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In Profanity-Laced Speech, Trump Attacks Prosecutors, Accuses Democrats Of "Running A Gestapo Administration"; Democrats On Edge As Protests Disrupt College Commencements; Rep. Bacon On Republican Colleague Taking Him On; Abortion Restrictions in America. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired May 05, 2024 - 08:00   ET


CAROLYN MANNO, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: They've got to see a show from L.A.'s two super star rookies, Cameron Brink and Rickea Jackson, the second and fourth overall picks in last month's generational draft class. Dazzling in their preseason pro debuts, giving fans in Hollywood a lot of hope for the future of the franchises.


L.A. wins by five.

Back to you, guys.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Carolyn, thanks so much.

And thank you for being with us this morning. We'll see you back here next weekend.



MANU RAJU, CNN HOST (voice-over): Lashing out. Behind closed doors, Trump compares the Biden administration to the Gestapo as VP hopefuls descend on Mar-a-Lago --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Who is my favorite for vice president? Well, I'll be making that determination.

RAJU: -- just hours after that blockbuster testimony.

Plus, Democrats on edge.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's the right to protest, but not the right to cause chaos.

RAJU: Gaza protests split the party.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): The horrific tragedies and violence that were seeing makes it hard for us to talk about anything else. RAJU: Leaving Biden in the middle.

SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): This kinds of message is like a Christmas present to Hamas.

RAJU: And Republican rift. New reporting on the infighting play in the GOP.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're bullies, and the only way to get back at the bullies is to push back hard.

RAJU: Plus, in the weeds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I realized that cannabis was better for me than football.

RAJU: Amid historic movement on marijuana, NFL legends urging Congress to ease up on pot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This plant is what saved us and this is why we're here.

RAJU: INSIDE POLITICS, the best reporting from inside the corridors of power, starts now.


RAJU: Good morning, and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Manu Raju.

Behind closed doors last night at his Mar-a-Lago club, Donald Trump took out his anger over his litany of criminal charges, delivering a fiery and profanity-laced speech in front of big donors and GOP officials. The former president compare President Biden's administration to Nazi Germany, accusing Democrats of, quote, running a Gestapo administration, according to several attendees. He cursed while criticizing special counsel Jack Smith and other prosecutors who have charged them with committing crimes.

And in yet another sign of how Trump has come to embrace the January 6 Capitol attack he walked up to a song performed by men imprisoned for the role in the insurrection. Now it came as Trump audition half a dozen potential VP picks in front of those big Republican donors at the ritzy retreat, all just hours after that blockbuster testimony from his longtime aide, Hope Hicks, in his criminal hush money trial in New York.

Now for a behind-the-scenes look into this week's gathering, we're joined by CNN's Alayna Treene, who is live with us in Palm Beach with some new reporting.

Alayna, what are you hearing?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Manu, you're exactly right about Donald Trump's speech yesterday. He was speaking at a luncheon fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago Club, and as you said, it was a 90-minute profanity laden speech where he cursed repeatedly I'm told and he did compare the Biden administration to the Gestapo while baselessly claiming that Democrats are the ones behind the series of criminal indictments that he is facing.

Now, I do also just want so bring you some reporting we have about the setting of this weekend. So, a lot of Republicans, wealthy donors, gathered here in Palm Beach to help raise money for the former president as part of the RNC's annual retreat. And as you mentioned, there are a lot of special guests who were included on that list that are on Donald Trump's shortlist to become his running mate, people like Doug Burgum and Tim Scott, both former Republican presidential primary opponents against him, as well as Senator Marco Rubio and Senator JD Vance, as well as House Republican conference chair, Elise Stefanik, among others.

And Donald Trump lavish praise on them during that speech in Mar-a- Lago called them up to the stage and as you said, its kind of an audition of sorts for these potential vice presidential contenders. Now when I talked to the Trump campaign, they say that Donald Trump is still a weeks, if not months away from deciding who he wants to pick as his running mate, that decision will come closer to the Republican national convention in July. But it was a good opportunity for these people to brush shoulders with him and stand onstage at this big event.

Now, some new reporting we also have is that at one of the events during the RNC retreat, Chris LaCivita and Susie Wiles, both Donald Trump's campaign managers, as well as Tony Fabrizio, had a walk through some fundraising figures, including that they had raised $76.2 million last month. And really the fundraising here was the entirety of this weekend. They really are trying to aggressively catch up to Joe Biden's campaign who has an ever-growing war chest that really has been out of reach for the Trump campaign -- Manu.

