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Inside Politics

Judge Sets May 2024 Start Date For Trump Trial; Judge Splits Difference On Trump Trial Date; Trump: "Dangerous" To Talk About Jail For Me; Harris Heads To FL To Spotlight Slavery "Insult"; Harris To Forcefully Condemn FL's Black History Standards; Auto Workers Union Wavers On Endorsing Biden; BLS: Auto Industry Has Gained Jobs Under Biden. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired July 21, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on Inside Politics, a federal judge tells everyone to mark their calendars. Today Donald Trump gets a trial date, May 20, 2024. The judges' choice means the classified documents case will almost certainly happen after Republicans settle on their nominee.

Plus, memory its course and its consequences. The vice president fights Florida's attempt to sanitize slavery, plus its Barbies world and we're all living in it. Politicians have some fun. Yes, it is possible. Believe it or not, they're having fun and putting on their pink.

It's Dana Bash. That's who I am. And let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

Up first, a political gift or a general election curse or both. Today, Judge Aileen Cannon announced a mid-campaign season start for the classified documents case. Trump attorneys wanted to push the trial until after the election. Special counsel prosecutors had pleaded for a December 2023 start.

Let's get straight to CNN's Evan Perez. So, Evan, what do we know about the state and how solid it is?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is not very solid. It is a date in late May that the Judge Aileen Cannon has now said. But you know, it won't be very difficult for the former president and his legal team who've already made it clear that they want to delay this well past the election for them to delay it.

And so, that's one of the things that today certainly they have reason to be very happy that the judge has said this day. This is obviously well beyond the December date that the prosecution that Jack Smith's team had requested. And really it fits into a very, very busy calendar for the former president.

He's got a number of trials that are coming up. One of them is in October. There's a civil lawsuit by New York State accusing him of inflating the value of some of his properties. There's another trial in January with E. Jean Carroll, and another defamation claim.

And then of course, there's a criminal trial again in New York in March, which is has to do with the hush money payment. Again, all of this coming amid a very busy calendar for the primaries, for the political calendar. And so, we expect that the judge will have to listen when the former president raises a lot of issues.

He says that they're going to fight on a number of things, including the very nature of this investigation, the classified documents, that's something that could drag on. And she seeds, essentially, nodded to that possibility by saying this is a complicated trial, it raises a lot of complicated legal questions. And so, you can see very well how this could go beyond May. Dana?

BASH: Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much for that important reporting, Evan. I'm here to share their reporting, CNN's Jeff Zeleny, CNN's Paula Reid, and former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams. Happy Monday, happy Friday. Today is not Monday. Is it Friday? I don't mean to scare you out there, it is Friday.

Let's just look at one of the things that Aileen Cannon said. She said the government's proposed schedule is a typically scheduled and inconsistent with ensuring a fair trial, meaning the prosecution wanted to do it by the end of this calendar year, and she is saying too fast.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, way too fast. And in court Tuesday, down in Florida, I was there. And she pressed the lawyers to give her one example of a case like this that had gone to trial, that quickly. It was clear that she was really skeptical of the idea of doing this in December.

But she also was not buying the defense argument that it was too soon to even set a trial date. The defense attorneys were adamant. They believe it was unfair to do any sort of trial before the 2024 election. They said it was too soon to set a date. Here, she's kind of splitting the difference.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Not uncommon for a judge to move a trial date forward set a date, but it's also not uncommon for that date to slip further. And I think we can all be in agreement that this is not going to trial in May.

BASH: You don't think so?

WILLIAMS: I don't think so. I think on, Paula agrees with me. And but I don't know when I can get Paula read. No, but I think there's so many incremental steps along the way where they're going to have to have motions with respect to classified documents. How you pick a jury, not just picking the jury, but what will the procedures be for getting folks who are cleared to do this. All of those things are going to slow this thing down. It's not uncommon. Judges will put a date on. And then as we get closer to that date, bump for it (crosstalk).

[12:05:00] BASH: But we agree that would be the soonest, this trial, what happened.

REID: Yes.

