career.

PHILLIP: Laser eyes -- it is all kinds of tough. And I mean supposedly these things sold out but while all of this is happening, right, there is potentially a 2024 primary that he is involved in and he is facing some competition.


PHILLIP: Just for starters, a lot of voters want someone else to run other than Trump. But even beyond that look at this "Wall Street Journal" poll asking DeSantis or Trump. Trump is at 38 percent. DeSantis is at 52 percent.


PHILLIP: You know, if you are Donald Trump you are pretty upset about that.

STRAUS: Yes. And look, for a while now I've heard from Republican strategists use the phrase "it's time to move on". It is time to look at what's next.

And I think that's really telling about Trump. And the fact that his big announcement, his latest big announcement are digital trading cards does not augur well for his electoral chances when there is a lot of curiosity about Ron DeSantis.

And look, Ron DeSantis may be the next Scott Walker, he may just be a flash in the pan, but there is a visible interest among Republican donors, among Republican strategists and among your rank and file Republican voter for someone else. And I don't think these NFTs sort of spark a lot of enthusiasm in Trump right now.

PHILLIP: The thing about the NFTs to me is that it also highlights just this contrast, right? So Ron DeSantis is not in the race. He is governor of Florida. He's doing his culture war thing.

Trump on the other hand based on the reporting that we have it's almost like a classic case of random people walking into his office in the Oval Office, or random people walking into Mar-a-Lago whispering something in his ear. And then all of a sudden, he is doing it. It's more than just the NFTs. It seems symbolic of a lack of focus.

KUCINICH: But there's never been an adequate gatekeeper for former President Trump when he was in the White House and after, right? there are always random people coming in and being the last person to speak to him.

But I do think that -- I think he's -- underestimating him will be at his opponent's own peril.

DIAMOND: And all of ours.

KUCINICH: And you know, we have seen -- and we've seen -- we've seen stunts like this, you know, before but, you know, look at what's happening with the Republican House. He very much is still in control of that party, whether or not he is selling goofy things on the Internet or not.

ZWILLICH: And 32 percent to 52 percent -- or whatever the numbers were from the "Wall Street Journal", 32 is not zero. It's a long, long way from zero.

PHILLIP: And 32 might just be enough to win a Republican primary if the rest of field was splintered.

ZWILLICH: It might be but it's also enough to -- look -- that 32 percent also is a very, very hard 32. At this point in Donald Trump's career post-NFT still 32 percent of the party still wants to see him be the nominee.

And I'm not the first to say this but the sub text of all that is Donald Trump can take that 32 percent or maybe it becomes 20 of the Republican Party and if he wants to leave I don't think there's a scenario where Donald Trump loses a primary or leaves the Republican Party and leave it intact. Not his style.

PHILLIP: So just -- I just want to kind of put this all together. It's been about a month since he announced his presidential campaign.

Here's Rich Lowry writing in Politico. "So far Trump is having the worst campaign launch since Beto O'Rourke. It's hard to imagine how -- to be fair to Beto O'Rourke, he didn't do some of these things. It's hard to imagine how Trump could have had a worse month-long run. Ordinarily one might say it's a way of exaggerating to emphasize a point that it only could have been worse, if he had had dinner with a Nazi -- but of course he did that.

Meanwhile however, again as we were talking about down in Florida Ron DeSantis is making some maneuvers and one of the maneuvers is completely reversing himself on the issue of COVID, going from touting the vaccine to now saying this.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): It seems like our medical establishments never wanted to be honest with people about the potential drawbacks. So why can't our medical establishment acknowledge that? Why the deception? Why did they continue to do this for two years?


PHILLIP: This is obviously a play to kind of reorient himself for the base. But the reality is that there's a lot of tape of Ron DeSantis talking about vaccines. Is this going to work?

DIAMOND: I mean look, it is in line with everything that Ron DeSantis has been trying to do which is to present himself as someone who has the same kinds of positions as Donald Trump, the same appeal as Donald Trump with maybe a little bit more discipline, a little less of the baggage that comes with Trump. And certainly on vaccines, he's doing that.

Now, it certainly seems to be working in terms of convincing some of those people when you look at those numbers of that matchup of the poll you just showed. But what happens when people start running ads against him? What happens when those previous vaccine comments earlier in the pandemic in which he was more supportive of them come to light?

And that is I think the big question but ultimately beyond the politics of it, let's also just keep in mind what Ron DeSantis is doing here which is two years into a pandemic trying to undermine something that studies have shown has saved millions of peoples' lives. And that can't do well too (ph).


PHILLIP: Yes. I mean look, the culture wars have been working for him. He was just reelected in a pretty resounding victory. No chance that this is going to -- he's going to take that as a message to like not do this stuff.

ZWILLICH: The Commonwealth fund released a study this week indicating that the COVID vaccine saved 3 million American lives, 3 million.

PHILLIP: But it's still a lightning rod among Republicans.

ZWILLICH: I looked last night, just over 1 million Americans -- 1,070,000 Americans died of COVID, that's the estimate. And I think Jeremy put his finger on it, we talk about the politics and I guess that's what we do around this round table but undermining public health in this for political gain is really extraordinary.

