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Inside Politics

Brandon Johnson to Become Chicago's Next Mayor; Johnson: Resources Will Focus on Root Causes of Crime, Not More Police; Liberals Win Majority on Wisconsin Supreme Court; Abortion Ban Galvanizes Voters in Wisconsin Supreme Court Race; North Carolina Democratic State Rep Switches Parties, Gives GOP Veto-proof Majority; Speaker McCarthy Meets Taiwan's President; Fox Hosts, Executives Could Testify in Defamation Trial; Haley Campaign: $11 Million Raised in Six Weeks; Congressional Leaders Set to Make Dueling Trips to Israel; FLOTUS Will Attend King Charles III's Coronation. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 05, 2023 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Two major victories for mid-western Progressives. In Wisconsin, the Democratic-backed judge won and won decisively, delivering Liberals their first majority on the state supreme court in 15 years. Abortion loomed large in that race, and as you can see, the outcome was not close.

Now, the court could soon overturn the state's abortion ban. And in Chicago, Progressive Brandon Johnson is now the Mayor Elect, that after a narrow win over a more moderate opponent. There, violent crime and how to deal with it became the defining issue. Johnson promised to add, yes, 200 more detectives to the police force, but he said it was even more important to make investments in housing and youth jobs program.

Let's start in Chicago with Mariah Woelfel of WBEZ. Mariah, grateful for your time on this morning after your city has a new mayor-elect, I want you to listen to him this Morning on CNN. He says, yes, we need more cops. I'll add 200 more detectives, but he made the case that it is much more important, hire more kids, get them off the streets, give them jobs, improve housing in neighborhoods that need help and more. Listen.


BRANDON JOHNSON (D), CHICAGO MAYOR-ELECT: When you spin more per capita on policing here in Chicago than you do anywhere else in the world, and we're still not as safe, you know, people start to call that into question. And so this is about the allocation of our resources in a strategic smart way. That's what people voted for.


KING: The Chicago election coming after New York elects a new mayor tough on crime. Los Angeles elects more a Progressive candidate. Now the more progressive candidate wins in Chicago. Is this an ideological victory? Is it because of union support an organization, a little bit of both?

MARIAH WOELFEL, GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS REPORTER, WBEZ CHICAGO: A little bit of both. You know, Johnson was the underdog in many ways in this race. He was out-fundraised 2-to-1 by his opponent in Paul Vallas, who had much more name recognition than Johnson did. But Johnson had the backing of government unions who knocked on doors. They came with many, many foot soldiers and funding. And then it was an ideological battle between, as you said, a progressive way towards reducing crime and a more traditional approach in hiring police officers, which the opponent Paul Vallas talked a lot about.

And Johnson said these results are proof that Chicago-ians, you know, want to reject a more traditional approach to reducing crime. Chicago of -- and of 298 big cities that report policing data to the FBI has the most police per capita of any other large city except for Washington, D.C. So Johnson's argument was it hasn't been working for decades. It's not going to work in the next four years if you elect Paul Vallas. I'm going to continue to make these incremental changes towards addressing the root causes of crime.

Well, you know, as you said, trying to hire a couple, you know, 200 more detectives to try to solve crime, which Chicago struggles with as well.

KING: Mariah Woelfel, WBEZ, appreciate your time today. We'll check back in as the new mayor gets started, see if he can deliver, get the council and others to come along with him as he tries to bring in his new policies. Mariah, thank you. Let's bring the conversation back in the room with our great reporters. Wisconsin in a moment very quickly here. You do have almost a split decision, if you will. Is it a split decision where, you know, Mayor Adams wins in New York saying more police, more of a traditional tough-on-crime approach? Karen Bass beats a Republican turned Democrat who ran essentially on the Adams platform, she says it's more nuanced. Johnson wins, says it's more nuanced.

MARIO PARKER, NATIONAL POLITICS TEAM LEADER, BLOOMBERG: Yeah well, I should add that I'm from Chicago and it's my hometown.

KING: That's why I asked you the question.


PARKER: Yeah, so absolutely. So speaking with my family and also speaking with sources that were working on the campaign, he coalesced the black vote, right? Yes, the reporting is right from Mariah in that crime was on the ballot. But again, this is a Chicago that has dealt with Jon Burge, Laquan McDonald, et cetera, so policing has always been front and center. So they've been open to new ideas for policing. So Brandon Johnson's appeal to look at the root causes of it resonated with the south and west parts of the city.

KING: And so, let's move to this Wisconsin Supreme Court election -- state supreme court is important anyway, all the more so because you have Michigan, the Democratic Governor gets re-elected. The Democrats win big in the legislature, a battleground state. Now in Wisconsin, another battleground states, you have the Democrat take the state supreme court. And so, let's listen to the two candidates, the victor and the -- what's so interesting is in states that elect judges, it gets very political. Here's your victor and then the loser who says good luck.



JANET PROTASIEWICZ, WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT JUSTICE-ELECT: Too many have tried to overturn the will of the people. Today's results show that Wisconsinites believe in democracy and the democratic process.


