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Inside Politics

New CNN Poll: 48 Percent Say A Trump Verdict "Essential" Before Election; Haley: Americans Deserve To Know Which Trump Cases Are Legitimate; CNN Poll: Majority Say Trump Will Pardon Himself If Re- Elected; Haley Campaign Raises $16.5 Million In January; On "SNL," Haley Jokes About Slavery Comment Controversy; Senators Release Language Of Bipartisan Border Bill; Lankford: GOP Can "Complain About" Or "Change" The Border; Haley: Trump Is "Playing Politics" With The Border. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired February 05, 2024 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, a CNN exclusive. We have a new poll out this hour, revealing how voters feel about Donald Trump's multiple legal battles as the former president's delay tactics appear to be working on several criminal cases.

Plus, kill the bill. That's how the House GOP are arguing that -- what needs to happen in the United States Senate after leaders there unveiled the most substantial bipartisan border bill that we have seen in decades. Now the Republicans who negotiated that deal is calling out his own party for trying to torpedo it, even before reading it.

And replacing George Santos. Early voting is underway in the special election that could have major implications for the balance of power in the House. We're going to bring you the latest from the campaign trail.

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

First up, our CNN exclusive poll, CNN's David Chalian is at the wall to reveal the latest results. David, what are we seeing?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN, POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah. Well, Dana, we asked folks about the Trump trials. And we said should the federal trial, specifically the Jack Smith trial about election subversion be resolved before the 2024 election. 48 percent of Americans in our poll say yes, it's essential. They know a verdict in this case before the election. 16 percent said yes, not essential.

So, a majority of Americans want to see a verdict here in the federal election case before the election. 25 percent, a quarter of Americans say it doesn't matter. And look at this by party, Dana. 75 percent of Democrats, of course, say it's essential, 52 percent of independents say it is essential. They have a verdict. Even 20 percent of Republicans say it's essential for verdict. And we know the judge in that case, actually just vacated the March 4 start date in that trial.

BASH: So, this is about sort of the process and whether or not we need to know how the process plays out and ends. The other question, obviously, is the former president's actions. What he's alleged to have done.

CHALIAN: So, this is a question we've been asking for some time. Do you think what he did after the 2020 election, was illegal, unethical, not wrong at all. 45 percent of Americans in our brand-new poll say it's illegal what he did. 32 percent say unethical, but not illegal. 23 percent. 23 percent of Americans said, he did nothing wrong at all after the 2020 election.

And if you look at this by party over time, the country is locked in on this judgment. We asked this a year and a half ago. You see Democrats are consistently overwhelmingly saying it was illegal independence about. 45 percent say it's illegal. And you see here, Republicans 11 -- 10 percent do not believe it was illegal, or only 10 percent or 11 percent believe it was illegal. So, you see how locked in Americans are on this issue.

BASH: That is really, really remarkable. Anything else that you can tell us about the way that voters just sort of view the process in general?


CHALIAN: And what do you expect will happen when the results are made clear to the American public in the 2024 election? Will a candidate concede? Look at this mirror image of how Americans think this will play out. 76 percent of Americans in our poll say, yeah, Joe Biden will concede if he loses the election. 23 percent say, he won't.

Complete flip for Donald Trump. The expectation among three quarters of Americans, Dana, say he will not concede if he loses the election. And what about the trust in the Supreme Court to decide some of these election issues? Only 11 percent of Americans say they have a great deal of trust in this Supreme Court.

31 percent a moderate amount, as you see down here, a quarter of Americans have no trust at all. And you can imagine by party Republicans have a little more trust in this supreme court than do Democrats given the partisan balance on the court.

BASH: Such fascinating numbers. David, stick around. Before we talk more about this. I want our viewers to see what the only remaining Republican candidate running against Donald Trump said to me on State of the Union yesterday about all of these court cases that Donald Trump is facing.



NIKKI HALEY (R) 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He hasn't even gotten started on all these cases. For the next year, he's going to be sitting in a courtroom. I didn't say that. He said that he's going to be spending more time in a courtroom than he is going to be campaigning. That's a problem. BASH: So, is it your hope that there are verdicts before the convention?

