Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

New Polls; Trump Has Big Leads In Iowa, South Carolina; Few Trump Rivals Willing To Attack him Over Indictments; Trump's Legal Woes; Third Trump Indictment Could Come Within Days; Biden Turns MTG's Words Around for Viral Campaign Ad; Two IRS Whistleblowers Claim Hunter Biden Got Preferential Treatment In Tax Probe. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 23, 2023 - 11:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Indictment watch.


ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Safe to say Donald Trump's team is right to be worried.

PHILLIP: The former president could be charged this week with plotting to overturn the 2020 election. What will it mean for his campaign to return to the White House?

Plus, the DeSantis reboot. He's down in the polls and burning through cash. What's the plan to turn his campaign around?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): They want to see you be able to stand up and fight back against the people that are destroying this country. Nobody has done that more than me.

PHILLIP: And Biden's record, there's good news on inflation, immigration, and crime. So why don't voters believe it?


PHILLIP: Hello, and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Abby Philip.

This morning, we have new polls on the state of the GOP race in two key states. These are some of the first quality polls that we've seen coming out of Iowa and South Carolina all year.

And in Iowa, Donald Trump has a 30-point lead over Ron DeSantis, with Tim Scott there nipping at his heels.

Now, Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley, they round out the top five. Trump holds a big lead also in South Carolina with the state's former governor, Nikki Haley, in a statistical tie for second place with DeSantis. Senator Tim Scott also from South Carolina is the only other candidate in the double digits there. Lots to discuss here with us in the studio with CNN's Harry Enten, Errol Louis of Spectrum News. Semafor's, Shelby Talcott, and Shane Goldmacher of The New York Times.

So, Shelby, this -- these polls seem to confirm what we maybe knew all along, which is that Donald Trump is still very far in the lead. And all of the other challengers are still struggling to even get close.

SHELBY TALCOTT, POLITICS REPORTER, SEMAFOR: Yes, it's -- certainly he has -- he's the front runner, he's acknowledged recently also that he's so far ahead that he would have to do something seriously wrong to lose that lead.

PHILLIP: Well, we got -- that's two indictment. Maybe a third coming, but we'll talk about that a little later.

TALCOTT: But what's also notable to me is the South Carolina poll, because this is something that DeSantis supporters have been concerned about for a few months now, is the fact that they have two people from South Carolina in the race. And so their argument to me, over the past few months, has been all of those votes, if Nikki Haley and Tim Scott were not in the race would be going to Ron DeSantis. And would you know, Trump would still be in the lead, but he'd be closing the gap.

And so whether or not all of the votes would go to them is very interesting, but I think it's fair to say that a Trump would. And so that -- I think that poll is really notable because that's representing what they've been concerned about for a little bit of time now.

Shane, you've got a great piece in the Times today about what's happening inside of the DeSantis campaign, which is, frankly, a lot of soul searching. You right here in the subhead, the campaign's missteps and swelling costs of donors and allies nervous. One person close to the former governor says he's experienced a challenging learning curve. That's to say the least.

SHANE GOLDMACHER, NEW YORK TIMES NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yes. And this weekend, he's actually in Park City in Utah meeting with some of his biggest donors for a retreat that had been pre planned. But a lot of the changes have come about in the last week because of the campaign filing that came out that showed the state of his campaign, which is they were spending more money than they expected. They were raising less money than they expected. And the rates were just not on a good trajectory be competitive all the way through the Iowa caucuses, and through Super Tuesday.

So they're saying, look, we're making some changes. But that poll that you're talking about really captures the challenge he has. Right now, he is closer to the pack of people far behind than he is to Donald Trump. And that's a risky place for a candidate who's been trying to portray this as a two-person race.

He can't afford to be behind Tim Scott and Nikki Haley in any of the early states if he wants to say this is a two-person race between him and Donald Trump. PHILLIP: Just one note about your story, Errol, that I want to highlight. You also report some news in here that that video -- that video that was denounced as anti-LGBTQ, tried to criticize Trump for being too friendly to gay and trans people was actually created by the -- a DeSantis staffer, and then they handed it off to someone who pretended like they didn't make it, but it was really theirs all along.


