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Election Enters Untested Waters As Trump Consolidates Support; Vulnerable Democrats, Republicans Grapple With Verdict; Interview With Former Speaker Of The House Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA); Manchin Declares Independence With Future In Question. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired June 02, 2024 - 08:00   ET





MANU RAJU, CNN HOST (voice-over): Criminal appeal.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It was a rigged trial. These are bad people. Nobody's ever seen anything like it.

RAJU: Trump's conviction injects uncertainty into the race.

SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): Don't get angry, don't get depressed, get even.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Success is the best revenge.

RAJU: The former president faces potential prison time and a tide of support.

TRUMP: This is bigger than me. This is bigger than my presidency.

RAJU: How is this verdict reverberating nationwide?

Plus, reckless.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's reckless, dangerous. It's irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged, just because they don't like the verdict.

RAJU: Biden breaks his silence on the trial. Can Democrats capitalize on the conviction?

And one-on-one. Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy joins us live, an exclusive interview on the fallout from this week and the infighting plaguing the GOP.

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

(END VIDEOTAPE) RAJU (on camera): Good morning. Thanks for joining us for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Manu Raju.

With just five months until Election Day, one of the major parties' nominees is now a convicted felon, potentially facing prison time. But how much will that actually matter to swing voters in November?

Now one thing is clear, Donald Trump's base is all fired up and many GOP lawmakers are falling in line. Trump racked up tens of millions of dollars in donations after that New York jury of 12 Americans convicted him on all 34 felony counts in his hush money criminal trial.

But one thing we do not know for sure this morning is whether it might influence undecided voters, especially on the margins, in those key battleground states where the outcome could be razor thin.

Now, new polling, taken shortly after the verdict came out shows the Biden-Trump rematch actually remains neck and neck, with no clear leader. And last night, Trump was spotted in an ultimate fighting championship about in New Jersey but he stayed off the campaign trail this weekend.

Although he did speak with Fox News in an interview that aired this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The judge could decide and say, hey, house arrest or even jail. How do you face it? What that could --

TRUMP: I'm okay with it. I saw one of my lawyers the other day on television saying, oh, no, you don't want to do that to the pre -- I said, don't, you know, beg for anything. You just -- the way it is. I don't know that the public would stand it, you know? I don't -- I'm not sure that the public would stand for with a --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With a house arrest or --

TRUMP: I think -- I think it would be tough for the public to take it. You know, at a certain point, there's a breaking point.


RAJU: All right, let's break this all down with our great panel this morning.

CNN's Paula Reid, Susan Glasser from "The New Yorker", "Axios'" Hans Nichols, and Tamara Keith of NPR.

Good morning, everybody.

It's been busy, especially for you. You've been working nonstop, so its great for you to be here to break down what's happening in this trial? You know, Trump in that same interview was asked about whether or not

he would take this to the Supreme Court directly, didn't quite answer about that, but this is all the political calendar the legal calendar is all converging CNN debate is on June 27th, then there's a Trump sentencing on July 11th. That is just four days before the Republican National Convention.

You talked to them legal team all the time, Paula. What is your sense of how they're playing two pursue this appeal and whether the sentencing date, they'll try to ask to move it?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So it's interesting. I'm seeing a shift in the past few days. I mean throughout the course of this trial, certainly, the 2024 race was a factor, but you never heard Todd Blanche mentioned it in court? Yes, he mentioned it in litigation about moving the trial. And, of course, in the gag order litigation.

But inside that courtroom, the 2024 race was not a factor. Now, going forward through the appeals and sentencing, it is the factor, because some of his political advisers believed that having this sentencing just a few days before the convention is ideal to help continue to frame him as a martyr, but his legal team is going to be bogged down, dealing with the classified documents case and a big hearing on that in late June.

So it's unclear right now if they're going to move to try to postpone that July 11th sentencing.

RAJU: Just real quickly on that, if the appeals process plays out, do we expect that could get settled before the election?

REID: That's a tight timeline given the process in New York. I don't think it will be settled before the November election.


And again, this is the only criminal trial he's going to face before the November election. But there are some legitimate questions to be appealed here. Do I think the entire case will be overturned? That's a long shot, but there are absolutely issues to raise.

RAJU: So, also, one big of questions, of course, is what this means for voters come November? There was a flash poll taken right after the verdict. There's a lot more polling to see what that actually means.

This one poll from a "Reuters"/Ipsos about how people would vote. Fourteen percent of Republicans say they wouldn't vote for Trump with the conviction. There were 58 percent of independents, of course, that's going to be the key number to watch come November.

There was a shift though, among Republicans pretrial versus post- trial, 24 percent before the trial. So they would now have over dropping his convicted. That's down for just 14 percent now.

