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Prosecutors Flag Trump's Threatening Post To Judge; Court Cases And Primary Races; Trump Charged With Orchestrating Plot To Overturn Election; Trump Attacks Pence on Truth Social: "He's Delusional"; Pence Campaign Selling "Too Honest" Merchandise; Heartbreaking Loss For U.S. Women's National Team in World Cup. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 06, 2023 - 11:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Trump indicted again.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I consider it a truly great badge of honor, as I'm being indicted for you.

PHILLIP: As the charges pile up, will GOP voters have second thoughts about making him their nominee?

Plus, inside his legal strategy.

JOHN LAURO, TRUMP ATTORNEY: We've never had a situation where a spirited debate about the Constitution has become a criminal case.

PHILLIP: Is that Trump's strongest defense? And will a federal judge punish him for a threatening post on social media?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think this judge or this prosecutor are going to tolerate that.

PHILLIP: And President Biden is running for reelection on a strong economy.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Bidenomics is just another way of saying restoring the American dream.

PHILLIP: Can he convince voters that his plans are working?

Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Abby Phillip.

As Donald Trump's legal peril grows, so does his anger at everyone, he holds responsible. Last night, he unleashed his fury on President Biden and the Special Counsel.


TRUMP: We're kicking Biden's ass, and that's the problem. That's the problem. And if I wasn't, if I wasn't, we wouldn't be under investigation by deranged Jack Smith. He's a deranged human being. A fake charges put forth by the Biden sham. We call it a sham indictment. And, you know, the man that's silly, I really believe he's mentally ill.

They're trying to make it illegal to question the results of an election. They go after the people that want to find out what the hell happened. It's a disgrace.


PHILLIP: And also this weekend, there was this apparent threat on his social media site. If you go after me, I'm coming after you.

Now, the Trump campaign says that was aimed at his political enemies, not prosecutors or potential witnesses. But the Special Counsel did flag it to the judge and said that it raises questions about whether Trump can be trusted to look at confidential evidence without publicly disclosing it.

Now this morning, Trump's top lawyer, John Lauro, appeared on all of the major Sunday morning interview shows. Trump is now facing 78 criminal charges and three indictments. The latest, of course, is over this plot to overturn the 2020 election.

And here is what Lauro told our own Dana Bash on "STATE OF THE UNION" just moments ago.


LAURO: One thing that we are going to do is fight this very, very unusual outside of the bounds criminal prosecution of First Amendment rights vigorously in court. My focus is on addressing the issues. One of the issues that the Biden administration will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt is that Donald Trump had corrupt intent, had criminal intent when he protested the results of the 2020 election. That's core freedom of speech.


PHILLIP: There's a lot going on there. But let's discuss all of that and more with CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams. Also with us, CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI deputy director, Andrew McCabe, and CNN's own, Kristen Holmes, who has been very busy this week traveling with the Trump campaign throughout all of this.

But as we're coming on the air, Elliot, this morning, we have another troops Truth Social from the former president, one that could have some bearing on this case. He writes, "There's no way I can get a fair trial with the judge assigned to this ridiculous Freedom of Speech/fair elections case. Everyone knows this, and so does she. We will immediately be asking for recusal of this judge on very powerful grounds. And likewise for a venue change out of D.C.

Now, the venue change, I think is no huge surprise, and perhaps not a surprise that he wants out from this judge. This is Judge Tanya Chutkan, who has been hearing a lot of January 6 cases. She's known to be a tough judge. She was appointed during the Obama administration. And now Trump says this.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Trump will lose this motion if his attorney's filing. Here's the standard, you can recuse the judge if there's some factor that means that the judge's impartiality might reasonably be questioned. That's what the law says. You have no basis right now, based on information in the public record, that says he ought to recuse this judge. She has not issued public statements, worked on campaigns and in recent years, issue rulings that showed a bias to one party or another.


And, like you said, the most important fact is that she's heard a number of January 6 cases that I think at this point have probably been held up on appeal. All -- let's just name what it is. This is a black woman, Washington, D.C. judge from an immigrant family. And that's what the judge is going -- that's what the foreign president's --


WILLIAMS: -- going after here. You can dog whistle it a little bit. And I think his supporters will hear that and sort of think he has some base work. But beyond that, there's just no basis for moving or moving us out of Washington D.C. for that matter.