DAN KELLY, FORMER WISCONSIN SUPREME COURT CANDIDATE: We could have the rule of law or the rule of Janet. And the people of Wisconsin have chosen the rule of Janet and I wish Wisconsin the best of luck, as I think it's going to need it.


KING: Janet Protasiewicz is now the supreme court justice, and this could have a huge impact. The court now could reverse the Wisconsin anti-abortion law.

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: Abortion rights, also election interference, it could influence presidential race because, remember, that -- there was -- the Wisconsin supreme court rejected the attempts to overturn the election there. Listen, this is about as high as it gets, which is why it's the most expensive supreme court race in history. I believe you had Obama telling people to go vote in that race. I mean, really, you had heavy hitters weighing in, not so much on the ground, but from above, and that -- and this is -- and it wasn't even close.

KING: And so, that part, it wasn't even close. Let's just try to connect the dots, if you will, in Wisconsin, a 50/50 battleground state.


KING: A 10-point win for the state supreme court, following the Michigan Democratic governor getting re-elected, legislative gains, following the vote right after the Dobbs decision, the reversal of Roe v. Wade in Kansas. This is the middle of the country where for the last 10, 15, 20 years, Democrats have struggled and struggled profoundly --


KING: -- have they found their path?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they found their issue for now. They found a path and that was sort of carved by the issue. And that is the issue that you mentioned, of abortion, and what -- this race has been absolutely fascinating, not only because it's not that often that we as national political reporters talk about racist for the supreme court, but that is how it works in Wisconsin.

But more importantly, because the Democrats on a national level saw this as a chance to wrap -- once again, rally the base in a very sort of offbeat election -- off your (ph) election on the issue of abortion and push their voters and put a lot of money in for her. And they put a lot of money in for her and Republicans who I talked to in Wisconsin say, he didn't really even stand a chance because of the onslaught of money and largely focused on the issue of abortion, which clearly resonated in a very big way, because it is very impactful, because there's a law in the books that you put up that could be overturned.

KING: Yeah. 1849 abortion ban could be overturned and then you move on to the other issues, which are redrawing the maps.

BASH: Yeah.

KING: House Republicans right now, the state House too -- the state legislative districts too, but right now, the House Republicans have a very narrow majority. Wisconsin's a place where they have some seats, then you -- potentially 2024, if we have another who won the election challenges, a huge deal.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It's a massive, massive deal and in terms of -- because I wanted to just highlight what Jackie said earlier, they were one vote away from overturning the free and fair results in Wisconsin in 2020, so this clearly has massive implications where who could be the next president, the next occupant of the White House. And I'm just fascinated by how sustaining of an issue abortion is going to be. I mean, obviously, Tammy Baldwin, not one of the top- tier senate races in this current cycle, but you know what she's going to lean into, as she -- as she is up for re-election.

And you see abort -- the issue of abortion manifesting itself in so many ways still in this current news cycle. You have -- we're still waiting on that ruling in Texas and obviously, a very, very important issue for the White House, for abortion rights groups, for women across the country. You have judicial nomination fights actually getting tangled up in abortion currently in the senate, and in Florida. You have the White House very much actively weighing in on these proposed state bans in these conservative states.

KUCINICH: -- trying to get it on the ballot.

MIN KIM: Right, right -- so that very, very long lasting issue that Democrats will definitely seize on in the next coming months.

KING: And so, as Progressives celebrate in Wisconsin and Chicago, just a reminder that the 50-state puzzle can be complicated, yet a party switch in North Carolina, which now gives Republicans a super majority. Democrats switch parties puts Republicans on the verge of a supermajority in the North Carolina legislature. So you start thinking about, oh, there's this big new trend in American politics, and you've got to go state by state, sometimes you get surprised.

PARKER: Yeah. No, absolutely. It was the best of times and the worst of time --


PARKET: Right? So, because North Carolina, if we -- speaking with sources, after the midterms and then also 2020, they were looking at North Carolina is the next Georgia, right? They were kind of salivating and saying, "Hey, I can get wicked. Maybe flip this state now as well." So this has to be kind of a moral blow to the Democrats in an otherwise good night (ph).

KING: Right. Because if you look at the demographics, you are right about that. It is a -- if you look at the demographics, the political, it's one of the best tug-of-war states in the country. I think best because I like competitive races. I know people at home don't always agree with me on that one.


Up next, a big meeting less than an hour away, the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, his meeting with Taiwan's President and China is warning of "serious repercussions."



KING: Happening soon, a high-stakes meeting between Taiwan's President and the House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. China is watching closely and it is threatening to retaliate. Let's bring in to discuss our CNN national security analyst, the former Deputy Director of National Intelligence, Beth Sanner. Beth, grateful for your time. Let's get straight to it.

The House Speaker is going to sit down with President Tsai Ing-wen in California at the Reagan Library. I view this as a compromise of sorts because McCarthy initially wanted to go to Taiwan, and the Taiwanese president and the White House were like, "Let's not poke the bear, right now." Why then is China so upset? This has happened before. What's the big deal?


BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Yeah, this is -- they've been doing these kinds of stopover visits for 30 years and this is seventh such visit. So, the thing that's different is the context of this. So you know, one is McCarthy visit the actual meeting with the Speaker of the House and the Chinese are very hierarchical. You know, they think of him as the third most important person in our politics. We might not think of it that way. But he's second in line to the president.

So there's great symbolism here and that makes the Chinese really go a little bit crazy because it looks like we're supporting independence. But the other thing is the really the bigger context here, which is that U.S.-Chinese relationships are -- is, you know, they're in the toilet. And they're the worst they've been since we have re- established relations in 50 years. And you know, one of the things I point to is a speech that Xi gave in March where he said, you know, the U.S. and the west is seeking to all-out containment, suppression and encirclement. And I think that really shows where his mindset is.

KING: Right. You say his -- you say his mindset. You've been very complimentary of her mindset, saying that she has made clear that she's trying to manage this in a most delicate way, that she's defending Taiwan's democracy but not trying to be overly aggressive in poking the bear. What does it say? What does it say to her and the people of Taiwan? And what does it say to President Xi and China that it's not just the Speaker, 16 members of the House including, if we could put that graphic back up --

SANNER: Right.

KING: -- a member of the Democratic leadership, Congressman Aguilar, and the Chairman Congressman Gallagher and the Ranking Member of -- the Democratic member of the new China Committee. What is the message to both leaders? Both the Taiwan president and president Xi Jinping that this is not just the Speaker, this is a very important delegation?

SANNER: Well, as I said, as she left, there on a long and difficult road to democracy, but they're not alone. And I think this really shows in full force that the United States is with Taiwan, but it also reinforces exactly what I said about Xi's mentality here is that Taiwan is moving towards independence. And that is something that is against the One China policy, but it's also -- he more than any other leader intends on unifying Mainland China with Taiwan, and this sort of show of force makes them incredibly nervous.

KING: So the words of the Chinese have been tough. This is just one sampling of that. The spokesperson for the Chinese Consulate in Los Angeles, if Speaker McCarthy insists on playing the Taiwan card, it will undoubtedly further damage China-U.S. relations. Tough world, you could read the rest of that as well. What actions do we look for? What do you look for in the coming days that will give you a good read on whether that's just a boilerplate Chinese reaction saying we're disappointed or whether it's we're disappointed, we're mad, and we're going to do something about it?

SANNER: Well, she has to balance good relations with Europe, trying to court the opposition who is more pro-China than Tsai when elections come around in January of next year, and you know, not messing things up too bad. But he's got a lot of military force and he set a new normal for military activity, so there is more to come.

KING: Beth Sanner, appreciate your insights and we will watch, of course, the meeting later today and then for that more to come part of it, Beth. Thank you.

Up next for us from the anchor desk to the witness chair, some of Fox's biggest names could take the stand in that billion-dollar defamation case brought by Dominion Voting Systems.



KING: Topping our political radar today, a star-studded trial. We're learning Dominion wants even more Fox News executives to testify in its $1.6 billion defamation suit. That trial begins later this month. This, after Fox announced plans, get this, to put high-profile personalities on the witness stand. The technology company is suing the right-wing network over its 2020 election coverage. CNN's Oliver Darcy joins us. Now, Oliver, who are we talking about on the stand here?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: That's right, John. Fox is -- or Dominion is seeking to compel Fox to have six more executives testify in this trial, including Raj Shah, the former White House spokesperson under Trump turned Fox Corporation executive. But regardless of whether the judge grants Dominion -- Dominion's motion enforces these people to testify, this is going to be a high-wattage trial that's very uncomfortable for Fox News because they're going to have stars like Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Maria Bartiromo, Bret Baier -- those types of stars testifying at the trial. And we know from the private emails, the private text messages that they did not believe any of Trump's delusional 2028 election claims; those claims took hold on the network anyway. And so, they're going to have to testify at a trial about this in just a few weeks.

KING: Fascinating few weeks ahead for us. Oliver Darcy, appreciate the update there. Also today, Nikki Haley's Republican presidential campaign revealing she's raised $11 million since announcing that presidential bid. Haley breaks down the haul this way, 70,000 donations -- the bulk, she says, $200 or less. The campaign ending the quarter with $7.8 million cash on hand, healthy number. But, consider this -- Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump each reported $100 million cash on hand.

And congressional leaders making dueling trips to Israel this month, the House Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries, the Republican Speaker Kevin McCarthy, both set to visit but separately. This amid weeks of protests and brewing tensions between the Biden White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the Israeli Prime Minister's judicial plan.


And you might call this hail (ph) to the king, the invitations are out to King Charles' coronation. It's on May 6th at Westminster Abbey. The First Lady Jill Biden will lead the U.S. delegation to the coronation of King Charles. President Biden is skipping, but he did congratulate King Charles over the phone on Tuesday, saying hopes to meet with the king another time.

That's it for today on 'Inside Politics.' Oh, I just want to show you these live pictures. Kevin McCarthy meeting with the Taiwanese president, playing when (ph), this is out at the Reagan Library in California. Abby Phillip picks up after the break. Have a good afternoon.