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Inside Politics

Supreme Court to Hear Case on Removing Trump From Ballot Tomorrow; Haley Loses Nevada Primary; Support for Trump Runs Deep in Haley's Home State; Trumps Says Bud Light Maker Should Get Second Chance. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 12:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Donald Trump changes his mind and will not be in Washington for tomorrow's big Supreme Court arguments on whether he can stay on the ballot. Is this one example of his political strategies and his legal strategies actually diverging? We're going to explain next.


BASH: This time tomorrow, the Supreme Court will be hearing arguments on whether Donald Trump can stay on the ballot. That after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that he is ineligible because of his conduct related to January 6th. Now, under a part of the constitution that bans insurrectionists from running for federal office, that is what's at stake here and that is what we're talking about, the basis for this challenge which is really remarkable.

I want to bring in my legal panelists, CNN's Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid and CNN Legal Analyst and Former Assistant U.S. Attorney Elie Honig. First of all, I want to start with you on your new reporting along with Kristen Holmes and Katelyn Polantz about the fact that the former president actually plans to stay away from the Supreme Court arguments tomorrow, which is definitely a departure from every other court room that he has had the opportunity to be in so far.


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. What we've seen over the past few weeks is he has brought a lot of chaos and disruption to hearings in several of his cases and internal conversations within Trump world, where they (ph) are revealing that maybe that didn't have the benefits that they anticipated, which is part of why you're seeing a much more traditional disciplined approach to tomorrow's oral argument that includes, at this point, he's not expected to attend.

Sources tell us, look, there's really no upside and even Trump understands how high the stakes are. They are also confident in the merits of their case and they believe this can be a win for them. They don't want anything that will distract from that. Also, look at the caliber of lawyers that he has. Jonathan Mitchell, former Texas Solicitor General. Dana, this will be his sixth time arguing before the justices, and also the kind of preparation.

Yesterday and today, the entire Trump legal team, they've been doing mock arguments, moot courts. I mean, this is something I did in law school. This is what most people would do to prepare for Supreme Court arguments. But as we know, the Trump team, not always conventional, but taking a more disciplined, much more prepared approach to tomorrow's argument. As you said, quite a contrast to what we've seen over the past two weeks.

BASH: Let's see what happens on his Truth Social platform after it's all said and done, if that is consistent. Let's look at the heart of what they're going to be hearing in the first place, Elie. This is specifically a question that has come up through the State of Colorado. And as I said at the beginning, the Colorado Supreme Court said that they don't think he's eligible to be on Colorado's ballot because of his actions related to January 6th. This is not the way most states have looked at their ballots. I think that's important to point out.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. Colorado is a distinct outlier in the world of 14th Amendment challenges. There have been something in the order of two to three dozen of these challenges brought around the country. And part of the problem with the 14th Amendment is, we collectively don't really know exactly how it works. And as a result of that, you can see it playing out, if you go across the map.

Some states have had Secretary of States who've rejected this; others states have had trial court judges who've rejected this; others states have had federal judges who've rejected this. We're literally all over the map. But it's important to keep the perspective here. Only -- of all those challenges, only one and a half -- Maine being the half because they're sort of still in process -- have said yes, Donald Trump is off the ballot on the under 14th Amendment. So, while Colorado is getting all the attention because this is the one that has gone to the Supreme Court, they are really an outlier here and I think that will be on the justices' minds tomorrow.

BASH: And then, the other question is people listening to tomorrow --

HONIG: Yeah.

BASH: -- once the Supreme Court makes the decision, will that apply -- that decision apply to all states and District of Columbia, et cetera, where people are voting? Or will it just be narrowly about Colorado?

HONIG: So, this is a great question, probably the question I've been asked most commonly, just hanging around the building here. It depends how they rule. If the Supreme Court rules for Colorado, inherently, they're saying states you do have the authority to remove someone from the ballot. You have to, of course, abide by your own procedures.

If that's the ruling, then they are going to deal with other state challenges, perhaps Maine. Illinois said we're going to wait and see. So if the court rules that way, they are going to be inviting sort of state by state by state review. If they rule for Trump in a certain way, if they rule that the president does not count under the 14th Amendment, if they rule this is not up to the states, it's up to the Congress, then it's a silver bullet, all of these challenges are over and we are done.

