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GOP Candidates Target Biden In Iowa Speeches; DeSantis Defends New Florida Curriculum On Slavery; Trump Faces New Charges In Classified Docs Case; House Republicans Make Moves Toward Impeaching Biden; Rep. Van Orden Curses Out Senate Pages. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 30, 2023 - 11:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: New evidence and new charges.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's like a never-ending bottomless pit of illegality.

PHILLIP: Donald Trump facing more counts of obstructing justice in the documents case and an indictment in the January 6 probe could be imminent.

Plus, a reset or a reckoning.

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The time for excuses is over. We must get the job done.

PHILLIP: As the Florida governor fights to stay in second place, why is he picking fights with black Republicans over slavery?

And impeachment fever on Capitol Hill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This investigation is like tracking a bleeding layer to a snowstorm. There's evidence everywhere.

PHILLIP: But is this an impeachment in search of a crime?


PHILLIP: Good morning to you and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, I'm Abby Philip. We begin this morning in Iowa where Donald Trump and 12 of his challengers stood on the very same stage for the first time. They were all in Des Moines for the Iowa Republican Party's annual Lincoln dinner. And it was a rare opportunity for Iowa primary voters to see how they all stacked up against one another. But when it was Trump's turn on the stage, these were the lyrics that were playing in the background.




PHILLIP: Now, aside from those very pointed lyrics, none of Trump's major rivals mentioned the indictment that he could face as soon as this week or mentioned Trump much at all. Instead, they zeroed in on demand that they would face in a general election.


DESANTIS: Our country is in decline, and Joe Biden is the custodian of that decline.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Joe Biden and the radical left, he is attacking the values that made us possible.

GOV. DOUG BURGUM (R-ND): America needs 180 degree change from the direction where Joe Biden is taking us right now. Joe Biden is wrong on the economy. He's wrong on energy and he's wrong on national security.

MIKE PENCE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Joe Biden has weakened America at home and abroad and two and a half short years.


PHILLIP: But if they want to crack at Biden, they will have to get past Trump first. Let's discuss all of this and more with our panel. We have Bloomberg's, Mario Parker, here and Laura Barron-Lopez from PBS NewsHour, Seung Min Kim, from the Associated Press and Isaac Arnsdorf of The Washington Post.

Isaac, you were in the room, was this a missed opportunity for Trump's rivals to finally give voters something to compare themselves to?

ISAAC ARNSDORF, WASHINGTON POST NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, there was one speaker who did go directly after Trump, that was former congressman Will Hurd and he got booed off the stage when he said that --

PHILLIP: Let's just play that moment for a moment.


WILL HURD, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is running to stay out of prison. And if we elect --


I know. I know. I know. I know. I know. If we elect Donald Trump, we are willingly giving Joe Biden four more years in the White House.


PHILLIP: He knew that was coming.

ARNSDORF: He did and, you know, he got some attention for it, which was, you know, one way of trying to stand out. But the other candidates did not try to go that route. And we're talking about their agendas or drawing a contrast with Biden instead of with Trump.

PHILLIP: The Washington -- I'm sorry, Politico wrote this week. Trump insulted their governor and he may be indicted again. This is of Iowa voters, but they still love him. It seems that there's really nothing that he can do at this point that would cause Iowa voters to not be in a majority aligned with them. And that's despite a lot of Iowa's leaders, whether it's Kim Reynolds, the governor or, you know, the faith leaders in the evangelical community wanting to move away from Trump.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, PBS NEWSHOUR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right. And some Republican strategists will say that the former president going after the governor, going after Kim Reynolds was a misstep for him. But still, despite all of that, and despite all of the looming -- the looming indictment, as well as the existing indictments, he still has a grasp, really big strong grasp on the party and on the party's voters.


PBS NewsHour and NPR/Marist, we just had a poll that came out on Friday that shows that Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say that they believe Trump has done nothing wrong. That percentage dropped nine points in the last month. So there's less people that believe that he did nothing wrong, but it still is 41 percent of Republicans and 58 percent of Republicans still say that they would support Trump if it comes down to it.

PHILLIP: Yes, and I mean, if you're one of the other candidates, you see what happened to Will Hurd. I mean, you know, you have the folks on Twitter saying, well, he has courage for saying that, but they're not the ones who have to try to get the votes of those Republicans in that room.

