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Trump Expected To Skip Debate For Tucker Carlson Interview; Trump: "Sick People" Are Behind My Indictments; Hilary Weakens To Tropical Storm As It Nears California; Trump Trials Could Overshadow Key Primary Contests; Biden Launches $25M Ad Buy In Battleground States; Economy Top Of Mind For Biden Amid Reelection Campaign; Potential 2024 Gop Rivals Attack Biden Over Inflation; Storm Threatens Catastrophic Flooding In Southern Ca; Giuliani Struggling To Pay Massive Legal. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired August 20, 2023 - 11:00   ET




PAULA REID, CNN HOST: A fourth indictment for the Republican frontrunner.


REID: The ex-president prepares to surrender while his GOP rivals prepared to debate. Will Trump's absence give any of his rivals a chance to emerge?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You're there and you'll be able to tell people why you do a good job as being the next president of the United States.

REID: Plus, President Biden celebrates the anniversary of his signature economic bill.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This law is one of the biggest drivers of jobs and economic growth this country has ever seen.

REID: So why does so few Americans know anything about it?

And the tragedy of Rudy Giuliani.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER DONALD TRUMP ATTORNEY: Never been thought of my whole life I get indicted for being a fearsome, intrepid, creative, advocate.

REID: How Americans may or transform into a conspiracy theorist and criminal defendant.


REID: Good morning and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY, I'm Paula Reid.

There are 148 days between now and the first votes being cast in the race for the Republican presidential nomination. And this week could prove pivotal for those candidates trying to win it.

On Wednesday in Milwaukee, the first GOP debate. At least eight candidates will be on that stage. Asa Hutchinson is the latest to make the cut. He told CNN State of the Union this morning that he hit the RNC's donor requirements.

But the elephant who won't be in the room, the far and away frontrunner, Donald Trump. Sources familiar with his plans tell CNN that he will skip the debate and will instead sit for an interview with Tucker Carlson.

Here's why, he's got a huge lead and says it's just not worth it for him to be there. In fact, a new poll this morning from CBS has him up nearly 50 points. Trump's top rivals though, say he still owes it to voters to show up.


DESANTIS: Answer questions about your record and decisions that you may have made or not made. And if you're not willing to do that, then I think that people are not going to look kindly on that.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think every one of us would have qualified for that debate stage ought to be on the stage, be willing to square off, answer the tough questions, and also draw a bright line contrast.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's a coward. There's no other conclusion to come to that he's both afraid of me, and he's afraid of defending his record.


REID: Without Trump on the stage, DeSantis will be the highest polling candidate on the stage. He said yesterday that he expects to be a punching bag.


DESANTIS: When you're over the target, that's when you're taking flak. And if you look really in the last six to nine months, I've been more attack than anybody else.

We view it as positive feedback. We'll be ready to do what we need to do to deliver our message, but we absolutely expect that and we'll be ready for it.


REID: Let's discuss all of this and more with our amazing panel, starting with Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report, and CNN's David Chalian, and, of course, CNN's Jeff Zeleny.


All right, Amy, I want to start with you. Of course, Trump has always wanted a crowded field, because that makes it harder for too much support to gather around one individual, nearly nine candidates on that stage. Is that a win for him?

AMY WALTER, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, COOK POLITICAL REPORT: And yet in the poll that we have been just talking about, he's at 62 percent. There's not enough other vote there to consolidate. And that's been the problem all along. There's been Donald Trump and then in second place, for now, has been Ron DeSantis.

But there was a point he was within maybe 10 points, and now that has faded. So really the question coming out of this debate is, does somebody now become a clear second place challenger out of this field? Is it still Ron DeSantis or has somebody else come and taken that from him?

REID: And, Jeff, with Asa Hutchinson now going to be on the stage, he is now going to be, along with Chris Christie, the two sort of anti- Trump candidates, how does that change the dynamic?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, I think it certainly amplifies the voices at least that Chris Christie will be arguing that these indictments should be taken seriously, that the former president is not fit for office. But beyond that, I'm not sure it makes all that much of a difference.

But look, Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, has been out there toiling away, probably holding as many events or more than any other of his rivals. So getting this threshold, hitting the donors is a big deal for him.

