Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

Haley To run For President, First To Challenge Trump; Trump Struggles To Fundraise In Early Weeks Of Campaign; FBI Search Of Biden Beach House Is Over, No New Classified Documents Founds; House GOP Kicks Off Kicks Off Probes Into Border Crisis, COVID Fraud; Tyre Nichols Service To Draw Thousands In Memphis; Tom Brady Says He's Retiring For Good. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 01, 2023 - 12:30   ET



JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: A lot of different points of the republican campaign argument, if you will. But look, she is -- we'll know if he's taking her seriously, if he starts going after her as aggressively at Ron DeSantis. As of now, he's not that worried about it.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR OF 'INSIDE POLITICS': One of the things he'll point out is what I'm about to play. And my question is, does this matter? Donald trump was a Democratic, then he was an independent, then he was a Republican. He was President. He's ideologically tethered to nothing. So does it matter that Nikki Haley said, "If Trump runs, I won't." Listen.


LAURA BARRON LOPEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT AND POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): If he runs again in 2024, will you support him?


BARRON-LOPEZ (voice-over): If you he decides -- if he decides to run, would that preclude any sort of run that you would possibly make yourself?

HALEY: I would not run if President Trump ran.


KING: Now Trump will say that's disloyal. The question is how many Republican voters care.

BARRON-LOPEZ: There are still, also based on the 2020 Republican primary results, there's like a third of the base that is still very much in support of Donald Trump. And so we haven't necessarily seen them break away from him, and even though Republicans -- the Republican establishment and the Republican Party itself start having conversations after the midterms about whether or not they wanted to move on, there hasn't been any clear break or any clear move on. And so I think that something like that could very well, her consistent flip-flops about the former president, also the fact that aside from a generational change, which is an argument a lot of Democrats made against Joe Biden in 2020 as well, what is she going to do to differentiate herself policy-wise from the President?

KING: Well to that point, if you just look at the resume -- I'm not taking sides here, it's not a Democrat or a Republican. The resume is like, OK, that's somebody I'll listen to when he or she runs for president. She was Ambassador to the United Nations. She was a two term South Carolina governor. She had the courage to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse. That was a big debate, trust me, in her state. For a Republican to do that was a big risk. She's a first-generation American. So a compelling story, let's listen. Over the last ten years, this is Nikki Haley and you'll notice some evolution.


HALEY: It is not my job to win a popularity contest. It is my job to strengthen the fiscal health of this state.

Government was intended to secure the rights and freedoms of the people. It was never intended to be all things to all people.

I took on a hurting state with double-digit unemployment, and we made it the beast of the southeast.

Islamic terrorists, Iran, Russia, communist China, they all want to harm America.

The first minority female governor in the United States, I will say until my last breath America is not a racist country.


KING: Again, it's an impressive resume. The question is, can she make that case a Republican primary? And I'm interested in just watching how -- Trump has a history of reacting to strong women in adversarial ways, to be polite.

TIA MITCHELL, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think a lot is going to ride on how does she frame this run for president when she officially launches, which we expect in a couple of vehicles because she is going to have to explain why all of a sudden are you not supporting Donald Trump. She is going to have to be ready to withstand whatever criticism comes her way. But most importantly, she's going to have to describe why she thinks she's that generational shift. Because if you're talking about a younger Trumpy (ph) candidate, everyone considers Ron DeSantis as filling that role. So what role is she presenting to Republican voters, and is that a winning message to win a primary?

KING: That's what makes it fascinating. The question is how many get in too because the more -- at least the early thinking is, the more candidates, the more that benefits Trump because Republicans have winner-take-all rules. You can get 25%, 28%, 30%, get all the delegates. But you mentioned this before, there are a lot of Republicans who think Trump has weakened. How weak? So, this is just from our CNN headlines today, Trump struggles to fundraise in early weeks of 2024 campaign. There's no question, he does not have the appeal he once had. He does not have the generate money that he once had. He also has $80 million in the bank between his different organizations and he's not as formidable. That doesn't mean he's not formidable.

ZELENY: Absolutely. For exactly what you just said, because of the winner-take-all strategy, he doesn't need to win all of the Republican Party, he just needs to win a share of it. And right now, today, you would say he would. But I think by Nikki Haley jumping in, she's probably doing something fairly smart because there's a whole class of governors out there. Governor DeSantis, Governor Sununu, a couple of former governors as well who are thinking about it. But why not just get in and do it.

And you might think, this is sort of early. It's actually not. So four years ago, many Democrats were in. I was looking back at a story I wrote in 2007, Barrack Obama got in a couple weeks ago at this time in 2007, at least announced with a video. So this is about the right time and she needs to prove that she can do this for Republican voters. So it's good for her I think to be out there initially. We'll see sometimes early candidates that fade out but the race is under way, so why not get in if you're her?

KING: She's been thinking about it a long time now.