PHILLIP: And look, Trump has a history of taking judges looking at their race or ethnicity and saying, oh, they can't be fair to me. He literally did that during the campaign in 2016.

But on this judge, she has -- she's heard and sentenced 38 January 6 defendants, that's a -- that's quite a lot, actually. And in some of the previous rulings, she's been pretty tough. She said here in November 2021, "Presidents are not kings. This plaintiff is not President." And this is after Trump left office.

There's also another ruling in 2021 where she said, "It has been made clear that trying to stop the peaceful transition of power, assaulting law enforcement, is going to be met with certain punishment."

So these are tough statements, but they're also reasonable statements that any judge would make. But you get the sense here that this is not going to be a cakewalk, certainly maybe a little bit different from what we might see in Florida, where Trump is facing a judge that he himself appointed.

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. The Constitution doesn't say you have a right to have your criminal case heard by a judge who voted for you, right? So I think Elliott's absolutely right in the analysis. There's basically no grounds to seek recusal at this point.

Also, the number of defendants she's seen who are January 6 defendants, this is D.C., all of these cases are going through here. There's not a judge in that courthouse who hasn't heard a dozen or more of these cases, and impose sentences on people who have been sent to jail. So I don't think that fact is notable either.

With respect to his quite reasonable desire to want to have this heard any place other than D.C., I think he'll face a tall order there as well. It's -- we saw this in the George Floyd case, very hard to go into federal court and make the argument that you can't get a fair trial in one city because of the publicity around that issue, when the publicity is actually nationwide.

There's no place in this country that he could go to have a criminal trial that hasn't heard anything about January 6 or his role in it. So I think these are motions that like many you will see in this case that will be filed for the purpose of putting them on the record, knowing they'll lose them, but potentially creating issues on appeal down the road.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And we should note that over three dozen January 6 rioters have asked to move their case out of D.C., and not a single one has moved out of there. So it is again, a tall order.

PHILLIP: I mean, this is where the alleged crimes were committed.

HOLMES: Right.

MCCABE: That's right.

PHILLIP: So I mean, it is what it is. And, Kristen, as you come in here, you've been with Trump and just following this so closely. He is really, it seems, especially in the last 72 hours, he is accelerating. Often his psyche gets put on social media, but he had a rally last night.

I mean, what's going on, to some extent, in his head here today?

HOLMES: I think there are multiple things going on inside of his head. I think we know that this makes him angry. We know that he is frustrated. We know that this is not what he wants to be doing. He wants us all to go away. He wants to be talking about 2024. He wants to be president again. That is what he wants to be focusing on.

And it's clear through these posts that he is angry. We also can tell that this is a playbook that Donald Trump has used since 2016. When you look at some of the posts, and I don't think we need to get into all of them, they're not all just about this case, they're also -- you talk Nancy Pelosi and her family with outrageous claims. That is exactly what we saw in 2016. It becomes more and more escalated. The more and more he feels like he's getting coverage on it. And so that is what he is trying to do right now.

I also will tell you that I know from people who are close to him from his advisers that he's riled up, that he was essentially chomping on the bit before heading down to court on Thursday. He didn't want to be there, but he also was out there putting messages on social media, getting people spun up. And that's part of his playbook too, always trying to control his own media narrative. PHILLIP: It's incredibly risky, it seems to me, that special counsel put a flag down basically saying, you do something, we're going to take it to the courts and see what the judge says.

I do want to get into some of the legal arguments here because John Lauro made a point to do what we call the full Ginsburg here on Sunday morning television. He was everywhere, but this is what he said on STATE OF THE UNION with Dana this morning.


LAURO: You're saying that asking is action. No, asking is aspirational. Asking is not action, it's core free speech.

What president Trump did not do is direct vice president Pence to do anything. He asked him in an aspirational way. Asking is covered by the First Amendment.



PHILLIP: So let me get this straight, if I asked someone to go kill you, I'm good.

WILLIAMS: You're not. And he's got a point insofar as anytime you start dealing with the First Amendment in any criminal context, it becomes a gray area. And you're going to have to litigate that in front of a court, full stop. It's just not straightforward.