HALEY: Well, it's my hope that I think that the American people deserve to know which of these cases are legitimate and which ones aren't. You know, he's going to have another one, I think in March. I think he's going to have more in April and May. I think the American people deserve to know what the situation's going to be.

But, you know, the court system's going to play out the way it is. He has the right to defend himself. But at the same time, you know, I think it speaks for himself that he's saying he's going to be spending more time in a courtroom than he's going to be spending on the campaign trail.


BASH: Here with me to share their insights and expertise, CNN's Manu Raju, NPR's Ayesha Rascoe, and David Weigel of Semafor. Forgive me, I'm back -- I'm back in time here. I was going to say the Washington Post. Thank you so much. And of course, David Chalian is at the table with us.

David, you just gave us some of the -- sort of the headlines with the poll. I want to add one other element. And that is the question of -- if he's reelected, what voters think Donald Trump will try to do with that other term? And these issues are pretty interesting, mass deportation of undocumented immigrants.

CHALIAN: I mean, these are issues he has promised.


BASH: Correct me if I'm wrong. It's a question of whether he will follow (Inaudible)

CHALIAN: Exactly, exactly.

BASH: Fire federal workers, you know, 82 percent. And then the list goes on. Again, it looks at repeal and replace Obamacare. 77 percent think that he's going to do that.

CHALIAN: Didn't work so.


BASH: I'm not sure that's going to happen. But what's your takeaway of the way that the people who responded to this poll view the ability of Donald Trump to make good (Ph) on his promise?

CHALIAN: So, remember, Americans have already lived through four years of a Trump administration, right. And so, the fact that I think when you look at that whole list, three quarters of Americans at least, and sometimes much higher than that are taking him at his word. They are taking him both literally and seriously that what he is going to -- that what he's promising, he's going to execute on. What is interesting, Dana. We also asked, should he do these things? And of course, you get an entirely different reaction, specifically, the three least popular things, pardoning himself, pardoning the folks that are behind bars for January 6 related crimes, and using the Justice Department to go after his political enemies. That is woefully unpopular. Majority of Americans do not think he should be pursuing that. And even half of Republicans roughly don't believe he should be doing those three things.

BASH: Manu, I want to just go back to where we started with these new poll results. About how people view the legal trouble that the leading presidential candidate is in their party. And how that is playing out with the people who you talk to every day on Capitol Hill?

MANU RAJU, CNN, CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, look, I thought that number that you guys talked about in particular, 52 percent believe that it's essential of independent voters that this should ---


BASH: Pull that back on the second one.

RAJU: -- this should be down before the election. I mean, the federal case could very well not be done before the election, really the only one that seems likely is a New York hush money case, which is widely seen as sort of the weakest of the four criminal charges. So how does that actually ultimately play out?

What's been so -- which have been very revelatory in the months and months since Donald Trump has been charged with all this is that his opponents have not really seized on any of the underlying issues. The allegations, the evidence, no, not at all. Biden hasn't -- because they don't want look like they're painting this in any way.

And Nikki Haley, your interview right there very clearly, she's trying to begin -- occurring to me that he's distracted in the like, not about specific and very serious charges. And as a result, there's a vacuum and Donald Trump fills that vacuum is able to shape the narrative?

AYESHA RASCOE, NPR HOST, "WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY" AND "UP FIRST": You know, I think that what we have to really remember and drill home on is the fact that this is a -- this is someone who's running for president and really running to stay out of jail like that. I mean, that you can legitimately say that, and I think sometimes you can get, you know, lost in the trees and miss the forest.

But the fact is, if he does not win, reelection or win, be elected again, he could very possibly be in jail. Right, like so that is part of his decision making when it comes to running. And that will also be his part of his decision making when it comes to whether he will conceal the election.

BASH: David, I want you to listen to what the former president said over the weekend about the RNC chair. Pretty stunning how blunt he was.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How is Ronna McDaniel doing?