MARIO PARKER, BLOOMBERG WHITE HOUSE AND POLITICS TEAM LEADER: No. Nobody wants to take on the bully head on, except for Will Hurd and Chris Christie. And you see them, dealing with some of the pushback from that, right, not even from Trump himself, but from the loyal 30 percent or so that he has on the party.

I think one thing to look at as well, as Isaac and Laura mentioned, is that Trump gave a much more staged speech. And to that point, it's realization that it was probably a mistake for him to take Kim Reynolds there in Iowa. And that was a vulnerability, right? So he's up by about 30 or 40 points.

He couldn't go in and have another misstep where he was being just very combative. That's where we have seen people be emboldened to speak out both in New Hampshire and in Iowa, about the former president.

PHILLIP: But he goes after, you know, the Republicans who are well respected in the state. However, but comes to Ron DeSantis, he really didn't hold back. Here's how -- here's how Trump talked about DeSantis, and then how DeSantis replied back effectively.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm leading Biden by six, seven, eight and 11 points, while DeSantis is losing to Biden in all cases. I wouldn't take a chance on that one.

DESANTIS: If the election becomes a referendum on what document was left by the toilet at Mar-a-Lago, we are not going to win.


PHILLIP: It strikes me, Seung Min, that this is just totally asymmetrical. I mean, you got Trump calling him DeSanctus, you know, basically listing out all these polls showing that he's losing to Biden, and -- DeSantis.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The name is really getting your head. Yes.

PHILLIP: DeSantis won't even really say Trump's name.

KIM: Right. And it's actually even sort of that oblique reference to the classified documents indictment, it's still a little bit ways more aggressive than DeSantis had been when he launched his campaign, when Trump was facing other legal problems.

But you're right, they are the two front runners in the Republican primary field. Obviously, Trump a lot more ahead of DeSantis at this point, but DeSantis hasn't really been able or willing to take a swing at the former president. And it is because he's trying to also appeal to those Trump voters that love him so much.

But yet, Trump has this unique ability that we have seen over the last, you know, six, seven years of him being in politics to really minimize his opponents with these really degrading nicknames or just kind of zeroing in on something like the, you know, the Desanctimonious nickname that we -- is like now ingrained in our brains over and over.

And DeSantis just hasn't been able to overcome that. And that's why the electability argument that Trump has been making is interesting. That is the number one argument that is challengers are making against him. But it just seems no one has really blown a lead as large as Trump and historically, and it's really hard to see him blowing that lead now.

PHILLIP: One of the --

BARRON-LOPEZ: I was going to say, I think it's because a lot of the Republican voters, you know, when they ask these candidates, we've seen, when they ask Ron DeSantis, like, why should we vote for you over Trump? He focuses very much on what he's done in Florida, but doesn't seem to be able to convince them that he would be any different than Trump or better than the former president. And also something just around the whole Iowa dinner that I thought stood out to me was that Asa Hutchinson also went after Trump a little bit saying, essentially, that if Republicans want to continue to be this party of law and order and this party of personal responsibility, then how are we going to be voting for a potential -- a candidate that is under indictment for multiple criminal charges?

And, again, that doesn't seem to be resonating with voters, despite the fact that he, Will Hurd, and Chris Christie, are really trying to find that lane right there and convince voters that there's another path.

ARNSDORF: And I heard that a lot from voters when I was on the trail with DeSantis in Iowa on Thursday that they would say that they liked what he was saying, they liked his message. They even liked him personally, but he wasn't -- he wasn't closing the deal with them. They were still walking away very much undecided and he wasn't winning them over with the kind of magnetic personality that they're all used to getting from Trump.

PHILLIP: Yes. This is a reoccurring issue for DeSantis.

One of the other things, as you mentioned, the indictments facing Trump. Some new reporting this weekend indicating that Trump's Super PAC is just taking on these insane bills, $40 million spent on legal costs, not just for Trump but all the people around him for whom he's paying their legal fees.


Some questions also about why that is, and we'll get into later in the show. But it was surprising to me to see this morning. In response to that, the DeSantis campaign put out a statement on it, saying, Trump has spent over 60 million this year on two things, falsely attacking Ron DeSantis and paying his own legal fees, not a cent on defeating Joe Biden. He's looking for ways in there to try to get at Trump.

