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Inside Politics

4 Killed, 28 Hurt After Shooting At Sweet 16 Party In Alabama; Black Teen Shot After Going To Wrong House To Pick Up Siblings; Today: House GOP Hearing In NYC To Discredit Manhattan DA; Top Dem Blasts "Weaponization Of The Judiciary Committee"; CNN: Kennedy Family Not Behind RFK Jr.'s Presidential Run; CNN: Justice Thomas To Amend Financial Disclosure Forms To Reflect Property Sale To GOP Megadonor; Senior ISIS Leader Likely Killed In U.S. Helicopter Rain In Syria; Today's Boston Marathon Marks 10 Years Since Deadly Bombing. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 17, 2023 - 12:30   ET



ISABEL ROSALES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which is the lead agency investigating this shooting at this dance studio right behind me, it says that they don't have any concerns for public safety, but frankly, they're not answering our questions as to what makes them feel. So there's not a concern here to public safety.

They're not answering our questions about the status of the shooter or shooters. They are urging, however, publicly, for patients and asking people to send in photos or videos if they've got any piece of evidence saying that they are not in a rush to get answers on this, that they're doing this methodically, and that is the way that they will ensure justice.

John, we did speak to the assistant football coach, Michael Taylor, who calls one of the victims, Phil Dowdell, like a son. He's been coaching him since he was nine years old. Here's what he had to say about this victim.


MICHAEL TAYLOR, DADEVILLE HS ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH: Phil just told me about a month ago, said, "Coach, if anything ever happened to me, even when I go to college, take care of my two sisters." I never dreamed that he was talking about this.


ROSALES: And you can understand in the community, it's so tiny, just 3,000 people, how difficult this is. We've been told time and time again folks know each other. They know exactly who has passed away in here. This is why the school superintendent of the district here is offering counselors at county schools today.

Meanwhile, according to the Gun Violence Archive, the U.S. has suffered at least 162 mass shootings in the first 15 weeks of 2023. John, that is an average of one and a half mass shootings per day.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Maddening. The numbers are simply maddening.

Isabel Rosales on the ground for us in Dadeville. Isabel, thank you so much.

President Biden over the weekend calling on Congress to do more to address gun violence. That after a weekend he called full of, quote, outrageous and unacceptable shootings. The President saying in a statement, "What our nation -- what has our nation come to when children cannot attend a birthday party without fear? Our communities need and deserve better."

Also today, new details about the shooting of a black teenager in Kansas City. 16-year-old Ralph Yarl simply rang the wrong doorbell, according to his family's attorney, Ben Crump. He was on his way to pick up his siblings and went to the wrong address when the homeowner shot him in the head. Crump says the homeowner was white.

On Sunday, hundreds of protesters outside the house where Yarl was shot, demanding answer and demanding action. The homeowner was in custody for 24 hours before being released. Ralph Yarl remains hospitalized in stable condition. He was a section leader in the marching band, earned All Missouri State Band honorable mention for playing the bass clarinet.

Up next for us, House Republicans stage a New York City hearing to attack the prosecutor trying to put Donald Trump behind bars.



KING: Donald Trump's allies in Congress taking their fight to Alvin Bragg's backyard. Today, the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee holding afield hearing in Manhattan on, quote, victims of violent crime in the Manhattan borough. The purpose is beyond simple to try to discredit the district attorney's case against the former president.

The committee chairman, Jim Jordan, leading the charge.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R), CHAIRMAN, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Here in Manhattan, the scales of justice are weighed down by politics. For the district attorney, justice isn't blind. It's about looking for opportunities to advance a political agenda, a radical political agenda. Rather than enforcing the law, the D.A. is using his office to do the bidding of left-wing campaign funders.


KING: CNN's Sara Murray is live for us in New York with the details. Jim Jordan says the prosecutor is being political. The prosecutor says no, actually, you're the one being political. Where are we going here? SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, I think we're seeing an escalation of this viewed by Jim Jordan, the House Judiciary Committee coming here, holding this field hearing on Alvin Bragg's turf to try to take aim at his record in highlighting, you know, victims of violent crime in this hearing today.