When you are engaged in a criminal conspiracy, the statements you make, can further that conspiracy. And the statements you make can be evidence of a crime. So this whole idea that merely because he made statements to or about Mike Pence, that somehow he's now absolved as a criminal defendant is simply not true and doesn't track with the law.

This is the first time he's made that aspirational point. That was the word that nobody but he said it --

PHILLIP: It was an aspirational --


PHILLIP: -- insurrection.

WILLIAMS: They're rolling that one.

MCCABE: Inspirational, say, maybe. Yes. Defendants charged with conspiracy offenses make this argument every day in federal courts around the country. And it always fails. Because speech is a intrinsic piece of that violation, people will come in and say, well, you can't punish me for my speech because it's First Amendment protected. It is not.

There's all kinds of speech that's not First Amendment protected. Defamation is not First Amendment protected. You can't go out and defame people. You can't yell fire in a crowded theater, right? We can't create a danger with your speech. This is the same.

You have to have an agreement and an act in furtherance to be guilty of conspiracy. You can't get an agreement without speaking to someone proposing what you're -- what you're seeking to accomplish. So that's not going to work.

PHILLIP: Well, one other point of this, though, in the indictment, they talk about a lot of things that other people, other co- conspirators like Rudy Giuliani and others did in furtherance of these election lies. Do they have to now go and prove that Trump directed those actions?

MCCABE: If you're linking him to the conspiracy that either he or a co-conspirator directed and engaged in the actions and just sort of to echo Andrew's point, what it is you need an agreement between the parties? They have to both know what they're trying to do. And here, at least as alleged in the indictment, both the former president and the co-conspirators knew they were trying to disrupt the election, and then you need to prove what are called, like he said, those overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy.

So at least it's alleged it's there, it's just a question of what they can get in front of a jury and how successfully they can prove it.

PHILLIP: Yes. One quick thing for you, Kristen. You know, Trump is the type who doesn't write a lot of stuff down. So a lot of this is going to have to hinge on words that he may or may not have said.

HOLMES: That's true. And actually, I was going to say when you talked about the aspirational questions, I would encourage everyone to go back and read some of the January 6 Committee transcripts of aides and advisers who were listening to him at the time and how he aspirationally and I'm putting that in quotes, asked Mike Pence to not certify the election, because those are some of his closest allies still to this day, who did not sound like it was aspirational. It sounded like it was pushed, it was forced.


HOLMES: Now I will say that, as you noted, it is going to be hard because up until he left office, he didn't even text, doesn't do e- mail, doesn't write things down. It is a lot of listening and having other people around him who heard him say things and obviously that in itself is a little bit riskier than seeing something with actual notes.

PHILLIP: And there are, of course, some audio --

HOLMES: Right.

PHILLIP: That we know about. So I will see how that goes. Thank you all for being here, Andrew and Elliot. And, Kristen, stick around for us.

Coming up next, Trump's criminal charges, they keep piling up but so do his good poll numbers. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


PHILLIP: The twice impeached, thrice indicted former president Donald Trump is now boasting to his supporters that the more he gets charged with crimes, the likelier it is that he'll end up back in the White House.


TRUMP: We need one more indictment to close out this election, one more indictment and this election is closed out. Nobody has even a chance.


PHILLIP: He is right in a way that his primary poll numbers continue to climb, one from just this week that came out after the indictment shows that he's -- it's still -- he is still beating his closest competitor, Ron DeSantis, by more than 30 points.

Now, no candidate in recent history with a lead like that has ever gone on to lose the nomination. But no candidate has ever had to campaign with this many ongoing criminal cases either.

Let's discuss all of this and more with our panel, Politico's Alex Isenstadt is here. Catherine Lucey from the Wall Street Journal. Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review. And still with us is Kristen Holmes as well.

This is such an unusual moment for American politics, but certainly for Republican politics. You've got a candidate, three indictments in. There's one coming very soon. There are going to be at least two criminal cases happening during the primary. And yet, he seems to be the runaway favorite for the nomination right now.

ALEX ISENSTADT, POLITICO NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. And look, there's very little question and you saw the numbers that you just pointed to, these indictments are helping Trump in the primary. He's solidifying his lead. He's expanding his lead. And it's hard to see anyone beating him as of right now. Things could change, but he's far ahead.