GOLDMACHER: Yes. And I think that it speaks a little bit to some of the silos that campaign has set up where there's not great communications happening. But, yes, this is a video that was pretty universally denounced and, you know, for the first time we're saying that actually, this wasn't just a supporter, a meme that they were amplifying on the internet, doesn't mean they created, they pushed out and then went out there. Oh, look, people should look at this, but turned out they'd been behind it all along.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean --

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, that's -- that is part of what has gone wrong here. A lot of campaign basics. That's fairly sophisticated stuff to try and create something and then launder it through some outside supporter, but they clearly couldn't pull that off.

But then this more serious problem of spending upwards of $200,000 every single day. And, you know, 40 cents on the dollar is basically sort of vanishing out of all of their fundraising.

There are other signs of serious problems. I mean, in your piece, one of the things that I saw that really jumped out at me is that no members of Congress have come out to endorse him since he announced.

Now, this is somebody who served up --


LOUIS: -- the terms in Congress. It's like, do you have any friends? Maybe the guy who sat next to you, anybody?

PHILLIP: Well, if you talk to them, the answer is he was not exactly the most friendly guy when he was in Congress. Yes. So to that -- to that point, exactly, Harry, one of the other interesting observations that some folks have had is about when you look deep into the numbers, not just in this Fox poll, but in other polls recently.

DeSantis is losing ground, particularly among the people who usually probably should be gaining ground with college educated white voters. Just take a look at these numbers from Quinnipiac since July -- or since February, he has lost about 22 points from college educated white voters. Trump has gained 12 percent and others like Haley and Scott have also gained. What is going on here?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. I think this just speaks to the problem of Ron DeSantis' campaign and who he wants to be, you know, the anti-Trump vote within the GOP is in the middle, and it's among college graduates, yet, Ron DeSantis, seems to want to run a campaign that goes further and further to the right, alienating those folks who would be most sympathetic to a message that would be more moderate, and therefore anti Trump.

And we've seen in the polling numbers, you know, part of this is, you know, Trump's going up because of the indictments and some rallying around the base. But it also speaks to the fact that Ron DeSantis has become less well loved.

There's these -- there's this very favorable number, if you look across an aggregate of polls, it was near 50 percent. That was how many Republicans had a very favorable view of Ron DeSantis at the beginning of the year? Now that number has dropped into the mid-30s. So it's not just that Trump is becoming better like, it's DeSantis is becoming less well liked as well.

GOLDMACHER: And, Harry, you know, I'm obsessed with this college educated poll --


GOLDMACHER: -- grouping, because this is the voters who are paying the closest attention to this primary. And it actually is the same thing that happened in 2020 with Democrats. That was the group that moves, right? They're following the news. And when DeSantis is struggling, they're paying attention and that he's losing support among them.

It's the volatile group and it's a dangerous base to have in both the Democratic and Republican Party because they move as the news moves.

PHILLIP: So one other person who's having not so great of a weekend with the latest numbers is Mike Pence. He was on State of the Union with Dana Bash today. I want you to take a listen.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Republican primary voters know that we need new leadership based on the enthusiasm and the support that we're seeing, not only across New Hampshire this week but Iowa and states around the country.

I'm absolutely convinced that we're going to have a new standard bearer in this party, and we're going to work every day to make sure it's us.


PHILLIP: He's in the single digits in these polls. And in some of the numbers when they asked voters, who would you never consider? His numbers are the highest on that front.

TALCOTT: I think the problem with Pence is he has a message. He has a clear message. He has a clear message on Ukraine. He has a clear message on all the things. The bulk of Republican voters, A, are still very angry that he's certified the election. We've seen him on the ground tried to kind of combat that messaging to be determined if it's working. It doesn't seem like it based on the polls. But also, B, it could be as simple as his message is not where the Republican bases anymore.

PHILLIP: Speaking of, Harry, you were talking about Ron DeSantis, kind of veering away from the middle here. One of the ways that we saw that happening was with all this woke stuff in Florida. He's running on his Florida agenda.

One of the things that have -- has come out of Florida this week is changes to the educational curriculum here. So here's what changed, instruction includes how slaves develop skills in which some instances could be used for their personal benefit. The instruction includes acts of violence perpetuated against and by African-Americans, but it is not limited to like the 1906 Atlanta riot, the 1919 D.C. race riot, the 1920 Ocoee massacre, and the 1921 Tulsa massacre, the 1923 Rosewood massacre as well.

