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Inside Politics

Newsom Threatens DeSantis With Charges; Biden Campaign Touts "Win" In New Ads; RFK Jr. Raises Conspiracy Theories On Border, Guns And Ukraine During Twitter Chat; Progressive Scholar & Activist Cornel West Announces Third-Party Presidential Bid; House GOP To Hold FBI Director In Contempt; State Dept To Allow House Foreign Affairs Members To View Afghanistan Dissent Cable; French Anti-Pension Reform Protesters Storm Paris 2024 Olympic Headquarters; Biden Welcomes KC Chiefs To WH. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 06, 2023 - 12:30   ET




JOHN KING, CNN HOST: New investigations, lawsuits, and yes, even talk of possible charges over the moving of migrants. California's attorney general is gathering evidence after suggesting a group of migrants was misled and dropped off at the Capitol in Sacramento, carrying documents he says from Florida.

California Governor Gavin Newsom already pointing fingers, calling Florida Governor Ron DeSantis a, quote, "small, pathetic man", and suggesting the Republican governor could face state kidnapping charges. DeSantis admitted he sent migrants to Martha's Vineyard last year. CNN has reached out to Florida officials for comment on this more recent California episode.

Our great reporters are back at the table. I just want to read a quote here from a Republican consultant in political because I think it sums up the politics of this story. This is Matt Rexroad. "The best thing that could happen to Ron DeSantis is the liberal governor of California attacks him as he's running for president. And the best thing for Gavin Newsom, who wants to be plan B for the nomination this time or plan A next time, would be to be attacked by the governor of Florida."

So is that what this is? Both men benefit from political sniping and dozens, if not hundreds of human beings -- whatever your views on immigration -- human beings with families get treated as political pawns.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, I mean, and using human beings as political props is never a really good look, but it does serve the crass political needs of both of these people. When I first saw this back and forth, I had a similar thought to what you just quoted where I was like, we got to check the FEC filings for the Ron DeSantis campaign because there clearly is an in kind contribution here from Gavin Newsom. This is a fight that DeSantis can take on the campaign trail and just have Republican activists relish this fight. It doesn't solve the problem. There's not one piece of this that is going to -- of this back and forth that is going to get at the humanity of the situation and the true perplexing problem of what to do in this situation.

Not only the immediate human need for aid and support to folks who have been transported out of their realm, but the politics of this is crystal clear. It works for both of them to play to their bases.

KING: And it's not new if you just look at the headlines. This is today, the Associated Press, California investigating whether DeSantis involved in flying asylum seekers from Texas to Sacramento. And then you go back to September 2022, migrants phoned from Martha's Vineyard by Florida governor say they were misled.

Again, the show is called Inside Politics. There is some rich, ripe politics at play here. Is there ever going to be a conversation, maybe all governors, regardless of party, should get together and say, how do we -- what do we do about the migrants?

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION: Yes, and I mean -- and I just want to also point out in Texas there's conversation about criminal charges related to those same flights from Texas to Martha's Vineyard that was paid for by Florida taxpayers. There are a lot of conversations that elected officials should be having. Number one, about immigration.

And we already see the rhetoric, the partisan rhetoric has died down a little bit because the crisis at the southern border has diminished somewhat. But in the absence of the partisan rhetoric, there have not been more constructive conversations about immigration, about the way it has impacted the many states. And that's just, again, kind of a sad indictment on the state of American politics.

KING: Yes, and immigration politics that's not unique to this election cycle. This goes back you could go 20, you could even go further back 20 years or more. But to your point, these are the border crosses. Remember when Title 42 expired, people 00 even in the Biden administration -- thought there might be a huge surge.

It was 10,000 a day before Title 42 was lifted. It's a little over 3,000 a day on average since May. If there's a moment to try to have an adult conversation, it's when there's not a crisis, right? Because you're not pointing fingers about who's to blame for the fire and yet.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think when you talk to certain aspects of this debate, they're going to say there's always a crisis. They're -- it's a crisis just in perpetual motion. And there isn't the political will in Washington or really anywhere else in any kind of cohesive way to do this.

What will get us there? That remains a question because we've both -- we've all seen when there's a full Democratic Congress and White House, when there's a full Republican Congress and White House, when it's mixed government, no one has been able to get this done. KING: And you've seen in the middle of this right now, it's DeSantis and Newsom going at it, two giant state governors. But the mayor of New York City has criticized the Biden White House and a lot of people who believe this, you know, you get the debt deal, the economy seems to be getting better. Inflation is coming down. The question is, for the President, does it come down fast enough that this is one of the warning signs for Biden?

CHALIAN: There's no doubt about it. And he has shifted, rhetorically, at least, or at least aimed his focus in different places. At the beginning of the administration, the first couple of years, it was leaning a bit more into his leftist base and the activist community.


And as the reelection has come, there's been a lot of critique from the left in his party that he's moved a bit more to the center on this and trying to appeal to a wider swath of independent voters on this issue.

And because of that movement, I think you see why when it's all Democrats and control also, this doesn't get solved.

KING: Right.

CHALIAN: Because within each party, there are divisions on this issue.


