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Inside Politics

Title 42 Expires At Midnight, Officials Expect Migrant Surge; U.K. Sends "Storm Shadow" Cruise Missiles To Ukraine Ahead Of Expected Counteroffensive; Trump Won't Say If He Wants Ukraine To Win Against Russia; Today: WH, Congressional Negotiators Resume Debt Limit Talks; McCarthy Plans To Call Wray After FBI Refuses House Subpoena. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 11, 2023 - 12:30   ET



ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: So now we have to see what's going to be the impact of that. This is going to be the so-called transit rule where if somebody failed to apply for protection on the way to the border, they would be denied, but that -- or they would not qualify for asylum.

However, that does not stop them from crossing and that does not stop those photos and images and videos and those families from seeking assistance in coming across the border.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: And so that's what the White House perspective and the things they're trying to do to help mitigate this somewhat. House Republicans today, it took them weeks and weeks and weeks to resolve some internal family differences. And we'll see in the end if they have the votes they expect that they will.

They're passing there what they call the Secure the Border Act. It resumes border wall construction, has new asylum application fees, more funding for Border Patrol and border technology would reinstate the remain in Mexico policy.

Democrats in the Senate say, sorry, we don't like this. Is there any chance? I know the administration doesn't like a lot of this. It makes it harder for a path to legal immigration, for example. However, both sides do say we should have more border security personnel. Both sides do say we should have at least technology. There's a disagreement about the wall and barriers.

Is there any chance that this becomes at least the start of a conversation or is this a House Republican bill, period?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: In June, it's going to be 10 years since the bipartisan immigration bill passed out of the Senate. And I think that this moment is so different for so many reasons. Donald Trump was president. Republicans have become much more dug in on this issue. They feel like the border crisis is getting worse.

That when I talk to even some of those moderate Republicans who might have been negotiators in the past on this issue, on some kind of comprehensive way forward, they say it's not just Republicans who've moved to the right, Democrats are moving to the left. And that makes it much harder to find partners across the aisle.

Sinema and Tillis, they have a bill that would essentially do the same thing that Title 42 is doing and give the Biden administration a little more time, a little more runway to come up with a solution. But House Republicans aren't really interested in that coming to the floor. And a lot of Senate Democrats say we don't want to do anything on immigration unless it's the entire package that we are looking for.

KING: And this has been intractable forever. I mean, I covered the Clinton and then the George W. Bush White House. George W. Bush thought he could get it done. Think about how long ago that is. Secretary Mayorkas who's the point person for the President on this, says, sure, we're going to try to do things. Sure, this might be chaotic, but he says, sure as well, Congress at least shares the blame.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are clear eyed about the challenges we are likely to face in the days and weeks ahead, which have the potential to be very difficult. I cannot overemphasize that our current situation is the outcome of Congress leaving a broken, outdated immigration system in place for over two decades, despite unanimous agreement that we desperately need legislative reform.


KING: He's right about the timeline. Nothing has been done on this, to your point, for a very, very, very long time. Democrats and Republicans presidents have tried to do something, and it hasn't gotten anywhere in the Congress.

But House Republicans want to impeach him. At least some House Republicans want to impeach him. So is there any opening at all for people to say, look at the border, look at where we are, can we set all that aside and have a conversation?

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I mean, there are kind of two ways to look at immigration, and one is that in this time of this inflationary period where it's hard to find people in low skilled jobs, there could be a real appetite for a pipeline of controlled, short term immigration. That's not happening.

And then you actually do have a crisis at the border. There are thousands of people every week who don't have a pathway to come into the country, coming into the country anyway. Donald Trump in that town hall last night did not rule out if he were to be reelected, somehow separating children and their parents again. He did not rule that out.

KING: Because he says it's a deterrent.

TALEV: Yes. And I think it is important for people to understand the reason why there's such a rush of immigration is not driven by Joe Biden. It's driven by very difficult circumstances in south and central America. But how you handle people at the border does matter. The U.S. has to get this situation under control.

KING: It's hard to get it under control if you can't at least to have bipartisan agreement on building -- just even the basic building blocks and then try to go from there. But we shall watch.

Up next for us, the U.K. sending long range missiles to Ukraine. President Zelenskyy planning a counteroffensive. But Donald Trump last night, as Zolan noted a bit earlier, ducking questions about whether he supports -- which side he believes should win.



KING: The big news for Ukraine today, ahead of a highly anticipated counteroffensive against Russian forces. Sources telling CNN the U.K. now delivering long range stealth cruise missiles. The urgency of that counteroffensive brought into focus by Donald Trump's town hall last night. He would not commit to supporting Ukraine if he wins the presidency again.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Can you say if you want Ukraine or Russia to win this war?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want everybody to stop dying. They're dying. Russians and Ukrainians. I wanted them to stop dying. And I'll have that done in 24 hours. I'll have it done. You need the power of the presidency to do it.


KING: Go live to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh, he's live in Zaporizhzhia for us. Nick, the U.K. providing some critical new weapons. President Zelenskyy in an interview at the BBC saying the counteroffensive will be soon, but not quite ready. Where are we on the ground?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes. Certainly, Ukraine has been clear from the start of what we've seen to be most likely preparatory work for this counteroffensive, that it isn't going to blow the bugle and suddenly declare the counteroffensive as having begun.


