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Inside Politics

Growing Fallout From Major Pentagon Documents Leak; DeSantis Signs Six-Week Abortion Ban, Then Barely Acknowledges It; Trump Allies Unleash New Attack On DeSantis With Pudding Ad; Scott Tests 2024 Waters With "Optimistic" Message In Early States; Feinstein Vows To Return To Washington Amid Calls To Resign. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired April 16, 2023 - 11:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: A stunning leak.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guarding our classified intelligence is truly a matter of life and death.

PHILLIP: Why did the young Air National Guardsman have access to some of America's closest held secrets?

Plus, Ron DeSantis signs an abortion ban in Florida, even as some Republicans worry they've gone too far for most voters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We've got to show some compassion to women. By and large, most of Americans aren't with us on this issue.

PHILLIP: But will GOP leaders moderate their policies or just their rhetoric?

And Feinstein's future, she's missed weeks of work in Washington. Now some Democrats say it's time for the Senate legend to resign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has become painfully obvious that she is no longer able to fulfill her duties.

PHILLIP: Hello and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Abby Phillip.

It is the most egregious disclosure of classified documents in years. And as of this morning, the full extent of the impact of these leaks remains unknown. Armed federal agents descended on the Massachusetts home of 21-year-old Air National Guardsman, Jack Teixeira, on Thursday, arresting him for allegedly leaking troves of U.S. military intelligence.

But the Biden administration is still very much in damage control mode today, struggling to contain a fallout from this crisis and trying to understand exactly how a relatively low-level member of the military was able to just walk away with such highly sensitive information.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've instructed the department to make sure that they get to the root of why he had access in the first place, number one. And number two, to focus extensively on the extent to which it all occurred. And that's going on right now.


PHILLIP: The historic breach has rattled U.S. officials, members of Congress, and perhaps most importantly, key allies abroad.

To date, the documents have exposed in part; the key weaknesses in Ukrainian weaponry, air defense and battalion sizes. Just how deeply the U.S. has penetrated Russia's security and intelligence services, the extent of us eavesdropping on key allies, including South Korea, Israel and Ukraine. And also, Taiwan's doubts about its own abilities to defend itself against an invasion by China.

Senators sounded the alarm about the gravity of this situation just a short time ago. Take a listen.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D-NY): I have a lot of questions about why were these documents lying around? Why did this particular person have access to them? Where was the custody of the documents? And who are they for?

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I don't know what led to this airman's actions, but he's done a lot of damage to our standing. It's very hard to get people to come forward right now to tell us about things we need to know about if they feel like they're going to be compromised.

So the question is, how did he get it? And why did he do it? And we -- some people need to be fired over this.


PHILLIP: Let's discuss all of this and more with CNN's national security reporter Natasha Bertrand, Politico's national investigative reporter, Heidi Przybyla, Axios, senior political contributor, Margaret Talev, and CNN political reporter, Alayna Treene.

So, Natasha, thanks for joining us here today on this really wild story, frankly. I mean, the details of it are both incredible that it happened. But also, it seems to reveal how easy it is for things like this to happen. Tens of thousands of people are just like this 21- year-old.

What are U.S. national security officials concerned about right now?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, they're concerned about the fact that it appears to have been so easy for this 21-year-old Air National Guard member, he's not only access these systems and view intelligence that he did not necessarily need for his day-to-day job, but also to apparently print them and take them out of the building without anyone noticing. So that -- with regard to that procedure, that is pretty concerning.

And then, of course, they're concerned about the actual content of what leaked here. It's top secret information having to do with our allies, including South Korea, Israel, and even Ukraine. These documents revealed that the U.S. was spying on Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, as well as Israeli officials and South Korean officials.

And they also reveal really important things about what the U.S. knows about Russian Defense Ministry officials and things that, you know, could lead to access being caught off for the United States. So some of these documents, very clearly say, that they were sourced to human intelligence, human sources. That is extremely dangerous because these human sources could now be hunted down U.S. officials say. The eavesdropping points that the U.S. has on the Russians, for example, they might now be cut off. So all of this deeply concerning.