PARKER: Yes, this is part of the reset. I think this is probably the biggest part of the reset that we've seen thus far. As we just mentioned, so far, DeSantis has shown a willingness to fight everybody, but Trump. And now with this statement, this is kind of -- we're seeing the gloves come off a little bit. This is a little bit tougher and more sharp than it has been before.

And it gets at the elective general electability argument that Trump has been making that he just jabbed, as you mentioned, Abby, on Friday in Iowa, say, hey, look, this person is self-serving. Essentially, that's exactly what DeSantis is saying there. Again, this is some behavior we hadn't seen before.

PHILLIP: Yes. And it's perhaps maybe it's a way around having to actually defend Trump for the legal troubles that he's facing, but to say he's trying to fleece you, his own supporters and voters.

Well, everyone stand by for us. Coming up next for us, I want to talk more about the DeSantis campaign and its stumbles onto on the way it's promised -- it stumbles on its way to its promise reboot.



PHILLIPS: So this probably was not the reset that the DeSantis campaign wanted. Falling in the polls and running low on cash, DeSantis spent much of the week talking about Florida's Black History curriculum. And whether slavery had a silver lining.

Even when he wasn't at was asked to directly clarify his comments and his thoughts on the topic, DeSantis just kept doubling down.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were there beneficial aspects to slavery?

DESANTIS: That's not what the curriculum says with the -- with the -- no, there's no -- it's not. In the curriculum, it's very clear.


PHILLIP: The answer to that question is no. By the way, there are no beneficial aspects of slavery. But all but one of the five black Republicans who are currently in Congress right now have weighed in and they all including one of his 2024 rivals while they beg to differ.


SCOTT: There's no silver lining in freedom -- in slavery. The truth is anything you can learn that any benefits that people suggest you had during slavery, you would have had as a free person.

REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): Yes, you have black people who will tell you, it doesn't sit well if you say that slaves benefited from slavery, it just doesn't sit well.


PHILLIP: That voice that you heard questioning Ron DeSantis earlier in that intro was our very own Isaac Arnsdorf. No offense or anything, but that was a softball question that you teed up for him.

ARNSDORF: And he did not want to take the opportunity to answer it definitively. And instead, he got into a back and forth with me about whether I had read the curriculum, when I was asking him to state his view as a presidential candidate.

But, you know, that gaggle that he did there, actually, he was the one who brought that up. I was asking the question, because he started that off by attacking Vice President Harris and bringing that subject up again. So he's the one who's making this a two-week story.

PHILLIP: By the way, just a moment on Vice President Kamala Harris, who kind of elevated this issue pretty early on, and on two fronts, one, I mean, I think it's served to kind of put her front and center. But I've seen a lot of Republicans criticizing DeSantis for taking the bait. And rather than going up against Biden, now he's going up against the vice president.

BARRON-LOPEZ: That's right. I mean, she -- as we've seen the vice president in times like this specifically on issues around culture and social justice, that the -- they're putting -- the campaign is putting her out more on those -- on those friends.

And she's going to Florida to take DeSantis on whether it's on abortion or whether it's on the study of black history. And DeSantis though -- it's just striking to me that he's deciding to double down on this when you have -- there are very few black Republicans in Congress as it is. I think there are about five elected black Republicans in Congress.

And so far, a lot of them are confronting DeSantis and saying, we're giving you an opportunity to say this wasn't the right path to go down. This isn't the correct history. This is revisionist history. And yet, he still is deciding, no, which to me look in the primary, maybe that's -- if he thinks that it'll be effective, but in the general election, it's really hard to see where that'll be effective and gaining both sides.

PHILLIP: Yes. It's a strange miscalculation.

PARKER: It is a very strange on that part, again, because we haven't seen him take on these fights with Trump, but he's willing to really double down as Isaac said, and really fight the few black Republicans that are in the Congress, right?

So I mean to the general election question, no Republican is going to get a majority of the black vote, right? You may get 8 percent 10 percent Maybe.