So, clearly, there's been a shift among Republicans falling in line, but ultimately, where the swing voters fall.

SUSAN GLASSER, THE NEW YORKER: You know, Manu, it's -- it's a familiar pattern now, after eight years in which Republicans asked in a generic sense, is this unthinkable? They say absolutely yes, this is unthinkable. We can never do it. How could we have a president in the United States who does this?

Then Trump does exactly the unthinkable thing and they find ways, at least millions of them do so to rationalize and justify. So I'm not surprised that those numbers have gone down. The question is, even if there's 1, or 2, or 3 percent of Republicans for whom the label of convicted felon is absolutely unacceptable -- remember, we're talking about such a close election here that it really matters only in a few key battleground states. So, it's not going to be 17 percent of Republicans who abandoned Donald Trump.

Now, after everything that we've already seen, the question I have is whether there's enough who simply cant stomach the idea of having a convicted felon as the president of the United States?

RAJU: And the question has been also about how the White House, how President Biden was dealing with this. We've seen a shift, and they'd been quiet. Biden said virtually nothing about this criminal trial, then the campaign's had a bunch of surrogates out to New York, including Robert de Niro to attack Trump.

And then there was the president making statements on Friday after the verdict came out saying it was reckless to criticize such a verdict. But there's a real debate within the Democratic Party about how far to go, whether to embraces what are the campaign on the fact that they are running against a convicted felon. Just a good debate among some key people in the Democratic Party, Doug Jones, a former senator, telling political, I don't think there's anything to lose and a lot to gain because I'm convinced as a swath of people out there who are going to be very troubled at this point and haven't really completely founded, wondering about it, all of a sudden, this is a game changer, suggesting that perhaps they should embrace it.

That's what Democratic strategists James Carville also told "The New York Times".

So you cover the White House, Tamara.


RAJU: Yeah. What is the Biden campaign thinking about how to embrace this or what are they just going to let the chips fall where they may.

KEITH: Yeah. I mean, I think that there is a divide among Democrats about how hard to lean into this.

The way the Biden campaign sees it, is that this is one point in a larger case, that they don't think that they can just make their message convicted felon. That's not enough. And so, they need to make it part of this larger question of democracy, and Trump's position on abortion and some of these other issues that they are trying to drive leading into that first debate.

They don't think that they can just sit back and say, oh, yeah this is going to come because no, it's firing up the base obviously. But the question is those -- like zombie Nikki Haley voters who voted for her in Pennsylvania, even though she wasn't running anymore --

RAJU: And, look, if they --

KEITH: -- win, some of them.

RAJU: If Biden loses, the one of the things that people will say, should he have been talking about these criminal trials earlier or at all?

HANS NICHOLS, POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Look, I suspect if Biden loses, the Monday morning quarterbacking will be just, you know, it'll be everything, right? And there will be a variety of decision points and we can -- we can game that out later.

I think to Tam's point, two things can be true one, the president isn't going to totally lean into this. And I suspect we'll eventually here from the campaign or hear more from the campaign, the two words that were all discussing, which is convicted felon, how much will they lean into that? But the other part that could be true is that the president can continue to do what he did on Friday, which is talk about Trump's reaction.

He's not actually getting into the weeds of the trial. He's not actually making a judgment on the case. He's talking about how the president is reacting. I think one way to look at this is how Biden is thinking about it in terms of -- when they talk about the case, they talk about, oh, this is really about democracy in influence. This wasn't just a hush money case, and that's the main point that you want.

You're going to hear from the Biden campaign is that this isn't hush money. This is about democracy. This is about stealing an election. This is about what they want to make 2024 about, not just this case.

RAJU: Can they tie it into the broader narrative and it can they reach out to some of those disaffected voters who are just tuned out of politics, who could decide the election? That's one of the things that's been a dynamic that's been playing out as they've been looking at.


This is Nate Cohn of "The New York Times" reports. The polls have shown Donald Trump with an edge for eight straight months, but there's one big flashing warning signs suggesting that his advantage might not be as stable as it looks. That warning sign his narrowly built on gains among voters who are not paying close attention to politics who don't follow traditional news and who don't regularly vote.

So, will they be convinced by this or will they be doing things like what Biden is doing on Tuesday? He's announcing executive actions on the border. They're trying to focus on some of those other issues. How will those voters -- obviously, it's hard to cast out one, you know, you can say, one fell swoop, say how these all people who vote, but what is the right strategy for the Biden campaign to get those votes?

GLASSER: Well, you know, Manu, I think this is the question in many ways, this election, how do you break through to people who have tuned out by the way, across the political spectrum in this country. I think it's almost media consumption. You could argue that is the defining kind of demographic question. You know, the people who are just getting their news from social media at this point have very different political views it turns out, than the rest of America.