And we still don't know, for sure, just how this young airman was able to get this information out. And why as part of his job as a young basically IT person for the Air National Guard, was he looking at these documents? And why did he have access to them?

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, in some ways, I'm not entirely surprised that he had access to them, but that someone could just print it and walk away, and nobody really notices for months, that seems to me to be just an embarrassing hole -- gaping hole in the U.S. control over national security documents.

And one of the other subplots of this is the way in which these revelations that you were just talking about, about the Ukraine war, is basically just feeding into this anti-Ukraine sentiment in American politics.

Listen to Tucker Carlson on Fox basically defending this leaker accused of leaking national security secrets.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: The only man who has been taken into custody or likely ever will be is a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who leaked the slides that showed that Lloyd Austin was lying. He revealed the crimes, therefore, he's the criminal. That's how Washington works. Telling the truth is the only real sin.


PHILLIP: I mean, I think a lot of Republicans would like that to be a fringe view. But it is speaking to a part of the Republican Party right now that sees these leaks as a public service in some way?

HEIDI PRZYBYLA, POLITICO NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER: Well, it's playing into the grievance politics that we've seen for the past six years in this country. And I think this is the other subplot here, because this allowed us a window into some of the spaces that particularly young white men in this country are inhabiting, and it wasn't just anti Ukraine, it was anti-black, anti-trans, anti-gay, very pro-gun, if you look at a lot of the paraphernalia that this young man was collecting.

But this is just another exclamation point, on the point that a lot of the politics right now in Congress, for instance, is basically people who are very bombastic who are about us versus them and grievance politics, and that this is actually having a real impact on our culture and on young people.

PHILLIP: Well, here's the -- Marjorie Taylor Greene tweet, and then you can jump in. She tweeted this week, Jack Teixeira is a white, male, Christian, and anti-war and that makes him an enemy to the Biden administration. She goes on and on criticizing the war in Ukraine, criticizing -- basically criticizing NATO, and getting slammed this morning by Lindsey Graham on this week.


GRAHAM: What they're suggesting will destroy America's ability to defend itself.

There is no justification for this, and for any member of Congress to suggest it's OK to leak classified information, because she agree with the cause is terribly irresponsible and puts America in serious danger.


ALAYNA TREENE, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. So what Marjorie Taylor Greene said, I agree with what Heidi -- I mean, she invoked in her tweet, he was white, he was young, he was male, same things that Tucker Carlson said. And I do think that some Republicans, like you mentioned, are trying to take that as a fringe view, as one way to criticize the Biden administration over this massively. They want to put the onus of what happened on the Biden administration and criticize them over this.

But I do think that the majority of members that I've spoken with Republicans on Capitol Hill, take Lindsey Graham's view, which is that this is a very dangerous thing that has happened, and we cannot be defending the leaker.

And I think that's going to continue to be the message from most Republicans. We know that they've been really eager to get way more information on this. They felt very out of the loop on what's been happening with this investigation, and all senators will have a briefing on this leak on Wednesday.

And I do think that once that happens, and once they gain more information, I think the Marjorie Taylor Greenes of the world and Tucker Carlson taking this view is very much a very small view on Capitol.

MARGARET TALEV, AXIO SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR: You know, I think there are going to be efforts to compare this guy to Ed Snowden or to Chelsea Manning, but I look at this in a slightly different context. We saw in the aftermath of January 6, just this year, the arrest of three active duty Marines charged for their participation in the -- in the uprising at the Capitol, the attack on January 6.

I think this -- there's a bigger concern here that the sort of conspiracy theories and -- or, you know, deep state conversation or anti-Ukraine movements, all those pieces have infiltrated the U.S. military and intelligence systems on some level that officials may not completely understand or have a grasp on yet. And with those three cases, they're all over the country in places like Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and Pendleton in California, at the NSA at Fort Meade, and now, this young man in Massachusetts.