And look, I think that we have to acknowledge that this is the first real big moment of this Republican primary. Up until now, most people have not been paying all that much attention of voters at large. So this does offer an opportunity for someone to gain some attention. It's the biggest platform for them so far.

So if you're not on stage, you're effectively on the sidelines of this race. That's just how it goes with so many candidates. So it's an opportunity for them but it's very crowded.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And that same CBS poll shows Republican voters are very interested in showing up to watch this debate to learn their choices. They -- it also showed they are eager to hear the candidates not named Trump to make a case for themselves.

What they are not eager to hear is for the candidates not named Trump to take on Donald Trump throughout the entirety of that debate. That doesn't sit so well with them. And it was taken before he announced, but three quarters of them want to see Donald Trump on the debate stage. So he's not being there will also be an interesting dynamic for voters as they assess a field without him. REID: That's a great point. And, of course, the other -- the only front runner than the who would be there. I mean, technical front runner, DeSantis. He had another embarrassing moment this week for his campaign. The New York Times posting, the strategy memos, basically releasing their entire game plan. So let's take a listen to what Chris Christie said about this.


CHRISTIE: It's not easy to run for president, everybody. And if you can't run for president in a way that doesn't create embarrassing process stories, you know, multiple times a week, you certainly can't run the White House and run the federal government or be trusted to sit across from President Xi or Vladimir Putin, or Kim Jong Un.


REID: Embarrassing process stories. Is there anything worse? I mean, does he -- does he have a point?

RAMESH PONNURU, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, I think he may have taken it a little bit far with the Kim Jong Un part.

Look, I think that the only good thing about that embarrassing process story is that it distracted from the embarrassing substance story, which was the content of the memo was not especially compelling either. And I think it also points to a structural problem, which is this campaign is so heavily super PAC based, that is the DeSantis campaign, so little of it is based on the actual DeSantis campaign. And that's why you have this situation where the strategy has to be leaked, so the candidate can look at it.

WALTER: But it's also emblematic of the fact that this campaign, from the very beginning, has struggled to figure out, what is its message? I mean, at the end of '22 -- 2022 was a pretty clear message of, I'm the electable guy, I'm the winner, he's a loser, and then it became, well, now I'm the -- I'm the woke guy and now it's -- actually, I'm the woke guy, and also, I can be a winner and Trump is what -- wait what? What am I supposed to be saying again now? I got to go after Ramaswamy.

So it just goes to the heart of really at its core that DeSantis' biggest problem is that he does not have a message that is very clear to voters who may be looking for an alternative, but he hasn't given them a --

ZELENY: It started out as Florida. It was Florida, Florida, Florida, Florida --

WALTER: Oh, great. That is right.

ZELENY: And then it quickly became clear. But a lot of governors, I think, experienced, when they run for president, that voters on the national stage aren't electing the president of Florida. So he's kind of moved beyond that. I think the question hanging over Governor DeSantis, can he sort of end the summer, showing that he has learned to be a better candidate? And we don't know the answer to that question. He's been doing a lot of batting practice out there also holding a ton of campaign events in Iowa and then New Hampshire, so we will see if he becomes a better candidate at the end of the summer.


But Wednesday, boy, so much pressure is on him from his donors, to his family, perhaps, and on just -- on his own ability to perform. And we don't know.

PONNURU: And he's right that he's going to be taking a lot of flak. Because if you're trying to assemble a coalition --

ZELENY: Or knock it down.

PONNURU: -- that includes Trump year and anti-Trump year voters. That means every other candidate has an incentive to poach some of your voters by attacking --

CHALIAN: He also has this impossible task now because he says -- he hasn't read this memo of strategy. And yet --

ZELENY: Sure, sure.

CHALIAN: -- it will be just like hanging next to everybody's television screen --

WALTER: That's right.

CHALIAN: -- because the moment he attacks Joe Biden, three to five times or whatever it was recommended, you know, Chris Christie is going to make note of that. The moment he defends Donald Trump against the Chris Christie attack, it's going to take note that he's doing exactly what the memo told him.

REID: Well, in the memo, of course, the memo doesn't tell him to go after Tim Scott or Nikki Haley. Instead, it insists that he should, "Take a sledgehammer to the Vivek Ramaswamy. It recommends him -- it recommends that they nicknamed him Fake Vivek or the Vivek the Fake."

