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Inside Politics

Police: Two Arrested After Mass Shooting at Alabama Sweet 16 Party; Awaiting Supreme Court Ruling on Abortion Pill; AAMC: Abortion Laws Impacting Med School Grads' Career Decisions; McCarthy Pushing to Release Debt Ceiling Bill Today; House Dem Knocks Colleagues for Totally Faking Outrage; Anti-vaccine Activist RFK Jr. Launches 2024 Presidential Bid; TN Lawmakers Faced Expulsion Votes to Visit White House; Mayorkas Testifies to House Homeland Security Committee After Chair Reportedly Told Donors He's Building Impeachment Case; Today, House Judiciary Considers Rollback of Biden Gun Rule. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired April 19, 2023 - 12:30   ET



RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So much pain here and you think about the victims involved in this case and the idea that almost everyone in this community knew of these young people who lost their lives. We are steps away from where the growing memorial is. We're also told that on Saturday, there will be another memorial.

But at the same time, John, so many questions are not answered when it comes to the motive, where they found these two young men, how they found him? How many gunshots were they? What kind of guns were used? All that has not been answered just yet, and they kept saying, and they kept pointing to the fact they did not want to ruin this case. But there are so many members of this community who want to know exactly what happened because they've never had this many people shot at the same time in their community.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Some of those answers, I suspect, as the court proceedings begin will emerge. Ryan Young, grateful you're on the ground for us there in Dadeville. Thanks for that report.

Now, we want to bring you some good news out of Kansas City. The attorney for 16-year-old Ralph Yarl, he's that teen shot after going to the wrong house to pick up his brothers, posted this picture to Instagram today. Lee Merritt says Yarl is home and he is recovering. He is still, of course, there being treated and dealing with a traumatic brain injury. This was the teen though just days ago, lying in the hospital after being shot by 84-year-old Andrew Lester. Lester is due in court later this afternoon.

The Supreme Court could rule at any time, any moment on an emergency request over the abortion medication pill. The justices are looking at Mifepristone and what kind of access women across the country will have to the drug. There is a midnight deadline for that ruling from the justices and new data shows we're already seeing abortion laws impact the nation's future -- future doctors and where they want to live and where they want to work. Let's bring in our CNN Health Reporter Jacqueline Howard. She joins us live with more details. Jacqueline, you spoke to students about this. What are they telling you?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: John, we're hearing from some medical school graduates that they're hesitant to train in states that have abortion bans. The reason why, there's concerns that the training they'll receive will not include some significant care in obstetrics. They're concerned about the type of care they can provide to patients. Here's what one med school student, Morgan Levy, had to say about this.

MORGAN LEVY, THIRD-YEAR STUDENT, UNIVERSITY OF MIAMI MILLER SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: If you train in a location where you don't necessarily get a formal family planning rotation in house, the challenges that beyond first trimester medication abortion, a lot of the surgical procedures, in particular are something that is all but impossible to get trained in unless you're out of state.

HOWARD: And John, those concerns about training in medication abortion, certain surgical procedures, we're seeing that in the data as well. Numbers from the Association of American Medical Colleges shows that applicants to residency programs did decline 2 percent in the application cycle, 2022 to 2023. Overall, that's nationwide. But in states with abortion bans, you see there, there was a 3 percent decline. So we are seeing a significant difference, and the difference is even more when we look at students in ob/gyn specialties, John.

KING: Jacqueline Howard, that's the eye popping data, certainly without a doubt, eye popping data. Appreciate that report for us.

Coming up for us, the debt ceiling. Deja vu, President Biden issues yet another call for a clean increase. Republicans say "No, that won't happen" as their wish list for that proposal grows.



KING: This news just into CNN. The Speaker Kevin McCarthy wants to release the text of his debt ceiling bill today. Sources tell CNN McCarthy's proposal would include raising the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion until March 31st of next year, whichever comes first. The House Speaker is trying to project calm and confidence. We should know next week if they hold that vote, if he's right, or if he fails a giant test.

That's when the GOP leader says House Republicans will pass this resolution. It outlines their wish list for negotiations with President Biden, but competing factions within the House Republican family still appear far apart. At the moment, our great reporters are back at the table.

This is what you have to do. If you're the Speaker and you have a four vote majority, and we saw this with the Democrats, both in the Senate and in the House, when Nancy Pelosi was Speaker. Things got messy; things got chaotic. The Democrats didn't get as much as they wanted, but they came through in the end. Here's -- does McCarthy have that same -- is there -- is there that same commitment within the House Republicans? Fight it out, but in the end realize we look bad if we don't come together.



TALEV: I don't think that's the right answer, feel like it's no. Yeah, no. Nancy Pelosi didn't call a vote unless she had the votes. Think Kevin McCarthy doesn't know whether he's going to have the votes. The Chair of the House Freedom Caucus is saying you got to kill, you know, the Inflation Reduction Act or you're not going to get Republicans voting for this. The -- look, I think it's early. You know, how you're saying it's early and the 20/20 foresight.

KING: Yeah.