There are young men, young members of the military in the Intel communities who may not agree with this administration, or may have concerns about foreign policy or intelligence applications or the justice system. And to the extent that they're willing to break the rules to break rules around classification, that's a real concern for the government.

PHILLIP: Yes, I think, Natasha, I do wonder, is that part of the discussion right now in the intelligence community about what this really means about the types of individuals who are in the military have access to this? And how they are using these online communities to, in some ways, kind of self-radicalized on some of these issues like the war in Ukraine?

BERTRAND: Yes. So I would just make two quick points. So the first is that this individual who leaked these documents, even his friends in this group chat said categorically that he is not a whistleblower. He did not want to be a whistleblower. The documents that he was revealing were really only to show his friends, essentially, what was going on inside the U.S. government, and we're not meant, according to these people in this chat, to be shared widely. So this individual was not doing this, because he wanted to expose broadly to the American public these kinds of things.

And then the second, though, I think, to your point is that the vetting that went into this very young man, for him to be able to get a top secret sensitive compartmented information clearance. That is going to probably be looked at very closely here because, did they look at his online history? Did they look at his presence in these chat rooms, which he had apparently been on for at least five years before he got that clearance?

All of these things the military is going to have to grapple with, but their point is that they can't legally kind of monitor all of this stuff domestically, right?

PHILLIP: Some of that -- some of these groups are private. They're on the internet, but they're private.

BERTRAND: Right. And so they say that they focus their intel collection efforts internationally, right? But when it comes to that vetting process, I think that's something that's going to be looked at very quickly.

PRZYBYLA: The good news is that this is egregious enough that it does seem like something's going to happen, that some kind of changes are going to be made, because we've been talking about these types of breaches, not this specific type, but problems with these types of breaches for years now. And we haven't really seen that fundamental reform change.

PHILLIP: The embarrassing part of it is that it keeps happening. And it seems like literally -- I mean, it only takes one person and the -- maybe hundreds of thousands of people who have these kinds of clearances across the federal government.

But coming up next for us, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban into Florida law. It is a big win for anti-abortion conservatives. So why won't he talk about it?



PHILLIP: After a week of massive developments in abortion politics in America, the U.S. Supreme Court has now all but ensured that there will be more to come.

On Friday, the court temporarily allowed a key abortion medication to continue to be widely available, giving the justices a few more days to decide whether or not to uphold the FDA's approval of that drug, mifepristone.

So while -- and meanwhile, in Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis may have made one of the most consequential decisions of his political career thus far, choosing to sign this highly restrictive six-week abortion ban into law. That's before many women even know that they are pregnant.

Now, it won't go into effect until some of the legal challenges play out. But if and when it does, the procedure will be banned now in virtually the entire southeast region of the country.

And given that this has been a huge Republican priority for decades, one would expect that DeSantis would be more vocal about touting his legislative success. And yet, 12 hours after he signed the bill, in a private late night ceremony, he gave a speech at Liberty University and this was as close as he came to mentioning it.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We have elevated the importance of family and promoted a culture of life.


PHILLIP: CNN's Eva McKend is joining the conversation here at the table. So this move by DeSantis should have been, if you are a anti-abortion Republican, maybe a crowning achievement for him, virtually banning abortion in the state of Florida. But he doesn't want to talk about it. And this is why it could be problematic.

Take a look at this headline from, of all places, People Magazine. On the newsstands where people get their gossip, they're also getting headlines like this, rape, incest victims must show proof to get exception to Florida's new abortion ban. This is going to be more than just at this table at the grocery store as people are hearing about.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER: Oh, absolutely. This is going to seriously impact people's everyday lives. Millions of women in Florida and elsewhere. And because of where Florida is geographically situated, other people from states neighboring were relying on Florida to be able to access reproductive care. So that may gone into his calculation here. Maybe he did not want Florida to become known as a place of refuge.

But listen, not all Republicans think that this is a liability. If you speak to them, they say, well, look at Stacey Abrams, Beto O'Rourke, Tim Ryan, they centered this issue in their contests, and they were not successful.