So he has a choice there. Did that surprise you?

CHALIAN: Well, it doesn't surprise me that somebody might have strategy to say, hey, why don't you start taking on the guy who's running up closest to you right now? That's not particularly all that insightful of strategy.

But it is noteworthy that his own team clearly sees some potential threat from Ramaswamy, and one that they would like the governor to neutralize as quickly as possible.

REID: And, Amy, Ramaswamy's views on foreign policy are getting a lot of attention. For example, he says the U.S. should stop supporting Ukraine. And he made some really eye-popping comments about Taiwan. Let's take a listen.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Do not mess with Taiwan before 2028, before the end of my first term, OK? We are going to -- go to full lengths to make sure that you do not mess with Taiwan. That commitment is only as far as 2028, by which point I will have led the United States of America to achieve semiconductor independence. And we will not take the risk of war that risks American lives after that for some nationalistic dispute between China and Taiwan."


REID: So we're on your side until we can make our own semiconductors.

WALTER: That's right. And then, you know what, that part of the world, they can figure it out. We don't need to map it. We don't need to worry about that anymore.

I don't know that it's just that DeSantis needs to go after Vivek or will want to go and attack Vivek. Chris Christie who has been going after president Trump and others who have been less than enthusiastic about supporting the continued presence of American money and military aid to Ukraine. Certainly, I think, he'll have some things to say. I'm sure Asa Hutchinson will have some things to say.

I mean, I think, you know, debates are really about the pressure on the frontrunner. And then the pressure on the candidates who are at the very back of the pack, I think, Nikki Haley being one of those. Can she make a moment have a breakthrough?

But also on that person who's trying to kind of come up, people are seeing as a threat. And Vivek's numbers are rising in the polls. And if you're looking around, if especially if you're Chris Christie, who sees himself as a defender of -- sort of traditional Republican policy on Foreign Affairs, or Mike Pence, that's going to be a target.

REID: All right. I want to go around really quickly. What else are you looking for a starter?

PONNURU: Well, you know, I have the suspicion that some of the candidates in this race are actually running to be vice president or in the cabinet. And I think we might get some clues as to which of them are doing that in this debate.

WALTER: I'm looking for the post-race conversation. How much are we going to be talking about what Donald Trump said to Tucker? And how much are we going to talk about what happened in the -- in the actual debate?

CHALIAN: Picking up on Amy's point on Nikki Haley, as the only woman on the stage Wednesday night, I'm very intrigued to see, does she lean into that in some way? Does she see available market share to lean into being the only woman on the stage. And how she makes use of that on the debate stage is something of interest. ZELENY: I think she'll also talk about our time as governor. Another governor on stage as well, his biggest platform yet, North Dakota Governor, Doug Burgum. He's been out campaigning, he is a wealthy businessman turned governor. He's going to make his case to move beyond Trump by not talking about him, but he talks about the economy, inflation, and other ways.

So if he's going to have a moment in this campaign, it could come on Wednesday night. So watch Doug Burgum.

REID: We will be watching.

Now, I want to get back to politics in a moment. But first, Hilary has now been downgraded to a tropical storm. Latest update from the National Weather Service says Hilary's max winds are now around 70 miles per hour.

The center of the storm, according to meteorologists, will move near the Baja, California Peninsula over the next few hours. And then it will move across Southern California throughout the afternoon. Evacuation orders and flood warnings remain in effect for much of the state


And coming up, Donald Trump prepares to surrender to authorities in Atlanta after his latest indictments.


REID: Former president Trump reacted to his fourth indictment pretty much the exact same way he reacted to the first three.


TRUMP: It's a witch-hunt. It's just a continuation of a witch-hunt. They want to silence you. They want to silence you. And they mean silence. They are -- I think they're sick people. I think they are people that have no idea how the world works. And they have no idea the anger they cause.

I have four of them now if you look. I mean, this is not even possible four, over the next -- last couple of months. And frankly, it discredits everything. And they're all very similar in the sense that there is no basis for them.