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think she did great when she ran Michigan for me. I think she did OK initially in the RNC. I would say right now they'll probably be some changes made.


BASH: She's been -- I mean it's been the biggest challenge walking the line with Donald Trump. But given everything that's happened, I mean, it's hard to think of anybody who could be more loyal and still be in charge of the party writ large?

DAVID WEIGEL, POLITICS REPORTER, SEMAFOR: Right, which is not a guarantee of keeping your job if you're working for Donald Trump or working on his behest. No. I was in Vegas for the start of the RNC meeting. There was a turning point U.S.A. conservative conference before the RNC meeting. A theme of it and speakers like Steve Bannon were there. Donald Trump Jr.

A theme of this was the RNC did not do enough to set Donald Trump up for a successful election. One of the RNC members from Arizona said, look at all that money wasted on the primary. Imagine if that was being used to set up Donald Trump to run against Joe Biden.

They're frustrated with Ronna McDaniel who -- just two weeks ago was saying primaries over Trump should be the nominee. They're frustrated her for not doing more to cancel the opposition to Donald Trump and get in line with Republican face, which is baked in that Donald Trump is going to be in legal trouble. But says that is all Bs and the party should be supporting him.

The fact that he's in legal trouble. The fact that he has opponents criticizing him, means he's strong in the globalist hate. And it's all there -- and there. It's only about a third of the RNC that agrees that message. But if Trump is the nominee, he gets to pull out whoever he wants or later than with somebody else.

CHALIAN: And you remember Ramaswamy call for her -- debate stage. There's a reason that -- Trump is tapping into something he understands is in that swath in the party.

WEIGEL: Yes. We blame there's not Donald Trump for the party, not winning as much as well.

BASH: Well, he has vanquished all of his opponents except one and that's Nikki Haley. And she just reported -- according to her campaign, $16.5 million fundraising hall just in January, they announced that. That's not nothing. And she obviously is -- right now, I mean, we've said this before, and I think it's important to underscore this.

Usually when candidates drop out, they do it because they don't have money. That's not the case with her. And so, the question is whether or not she is going to drop out because she doesn't want to be embarrassed in her home state. Or if there are other reasons, not because she can't feel her campaign with funds.

RAJU: Yeah. There is a sizable amount. Yes, as a fraction of the party, but still a sizable amount of anti-Trump Republicans. And that is the hope for the Biden team of course is trying to peel them to their side and have them sit out the election or is -- or not have, of course, vote for the Republican nominee.

But can she sustain loss after loss after loss? She's going to lose Nevada this week. She's not even competing there. The polls are looking very bleak for her in her home state. Can she make it to Super Tuesday, perhaps money to do it, but you know, does she want to that?

BASH: One thing that is noteworthy is and you see this on any campaign with candidates who stay in long enough, they learn. And she stepped in it a little bit this past week -- last week, she told Charlamagne tha God, that if Texas decides they want to do that they can do it, referring to the notion of seceding from the union. I pushed her on that on State of the Union and she changed course.


HALEY: No, according to the constitution, they can't. What I do think they have the right to do is have the power to protect themselves and do all that. Texas is talk about -- talked about seceding for a long time. The constitution doesn't allow for that.


BASH: She also played cleanup, while having -- looked like having a great time on SNL. Saturday night, I should say. Let's look at a clip from that.


BASH: David?

CHALIAN: As you said, candidates learn. And one of the things you learn using humor to correct some of your past mistakes. Clearly, she did that with the SNL appearance. That was almost a month ago and we're still talking about.

RAJU: That's also shows you how that's penetrated that gap.

WEIGEL: It was only Trump who first said, I would just send slavery (Inaudible). Three weeks later, SNL can say it. SNL can receive wisdom.

BASH: All right, guys standby. Coming up. The bipartisan border bill that's kicking up a huge fight inside the GOP. What's in the bill? And why Republicans are trying to kill their best chance in years to actually act on policy.




BASH: After months of negotiations, the text of the bipartisan Senate border bill is now public and top House Republicans are already saying it is dead on arrival. I want to get straight to it. First, look at what Steve Scalise said. He said that the bill will not receive a vote in the House and that is being emphasized beyond Steve Scalise right now.