RAJU: All right. Alayna Treene in Palm Beach, Florida, thank you for that report.

And I'm joined now by CNN's Kristen Holmes, "The New York Times'" Carl Hulse, and Laura Barron-Lopez of "PBS NewsHour".


Good morning on this newsy morning.

Some news last night at Mar-a-Lago -- Kristen, you cover the Trump campaign for us here at CNN. You have been talking to your sources, what, what have you -- what are you learning about what happened this weekend, and your takeaway from it?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, they're feeling really good about the $76.2 million. They know that they're not going to catch up with Joe Biden. That is become a reality for them and several of his advisers have briefed the former president on that. So they're coming up with campaign strategies now looking ahead to November as to how to do more with less. Now, one of the things that they have sat in these are his top

advisers is that they feel like they have one advantage, which is that Donald Trump doesn't need to win over his base. They feel like right now, President Biden is still trying to win over his base, given a series of issues that voters have with the president so what they're trying to do is look ahead to November as how to siphon off voters.

But as you said, like Donald Trump is very focused in the now. We've all heard about that 90 minute profane late and speech. He's talking about those trials. He's not talking about the campaign. He's talking about how he's angry that he has to sit in court all day and to some extent, he is irate.

RAJU: Yeah.

HOLMES: That he has been frustrated. We know he's been closing his eyes. He doesn't want to sit there for eight hours a day. Now, I don't think he actually wants to be out there campaigning, you're seeing that, but he definitely does want to be sitting in the courtroom.

RAJU: Exactly. Well get more to that later in this segment, but I want to get into just about the vice presidential hopefuls that Alayna was reporting that about how there they were there. There were behind closed doors. They came up on stage, several of them up upon your screen there, six of them potential GOP -- we'll see -- maybe there's some others on the list, too.

But, you know, these -- one of the things is that these vice presidential pick -- VP picks are going to have to defend Trump against all these criminal charges. That's going to be one of the big things about one of these candidates. If they want the job which I'm sure any of them will, they're going to have to defend Trump against these criminal charges.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right because Trump really values loyalty most above everything else. He wants someone who is going to be just protecting him at all costs, someone who is not going to say or distance themselves from him in any way, shape, or form. And we've seen that out of those that we had there on the screen, a lot of them appeared willing to do that. They appear willing whether it's in terms of the trials or also the rhetoric that he uses on the campaign trail.

And oftentimes, you know, very well, Manu, that Republicans will say that they didn't see a comment that he made. They say that they didn't see a Truth Social post.

RAJU: They didn't see the tweet.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Didn't see the tweet, which I expect these VP candidates will continue to see and just don't condemn the type of rhetoric that he uses on the campaign at all either.

RAJU: What was remarkable about last night was just about the way that Trump has gone to embracing what happened on January 6. Those -- we talked, there's this anthem, this January 6 prisoners have been -- they sing a song which basically the national anthem and pledge of allegiance, right? And then they play that all these rallies. And he did this in front of his donors and this GOP class.

And this all comes as Trump is continuing to talk about election fraud. In fact, this is the third straight election cycle when he is not said that he would accept the electoral results, no matter what happens unconditionally. This is not what he said in the past.


TRUMP: The only way we can lose, in my opinion -- I really mean this, Pennsylvania -- is if cheating goes on.

The only way we're going to lose this election the election is rigged.


RAJU: And this is -- that was 2016 and 2020. And this is just last week to the "Milwaukee Journal Sentinel". He says: If everything's honest, I'll gladly accept the results. I don't change on that. If it's not, you have to fight for the right of the country.

Now, I mean, this all comes as the RNC's chief counsel, we learned in Charlie's piece, resigned about two months after accepting his position in part because of some tension over not believing those election fraud issues. But Trump is to embrace again, even talking about this in front of his donors.

CARL HULSE, CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: Yeah. I think we can stipulate that Donald Trump, if he loses, is not going to accept the results of the election. And I think this is part of the problem with these vice presidential candidates, but I haven't seen any reluctance at all from them so far to defend him and to even downplay January 6.