BASH: OK. So, given that, let's talk politics and where the primary calendar is. And that is, you made a point of saying this internally today, and that is May 14 and May 21. Those are the last possible dates. It's not totally set the primary calendar. But that's the last possible dates. Back in 2016, Trump effectively clinched the nomination by May of 2016. Usually by that point in the calendar, we know who the nominee is going to be.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Right. And this will not change, these primary dates. Once they are set and there'll be set this fall, the RNC will have a final ruling in October or so. So, the primary date will be set. So, one thing is clear, the vast majority of Republican primary contests will be finished before Donald Trump ever stands trial.

So, what does that mean necessarily? The voters will have to say, long before any jurors or a court of law does and as many cases. So, the primary calendar, of course, is something that he is intensely focused on. He would like to win this early. We will see if that happens. Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.

You said he clinched the nomination at the end of May in 2016. He's the frontrunner this time, it's an entirely different race. So, they would like to do it earlier. But we've seen a history has shown it going a little bit longer. In 2008, we remember Obama and Hillary Clinton fought another month beyond that. So, you know, the fight over delegates will happen. But the headline here is voters will make their say before the judge to.

BASH: What does it tell you though, about can we read any tea leaves into the judge's decision to kind of split the difference between putting it on the calendar in a place where we are pretty confident that the Republican primaries are going to be over but not before the general election.

REID: So, if you still remember, and I saw this in court on Tuesday, this is a judge who was eviscerated by the bar. And by other judges over decision that she made related to this case. Several months back, when it appeared that she was really leaning in favor of former President Trump by offering to -- yes, agreeing to give a special master to go through the classified documents.

It was obvious to me in court that she was trying very hard to push back on both sides equally. And to focus not so much on Trump's status as a candidate. The lawyers are focused on that. She was like, I don't want to focus on that. I want to focus on the law, the work and the procedure. Tell me how long you need to do the work. And I will set a calendar accordingly.

So, when I saw this today, not only did she split the difference in terms of the timeline right now, but she laid out a detailed schedule 30 different deadlines. So, if you look at this, it's clear, she's trying very hard to appear fair, balance and focus on procedure, not politics.

BASH: I want to play something that the former president said during a radio interview with Simon Conway in Iowa, and the discussion was about what would happen if he goes to jail. Listen to what happened.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT (voiceover): I think it's a very dangerous thing to even talk about. Because we do have a tremendously passionate group of voters, and I mean, maybe, you know, maybe 100, 150. I've never seen anything like it. Much more passion than they had in 2020 and much more passion than they had in 2016. I think it would be very dangerous.


ZELENY: I mean, it's probably not wrong, but I don't know what the 100, 150 in there that he's referencing. But look, he has true supporters. We've also seen in recent times of after January 6, some of those supporters are not available to protest. They're in jail on their own, and others have just decided not to. So, I think it's just one more example of him, I guess riling up his core supporters, but also, you know, talking about violence and (Inaudible) way.

BASH: Yes. And after January 6, one would hope that even any question about it or any reference to something like a danger, he would make a very strong point to shut that conversation down.

WILLIAMS: One would think, and one would hope. But to all of this, if there's anything that comes out of what the judge has been saying, if this trial was bumped ahead, it's because of the facts and the law. And the fact that it's a complicated case, not any of this noise that can being a candidate or there potentially being violence or things being slowing down because of who he is, is Donald Trump. It's a complicated case legally, that could bump the date forward. All of this is frankly dangerous to be talking about but also ancillary, separate from what really matters here.

BASH: OK, everybody standby. Ahead, Vice President Kamala Harris heads to Florida to take on the state's new standards for the teaching of black history. And later, music fans everywhere are mourning the loss of Tony Bennett. We look at his legacy and the life he lived inside the political world.



BASH: Today Vice President Kamala Harris is headed to Florida where she'll confront what she calls an appalling rewrite of the most painful chapter of American history. This week Florida Republicans approved new education standards. Among them is this. How slaves develop skills, which in some instances could be applied for their personal benefit. The NAACP says that irreparably hides the truth from Florida's children, the vice president agrees.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES: They push forward revisionist history. Just yesterday in the state of Florida, they decided middle school students will be taught that enslaved people benefited from slavery. They insult us in an attempt to gaslight us and we will not stand for it.