So the education system in Florida is changing. And I think this is something that is penetrating to the public.

LOUIS: Listen, you've got a Florida strategy by Ron DeSantis. That is absolutely not set selling outside of Florida, and that's only so well inside of Florida, right? I mean, you have him on an outright, pretty hostile administrative attack on the Civil Rights Movement, on women's rights when it comes to abortion with this six-week ban, with him attacking or disparaging or demeaning LGBTQ rights, and he thinks that that is going to be his path to attracting the evangelical base, I guess. But that doesn't seem to be working.


And so he's kind of throwing away what was supposed to be his Trump card, so to speak, which was supposed to be the economy. And, of course, 7 percent inflation in Florida is not going to help that.

PHILLIP: And this put him on a collision course with the Vice President Kamala Harris, who really went down to Florida to talk exactly about this. This is her and also how DeSantis responded.


KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: How is it that anyone could suggest that in the midst of these atrocities, that there was any benefit to being subjected to this level of dehumanization?

DESANTIS: So I think that they're probably going to show some of the folks that eventually parlayed, you know, being a blacksmith into doing things later in life.


PHILLIP: So just as a reminder, we're talking about slaves here, who later in life they would have been enslaved. So I'm not sure what being a blacksmith would be helpful to them in that respect when they were still enslaved. But we'll leave the conversation there for now. Everyone stand by.

Coming up next for us, the Republican front runner is now staring down the barrel of yet another potential indictment this week. So will this one shake up the race?



PHILLIP: Donald Trump may be on the cusp of a third criminal indictment, and this one could be the most serious. It revolves around his efforts to stay in power after losing the 2020 election. The former president responded though with a very familiar argument.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Very unfair, very unfair situation. Why didn't they do it two years ago? Why didn't they do it like when it would have been, you know, timely, but there is no timely. They did it because it's election interference. They did it right in the middle of my campaign. That's called election interference, and it's called weaponization of the justice system. There's never been anything like this.


PHILLIP: There is that. But also last week, a federal judge set a May 20th trial date for Trump in the other case he faces on classified documents. So that means that he'll spend next year campaigning, not just for president, but also for his freedom.

There are now three trials scheduled for the first half of next year, just as Republican voters are deciding who is going to be their presidential nominee. But that is a nightmare scenario for Republicans. Trump could be convicted of federal crimes after winning the primaries, which is why Trump continues to run on his legal troubles.

I mean, here's a quote from Steven Cheung, who's one of Trumps folks, people. He says, At Republican voters, they see another political indictment or target letter. And they know it's just to weaponized Biden Justice Department going after President Trump. So much of the legal messaging is political messaging. And so much of the political messaging is legal messaging. You can't separate them.

TALCOTT: Yes. No, it's completely intertwined. And it's intentional, but it's also intentional, because it's really the only way that they can run this campaign and also fight multiple indictments. And so what I think we're going to see in in the short term, as he's fighting these indictments and campaigning is virtually no changes to the schedule, just because the trials and the cases have not ramped up to the point where it's going to affect him.

So we'll see next week. He's going to have an interview on Thursday, sit down camera interview with an outlet. I'm told that even if the indictment drops that day, there's no changes to his schedule. He's going to be going Iowa on Friday. He's going to be doing a rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday. That will remain the same regardless of what the legal -- what legal things happen.

But what I think's notable is like when I -- and I'm sure you've had the situation as well, when I call up Trump people to talk to them, sometimes they're calling me back and saying, hey, sorry, I was talking to lawyers.

And so it is really -- like I can't -- I don't think you can over square how much these two things are intertwined. It's got to suck up the oxygen in the room, right? I mean, when you have your spokespeople and your advisors also having to talk to the lawyers, when you have your lawyers needing to get lawyers --

LOUIS: That's right.

PHILLIP: -- because they're also in legal jeopardy, that is a practical weight on your campaign.

LOUIS: The campaign has tried to put a good face on it and tried to make lemonade out of lemons by saying, well, our fundraising goes up every time this gets talked about. There's some favorable polls, there's just a recent one, I think it was the Harris Poll, actually, that said that something like 57 percent of Republicans think that these charges are there for political reasons.

