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Rep. David Joyce On State Of GOP; GOP's New "Weaponization" Cmte Takes Aim At Federal Agencies; GOP Fighting Back On Biden's Claims They Want To Cut Social Security, Medicare; Biden Brushes Off Concerns Over His Age: "Watch Me". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 09, 2023 - 12:30   ET



SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He says, you know, everything he has to say about the politicization of the government is backed up by these anonymous whistleblowers.

Now, I think you can expect a lot of pushback from the Democrats, as we see this subcommittee hearing unfold today. They disagree, essentially, with the entire premise of this subcommittee, the notion that there's weaponization of the federal government that explicitly is against conservatives. So we're going to see I think, a lot of pushback from them. Their goal going into this is really to rebut all of the claims that Republican lawmakers are planning to make today. John?

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Will have an open mind and see how it plays out. Sara Murray on the Hill, appreciate it.

Let's get some important perspective now, from a Republican House member not afraid to buck his party on some issues. Congressman David Joyce, for example, did not join the 139 House Republicans who tried to overturn the 2020 election, even after the attack on the Capitol.

Congressman Joyce, also among 14 House Republicans to vote for the recent gun safety law, and one of 39 to vote for same sex marriage protections. Welcome to the program. And thanks for coming in.

So you're in the early days of this new Republican majority. Your fellow Ohio and Jim Jordan believes that the Justice Department and other agencies of the government have been weaponized against conservatives. Do you share that belief? And as they launched these committee hearings, what would your advice be on how to proceed?

REP. DAVID JOYCE (R), OHIO: First off, thanks for having me. Secondly, I was a prosecutor for 25 years before I got here. I believe you have to be fact based, and you have to get to the bottom of what is happening. America deserves to understand if there is an issue. Be transparent about it.

Our government should be transparent. And if they're truly weaponizing, then show the facts. There's been a lot of allegations made, as you alluded to. But I think it's very important that if they have these hearings, at the end of the day, they produce something to show either tangible facts or back off that so people can have confidence in their government.

KING: Well, to that point, especially given your experience as a prosecutor, and especially because Republicans are now in the majority, when you're in the minority, you can't schedule a hearing.

JOYCE: Right.

KING: And so you say you might say certain things, because you want to get your point across but you can't schedule a hearing, now you can. So you have what Congressman Jordan has said -- Chairman Jordan, I should show him the respect he deserves. And Chairman Comer, and the Oversight Committee yesterday said that there was collusion between Twitter and the Justice -- and the FBI and the media about the 2020 election, about the Hunter Biden laptop.

He has not laid it out. I think Twitter deserves oversight. I think anything you want to have oversight over. But do you worry about that, as a former prosecutor that sometimes Republicans seem to be giving the verdict and then holding the trial?

JOYCE: Well, I think you have to lay out to plan your work, work your plan. You have to lay out your case. And so we're given time, because this will be a series of hearings, it's not going to be a one shot fix at all. And they'll have the next two years to lay out that case to the American public as to whether or not there's an issue there. And American public is smart enough to decide whether or not it's true or not.

KING: I wanted you to commit, and I'm grateful you did. Because you're one of the key people I view over the next two years if anything is going to get done. Because you're a -- I'm going to -- if you disagree, please say so. I call you a pragmatic governing conservative. Conservative principles, but let's get in the room and talk about big important issues to the country like you did on gun safety. Let's try to get things done if we can.

The President at the State of the Union had the Tyre Nichols family there, and everybody stood up, just about everybody, because it's such an important moment. When it comes to policing reform, with your experience as a former prosecutor, do you believe there's anything that can be done? Is there one thing where Republicans go to the White House and say, Mr. President, we can't do everything you want. But here's one thing, let's do it.

JOYCE: Well, I think the situations that have been depicted over the years from what's happened with this place is a small fraction of our total police force. And the ones that are doing that should be prosecuted for the things that happened because it doesn't -- no one deserves to lose their life at the hands of the -- our police.

But we also need to educate police better and the social situation --

KING: Is that a federal role?

JOYCE: Well, that's a good point. I mean, I think the process, at least the funding for the education of these people should be there because there has to be a whole bunch of things now. Drug counselors, psychiatric evaluations on the scene. And you have -- you don't know when that next traffic scout is going to be the one -- last one you'll ever do.