BASH: OK, we're going to have to leave it there. Thank you both, great reporting, as always.

Coming up, Nikki Haley lost another Republican primary last night to none of the above. She's brushing it off, but the question is how much longer will she go without a 'W' on the board? We'll talk about that next.



BASH: A tough night for Nikki Haley who lost the Nevada primary to "None of the Above." Stay with me here because it's a little bit complicated. Technically, the primary was meaningless. The delegates will be awarded based on the results of the GOP caucuses, those are tomorrow night. Donald Trump is competing in that contest but not the primary.

So Haley was the only one on the primary ballot that she lost to last night, and she lost to "None of These Candidates" by a two-to-one margin. The Haley campaign is dismissing the results, saying it didn't devote any resources to the state and "We're full steam ahead in South Carolina and beyond." John King joins us now.

What do you make of this?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Should we be worried about who "None of the Above" is going to pick as her (ph) running mate? Look, she's right. She didn't spend any money out there to campaign, she didn't put any ads on the air. There is no delegates involved, so it's meaningless. But what the Haley campaign was hoping for, because Trump has the state party wired. Trump is going to get all the delegates of the caucuses on Thursday night.

What the Haley campaign was hoping for is that other voters would come out and voter in this primary, and they could claim some symbolic victory. Instead, they lost to "None of the Above." It is just embarrassing. Well, it doesn't mean anything in terms of the math of the race, but she right now is desperate for momentum. She didn't get even a bounce, a little tiny bounce out of Nevada.

So, it all comes down literally -- she says she's in through Super Tuesday, but Trump has won Iowa. Trump won New Hampshire. Trump is about to win Nevada. South Carolina is fourth. I don't think she can be on four (ph).

BASH: You were just in her home state. What did you find there?

KING: What you find there is how much the state has changed. She was last on the ballot there 10 years ago, 2014, she won her second term as governor. Since then, Donald Trump won the 2016 primary there, won the 2016 general election there, won the 2020 election there. So, yes, it is Nikki Haley's home state, but from our travels, mathematically, it is still possible, but her state -- just watch this. It's his party.



KING (voice-over): The South Carolina shoreline is spectacular. Island Treats Ice Cream Shop, a popular stop in Pawleys Island.

KING: Just one scoop, and (inaudible), that's good.


KING (voice-over): Joy Rendulic cashed in her 401(k) eight years ago to buy the place, leaving Pennsylvania behind.

RENDULIC: God brought me here. I tell everybody he brought me here.

KING (voice-over): Rendulic served her first scoop back in 2016. Nikki Haley was governor then, and Rendulic was impressed.

RENDULIC: Yes, she was a very good governor.

KING (voice-over): But then and now, Donald Trump is her vote for president.

RENDULIC: I totally believe that God has assigned him to this position. That is my true belief.

KING: Assigned him to be the president of the United States?

RENDULIC: Yes, and he'll be president again. I've been saying that for a long time.

KING: What happened in 2020 then?

RENDULIC: That was a mess. That was some illegal, some improper cheating happening.

KING: No judge, in any state, or federal judge found any evidence.

RENDULIC: And I think so many people hate Trump that -- and that --

KING: Even judges appointed by Trump? Even Trump's Supreme Court that rejected him in the end? Three of his justices there.

RENDULIC: I know. I just know that there was a lot of cheating.

KING: If it was God's plan for Trump to be president, why would God let that happen?

RENDULIC: Because, right now, the time happened -- OK. What happened is what happened, but -- and I believe Trump's coming again. KING (voice-over): Such 'Trump is best no matter what' sentiment is easy to find in South Carolina, a big reason the former president is heavily favored in Haley's home state.

RENDULIC: He's even more ready now.

KING (voice-over): Mark Sanford is out of politics because he has a very different take on Trump. Sanford was the Republican governor here before Haley, then he won his old House seat back in 2013. But Sanford lost the Republican primary in 2018 because he criticized Trump's spending and sometimes his tone.

MARK SANFORD, (R-SC) FORMER GOVERNOR: I would say, well, I'm for Trump in this area but I'm against in these different areas. But people didn't want nuance, they want are you for or against him?