Basically -- they basically accept Trump --

PHILLIP: I'm going to just pause you for a second, just to show folks what you're talking about in terms of fundraising. This is what it looked like every time Trump has been indicted or arraigned over the last couple of months. The fundraising just spikes.

LOUIS: Yes, and then drops down.

PHILLIP: And then then drops back down to normal. But they have an incentive to really run on these moments.

LOUIS: Well, look, the other part of it is that, you know, there's a theory out there, and it's a reasonable one to think that Donald Trump has a lot at stake here. Because if his goal is to win, and then pardon himself, well, he's got to win first. And so he's going to try as hard as he can.

The other theory floating around is that perhaps there's some, you know, deal of a lifetime for the great dealmaker to try and trade dropping out of the race for making all of these cases go away.

Now, neither of those is likely, but they are both possibilities. And I think that's partly why we're going to continue to see the legal and the political arguments intertwined throughout this campaign.

ENTEN: I would just note, you know, as Errol was hinting at, the polling has gotten better for him, you know.

PHILLIP: Yes, let's show that too. Here's the GOP primary supporter after the New York indictment and the Florida indictment.

ENTEN: Right. You can see that you saw this big jump after the New York indictment. Florida, little bit holding steady. But the fact that is higher now than he was back in early March that, you know, the race has become really a one-man race between Donald Trump and himself.


But here's the one thing I will note. There is a big difference between an indictment and a potential conviction down the road. And we know that the one thing that really seemed to move Donald Trump's numbers was the 2022 midterm, where a lot of people assigned the GOP underperforming to Donald Trump. He was seen as a quote-unquote, loser.

If he were in fact to get convicted, that's a whole new territory. Indictments are one thing. A potential conviction is something far, far different, especially among a general electorate.

GOLDMACHER: And I found that calendar that you guys showed just to be totally fascinating, right? You're looking at the first month of 2024 being dominated by a series of midterms -- or series of primaries, as well as trial dates. And yet -- and yet, when you look at those Iowa and South Carolina polls that came out today on Fox News, Donald Trump is winning the electability argument.

Republican primary voters still see him as the most electable candidate, even though he's going to be facing multiple trials next year. And that's just remarkable state of the consolidation he has had over his own party. And the challenges for all these other candidates who, even as he's facing a potential indictment over January 6, aren't able to frontally attack him on that issue.

PHILLIP: Not only are they not able to, they don't -- they -- they're doing the opposite. Just listen to what they've been saying.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): They are hunting Republicans, that is wrong.

VIVEK RAMASWAMY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I do not want to see my opponents eliminated because of the actions of a corrupt federal administrative police state.

PENCE: His reckless words on that day endanger my family and all of us at the Capitol. I'm not convinced it was criminal.

NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's just going to continue to be a further and further distraction. And that's why I'm running is because we need a new generational leader. We can't keep dealing with this drama.


TALCOTT: As Shane said, this is the problem that Trump's opponents are having, and it's almost a little bit outside of their control, it's that they have to walk this fine line between not directly attacking Trump because when I talk to voters out on the ground, even the ones who are open to voting for somebody other than Trump or openly don't want Trump, still don't want to go -- don't want to go out and vote for someone who's going to directly attack Trump.

And therein lies the problem. How do we not necessarily defend Trump's actions, but still keep good with the base who, by and large, believes that the DOJ is wildly politicized and believes all of these things? And so that's what we're seeing is this kind of very fine line that all of these candidates are trying to walk and it's tough.

PHILLIP: So DeSantis really kind of tested, maybe where that line is this week.

Let me play what he said. And I'll tell you what happened afterwards.


DESANTIS: I think it was shown how he was in the White House and didn't do anything while things were going on. He should have come out more forcefully, of course that.


PHILLIP: Not exactly the most, the toughest denouncement of Trump, but the Trump campaign and Trump supporters really went all and going after him. Jason Miller, one of Trump -- another Trump spokes people said he called him Ron DeCheney.

That's a reference to Liz Cheney there, if you don't -- if you're not familiar. But that was of the mildest of touches on Trump. And that was the reaction.

LOUIS: Yes. Well, I mean, look, I think they understand what's going on, on the ground. And so they don't want to get booed in any given situation. They don't want to turn off voters, they're in an impossible situation. They all start to look like (inaudible).