I think JD Vance has really taken on that mantle saying last week, you know that its all exaggerated. So I mean this is what Trump is going to do. And I think that's tough for the people on the Hill who were there on January 6, and they have to say oh, wasn't that big a deal.

JD Vance wasn't there. Its probably a little easier for him, but I do think it's problematic for a lot of the senators who've already come out and said, I'm -- a lukewarm endorsement.

RAJU: Yeah.

HULSE: But they don't like talking about January 6 because there's a lot of video of them running and what's going on. And it continues to come out.

RAJU: I want to turn to the Hope Hicks testimony from Friday. Of course, he was one of Trump's -- she was one of Trump's longtime advisers, he went to the stand in that dramatic -- in the hush money criminal case and some of the key takeaways is there you see on your screen about how she recapped what happened in the aftermath of that "Access Hollywood" tape and the 2016 campaign, about Trump telling her about Michael Cohen's payment to Stormy Daniels, who Trump allegedly had an affair with and tried to cover it up with those hush money payments.


Kristen, you've been covering this trial. What was your takeaway about what stood out to you last week?

HOLMES: Well, the prosecution certainly did their job with Hope Hicks. I mean, it was very clear she was composed. She was poised. She was very honest about everything that had happened.

And the other part of this is that she's not somebody like Michael Cohen who has an ax to grind with Donald Trump. They hadn't spoken for two years. That was because her testimony in front of the January 6 Committee was made public. There was a lot of ice around some of the text messages she sent that essentially insulted the president and his orbit was very angry.

But the two of them still have very much mutual admiration for each other. They both speak very highly of each other. They have a relationship that was clear when she was on the stand. She was one of the first people that was part of Donald Trump's campaign. She was in it and she was part of everything.

And the prosecutions job there to outline what that looked like. They did that and I was pretty powerful.

RAJU: In meantime, I've put the question a number of Republicans about the allegations of all was all Republicans are defending Trump against these prosecutions. They think its unfair. They see two tier system of justice. That's their argument.

But what just the underlying allegations of Donald Trump allegedly making hush money payments to cover up this affair and how do they feel about it?


RAJU: Does that conduct give you any concern?

REP. ANDY OGLES (R-TN): I think it gives me concern is when you look at college campuses across the country, you have a two tier justices in this country.

RAJU: What about the conduct, his alleged conduct, the former president?

OGLES: Well, again, I'm not going to speak to alleged activities.

REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): You want somebody again? Character to be president, you need to look back in history, all the dirt bags that we've elected president. It doesn't shake me.

REP. MARC MOLINARIO (R-NY): I'd be more concerned if I were President Biden. RAJU: The underlying allegations that he paid off a porn star to keep an extramarital affair quiet.

REP. GREG PENCE (R-IN): Manu, I knew I can't answer those questions anymore.

RAJU: Why?

PENCE: I'm looking forward.



RAJU: And that's former Vice President Mike Pence's brother, but, you know, that's GOP.

HULSE: That's the way it goes on the Hill, but I have heard from even members who are not fans of Donald Trump at all that they think that this case is not a good case.

RAJU: Yeah. We'll see. We'll see if he actually is convicted or acquitted, or maybe a hung jury. We'll see.

All right. Coming up, as campus protests continue this weekend, Democrats are on edge. I speak with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez and John Fetterman, that's next.



RAJU: New this morning, we're monitoring the University of Southern California campus, the protest seen here earlier this week were the LAPD is moving in to clear the pro-Palestinian protest encampment. We'll monitor that and bring you any news as it develops.

Now, protests in the United States are showing no signs of slowing down, including in college commencements that are now getting underway. This as talks continued this weekend over a long-sought hostage deal that could bring about a temporary ceasefire in Gaza. Democrats are divided on how to respond with President Biden stuck in the middle -- well aware of how young voters' anger could hurt him in key battleground states.

So I asked Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez what the president needs to do to bring them back in the fold.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Young people are facing a very strong array of challenges that are structural and they also manifest in our economic ability to lead our lives. I think it's really about doubling down on that, making health care affordable, making housing affordable, and taking on corporate power in the United States.

RAJU: More of that than the Gaza war?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: I think the Gaza war absolutely is a factor in this.

We have people that are, of course, appalled at what is happening in Gaza with the help of U.S. resources, the horrific tragedies and violence that were seeing makes it hard for us to talk about anything else.