But the DeSantis at this point for a general election, he's looking to give Joe Biden 100 percent of the black vote at this point. He's not only alienating black Republicans, but he's reinforcing the view that black Democrats have of the party.

PHILLIP: Well, it's such an interesting and important point about DeSantis doubling down on these culture war issues, which seemed maybe a few months ago to be his ticket to getting attention. But you've also seen, I think, in his reboot, he's not moving away from the culture war stuff.

But I mean, our producers, watching his speech, noted he's using the word woke last, he's talking more about his own military background as a military lawyer, perhaps trying to shift the narrative, maybe a recognition that the message needs to be broader, that he needs to fill out his personality as a candidate.

KIM: If that's the case, and that's a really interesting observation by the producers. He certainly didn't do it with this focus on Florida's curriculum. I think that while all the focus is on him right now about what kind of a reboot is he going to make, in addition to firing, you know, a third of -- a third of a staff and promised to be more prudent with the campaign money? What other strategic steps is he going to take to really reboot his campaign?


And the big thing that we saw is embarking on this not only, you know, wrong, and frankly, offensive vision, but also very just strategically confusing. Why would you pick this fight? Why is it -- why would you pick this fight? And why would you double down on it when there's so much focus on you and seeing how you're going to revive your campaign at the very least.

So this much vaunted reboot, I'm not quite sure what we're seeing right now in terms of results, and maybe we'll see, reboot, you know, volume 2.0?

PHILLIP Liking of the reboot

KIM: Exactly, exactly. It just doesn't seem like there is much of a huge strategic difference right now.

PHILLIP: There -- the other part of the supposed reboot is getting him out among the people more and it's produced some moments like this.


DESANTIS: Oh, what is that?


DESNTIS: An Icee? Yes, that's probably a lot of sugar. Good to you see.

ARNSDORF: Isaac, I want to go you see this, because you've seen this up close and personal.

The problem with the campaign trying to kind of create these moments is that on a campaign trail, you got a million people with cameras, and everybody's recording every angle of these things. And sometimes it's just awkward.

ARNSDORF: The reality is Governor DeSantis is just not accustomed to this. As you know, he's been a member of Congress and governor of Florida. And as governor of Florida, he was used to being able to dominate the headlines.

Anytime he called a press conference or said anything. And he was used to getting all kinds of fawning coverage from Fox News, he is just not used to the retail politics. He's not used to having to go out there and fight to just get attention from national press.

And we're seeing this this reset sort of half in half flight right now where they're still adjusting that. They're preparing to announce an economic plan on Monday, and then they're going to follow with a foreign policy plan. And so we're sort of just -- we're -- that's not -- it's not out yet. And so we're just seeing kind of his strategic and messaging pivot just starting to catch up.

PHILLIP: Yes. In the meantime, Tim Scott is really trying to kind of get in there in the vacuum that's been created.

CNBC had some reporting this week, Tim Scott sees big money interest, particularly in the Hamptons, where a lot of this fundraising happens over the summer, while DeSantis hunts for cash.

The donors are in search of a new candidate. DeSantis, frankly, is a donor creation in many ways. And now those very same donors are now looking around and saying, who can we go to next?

PARKER: Yes. Wall Street wants to bet money. That's their natural inclination, right? So they're looking for a new winner, because DeSantis hasn't fulfilled the promise of his campaign going back to November.

Tim Scott has been -- always been a prolific fundraiser. And now we're seeing that he's been using a lot of that money in places like Iowa and New Hampshire, where he's leading the pack and spending, and it's having a measurable impact on his standing in the polls.

KIM: I will also point out at Tim Scott, the top Republican on the Senate Banking Committee, which makes him a magnet for a lot of these donations, but it'll be interesting to see how much traction Tim Scott gets.

Before launching his campaign, people working with him, and close to him told me that his sort of broad strategy was, see, just wait for Trump and DeSantis has kind of like, punch each other out. And maybe he rises as the reasonable last man kind of standing. And I'm not quite sure that is working right now beyond just being sort of the alternative to the -- to the main guy, which is Trump.