In fact, some Republicans are encouraging lawmakers to double down on this issue and say, hey, you know, don't sort of crumble under democratic talking points remain firm. And that's even the position of the Republican Party. Their platform they adopted was to encourage lawmakers to take as extreme as possible positions on this issue.

PRZYBYLA: In our lifetime, the Republicans have always had the intensity advantage when it comes to this issue. The pro-life religious right are the foot soldiers, the grassroots army of the Republican Party.

They also have a lot of the money. If you look at some of the money networks behind major candidates, these are the Orthodox Catholic, very far right religious right


Now that they've gotten what they've been working for, for decades, the script has flipped. And if you look at all of the polling, the intensity advantage is now on the Democratic side or the side that supports abortion rights up to a certain extent.

And what we're seeing is that these candidates don't know how to handle this. Ron DeSantis signed this bill, doesn't want to talk about it. Donald Trump apparently is saying, whoa, we've gone too far. We need to back off a little bit in some of the reporting.

And I think it's a real concern that there is no script for them. Now, up till this point, for decades, all they've had to say is, I am pro- life, end of story. Now, we're getting into taking very specific positions that are very much against public opinion in this country. TALEV: You know, Axios, and our partners that engages do a monthly focus group of swing voters, and these swing voters are defined -- you have to find that somehow -- they're defined as voters who had voted for Donald Trump the first time and Joe Biden the second time.

Within this most recent group out of Pennsylvania last week, 14 of these swing voters, about half of them, were personally opposed to abortion. They consider -- they consider themselves pro-life voters. But almost all of them thought the judge's ruling against mifepristone was over-the-top, partisan, over -- judicial overreach.

And said things like, this -- we don't support taking abortion bills, but that's between, you know, women and their God, that sort of thing. And so, I know, it's just the focus group. But this gets to some of the nuance of it.

The polling suggests that people think that abortion pills are much better alternatives than surgical abortion procedures. The polling shows that most Americans, and actually a majority of Republicans, even in Florida, suppose things like six-week abortion ban. So this is --

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean -- and to put it simply, I think most of the polling has showed that most Americans support abortion in the first trimester, the earlier part of the pregnancy, which is when mifepristone is prescribed.

And the result of all of this, you know, for Republicans, has been honestly, a little bit of gibberish and confusion.

Tim Scott, for example, asked about this on multiple occasions this week. And his responses are this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You were president, would you advocate for federal limits?

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Yes. So once again, I -- once again, I'm 100 percent pro-life. And I do believe --


SCOTT: No. That's not what I said.

We have to have a federal limit on how far we can go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If that 20-week ban reached your desk, would you sign it?

SCOTT: Twenty-week ban? Definitely.

If I were president of the United States, I would literally sign the most conservative pro-life legislation that they can get through Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Even if it was six weeks?

SCOTT: I'm not going to talk about six or five or seven or 10.


PHILLIP: Six, five, seven, ten. What's the position of the Republican Party right now?

TREENE: This is -- what Tim Scott just said is the clearest example of how difficult this issue is for Republicans to navigate right now. And I totally agree with what Heidi was saying as well. This has been an issue that they were very clear on up until the Dobbs decision last year.

But it's very clear now that ever since they overturned Roe at the Supreme Court level, this has not been a winning message for Republicans. And we saw that very clearly during the 2022 midterm elections. And I think now, it's been very difficult for different Republicans, particularly those like Tim Scott, and others who are candidates in 2020, for particularly presidential candidates in 2024, to find the right message on this.

And I know, just from speaking with some of my Trump sources that they've actually told him to back away from some of the very harsh rhetoric on abortion. I mean, in 2016, this was a winning issue for him. It's something that galvanized evangelical voters around him, galvanized a lot of the conservative right around him because of his stance on abortion. And now, he's really been avoiding that issue on the trail.

And I think we're seeing these mixed messages because no one really has found the right balance on how to portray their stance on this.

TALEV: You got to run for the general election. [inaudible] nominee.