But I think I'm watching whether and how the idea of a conviction does break through. There are certainly anecdotal evidence to suggest that people obviously were not watching this on TV. It wasn't on TV, but that this idea of the conviction did break through.

But just one important point it seems to me is that its not just, well, how's Biden doing? How's the Trump people doing reacting to this? It's like the escalation and the radicalization that we've seen this week, it is a historic moment to have a former president in the United States convicted and then the response which has been something different, a full-out attack on the legal system itself. That's different than what we've seen even in 2016 and 2020 from Trump and his supporters.

RAJU: And, Paula, before we get a break, as we get into the sentencing discussion, Trump's been attacking Juan Merchan, the judge, relentlessly. Does that factor in do you think in Judge Merchan's decision?

REID: Look, my law license is a little dusty, but it is not a good idea to attack a judge who is about to sentence you. I think Juan Merchan understands who he is dealing with. I don't think personal attacks are going to factor in, a lack of remorse, violations of the gag order. His overall conduct throughout this trial that will likely factor in, but I don't think Juan Merchan takes things too personally and understands the larger calculus.

RAJU: Perhaps there's one thing you advise your client not to do, attack the judge. We'll see.

All right. Next, it might surprise you to learn how some of the country's most vulnerable Republicans are talking about the Trump conviction. Plus, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy joins me live for an exclusive interview.

How does he see what's happening this party, right? That's coming up.



RAJU: Donald Trump's staunchest allies are calling for retribution against President Biden after a jury convicted the former president in the hush might trial, even though there's no evidence Biden had anything to do with bringing this case forward. As Democrats tried to settle on a strategy to capitalize on the verdict, the more vulnerable members of both parties are trying to walk the finest the lines with the races and control of Congress in the balance.

Many have remained mum, uncertain about the fallout, and Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who is a Republican, who voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial said, quote, a Republican nominee without this baggage, would have a clear path to victory.

My panel's back with me now.

What's interesting is that there are though these vulnerable Republicans, some of them are not saying a word about it. What they're able to come back to session next week. But there are some who are not afraid to align themselves with Donald Trump or align themselves with their messaging, including some vulnerable New York Republicans who will determine their fate, will determine whether or not the Republican state in the majority, a handful of them, they're right there -- Mike Lawler, Anthony D'Esposito, Nick LaLota -- had various levels of criticism about the verdict.

Is that -- you know, I guess that's kind of interesting, right? If you'd like, you think a convicted felon at the top of the ticket, if you're in a swing district, you'd run away from it.

But these members are not.

NICHOLS: Yeah, most of those reporters, most Republicans are on the record where they are in Donald Trump, the Republicans that represent Trump districts have had to face these questions --

RAJU: Although these are Biden districts.

NICHOLS: Excuse me, my mistake, Biden districts. I misspoke into by districts.

To me, I think it's an interesting question what they do. I think it's also what's going to happen in the Senate where you have Tester and Brown who both represent states that Trump clearly won, and they been pretty silent as well.

And I suspect this is your urgent task when they arrived when they're back, I suspect there's going to be a Capitol Hill reporter that we all know that who has the microphone and you have a camera and it will play around the whole and well put those and well put those senators on the record because that to me is more interesting simply because Republicans have dealt with this really since the beginning of the Trump era.

I mean, I suspect when former Speaker McCarthy's here Trump would say something are more likely he would tweet something and Republicans would have to respond and they have a muscle memory at this point, its not that difficult for them most of them, which is to say all of them have just decide to say that its Donald Trump. I'm with them.

RAJU: Yeah. You mentioned those two senators, Brown and Tester. We do have statements that they gave out in the aftermath of this verdict. They were, you know, saying they respect the judicial process that were certainly not embracing it.

It does show you the line that they are walking, these vulnerable members, Democrats in these red states. You know, they want to make it about a candidate versus candidate issue. They don't want to talk about Trump, even if they may turn off Trump's verdict may turn off some swing voters.

KEITH: Yeah, they want to talk about how they are a perfect match for their state and how they are --


NICHOLS: They're going to run. They're going to run their race.

KEITH: Yes, they got their high top. They've gotten their buzz cut, whatever his here, that it's called.

But no, they are -- they are focused on their race and not on Trump because talking about Trump might motivate their base, but guess what, their base in their states is too small to win. They -- they need to just be, you know.

RAJU: Yeah.

KEITH: Senator Brown, who you've known for years.

RAJU: And they also need split ticket voters, of course, and that is a real, real problem.

It doesn't happen that much these days.

KEITH: There is an open question of whether they even still exists.

RAJU: Yeah, absolute.

NICHOLS: Outside of Maine speaking.

