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Inside Politics

Biden Heads West to Try and Bolster Climate Credentials; Special Counsel Secured Search Warrant for Trump's Twitter; Trump Attacks Fulton County DA During New Hampshire Rally as He Faces Potential Fourth Indictment in a Matter of Days; Rep. Adam Smith Shares His Experience With Mental Illness in His New Book. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired August 09, 2023 - 12:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: And as I bring you in on this, I just want you to look at the latest from "The Washington Post" where Democrats and independents are on how he has handled climate change. Democrats said -- only 22 percent disapprove, 74 percent approve. Independents, 59 disapprove, 40 percent approve. What does that tell you about the potency of this issue and how people think he is doing?

MARIO PARKER, NATIONAL POLITICS TEAM LEADER, BLOOMBERG: No. Well, the problem, of course, as you mentioned, is with the independents and (inaudible) key, as Nia-Malika mentioned, those key young voters as well. We have seen him kind of haunted by this issue for the better part of this year. Last month, I was with him in Chicago, it's a rollout (ph) Bidenomics and there was nothing but the smell of like ash in the air from the Canadian wildfires.

Before that, the White House correspondents' dinner was interrupted by climate activists as well. It kind of shows just how hamstrung he is here. Yesterday, the government forecast the crude oil production in the U.S. will hit a record, right? So, it's the realities, as Nia- Malika said -- it's the realities of knowing that voters are price sensitive, particularly to energy prices, but then there's this aspiration from younger voters on getting anything done with the green (ph) in climate.

BASH: And part of the challenge also is that, I mentioned sort of the economy versus climate, the White House and most Democrats argue that you can marry the two. You can help to gin up the economy by doing production for electric vehicles and things along that nature. A lot of that was in the Inflation Reduction Act, but it's called the Inflation Reduction Act, it's not called Climate Crisis Act. And so, it's probably not a surprise that if you look at polling there, 71 percent of people say that they don't know much about what's in the Inflation Reduction Act. So, that's why the president is trying to do the sales job.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. And I think that he has a heavy lift right now. I mean, looked at his approval ratings among Democrats, young voters, and there is a lack of enthusiasm. And they do need him to be able to sell himself. Now, I do think -- again, going back to our beginning conversation, abortion is something that is clearly rallying Democrats and young voters. I don't know what if he -- if possible, he can do to kind of turn this part of his record around to make that his selling point.

BASH: OK. Everybody stand by because we are going to take a quick break and on the other side, we are going to bring you new details on the Special Counsel Investigation into the former president.



BASH: Just in, a newly unsealed court document gives us a clue about how the Special Counsel built the case around Donald Trump. We're back at the table with our legal team starting with you, Katelyn Polantz. You have been reading through this. What can you tell us?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR REPORTER, CRIME AND JUSTICE: I have. So we just got this court decision from the D.C. Circuit, the appeals court. It was a case that was under seal, very curious what it was. And now, we know it was a case between the Special Counsel's office, the people investigating January 6th and Donald Trump, and Twitter. And what happened was, in January, the Special Counsel investigators went to Twitter and they said, "We have a search warrant, and we would like data and records related to Donald Trump's Twitter account @realDonaldTrump."

At that time, they didn't comply right away. Twitter had had some sort of hiccups. They took a little bit of time. They faced a fine of $350,000 for delaying producing those records. And then why this ended up in court is because the Justice Department didn't want Twitter to tell Donald Trump that they were seeking this information and they won that ability not to have Twitter disclose to Donald Trump, the client of Twitter, right, as the account holder that the search was going to be taking place of his Twitter account, and the reason is really interesting.

It's outlined here in the court that they went before -- the Special Counsel office went before, believed that there was reasonable grounds to say that if they were to tell Donald Trump they were doing this search on his Twitter account, it could seriously jeopardize the ongoing investigation. He could potentially want to destroy evidence, change patterns of behavior, or "notify confederates."

There's also a footnote about how there was a discussion of whether he might flee from prosecution if he knew the search was being discussed. The Justice Department ultimately walked that back, but that was something that the judge also had to look at. Would Donald Trump flee?


BASH: Because they wanted to look at his Twitter? OK.


What do you make of this given your experience as a prosecutor? SHAN WU, CNN LEGAL ANALYST AND FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I was just reading...

BASH: ...and defense attorney.

WU: Yeah. Just reading that opinion. My first thought was that it would have been better if Elon Musk had not fired his entire legal team.


They might have done better.

BASH: They wouldn't have been fined.

WU: Right. They wouldn't have been fined, exactly. It's interesting because Musk says he is an advocate of absolutist (ph) in terms of free speech and one of his arguments is that they had a right to talk about this, they shouldn't be stopped from talking about it. But the opinion, the original court ruling is very sound because there's a procedure when you ask a (inaudible) a recipient of the subpoena not to disclose that information. From an evidentiary standpoint, they are looking at this because if they need those kinds of tweets as part of their case, they need access to the original tweets.