Just in, we have a new statement from the broader House Republican leadership. And I want to get straight to Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill. Lauren, give us a sense of not only of what's in the bill, but what we just heard moments ago from House GOP leaders.

LAUREN FOX, CNN, CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I want to start with this new letter, Dana, because it is the most specific criticism that I've seen yet from House Republican leaders. They are really going point-by-point in this new statement, arguing why the Senate bill is not enough.

And I think it's coming after some Republicans are getting a lot of heat because they came out so swiftly against this bill when it was released last night. You heard basically Lankford arguing. You know, they were a little fast to make clear that they were opposed to it, given the fact that this was a really long bill, and perhaps they hadn't read every single page.

But I want to read from you just part of the statement. They say quote, House Republicans oppose the Senate immigration bill because it fails in every policy area needed to secure our border and it would actually incentivize more illegal immigration. Specifically, they go after the fact they say paroled, and the president's use of parole is not cracked down on enough in this bill.


They also say that the asylum process is not reformed broadly enough. I should know that this bill makes broad and substantial changes to the way that people who are coming into this country and seeking asylum would be processed. They make that that whole process much faster.

What they also doing this bill is they make it much harder to even get started in the system by raising the credible fear threshold at the beginning of the process to make it so that many immigrants who are seeking asylum if they don't pass, they actually get set back much more quickly. Dana?

BASH: Really fascinating what is going on inside the GOP on this issue. Lauren, thank you so much for that reporting. The panel is back here. I just want to read a little bit more as we were in the commercial break as we got this statement. And Manu you picked up on this. At the end of the House GOP leadership statement.

They say any consideration of the Senate bill and its current form is a waste of time, it is dead, capital DEAD on arrival in the House. We encourage the U.S. Senate to reject it. Do you think it's possible they will now?

RAJU: I do. I think that that is trending in the absolute wrong direction for proponents of this bill. They need 60 votes on Wednesday to surpass a filibuster attempt. It's a 51/49 Senate. We expect already a handful, if not more Democrats to come out against it, which means they need a sizable amount of Republicans.

And right now, it appears that they're on track to losing a majority of their conference. The goal initially by these negotiators are trying to get a majority of Senate Republicans behind this plan. That doesn't seems very unlikely amid the opposition on the House, amid the opposition from Donald Trump, and the fact that the conservatives -- a lot of conservatives are coming out very strongly against it.

The tough vote would be to advance it. In a very telling notion this morning was, John Cornyn, a Texas, Republican close to Mitch McConnell, come out and said that he has quote, serious concerns about this. Didn't express them what those concerns are. But a lot of these concerns, Dana, let's be frank, they were -- they were concerned about it. They said they want to kill it before this bill came out. The House Republicans wanted to kill it before this came up -- before they saw any of the details. Why? Because it's a good campaign as you for Trump.

BASH: And he's pretty explicit about it. Meanwhile, you have the Republicans who have been in deep, deep negotiations for months, led by Jim Lankford of Oklahoma. You can hear the frustration in their voice. Listen to what he said this morning about his fellow Republicans.


SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): I want everyone in the country unlimited numbers what we have now? Or do we want to have a faster, stronger system that we're actually deporting people? Are we as Republicans going to have press conferences and complain the borders bad? And then intentionally leave it open after the worst month in American history in December? Now we've got to actually determine. Are we going to just complain about things? Or we're going to actually address any change as many things as we can.


BASH: I mean, that really is the fundamental issue. And it is that the border, the broader immigration laws in America have been broken for decades. Congress has gotten up to the brink, and it's fallen apart because of political reasons. More times than we can count. We've all covered it.

And yeah, I mean, in this letter, the House Republican leaders say it doesn't go far enough. Isn't that what happens with compromise? Things don't go as far as they should. And Lauren was saying, it does expedite the asylum process. It raises the standard for asylum seekers. Is it what Republicans would write if they had total control of government? No, but this is the government they have.