REID: Trump, of course, was charged last week in Fulton County, Georgia for allegedly plotting to subvert the 2020 election. He is expected to surrender to authorities in Fulton County on Thursday or Friday, will be processed at the Fulton County Jail. And then he's expected to be released.

All right, David, usually being arrested, it's not a good look. But when you are really trying to -- CHALIAN: Usually.

REID: -- capitalize on the idea of being a martyr, is it better for him to try to make more of a spectacle of this?


CHALIAN: Well, let's be clear, not even Donald Trump thinks this is an actual benefit to him overall. And his political standing. Yes, in the short term, it is having a rallying effect. He is seeing his support rise, he's seeing donations come in. All of this is true.

But not even Donald Trump believes this is good for his long-term political standing. What's amazing is when you hear him in that -- in that interview you just played, that piece of it where he said, I have four of them now.

And then he said, they were all baseless, right? And that there's no reason for them whatsoever. He is, as surprising no one, still totally unwilling to think there's any accountability and process for his actions, of his actions have anything to do with this. It's completely separate. Now, that will be up to four separate juries to figure out if his actions actually are here to be held accountable.

REID: It's great question. Now, another similar question is about the mug shot, or at the federal level, he didn't have a mug shot taken, but everyone else who goes to the Fulton County processing, they have a mug shot.

Now his lawyers could argue as they did at the federal level, looking to use those when somebody goes on the lam, we all know what he's looks like.

WALTER: Right.

REID: What do you think they'll say here?

WALTER: Well, you are the expert on all of these things. But my sense is --

REID: The politics of it.

WALTER: -- the politics of it. I don't know that it's a great look. I mean, he's already gotten the rally around a fact that he wants. I just sort of expect, again, given how much attention is being put on this debate, and we'll see how much coverage it gets the next day, why not go the day after the debate, and make the conversation once again all about Donald Trump. That's what he does quite brilliantly.

So no matter what happens, we're going to be talking about Donald Trump the next day.

PONNURU: He has to look. If there isn't much, he has to look defiant and unfazed, right? Because the danger of it is he looks weak, he looks like it's getting to him. If he has a mug shot at all, he's obviously going to want to avoid that. REID: That's a great point.

Now, I want to take a look at the calendar. These are both political events, and the few trials that are already on the calendar. This is incredibly crowded. Let's take a look, if you can see it. I need to pull up my own calendar to remember when all these trials are happening.

But do you think that voters deserve a chance to see these trials before they cast their ballot next November? And if they can't have all of them, is there one in particular that you think should really go before the election?

PONNURU: Well, I -- I'm willing to answer this question because on the one hand, I do think it would be best to -- for everybody to be able to make the voting decision with all the available information. On the other hand, the underlying issues have already been pretty well ventilated, and are going to be debated between now and then.

It's going to be hard to coordinate all of these trials, let alone with a political calendar. Such that, I think it's going to be -- it would be extremely unlikely you could get certainly all four before the election.

REID: I think you're absolutely right. I think, at most, we might see one.

All right. Jeff, I want to talk about this poll of polls, a CNN poll of polls, shows Trump has 57 percent among likely GOP primary voters. Now you spend time actually reporting and talking to voters. Does that mesh with what you've heard?

ZELENY: Look, I mean, there is still a majority inside the Republican Party that is interested in turning the page, that is interested in finding a way forward to win back the White House, et cetera.

What this is, is a national poll. And the CNN poll of polls is simply an average of the most recent polls. So at this point, the snapshot in time and of the national race is this. But that's not how primaries are conducted. This is a state by state affairs.

So tomorrow, we'll see a new poll out of Iowa. That will be very interesting and revealing. But look, there are still -- it used to be very difficult to find Republicans who would talk openly about their sort of a disagreement and distaste for the former president. Now that happens all the time. People are shopping. People are looking for other candidates.

But there is no doubt, he is still the frontrunner in this race. And even if he had his support would go down to 35 percent there or 38 percent, that still wins the primary. So it really doesn't matter if he has a majority at this point.

But I do think we have to be patient and watch this race play out. People are, you know, just becoming known and introduced. So we'll have to see. We're in August. History would suggest that there's some national frontrunners that don't always stay that way. But there's not much guide for history in this case, because he's the former president who was so well known.