BASH: Joining me around the table, CNN's Melanie Zanona, Toluse Olorunnipa of The Washington Post. I got that. CNN's Jasmine Wright and CNN's Jeff Zeleny is still here. I've only said your name a hundred thousand times. I think it's just because it is Friday. Sorry about that.

So Jasmine, you have some reporting on the sort of mechanics and the strategy behind the fact that, not only did the vice president make those statements last night, in a very quick way, she's going down to Florida.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN REPORTER: Yes, exactly. This is a last-minute trip that the vice president's office put on her books. Just yesterday, really trying to respond and be kind of the administration's most senior rapid response director to these types of Republican extremism that they've been talking about for a long time.

And now the book bans have been a part of a growing section of the report of the Democrats and the administration's attacks against Republicans for what they see is trying to claw back these rights that were fought for over the civil rights era.

And since then, and now, of course, we've heard it on the messaging side, we've heard President Biden talk about this from the podium repeatedly, as well as vice president Kamala Harris. But also from the official side, they've already appointed a federal person to really try to talk in and understand how these book bans are coming together as they grow in increasing popularity.

But also, from the vice presidents -- vice president's part, we know that she has continuously trying to have the American people directly align her with the fight for freedom that the Biden administration continues to center so much, and not only their official programs, but also their 2024 programming. So, this will be a big part of it. Something that the vice president's office knows works really well for Harris, when it comes to base voters, black woman, women in general, black voters and young people.

BASH: That's one of the things that I find so interesting about this, does not only how they're really turning on a dime and moving quickly, which is not easy to do when you have the entire apparatus of the vice president's office to do so. But and the fact that they are trying to be very strategic inside the White House, inside the Biden, Harris campaign, about where to use her or how to use her more and do it more effectively.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. It's pretty rare to see a trip come together this quickly, especially our principle or like vice president or president, there are all kinds of things that need to be put together before a vice president can go to a location away from Washington.

And so, they wanted to show that this is very important to Harris personally. It's very important to the Democratic brand in terms of how they want to be pressing their case for this 2024 election. It's not a mistake. But this happens to be Florida, the home state of a governor who's running for president and who is capturing a lot of the national spotlight, trying to take his campaign, more national at this point.

And so, it's very clear that Vice President Harris wants to show that the administration is going to stand up against not only the book bans that we see people like President Obama talking about, but also this idea of revising history in excising some of the more painful parts of our history.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: And you know, the Wright has really used school curriculum as a cudgel, effectively in some cases, especially on the local level, especially after the pandemic, and there was a lot of frustration among Democrats that their party was not going on offense, and it was not fighting back against things like Republicans claiming that critical race theory is being taught in schools.

And so, this is an interesting example from the White House of how they are trying to now use this to their advantage and go to a place like Florida and paint what they're calling an extreme GOP agenda.

BASH: Let's listen to what else the vice president said yesterday.


HARRIS: Speaking of our children, extremists, past book bans to prevent them from learning our true history, book bans in this year of our Lord 2023. There is so much at stake in this moment. Our most basic rights and freedoms, fact versus fiction, foundational principles about what it means to be a democracy.


BASH: The year of our Lord 2023, not an accident.

ZELENY: Not an accident at all. And look, I mean, this is something that is in our wheelhouse, obviously, as a lawyer from attorney general, and just as a student of history itself. So, I think it is -- I was not surprised at all to see them pivot, perhaps the timing of it. But it's also part of a pattern that we've seen the Biden, Harris campaign really ramping up their focus on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. Yes, a lot of Democrats sort of hope Donald Trump. He's the Republican nominee because they think he might be the easiest to beat in general, but they also were trying to define and lock the Florida governor in on his positions and shine a brighter light on his positions as well, and she is the person to do that.


As Jasmine knows, she covers her extensively. Some people often wonder what is she doing and she's caught in Washington a lot because she is often a tie breaking vote. This is an example the Senate is not in, so she can pick to get down to Jackson.