PHILLIP: Yes. And what's interesting is that if this is even happening now, I mean, here we are, it's like 18 months before the general election in the Republican primary, they can't figure out what the message is, that does not bode well for what is going to happen on the general --

MCKEND: It's also not trivial, right?


MCKEND: He's -- he dismisses weeks like, I'm not going to talk about weeks. There's a huge difference between six and 15 weeks.

PHILLIP: Absolutely. That is absolutely correct.

Coming up next for us though, is the 2024 GOP race about to get even messier? Well, the proof might very well be in the pudding.


[11:25:02] PHILLIP: This week, former President Trump's allies took messy politics to shall we say, a whole new level. And a pro-Trump ad is attacking Florida Governor Ron DeSantis' policies on Social Security and Medicare while also mocking him over a Daily Beast report claiming that back in 2019, he devoured chocolate pudding dessert using only three of his fingers. Yes, you heard that right.

Now, DeSantis' first part says he doesn't remember that ever happening, but the MAGA group behind the video hopes that this is -- the message and the images that you're about to see will stick with Republican primary voters.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ron DeSantis loves sticking his fingers where they don't belong. And we're not just talking about putting. DeSantis has his dirty fingers all over senior entitlements. Tell Ron DeSantis to keep his putting fingers off our money.


Oh, get this man a spoon.


PHILLIP: Yeah. Oh, hold on -- hold on to your lunches. The first thing that comes to mind is entitlements.



PRZYBYLA: I mean, look, Trump is a master at branding. This is what he's done his entire career. This is what he did in 2016. Ron DeSantis, to his credit is now starting to punch back. But he's also not only making this kind of, frankly, gross imagery, but trying to shackle Ron DeSantis, to what we've always called the third rail of Social Security. The problem here is, if he goes after all of his rivals on this issue of social security, it truly is the third rail. And at the end of the day, do you know whose budget first budget cuts social safety net programs that are majority of red state individuals rely on? Trump voters.

PHILLIP: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, this is exactly the point that Donald Trump actually himself does not have the greatest record on this. And this is the firing back from Ron DeSantis, that you were just talking about.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump has been attacked by a Democrat prosecutor in New York. So why is he spending millions attacking the Republican governor of Florida, Trump's stealing pages from the Biden- Pelosi playbook, repeating lies about Social Security, Trump should fight Democrats not lie about Governor DeSantis. What happened to Donald Trump? (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: So that is from a pro-DeSantis super PAC. And not only is this debate about Social Security and Medicare not going to go away. But I think it also just indicates DeSantis has realized now, they can't just sit on their hands for the next, you know, two or three months.


PHILLIP: They probably don't even have another day to sit on their hands because Trump is not doing that.

TALEV: He's showing this new ad is the never backed down PAC a pro- DeSantis PAC, it's their first TV ad of the cycle. And it shows me a couple of things. But one thing it shows me is that DeSantis has decided he's going to try not to take that equivocation kind of approach that a lot of Trumps rivals or prospective rivals that are starting at lower numbers are trying to do, where it's like you criticize the thing. But then the other day, you know, the next day you kind of defend them or you try not to say his name, like DeSantis is clearly going to go for it.

The pudding ad is so disgusting. And we were all like laughing under breath as it was playing because you can't -- so rose. And the thing is when that report first came out, I was like who cares VA pudding with this fingers. And now I understand there was a clever young ad maker who understood immediately how revolting that image was going to be and how it would freeze in your brain.

But I actually think that DeSantis is the pro-DeSantis PACs arguments against Donald Trump, once you get past the pudding imagery may actually be more important because they're kind of using Trump's playbook, using words like Pelosi, to try to weaponize them to inspire the base by using them against Trump. And that's something different.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and we also know, you know, a lot of focus groups have been showing this. Republican voters are not thrilled about Republicans attacking other Republicans. So they're going with that message to. The other thing, I mean, first of all, this week, we got another candidate, Tim Scott jumping into the exploratory committee realm of things. And then another candidate, potential candidate Mike Pompeo saying, no, thank you. Listened to him on Fox News explaining why.