TALEV: It's early in the debt ceiling cycle. It wasn't supposed to be until August that it was a five-alarm fire. Goldman Sachs now says it could be mid-June. So it's early, but it's not as early as we thought it was.

KING: It's later, yeah.

TALEV: It's late early.

KING: It's late, so let's listen to some of the competing voices. You mentioned the Head of the Freedom Caucus. That's Scott Perry. He essentially wants a resolution that erases the Biden presidency so far.


Everything Joe Biden has passed, we are against. Now, they can't get it through the Senate and Biden would never sign it, but he just wants the House Republicans to go on record. We don't like anything that's happened the last two years. Chip Roy, also a member, almost grace (ph) little less.



REP. CHIP ROY, (R-TX) FREEDOM CAUCUS: We can also undo a lot of the regulatory state that has been propped up under Biden, under the so called Inflation Reduction Act. We want to help hard working blue collar Americans, the people waking up every day trying to do their job, not rich white liberal elite who is driving their Teslas.


KING: It's great messaging to the Republican base. One of my questions and it was the same question you asked the Democrats, are you over- promising because they could pass a resolution that says, you know, bye to all of this stuff. Again, they don't have the votes in the Senate and they have a Democratic president who, if it never made it, has a veto pen.

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: John, do you remember the period of time after Trump's election, when some characters sort of like the Eric Cantor and Paul Ryans of the world, not necessarily literally them, but people like them. So looking back on the 2010 election, the Republican House that followed and said, you know, maybe we went too far in telling our voters we were going to get rid of Obamacare while Barack Obama was still president, like maybe we misled some people. Maybe they got are pretty angry about that.

Well, like lesson extremely not learned, right, that when you hear --


BURNS: -- when you hear Chip Roy saying, we can undo a lot of the regulatory state under Biden. No they can't, right?

KING: Right.

BURNS: They might be able to do that in two years if there's a Republican president or Republican Senate. They certainly can't do that right now. And I do think the big political risk, beyond just over-promising and angering or disappoint Republican voters, a big political risk right now is Kevin McCarthy is packing this resolution full of different stuff that's meant to appease this faction or that faction. They're not explaining to the American people what they're proposing or making a case to move public opinion in their direction, and there are a lot of Republicans who sit in marginal districts who, next week, are going to have to decide, are they going to anger their Speaker, or they're going to vote for something that voters back home will find out about slowly and with millions of dollars in television ads behind it.

KING: And so, I'm going to say this. Here is someone who sounds reasonable about how this should play out. Her name is Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, (R) GEORGIA: I'm angry. I have to deal with the debt ceiling issue. But again, to me, it's like the shiny object. It's not connected with the budget. The budget appropriations is the real fight. I'm willing to negotiate and get something and get it over with, so that we can do the real work and cut spending.


KING: It'll never happen. But the Biden White House essentially agree -- they will never say it, but they essentially agree with her. You should pass a clean debt ceiling. We should talk about the budget. Let's fight about spending cuts in the normal budget process.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: Yeah, but she's also with the crowd of Republicans who want to give Speaker McCarthy negotiating power, so to speak, so I don't think she's necessarily going to vote against any budget reductions that House Republicans put on the table. But I do think it's significant that she's willing to decouple the two, so to speak. But she's also said that means she's going to, when it comes time for budget negotiations, she's going to, you know, raise some ruckus.

And I just want to go back to what Alex said about, for example, repealing the Inflation Reduction Act. There are provisions in there that are very popular, such as the cap on insulin, allowing Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices, and that's what Republicans aren't talking about right now. But we know that Democrats will and that's going to be another risky vote for members to take, once their constituents know what they actually were asked to vote on.

KING: History does repeat itself, think (ph) could be happening. Next for us, so (ph) to be a fly on the wall, one freshman Democrat is spilling secrets about the anger, division and drama you see from many members of Congress.


REP. JEFF JACKSON, (D) NORTH CAROLINA: I'm still brand new to Congress. I've only been there 100 days and I don't know if I'm not supposed to say this out loud, but --




JACKSON: I'm still brand new to Congress. It's really clear from working there for just a few months that most of the really angry voices in Congress are totally faking it. These people who have built their brands around being perpetually outraged, it's an act.


KING: That just part of the video posted to Twitter by Democrat Jeff Jackson of North Carolina. Our great reporters are back at the table. Wait, they're acting? Yes.



MITCHELL: And I think that's a simplified way of putting it. I think about people like Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, I don't necessarily think she's acting, but she does switch it up depending on her audience, and that's something that we have to really be cognizant of as journalists, but I hope the people at home pay attention to the different ways their elected officials speak, depending on the audience, depending on their objective, and we know unfortunately that anger and outrage fuels people to give money and until money becomes a non-factor in our elections, which you know it's not the case right now, we're going to continue to see candidates try to manipulate that emotion out of people when it's politically expedient.

KING: That's an interesting point about know your audience or where you are at any given moment, because if we listen to a little bit more of the 100-day Congressman Jeff Jackson, who says one way to figure this out is look around and see, is there a camera in the room?