WALTER: And we've never seen somebody blow and lead this big, historically. That would be quite unprecedented. But again, well poised --

ZELENY: (inaudible) of unprecedented --

WALTER: -- add it -- add it to the list.

I mean, I think if you're one of Donald Trump's opponents, what you're hoping is that people who are saying right now, I'm voting for Donald Trump. I don't think this is fair. I think he can beat, he's the best to beat Joe Bide, are rallying around this defense, right?

They're picking on my guy, and so I have to defend my guy, is different from, when it all said and done, I'm going to vote for this person, I could find someone else who will also be a fighter. But that is -- that's the stretch, right? Because nobody's really directly made that case.


Now we're seeing some outside groups try to make this case of, sort of, what we'd call the gold watch stretch (ph). You've been great. Thanks. Yes, you're getting picked on. Yes, you're being persecuted. But you know what, maybe it's time to move on we turn the page, we get a candidate, we know it's going to be Joe Biden.

The problem that is -- that is a very nuanced conversation to have. And voters aren't really into nuance.

REID: No. They certainly are not.

I want to get to real quickly before the break. And Trump is using his social media to attack district attorneys that are prosecutors, judges, even -- he's talking about a grand jury. Their names are now public. I mean, you can see the headlines right there. You don't hear a lot of Republicans pushing back on this. Are we on the precipice of something really dangerous going into the season of trials?

CHALIAN: We don't hear a lot of Republicans pushing back on much of any of Donald Trump's behavior. That's part of the reason the party is currently in the situation it is in. But clearly, this is going to be the subject, as you know, Paula, of lots of litigation and work to be done by judges about just how much he's able to say and when he crosses a line.

Though, as I'd imagine, you have reported out too, judges are going to be very, very careful to try and step in here because political speech is obviously one of the most protected things we have in our society.

REID: It's a great point. And the judge overseeing his January 6 prosecution, Judge Tanya Chutkan, who received some of those threats this week, she says though, your First Amendment right yields to the interests of the orderly conduct of justice. So we'll see. It's an impossible situation for her and for the other judges.

But coming up, President Biden tries to sell Biden economics to voters. Are they buying it?



REID: Polls consistently show the economy is the most important issue to voters. And the Inflation Reduction Act is President Biden signature economic piece of legislation. Problem for the White House, though is that seven and 10 Americans say they know little to nothing about that law. And despite low unemployment and falling inflation, just one in three Americans think the economy is doing well. So this morning, the Biden campaign is unveiling a $25 million, TV and digital ad campaign to try to change their minds.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Today, unemployment is at record lows, our economy leading the world, Joe Biden passed historic laws to rebuild the country. But he knows it's the American people who are the heroes of this story.

JOE BIDEN, (D) U.S. PRESIDENT: America is back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are some who say America is failing, not Joe Biden, he believes our best days are ahead because he believes in the American people.


REID: All right, Jeff $25 billion worth of that, will that change people's minds?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we'll see. I mean, I think that it is the first engagement of the Biden campaign into the Republican presidential primary, they are doing it this week, for a reason, because they know that people are paying the most attention with the first debate coming.

So look, they clearly have work to do to explain what is in the Inflation Reduction Act. That is a name that was given actually, to help pass it by Senator Joe Manchin at the time to give it a sort of a boost over the finish line. But what is actually in there, it's bringing down the cost of drug prices in some respects and a variety of things. So they need to unpack it.

It's clear, the President is not the best salesman in terms of communication out there. He travels maybe once a week. He's not -- he -- he's limited for a variety of reasons. So these ads are designed to kind of remind Americans what he's done. But they're also designed to play in this Republican race.

I mean, if we think back to history when he was Vice President, when he was campaigning constantly, the Obama campaign at this point, huge unemployment numbers, real concerns, but they started playing in that Republican primary early to try and sort of make it more complicated for Mitt Romney to be the nominee. So this reminds me of that, sort of by playing in the Republican space at this point, but what they really need to do is get Biden's numbers up among independents and others. So this is the first real stab at that. We'll see if it works.