BASH: OK. Can I ask you a question that perhaps is an ignorant one? What do they need to get from his Twitter account that we all didn't see in public on his Twitter account? Meaning like, Twitter is by nature public. Do we know the answer to that yet?

POLANTZ: I haven't gotten to the part of reading...



POLANTZ: ...the 34-page opinion. It just came out.


BASH: Or maybe it's because his Twitter account was cancelled. So it wasn't all...

WU: Yeah, right.

POLANTZ: (Inaudible) says you have to have the evidence...

BASH: Yeah.

WU: Right.

POLANTZ: have some sort of integrity to it. And so they do have to get it from Twitter itself. They can't just get it from the Internet (inaudible).

BASH: I see. WU: Right, they can't just take screenshots.

BASH: That makes sense.

POLANTZ: ...or in public statements. But (inaudible).

BASH: You're quite familiar with Donald Trump's -- the account formerly known as Donald Trump's Twitter account.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I think I still have nightmares about it.


Yeah, I mean obviously, he's a prolific poster. We know that there are posts that were around January 6th. Like, "Be there, it will be wild" that prosecutors were very interested in. It's still amusing to me the notion that they somehow thought that trying to get access to his subpoena account or to his Twitter account was what was going to make him flee because it's not like Donald Trump did not realize he was the center of a pretty hefty investigation.

BASH: Yeah.

MURRAY: It also makes you wonder, where is he going to flee to? Like his golf course in Scotland and then just never come back? So that strikes me as a little curious.

BASH: OK. Let's turn to what is happening in Georgia, or what we believe will be happening in Georgia shortly. And that is potentially a fourth indictment. This, of course, on the state level. I want to play what Donald Trump said at a campaign event in New Hampshire about this yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I'm sorry. I won't be able to go to Iowa today. I won't be able to go to New Hampshire today because I'm sitting in a courtroom on bullshit because his Attorney General charged me with something.

I probably have another one. They say there's a young woman, a young racist in Atlanta. I say racist and this is a person that wants to indict me. She's got a lot of problems. But she wants to indict me to try and run for some other office.


BASH: Fani Willis, he's speaking about, who is African-American.

MURRAY: Yeah, I mean he has called her racist before. The attorney's office is aware of it, and they sort of brush it off until it rises to an actual threat against her which she has been getting a lot of. And you know, we have already seen the sort of security being ramped up around the courthouse. We expect that she's going to start making her presentation before a Grand Jury next week in this sprawling investigation involving Donald Trump, involving many of his allies who tried to overturn the election in Georgia. And she's already lining up these witnesses not because she needs new information from them. They have all testified before the Special Grand Jury. Prosecutors know what they are going to say. But she want them there to help craft this narrative around what actually transpired around the 2020 election, what people were doing to try to overturn it as she goes to this Grand Jury and ask for indictment.

BASH: And Shan, obviously, what her argument is going to be, assuming she indicts, is that he, the former president, then sitting president broke state laws in Georgia. The defense is almost certainly going to say, the Trump defense, you don't have jurisdiction to do this. Do you expect it to go through the federal courts, maybe even to the Supreme Court to help answer that?

WU: I think he will try to do that. There's some potential procedural obstacles to that when you're trying to challenge the state court's ruling. I mean, jurisdiction in courts generally always have to consider. I don't think it's a strong argument. I think she is -- the Georgia prosecutor, wouldn't she have jurisdiction over it? So, I don't think that's really going to go any place but that could be an argument that they will make.

BASH: Yeah. We're going to see all of the arguments when we believe it's going to come soon-ish.

MURRAY: Soon, next week.

BASH: Next week. All right. Thank you so much for that. Thanks for the breaking news.

Coming up, a new candid, incredibly raw memoir about a secret struggle with crippling anxiety and mental health issues, from a member of Congress. I'm going to talk to him next.



BASH: And now, a step outside politics for a really important conversation addressing mental health. It's estimated that more than one in five adults live with mental health illnesses. And yet, many Americans are reluctant to address it and seek help. One way to combat the stigma is to talk about it. And it's what Representative Adam Smith of Washington is trying to do now. The congressman details his personal battle with mental health in his new book "Lost and Broken: My Journey Back from Chronic Pain and Crippling Anxiety." And he joins me now.