PHILLIP: And he also has to show that he can actually rise in the polls. I mean, donor interest is one thing, but voter interest is really what matters.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. Right now, it's Trump-DeSantis and then Vivek Ramaswamy, ahead of Tim Scott, and ahead of Nikki Haley, despite the fact that, you know, when Tim Scott launched his campaign, a number of establishment Republicans, Republicans in the Senate really said that they wanted to get behind him and that they viewed him as the person that could be someone that could maybe really take on Trump more than DeSantis.

And so far, there hasn't really been anything that he's done that has helped him rise significantly in the polls. We saw that he did -- was one of the first Republicans to go after DeSantis on the Florida slavery curriculum.

PHILLIP: Very notable.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. And that was one of the first times I think we've really seen him even go after DeSantis in that way. And maybe it'll work for him in these early states. PHILLIP: We'll be watching. Everyone stand by for us.

Coming up next, Donald Trump charged with a new and brazen plot to obstruct justice.



PHILLIP: Donald Trump's legal Jeopardy in the classified documents case is getting much, much worse. A superseding indictment has now added a stunning new charge here that he conspired with two lower level employees to destroy security camera footage after it was subpoenaed.

The new indictment adds a new co-defendant as well, Carlos de Oliveira. And he is the head of maintenance at Mar-a-Lago who allegedly talked with Trump and then talked with another employee about potentially deleting that server that had all that footage.

Now, it sounds a lot like a plan to destroy evidence.


GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: He's like a never ending bottomless pit of illegality. I mean, he -- here, he's basically, by asking his workers to destroy the videotape. I mean, he was obstructing justice, but he wasn't just obstructing justice. He was obstructing justice about his prior efforts to obstruct justice.


PHILLIP: The Special Counsel has already accused Trump of a long list of obstruction, schemes, including suggesting that his lawyer lie to the FBI or destroy evidence, and the moving of boxes full of documents to conceal them from the FBI.


Joining me now are former federal prosecutors Joseph Moreno and Elliot Williams. Joseph, as you heard there, I mean, he moved the boxes, then allegedly, according to this indictment, tries to get two underlings to go delete the server that has the video footage. And then in this indictment, there is also a discussion of loyalty about whether the two individuals who were a part of this alleged scheme were loyal. I mean, if you're a prosecutor, this is sort of like straight out of the fiction books here.

JOSEPH MORENO, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Abby, this was already a strong case, right? By virtue of the simple fact that the boxes of documents were in Mar-a-Lago, that's the case.

Now, I assume that Donald Trump, if this went to trial, I assume what he'll really play hard on is the argument that, well, I thought they were declassified. I thought I was allowed to have them, I thought it was OK that I had them in this compound that's guarded by the Secret Service. Well, that argument has already has some legal problems. It's not a great argument, but it's sort of decimated now by these obstruction allegations because OK, the response would be, if you really thought you had the legal right of possession of these documents, why did you go through these efforts to hide the fact that you had them through your underlings, through even your attorneys. So I don't know how he gets out of that.

PHILLIP: Earlier this morning, I heard one of the 2024 Presidential Candidates, Vivek Ramaswamy, saying, well, this is a process crime. I don't really think that we should be, you know, the throwing the book at a former president over a process crime. But as Joseph points out, it goes to actually the heart of the primary crime here, which is he knew that the documents that he had in his possession he -- was permitted to have that.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, we as a nation need to purge the words process crime from our vocabularies. It came up in the context of the former President before, months ago, in the context of his impeachments, and it's coming up again now. Obstruction of justice as a crime. And this is -- the Supreme Court, I believe, has said this goes to the heart of the integrity of the criminal justice system, and we cannot have a functioning system if people are going to impede the government's ability to investigate crimes.

So setting aside the questions that Joe was talking about, you know, whether perhaps the President might have thought he were entitled to documents or whatever, he knew and they knew, and it's documented in this indictment that there was an open investigation, they'd received a draft grand jury subpoena.

And then after that, once they found out that they were being investigated, took quite elaborate efforts to hide evidence and suppress it. In a functioning society, that conduct cannot happen. And so shame on Mr. Ramaswamy for attacking us as a nation in the way that he did right there. It's really shameful.