KING: All right.

Up next for us, nuisance or threats? Long-shot presidential candidate Robert Kennedy Jr. says President Biden should agree to primary debates. The progressive legal scholar Cornel West taking a different route, the third party route.



KING: The Biden reelection campaign is spending new money on billboards and online ads to highlight a very big policy win.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: MAGA Republicans threatened to wreck the U.S. economy. President Biden took charge, secured a bipartisan agreement, and prevented chaos, all while protecting Social Security, health care, and other critical programs. President Biden delivers for us again.


KING: Let's be clear, it's a very modest six-figure campaign targeting Washington, D.C. and several general election battleground markets. And it comes, though, as the President's campaign tries to ignore challenges from provocative voices within the democratic or progressive family. Robert F. Kennedy Jr., for example, says he deserves a democratic primary debate with the President, and Kennedy spent two hours on Twitter Spaces yesterday chatting with Elon Musk. Also Monday, the progressive legal scholar Cornel West announced a third party presidential bid.

Jeff Zeleny is here to join our conversation. Let's start with Robert F. Kennedy Jr., obviously, of the famous Kennedy family name, but even the family cringes at this campaign. His positions outlined yesterday on Twitter he wants to close the border permanently. He says the United States should consider the Ukraine war from Russia's perspective.

He blames school shootings on antidepressants, including saying this, "Prior to the introduction of Prozac, we had almost none of these events in our country, and we've never seen them in human history where people walk into a schoolroom or children or strangers and start shooting people."

Conspiracy theorists, some fringe views, insist he demands a debate from the President. The Biden campaign says no. The question is, do they have to pay any attention to him at all? Do they need to worry about not being beat? It's never going to happen. But is it embarrassing if somebody gets in the high teens or higher in one of these primaries?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Sure, it's embarrassing, I think without a doubt. And that's just a partial list, that's not even going into the vaccines or other matters. But for now, the White House, they say they are not paying attention. They're not commenting, they're not looking at someone's paying attention to those numbers.

I mean, and they certainly don't like the idea of them growing. And they hope and say that they believe the press coverage, once it becomes a story, as it is right now as we're speaking about this, people will learn that he is a fringe candidate. And, yes, he can run for President, but in the Democratic Party as a democratic nominee. So they're hoping it takes care of itself.

But we will see if that changes. The President said he was not going to negotiate with the Speaker McCarthy. He negotiated with him. So we'll see if they start talking about RFK Jr. come fall, we'll know that they think it's an issue.

KING: And so, one of my questions is we're in this -- we're heading into, you know, the first artificial intelligence campaign, and things like this is the idea that, you know, Meta, the parent company of Instagram and Facebook gave him his Instagram account back yesterday. Robert F. Kennedy's Instagram account was taken away because of the dangerous things. He was saying about vaccines during COVID.

He's on Twitter Spaces with Elon Musk, who I don't think would be identified as a Democratic primary voter. As you go forward with this, the question is, what's the audience I guess? If you're just looking for attention, he will get it. Does he have an audience with Democratic primary voters?

MITCHELL: Right. So I think what you raised raises so many concerns just about the platforming of fringe candidates, the platforming of misinformation, particularly when it comes to our government and politics. But you're right, a platform doesn't necessarily equal support unless you've got a last name of Kennedy running as a Democrat.

And then you get somewhere. I think what Jeff said, the journalism and the truth telling about Robert Kennedy Jr. and how he doesn't necessarily fall in line with the ideals that his family name tends to portray will maybe teach a lot of people that just going off of name recognition won't be the best way to go with this one.

But for right now, he gets a lot of traction just based on the name --

KING: Well, the President has pissed off, forgive my language, New Hampshire Democrats by changing the Democratic calendar. And lo and behold, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. got to speak to the New Hampshire --

CHALIAN: And we should make it clear here. This -- when they say --

KING: Yes.

CHALIAN: -- as Jeff was saying, they want to ignore this, I've spoken to some aides to the President who are perturbed by it. They know they can't fully ignore this because, yes, the 20 percent is based on name ID. Yes, he has positions that is totally not attractive to a Democratic primary electorate from any rational point of view of looking to a path to the nomination. That probably doesn't exist.

But it is a parking space for some Democrats who are not fully enthused with Biden and his presidency or the idea of a second term of Biden to hang out in. And that is the piece of it that they need to pay attention.


KING: Ask George H. W. Bush where he's still alive about Pat Buchanan. The protest votes matter in presidential primary sometimes, so let's deal with this now. Cornel West, very well-known progressive legal scholar yesterday says he's running for president.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In these bleak times, I have decided to run for truth and justice, which takes the form of running for president of the United States as a candidate for the People's Party.


KING: The People's Party is a liberal, progressive party. It is run by a former Bernie Sanders Stafford. The question is, again, Joe Biden's president, 45,000, 50,000 votes in three states. Donald Trump could still be president. So you look at any third party challenge and you say, should we take this seriously? Do they have the ballot access? That's what it requires.