RASCOE: You know, I mean, it's never politically expedient enough to really deal with the issue of immigration. And it's really this thing that often just blows up in the lawmakers' phases. You try to do to compromise or whatever it is. And then on both sides, you are villainized. And then you oftentimes have voted out office.

We've seen this over and over again, like it is an issue that works when there are press conferences and when you can stand at the border and yale, but it's not an issue that works when you have to do the hard thing and actually change the system because you're not going to be able to please everybody. So that's why it just keeps going and going.

BASH: And you have been talking about it for weeks, but we have to emphasize it over and over as this really gets to crunch time. This is about Donald Trump. And Donald Trump saying, do not do this. A, it's better politics for me on the campaign trail. And B, I don't want to give Joe Biden a win, which is how he sees it politically. I talked to Nikki Haley about this yesterday. Here's what she said.


HALEY: He shouldn't be getting involved telling Republicans that wait until the election because we don't want this to help Biden win. We can't wait one more day. You have millions of people who have come to that border. They are not being vetted. America is acting like its September 10. We better remember what September 12 felt like because it only takes one. This is not a time to play politics. What I do think is they need to get something -- of course he is. He's absolutely playing politics by telling them not to do anything.



WEIGEL: Yes. Well, Trump is conveying what a lot of Republicans think and have said. (Inaudible) saying a few days ago, I think to Manu that Trump -- that the president is pulling in the 30s and why we want to change that for him. And we've been here before. 2007 there's a progress towards immigration compromise. And then Democrats say we're going to do better if we win the election. 2013, '14 same thing happens to Republicans.

We feel like we're going to win the election. They do in the Senate in 2014, running against immigration. The incentives are just not there for a compromise here. And the political discussion is great for Trump because it is not about why are some people showing up at the border getting sent to northern states.

I think if you walk in the street, Nancy Pelosi say, well, there's no wall. It's not because there's a wall, it's because they're applying for asylum and that conversation having just come off the trail, hopefully getting back on the trail with -- we're talking to voters that's not in there at all. So, Trump is in a great information environment where people think he -- when he was there, -- less footage of immigrants crossing the border. He'll come back. We'll fix it. That's all he needs to do.

BASH: It's such a good point. Historically before the latest crisis. People who are coming illegally across the border, tried to avoid border patrol agents. Now they're going towards the border. They want to find the border patrol agents because they're applying for asylum, which is why that was a major part of the focus in this maybe a deal.

RAJU: In this deal -- this deal would actually require the department to turn away those migrants in between ports of entry when it exceeds, 5000 apprehensions over a week -- span average. That 5000 number has been seized upon by the Republican opponents here. But what's been remarkable on the political front, they used to be united on this Republicans. They are now bitterly divided about this.

And Lankford is someone who does not get very worked up. He's very critical about how this is playing out. Mike Johnson has been saying the last several days -- he was shut out of the Senate negotiations. I asked Lankford about this. Yesterday, he said that, in fact, the speaker was invited to participate in these talks. But the speaker said he -- this House has already spoken. We've acted on our own bill, HR to that bill, of course, is a non-starter among Democrats. And it was a result that Senator just tried to do their own thing. And now Johnson is criticized.

BASH: I think the technical term is plausible deniability.

RAJU: That's right.

BASH: I don't want to -- this is mostly a Republican issue. But there are differences on the Democratic side too. Senator Padilla -- Alex Padilla of California said the deal includes a new version of a failed Trump era immigration policy that will cause more chaos at the border, not less, it is in conflict with our international treaties and obligations to provide people with the opportunity to seek asylum. So, he's against it. On the left.

RASCOE: Yeah. I mean, so that is going to be an issue with people who feel like, look, there are people who are coming to this country. We have international obligations. People are fleeing their countries. They're fleeing violence and they are trying to get to safety, and they have a right to do that. And so there are people who will be sympathetic to that and say that we need to have a humane system.

BASH: All right. Everybody standby. Because up next, we're going to talk about President Biden rolling the dice in Vegas after a South Carolina landslide, moves him toward a likely Trump rematch for live on the trail after a quick break.