Now, Democrats have also traveled for this field hearing, which they have not done for previous ones. The GOP has held on other topics and they are saying that this is a political stunt, this is an abuse of power. You know, a couple of them have said to some of the victims, you know, we acknowledge these experiences you've had. This is horrible, but this is not our jurisdiction to be policing crime here in Manhattan.

And of course, this comes, as you said, as Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee are trying to investigate Alvin Bragg's investigation of Donald Trump. Bragg shot back in court. He sued them trying to block a subpoena they sent to one of the former prosecutors who worked in the office.

Today, House Republicans, via their attorneys, responded in court saying the judge should reject Alvin Bragg's argument, arguing that what the committee is doing is essentially immune from civil lawsuits because it is part of the legislative sphere. So essentially, this is a fight that's going to keep on rolling, John.

KING: Keep on rolling. Sara Murray for us in Manhattan. Appreciate that very much

Let's bring the conversation back in the room with our great reporters. Sara noted the Democrats have boycotted other field hearings, just saying it's all politics. We're not going to waste our time going. They did go to this one. Jerry Nadler, whose district is not far away from where the hearing was today, says, look, Jim Jordan, buy a mirror. This is stunt.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: This hearing is being called for one reason and one reason only to protect Donald Trump. It is, to use Chairman Jordan's favorite term, a weaponization of the Judiciary Committee. Jim Jordan engages in a lot of political theater in Washington, but he should know better than to take his tired act to Broadway.



KING: For people in the middle out there, you know, base Republicans are with Jordan, base Democrats are with Nadler and the Democrats for the middle out there, people are like, what is this? It is whether you're a Democrat or Republican, it's way outside the traditional norms. I don't know when the clock stopped on those, but the traditional norms to have a congressional committee investigating a prosecutor in the middle of the prosecution investigation, not after the fact.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and they announced this before there was even an indictment. There was actually -- it was after Donald Trump put out a social media post saying that he's going to get arrested. The investigation was still ongoing at that point.

Republicans wanted to move forward and bring Alvin Bragg to come testify. That simply does not happen. They contend there's a legislative purpose. It's unclear exactly what that is other than, perhaps legislation to prevent a prosecutor, local prosecutor from bringing charges against a presidential candidate. That's their argument. They're trying to advance, to contend that this is not an effort to interfere with this investigation.

What will be interesting to me is that if Donald Trump is charged in any of these other cases, in Georgia or on the federal level, will this Republican Russia defense also happen? Right now, they think the Bragg case is out of bounds. Will they think that about the other case?

KING: Right. It's a point you just made. So the Republicans think maybe they need legislation to prevent a local prosecutor from charging somebody who works in Washington, D.C. A president, or somebody else. Weren't -- did the Republican Party used to be for devolving power out of Washington to let local officials make?

The intellectual consistency here is lacking.

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: Well, look, the Democrats do have a vulnerability on the crime issue, and they know that. And particularly in New York, we saw it play out in the 2022 elections that there were a lot of voters who went to the Republican side specifically. And in cities across America, we see voters, you know, concerned about rising crime rates and unconvinced that Democrats in some cases, have a plan to address this problem.

However, by turning this into a referendum on the Trump indictment, Republicans are muddling that message. You know, this is not a legislative hearing on a new crime bill that would put more cops on the streets where Republicans can say, look, you know, Democrats aren't solving the crime issue, but we are.

Instead, they are going after this prosecutor in a way that, as you say, does call into question their commitment to principles about, you know, local government rights and limited government and all of that. So I think that makes it harder for them to make a straightforward message on the issue where they might actually reach some people.