RAJU: But for the other side of the Democratic argument, here's Senator John Fetterman.


SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): Do you think Democrats are divided? Well, they're definitely, as they definitely have a pro-Hamas wing of the protesters. And there's also parts of that might be antisemitism.

RAJU: Are you comfortable but what Netanyahu, the way he's prosecuting this war right now?

FETTERMAN: It is -- that's not, it's not my judgment.

When you have a choice of standing with a group of cowards and rapist that are, you now, like -- I'm always going to stand with Israel. It's been very clear.


RAJU: All right. My panels back.

Now, it's interesting how the Democratic debate has taken shape and how voters view the -- whether or not the United States is doing too much or too little. Here's a poll from the new poll that from ABC News/Ipsos about whether or not U.S. is doing too much support Israel.

This is -- right now, it says among Democrats, 40 percent say is doing too much to support Israel. That is up seven points, just since January. That's in line with younger voters to clearly -- that puts -- President Biden recognizes that the shift happening within his party.

BARRON-LOPEZ: He does recognize it. It's why you've seen the president take more aggressive stances toward Israel, despite the fact that he says, we still support them, we support their right to, you know, wage this war in defense of themselves. But that he has had much more contentious conversations with Netanyahu, that he has publicly been calling for a ceasefire, when he didn't months ago, that he is saying he's working, you know, tirelessly to try to negotiate this.

But I was just in Michigan talking to young voters and the voters there kind of matched what Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez was saying, which was that there were those that were very upset about Gaza. Some that had voted for Biden in 2020, said that they weren't going to this time around. And then there was the undecided young voters who lean to the left,

and were much more concerned about the economy and about abortion. And they could very well end up coming back to him by November.

RAJU: Interesting, and she also said that, you know, the Gaza sort of underscores and intensifies that feeling about how the president is doing at those other issues. That's a key point.

And about those other issues, this is how issues will determine how voters will come down according to the Monmouth University poll. Inflation, the top of the list, economy, top of the list. Immigration still high up there, but the Israel-Hamas war, 80 percent, yeah, that's not at the top, but that's still a significant number. And there's a debate again against the demo in the Democratic Party about what Biden should do differently.

That's a question I put to a number of Democrats last week.


RAJU: Are you worried at all about how this could impact him come November?

REP. JEFF JACKSON (D-NC): I think if the election were held today, there would definitely be an impact. I think there's a lot of time between now and then and hopefully we'll get a good resolution.

REP. DAN GOLDMAN (D-NY): I would be very surprised that the progressive left of which I'm proudly a part of, would support that kind of discrimination and harassment. This is now far outside of some objection to Prime Minister Netanyahu.

REP. SALUD CARBAJAL (D-CA): At the end of the day, people will see that there's two similar individuals in some respect, but at the end, very different. That (EXPLETIVE DELETED) crazy, chaos dictator-like or steady, evenhanded, pragmatic individual.

RAJU: What about those voters who say that they are going to sit out the election? Those Democratic voters who say they must sit out the election.

FETTERMAN: Yeah, 100 percent, like if they want to throw Michigan to Trump that way -- well, if you want to play with that fire, you better -- you better own that fire.


RAJU: What do you what -- I mean, it's interesting. I mean, John Fetterman says, sit out the election. You're going to lose, but there's a lot of Democrats were concerned about that.

HULSE: Yeah. No, I think this is a big problem on the Democratic side, trying to figure out exactly what to do, as we saw with the antisemitism bill that was on the floor last week.

And I think that Republicans are pretty happy to see this. They've had so much turmoil in their own ranks. They finally think they have the Democrats on the run on an issue where Republicans are a little more united.

RAJU: Yeah. And speaking of Republicans, one of them is Donald Trump, before we can turn to Trump, just -- we're monitoring these protests that are happening in UNC, that pro-Palestinian encampment, and potentially LAPD moving in to deal with those, the encampment there, we'll monitor that as that develops.

But Donald Trump has been talking about those college protests, believing this is an issue that can divide Democrats. Here's a taste of what Donald Trump has been saying.


TRUMP: The radical extremists and far-left agitators are terrorizing college campuses as you possibly noticed. Crooked Joe is now reportedly planning -- this is wonderful news for you people in Wisconsin -- to bring massive numbers of Gazans from the Middle East --


All live to your American towns, your towns and villages.