You have people like Mike Pence whose life was threatened. And he's still there sort of licking the shoes of the man who all but ordered people to attack him physically and his family as well. That's not a leadership profile. So they've put themselves in a somewhat impossible situation.

They may be relying on the courts to do -- to eliminate Trump for them. That's not necessarily a great bet, certainly not before January. And so they're going to all, I think, continue to cluster at the bottom of the polls, continue to attack the Justice Department, which is unfortunate. And, of course, it's a little bit unfortunate that more people don't understand how the judiciary works and how the federal system works.

Our Justice Department at a federal criminal defendants, less than half of one percent go to trial and get acquitted. I mean, they don't make these charges lightly.


LOUIS: And they almost always win, literally, almost always win. And it's because they have an overwhelming advantage and a whole lot of information and evidence. And that's true in this case as well.

PHILLIP: Yes. And not to put too fine a point on it. The trials that you're talking about, which might lay out even more damaging evidence against Trump, they will begin after voters have basically decided who the Republican nominee is. So there will be no opportunity for that to be factored in necessarily into their decision making come next spring. So we'll see how that turns out, but standby for us.


Coming up next, what evidence do prosecutors have as they prepare to indict Trump in the January 6 case? We'll have that next.


PHILLIP: It could now be just a matter of days until former President Trump is indicted in the January 6 investigation. Now, we don't know exactly what the charges will be. But Special Counsel Jack Smith has cast a wide net. He's looking into the fake electoral scheme. Trump's efforts to intimidate his vice president, along with top officials at the Justice Department and in swing states. Plus, how he raised money off his efforts to overturn the election. And whether he did all of that, knowing that he did in fact lose.

Now Trump and his allies are scrambling to get ahead of those likely charges.


JOHN LAURO, TRUMP'S ATTORNEY IN JANUARY 6 CASE: President Trump did absolutely nothing wrong. He's done nothing criminal. And he's made his case that he was entitled to take these positions as President of the United States when he saw all these election discrepancies and irregularities going on. He did what any president was required to do, because he took an oath to do exactly that.



PHILLIP: Now, that was -- that was Trump's newest attorney in the January 6 case, but the target letter that was sent to Trump reportedly cites three potential charges. One deprivation of rights, the other conspiracy to defraud the United States. And there's a witness tampering statute in there as well.

Our legal panel is joining us now, CNN Correspondent, Kara Scannell and former Federal Prosecutor Katie Cherkasky. So, Kara, what are you expecting this week? Because I think people might be rightfully a little bit of -- a little bit confused, because there was a target letter that was a week ago now. And the grand jury is still meeting, they still spoke to witnesses as recently as Thursday. So what could be possible in this coming week?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we're all waiting to see if there's going to be movement on this front. And if -- if things will progress to the grand jury. But if you even look back at the Mar- a-Lago documents case where Trump received a target letter from the same special counsel, there was about a three-week period between that target letter and when he was ultimately indicted.

You know, during that period, Trump's attorneys had asked for a meeting, we didn't know at the time that he had that target letter, but they went in to try to persuade the special counsels team not to bring these charges. So we don't know right now, you know, he's brought in this new counsel, who was just on Fox, he played that clip. You know, he -- they may have a strategy session here where they say they want to go in and talk and try to persuade them not to bring these charges. And we don't know if that's happening or not, or what the receptiveness is on the special counsel team. You know, so it's possible, that will be something that happens that could in essence, you know, kind of slow down this process.

You know, of course, the Special Counsel doesn't have to bring the charges, although usually when someone gets the target letter, that's ultimately what happens. And, you know, as we also if you look at the documents case, you know, in that instance, they brought this indictment, but they're still -- these have it sent a target letter to a low ranking official and employee at the Trump organization at Mar- a-Lago. And that, you know, indicates that even though they just charged Trump, and Walt Nauta, his assistant that they're still pursuing that investigation. So, you know, it's all in secret, it's a little hard to exactly know how that's going to play out. But there could be a couple of things at play here.

PHILLIP: Yeah. And Katie, I mean, when you see how active this grand jury still is, their interviews that are scheduled out into the future, what does that say to you as Federal Prosecutor?