The different question is going to be, how does this play out next year, these court cases as the primary season gets underway, as we get closer to the convention? How does that impact the calendar? How does the legal calendar impact the political calendar? There are a lot of unknowns but as you say, Trump is ahead by a lot right now in these legal cases. They're helping him solidify his lead.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WALL STREET JOURNAL WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: And he's really using the legal cases as his central argument now, right? You saw that in his comments last night. He is talking about persecution. He is saying they are going after him. He's saying he is fighting for these people, and really framing this in a cultural way. PHILLIP: Yes, let's play which -- before you jump back in, let's play what he said last night.


TRUMP: Every time the radical left Democrats, Marxist, communist, and fascist indict me, I consider it a truly great badge of honor, because I'm being indicted for you. Thanks a lot. Thanks a lot.


They want to take away my freedom because I will never let them take away your freedom.


PHILLIP: Yes. He's making it about them as much as it is about --

LUCEY: It's an us versus them. He is making this -- he is continuing in the divisive politics of trying to really divide people up. And he's -- it's working. You see that when they poll Republican voters, a lot of them agree with them. A lot of people think that these are either they don't believe the charges or the various they think that these prosecutions are politically motivated.


LUCEY: So these arguments really are resonating.

PHILLIP: Yes. The CBS poll that just came out shows among Republicans, 63 percent say that the indictments investigations are an attack on people like me, rather than 21 percent that say it's about upholding the rule of law.

I mean, in that kind of environment, it's -- there's not a lot of wiggle room there for Republican political figures to be on the other side of voters in this context.

RAMESH PONNURU, NATIONAL REVIEW EDITOR: Well, and I think that that is very obviously reflected in the behavior of Republican politicians, including Trump's rivals, who have really been wary of frontally taking him on of even saying things like, you lost the 2020 election. And I think that's one of the reasons they have been struggling because they're in this trap. If they do that, that's going to be unpopular, at least in the short-term.

If they don't do that, then they're not allowed to make the fundamental electability argument, which is this guy's already lost.

PHILLIP: Ron DeSantis tried. Let's put it this way. He tried this week to thread that needle. Here's what he said about the election lies. It's a little bit different from what we've been hearing from him.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): The election is what it is. All those theories that were put out did not prove to be true. But what I've also said is, the way you conduct a good election that people have confidence in, you don't change the rules in the middle of the game. You don't valid harvest. It was not an election that was conducted the way I think we want to, but that's different than saying like Maduro stole votes or something like that. And I think those theories, you know, proved to be unsubstantiated.


PONNURU: So did Trump lose or not?

PHILLIP: Also, yes, I mean, he's like almost there, but not quite going there. I mean, what do you -- what do you make of how effective that is?

PONNURU: I think it has to be more deliberate, overt, and accurate, honest, and truthful. Look, you can't say -- you can't say, well, maybe the election was stolen in 2020, maybe it wasn't. But let's talk about the future. Like if it is actually true, if this false claim were really true then, of course, it's the top issue. You can't pretend it's not the top issue. They are fundamentally DeSantis and others. Unless they take on that argument, they are subverting the rationale for another candidacy.

HOLMES: And DeSantis has been all over the map on this. Even if he comes out now and says, you know, it wasn't stolen and Trump was lying, there's weeks and weeks and weeks of clips of him saying that he would pardon the January 6 rioters, of him saying that, you know, there were irregularities. He changed voting laws in Florida while I was governor, because partly to please these Republicans who believe that the election was stolen.

So, you know, we're at a point now where even if he does shift his stance, even if some of these candidates do, so many of them have gotten out there saying that all of this is not about election fraud, even if they -- you know, even if they're saying that it's -- you know, this case is not going to trial, they're blaming the DOJ, they're saying that they're -- you know, there are problems with the election. So they've gotten out there. I don't know how they come back from that.


LUCEY: So those who have occasionally tried to go after Trump or criticize Trump have been treated so negatively by Republican base voters. We saw that in Iowa with Hurd who was booed at an event when he criticized Trump. So they're just -- there isn't an audience for it, which makes it, your point, very difficult.

PHILLIP: So, Alex, DeSantis is trying to make Iowa really his -- this is not an uncommon thing, right, for candidates. They want to make Iowa their place. But look at the latest Iowa polling from the New York Times/Siena, it has Donald Trump up by 24 points. DeSantis really kind of just stuck where he is.