MORENO: I keep getting this question, too, from people of all walks of life. Like, how do you reconcile the fact that David Petraeus, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden himself, Mike Pence were not charged with issues regarding classified documents, Trump is. And I think if you put Jack Smith on the spot and if you were forced to answer, I think you would say it's largely because of this. Trump probably could have gotten a pass even with possessing a document which is illegal, but he probably could have wrangled himself out of it. But it's the obstruction. I don't know how the DOJ could ignore this now.

WILLIAMS: And frankly, to that point, the obstruction is actually far easier to convict them on here at this point than any of these documents, charges which are complicated or going to require litigation over how you get classified information in front of a jury.

All you have to prove here is that they knew there was an investigation and they tried to obstruct it. And we could prove that tomorrow.

PHILLIP: Yeah, yeah.

MORENO: That's right.

PHILLIP: I want to talk about something that this superseding indictment really raises, which is employee -- Trump employee number four, he is implicated in a lot of this superseding indictment. He is an IT worker who CNN has confirmed is named Yuscil Taveras. According to this timeline here, he was the person that De Oliveira met with to try to ask about the video footage, whether how long it was retained. He told the IT Director that the boss wanted it to be deleted. And what's interesting is that there's some new reporting in the Washington Post that indicates that this Trump employee number four is a cooperating witness. He came forward after the first indictment to say, I have more to tell you. What does that say to you?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think number be the Trump folks ought to be concerned about this cooperating witness. But I think as a broader point, Abby, this indictment has not been stress tested, for lack of a better way to put it. And we haven't really seen what the credibility of some of these witnesses are. A lot of the obstruction, at least as documented in the indictment, the obstruction allegations hinge on the testimony of employee number four.


And the fact that he's a cooperating witness is the kind of thing that defense attorneys will criticize him over at trial. You don't know does he have a criminal history? What's in his background? All of these things are things that you can use to attack a witness' credibility, which could undermine the charges. Now, that said, you have these text messages and other evidence that would help your ability to prove.

PHILLIP: One of the other. factors in this case is how many of these potential witnesses, even people we're not even talking about, have lawyers who are being paid for by the Trump PAC. Trump employee number four was one of those witnesses, and then he had to move to another attorney once he became a cooperating witness.

As this unfolds, could we see more of that? Could we even see someone like De Oliveira or even Walt Nauta deciding that it's in their best interest to get some independent counsel?

MORENO: Sure. I mean, look, it's not improper or even illegal for an employer to pay legal fees for their subordinates, but it definitely creates a conflict of interest, and it really prevents those subordinates from effectively cooperating.

So it makes me uncomfortable. I mean, I get it that these people probably don't have the money to pay for expensive, white collar defense counsel, but at the end of the day, if they really want their own rights to be watched out for, I wouldn't trust a Trump attorney.

WILLIAMS: And once they become adverse to each other, like once one of them really formally does flip, they have to get new counsel because they're adverse. PHILLIP: Yeah. And I should say we don't know with 100% certainty that

he is a cooperating witness. But it certainly is suggested in this and in the reporting. I want to play what? Michael Cohen someone who knows Trump well and knows what it's like to be someone who has to make a break from Trump, has said to some of the folks who are part of all of this in these indictments.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Walt Nauta run, Carlos run, run and says, first of all, he's not going to get you an attorney. He's not going to pay for it unless you stay on message. And if you stay on message. You will end up behind bars. There's no doubt about it.


PHILLIP: The other part of this is, of course, Trump and what kind of person he is.

MORENO: And Michael Cohen knows, right? I mean, better than any of us. We can speculate from the outside. He knows from the inside. I mean, that it's really just you want to the best, most painful step, probably, but the best step is to kind of break yourself out of that orbit, because otherwise, no one's watching your back.

PHILLIP: And it's very expensive to do that. I mean, it's costing Trump and his PAC $40 million to defend against all of these cases. Elliot and Joseph, thank you both very much.

And coming up next for us, impeachment fever sweeps through the House Republican conference. But is it catching on with voters?



PHILLIP: With Donald Trump's indictments piling up, House Republicans are playing a game of what about ism Trump's not the only -- not the corrupt one, they claim. President Biden is, and they want to impeach him for it.


REP. BOB GOOD, (R) VIRGINIA: I don't know how anyone, any objective reasonable person couldn't come to the conclusion that this appears to be impeachment worthy.