Although President Zelenskyy somehow providing a timetable really saying it hasn't started yet and essentially using that sense of a delay whether it is the reality or not to put more pressure on Western nations, to speed up their delivery of weapons promised or even bring more Britain today offering a longer range missile capacity that's already apparently in Ukrainian hands, enabling to strike deep inside Crimea, John. But really what you heard there from former President Donald Trump is, I think, going to ring certainly loudly here in Ukraine. President Zelenskyy not speaking directly to those comments, but an interview with the BBC saying that -- when asked about the presidential elections next year, saying that they don't really know where they'll be by then and he will be confident of victory.

But I think there's a sense of two things here. Certainly, it shouldn't be really a particularly difficult question for Donald Trump to answer, you might think, particularly given the position of so many of his Republican colleagues staunchly in support of Ukraine, yet still that enduring possible sympathy for Russia in the background.

He called Vladimir Putin a smart man who'd made a mistake. But when you hear people talk about a settlement here in Ukraine, it sounds often like some kind of diplomacy that would formalize or stabilize the positions Russia's taken in occupied territories here ahead of this counteroffensive.

Ukraine feeling the pressure definitely to push forward to remove parts held currently by occupying forces. And it's important also to point out, though, that we are dealing in a relatively limited time frame. Western democracy's policies are not always permanent. They change. That's the point of a democracy.

And I think many recognize here that the consistency of Western support for Ukraine is to some degree an outlier. It isn't going to last forever. And that makes results by Ukraine this summer so much more important, John.

KING: Months -- weeks and months ahead in Ukraine urgent, and maybe all the more so because of the potential here in the United States.

Nick Paton Walsh, grateful for the live report from Zaporizhzhia. Thank you and your crew.

Let's bring the conversation back in the room with our reporters. You know, and Zelenskyy, again, it was before the town hall, but he says he'll win before the election. Trump last night not only wouldn't take sides, a dictator invaded a democracy and the former president of the United States and perhaps future Republican candidate for president of the United States won't take sides.

Wouldn't call Putin a war criminal. I want you to listen to Senator Todd Young of Indiana, this is this morning. He's a Republican. And this is the divide in the Republican Party. Ronald Reagan's Republican Party. Pretty clear, Donald Trump's Republican Party. Why is there a priority?


SEN. TODD YOUNG (R), INDIANA: President Trump's judgment is wrong in this case. President Putin and his government have engaged in war crimes.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There's a worry that your party's leading presidential candidate is --

YOUNG: Of course it does. That's why I don't intend to support him for the Republican nomination.


KING: There are a number of issues on which the party has gone almost completely Trump's way. This one is a live ball, if you will. I don't mean to make sport out of an issue like war, but this is a live debate within the Republican Party.

Chris Christie, a potential candidate, last night criticized Trump on this. We can show you his tweet. Donald Trump says he would end the war in Ukraine in 24 hours tonight, despite how ridiculous that is to say. He tried to do it by turning Ukraine. He calls him Putin's puppet again.

Asa Hutchinson, who is a declared candidate, also criticized Trump on this. This will be an active debate throughout the primaries.

FOX: Yes, I mean, this has been an active debate on Capitol Hill, too, about how much funding Republicans are going to be willing to continue giving. And, you know, you see a lot more Republicans in the U.S. senate arguing that it is important, imperative. I mean, Mitch McConnell has been on the front lines of this issue in terms of fighting for funding for Ukraine.

But when it comes to the presidential election, that is where this gets decided, because a lot of lawmakers take their cues from their party leaders, and a lot of House Republicans believe Trump's their leader. So you start to hear them talking like Trump.

TALEV: This was the single most shocking revelation to me of the town hall last night. People are dying because Russia invaded a sovereign nation and killed women and children in cancer hospitals and hiding under bridges. And it is -- I know this show is called INSIDE POLITICS, so we're talking about politics here.

But it's actually the bedrock of American democracy that, if a sovereign nation is invaded by a dictatorial or autocratic regime, you would be on the side of a sovereign nation. You can have a debate about how long and how much funding and how much involvement.

There's not really any debate in Western democracy about who's in the right and who's in the wrong. Not taking aside is taking aside. And the only way to end that war in 24 hours is to pull all U.S. aid.

KING: Right. And to give Putin the victory. The Wall Street Journal talking about this, you know, in Wall Street, "European capitals have overwhelmingly said they would take their lead from the United States, making decisions made in Washington about the level of support decisive to their approaches. If America folds, we fold. A German official."

This is a giant issue again. Yes, it costs a lot of money. Yes, people say that money should be spent at home. But if Putin gets Ukraine, what's next? American is supposed to stand for democracy, at least traditionally it has. Donald Trump says his view of America first is maybe not.


KANNO-YOUNGS: And it comes at a time where right now, the White House has been still trying to hold on to the support of not just European allies, but also the American people while maintaining support in Congress. You have to wonder, when statements like this are made by the leading candidate of a political party, will there be ripple effects as well throughout the rest of the country at a time where that foreign aid is pivotal?