Now the question I would ask you is, what is he doing to change the narrative? But it seems like the answer is this, he's talking to or planning to talk to the California Governor Gavin Newsom, debating him, putting out flyers. Help me explain the strategy.

ISENSTADT: Well, look, here's the thing. As Gavin Newsom has emerged as a -- as a favorite punching bag of conservatives of Republicans. And so what DeSantis is trying to do is he's trying to turn Newsom into a foil in hopes of somehow parlaying that into higher poll numbers in a place like Iowa, where you're right -- he's putting all his eggs in that Iowa basket.

The problem with this kind of thing is it looks a little bit like a stunt, right? And if he somehow loses to Newsom was pretty good on his feet, then that could be bad for DeSantis if he falls short in that debate. It could look embarrassing to him it's on Fox News. So, you know, there is -- there's potential reward in it's for DeSantis, but there's also plenty of risk


LUCEY: Folks around DeSantis also will say that -- in addition to these efforts with Newsom, he is spending a lot of time in Iowa. He is trying to grind it out. He is trying to hit all the counties. He's doing the small bowl events that one does when you go there. So far, your point is not really showing up in a big move in the polling, but they think there's time if they really focus --


LUCEY: -- there to make that kind of move there --

PHILLIP: This week -- yes. And this week, there was yet another top donor of DeSantis' who came out and said, I'm hitting the pause button. This is Robert Bigelow, a hotel entrepreneur, he says, he does need to shift to get moderates, he'll lose if he doesn't. Extremism isn't going to get you elected."

This is -- I think he is the largest single donor to one of DeSantis' super PACs.

PONNURU: Yes. So Republican voters have often been pulled over the years, and asked how they describe themselves moderate, conservative, et cetera. Typically, the -- in the middle of the Republican Party are the people who call themselves somewhat conservative, not very conservative. And it does seem as though DeSantis has been over concentrating on the very conservative voters, not on the somewhat conservative or the moderates.

And I think that is one of the reasons he's in trouble because a lot of those very conservative voters are with Trump.


HOLMES: And I've written a lot about this in terms of like DeSantis wanting to run to the right of Trump when it comes to abortion, when it comes to COVID. And when I talked to Trump's advisors, they essentially say like, go ahead. We'd love that. You know, we know that our base who is right is going to vote for us anyway. And then if you want to run to the right of us, we actually believe that the party is here on some of these issues.

PHILLIP: Yes, exactly. I think they're playing a very interesting game here that's putting DeSantis in a tough spot.

Everyone standby for us. Coming up next, Trump's old friend becomes his newest foe. Imagine criticism from his former VP, that's next.



PHILLIP: We've never seen a political spat quite like this one. Before he took the stage in South Carolina last night Donald Trump took aim at his former Vice President Mike Pence in a scathing truth social post. He called Pence delusional and not a very good person. He also denied the conversation cited in the January 6 indictment, during which he allegedly called Mike Pence, "too honest" for refusing to overturn the election.

Now Pence has been anything but quiet about the chargers. He's been on camera all week criticizing his former running mate in the most blatant way we've seen from him yet.


MIKE PENCE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Anyone who puts themselves over the constitution should never be President of the United States. Let's be clear on this point, it wasn't just to ask for a pause, the President specifically asked me on his gaggle of -- of crackpot lawyers asked me to literally reject votes.

President Trump was wrong then and he's wrong now.


PHILLIP: A gaggle of crackpot lawyers. I mean, that's for Pence, that's pretty strong language about an issue that honestly he has wanted to just sidestep.

HOLMES: That's true. And I think that by far, this is the furthest we've seen him go. But in addition to that, we were told by Pence advisors early on that this was something that they would feel happy to debate in public that they believe Pence was on the right side of this. And if it comes up time and time again, they will continue to say that.

I do think it's been harder than they anticipated. I think that the crowds, he's been getting into spats with others, supporters of Trump at these different town halls, people saying that he's a traitor that you should have done that. I think it is harder to sell that message. And now we're seeing him kind of respond to that by getting stronger in his language.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and he's selling these T-shirts and hats that say, too honest, to reference to what we were just talking about in the intro there.