REP. RALPH NORMAN, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: If it's not accountability now for the highest office holder in the land, when is it going to be? I think at the end of the day, he will be impeached.

REP. JAMES COMER, (R) OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: This investigation is like tracking a bleeding bear to a snowstorm. There's evidence everywhere.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: Well, if that's true, Republicans haven't shown it. Instead, we've heard a lot of innuendo and unverified accusations. And yet House Speaker Kevin McCarthy seems ready to start, at the very least, an impeachment inquiry. But the question is, over what?

Here is President Biden's theory.


JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: Inflation is now at the lowest point it's been in over two years. In fact, we have the lowest rate of inflation among the world's major economies. Maybe they'll decide to impeach me because it's coming down. I don't know. I love that one.


PHILLIP: Our political reporters are back with us. And Seung Min, it's a real question. I mean, at this point, are Republicans using this idea of an impeachment inquiry to try to find the crime that they want to impeach Biden?

KIM: Well, I think it's really to that question. I think it's notable how Kevin McCarthy has put this idea of an impeachment inquiry out there on that Fox News interview earlier this week and sort of scaled it back. I mean, both in public and in private, he has indicated to his members that right now, what I don't see evidence that President Biden was either aware of or involved in his son Hunter's financial dealings.

And that doesn't mean he hasn't ruled out launching an impeachment worry anytime soon. But I think they're saying there's a lot of there there, but haven't really put forward the evidence for it. And I think a lot of it is just trying to appease the guy that has a major hold on his party, and that guy is Donald Trump. So I think that's driving a lot of their strategic decisions right now.

PARKER: And to Seung Min's point, we saw Donald Trump last night in Erie, Pennsylvania, at a rally using one of the most powerful cuddles that he does have over the party, which is the fear of being primary. He was invoking all of these indictments. What about ism, et cetera.

PHILLIP: Let me just play what you're talking about here. Here's Trump last night.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The biggest complaint that I get is that the Republicans find out this information and then they do nothing about it. Any Republican that doesn't act on Democrat fraud should be immediately primaried and get out, out.


PHILLIP: And he does, in fact, mean that as a threat.

PARKER: Yeah, absolutely. That's the type of rhetoric that sends shivers down Republicans looking for another term in office. The last thing they want is to be primaried from the right and have someone with Donald Trump's endorsement primary them the type of money, even if they survive, the type of money that it takes to survive such a primary as well.

Meanwhile, you've got that dozen or so Republicans who won in Biden districts, who are, like, have to be having a headache right now because of this road they're being taken down.


BARRON-LOPEZ: And that's exactly why you see Speaker McCarthy threats like that are why he's out there on Fox News floating this impeachment inquiry, only to then say, wait a second, as Seung Min point out, wait a second. I'm not totally ready yet. Let's talk through this more. Because of the fact that his majority is a five C majority, and if he runs this impeachment inquiry, and even if they have a vote, which there's no guarantee that it would actually succeed, that's not a general election strategy necessarily. There's little indication that voters want to see that happen.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, Republicans have long believed that their strongest argument would be on cost-of-living issues, quality of life issues, which in some ways are improving according to the numbers. The inflation is down, crime is down, all of these things to President Biden's point.

ARNSDORF: That's absolutely right. But what you heard in the clips at the beginning, two of those members who were speaking were part of the bloc that was opposing McCarthy to get the gavel at the beginning of the year. So that's the pressure that he's hearing. And, you know, Trump last night at the rally, in the clip you played, what he was demanding there actually was not an impeachment inquiry. He was saying that they should withhold aid from Ukraine unless the administration provides them more evidence in these investigations. Does that sound familiar?

KIM: Very familiar.

PHILLIP: Yeah, exactly. He tends to go down roads that he's already walked down to disastrous consequences.

I want to talk about something else that happened over the weekend. The White House put out a statement first to People Magazine about Hunter Biden's daughter Navy, who lives in Arkansas with her mother. They say, "Our son Hunter and Navy's mother, Lunden are working together to foster a relationship that is in the best interest of their daughter, preserving her privacy as much as possible going forward. Jill and I only want what is best for our granddaughter -- our grandchildren, including Navy."

