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Inside Politics

Growing Number Of House Republicans Reject Any New Ukraine Aid; Biden Calls Israel's Military Operation In Gaza "Over The Top"; Stefanik: If I Were VP, I Would Have Rejected 2020 Results; Republican Larry Hogan Launches Maryland Senate Bid; Patriots Owner Buys Super Bowl Ad To Fight Antisemitism. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 09, 2024 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: We have a lot to talk about with my next guest, Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw of Texas. He's a member of the House Intelligence Committee and a retired Navy SEAL. Thank you so much for joining me today.

Let's talk about what's happening on the other side of the Capitol. The Senate is slowly moving on a bill $95 billion. That's how much the package is for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan. Assuming it gets through the Senate, will House Speaker Johnson even bring it up? Should he?

REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R), TEXAS: That's great question. You'd have to ask him. I don't know that he's made any comments one way or the other on it.

BASH: What do you think?

CRENSHAW: But here's what I would do, I would take it, I would slim it down. I've been saying this for a while on all of those pieces of aid. There's certain things that we don't need to be funding. Although we do have to fund the exquisite weapons systems to beat Russia, there's plenty of other things that we don't need to fund. So that's number one.

Number two, I'm not ready to give up on a deal on the border. What we should do is send it back with H.R. 2, all right, and they'll send it back with less of H.R. 2, and that we can at least start a negotiation. The negotiation with Senator Lankford, God bless him, but it didn't work. It didn't work. And so, it's up to our leadership if they choose to lead to actually do that.

BASH: You really think that there is still the political will after what happened earlier this week where that deal, you said it was flawed, and there's a whole discussion separately to do about that. But just in terms of the mechanics of, you know, how things work in Congress, you think that there's the political will still on the Republican side, especially given how clear the person who's going to be likely to be your nominee is that he doesn't want anything done? He wants the issue, not the policy change?

CRENSHAW: No, I'm not sure there's the political will. I've just say what, you know, that there are more of like me who believe that we came up here and told our voters that we would secure the border. That's what we told them. And so for now, changing our minds and saying we don't need new laws and why we passed H.R. 2 in the first place.

So no, I don't -- I'm not optimistic that there's political will for that. And -- but it doesn't mean I'm not going to try.

BASH: On the issue of Israel, congressman, President Biden yesterday described Israel's response in Gaza as over the top. I want you to listen to what he said.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza -- in the Gaza Strip has been over the top. There are innocent people, innocent women and children who are also in -- badly needed help. And so that's what we're pushing around. I'm pushing very hard now to deal with this hostage ceasefire.


BASH: Congressman, you know, the president for the first couple of months was completely unflinchingly steadfast in his support for Israel and its response to the October 7 attack. He is clearly frustrated with the Israeli government. He obviously is also getting political pressure from many in his own party. What do you think of what he said?

CRENSHAW: Well, he's not wrong. But it also is justified, if that makes sense. So Israel's engaging in a disproportionate response, which is exactly what we would do. You know, if you look at the proportions just by population, if that happened to us, it's like it was I think the numbers are like, 48,000 people.

So imagine 48,000 people murdered in cold blood, shot down, babies burned, women rapes -- women continuing to be raped, what would we do, right? Would we would we engage in a proportionate response? Absolutely not. No, we would absolutely win that war at all costs.

And so, of course, it's over the top. Because it's supposed to be because I think the Israelis have said enough is enough. We're never going to allow this to happen again. And that's what they're doing. And so, I -- we're going to continue to support them.

BASH: And do you think that no matter what happens with Ukraine aid or, you know, tying it to the immigration bill or not, that Congress will actually get a bill out of the capital that does support Israel in this environment?

CRENSHAW: I think of all the things we're talking about, the Israeli is probably the least controversial for whatever reason, and it's also not as urgent. You know, the Israelis aren't in dire need of our military support right now. It's a very different question than what's going on in Ukraine.


But, look, I still think it's one of the more uncontroversial topics even though there was that veto threat. The support is still there. It's just people are angling for deals for different -- for other packages as you know.

BASH: I have to ask you about something that your conference chair, Elise Stefanik, who is jockeying, pretty openly jockeying to be Donald Trump's running mate told my colleague, Kaitlan Collins last night that she said, if she were Vice President on January 6, 2021, she would have rejected electoral votes. Listen to exactly what she said in her own words.


REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R), GOP CONFERENCE CHAIR: I would not have done what Mike Pence did. I don't think that was the right approach. I specifically stand by what I said on the House floor. And I stand by my statement, which was there was there was unconstitutional overreach. There was unconstitutional overreach in states like Pennsylvania.

And I think it's very important that we continue to stand up for the Constitution and have legal and secure elections, which we did not have in 2020. And the tens of millions of Americans agree with me.