MIKE POMPEO, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, we care deeply about America and the issues that I've been talking about this last year and a half and frankly, four decades matter an awful lot. This isn't our moment. This isn't the time for us to seek elected office. As for the primary, we'll see how it plays out. It's not about any one person.

BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: But it might not be former President Trump?

POMPEO: It might not be. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: So are we starting to see something happening in the Republican field here where they're starting to worry maybe that they can be the ones to take on Trump were that anyone can be the one to take on Trump?

TREENE: Oh, for sure. I mean, Donald Trump does have that effect of freezing people out of the race. And I do think that the field could be a lot smaller than people had anticipated initially. And I think Mike Pompeo dropping out of the race is one sign of that. But I also think just talking about the ads back and forth, so many people and everyone I talked to Republican strategist, people on the Hill, so many people are focusing solely on the Trump-DeSantis fight. And unclearly, that's why Donald Trump is going so hard after DeSantis, who has not even announced yet, and he really hasn't touched people like Tim Scott, Nikki Haley, he's really focused his energy on DeSantis.

And I do think it's going to be interesting to see how the other candidates really try to define themselves away from Donald Trump. We know that Tim Scott is running on the, you know, a sunny day optimism campaign. We'll see if that works for him. I do think it's something that a lot of Republicans have missed. I've heard I remember I talked with David McCormick last month, who was like we need to go back to Reaganism who had the optimism and away from the negative messaging surrounding Donald Trump. But He's Donald Trump and he still gets all of the coverage that we continue to get.


PHILLIP: Yeah. If you're Tim Scott and that is it's a positive message, it's not just that also, he is using race as a way of positioning himself as a racial reconciler, just listen to -- these are the opening lines of his new exploratory committee video.


SEN. TIM SCOTT, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: Today, our country is once again being tested. Once again, our divisions run deep. And the threat to our future is real, they weaponized race to divide us, to hold on to their power. When I fought back against their liberal agenda. They called me a prop, a token, because I disrupt their narrative.


PHILLIP: This is a central part of his candidacy. He sent out a bunch of emails this week, including some that are explicitly focused on how Democrats view him as a black Republican.

MCKEND: Yeah, this is a message intended for a very particular audience. I have been covering Republican events for years and sometimes unprompted. I'll be speaking to Republican voters, and they want to assure me that they are not racist, and that the party is not racist. And it will be unprompted. I won't even be asking about race.

PHILLIP: And a lot of times, it's because you're a black reporter. So they feel like they more to tell you that.

MCKEND: They have to tell me that, right, right. And so Senator Scott is speaking to those anxieties, and he is a powerful messenger for this argument. And so it's, it's no doubt why he is leaning into this.

I will say though, in the past, he has acknowledged that institutional racism is still real. He does not say iterations of this anymore. But not so long ago. He certainly did. But I understand why he is making this argument. He is the person perhaps in this field that is best positioned to do so.

PRZYBYLA: I just don't know that the party is going to go for racial reconciliation at a time as their main issue at a time when they're trying to control how Black history is taught in schools. CRT is a major, major issue now.

PHILLIP: I mean, the Republican Party, actively against the concept of diversity and inclusion. I mean that's --

PRZYBYLA: Right. And as far as unity, we have some of the most prominent figures in the party talking about a national divorce about civil war. This is a person who's trying to sell a more sunny, optimistic vision to a party that's really aching for some kind of a fight. And there's a lot of us versus them. And by the way, it's not just the racial the race issue. One of Tim Scott's big accomplishments was trying to push through police reforms. OK, so another, you know, touch the stove issue. And that's why I think silence speaks very loudly and the right-wing media has been dead silent on Tim Scott.

TREENE: I was going to say one of the big things that I've been pushing in my conversations with Trump's advisors are how will you message against someone like Tim Scott, and I don't think they know how. I think a lot of people are afraid of going after Tim Scott on some of these issues. And they don't know what the rhetoric around pushing on his campaign will be like.