So you're -- we've asked cops to do a lot and we haven't been able to properly prepare them for the duty that they're confronting, unfortunately, on the streets. Our streets are obvious have come less safe. We have to have a police presence there for the safety of all Americans that I think it's important that we educate them.

But there's another part of this too, John, that is underappreciated is the fact that they don't shoot the wound. And these a lot of these shootings, you're taught to shoot at center mass. You will have to kill somebody, unfortunately. If they draw a weapon, you're going to draw a weapon and you're shooting to kill.

That's a tough situation, and it's one second or a fraction of a second, that actually they are able to make that concentration on what they're going to do next. So you have to give some policemen a little leeway in this, but I stand behind the guys in blue realize that a vast majority of them do the best they can every day in bad situations.

KING: Another thing the President call for is a ban on assault weapons. Again, you supported the gun safety measures passed last year. You're the only member of Congress to put a school shooter behind bars. And you talk about that gentleman TJ Lane, I shouldn't call him a gentleman. He's serving three life sentences. You talked about the evil in his eyes.


When the President says ban assault weapons, you view that as too much. Is there anything large capacity magazines? Is there any conversation you would be a part of if it was a genuine effort to do additional gun safety reforms? Are we done now through the 2024 election?

JOYCE: Look, I don't -- it's just like, it's not the car that kills, it's a drunk driver. You know, in this situation, the guns -- you know, I myself, I'm the hunter, I have shotguns, but I don't see any need for an assault weapon. But I understand, I appreciate that people who do.

But the problem is when you get somebody like TJ Lane, and we're sitting just like you and I were, and when he was in my office that day, for the first days he was up there, you could tell this was a young kid, we had no clue, no concept of what he just did, the permanence of what he just did.

And you know, I think it's a psychiatric issues. I also think that people have become desensitized to the depth and the things that are taking place in our country. I mean, what they do is a permanent. The way that you pull that trigger, people are going to get killed, and they need -- people need to understand that violence has become too commonplace in our daily discussion. And we need to have some respect for the mental health aspects of our youth today. And they don't grow up thinking that this is a fair standard way in which we should go about a practice of our civilization.

KING: And I can tell you, sit in this chair too often. You're absolutely right. Too often, the question is, can this town have the right. conversations.

But the Congressman is gracious enough. He's going to stay with us. We're going to bring back our reporters too in the next segment. We'll talk about what it's like working with the new Speaker Kevin McCarthy in his first weeks. Again, Congressman Joyce is going to stay with us as our great reporters come back to the table as well.



KING: The President and his team believed they scored a big State of the Union win when some House Republicans began cheering and shouting at the President. Even the Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he wishes those Republicans, in his words, didn't take the bait. But one of the most outspoken Republicans, Marjorie Taylor Greene insists the chaos served a purpose.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R), GEORGIA: I wasn't goaded into anything. I was reacting based on how the American people feel. many Republicans in the House have been used in this lie that President Biden and other Democrats keep telling. So, no, we aren't planning to cut Social Security. And because I called him a liar on the House floor, we settled that issue right there at the State of the Union.


KING: Congressman David Joyce of Ohio, Republican, still with us. Our reporters are back as well. Who won that debate? Did the President come out with the upper hand there or is Marjorie Taylor Greene right in his, quote unquote, lie in her view got exposed?

JOYCE: Well, the President has a much bigger bully pulpit, which he was using effectively to kick off his '24 campaign and to certainly frame the debate going forward. But I think it's intellectually dishonest. And I'm sorry that he would did that. I was hoping for to hear more about what he's going to do to cure the ills of this country and what he -- he was elected as the great uniter, we've not seen that.

He just met with our Speaker McCarthy, who they came to an understanding that there were some things that wish they could agree on. And we're waiting to see what those things are. But I think it's been unanimous among us that no one is talking about cutting Social Security or Medicare for anybody who's 65 or on that glide path to retirement. KING: I want to let everybody else jump in and ask questions. But on that very point, you're on the Appropriations Committee.

JOYCE: Yes, sir.