REID: Let's try to unpack it a little bit. David, here's some things that includes, for example, record spending to fight climate change, allows Medicare to negotiate some drug prices, caps insulin costs for Medicare recipients, and higher taxes on wealthy and big business. So why hasn't the White House been able to get his message across? Is it really that weird name?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I don't think it's just name. And by the way, the message that they're trying to get across the Inflation Reduction Act is a piece of it. And I know they're just celebrating the anniversary of the signing of that, but it's also the CHIPS Act. It's also the bipartisan infrastructure deal. So they have put all of this under the umbrella of Bidennomics, they have sent the cabinet out, to fan across the country, point to infrastructure projects that have gotten done on a bipartisan basis, and the like.

But part of the problem is, it's not just a sales job. Americans have to actually feel this in their lives. So as gas continues to tick up a little bit at the pump, that becomes a harder environment through which the White House needs to break through on this positive economic message. Now, people are still feeling pretty sour about the economy, despite the positive economic indicators that are out there. I don't think that's just a messaging thing. It is, the time that is required for all of this to get out there in a positive way to impact people's lives at their kitchen table.

AMY WALTER, COOK POLITICAL REPORT PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Well, and since we're the old people at the table, who are around for the 2012 campaign.

REID: I was there, so don't worry.



WALTER: All right, there we go.

REID: -- of people, right there.

WALTER: Yes, and that's exactly it. So that -- how did the Obama campaign succeed, and part of it was that people started to feel a little bit better about the economy, even though they didn't feel great about the president, than President Obama's handling of it, but they made it a contrast campaign. And this is exactly what the Biden campaign ultimately will do.

Now, I think Jeff has the correct point, which is you've got to bump up your numbers a little bit higher, even when Obama was underwater on job approval on handling the economy. It wasn't in the high 30s as it is with this president. But the thing about Biden too, I think so much of what goes into voters perceptions of him, whether it's the economy or other issues, is who he is.

And his age being a big, very big piece of this. So it's not simply do I think the economy's doing well, not doing well, how am I doing? But if he's the president for another four years, what does that going to mean for the sort of stability of our political system or economic system if he is sitting in that chair, and so I think it's hard to pick those little threads from that.

REID: Let's take a listen to what some of his rivals are saying about, this sort of seizing on this issue. Let's take a listen.



DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They say inflation is coming down but we're living with all that inflation. We've picked up over the last three years.

RON DESANTIS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you take the median home in this country five years ago, and compare what that mortgage payment monthly would be to the median home today in the mortgage payment, these interest rates, it's over twice as much on a monthly basis.

MIKE PENCE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The average American working family because of Joe Biden's inflation is paying $700 more a month on basic food and groceries and gasoline.


REID: So even if inflation is falling, prices are still high, people feel that, is this going to be the message at the election?

RAMESH PONNURU, NATIONAL REVIEW EDITOR: Oh, you know, it depends on the future trends of some of these economic indicators. But right now, I think you'd have to say, people understand that their wages have not been keeping up with their bills. That has been true for most of the Biden presidency, the last few months, there have been some positive trends. But that's really I think, going to have to be sustained before people feel better about this economy, and then better about the present.

But I think that this ad campaign works at another level, which is it's not going to change how people feel about the economy. But I do think it's a useful contrast for Biden to be talking about the economy, while Republicans are talking about rigged elections and similar things. He needs to communicate. He's focused on the issues that voters are.

CHALIAN: We should also just note where that ad is running that $25 million. In seven states, six of which Joe Biden won against Donald Trump in 2020, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Arizona, Georgia, and North Carolina is the seventh state where the Biden team feels they're going to place a big bet this cycle and try to flip that state. That is where this battle is going to be engaged a year from now.

ZELENY: And that's why the debate in Wisconsin on Wednesday is so interesting, because a year from this summer, that's where the Republican convention will be without Wisconsin and the blue wall of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, which Trump won in '16 and lost in '20.

It's difficult for Republicans to win. So location, and this is fascinating. So as these voters have been watching the primary play out, what's their view on it, but North Carolina, as you mentioned, keep an eye on that for the next 14, 15 months. If Biden -- if the Biden world can put that into play, that is -- it's still a big if. That's a huge deal.

REID: All right. Well, thank you very much. Coming up, residents across Southern California are bracing for potentially catastrophic rain as Hilary nears the U.S. this morning. We'll have an update next.