He's just determined to create the conditions for an October 7 style attack right here in America, it's going to happen with all of these people coming in from the southern border and, you know?


RAJU: All right. So what's your view? This was him in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

HOLMES: Right. So, what he is referring to there is a CBS reported that the Biden administration is reportedly considering bringing in or allowing Palestinian refugees as war refugees to come in if they have some kind of connection to the United States. That was a report. Most of the time or much of the time Donald Trump is making something up, but he was referring to something there that had been published.

This is a good issue for the former president, not just because of the tension that we're seeing the Democratic Party, but also because of what you're seeing Republicans doing overall, which is painting a portrait of chaos underneath Joe Biden.

So when you're seeing these campus protests, when you're seeing law enforcement dragging people out of their -- out of encampments and you're seeing kind of a lack of control, those are the things that Donald Trump and his team are really pinpointing and pointing to, to try and get voters who might be more moderate in the middle or even people who might be looking at that saying, I don't know if I can send my kid to college. This is very scary. This looks like very intense.

Those are the kind of things that really focusing on here. RAJU: Yeah, it's interesting because one of the things that Dan

Goldman said in that clip that, that we played earlier is that he doesn't believe this is representative of the left of the party. This is a small amount of the Democratic Party that -- maybe not even Democrats, who are these people that are protesting, college students, and -- but the question is, how does that perceive among the public now?


We'll turn back to that as were watching this L.A. police moving to clear a pro-Palestinian encampment, and we're going to continue to monitor that that effort, that what's happening on the ground there, as you can see a live stream on your screen and we'll bring you in more news when we come back.



RAJU: All right. New this morning, we're monitoring the University of Southern California campus where the LAPD is moving in to clear the pro-Palestinian protest encampment. We'll bring you more details as we learned what's happening on the ground there.

And then for now, we're bringing it back in the room with what's happening in Washington? House Republicans, they began this Congress with an ambitious agenda, but those dreams have faded away. Since then, they have thrown out one House speaker, trying to dump another, and their agenda is stalled amid bickering and name-calling.

Now they are actively trying to defeat each other in their primaries. Today, my new reporting with Melanie Zanona looks at how the fury within the conference is spreading to their home districts as even more Republicans bank (ph) primary challenges to their sitting colleagues, something that has long been seen as a major breach of protocol.

Now, everyone from the hardliners who voted to oust Kevin McCarthy to one member voted to impeach Donald Trump has a target on their back from fellow Republicans.

The latest battle involves Nebraska's Don Bacon, a swing-district Republican, who is fed up with the hardliners tactics.

Now the chairman of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, Bob Good, just endorsed, Bacon's primary challenger. And Bacon told me he plans to respond in kind.


REP. DON. BACON (R-NE): You know, it's all about norms have been undermined by these guys. But we never vacated a speaker. They did it right. Now, they're going to get to people in their districts. So my view of it is I was never going to go against an incumbent you just -- you support. You let the voters in that district take care of that. But I am supporting Bob Good's opponent now.

RAJU: You are.


RAJU: Why's that.

BACON: Well, Bob Good came out endorsed my opponent. So were going to go in with everything we've got.


RAJU: And thought to ask Bob Good, who is actually being targeted by people like Don Bacon, center right Republicans in his own primary. Asked him about why he's targeting his fellow Republican.


RAJU: why do you want Don Bacon to lose in his primary. You're supporting his opponent? Why does he deserve to lose.

Do you have a comment, you look pretty concerned about that?


RAJU: His office didn't respond to requests for comments as well.

Carl, you've been covering Congress for a very long time. What does it say about the norms in this Congress?


Well, the norms have been gone for a while on these issues. Then tit for tat and this does not help the Republicans in any way, shape, or form as they try to hold on to the majority.

You know, when you have this kind of infighting, it spreads, the messages and good the division is very visible. So just one more reason that Republicans are going to struggle to hold onto the House.

BARRON-LOPEZ: It's just a bit like "Lord of the Flies" in the House Republican conference right now. It's a lot of eating each other alive and like yes, Democrats are as you laid out, disagreeing right now on Israel-Gaza policy, but they aren't primary in each other or backing challengers at the same rate at all the way House Republicans are?