It does cost lives, this is not the last pandemic that we will have. There are other vaccines that are super important to all of us -- adults, children and elderly people too. And undermining faith in public health in this way for personal gains damages that.

And all public health experts know that. This type of politics makes people sick eventually and does cost lives eventually. There's no way around it.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean it literally makes people sick but I will say, I mean I think the American people have the ability to have two thoughts in their heads at the same time. One that vaccines work and two that maybe they're sick of mandates.

A politician not getting that might work in a primary. I don't know if that will work in the general election.

But it is on most teenagers' phones and even as presidents have appeared on it, TikTok may be the most popular social media app in the U.S. But could it be headed to a total ban?


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILLIP: So even if you don't use TikTok, odds are you probably know someone who does. The social media giant boasts more than 1 billion users worldwide and 100 million of them are right here in the United States, two-thirds of all teenagers in this country use it.

TikTok, though, could be coming off of America's phones for good. The video app which is owned by a Chinese company is facing growing crackdowns here over concerns that it could pose cybersecurity risks.

So far, almost 20 governors now have blocked TikTok from being used on state wide computers and phones and senators on Capitol Hill unanimously passed a similar measure for federal devices just this week.

However, a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Florida Senator Marco Rubio say it is time to go even further.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): I want to ban TikTok for a very simple reason. They allow the Chinese Communist Party to gain access to all of the private data on any device in America that's using TikTok. That's our kids, that's phones connected to our kids' phones.

And it's a national security threat but it's a direct threat to our way of life, our economics. It's allowed them to interfere in the midterm elections. This company should be banned. I don't know why they're allowed to operate in the United States.


PHILLIP: So if you're finely attuned to, you know, the sort of political culture wars, you might think this is just part of the kind of demagoguery the Chinese Communist Party as Rubio calls it.

But it's actually a real concern. Within the administration, this administration, in the last administration under Trump and now on Capitol Hill lawmakers are starting to get serious about it.

DIAMAOND: Yes. We saw the Senate pass this bill seeking to ban TikTok from federal government issued phones. The White House hasn't weighed in yet on whether or not they'll support that bill or whether the House will actually take it up.

But it's clear that this is a security concern. When you hear both the FBI director and the CIA director saying that this is a threat to U.S. national security and a real concern, you should probably take those words quite seriously.

Look, there's been this national security review ongoing since the Trump administration and potentially there could be some kind of arrangement where they I think either reorganize TikTok or they ban it from the U.S. altogether.

It's not clear which direction the Biden administration is going go yet. PHILLIP: I think the question in my mind is how do you ban an app that

is like already on people's phones. And not to mention that.

But just take a look at some of this. I mean TikTok is already being utilized by the Biden White House. They're trying to use it to push out their messages.

It seems like trying to put the genie back in the bottle at this point.

STRAUSS: I mean I think that's entirely true. It's not just the White House. It's campaigns when you think about any campaign that is trying to utilize social media to rally young voters, to rally specific interest groups, they're going to go on TikTok. They're going to look for staffers who know how to us TikTok well.

So not only is it sort of within the legislative sphere, it's also how we're going to see candidates and campaigns try and win elections using this app and this platform.

ZWILLICH: The military two years ago, I think -- it's hard to remember with COVID sometimes, they banned military personnel from having this --


KUCINICH: This is not new.

ZWILLICH: No, no, no. Not new at all.


ZWILLICH: They recognized this ages ago, the potential for TikTok. And I'll tell you, if you're honest, it is wonderful in the sense that it's down right addictive. If you get on TikTok and you ride that algorithm a little bit, you know -- and I have. I'm on TikTok. Vice is on TikTok. We push out a lot of content to a young audience and it is fantastic in that way.

It is extremely sensitive to your likes and to your dislikes. It's really, really very easy to see -- I can't say that the Chinese government is doing this, but when you're on TikTok it is very easy to see how it could be shaped, not necessarily to make you think a thing you don't think, but to shape social trends, to steer a school of fish or steer a flock of sheep, if you like.

I don't really like that analogy to refer to our population but it really does give you that feel of how it could be used to shape social impressions.


PHILLIP: I just want you to listen to -- this is the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee who has been kind of measured about this up until really this point. Take a listen to what he's saying now. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): The magic of TikTok is that the algorithms can be manipulated. So I'm concerned that this could be used as a propaganda tool for the Communist Party of China.

The Justice Department has been working for over a year on trying to come up with a way to both protect data and minimize that kind of manipulation. My patience is running out.


PHILLIP: My patience is running out. That's a pretty clear sign.

KUCINICH: Absolutely. Mark Warner is a complete techophile anyway. And so he knows what he's talking about but again as we were just talking about I think if you talk to any cybersecurity experts, they're going say, duh. Like this has been forever and the government is you know, late to the party.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean taking the date but the manipulation is really what is a cause of concern on Capitol Hill as well.

But that is it for us on INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. And just a reminder that we will have special live coverage of tomorrow's January 6th Committee hearing tomorrow at noon eastern time right here on CNN.

But stick with us, coming up next on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, Jake's guests include Congressman Adam Schiff and Senator Pat Toomey.

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