KATIE CHERKASKY, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, the grand jury is still conducting interviews, but really, they could vote at any time. So once they feel that they have received enough evidence, and they've talked to the witnesses that they want to hear from, they could decide to vote. And that could happen very quickly. So we just don't know in terms of the timing, as Kara was saying, but really, these things can happen in a flash, if things kind of wrap up on the investigative side.

PHILLIP: What do you think about this week in terms of the timing?

CHERKASKY: You know, I don't know that I have a prediction in terms of whether they'll drop an indictment this week. A target letter is, again, it's not a necessary predicate to charging. And in fact, in some cases, people don't receive target letters at all and are charged. So you can't read into the timing. I always tell my clients, you know, I'll believe the charges when I see the indictment. Until then, it's all just rumors and speculation.

PHILLIP: Yeah. So one of the things that I that I think we believe, based on the witnesses that they brought in, the questions those witnesses have been asked that they are interested in is the Mike Pence of at all, he did not testify before the January 6th Committee, who investigated some of this in Congress, but did go in to speak to the grand jury. I want to play what Trump had said about Pence that could be in the sights of the Special Counsel.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Because if Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election, all Vice President Pence has to do is send it back to the states to recertify. And we become president.


PHILLIP: SO there's that, Kara, what else do you think could become very significant for -- for this these investigators?

SCANNELL: Yeah, I mean, if this doc -- if this indictment, if it does happen is focused on, you know, the interrupting this peaceful transfer of power. And looking at this fake electoral plot. I mean, that all ties into the pressure campaign, not only on Mike Pence, which are those statements, there was also a phone call between Trump and Mike Pence that Ivanka Trump had testified she overheard a little bit of, you know, and as well, there's all the outreach that Trump and his allies including Rudy Giuliani and some other others had made to state officials and some of the states, you know, including Brad Raffensperger.

PHILLIP: And we have actually have that call just to remind folks, just take a listen.


TRUMP: So, look, all I want to do is this, I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more that we have because we won the state.



SCANNELL: Yeah, so that's one example of a piece of potential evidence that prosecutors could point to this issue of pressuring. And as we reported yesterday, that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp had just been contacted this past week by the Special Counsel's team, because he had also received a call from former President Trump during the election period. And as well as some other states in Arizona, they've also been in contact with the Special Counsel's team and been interviewed in some cases.

So you can see that they're looking at all the people that were part of the -- that would have been every point along the line from the folks in the states where they may have been under pressure to either re-audit to fix them. They're also, you know, some of the fake electors, the alternate electors, some of them have been interviewed. We don't know, of course, what they said to the grand jury, but you know, that it's all part of this same -- could possible alleged conspiracy or alleged scheme of how they were trying to swing the election.

PHILLIP: So, Katie, I'm curious about this. Do you think -- what do you think is the stronger Avenue in this case? Is it the kind of election interference trying to disrupt the peaceful transfer trying to usurp the will of the people? Or is it also the violence that occurred perhaps as a result of Trump's actions and statements on January 6, it strikes me that Trump and his allies and lawyers would point to these tweets that he put out on January 6. Please support our Capitol police and law enforcement, they're truly on the side of the country, stay peaceful. I'm asking for everyone at the capitol to remain peaceful, no violence. Remember, we are the party of law and order, et cetera, et cetera. They'll point to those tweets. And they'll say, well, he's not responsible for the violence. Do you see evidence that the Special Counsel might be more interested in the other stuff and less interested in the violence?

CHERKASKY: Yeah, I think so, exactly. From the target letter, we don't see any charges relating to a potential insurrection or inciting violence of any sort. And I think the reason for that is because you do have a lot of ambiguous evidence in terms of what we call the Brandenburg test that dictates what speech is kind of crosses the line from free speech into inciting violence. And when you have alternate sort of statements about staying peaceful and things like that, from a prosecutorial standpoint, that's very difficult to get to a beyond a reasonable doubt.

So when you look at the target letter, you're really looking at charges relating to the efforts to elect -- the fake -- fake slates of electors and obstructing proceedings. And then the question will be, what evidence do they actually have of Trump's involvement in those schemes directly? So it gets away from a lot of the violence and things of that sort? Because I think that's a weaker charge, quite frankly.

PHILLIP: And real quick before you go. The other wrinkle here is that they're trying to charge him potentially, on things that he did while he was a sitting president.