JACKSON: I've been in committee meetings that are open to the press and committee meetings that are closed. The same people who act like maniacs during the open meetings are suddenly calm and rational during the closed ones.


Why? Because there aren't any cameras in the closed meetings, so their incentives are different. What I've seen is that members of Congress are surrounded by negative incentives. There are rewards for bad behavior.


KING: How much of that is new? He's right. How much of that is new and how much of that you know is tradition. It's just it's different now because it's done on social media, or if you raise money on the internet.



TALEV: Yes, it is. But there's also a declining tradition of bipartisanship, a declining sense of community. There is declining socialization across party lines, particularly true in the House, but it's even true in the Senate, and everybody's got a brand. And now, we all know, the young Congressman Jackson from the kind of swing state of North Carolina, age 40, military veteran and someone who believes in not acting. That's his brand. So now, he's been introduced as another player on the field. I mean, everybody's acting, right, but I actually think what he's saying is completely spot on and incredibly frustrating for the members of Congress who are -- tend to loosely be in that kind of problem solvery (ph) caucus where their brand depends on getting things done, because they're in swing districts of --


KING: Getting things done in Congress also requires friends like members from other states --


KING: -- to support your North Carolina legislation. Does that hurt or help?

BURNS: Well, I think that it sort of puts him squarely in the middle of that crew that Margaret's talking about, right, like where there's actually more that unites us than divides us, like let's get some stuff done. John, I'm kind of reminded of the years of the Trump presidency when you would talk to members or members of the Trump Administration, who on TV, they would be out saying like the Trumpiest things imaginable, and then when they're sitting down --


BURNS: -- at the airport or off the record, they are like, listen, this guy is nuts, right? And the reality is, there acting at some point, right? But I wouldn't necessarily assume that the acting is when the cameras were there --

TALEV: Yeah, (inaudible).

BURNS: -- as opposed to when you are in private with the reporter who's like "oh, tell me more about how nuts he is, right.

TALEV: It's -- but it's about -- like, I know we're joking about it. But like it's not funny, people should be able to get things done, and it's terrible.

KING: Right. And so -- so, another North Carolinian also gave us an update early in his tenure in Congress. His name was Madison Cawthorn; he's no longer in the Congress. His take was a little more spicy.


MADISON CAWTHORN, (R-NC) FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: The sexual perversion that goes on in Washington, I look at all these people, a lot of them that I've looked up to, through (ph) my life always paid attention to politics, guys that you know, then all of a sudden you get invited to like, hey, we're going to have kind of a sexual get together at one of our homes. You should come. I'm like, what did you just ask me to come to? And then you realize they're asking you to come to an orgy --

-- or the fact that, you know, there's some of the people that are leading on the movement to try and remove addiction in our country, and then you watch them doing key bump of cocaine right in front of you. And it's like -- this is -- this is wild.


KING: His Republican colleagues said he was the wild one and that that was fiction. But there it was.

MITCHELL: Yeah, and I think -- again, he was on this kind of conservative podcast video log. He wasn't speaking to the mainstream media. And I think he wasn't thinking about other people who may be taking those comments and watching them after that core audience in real time. So again, it's an indication of how that was an extreme.

TALEV: You think he was acting?

MITCHELL: I don't know if he was acting or exaggerating or as the kids would say, putting on, but he was definitely kind of catering to who he thought was watching at that time.

KING: Right.

MITCHELL: And that is something we see from lawmakers at all given times with different audiences.

KING: Yeah, we should disclose there's this thing called the internet. And when you appear on other outlets, we can almost always find it. Almost always. It's a new thing, the internet.

Ahead for us, the Tennessee Three will soon make their way to the Biden White House.



KING: Topping our political radar today, vaccine skeptic Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. officially announcing today that he will challenge President Biden for the Democratic nomination in 2024. Here's what he said about the lack of support within the Kennedy family.


ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Many of them also just plain disagree with me on issues like the censorship, on war, on public health, and they are entitled to their beliefs and I respect their opinions on them, and I love them back.


KING: This hour, we're learning the trio of lawmakers who led that gun protest in the Tennessee Legislature will get an audience with the president. Justin Jones, Justin Pearson and Gloria Johnson will visit the White House on Monday. Jones and Pearson, who are black, were expelled from the Tennessee State House you'll remember, then sent back on an interim basis.

The Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas facing a top Republican vowing to impeach him, that during a hearing this morning. The New York Times reports Congressman Mark Green promised donors he will build an impeachment case against Secretary Mayorkas.


REP. MARK GREEN, (R-TN) CHAIRMAN, HOMELAND SECRUITY COMMITTEE: You just admitted you have no clue about the central strategy of the cartels you've created by your open border. Not only have you lied under oath, you just admitted your own incompetence. It's really quite unacceptable.

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: It is my testimony that the border is secure and we are working every day, day and night to increase its security.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Today, markup starts on a resolution to nullify a Biden Administration gun rule, weeks after that markup was initially scheduled, then delayed because of a mass shooting. The Republican led House Judiciary Committee plans to roll back an ATF rule.