RAJU: Yes, no question. And this all comes of course, as Mike Johnson is trying to fend off this threat to his House. But we expect it could happen this week, maybe as soon as tomorrow when Marjorie Taylore Greene, if she goes to the floor tomorrow, calls for a vote seeking his ouster.

He's going to survive that Mike Johnson is because Democrats are coming to his defense. But there's just been a lot of turmoil, of course, among the top Republican ranks, lot of turnover in the Republican leadership. Mike Johnson has just been an (INAUDIBLE) 193 days compared to the one of the last Democratic House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi 1,461 days. That's the first-time, 1,462 days, the second time she was speaker. And you're seeing just how that doesn't compare to the Republican side.

Donald Trump does not necessarily like this turmoil. In fact, one of his colleagues, Troy Nehls who I caught up with last week, made that case to me when I asked why he opposes ousting Mike Johnson.


REP. TROY NEHLS (R-TX): everything that we do in the House of Representatives should be in the best interest of getting Donald Trump reelected. This guy right here, motions to vacate justified or unjustified. We don't have time for that right now.


RAJU: And Trump agrees, I mean last night in Mar-a-Lago, he said he offered "The Post reports it this way, unequivocal praise for Mike Johnson, who is in the crowd telling him that, quote, you're doing a very good job.

He added that Republicans should leave him alone.

HOLMES: Yes. This is really truly how Donald Trump feels right now.

Just remember he doesn't want to go through this either partly because it takes the spotlight off of him. It was a lot with the Kevin McCarthy stuff. He was in the news constantly and he was trying to get attention around what he was doing in his campaign. But also, they believe that this is a distraction.

And Donald Trump has told that to people around him. Now, he is in a little bit of a hard spot because Marjorie Taylore Greene is one of his most loyal supporters and he is not going to publicly come out against Marjorie Taylore Greene.

So it's a lot of this maneuvering that you're seeing hymn praising Johnson, non-stop. He brought Johnson up on the stage. Marjorie Taylore Greene wasn't even in Palm Peach over the weekend, which is rare because she's almost always by his side for any of these kind of events.

Now, I'm not saying there's a rift there, but there is certainly a conversations that he is having with his allies to try and get this to be buttoned up. He does not want to deal with it again.


RAJU: This all comes of course, the question is, does this impact them in November? How much will it impact them? The issue is that the House races, it's incredible -- there's very few

competitive districts. What are those competitive districts?

A Democrat was just indicted on Friday, Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar allegedly for accepting nearly $600,000 in bribes from two foreign entities.

He has said that he has done nothing wrong, but you can see that was the 2022 election results he won that race. But Biden carried that district by about seven points in 2020.

But this is the issue. This whole house Republican majority is 217 to 220, 212. There'll be another Democrat sworn in soon, but look, they can still hang out in the majority.

HULSE: Right. It will be very narrow, but they could, you know, and I think this is a big surprise to them at the end, like here we have this race, all of a sudden in play. It's going to be really sort of back-and-forth. I think the entire campaign, but no one is going to win this by a big number.

RAJU: And Democrats obviously concerned about the Henry Cuellar situation. Hakeem Jeffries says that you're innocent until proven guilty, but he's going to be on the ballot in November.

LOPEZ: Right. Because how do you field a candidate in time if somehow they wanted to, the primaries already over, if somehow he weren't in the race, how do you field the candidate in time if he does actually win the race? And then he's sent off unindicted. Then I think that it's a big problem for them because they're looking at like a handful of House races in California, a handful of house races in NW, and they're hoping that they just are able to hold onto the existing ones and add in those in those states.

But it's going to be narrowed whether you're Republicans or Democrats.

RAJU: Yes. We'll see.

(INAUDIBLE) majority has been very difficult to cover, to say the least. I'm very (INAUDIBLE) about that.

All right. So were still monitoring this breaking news out of Los Angeles where police are moving in on protesters at USC and we'll continue to discuss that.

And up next, Trumps allies are warning on abortion as Democrats counts. And then I talked to two NFL legends who (INAUDIBLE) about their support for legalizing marijuana.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I realize that candidates was better for me than football.




RAJU: Justin University of Southern California officials have closed the schools main campus as police move out clear out pro-Palestinian protesters, all amid the growing unrest we are seeing in college campuses across the country. We'll continue to monitor this developing situation.