And that would actually make this the first time that Biden has even acknowledged that Navy is his granddaughter. And this is only coming after a New York Times report really detailing what her life is like. She's never met her father. She's never met President Biden, and she's four years old. He is -- this has been going on for some years now. BARRON-LOPEZ: Right. It's significant because, as you said, Abby, it's

the first time the president has acknowledged that he has this granddaughter. And the White House had been asked about it previously. Karine Jean-Pierre, the Press Secretary, had been asked about it and wouldn't say anything on behalf of the president about whether or not he acknowledged his granddaughter.

I mean, the White House was eventually and the President was eventually going to have to say something, because -- and they clearly are now acknowledging her having gone through probably their personal conversations with their son as well. I mean, we don't know what was discussed between the President and his son, but this is something that was going to have to be addressed ahead of the full-blown campaign cycle because right now, as we all know, president Biden is not fully out there running head on against any of the Republicans. But come next year, this would have been something that they would have been questioned on repeatedly.

KIM: Right. And on the one hand, it certainly is, as the Biden said, a family matter. But on the other hand, him being this authentic, you know, deep family man is such an inextricable part of his political persona. And I can't tell you how many times he has said, oh, I would stop any sort of presidential activity at any given moment of any day to talk to my grandkids if they call, like being a good father and being a great grandfather is so much a part of his public and political identity.

So I think once the -- it's particularly when the New York Times story came out and said, you know, said reportedly that he has instructed his aides to only say that he has six grandchildren -- six grandchildren, I mean, that's a devastating blow for an image like that. So I think at some point, they felt that this was something that they had to address head on.

PHILLIP: It strikes me. I mean, this is something that breaks through.

KIM: Right.

PHILLIP: You might like President Biden, but the idea that he won't even let his aides say that he has seven grandchildren, that's something that they needed to correct.

PARKER: Yeah, no, absolutely. When you have a child involved, that brings a whole another layer of a dynamic, right? You had a New York Times Columnist, Maureen Dowd, taking the president to task for this as well. Democrats were pretty uncomfortable with it. We've all taken that train up to Wilmington for the weekends. Joseph R. Biden that he made famous because he wanted to go back and forth to Washington to take care of his family.

So this just doesn't line up with that image that he has and the image that Americans give him the highest marks for, which is that he's the compassionate commander-in-chief.

PHILLIP: Unclear to me, real quick before we go, whether this takes it off the table or puts it on the table for his Republican challengers. [11:50:01]

ARNSDORF: Yeah, I think that's absolutely right. And we've been hearing right wing media and at the dinner going back to Iowa on Friday, a lot of them making jokes about this, about how many grandkids they have or what their grandkids are like. And we'll see if this fuels that or takes the wind out of it.

PHILLIP: All right, thanks, everyone, for being with us this morning. But coming up next for us, why did a congressman curse out a group of teenagers over on Capitol Hill? That's next.


PHILLIP: The unifying event in the Congress that no one saw coming. A Wisconsin Republican was receiving bipartisan backlash this week after an expletive ridden rant at high schoolers.

On Wednesday night, a group of Senate pages they're teenagers who help with the day-to-day operations of the Senate. They were taking photos while lying on the floor in the Capitol Rotunda to celebrate their last week on the job.

But it was just after midnight when Congressman Derrick Van Orden approached them with some choice words, telling them to get up and calling them some names that I won't say here on a Sunday Morning on television. But Senate leaders came together to praise the pages and condemn that Congressman.



SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK MINORITY LEADER: I do not think that one member's disrespect do shared by this body, by Leader McConnell and myself. So I would like to take moment to thank these pages for their assistance these many weeks. We wish them well as they return to their homes and families.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) KENTUCKY MINORITY LEADER: I want to associate myself with the remarks of the majority Leader. Everybody on this side of the aisle feels exactly the same way.


PHILLIP: A rare moment of bipartisan agreement there. But Van Orden is not apologizing. He said that the teens were being disrespectful and that he was just protecting the integrity of the Rotunda, which was used as a field hospital during the Civil War. Now, Van Orden is a former Navy Seal who was first elected back in 2022. He was outside of the Capitol during January 6 in that insurrection, but he denies ever entering the building.

And that's it for us here on Inside Politics Sunday, coming up next here on CNN State of the Union, and thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Have a great rest of your day. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)