KING: Now we get to see it on the run. I want to bring you an update to a very important story we started the program with.


CNN is now told by a source that the FBI search of President Biden's vacation home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware has concluded. We're also told by that source that no classified documents were found at that location. We'll bring you more information as we get it. The search is over. The source says no classified documents were found at the president's Rehoboth Beach, Delaware home.

Up next for us, the investigations begin. House Republicans gavel in hearings on the border and on COVID spending, opening what they promise will be aggressive oversight of the Biden White House.



KING: This important update, just in the CNN. The FBI search of the president's home in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware is over. No classified documents were found during that search. That's according to a source familiar with the matter. CNN tracking this story, of course, we'll bring you more developments as they come in to us. Up on Capitol Hill today, crackling tension as House Republicans open

two of what they promise will be a long list of investigations. The Oversight Committee is focusing on COVID spending. The Judiciary Committee's focus is Biden Administration border policy. The hearings are an early test of this new Republican majority and how aggressive minority Democrats will be in defending the White House.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Biden Administration does not have operational control of the border. Month after month after month, we have set records for migrants coming into the country. And frankly, I think it's intentional.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: I wish this Committee was starting off on a different note. Unfortunately this hearing is more of the same haphazard chaotic style we have come to expect from this new Republican majority.


KING: CNN's Alayna Treene is covering these hearings and joins the discussion. My question for this has been Republicans have a long list of issues, they say they are going to through for months. So today is kind of the opening round. Is it legitimate performance review or is it, as many Democrats suggest, performance art?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, I think we're seeing today already there's a partisan jockeying. And I know, I mean I've spoken with both Chairman Jim Jordan and James Comer about these hearings, and they really want to be seen as serious chairmen of course. We've seen them become very political and dive into a lot of the politics in the past and on cable media but as these investigations go forward, they want to be methodical and they want to be seen as serious chairmen. But I will say today, we're already seeing the partisan jockeying go back and forth on the COVID hearing which is House oversight.

We saw them disagreeing over who has responsibility for potential waste and abuse in the pandemic. I mean Republicans saying Democrats did not do enough while they were in the majority to look at some of the waste and abuse. Democrats coming back and saying, "Well, a lot of that was under the Trump Administration and the CARES Act." And so a lot of the back and forth and really taking shots at the other side. I know a lot of these members are saying on both sides of the aisle that they want to work together. There's a lot of issues they think they can actually find some sort of progress on. But today, we're starting to see really that partisan jockeying and not a lot of bipartisan compromise.

KING: That's a great point. Is it just today, because both sides are sort of strapped in to get this started. Right, the bell rings, it's like a boxing match. Sadly Washington has a lot of that. Go to your corner and do what you are supposed to do. But you mentioned the Oversight Committee, so let's listen. In the Judiciary Committee, it's Jordan and Nadler, the senior members there. Now on the Oversight Committee, today it was Chairman Comer and Democrat Jamie Raskin.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Unfortunately Democrats conducted little oversight of the over $2 trillion spent under the CARES Act. They did the exact opposite. They spent another $2 trillion, but this time with absolutely no protections or guardrails to prevent waste.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), RANKING MEMBER, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: While I remain optimistic that this hearing can explore ways to ensure taxpayer dollars will go where intended, I confess I'm troubled that some of our colleagues seem to want to cherry-pick facts and deploy distorted figures.


KING: It's the opening act. I guess the question is, a couple months from now, if these are really investigations, not just hearings to pinata everybody, but if it's really investigations, where will we be in a couple of months? Will we have factual presentations of reports? On the Judiciary Committee side, they say one possible goal is impeaching the Homeland Security Secretary.

MITCHELL: Right and because they are -- Republicans are coming in really hot on these issues. And that's what we expect. These are issues they've been talking about and they've said, once we get in the majority, things are going to change. We're going to go after some of these Democratic leaders, we are going to go after some of these Democratic policies and big spending bills. So I think we're getting exactly what we expected. The question is, is there that ability to work together and is there any ability for congress to do anything meaningful?

And I think we've said that all along, that's where things could break down because if people at home are watching and all they're seeing is bickering with no product to show for it, that's going to wear on people pretty quickly, I would expect, especially going into another election season.

KING: And this may depend on which committee we're talking about, right? In the case of -- there is a special China Committee, Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin I believe is the Chairman of that and Democrats rushed to join that. And they actually talk as if they can at least start off on a bipartisan look at all the Chinese behavior that impacts the United States, whether it is economic or national security, as opposed to judiciary and oversight which sounds like that's going to more of this.

TREENE: Right. No, it's a great point. And if you look at, I mean judiciary and oversight, again, James Comer, Jim Jordan, very much figures who are beloved by the right and the conservative base.