Meanwhile, in Florida this weekend behind closed doors, wealthy Republican donors were told the issue of abortion was a key vulnerability ahead of November. That's according to one attendee at the GOP retreat in Florida.

The acknowledgment comes after several major developments this past week. In Arizona, the governor signed a repeal of a near-total abortion ban from 1864. While in Florida, a law banning almost all abortions after six weeks took effect Wednesday. Borders there will decide its fate in November.

That means nearly every state across the south has some form of abortion ban in place. But a new CNN poll this week shows just over half of adults and states with complete bans, find the policy too restrictive.

Now, Trump has been dancing around this issue even though he named the three Supreme Court justices who overturned Roe v. Wade. He said in a time magazine interview that came out this week of whether he was comfortable if states decide to punish women who access abortion after the prisoners is bad. He said the states are going to make that decision. And then he was asked, do you think states should monitor women's pregnancies.

They can know if they've gotten an abortion after the ban, he went on to say, I think they may do that. They might do that. Now, the Biden team of course, jumped all over that and Trump put out, his truth social post at 3:29 a.m.

This morning and he said that I never said that some states may choose to monitor women's pregnancies to possibly prosecute for violating any abortion ban.

Look, it just shows you the complicated position Donald Trump is in and he knows how potent of an issue it is come November.

HOLMES: Yes. And also just to be clear, "Time Magazine put out a transcript." It wasn't just, you know, part of a quote. They put up the full transcript there. So Donald Trump did agree with that, could be something that happens.

And as you said, he has a fine line to walk because one he wants to take credit for the overturning of Roe v Wade. He has tried to take credit for it and in some ways he is the modern-day architect of the overturning of Roe v Wade because of those three Supreme Court justices.

But at the other time (ph), he knows that it is not a political winner for Republicans. He is watching all of this. This is why you saw him not get onboard with a national abortion ban because politically speaking, he was told and convinced by his advisors that that would have been a toxic move. That the better things to do was to kick it to the states. But as you see there, when you ask -- he's getting asked specific

questions about what that could look like almost as though he doesn't know how to answer that because again, he doesn't want to be talking about this at all.

All he was doing was saying it's not on me, it's a mistake.

RAJU: Here's a few really interesting poll that came out -- long-term poll really from December of last year through March 9, they interviewed 22 thousand participants PRRI poll about whether or not abortion should be mostly legal.


O'DONNELL: But close to two-thirds of people in battleground states say abortion should be mostly legal and here are the states that they surveyed on your screen the ones that will determine the election.

I mean, obviously there's a reason why Kamala Harris was down in Jacksonville, Florida mentioning Trump's 29 -- 20 times last week in tying abortion to Trump.

LOPEZ: That's right. The campaign is going to be hammering -- the Biden campaign is going to be hammering on this -- Trump on this relentlessly.

And just being again in Michigan, voters there, they still are worried about this. Despite the fact that Michigan in 2022 protected the abortion access on their ballot initiative and a lot of the Democrats in that state kind of feel as though they could be the blue print for Democrats in other states.

Because of the fact that they rode that abortion rights ballot initiative to I trust Trifecta in that state. They won, cross the board the governor's mansion the state houses, and so they are looking at states like Arizona, Nevada, where they can't keep Democrats to the black birth lets write, and boost Biden at the ticket.

I mean a lot of voters even this one young conservative voter that I spoke to, admitted he's 19th years old. He's in college and he's going to vote for Trump. But he said that abortion could be the reason that he thinks Biden wins because there are so many young women saying that they care about this.

RAJU: And you mentioned abortion on the ballot here. Here are the states where abortion -- abortion matters happening about. have been in about this November. this November, where abortion came out.

a lot of so many states from Florida to South Dakota -- You know, Maryland New York, Missouri." Look, Donald Trump may not lose Missouri.

But there's documents. It can have some impact on the down ticket.

HULSE: This is a huge advantage for Democrats and both parties have learned over the years, let's get these ballot initiatives on the general election ballot and drive out our voters.

And I think that you know, you're right, Florida is -- Joe Biden really competitive in Florida? No. But there's a Senate race there's some very important House races. Let's get the number of voters that we can out there.

I think, and I would think you guys would agree with me that if Democrats win the House, wins the White House, abortion will be the issue that probably propelled him.