KING: Again, that's one we'll watch as the debate among Republicans play out.

Up next for us, though, the debt limit talks, the President congressional leaders meet again tomorrow. Their staff's meeting right now to see if there's any way to break the stalemate.



KING: Today, excuse me, negotiators for the White House and top congressional leaders are back at the table trying to negotiate a deal to help the United States avert a U.S. debt default. The clock, the Treasury Department says, is ticking somewhere around the end of the month or early next month.

And the White House is drawing some new battle lines, saying, yes, we'll talk spending cuts, but these things are off limits. Let's bring the conversation back to our great reporters.

Last night, we talked about this earlier. Donald Trump said, fine by me if we default, if the Republicans don't get everything they want. That was what Donald Trump said yesterday. No surprise then Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who knows that might impact some of his House Republicans, says, no, no, no, this is Joe Biden's fault.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: My concern is with President Biden waiting now to be 100 days president. And you look at the negotiations. President Biden doesn't want to deal. He wants to default. He wants to default.


KING: He wants to default. The President wants to default. That's, you know, that's what you call changing the subject.

FOX: That's been.

KANNO-YOUNGS: Default would be -- I can tell you people in the White House don't want to default. When the economy is declining and when people are hurting, they blame the person in office, the president. That is on the minds of people in the White House right now.

But going back to when Biden as vice president, you know, was negotiating with Boehner, you know. He basically, at that point, came away. My colleague has a great piece about this today, basically saying you can't trade or have a transaction of cuts negotiating over the budget when it comes to raising the debt ceiling. That has been the stance of this White House here.

But now you're approaching these days where you have a deadline, and we have to see where some -- where they can reach any consensus.

KING: Which is why the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat like President Biden, says, yes, we're happy to talk spending cuts, but not in connection with the debt ceiling.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MAJORITY LEADER: Look, the bottom line is we've always debated spending cuts, revenue increases. Default should not be -- we should not be using default as a hostage. Only McCarthy is it's dangerous. It's reckless. It could lead to real problems.


KING: In the staff conversations, is there any progress to saying, OK, can we do this on two separate pieces of paper and just pass it at the same time, and then everybody can say, we did it our way?

FOX: There's so many semantics involved here. And whether or not people are going to turn a blind eye, I think in the end it's going to determine whether or not they can get a deal. But the staff level meetings, according to people that I've been talking to, are really right now about trying to test out the waters, see if there's some goodwill for actually negotiating.

Because it's important to remember, we have not gotten to the point yet where the White House is saying they are willing to have a negotiation. They want to have this on two separate tracks. How do you do that? How do you design that? What are the contours of how you even talk about a framework? That's really what the staff negotiations are right now.

KING: And so the White House says, we're not going to take the Inflation Reduction Act. Biden's like, no, you can't cut that House Republicans. No, you're not going to cut student debt forgiveness. No, we won't let you cut Medicaid or food programs. They're essentially trying to bait the Republicans into saying, well, then we'll cut this.

TALEV: Right. You know, what fuels the accumulation of debt are tax cuts that aren't paid for and programs that Americans count on. So the room for cutting is actually very narrow. And I think this argument is taking advantage of the fact that Americans don't really understand what the cuts would mean and don't really think that all the catastrophic scenarios will happen. Don't think inflation will skyrocket, don't think that America's strength in the world will be weakened. They don't believe it. If Americans believed all that, we'd be in a

different debate right now. And that's the game of chicken we're bearing toward in the final weeks.

KING: So, again, we'll see what happens tomorrow. The staffs are meeting. We'll see if there's a breakthrough. I think the skepticism at the table is duly noted and correct.

Up next, you want to hear what one Republican senator said about white nationalists serving in the United States military.



KING: Topping our political radar today, Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville going viral for this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe they should allow white nationalists in the military?

SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R), ALABAMA: Well, they call them that. I call them Americans.


KING: Yes, that's the Alabama Republican Senator telling a radio station white nationalists should not be blocked from serving in the military. The Senator's office pretty quickly trying to clean things up, insisting the Senator meant to say he's skeptical there are white nationalists in the military.

The House Speaker Kevin McCarthy says he plans to call the FBI Director, Chris Wray, that after the bureau ignored a subpoena. Oversight Committee Republicans requesting documents from the FBI that they say tie President Biden to an illegal foreign payment scheme. Director Wray telling a Senate panel yesterday he's willing to cooperate.


CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: We are committed to working collaboratively with both committees, but we also have to balance sources and methods and ongoing investigations, and we will continue to work through the accommodation process.


KING: Senator Dianne Feinstein shows up a little late to work, and she says she's back because ?




KING: Today, the 89-year-old Democrat attending a Judiciary Committee meeting after her nearly three-month absence to recover from shingles.

Also today, the Environmental Protection Agency announcing strict new rules to slash pollution from coal and natural gas power plants. Emissions from these plants generate over half the nation's electricity, considered a root cause of the climate crisis.

Thanks for your time in INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you tomorrow. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.