WRIGHT: I also think that, just one last thing, is that, not only is this about the politics of 2024, but it is the politics about Kamala Harris. She is somebody that over the course of two years has repeatedly been attacked by both Democrats, mostly unnamed, but also Republicans about her ability to lead as she is a second-in-command to an aging president. And so therefore, this is her showing that she can lead all these hot ticket cultural issues on the main stage, just like anybody else in this position.

BASH: Jasmine, thank you for joining us. Thank you for joining Barbie mania. And we appreciate your efforts with your all pink, just like me, and pink nails like me. Up next, a Trump versus Biden battle for blue collar votes in a swing state. Pretty much every swing state that they can find them. That's what the former president wants auto workers to see. And they want them to see him as their candidate.

Barbie also is here in Washington. You see it on set, but it's way, way, way broader. It is also on Capitol Hill and even some on the campaign trail. We're going to talk about that next.




BASH: President Biden the self-proclaimed most pro-union president in American history has yet to land the endorsement of the powerful United Auto Workers union also known as UAW. That organization has a record of backing Democratic candidates for president. Now Donald Trump says, it's time to jump ship.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: To help United Auto Workers is listening to this because I think you better endorse Trump because I'm going to grow your business and they are destroying your business. They are absolutely destroying your business. How people can vote for you. Just because it's an automatic democrat vote. Look how they've decimated the car industry over the years. If Biden's assault is not stopped, American auto production will be totally dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: President Biden met privately with the head of the UAW at the White House earlier this week, trying to prevent a potentially crippling strike heading into an election year. And on the campaign trail, the president touted his pro-union credentials in Philadelphia.


JOE BIDEN, 46TH U.S. PRESIDENT: We're making sure these new jobs come free and fair and the ability to join a union if you're not already in one. I made a commitment. I made a commitment that I'd be the most pro-union president in American history. I tell businesses all the time: Union workers are the best in the world.


BASH: Our great reporters are back here. Before 2016, we almost surely would not be having this conversation about whether or not the UAW is going to endorse a Democrat versus Republican, would be very rare. But we know what happened in the 2016 election, which is that Donald Trump very much appealed to maybe the union leadership was endorsing the Democrat, but the union workers, many of them really very much liked his message.

Having said that, let's look at the votes for president among union households. You see, that's very high on the depth blue line, the Democratic side, really went down among Republicans in the early 90s. But if you look at what happened in 2016, it went down for Hillary Clinton, up a bit for Donald Trump, as we mentioned.

But look at the up line for 2020. That was Joe Biden. That was the thing that many Democrats were hoping would happen, which is that his appeal to working class voters, to union voters would take back some of those over to the Democratic side.

ZELENY: Right. And a lot of the union workers, I remember talking to them on the campaign trail that year. Remember, Joe Biden and the Obama administration for saving the auto industry. I mean, that was something that was very real in Michigan and Wisconsin, other states. So, Trump is making a play for the union sector, in particularly the rank and file, as you said. And we should point out just because you get an endorsement, that doesn't necessarily win you every vote from the workers.

But the former president is slightly wrong there in a statement by saying the auto industry has lost jobs, they've actually gained jobs in the Biden administration. But the type of jobs is that issue here. The growth of electric vehicles is huge. We know that that is the direction things are going in. The salaries are not always as high. So that is one of the sticking points here. But this is very salient. You talk to any politician from Michigan, directly Michigan Democrats, they warn the administration about this.

BASH: Michigan, native, you want to weigh in on that. But I also -- I just want to bolster what you just said about the jobs with facts and data. And if you look at this other graph, that line is going up. That's the number of auto industry jobs that have come into that sector since Donald Trump left office or the flipside of that is since President Biden took office.

ZANONA: Right. And do I think the UAW is actually going to endorse Donald Trump? Very unlikely, but to Jeff's point, there is going to be a battle for these working-class voters, particularly in these battleground states, like Michigan. And Donald Trump is also trying to capitalize on this rift that has emerged with Biden.

Yes, he's pro-labor, pro-union, but he's also pro-environmentalist, and that has caused a rift between these two core constituencies. The push for electric vehicles is something that has roiled UAW, and one of the things that they've criticized Biden over.