RAJU: And just a reminder from voters about voting -- States have voted to protect abortion since 2022, there were three red states, three blue states that have essentially voted to protect it in 2022.

So you're seeing how voters vote on what its about referendum. But will they come out in November to support Democrats? Of course, as with the Democrats we will see.

All right? Coming up with major marijuana news out of Washington I get in the weeds with two football legends. Lawmakers to ease regulations on cannabis see what the buzz is about.


JIM MCMAHON, FORMER NFL PLAYER: I ate so many pain killers during my career

I'm lucky to have liver, kidneys right now. And this plan is what saved us. And this is why we're here.


RAJU: This past week, the Biden administration took a historic step when it moved to reclassify marijuana as a lower-risk substance acknowledging the medical benefits of the long-criminalized drug.

The next day, top Democratic senators, introduced a bill that would take things a step further by making it so weed is no longer a controlled substance.

So I recently had a joint interview with two pro pot p spokesman who lit up capitol hill as they told lawmakers about why they think Congress should ease up on cannabis.

Former Heisman trophy winner Ricky Williams and quarterback Jim McMahon, who of course was the punky QB for the best NFL team of all time. That's of course, 1985 Chicago Bears.

They were on the Hill encouraging Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill called the Safer Banking Act, which would give cannabis companies access to banking and financial services and they said they even discussed full-blown legalization with more liberal members.

Now Ricki Williams's NFL career was temporarily derailed two decades ago after he tested positive for marijuana. And in our interview, he was blunt. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICKI WILLIAMS, FORMER NFL PLAYER: Well, this might sound weird, but if we think about it, it makes sense. I realized that cannabis was better for me than football.

RAJU: Because it's better for your health.

WILLIAMS: Exactly. Exactly.

And I had enough money and I have enough money where I didn't need to play football to make a living and so I just did the math. And I said, quality of life or that (INAUDIBLE). It was an easy decision.

It almost ended my career. You know, I was able to serve my multiple suspension because I was still good enough and the trial lab and allowed me to come back. And I was able to get 10 years, 11 years and 10,000.

But it definitely put a damper on my career.


RAJU: Now, the Bears, Jim McMahon said he smoked weed while in the NFL, but never got caught.


MCMAHON: it was quite a few of my teammates. I enjoyed it with. I treated myself to cannabis, while I was playing, you know, living on those pain pills like I was I mean I couldn't sleep you can go to the bathroom. I mean, it's just it just screws up so many things in your body and all it does is mask pain.

Whereas the cannabis, it actually is heels. heals from within. And without it, I wouldn't have been able to come back from all the surgeries I was I was able to come back from so quickly.

RAJU: So while you are playing you were smoking --

MCMAHON: Never, never, never failed -- how have you never failed a drug test.

WILLIAMS: We do when they work.

How do you have never feel doing?

MCMAHON: Well, we do when they work. That stupid to get caught --


WILLIAMS: No, it's ok.


MCMAHON: I got traded -- I got traded and they didn't tell when. (END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: Dub Airs led by Iron Mike, who coached Mike Ditka of course (ph) won Super Bowl 20 that year and famously perform the award-winning Super Bowl Shuffle.


RAJU: So I have to ask I mean, you and Mike -- you and Mike Ditka. Did you guys smoke a joint together?

MCMAHON: No, we tried to get them to.

RAJU: Really? He wouldn't do it? Because every time we went to get water, you just only a pot smokers need water.

MCMAHON: I used to join his one that you feel better. You drink wine all the time that'll give you a head ache.


RAJU: And I was also lucky enough to have a chance to reminisce with McMahon about those '85 Bears.


MCMAHON: everything was live.

We had no buddy-buddy periods, you know, and it got intense. So we look forward to Sunday I mean we, couldn't wait to get to Sunday, beat somebody else up because he got rough.

RAJU: And we can't wait until Sundays either for more of our conversation about the 85 Bears, you can follow me on x @mkraju. And follow the show in @kraju and follow to show it this, show it inside politics.

And if you ever miss an episode, and you ever miss an episode? So you can catch up wherever you get your podcasts. Just search for inside politics.

Up next. "A union with Jake tapper and Dana Bash. Jake's guests include North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, University of Florida president, Ben Sass and Biden campaign co-chair Mitch Landrieu. Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. We'll see you next time.