[12:45:00] Other investigations that could potentially produce some bipartisan progress could be the Foreign Affairs Committee, I mean looking at Afghanistan and the withdrawal. I think there's a lot of opportunity potentially. But again, I will say these hearings and these themes today are really supposed to be some of the topics that are less political. Soon we'll be getting into for both of these committees, looking at investigating Hunter Biden, investigating the classified documents issue. And this is where really we'll see some of the nastiness and the aggression come out of these investigations.

KING: And that gets to the tone and the trust going forward. Another example would be the House Republicans are trying to remove Ilhan Omar from the Foreign Affairs Committee. And it appears like -- it appears the speaker now has the vote, Speaker McCarthy. And the reason he has this vote is they added language to the House rules where if any member reserves a right to bring a case before the committee on ethics, has grounds for an appeal to the speaker of the House for reconsideration if any. So McCarthy found out he had four or five, maybe more than that who weren't sure this was the right thing to do. And so now Ilhan Omar, if they vote on the floor to remove her, would have an appeal. Now the question is, is that just that's put something on paper that doesn't matter, or is it legit?

ZELENY: Well, it's legit enough to get a vote. That's what Speaker McCarthy is going to sort of be judged by, being able to do things. But look, at the end of the day, this is going to open up a big debate and it's one more example of just the House is not functioning as it once did. But gone are the days when it did. I think overall, it does show Speaker McCarthy, if he is able to get this, is able to keep most of his members together on things like this. But foreign affairs is so different from many other committees. They talk about foreign policy. And yes, they'll look at Afghanistan but they're not exactly probing the Administration. So it's a bit of a big use of the speaker's time here for something that really doesn't make that big of a difference. It's symbolic.

BARRON-LOPEZ: I think when we look at the question of whether or not these investigations are legitimate or the merit of all these investigations, I think it's important for people to understand the added context that so many of these members who were appointed to a lot of these key committees, oversight, judiciary, there's a number of election deniers on these committees. Members including Jim Jordan himself who have trafficked in conspiracy theories. And I think that as we in the press continue to we cover these investigations, that's something we have to pay attention to when we -- when they ultimately do or do not come up with legitimate facts and findings.

KINGS: It's a great point. Respect he's the Chairman, but don't forget the past as we go through it for the context. That's very important.

Up next, a painful funeral later today in Memphis for Tyre Nichols. A celebration of the life of the 29-year-old young man killed by police.


[12:52:20] KING: This afternoon his family and the Memphis community will remember Tyre Nichols. Vice President Harris is among those scheduled to attend the funeral. The 29-year-old, of course, died after he was beaten by police officers in Memphis. Five of those officers now face murder charges and the investigation continues. Let's check in with CNN's Ryan Young. He's outside the church in Memphis. Ryan, set the scene for us. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): John, I can tell you the Secret Service is in place, and they've set up metal detectors. People are starting to go in the building here. This funeral service obviously is starting a little late and that's because the winter storm has really paralyzed this area over the last 24 hours or so. We've been able to talk to people who have come from as far as LA to be here. They say they really felt -- they could not believe how brutal this video was, and seeing that over and over again has seared that into the minds of people.

I talked to one woman on the inside who said she could see her son in Tyre Nichols. She is in pain and was nearly in tears. We know the Vice President is going to be here, reverend Al Sharpton is going to be doing the eulogy. But the focus of the family really is trying to change the culture of policing in the city. They have been happy with the way the Memphis Police Department has moved forward in the first coming days after this investigation started. But there's still so many questions involved in terms of what happens next and what we're learning about the officers who were behind this.

In talking to Memphis Police Officers off camera, some of them are heartbroken by the video they watched as well because they realize it's going to be harder to patrol the communities that they're entrusted to protect. And the city has seen a spike in crime in the recent months. So you put all that together, and you can understand why this city is pretty raw with emotions when it comes to this brutal video that a lot of us have had to watch over and over. John.


KING: Brutal to say the least. An important day, an emotional day in Memphis. Ryan Young, appreciate you setting the stage for us. We'll be right back.



KING: Topping our political radar today, the Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell expected to announce yet another interest rate hike later this afternoon. This time, the expectation is the Fed will raise rates by 0.25. That would be (INAUDIBLE) and the smallest increase since it began aggressively hiking rates last March to try to head off rising inflation. The White House says President Biden's physical will wrap up later this month. That after a president missed a pledge to complete it by the end of January. A spokesperson telling CNN the delay was the result of "a busy and evolving travel schedule" for the 80-year-old president.

And it may not be political but this should be on your radar today, the end of the Tom Brady era, for real this time he says. In a Twitter message this morning, the GOAT says he's retiring "for good." Just in case you are wondering, he has played 23 seasons in the NFL. He is a seven times Super Bowl champion, five times Super Bowl MVP, plenty of regular season records as well. And as you take a look at his hardware, the Pro Football Hall of Fame tells us Tom Brady has played in, and get this, 18% of all Super Bowl games. This Patriots fan says, "Thank you, Tom."

It's your time to end INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you tomorrow. (INAUDIBLE) picks up right now.