KING (voice-over): Sanford now is in agreement, when Haley criticizes Trump for all the chaos and all the deficit spending, yet he expects a big Trump win here.

SANFORD: That which has traditionally worked in GOP politics isn't so much working these days. I've seen this erosion, and you have too. You go from tea party, sort of pro (ph) movement to tea party to Trump. It's metastasized in ever aggressive forms and what started out as a lot of well-meaning Americans saying, look, we got to do something about politicians doing what they said they were going to do into something much more strident as their religion. I mean, I don't know how else to explain it.

KING (voice-over): Hartsville is two hours inland from the coast. Billy Pierce here for 70 years, except a stint in the navy, is another piece of the Trump comeback puzzle.

KING: The four years he was president, how was your life?

BILLY PIERCE, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN VOTER: Better, definitely better. We didn't have the high inflation, we didn't have high interest rates.

KING (voice-over): Not an election denier, not a fan of the toxic tone.

PIERCE: If he would just shut up and got off the Twitter and that kind of stuff, he would have been a great president.

KING (voice-over): His 2016 and 2020 votes for Trump track his 1992 vote for Ross Perot.

PIERCE: I wanted a non-career politician in there that would do -- would run it like a company, run this place like a company, like a CEO.

KING (voice-over): Pierce calls himself likely Trump in the primary. The border is his top issue.

PIERCE: Shut it down. KING (voice-over): And on that, he trusts Trump more than Haley.

PIERCE: He's going in to fix the things I need him to fix. I have no problem, be honest with you, I have no problem with putting up two roads and mining the other. So if they come in, you tell them it's mined, you put signs out that says it's mined.

KING (voice-over): Like many voters drawn to Trump back in 2016, Craig Thomas wanted to send Washington a message.

CRAIG THOMAS, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN VOTER: It was like, all right, like this is good, let's blow some things up.

KING (voice-over): Now, he's voting for Haley to send his children a message.

THOMAS: I don't think there's any sort of crazy conspiracy between the NFL and Taylor Swift and everything else just showing up for a Biden coronation.

KING (voice-over): To end, Thomas hopes awkward conversations after his teenage daughter gets home from the stables.

THOMAS: How I look at my daughter who is a huge Taylor Swift fan and this guy is just attacking Taylor Swift for -- just because she's going to support another candidate, right. And other things like that. And so, having those conversations with them, it does matter. And it does matter with who you support.

KING (voice-over): Charleston is rich with revolutionary and civil war history. It is more affluent, more educated, less Trumpy than most of the state.


THOMAS: But there is quite a bit of talk about Trump even here.

KING (voice-over): That's a bad sign, Thomas says, for those like him who wants South Carolina to someone give Haley a win and give the Republican race a new beginning.


KING: And that's what is so striking. I've been at this a long time. Ronald Reagan was president. The first time I went to South Carolina for a Republican primary was 1988. Back then, it was lower taxes, less government, strong military -- lower taxes, less government, strong military. That state doesn't exist anymore. That party doesn't exist anymore. Governor Sanford is right, now, most Republicans say, where are you on Trump? That is the defining question. And that makes it really hard for Former Governor Haley.

BASH: To hear those voters each give their arguments for the way that they're going to vote, it's so fascinating because they really do encapsulate the different tugs, the pushes and the pulls, inside the GOP and thank you. Great piece as always. Thanks, John. Donald Trump offers an olive branch to Anheuser-Busch after a long simmering feud. Why now? That's next.



BASH: Donald Trump says Anheuser-Busch deserves a second chance. The company became a conservative punching bag after a Bud Light marketing push involving transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Sales plunged as Republican lawmakers and anti-trans activists called for boycotts. And then, yesterday, seemingly out of nowhere, Trump wrote on Truth Social, the Bud Light ad was a mistake of epic proportions and for that, a very big price was paid. But Anheuser-Busch is not a woke company.

Now, here is maybe a bit of context. GOP power broker Jeff Miller announced that he is hosting a fundraiser for Trump. He is also a lobbyist for Anheuser-Busch. Tickets are going for $10,000 each.

Thank you so much for joining "Inside Politics." "CNN News Central" starts after the break.