REID: A tropical storm headed for California. It's a rare event not seen for three generations. And today it's prompting evacuations and dire warnings to get out of the storms way. Here's what FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell said this morning on CNN State of the Union.


DEANNE CRISWELL, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: Hilary is going to be a serious impact and threat to Southern California and people need to take the storm serious. They need to listen to their local officials. And they need to make sure that they're not putting themselves in harm's way as the storm passes through.


REID: CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Palm Springs, Stephanie, when is tropical storm Hilary expected to hit Southern California?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you probably could already see, Paula, we're starting to feel some of the effects now. But it will be later this afternoon, local time, that we will see more of these effects here. But we are in Palm Springs, which is expected to get the brunt of the storm coming through here.

And as a Californian, I cannot express to you how incredibly bizarre it is to have rain in August. This is the time of the year a lot of Southern Californians don't even look at the weather because they pretty much no one that's going to be, blue skies, pretty the next day.

Now, this is a real concern for people. So that is why we've seen all kinds of messaging going out on Instagram, on Facebook, local officials, making sure people understand that they need to stay put. Here in Palm Springs, take a listen to the mayor of Palm Springs Grace Garner, talk about what they're telling their residents to do right now.

All right, we don't have the sound bite right now. But basically was saying they want people to stay in place and not telling people to evacuate. And they've shut down three of their ways. The main ways into town and we're at one of them right here. You can see that they have this roadway shut down. They say accidents I talked to one of the police officers, saying accidents happen on this road often, but they're shutting it down because there could be some flooding.

They just don't want to take any chances. But overall right now, Paula, they're saying if you don't have a reason to be out, stay home, don't come out because as this day goes on, the weather is going to degrade and we're going to see some dangerous conditions out here.

REID: Stephanie, is Southern California prepared for this?

ELAM: This is definitely weird. But we've heard from the mayor here in Palm Springs. We've heard from the mayor of Los Angeles, Karen Bass saying that they are prepared for this. I checked in to see what Los Angeles Department of Water and Power is doing. They're saying the reservoirs are ready to take some of that extra water that may come.

They're also making sure that drains have been cleared. So they've been doing a lot of prep. I can tell you that I've seen sandbags even making our way here. People have sandbags out where they need them. So it seems that the messaging has gotten out there. However, this amount of rain getting more than a year's worth of rain in the desert in just one storm. This is where we could see some catastrophe here. And this is why people just need to stay home.

REID: Stephanie Elam thank you.

And what happened to Rudy Giuliani, how the former New York prosecutor went from fighting mob bosses to being a criminal defendant.



REID: The clock is ticking for Rudy Giuliani to surrender at an Atlanta jail in connection with his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. Giuliani made his name as a New York prosecutor taking down Mafia Kingpins in the 1980s is now charged with breaking the very law he used against them.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER ATTORNEY TO DONALD TRUMP: There's a whole RICO thing going on we even know about. Now, I got to tell you, you're going to be interesting when we all get together. I don't know most of these people. I probably done more against organized crime than any prosecutor history. What the hell am I going to lie for? Now I'm going to lie I put so many criminals in jail, I'm going to lie and commit a crime. Look, I know RICO. RICO was a friend of mine. (END VIDEO CLIP)

REID: Rudy Giuliani could use some friends right now because as his legal troubles sore, or the cost of fighting that he's at the center of numerous criminal investigations and civil lawsuits. And his own lawyer told a judge last week he's effectively out of cash.

My colleague Kaitlan Collins and I first reported that Giuliani and his attorney Rob Costello traveled to Mar-a-Lago back in April, in a desperate attempt to convince Trump to help him out. But the notoriously stingy Trump did not commit to an amount or a timeline but we did signal he might be willing to help.


And so far the former president has not given him any money. He's only received $300,000 from a Trump aligned Political Action Committee. All right, Jeff, is Trump taking a risk here by not helping Giuliani out? It's very expensive to fight these charges, if he doesn't have the money to fight them, he may have to cooperate. Is this a risk?

ZELENY: We'll see. I mean, I think you could ask that of a lot of the defendants, it's hard for me to imagine that Rudy Giuliani would turn on the former president and would cooperate. But look, I mean, as you have reported, he is out of money here. So we'll have to see where it goes.