Congressman, thank you so much for doing this. This is an incredibly raw account. You start the book talking about an example of not being able to get out of bed. I'm sure that happened to you a lot in your life. I want to read one of the excerpts about this anxiety. You said, "The effects of the anxiety itself were bad enough -- constant, existential fear coursing through my body, an almost complete inability to sleep, so stressed that I could only just barely force myself to eat. But more than anything, I had no idea whatsoever how this had happened or what I could do about it. I felt like I was stumbling around in absolute darkness, completely unable to see, with something or somebody whacking me in the head with a blunt object every few seconds -- blows I never saw coming." Wow!

REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA): Yeah, now, it's a difficult situation a lot of people get into it. I just wanted to do this, so that we could have more open and public conversation about it. Because ultimately, what I found out in the book is you can find help. There is actually some rational reasoning behind where anxiety and depression come from. And you can get better if you understand that.


As I described there, I didn't have that understanding when this started. So I'm hopeful that by telling my story and opening up the dialog, that can help some people go, "Gosh, I'm experiencing that." And yes, there's a path to actually getting treatment and getting better.

BASH: At one point, you talk about going to picking up your medication, again, it was striking the way that you detailed your vulnerability and your candor. I'll read some of what you wrote. "I picked them up with a sense of shame more in line with somebody trying score heroin in a back alley. What if the pharmacist recognized me? He knew what these pills were for? I'd be outed as a mental patient, and I didn't want that label. I also, without giving the matter much thought, concluded my career would be over. Voters, I figured, wouldn't want to be represented by somebody with a debilitating mental illness."

Congressman, I remember when the late Senator Harry Reid testified about his struggles with mental health. It was a unique time, it was a big deal. You go very deep and very detailed here.

SMITH: Yeah. I think that's certainly a big part of the challenge. And for me, it was a couple of different layers to this. I mean, obviously, one big one was it would fundamentally change the way people perceived me. And I was worried about that, certainly worried about my job, but also I think a lot of people are worried about the relationships in their lives. What would their friends, families, co- workers think about them if this comes out. And that restricts them from seeking help.

But the other big thing that was happening to me was, I just -- I didn't understand what mental illness was. I've never been educated about it. And mostly, I just thought if you have it, there's really nothing that can be done about it. I describe it to people as saying, I think that in my mind, there was this imaginary line, either normal or you are crazy, all right? And you want to stay on the normal side of that line. OK? So, I couldn't possibly have a mental health issue, because if I had a mental health issue, that meant I was crazy and I didn't want to be that. That's not the way it works.

There are multiple layers that contribute to anxiety and depression. And certainly, people have more cases than others, but there are basics to how you can protect your mental health that can help you deal with these problems. So, we need to, as I said, remove the stigma and let people know that help does exist.

BASH: And what about now? As you write this in such a detailed way, are you worried your friends and family or people you know in your life -- are you worried about the way your constituents are going to perceive you? Or are you hoping that in 2023 things are different now?

SMITH: Yeah. I'm not worried about it. I can't say for sure whether or not some people will judge me ill or not. I just know that personally I'm not worried about it, because I did 3.5 years' worth of psychotherapy and I'm very comfortable in who I am.

And I understand that people are occasionally going to perceive you negatively.

BASH: Yeah.

SMITH: Certainly in either one of our professions. But I think just in general life, and that's OK. All right? I understand my mind and I understand my body better, so I'm not as worried about that. But it was -- it took a long journey to get to that point of being comfortable with who I am.

BASH: And you detail that. Another really important point that you raise in this book is the way that these unspoken, undiagnosed mental health issues permeate everyday life, and in our society writ large. You write, "I used to have a simple, straightforward thought when I witnessed somebody having this type of disagreeable, angry reaction" -- taking about when you saw somebody at the TSA line or somebody else acting angry, you wrote "what a jackass. Now, after my own struggles with this mental illness and pain, I far more often wonder what is going with this excessively angry person? What might be going on in the person's life right now that could be causing it?" What an important way to approach life and to approach civil society?

SMITH: Yeah. Well, and this is what's really important. So -- and this is the other step. So dealing with the stigma of mental health, dealing with the reluctance of people to seek help for themselves is incredibly important. And getting an understanding of who are and what basic mental health is, your sense of your own self-worth, dealing with whatever traumas you dealt with in your life, learning how to better handle the emotions that come to you. All of that is very important. But ultimately, what gets you to the point where you are better and where society is better is to understand how all of those things affect other people.

Mental health cannot just be navel-gazing about yourself. It has to have an understanding of the people around you and that's -- yes, it helps society without question.

BASH: Right.

SMITH: But also, it helps people deal with their own mental health issues much better.


BASH: Congressman, thank you so much for sharing your story. It's really important. A reminder, the Congressman's book is called "Lost and Broken: My Journey Back from Chronic Pain and Crippling Anxiety." It's in stores and online. And an important note to our audience, if you or someone you love are experiencing mental health issues, visit for confidential help and resources.

Thank you so much for joining "Inside Politics." "CNN News Central" starts right now.