ISENSTADT: Yeah. So here's the central challenge that that Pence has faced is that it's hard for him to appeal to the Trump base for obvious reasons. And it's hard for him to appeal to people in the party who don't like Trump because he served as Trump's VP. So what Pence is now trying to do is he's really trying to lean in on what he did on January 6, he's going all in on that, in hopes of winning a slice of the Republican electorate that he hopes will be enough in some of these primary states.

PHILLIP: One of the -- I mean, Kristen, you mentioned this, it's -- it's hard, not just because of the reception that he's getting from Republicans, but just because Mike Pence also hasn't actually been willing to go that extra next step. This is what he said to Dana Bash this morning, when asked a very important question.


DANA BASH, CNN HOST: You can say right here that you will rule out voting for Donald Trump again for president?

PENCE: Dana, I will tell you, I don't think we'll have to make that decision.

BASH: What if he do?

PENCE: I'm confident, I'll be able to support the Republican nominee, especially if it's me.


PHILLIP: This is a pretty fundamental issue.

LUCEY: Yeah, he completely sidestep that and it speaks, I think broadly to another tension for Pence this whole time, which is he is talking about January 6, and being clear about what he did then. But he also still wants to run on what he calls the Trump-Pence administration, and the accomplishments that he wants to talk about from when he served as vice president. And so it is a perhaps impossible line to walk but what he is trying to balance at the moment.

PONNURU: I mean, there's another point that we -- we sort of take for granted, which is that this is such a Trump centric race. And it's not just that he's leading in the polls. It's also that he's leading in the attention economy. And, you know, Mike Pence made a statement about defense spending yesterday, nobody's paying any attention to that. We -- he is in the news when he criticizes Trump.

Now, I think that it makes a certain amount of sense, as we've been talking about for him to lean into that because January 6, 2021, was constitutionally morally and even dramatically, the high point of Pence's career and maybe this isn't going to work for him but if it works at all. This is the way it's going to work.

[11:35:05] PHILLIP: At the end of the day this has been a week of us hearing from Trump's former employees. His former allies, Mike Pence is only one of them, Bill Barr was also out today, too. And the strength of these indictments, whether it's the January 6 hearings or the indictment in -- that we just saw this past week is in all of these people who used to work for Trump, and he tries to discredit them. But will that work?

HOLMES: It hasn't yet. I mean, it works to discredit them. It hasn't yet for those allies and advisers to actually make an impact on the Republican voters. I mean, there is a way that Donald Trump has and messaging and his team has as well as selling this as the deep state, oh, these were mistake hires. And they were part of this deep state establishment. And now of course, they're coming out against me, and they want this, you know, me to go down, or I fired him, or I never told him anything. And now he's mad at me. And that is the messaging he portrays out to voters. And that's also what they receive. And I do want to note, one thing about Pence because I think this is so important. In 2016, he was brought on to Donald Trump's ticket, in part to help secure Republican voters, evangelicals, more traditional conservatives.

Now, we're talking about somebody who seems to almost not have a place in the Republican Party, which is just striking, when you think about what has happened since 2016, to now.

PHILLIP: Struggling to even hit like the 5% mark in some of these polls.

Ramesh, before we go, I want to talk about something you wrote today about Republicans in the Senate, bringing us essentially to this point by failing to convict Trump. Mitch McConnell back in 2021, I'll just say what he said. I mean, he said that this was the domain of the criminal system, was he wrong?

PONNURU: Well, you know, we're going to see whether the criminal justice system can hold him or should hold him accountable based on, you know, evidence we don't have yet. But I would say that it wasn't just a criminal justice matter. It was also a matter of high constitutional politics. And the impeachment process is in the Constitution, to stop high officials who are abusing their power. And for one reason or another, a lot of Senate Republicans found excuses not to do that. And one of them was he's just going to fade away on his own. This is over what's the point of doing this? And I think we can now say definitively that was obviously mistaken.

PHILLIP: Yeah. And to your point, the impeachment process is actually designed to cover things that maybe fall short of the criminal bar of beyond a reasonable doubt. And that's may very well be, we're somewhere between that, right, with these accusations that he's facing.