PHILLIP: And they may not have to, because if you're, you know, people like Tim Scott in Washington, but if you're not breaking through with the voters, it doesn't -- you don't have to have pushback, they can just ignore you. And you're so let less than 5% --


MCKEND: He's still could, we could be in a situation, a scenario months from now where Trump and DeSantis duke it out so bad that someone like Senator Scott can emerge.


TALEV: He can stumble on issues like the abortion.

PHILLIP: Yeah, that that will become a problem later. But coming up next for us, the intergenerational rift boils over as calls for Senator Dianne Feinstein to step down continue to grow. So when is it time to resign? That's next.



PHILLIP: In the immortal words of country legend Kenny Rogers, you got to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. And holding them or folding them is at the very heart of this drama that is playing out right now in the halls of Congress. Congressman Ro Khanna caused a stir on Thursday when he called for his fellow California Senator Dianne Feinstein to resign pointing to her prolonged absence from DC and claiming that she can no longer fulfill her duties. He doubled down on that stance once again this morning.


REP. RO KHANNA, (D) CALIFORNIA: I have a lot of respect for Senator Feinstein. But she's missed 75 percent of votes this year. She hasn't been showing up and she has no intention. We don't know if she's even going to show up. She has no return date. The reality here is there's the sense well, you need to have a deference to the senators who have served so long. How about a deference to the American people? How about an expectation that if you sign up to do one of these jobs you show up?


PHILLIP: Now, Feinstein has been clear, at least so far that she has no intention of resigning, although she has asked to temporarily be replaced on the all-important Judiciary Committee, which is what a lot of this is all about. And this morning, Senator Feinstein's colleagues in the Senate, were asked about her decision not to step down and their responses were really measured at best.


SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND, (D) NEW YORK: She's been voted by her state to the Senator for six years. She has the right in my opinion to decide when she steps down.

SEN. TAMMY BALDWIN, (D) WISCONSIN: I wish her well and hope she returns to the Senate very soon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think these calls for her to resign are appropriate?

BALDWIN: Look, it's up to Dianne Feinstein and her family to decide.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHER, (D) MINNESOTA: But right now she says she's going to return. Let's make sure that happens. And it sure better happened before the debt ceiling vote.


PHILLIP: That one, that's pretty pointed. So on Capitol Hill, what are Democrats saying behind the scenes in addition to what we just heard, and I do wonder, I mean, what is the calculus for Di Fei on this? Why is she saying? TREENE: Right. It's tough. I mean, Senator Feinstein have an older guard on Capitol Hill, where you've had people who are in there seats way beyond, you know, way well into their older years. I think behind the scenes it's a tough thing for Democrats to navigate.


I know that we spoke with Dick Durbin, the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. He's acknowledge that her absence on that committee is really tough to confirm a lot of Biden's nominees. And so I think a lot of Democrats were relieved to see her ask this week to be temporary replaced on that. But again, no one is really going so far as Ro Khanna as far as I've seen only one other Democrat again, a House member in addition to House member, Congressman Ro Khanna, calling for her to resign. We haven't seen that from any Senate Democrats, so --

PHILLIP: And I guess we -- I mean, we should really say just as a point of context, Ro Khanna is the co-chair of one of the people seeking to replace Dianne Feinstein, in the Senate who could very well be appointed.

And to your point about the Judicial Votes. She's missed -- Dianne Feinstein has missed 60 votes in total, 25 of them, though, have been on these all-important judicial nominees. And in the context of all of this going on about the abortion, you know, rulings at the district and at the Circuit Court level, the Democrats are really on edge. And I'm frankly very upset about this because they're worried about the court.

TALEV: Sure, they're trying to move as many judges through the pipeline as they can in case they lose control at the end of next year, or in case Mitch McConnell uses an election year as a reason to try to block judicial nominees. So there are two things going on here. One is that if Dianne Feinstein were to leave her seat early, the governor of California Gavin Newsom would need to replace her, at least until the next election could be held, and has indicated that he would be committed to supporting a black woman to fill that role.

PHILLIP: Well, let's actually listen to Newsom saying that.