KING: And The Washington Post, knowing this hearing has come up, wrote a profile -- on New York Times, I'm sorry, wrote a profile of Jim Jordan knowing this hearing was coming up in their backyard. And it makes an interesting point about Jordan and how he sees his role in the Congress, says, "Over eight terms in the House, Mr. Jordan has not been the lead sponsor of a single bill that became law. But he measures success in other ways. No single member of Congress has done more to push House Republicans to the right."

I think that's true. And not just to the right, but to a combative right.

FRANCESCA CHAMBERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, USA TODAY: Yes. And, I mean, that's essentially what Republicans suggested, like Jim Jordan they would do if they won control the House of Representatives. Now, of course, they also said that there were other pieces of legislation they would pass and whatnot as well, but this is generally the sense that I think that they were sending about what they would do.

You mentioned that independence, though, and people in the middle. I think that's a lot of the reason why you also see the White House not wanting to get anywhere near this. They're letting Democrats in Congress fight these battles for them. I've been hearing from Democrats that this is essentially the strategy, whether Joe Biden announces his presidential bid now or later, is to let other Democrats do this while he does things that he thinks makes him look presidential.

RAJU: Jim Jordan used to be an outlier in the Republican Conference. Now he's a House Judiciary Committee chairman. Kevin McCarthy and him, years ago, did not have a particularly good relationship. Now they have a very good relationship. McCarthy has allied himself with Jim Jordan, considered part of the inner circle. So used to be on the fringes, now very much within the Republican mainstream in the House GOP.

CHAMBERS: And McCarthy is going to let him and Comer and all these other chairs do what they're going to do and not tell them what they have to do and get involved.

KING: Keeps the base happy. And most of them come from safe districts, where the key to success is keeping the base happy. We'll see how it works for us.

Coming up, some brand new CNN reporting on the deep divide in one of America's most famous families. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is about to run for president. His family thinks it is a terrible idea.



KING: Now to some new CNN reporting, the Kennedy family angry, dismissive, and, yes, annoyed over a potential presidential bid by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. RFK Jr. is planning a primary challenge to the sitting President of the United States. But the Kennedy Scion will declare his candidacy without the backing from most of -- the most recognizable political family in America.

CNN's Isaac Dovere is here to share his reporting and join our conversation. Let me just read you a few of these quotes. Chris Kennedy, "I'm supporting President Biden." Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, "I prefer not to talk." Patrick Kennedy, "I support President Biden." Kerry Kennedy, "I do not share or endorse his opinions." It is the most iconic American political family, and it thinks this is a bad idea.


EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: It does, and not just because they like President Biden or because a lot of family members are working for President Biden, but because they disagree with a lot of the positions that RFK Jr. has taken on vaccines, on saying that maybe Sirhan Sirhan didn't actually assassinate his father.

And to a lot of the Kennedys I spoke with, it seems like there's an existential fear here that they feel like this legacy that they are carrying forward of RFK and JFK and Teddy Kennedy is going to be forgotten about. And people will associate the family instead with this kind of run, which not only has all these positions they don't agree with, but not at this moment looking likely that it's going to be very strong.

KING: And it's interesting because history reminds us that Senator Kennedy did challenge Jimmy Carter, you know, and that became a stain on his legacy, or at least a controversy on his legacy. But here, we could show you in the Boston Globe, there was a full page ad this weekend about the announcement which is coming up in Boston.

Robert Kennedy is not Ted Kennedy. I mean, Robert Kennedy Jr. is not Ted Kennedy. I think that's the simplest way to put it. That Ted Kennedy may have, you know, in the end, regretted challenging Carter or didn't work out for Carter, but he was a person of great stature when he did it in the party.

BALL: That's right. You know, a longtime Senator Lyon of the Senate, liberal icon, someone who had a lot of political qualifications. Whereas, I think, you know, as Isaac reports, this is not the first time that the family has been chagrined by Bobby Jr.'s activism, and particularly the stuff on vaccines. They view as embarrassing and somewhat discrediting to the family's storied legacy and would prefer not to have him out there.