KING: You understand politics. The President's going to wave Rick Scott's plan, or things Republicans said two years ago, three years ago, five years ago, 10 years ago and say Republicans want to cut Medicare. He will wave yesterday in your face until you put something on the table today.

Do you believe Republicans do have to put on paper, Mr. President, we will vote to raise the debt ceiling. We want some spending cuts. Here's our proposal. Where's yours?

JOYCE: Well, you know, the President was -- owes us a budget, which he failed to produce. And he failed to produce any real discussion about savings throughout his, what he's doing here now. There's ways that we could get this back without doing what they're doing. But let's be intellectually honest too here.

The fact that the Democrat plan is we're not going to do anything is dishonest to the young people in this country. We're paying into a system that is make Bernie Madoff look like a shyster.

KING: But no one's going to do Social Security, Medicare now. We can tell. We're going to have a presidential election before you would have to have another bipartisan commission to do it so that everybody walks the plank together.

JOYCE: Correct.

KING: We all get that. So what about the next two years? Will Republicans have to put spending cuts on paper and say, here's the defense spending we want to cut or here's the other program we're going to cut? Let's set Social Security. Or else the President's got to use this as a bludgeon?

JOYCE: Well, you know, that's one thing I'll give Kevin credit for is that the -- what you saw from January 3 to January 6, was actually productive. And although we're about two months late now, getting into our season, because we're doing all the things we should have been doing November, December, it's been great for having these conversations with members of all, as he calls them, the five different families -- not a stereotype I really liked, but having everybody at the table and start talking through these issues, and where is it can we find this common ground that you're talking about?

And just yesterday afternoon, had a group meeting with Garret graves leading the discussion about, OK, where are we at? And, you know, I think it was very productive. And we'll continue to have those until we come up with something.

DANA BASH, CNN CO-ANCHOR, STATE OF THE UNION: You just talked about Bernie Madoff. Were you trying to suggest that, no, you don't want to end Social Security, you don't want to add Medicare, but it sounds like you're saying there do need to be changes?

JOYCE: There has to be changes. I mean --

BASH: And what changes need to take place?

JOYCE: Well, that's something we all need to sit down and discuss because my kids are 27 and 29 and 30. They're paying into a system, they're not going to get any money.

BASH: Are you saying that you're not touching the third rail?

JOYCE: I'm just saying that -- if we're being intellectually honest, Republicans, Democrats, independents, all have to sit down at the table, have some type of commission or have the discussion with all of us as to, OK, here are the problems, here are the potential solutions and how we're going to get there. And lay it out for the American people to see.


But if we don't do anything, all we're going to do is crash and burn. That's the Democrat plan and let people know that the minute we crash and burn, it's an immediate 20 percent slice to every senior citizen in benefits.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: But you're suggesting that Marjorie Taylor Greene was wrong when she -- I mean, Biden got up there and said, Republicans want to change Social Security, Medicare. You're a Republican who's saying we got to do that. And she called Biden a liar. But you're saying, well, Biden didn't lie?

JOYCE: No, no, no, no, no, no, I'm not saying that at all. He absolutely like the American people. He use this opportunity to whip us with what he said. What I'm saying is that when I first got to Congress, it was 35-65 mandatory discretionary spending. Were over 70 percent some now in mandatory spending. That's going to continue to grow. Our debt continues to grow.

Every time the interest rate goes up 1 percent, it's another $200 billion just on interest on the debt we owe. It's not fair to the next generation of people. We have to have a serious discussion among all Americans. Let's be straight about that.

And President Biden, if he really wanted to be the chief, if he really wanted to be the leader, then he should be sitting at the table to say, let's fix this problem going forward. But it's a cheap tactic for political stun, to go out and say that, oh, they want to cut seniors' Social Security and Medicare.

I voted for an RSC budget one time when I first got here, and there some cuts. Next, and I've got all these 15/32 hands coming out against me. I didn't vote for that. Well, I guess I did, you know, when I was in his budget plan. But that's what's caused me to sit down and start talking about this and talking through with all the new members of our Republican Study Group that are -- excuse me, our Republican Governance Group that, you know, be careful what you vote for, because in there, there's going to be some hidden details that are going to come back and bite you in a commercial.