But everyone, once again, standby. We have a lot more to discuss. Coming up next, if you think that Donald Trump can't be beat Joe Biden in that can't beat Joe Biden in a general election rematch, well, think again.



PHILLIP: Top economists at the big Wall Street banks now say that they were wrong to predict a recession this year. In fact, by any objective measure, the economy is growing, inflation is falling. But Americans still don't see it that way. According to a new CNN poll, three- quarters say that the economy is in poor shape. And 6 in 10 say the President Biden has done a bad job of handling it. So why has he had such a tough time turning those numbers around? Well, here's Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan in an interview last week with our friend Jeff Zeleny.


GOV. GRETCHEN WHITMER, (D) MICHIGAN: People are feeling pretty optimistic, but they're tentative. I think you can tell from my own voice -- I'm -- I use the word precarious. I think we've been through a lot these last few years. I think we've been through a lot and people are somewhat optimistic, but worried that perhaps there's a curveball coming?


PHILLIP: Yeah. And, you know, there isn't a possibility of an economic curveball for sure in this economy. I think it would be a mistake for any president to be overly confident. But I think the undercurrent also of what's happening among Democrats is just some political nervousness too. Just a few minutes ago, Congressman Dean Phillips of Minnesota was on the morning shows and he's been rumored to be considering a primary of President Biden. Listen to what he said.


REP. DEAN PHILLIPS, (D) MINNESOTA: Yeah, I think I'm well positioned to be President of the United States.


D. PHILLIPS: I do not believe I'm well positioned to run for it right now. People who are should jump in because we need to meet the moment. The moment is now. That is what the country is asking.


PHILLIP: That's very interesting. I mean, he's obviously not ruling it out. But what's happening here? I mean, are Democrats really considering trying to challenge Biden for the nomination?

ISENSTADT: Doesn't seem like it's a serious consideration right now. But it's definitely in the back of their minds, especially if you consider seeing some of these poll numbers that have come out over the last week. Biden is not a slam dunk over Donald Trump, right? This is the -- if you look at the general election numbers right now, this is a pretty close race. And if you somehow seeing start to see Biden start to fall behind that drumbeat that you just saw, it might get a little bit louder, things could start to change a little bit.

PHILLIP: And meanwhile, if you're the Biden White House and the Biden campaign, what you're running on is the infrastructure bill. You're -- you're basically letting the Republicans kind of do their thing, but running on kind of the money that is being doled out around the country. And Biden, almost -- it's almost humorous actually. Earlier this week, one of our photographers caught him on his family vacation asked him about Trump's arraignment and indictment and this was their response.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, will you -- you'll be following the arraignment today, sir?



PHILLIP: He is literally just chilling as all of this is happening.

LUCEY: Yeah, he did just spend a week at the beach in Delaware. But this is also consistent he has avoided weighing in on Trump's legal issues entirely, he doesn't want to suggest any way that he is politicizing the process. And they really do think that it is better to show him acting as president, while all the Republican sort of drama plays out.


But to your earlier point, the big thing they're trying to do and so far hasn't really broken through is he is traveling the country, as is the vice president as his cabinet, hammering people about the projects that have been done, the bridges that are being built the roads that are being fixed other infrastructure projects, in an effort to really boost enthusiasm for this economy. And this President, and their theory of the case is that this is going to help and this is going to work. And obviously we haven't seen advertising for the campaign yet. But so far, his numbers are not great. And that is a problem.

PHILLIP: Yeah, those numbers as both you and Alex discuss New York Times/Siena poll of a sort of general election matchup just finds it tied, essentially. I mean, but at the same time, I mean, this is a divided country, and you're not going to have slam dunk presidential races. In fact, Biden's victory over Trump in 2020, was by historical margins in recent years, a pretty wide victory.


PHILLIP: And it was a small one.

HOLMES: It was. It was, and I think that a couple of notes to make here. One is when we talk about them trying to sell the economy and not making any kind of inroads just yet. I think that it's just really early to see if this economic argument works. I mean, we're not going -- Americans have a short memory, if it's the summer, but before the election, and everyone feels like they're flush with cash and going on their vacations and haven't been strapped, we could be looking at a very different search for Biden.