BASH: Congressman, you did vote to certify the election? Do comments like that from someone who could be Donald Trump's vice president worry you?

CRENSHAW: The only reason I'm not worried is because what she's saying is so completely incorrect. The Constitution gives you no power. You being the vice president gives you no power to decertify the election. It's very clear. I mean, we can pull it up on the screen and read it.

Mike Pence read it, and he came to the conclusion that he has no power to decertify election. The word certify is not even in there. So this idea that there even is this mechanism for Congress to certify or decertify an election --

BASH: Yes.

CRENSHAW: -- is just -- is totally wrong.

BASH: But, congressman --

CRENSHAW: Democrats have been totally wrong about it. They've done it all the last few elections. Republicans are wrong about it this time. I --

BASH: Congressman, what if --

CRENSHAW: And it's all based on this old law.

BASH: -- what if Mike Pence was not the vice president, Mike Pence, who agrees with you in reading the Constitution. And if there -- just even fast forward, this isn't a "what if" in the past, this is "what if" in the future. Let's say Donald Trump picks somebody who is in his camp and not in your camp about the way that they claim that the Constitution reads, even though it doesn't appear to give any power to the vice president.

CRENSHAW: Well, a couple things. You'll never see that again, because if Donald Trump wins, he's not up for reelection the second time. So you won't actually see that scenario. But if you did see that scenario, that vice president could say whatever they wanted right there at the gavel. They could say whatever they wanted and it wouldn't matter because it's not true.

You know, the Constitution simply doesn't allow it. There's no procedure for it, even though both parties have now made it up in their heads. And Democrats opened this door. I remind (ph) everybody of that. They challenged election like every election for the last, like 20 years.

So, they opened the door. Republicans ran through it. It's all based on a lie that Congress has the power to certify or decertify an election.

BASH: Yes.

CRENSHAW: That is not a power that the Congress has. It is very clear in the Constitution. The vice president shall open the electoral votes and read them.

BASH: Yes.

CRENSHAW: And the Congress shall listen. That's it. Like, that's all it says. You know, it doesn't say anything about certifying. So in the end, look, a little bit of optimism here. Our Constitution is remarkably stable. We're one of the youngest countries in the world, but we have the oldest constitution.

It's remarkably stable. This country is remarkably stable. Despite all of the drama of January 6 in that election, what happened? A peaceful transition of power. That's what happened.

BASH: Congressman --

CRENSHAW: And I think that's going to continue to be the case.

BASH: Congressman, thank you so much. I just want to say, and I know you know this, that Democrats certainly in the House, have challenged the electoral results, but we've never had a president ask a vice president to just throw them out. And I know you agree with that as well.

Thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

BASH: Coming up, changing the map. Former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan makes a big announcement that could dampen Democrats' hopes to hold the Senate this fall.



BASH: Just in, former Maryland Governor Larry Hogan is running for Senate. Hogan, a Republican, has been a vocal critic of former President Trump. His decision to run for the U.S. Senate makes a bad Senate map for Democrats even worse.


LARRY HOGAN (R), FORMER MARYLAND GOVERNOR: I have made the decision to run for the United States Senate, not to serve one party, but to try to be part of the solution to fix our nation's broken politics.


BASH: David Chalian is back with me. So, David, Larry Hogan, for people who might not know, is incredibly popular still in the state of Maryland, which is a blue state. Put this in perspective for us.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes. Well, let's put it in this perspective. That is Chuck Schumer's nightmare that you just saw --

BASH: Yes.

CHALIAN: -- on the screen as Larry Hogan announced his candidacy there. You noted to take a bad map for Democrats and make it worse, and that -- it is a very rough map --

BASH: Let's show the map.

CHALIAN: -- for Democrats because they are trying to hold on to some seats in very red states, like in Montana. You see the -- where Tester is up for reelection, or in Ohio, where Sherrod Brown is up for reelection. These are red states that democratic incumbents are going to try to hold onto.


Now you're taking a blue state and bringing a very popular former Republican governor onto this map. Maryland was not on anybody in the democratic universe's board of something that they would have to spend money on or be concerned about. And that's going to drain resources away from the fights in Montana and Ohio.

I should note in Montana, the Democrats got a little bit of good news because Republican Matt Rosendale, the congressman who is not the choice of the Republican establishment, entered the race this week. And there's going to be a really brutal Republican primary there that Tester, the democratic incumbent, hopes to make hay of. But still, this is a presidential election year. So if you're a Democrat like Jon Tester running in a deep red state that Joe Biden is going to lose badly, it's already a rough scenario. And that may be the only thing that gives the Democrats hopes in Maryland, is that it is a presidential year and that maybe even Larry Hogan's popularity, maybe Maryland is too blue to even help get him over the line. We'll see.