KING: Yes --

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I want to ask one quick one. Just I know, you were asking about police reform. Right now, there's conversations on the Senate side of a smaller bill that wouldn't touch qualified immunity.

We haven't heard too much from the House about whether or not that would actually be something that gets consensus that gets agreement right now. Would Republicans actually buy in to support a smaller bill that didn't touch qualified immunity when it comes to police reform?

JOYCE: I think the qualified immunity can't be taken off the table. What I was explaining with John before that split second decision, or less than a second decision that these people have to make. They lose everything when they're trying to protect life and limb of other Americans is something that has to be on the table, you know, as far as any discussion.

The parts that go around it, let's face it, if it's not going to pass the Senate, it's not going to go anywhere in the House. So it should probably occur in the Senate. We'll see what comes from that.

KING: We need to let you go. But just before we go quickly, around the House Ethics Committee, I know there's a lot you cannot say. What can you say about the status of the George Santos investigation?

JOYCE: I can't say, because right now, anything on Ethics, I would appear before Ethics, I was a member in the last term. I've been appointed again. Some say that's like being on internal affairs. But, you know, I view it as an honor that the Speaker would think enough and need to be able to --

KING: That the Speaker who said that at least the staff is starting to preliminary work.

JOYCE: Well, I can't say because I haven't -- we haven't had an organizational media. That'll be coming up soon. And then once they do, then they'll announce their decisions on what they're going to move over now.

KING: Congressman, we appreciate your time coming. Thank you very much.

JOYCE: Thank you very much for having.

KING: Please come again.

Up next President Biden addressing concerns about his age. He says he's not worrying. He says you, voter, shouldn't worry either.




JUDY WOODRUFF, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: You'd be 82, date of the next election. 86 if you're successful and elected and finish that term? Does it give you any concern?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Watch me. It's all I can say. I will be completely thoroughly honest with the American people if I thought there was any health problem, anything that would keep me from being able to do the job.

WOODRUFF: It sounds like you're running.

BIDEN: I've made that decision. It's my intention, I think, but I've made that decision firmly here.


KING: Our great reporters are back at the table. The President is -- would be 82 on this next Inauguration Day. If he wins the election, 86 when he finished his term. Is that -- I don't know, as he says, what other answer can he give, but watch me. He's inclined to run it seems pretty obvious.

BASH: Yes. And there are people who question whether or not there's too much emphasis put on this. But I don't think so. This is unprecedented to have somebody even close to this old, either in the White House or seeking another term. And I heard you talking this morning, with Don Lemon about this.

It's not just him. If Donald Trump becomes the nominee, he's a bit younger, but not a whole lot younger. And so that is very much why you see Republicans and some Democrats, but now because they're cautious about Biden, mostly Republicans making the next generation argument over and over again.

KANNO-YOUNGS: Absolutely. And let's remember, he also said it's a legitimate question.

BASH: Yes.

KANNO-YOUNGS: In a previous interview, too, he did as well. Look, it's the one data point, the one metric that he absolutely can't change. Is as you can talk about inflation, you can talk about gas prices that can change. You know, you can implement policies for that. This one, you can't.

Going back to the State of the Union as well, it wasn't just the contrast with limited Republican proposals on the economy that had some Democrats excited with that kind of tip for tat debate, but it was also somewhat the performance aspect and the agility as well. We were talking about that yesterday that had some people excited as well.

HUNT: Right.

[12:55:06] KING: And there was less traveled to 2020 campaign because COVID was still a big hangover. There's -- he's going to have to be out there in 2024.

HUNT: Yes. I got to tell you. As a much younger person not having to do the 2020 campaign in a real way was a lot less exhausted. I mean, look, I mean, you've covered how many of these races, John? I mean, this is not for the fame of heart.

KING: This would be 10 for me.

HUNT: It is hard. It is grueling on the campaign trail.

KING: It's fun.

HUNT: It's going to show -- it's a blast, but it's going to show if you're Joe Biden, and I actually think that this is actually -- the Republican nominee matters a lot. If he's running against Ron DeSantis, this contrast is going to be very clear.

KING: We'll see. He says watch him and we promise. We will.

Thanks for your time here in INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you tomorrow. Abby Phillip picks up our coverage after a quick break.