JOY REID, MSNBC HOST: If in fact Dianne Feinstein were to retire, will you nominate an African American woman to restore the seat that Kamala Harris is no longer in the United States Senate? And do you have a name in mind?

GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM, (D) CALIFORNIA: I have multiple names in mind. We have multiple names in mind. And the answer is yes.


TALEV: Right. OK, so that's sort of the policy. Now you can understand why Ro Khanna finds it in Barbara Lee's favor as one of those three candidates. She is the black woman among that crowded Democratic primary to replace Dianne Feinstein at the next election. So that's part of it. On the flip side, for this temporary replacement to the judiciary committee that only works under agreement from the Republicans. And Mitch McConnell is no dummy. This is a negotiation. Are they going to negotiate for a person? Are they going to negotiate an agreement a judges? What are the terms of that deal?

PHILLIP: I mean, will Republicans agree at all? I mean, here's Tom Cotton, Republican senators saying Republicans should not assist Democrats and confirming Joe Biden's most radical nominees to the court. I mean, yeah, it seems unlikely that they would be able to get consent for this.

PRZYBYLA: There may be another option here. And that is instead of going this route, which is not going to work and just have a real food fight on the Senate floor, she may have to agree to permanently go off of that committee, because that is really where the logjam is right now. Yes, there will be debt ceiling vote. But if she permanently goes off of the committee, that's going to relieve at least temporarily, a lot of the pressure on her to see while --


PHILLIP: -- permanently on that committee.

PRZYBYLA: Yes, but another that will temporarily relieve the pressure to see if she can, you know, preserve her legacy and leave in a dignified way. If she can't, it's really going to be between her doctors and her family to decide because she will risk having that legacy with echoes of what happened, frankly, with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, which is you don't want to cling too long. And then have some things happen from, you know, from the perspective of Democrats that are bad that then become your legacy.

MCKEND: Yeah, the Ruth Bader Ginsburg comparison is an important one. And this is a larger, I think generational conversation that we hear frequently in the Democratic Party. And it really spills out into the open among Democrats in a way that doesn't happen so much with Republicans. We have to remember that Speaker Pelosi her stepping aside that was huge, and the turnover in the house of Democratic leadership, it took years for that to happen. And that was because of a lot of agitation at the base level. These folks aren't moving aside that easily.

PHILLIP: I guess policy is a good example of doing it in an orderly fashion and not waiting until something happens that causes it to not be as orderly. But coming up next for us, we've got a sneak peek at a very exciting brand-new CNN weekly program. It's called the whole story with Anderson Cooper. We'll have a sneak peek of it next.



PHILLIP: Tonight at 8 p.m. CNN is premiering a very special new show called the Whole Story with Anderson Cooper. It will feature the very best of CNN storytelling with one single topic for the entire hour. And for the first episode CNN Nick Paton Walsh and his team went to the most dangerous migrant trails in the world. It's called the Darien Gap and it is the only land route from South America to the north. Nick and his team hikes the entire route over five days. And here's a preview of that journey.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: The football shirts a porters each numbered charging to carry bags, even children uphill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Hey my kings, my queens! Whoever feels tired, I'm here.

WALSH: But it doesn't always work out. Wilson is separated from his parents. A porter raced off ahead.

(On camera) (through translation): My name is Nick. Nice to meet you. You are here all by yourself?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translation): Yes.

WALSH: You're waiting for your parents? Where are they? They are behind. Are you going to America? Where are you going?



WALSH: To Miami. What do you like about Miami?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Daddy is going to build a swimming pool.

WALSH: He will build a pool for you? What do you want to be when you grow up?


WALSH: What work?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: School work. And my sister has chosen nurse.

WALSH (voice-over): Nearly thousands unaccompanied children were found on the route last year, the U.N. have said.


PHILLIP: And tonight's episode, we'll show you even more about that sweet little boy, Wilson, and many others that Nick met along the way. It's an extraordinary hour. So tune in tonight for the premiere at 8 p.m. And that's it for us here on INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. See you next Sunday. But in the meantime, up next "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning with us.