Nevertheless, he persists because he really believes in this stuff. But there's a sense that, you know, as Isaac so lays out so well, that the family name is being dragged through something that they would prefer not to.

RAJU: It will be --

KING: And just -- go ahead.

RAJU: It will be interesting to see just how long he decides to mount this very, very uphill challenge to knock off President Biden. It is also not the first time we've seen family members come out against candidate. Paul Gosar, the congressman from Arizona saw his siblings essentially cut a TV ad criticizing him. So there are times that family feuds spill out in publics.

KING: Right. Because Gosar went so beyond the pale, right? As does -- listen here, this is a little more than a year ago. This is Robert Kennedy talking about vaccines in a way that is just reprehensible.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., AMERICAN LAWYER: Even in Hitler Germany, you could cross the Alps into Switzerland. You can hide in an attic, like Anne Frank did. Today, the mechanisms are being put in place, and we'll make it -- none of us can run and none of us can hide.


KING: He's saying that about the United States government. None of us can run, none of us can hide from it.

CHAMBERS: Yes. And to your point, this goes beyond not wanting him to run because people work for President Joe Biden or continue to want to. They just completely disagree with the things that he's saying out there.

And as a matter of how long he could stay in it, Manu, you know, not that -- I don't think there's been any polling that would like put him against President Biden, but what we do know is that Democrats have said that they'd entertain someone besides Joe Biden, but can't imagine that that's the one that they'd be looking for.

KING: Is it the hope, you know, the family doesn't support this? Is it the hope that it doesn't last very long? Is that the idea?

DOVERE: That seems to be the hope here. And look, there's all these ties also that Joe Biden has to the family that go deep. And for the -- and one person I spoke to for this article said to me, you know, maybe what RFK Jr. will do is unite the family in this way that if this does gain any traction, there'll be an event where there will be a lot of Kennedy standing around Joe Biden and saying, we want him instead.

KING: Yes. It's an interesting moment. We'll watch how it plays out.

Up next for us, a redo for the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas that after a series of bombshell reports shedding light on his relationship with the billionaire GOP mega donor.



KING: Topping our political radar, CNN has learned the Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas plans to amend his financial disclosures, that to reflect the real estate deal he made with the big Republican donor back in 2014. That deal between Thomas and the Dallas real estate mega Harlan Crow was first reported by ProPublica last week.

It involves the sale of three properties Thomas owned in Savannah, Georgia, for more than $133,000, none of which was disclosed at the time. Jury selection begins next week for Donald Trump's defamation and battery trial. And today, an ask from the former president's attorneys. They want the judge to explain how he will conduct jury selection. Trump attorneys want the judge to detail the size of the jury pool, how long it will take to pick, and just who will hear the evidence.

A senior ISIS leader believed to be dead after a U.S. raid in Syria, that according to U.S. Central Command spokesperson. The ISIS leader was responsible, Central Command says, for planning terror attacks in the Middle East and Europe. The raid part of an American campaign targeting ISIS in Iraq and Syria aimed at preventing that terror group from building its forces.

We're learning more about the 2024 campaigns as candidates are required to post their first quarter hauls (ph). Congressman Adam Schiff outraging the Democratic field in the California Senate race. He boasted a $6.7 million haul in the quarter, more than Representatives Katie Porter and Barbara Lee combined.

Meanwhile, embattled Republican George Santos, get this, refunded more cash than he raised in the first quarter. Santos took in just over $5,000, but returned $8,000 to donor.

About 30,000 competitors are taking part right now in the 127th Boston Marathon. This marks, of course, first finish line bombings that killed three people. Hundreds of others were hurt. Eight year old Martin Richard was one of those killed that day. Today, his father, his brother, and three of his former third grade classmates are running the marathon together in his memory.

Thanks for your time today on INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you tomorrow. It's a very big day here. CNN News Central with Boris Sanchez, Brianna Keilar and Jim Sciutto starts right now.