CHERKASKY: Well, I'm glad that you said that, because I think that that is something that is overlooked very significantly. I mean, this is unprecedented territory. And I think, right out the gate, President Trump's team is going to file a motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds because of his status at the time, and there is an open question in terms of whether you can prosecute a sitting president for acts committed during presidency, when are those acts outside the scope of his office, et cetera. And that is something that probably needs to be adjudicated, at some point, maybe even upfront in this case.

PHILLIP: That is a major, major question.

CHERKASKY: Absolutely, yeah.

SCANNELL: And it seems like that's the point his lawyer was making that as a president, he was entitled to ask for an audit, and that's going to be part of their defense there to shape it that way that it was in the scope of his duties.

CHERKASKY: Absolutely.

PHILLIP: All right, Kara and Katie, thank you both very much. Coming up next for us, President Biden, holding an unlikely endorsement this week. Stay tuned to see, we'll bring it.



PHILLIP: President Biden's campaign has found a new surrogate Marjorie Taylor Greene.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, (R) GEORGIA: Joe Biden had the largest public investment and social infrastructure and environmental programs that is actually finishing what FDR started that LBJ expanded on. And Joe Biden is attempting to complete programs to address education, medical care, urban problems, rural poverty, transportation, Medicare, Medicaid labor unions, and he still is working on it.


PHILLIP: And no, Joe Biden did not write that speech. That ad pulls from two very sarcastic but very real speeches from Marjorie Taylor Greene about Biden's record. It's definitely an unconventional campaign move. But the Biden campaign is doing all that they can right now to highlight what they see as a record of accomplishment.

The political panel is back with me now. This is just further evidence that they want to run on the economy. And they're getting a little bit of backup from CNBC. Take a look at this headline that ran a couple days ago. Morgan Stanley credits Bidenomics for much stronger than expected GDP growth.

LOUIS: Yeah, I mean, look, this lays out the terms that the Republicans are going to have to try and fix if they really want to lay a glove on Joe Biden. The economy is always the first issue for -- for many, many voters. And Biden has sort of made it front and center, you've got a 3.5% on unemployment, you've got inflation that's coming down, you've got expansion, it's getting sort of validated by places like Morgan Stanley. And against that, Marjorie Taylor Greene has to sort of, you know, sort of disparage the whole idea of running on economics and pull up all of these other kinds of side issues. Hunter Biden's laptop and all of this other kind of junk.

That's exactly what Biden wants. He wants people to focus on that. He especially wants it to be a focus in the industrial heartland, in the places where he keeps talking about industrialization, where people actually care about their jobs. And even though it may not be reflected in wildly over the top polls for him, he knows and I think we all know, that is what voters are going to really sort of take seriously when it's time to make a choice next year.

PHILLIP: And it's not just the economy where this is happening it's also on a couple of other issues, too. So as Errol said inflation is down, unemployment is at a 54-year low but homicides are down as well, 9% drop, border crossings are lower than they've been in two years.


What that amounts to is the main Republican argument against Biden has been the economy, the border, and crime. Those are starting to come off the table, there is the possibility that maybe education is put back on the table, but they're running out of issues.

GOLDMACHER: And one of the things it's been really interesting to watch Republican stump speeches is the shift in focus over time. In 2022, they were all talking about the economy and inflation, even when they were in Republican primaries, that was the top issue. And today, that's just not the case. They're talking about work corporations, and the left's overreach, it's really shifting to a heavy emphasis and culture over the economy.

The Biden administration in the next six months, they're not doing a lot on the campaign trail. The President's not really functionally campaigning at this point. But what they are trying to do is slowly repeat themselves over and over and over again, for voters that actually things are getting a little bit better, even if you don't feel all of it. And maybe in the next 18 months, you'll start to give him some credit.

TALCOTT: I do think, though, that there's still Republican candidates still view this as an opportunity for them just because as you said, it's it hasn't been widely reflected in the polls. I think people for whatever reason, are still feeling inflation are still feeling crime. And so we saw at DeSantis this week, and I think this is going to be part of his reset. He was talking a little bit more about the economy. On Friday or Saturday, he was talking a little bit more about national security. So I do wonder if, as you know, people like DeSantis start to roll out their policy plans if we're going to see more of a shift to try to keep those poll numbers on Biden's and lo.