However, I will say what I think is so fascinating about these polls is that Biden's entire argument and visors around him allies was that, well, I can win slam dunk if Donald Trump is the GOP nominee, and they really believe that. And now when you're seeing these polls come out, that is where it's starting to get a little bit dicey for them because they believe OK, well, I'm not sure if that's going to work for all GOP contenders like I, you know, we know that he hasn't been the most popular president, however, with Donald Trump if he's the nominee, OK, this is great for us. Well, now, there are questions about that when you see these recent polls.

PONNURU: Yeah, I do think, though, that the contrast between Biden talking about the economy, and Trump talking about Jack Smith, and how allegedly deranged he is, is one that works for Biden. We keep talking about all of these indictments and legal troubles helping Trump and it's true in the Republican primary. It's not necessarily true with the general electorate, where it reinforces I think, his persistent unpopularity, if Biden has a good economy, if these very recent trends of rising wages, wages that are rising faster than bills continues, then Biden, I think, would be in a strong position, if it doesn't, different story.

PHILLIP: So Biden also ran in 2020, on the soul of the nation on restoring, basically Democracy in America. Here's what a couple of really esteemed historians have said about this particular political moment that we could be facing as a nation.


DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: This really is a test now of democracy. I know that all sounds so abstract, but as I say, democracy is so simple. You have to accept that the people who lose accept the loss.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: This is one of those moments that you realize in the positive that our judicial system is working, on the other hand, how close we came to having a kind of coup d'etat fascist dictatorship.


PHILLIP: And if you're President Biden, then you could be facing Trump again, that really tees up that argument yet again.

LUCEY: Yeah, you're going to see an economic argument and an argument about democracy from this campaign for this President. And I think that was clear when he announced his campaign when you notice he's running for re-election. The announcement video was focused on threats to people's freedoms, threats to voting rights, threats to democracy threats to abortion access. You saw them making these arguments about protecting our democracy during the midterm campaign. So you're going to continue to hear that from them. PHILLIP: Yeah. All right, everyone. Thanks so much for being here with us. And coming up next, a heartbreaker for the U.S. women's soccer team will have the details, next.



PHILLIP: It was a disappointing end for the U.S. women's national team as they attempted to take down Sweden this morning in the World Cup match. The U.S. put up a big fight the game after several rounds of penalty kicks, but ultimately they couldn't close the deal. CNN's Carolyn Manno was up bright and early basically overnight to watch the game. So Carolyn, just a tough loss for Megan Rapinoe career which really is ending after this.

CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, she is stepping away on the international stage. And she knew that this was going to be her last go around heading in. And I think with where this team was there were some question marks about what they were actually going to be able to pull off, no team had pulled off this three P that a World Cup that they were going for. And she said in many ways that she's ready to be done, and that she's looking forward to stepping away to this next chapter of her life that she'd made peace with that before this World Cup. But that doesn't mean that this particular ending isn't really going to sting, especially for a player like Megan Rapinoe, everything that we know about her, her competitive spirit, her drive, she is a player that relishes big moments and opportunities to be a star and we've seen her do that on the world stage time and time again step into these big moments. So to be in a position to have a penalty kick that would go down in history and so you have another opportunity, you know towards the end of the game where she was right five feet out of position to be the hero. I think it's going to be difficult because of who she is but she was emotional after the match. We want to play for you a little bit of what she had to say.



MEGAN RAPINOE, PLAYED FINAL GAME FOR USA: I know it's the end and that said but, you know, to know that this is really the only time I've been in one of these, this early, you know, so much about how much -- how much success I've been able to have and just how much I've loved playing for this team and playing for this country. And, yeah, it's been an honor.


MANNO: Abby, the bigger story here is her contributions to the game overall, part of the reason why the U.S. women are in this position exiting a major international tournament this early for the first time ever is because all of the other Federation's around the world have watched their example. And they've caught up, teams like Sweden and other teams that we've seen throughout the tournament. They're getting better and better. And they've used the United States women's team as that sort of beacon of light that guiding path to how they grow their programs. And so a really sad ending for Megan Rapinoe, but certainly not definitive of what her legacy will ultimately be.

PHILLIP: Oh, absolutely not. And she remains a hero to so many young women and girls. Carolyn Manno, thank you very much.

And that is it for us here on Inside Politics Sunday. Coming up next, State of the Union with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Thank you again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. Have a great day.