CHALIAN: Yes, not to get to 270 electoral votes, yet they do not have that kind of ballot access, which makes this, as you were just describing it, a true protest. Now, you mentioned Bernie Sanders. Remember, Cornel West was one of Bernie Sanders most vocal supporters. So, again, he does come from a wing of the party that Joe Biden has faced before in his efforts.

MITCHELL: And I wonder if part of the reason that Cornel West is running as a third party candidate and those who support him want to pull from Biden again. We know that, for example, support among black males was a little bit soft in the 2022 midterms.

So, you know, if they want a place to go as an alternative to supporting Biden, then they could look to Cornel West, and that could be a problem for Biden.

KING: It could Georgia, Wisconsin. Stop right there. We could go on the list, could go from there if --

ZELENY: Michigan which was, obviously --

KING: Michigan, if they get the ballot access and if they get --


KING: -- a little bit of attention. So it's something we watch again in these volatile times. We watch everything.

Up next, the FBI Director Chris Wray gives House Republicans most of what they want, but they still plan to hold him in contempt.



KING: Not enough, that's what the Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is saying, threatening to hold in contempt the FBI Director, Christopher Wray.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R), HOUSE SPEAKER: If he doesn't allow every member in the committee to see the documents, they have -- we have jurisdiction, they have the right to see it. You're not going to pick one or two people, we'll move contempt.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And you're moving -- you'll bring it to the floor?


RAJU: How quickly will you do that?

MCCARTHY: I'll bring it -- they'll mark it up in committee and then we'll bring it to the floor. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KING: That the House Speaker saying the House might hold the FBI director in contempt even after the bureau did allow top House Oversight Committee members to view an internal FBI document on Capitol Hill yesterday. That document, essentially a tip sheet, alleges that Vice President Biden, back when he was vice president he was involved in some kind of bribery scheme.

CNN's Sara Murray joins me now. So the FBI says we're trying to reach a reasonable compromise. The chairman says, sorry, not enough. Where's this going?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, it seemed to be heading toward contempt proceedings. I mean, the House Oversight Committee has already advised, they're going to have this Thursday meeting to move ahead with contempt with the FBI director.

Comer made it very clear when he came out of this briefing, and again, this was the briefing, behind closed doors in a secure room in the Capitol. He was there. Senior FBI officials were there. And Jamie Raskin, who's the top Democrat on the committee, were all there. And Comer came out of it basically saying, we deserve a hard copy of this document, and essentially, I deserve to be able to do what I want with it.

You know, we can black out the information about who this confidential informant is, but from there, we should be entitled to a hard copy of this document that I can share with other members of the committee or potentially share publicly.

KING: The Trump Justice Department looked into this and could not corroborate it, correct?

MURRAY: Yes, that's right. So, you know, these allegations initially came up while Bill Barr was the Attorney General. You know, there were some prosecutors and some FBI agents who looked into this. They were unable to corroborate it.

Raskin says he believes that that was sort of the end of it. James Comer made clear that there are still allegations that are part of this that he believes are part of the ongoing investigation into Hunter Biden into Delaware. So there are pieces of this that may still be alive, but it seems like, you know, they were not able to corroborate the bulk of it.

KING: We have seen, under the same House Republican majority, a different approach from the Foreign Affairs Committee. Chairman Mike McCaul, who demanded the State Department initially said no. A dissent cable, so called dissent cable about the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The State Department then said, OK, we will let you see the document. We're not going to put it up on the Internet. And Chairman McCaul pulled back from threatening to, you know, subpoena and hold the Secretary of State in contempt. Why is one chairman saying, OK, reasonable compromise, the other chairman saying no? MURRAY: Look, a lot of contempt threats flying around on Capitol Hill. Now, the Republicans are in charge. I think we've seen that. And, you know, what the State Department decided to do here is to make this available to the full committee. Again, this is a classified dissent cable, and so they are making it available privately again, not flashing all around, but to all of the members of the committee.

It's not clear, even for James Comer, that that kind of accommodation is going to be suitable, John.

KING: We'll continue to watch as it plays out, the contempt threat. At the moment, the threat hanging out there. Sara, thank you.

Ahead, people in France take to the streets once again to protest pension reforms.



KING: Topping our political radar today, in France today, anti-pension reform protesters. As you see, they're storming the headquarters of the 2024 Paris Olympics. Hundreds of thousands are expected to join these demonstrations in what one union leader says will likely be one of the last big protests aimed at trying to pressure French lawmakers to reverse President Emmanuel Macron's decision to raise the retirement and the pension age from 62 to 64.

The high court back in the headlines. The lawyer for the Republican mega donor Harlan Crow, who showered Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas with luxury gifts, is offering to meet with staff on the Democratic led Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee asking about the dynamic and the interactions, financial interactions between those two men.

And the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs finally getting their visit to the White House. President Biden welcomed the team yesterday, praising the Chiefs performance both on and off the field. Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, take a look, making a last minute play at the podium. Intercepting is tight end Travis Kelce.


TRAVIS KELCE, AMERICAN FOOTBALL TIGHT END: So I've been waiting for this --



KING: Thanks for your time today in INSIDE POLITICS. We'll see you tomorrow.

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