PHILLIP: And of course, the other major issue looming over President Biden is his age polling, including this NBC News poll shows that, of the things that they think that they should be concerned about, it's his age 34% say it's a major reason why they think Biden should not run for president.

ENTEN: Yeah, that's exactly right. And I think this is the real question, how much of Joe Biden's low approval is actually because of the economy, because of crime, but because of all these different issues. Or is it something that he simply put, cannot solve? Was he someone who was just seen as a placeholder, and now he has served his what will be for years, and they don't want him anymore. And if age ends up being the issue of this campaign, there is simply nothing put that Joe Biden can do to solve it. Perhaps the only thing he can hope for, which seems to be a large part of what his campaign is resting on, is that his opponent is somebody else who is also approaching the age of 80 and Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: And as we talk about headwinds for Biden, I want to play a little bit of from a hearing on Capitol Hill this week that feature two whistleblowers at the IRS who say, the investigation into Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden, did not go the way that normal investigations usually go. Listen.


GARY SHAPLEY, IRS WHISTLEBLOWER: I watched United States Attorney Weiss tell a room full of senior FBI and IRS senior leaders on October 7, 2022, that he was not the deciding person and whether charges were filed. That was my red line.

JOSEPH ZIEGLER, IRS WHISTLEBLOWER: I'd already seen a pattern of preferential treatment and obstruction. It appeared to me based on what I experienced that the U.S. Attorney in Delaware, in our investigation was constantly hamstrung, limited and marginalized by DOJ officials, as well as other U.S. attorneys.


PHILLIP: Now, this allegations haven't been proven, but if they are, they would be fairly serious.

GOLDMACHER: These are definitely serious allegations. The thing that is going for -- for the Biden administration, as they push back on this is that his son was in fact prosecuted for tax crimes. And --

PHILLIP: And this week, even we will hear from -- and he'll be in a court.

GOLDMACHER: He will be in a court.


GOLDMACHER: So he is facing consequences. Now, they're arguing that he's facing less consequences because their -- their investigation was hamstrung. But simply the fact that he did, in fact face consequences while his father is president. It's actually pretty hard to imagine a situation under which Donald Trump's IRS, for instance, prosecuted Ivanka Trump or any of his children for some wrongdoing. But it is still a very serious allegation here, that there was interference in an investigation.

TALCOTT: And I think that Republicans argument on all this, as we saw and talked about earlier is that they believe that the DOJ is wildly politicized, that is a point of view that resonates with a lot of voters. So on that front, focusing on this hearing and focusing on what this this Hunter Biden stuff could be effective for Republicans running against Joe Biden, because so many Republicans believe this.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, it's certainly something that animates the Republican base. And but it still remains to be seen how far outside of that base these allegations will get any Republican nominee for the presidency. [11:50:00]

All of you thank you very much for being with us today on the show. And coming up next for us, this week's big divide on Capitol Hill, did you see your senator go to Barbie or did they go to Oppenheimer?


PHILLIP: A nation usually divided between red and blue was split between pink and black, Barbie and Oppenheimer, two of the summer's most anticipated summer blockbusters hit theaters on Friday and both are set for historic opening box office numbers this weekend. But already the two summer films have come to be known as Barbenheimer. And this week, the Internet was oversaturated with Barbenheimer memes. And of course lawmakers or at least their young digital staffers had to jump in on some of the fun. So some of them use the movies to tout their political agendas, of course.

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer spent Friday posting as Governor Barbie and reminding her followers about her infrastructure and education initiatives while Texas Senator Ted Cruz positioned himself firmly as anti-Barbie trying to tie it in with his new bill about Chinese censorship.


And it wasn't all business though for some senators, Senators Catherine Cortez Masto and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona both declared themselves to be Barbenheimer double future goers. Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland was quick to clarify to a Twitter user that even though he might seem like an Oppenheimer person, he'll be seeing Barbie instead.

I think it's safe to say that we've reached our limit on Barbenheimer references, but everyone at least got to have their fun to celebrate this summer's biggest weekend in the theaters.

And that's it for us here on Inside Politics Sunday. Coming up next on State of the Union with Dana Bash. Her guests include former Vice President Mike Pence and former Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi. Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Have a great day.