But I think the other defendants, the fact that there are 19 defendants in this case. I just think the math of averages would show that some of those defendants may cooperate, but I'm not sure that that Trump has the biggest concern from Rudy. But look, this is what the former president does. He doesn't pay his legal bills, regardless of who it is. There's no staff member who is important enough to him, for him to defend them or help them. So I don't think we find any of this surprising at all.

REID: Yeah. And Amy, I guess this is getting a little into psychology. But why would a tough on crime prosecutor align himself with a mob admiring individual like former President Trump?

WALTER: Well, politicians do love one thing, and that is to get attention, especially those who are no longer on the top of the list anymore, right? And he has been somebody who, obviously was a well- known political figure, at some point, you're no longer that person, you have to decide what do you want to do with the rest of your life? If you want to still be in the spotlight attaching yourself to somebody who is in the spotlight is the best way to do it.

And look, we all cover politicians, they are -- they just don't think in the same way that a lot of other people do, right? The they have egos, many of them that just are different than your average person. So you're correct. An average person will look at this and say, why would you do this? You know, Donald Trump's not going to pay you, why would you get next to him? You know, this is going to end badly for you. But that's not the way that that this is working.

REID: Certainly not. And then there's the Mark Meadows have it all. Let's take a listen to what John Bolton said about Mark Meadows.


JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: A lot of people have pointed to Mark Meadows not named as a -- as a co-conspirator in the federal indictment, but obviously named as a defendant here. It's pretty hard to see how he can be separated that way. So perhaps he cooperated at the federal level, didn't cooperate enough at the state level.


REID: And it always seemed like the Mark Meadows long game was just allegiance to Trump at all costs. But that seems to be changing, is that what you see?

PONNURU: Well, we are in a position of having to speculate, but it certainly is certainly suggestive that maybe he's been cooperating.

REID: I mean, that would be pretty devastating to the former president, his White House Chief of Staff in any or all of these cases cooperated against him. I mean, that -- well, how would that impact Mark Meadows future, his political career going forward?

PONNURU: Well, I don't know that he might have a political career going forward. But remember, Trump, it's not as though Trump and all of these cases is making a detailed factual defense where this conversation didn't happen. So I don't know how much information is going to be damaging to. His defense is on two levels. One, these laws are being stretched. And two, you know, I'm going to be president and I'm going to stop these prosecutions.

REID: Yeah, except for Georgia, which is obviously at the state level, and also where Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani are charged. All right, David, this is a visual question. I want you to take a look. Giuliani fell from this. Here, you see him on the cover of Time Magazine, Person of the Year to this. People close to him say they just -- they just don't understand what happened. Do you have any insight politically, what exactly would bring someone this this far?

CHALIAN: Yeah, this great lover of opera has faced an operatic style tragedy here, largely of his own doing. I mean, what happened was, you know, Rudy Giuliani and that cover of Time Magazine when he was America's mayor, that's sort of the midpoint of his story. It was certainly the zenith and the height. But this is somebody who then achieved a level of fame and fortune in the aftermath of 9/11 that he probably never thought possible for him even while serving as mayor of New York City, and then had a disastrous presidential campaign.

And the shine was off him a little bit and he started down the road lavish spending in the like, and saw Donald Trump as perhaps his ticket to ride back to some of that fame and fortune and glory. I think you see there with the hair dye running down his face. That's not how it turned out.

[11:55:00] REID: Yeah in his -- one of one of his ex-wives gave a quote to the AP saying the man that I knew 20 years ago, the hero of September 11 bears no resemblance to this man, I actually feel sorry for him. It's sad. He's not the person that he used to be to any of us.

PONNURU: You know, I see that. But let's not forget that this person Giuliani also slandered and made life hell for Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss --

REID: Yes.

PONNURU: -- for two years. So the amount of sympathy I feel for Giuliani is tempered by that fact.

REID: That's a great point because that's one of the most damaging civil suits that he faces and the damages and that are probably one of the reasons that he might have to face bankruptcy. So that's a great -- that's a very good point.

And that's it now for Inside Politics Sunday. Up next, Kasie Hunt is filling in on CNN State of the Union. Her guests include FEMA Director Deanne Criswell and Republican Senator Bill Cassidy. Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning.