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Inside Politics

Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg Sues GOP Rep. Jim Jordan; Trump Legal Troubles Loom Over 2024 Campaign; Biden Arrives in Ireland to Explore Lineage; Rep. Justin Pearson Could be Re-instated into the State House; Louisville Bank Shooting Leaves People Protesting on the Streets of Memphis; Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin Says She's Running for Re-election; Annual Inflation Falls for the Ninth Straight Month; EPA Wants Two-thirds of All Car Sales to be Electric Vehicles by 2032; White House Labels Fentanyl Combined With Xylazine as an Emerging Threat; Senator Lindsey Graham Wants to Improve Relationship With Saudi Arabia. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 12, 2023 - 12:30   ET




LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: -- where other parts of the money came from. We answered that question, also we are happy to provide you other people to come in and answer your questions but we are not going to get into details of an ongoing investigation because, remember, some of these requests came before the former president was even indicted, and I think that that is where this tension is coming from.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR OF 'INSIDE POLITICS': And it's interesting, in the clip we played from the interview with Tucker Carlson. You see the banner that said it was historic interview. He was on Fox two days before that, I think -- or three days before that. It was said that historic.


But never mind that. Trump, of course, he's going to say, "No, I'm not going to back out." But to the previous conversation we were having about Senator Scott and other people getting into the race, that is one of the things that the other Republicans are looking. They don't know where these cases are going. Trump of course says, "I'm in till the end no matter what, even if they convict me," but that's the giant wild card.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Right, right. And the other wild card is exactly how these other Republican candidates are going to behave if his legal troubles continue to balloon, because obviously we had the case at New York. I think the general public consensus has been that that's perhaps the weakest of the pending legal cases, so things happen in Georgia or in other cases that Trump is currently facing, are Republicans going to take the gloves off and point out to their voters that we can't have someone with this much legal trouble be our presidential nominee. They haven't got to that point yet. We've seen -- we've seen Republican after Republican defend him against -- on these charges filed by Bragg last week, and I just don't know at what point they start to kind of distinguish themselves on the legal troubles when it comes to Donald Trump.

KING: It will be interesting to watch if there becomes -- if -- if a divide emerges between the candidates, the people who need to beat Donald Trump if they want to win the Republican nomination and his allies in Congress because Jordan is among his most loyal allies and Bragg cites that in the suit that right away, as soon as they -- even before the indictment, House Republicans were saying, even the investigation of Donald Trump on these questions of hush money payments was out of bounds and Alvin Bragg says, "Look, if you don't think Jim Jordan was out to get me, listen."


REP. JIM JORDAN, (R-OH) JUDICIARY CHAIR: The Soros-backed new DA, left-wing DA, Alvin Bragg, he wasn't even going to take the case because there is no case.

A left-wing District Attorney, a Soros-backed District Attorney is going to go after the former president of the United States. This is about going after anyone who opposes the left's agenda.


KING: So if this lawsuit, which chance (ph) has had some standing as they go through the hearings, you know, does it -- how -- that's the argument Jordan's going to make. He's being political. And Bragg's going to make the argument, absolutely not. Not only is he being political, he's trying to stop an investigation.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: Right and I think again, some of this is how it plays out to the public. And even when you look at polling after Trump was indicted, there is a lot of support for letting the legal -- the criminal justice system play out. Let the case play out, even not necessarily majority, but a sizable number of Republicans might not necessarily agree that Trump did anything critical, but say, let the case play out. So, I don't know if it's going to play well -- these -- this perception that Republicans are trying to interfere with an ongoing investigation.

KING: Right. And another thing Bragg does, Shan, in his filing is it's about Jim Jordan. It's about the Judiciary Committee. But he also cites essentially to say I'm under constant political attack. He cites the truth, social posts from Donald Trump where he talks about death and destruction if they charge me, essentially says (ph) there could be protest and danger on the streets, and he also cites Donald Trump's posting on Truth Social, re-posting of somebody else on Truth Social. There's a picture of Donald Trump with a baseball bat that was taken from his White House days and the picture of Prosecutor Bragg, that was put up on Truth Social and then it was reposted by Trump. Trump did not originate that, but he reposted it. What's the -- what's the point of that in a lawsuit?

SHAN WU, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: He's laying the atmosphere for the court to understand that this is not just puffery. There's real danger here. It's also beginning to make the public record for a potential additional charge against Trump for obstructing, interfering, maybe witness intimidation as well. So, it's a very strategic lawsuit. I mean, it's kind of fun to read because you really punching back so hard --


-- and really using Trump and Jordan's words against them. They're the ones who put all this spin out there and coming back to haunt them now.

KING: It would be fascinating to watching to, A, the legal arguments and then, B, to the point of the other guests how it plays into the politics of it. Ahead for us, Hakeem Jeffries then and now. The House Democratic Leader says he doesn't recall much about a controversial uncle and his relationship with Louis Farrakhan. But a CNN KFile investigation unearthed a Jeffries essay in which he defended both men, said they were victims of a media lynching.



KING: Right now, President Biden is retracing his family roots in Ireland. At the moment, he's in County Louth, one of the places where he has personal ties. Drawing this very tough assignment of covering the president is CNN's Donie O'Sullivan who joins us now live. Donie, some -- somewhat difficult politics for the president this morning in Northern Ireland. But now, he's on the fun part of this trip.


DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Exactly, that's right, John. And we heard in that impassioned speech from President Biden in Belfast, Northern Ireland today. He was talking about how delicate democratic institutions are, even invoked January 6th, the attack on the U.S. Capitol, and he was really encouraging political leaders in Northern Ireland to get back to work. The Good Friday agreement, which we're in the middle of the 25-year celebration first, now had a power sharing government in Northern Ireland as part of the agreement, and that government hasn't been functioning for more than a year.

But now, the real fun starts for President Biden. He is going to be arriving here soon, shortly, to the rainy town of Dundalk in County Louth.


Hopefully, it will dry up a bit but we are already seeing hundreds of people lining all the streets here, and it is quite reminiscent of the footage already of when JFK came here, the first Irish catholic president 60 years ago. Similar scenes, although he seemed to have better weather, so we're hoping that it dries up here.


KING: Yeah, hoping it dries up. My friend, you watch the president. At the end -- at the end of the day when you're done with that White House security detail and all that, have a pint for me as well, promise.

O'SULLIVAN: We'll have one for you for sure, John.

KING: Amen, my friend. Let's move on now to an important new CNN KFile investigation. The House Democratic Leader Hakeem Jeffries has maintained for a decade that he doesn't remember much about his uncle, Leonard Jeffries, who had a history of inflammatory anti-Semitic remarks back in the 1990s. But our KFile team unearthed an unreported essay that Jeffries wrote during his college years, defending his uncle and defending the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. CNN's Andrew Kaczynski leads the KFile unit and he joins us now.

Andrew, Hakeem Jeffries' uncle was well known, especially in New York, for his controversial remarks. Among the things Leonard Jeffries said, he claimed that rich Jews financed the slave trade. He said the Jewish Hollywood executives "planned and plotted a conspiracy to denigrate Black Americans in their films." He was condemned back in those days by the Anti-Defamation League, by then Governor Mario Cuomo. After a lengthy legal battle, he left his position at the City University of New York. How had the politician Hakeem Jeffries explained this in the past?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: So, Jeffries has downplayed his associations with the past and I want people to read this quote that he gave to The Wall Street Journal in 2013, in which he says -- there was no internet during that era, and I can't even recall a daily newspaper in Binghamton, New York, but it wasn't covering the things that the New York Post and Daily News were at the time. Jefferies has made similar comments over the years, most recently in 2019 to The Axe Files podcast. Take a listen to this.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES, (D-NY) MINORITY LEADER OF THE U.S HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: My father made a deliberate decision to try to shield us from that controversy because he was very concerned as to how it could just impact our wellbeing, our focus because it was an intense situation. I've said that there are many statements that he has made that I disagree with and then obviously are very different than the course that I've followed, and I've sort of left it at that.


KING: So, that is Hakeem Jeffries to David Axelrod in the earlier quote you read, sort of keeping this at an arm's length. I don't really know that much about it. I don't agree, but I don't know much about it, but you went to Binghamton University. That's where Hakeem Jeffries went to college. And you found he had actually written about his uncle and Louis Farrakhan back then, when he was 21-year-old, as a student. What did you find?

KACZYNSKI: Yeah, that's right. So Jeffries and the Black Student Union actually invited his uncle to speak on campus and then after Jewish student groups protested, Jefferies led a press conference defending his uncle. That obviously undermined that quote we just read from The Wall Street Journal a little bit earlier, where he said he could not even recall, you know, local press coverage of this. He actually led a press conference.

He then wrote this editorial where he defended him, and I'm just going to read a couple of lines from it. He says, "Dr. Leonard Jeffries and Louis Farrakhan have come under intense fire. Where do you think their interests lie? Dr. Leonard Jeffries has challenged the existing white supremacist educational system and longstanding distortion of history. His reward has been a media lynching complete with character assassinations and inflammatory erroneous accusations."

KING: So that is very different, how he reacted, responded, wrote back then to what he says -- what he has said. What about today? Now that you have this reporting, how is Leader Jeffries responding?

KACZYNSKI: So we did reach out to his office yesterday, we asked, you know, if there were any inconsistencies that he saw between what he said in 2013 and what he said in 2019, and what the actual record shows. They didn't respond to those questions, but they did give us a statement where they said Leader Jeffries has been clear that he does not share the controversial views espoused by his uncle over 30 years ago.

KING: So distance again, but not a direct reaction, the direct reaction at all to the specific reporting that you have and your KFile team has. Andrew Kaczynski, grateful for that reporting. It's important. Thank you.

When we come back live (ph), look for Memphis. See it right there. That's where supporters are now rallying behind an ousted Tennessee lawmaker who could have his job back in just a matter of hours.



KING: For the first time since that mass shooting at a Louisville bank, we are hearing from the gunman's family. The family expressing sadness for the incident and acknowledging the 25-year-old gunman struggled with depression. But his family says they saw "no signs he was planning or capable of such violence." That statement from the family coming as police also released bodycam video of the deadly attack, a warning you're about to see the moment the gunman ambushed the officers as they approached the entrance to the bank.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are making entry from the -- from the east side (inaudible).



KING: That footage is from the first of two officers who arrived on the scene at the bank. Rookie Officer Nickolas Wilt who was shot in the head and his Training Officer Cory Galloway, who ended up killing the gunman. Police say the gunman was waiting in the lobby to ambush the police, after he had killed his coworkers.

Tonight, a vigil will be held in Louisville to remember the five lives lost in that bank attack. That the gun violence also causing political upheaval in another American city, Nashville. We will soon learn the fate of Justin Pearson. He's a member of the so-called Tennessee Three. Pearson, one of the lawmakers expelled from the State House of Representatives for holding of raucous but a peaceful gun protest on the floor of the chamber of the Tennessee House after the tragedy at the Covenant School in Nashville.

In just hours though, there will be a vote to decide whether to send Pearson back to the State Legislature. Right now, his supporters gathering for a rally and CNN's Ryan Young is right there, live for us in Memphis. Ryan what's the latest?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, just a lot of pain. When you think about gun violence across this country, like you said, supporters are starting to gather for Pearson here in this courtyard, but we're in a special place. And I know you love history, John, if you think about what this place means, this is the Lorraine Motel. Where that ribbon is where Dr. King was killed on April 4, 1968.

So you have in the shadow of this historic place, you know, all these protesters who are gathering to talk once again about gun violence. And as we walk this direction, just think about how this week has played out. You had just last week, they were kicked out of that State House and now they're going to get ready to get back. And this is all playing out because protesters plan to march to Shelby County, where there will be a commission meeting today.

From what we're told by some of the people who are inside, they believe that Pearson will regain his seat. And then, of course, then they'll be the same quarter (ph) joyous occasion that happened earlier this week when Justin Jones got his seat back. But these protesters plan to march a mile. They plan to be very loud as they get closer and closer to Shelby County. And on top of all this, you finally had the Governor of Tennessee coming out and asking Republicans and Democrats to come back together to strengthen gun laws in this state, because so many people are having the conversation now, especially after those six lives were lost at that school, and so many people are still heartbroken about that.

The conversation has changed, John, but when you see all these people who are lining up to get ready to march, you understand what has happened here. The State Legislature, they may have not realized this, they've amplified these two young men's voices and now people in this entire community, Black and White, are talking about gun violence in this country, and you see that movement positively -- positive movement happening within the State House. All this happening in the shadow of where Dr. King was assassinated. John?

KING: That is remarkable -- a remarkable scene at a historic, sad but remarkable place. Ryan, grateful you're there to report on this story for us. Thank you so much. And this quick programming note as well, CNN's Kaitlan Collins sits down with the Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear. That's tonight, will be the governor's first interview since that bank shooting in Louisville and the loss in that shooting of one of his close friends. That's tonight, nine o'clock Eastern, CNN Primetime.

Up next, break out, your 2024 battleground map. The Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin reveals her plans.



KING: Topping our political radar today, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin says she's running for re-election. She will seek a third term in office. The Democrat formally announcing her re-election bid today. Baldwin became the first openly gay woman elected to the senate back in 2012 and she led last year's efforts to pass a bill protecting same sex marriage.

New positive numbers today on inflation, it fell to a 5 percent annual rate in March. That's an improvement from the 6 percent figure in February. It's the ninth straight month that annual inflation has been down. Americans are paying 17 percent less for gas compared three years ago, but the cost of food and shelter both up more than 8 percent.

The Environmental Protection Agency proposing one of its most aggressive climate change policies to date, it wants two-thirds of all car sales to be electric vehicles by 2032. The Agency says it could cut planet warming auto emissions by half. But -- it's an important but -- industry analysts say battery materials, consumer demand and the number of charging stations required could be obstacles to meeting that new goal.

And the White House today taking a new step, labeling fentanyl combined with xylazine as an emerging threat. Xylazine also known as tranq is an animal sedative that slows down the human respiratory system. When mixed with fentanyl, it dramatically multiplies the odds of an overdose. The White House says that drug combination has now been found in almost all of the 50 states.

And it appears Senator Lindsey Graham has had a change of heart, tweeting photos of what he called a very productive meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Graham once predicted a bipartisan tsunami against the Saudis after the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Now though, he cites Saudi purchases of Boeing jets made in South Carolina and says he wants to improve that relationship.


Thanks for your time tonight on 'Inside Politics.' We'll see you tomorrow. Abby Phillip picks up our coverage right now.