BASH: Fascinating. Just when we think we know what everything looks like in politics --

CHALIAN: No. We do not.

BASH: -- we never do, which is why we're so glad that you're here with us, David.

CHALIAN: Thanks.

BASH: Thank you so much.

And up next, his team may not be in the Super Bowl this year, but New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is still planning on making an impact with a very important ad. He will be my guest next.



BASH: Besides the football game, the halftime show, and this year, of course, Taylor Swift, the biggest buzz around the Super Bowl is always the commercials. On Sunday, the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism, founded by New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft, will air a 30 second ad as part of its stand up to Jewish hate campaign.

Here's a behind the scenes look at the moment Kraft calls Martin Luther King Jr. Speechwriter Dr. Clarence Jones to tell him about their ad about building bridges to combat hate and the fact that it will be featured in the Super Bowl.




KRAFT: This is Robert Kraft.

JONES: My beloved brother. What a great honor.

KRAFT: No, it's my honor. Well, let me tell you something. We're going to run your ad during the Super Bowl.

JONES: You know what? You know how to make a 93-year-old man cry. Martin would have loved you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Absolutely get the chills listening to that. Joining me now from Las Vegas, the site of the Super Bowl, is Robert Kraft. Thank you so much for being here. Building bridges to combat hate, that is a big part of what you do. You recently added $100 million donation to the foundation on top of the millions, of course, that you put in to start it.

It's a huge part of your life's work. Walk us through how this Super Bowl ad came to be and how you decided to feature Dr. Jones.

KRAFT: Well, part of the campaign of our foundation is to stop all hate in the country and it starts with Jewish hate and then leads to every other group. And we did a report that showed us that if we created ads that educate most Americans who are great people, that we need them to stand up and not be silent when they see something happening that's inappropriate to any ethnic group, any religious group, any gender issue, anything. We have to stop hate to keep the foundational values of America strong.

And when I had a chance to see -- meet Dr. Jones, we spent about three hours together, and I saw the influence that he had on Martin Luther King, who, when I was in my early 20s, I actually heard him give the "I Have A Dream" speech, and he was so articulate and so good, and such a bridge building person.

I needed -- we need more of that today. And one of the things that Dr. Jones said to me when we were in person, he said, I love you, man, because you've chosen to do this, and silence is the biggest enemy of this country right now. And you, on your own, have chosen to do this.

And I said, that's a great message to give to all people, that we have to have them stand up and push back on ahead.

BASH: You know, yes. And your message has always been that hate is hate, whether it's racism against people of color or antisemitism. I want to ask you, because since the Hamas attack on October 7th, Israel's retaliation, the divide between blacks in America and Jews seems to be wider. Is that another reason for this ad at this time, in this venue, the Super Bowl?

KRAFT: Definitely. Look, we hope and believe over 200 million people will wind up seeing this in the end. And, you know, what's happened, unfortunately, with this issue, with the Hamas attack, it's been turned into something that, you know, this is white oppressors at work here.


And, you know, 62 percent of the people who have settled in Israel are people of colors from all over Africa as well as Europe. And it's a haven where people went where for thousands of years, the history of being in the country, the history is there.

You know, Christ was born in Bethlehem 2023 years ago. And I think social media are putting messaging out there that's just improper, so we have to correct it.

BASH: Yes. Well, before I let you go, I know you are in Las Vegas for the Super Bowl. In my house, you also know that my son is a huge Patriots fan. He's not looking at the Super Bowl.


BASH: He's already looking ahead to the next season. I have been instructed by a certain 12-year-old to ask, will you commit to drafting Marvin Harrison, Jr.

KRAFT: Well, he's very wise. And for the first time in 31 years, my ownership, we've never drafted as high as number three. And he is definitely the person who -- if we didn't take a quarterback, he has the highest ratings on him right now. So your son is very wise, but there's a lot that can happen there.

BASH: Yes.

KRAFT: But -- yes, he's got good -- do whatever he's doing on a fantasy basis. He's very smart.

BASH: Thank you, Mr. Kraft. And more importantly, thank you so much for everything you do to raise awareness for -- of hate in this country and try to bridge those divides. Thank you so much.

KRAFT: Well, you know, Dana, we have the greatest country in the world, and we have to keep this fabric --

BASH: Yes.

KRAFT: -- of people anywhere coming here and living their dream.

BASH: Amen.

KRAFT: And it's going to change if we push back on this aid.

BASH: Thank you so much. Be well. Have fun tomorrow -- or Sunday.

KRAFT: Thank you.

BASH: Thank you.

KRAFT: Bye-bye.

BASH: Thank you.

And thank you for joining INSIDE POLITICS. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts after the break.