RAJU: Speaking as someone who's a split ticket voter, needs one, Larry Hogan. He's a former Maryland governor. He can actually pick up a Democratic seat in a blue state.

He'd said simply, let's respect the verdict. You know, he put out this statement, but right before the verdict was announced said, urge all Americans respect the verdict.

It seems middle of the road. You know, okay. Oh, here's Chris LaCivita, one of the top aides to the former president. You just ended your campaign he posted.

It just shows you how some of these members are in a tough spot if they want to just you take the high road, no such thing.

GLASSER: You know, Manu, I appreciate you pointing that went out because to me, it more than anything else sums up like if its controversial, the old cliche is like, I never thought I would be nostalgic for a politician seeing comforting much. But let's be real. It is a sign of our times that we've gotten to the point where other Republicans are ganging up on a former governor of Maryland for saying this system works. We should respect the work of this jury and the work of this court.

And I do think that its important to take a breath, not everybody is living inside the news cycle here lets appreciate for a moment that were at a place where the Republican Party institutionally has decided to become so wrapped up in the fate of one particular individual. They are willing to attack the system itself. And that's something that none of us have ever seen.

NICHOLS: But, Larry Hogan, knows what he's doing it, right? I mean, he had that statement well-drafted, well-prepared, right. And I mean, that was clearly wants to create separation between himself and Donald Trump and Chris LaCivita, who I suspect didn't get any approval for that, is just like, not so fast, right?

REID: And I do think there is a constructive way for Republicans and Trump allies to go after this case. You can point out the fact that it was only brought after Alvin Bragg face considerable political pressure, right? The so-called zombie case that many other prosecutors had passed on, cases nearly 10-years-old and Trump lawyers will be the first people to tell you there was no way he was going to get acquitted did by a Manhattan jury.

And there are a lot of legitimate questions about political pressure on elected district attorneys, how that can impact us in the future. But throwing the entire legal system out based on this, yeah, that's a bridge too far.

RAJU: Yeah, and it's interesting you mentioned about that because yes Jim Jordan, who is the House judiciary committee chairman, is calling on Alvin Bragg and another prosecutor in the case to come testify on June 13. Others are going Trump allies are going after him hard in the Senate, Senator Mike Lee and others are saying that they want to hold up everything, all action in the Senate and out of protest about what's happening here, and then some it is time for a full on retribution, like Congressman Ronny Jackson.


REP. RONNY JACKSON (R-TX): As a member of Congress and for many of my colleagues, the game just changed yesterday. It absolutely changed what's good for the goose is good for the gander, and going to encourage all of my colleagues and everybody that I have any input its over as a member of Congress to aggressively go after the president and his entire family, his entire crime family, for all of the misdeeds that are out there right now related to this family.


RAJU: I mean, that's the deal talking about the retribution.

GLASSER: Yeah. It's amazing that this person wants served in the White House of the United States.

RAJU: Yeah, look, I mean, this all comes to as the president, the United States is another issue. His son is facing a criminal trial starting this week, you'll covering that for us. Paula.

How do you sense that will play out? How quickly will verdict reach? How strong of a case does the prosecution now?

REID: So this is the first of two criminal prosecutions at Hunter Biden will face over the next six months. This case is related to the participant gun or prosecutors alleged that he failed to disclose that he was an addict at the time he purchased it.

Later on in the year, he's expected to face a separate criminal trial at tax charges, all these were supposed to be resolved with a plea deal that imploded. And it's interesting, you hear from Hunter Biden's defense attorneys, a lot of things you hear from Trump's defense attorneys and the ones that, you know, play attorneys on TV arguing that this is election interference, right, that he would not be charged with this if his name, last name was not Biden, we expect this could go several days, maybe even two weeks.

It depends really how long it takes to seat a jury, because you can imagine the challenge in Wilmington, Delaware of finding people who have no connection, right, or no opinion in about the Bidens.


It's is unclear what the outcome will be here, but there's a lot of tension between the special counsel and Hunter's defense lawyers.

It will be nowhere near as prominent as the Trump trial, but a lot of similar themes.

RAJU: And how does this wear on Biden?

KEITH: President Biden -- yes, President Biden is very close to Hunter Biden. They talk all the time. This weekend, they're at Rehoboth Beach as a family, riding bikes and President Biden will actually be in France when the trial, when the jury selection begins, he'll be on his way to France for a state visit and to commemorate D- Day.

But the president, I have a he has told me this directly, that if a child of his rings on the phone, he drops everything that has been his standard M.O. going back to when he was in the Senate because car accident that killed part of his family and Hunter is his surviving son from then. So --

RAJU: And we'll see if he weighs on the verdict when it is reached.

All right. Thanks for that, guys.

Coming up, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy joins me live on what's next for Trump and the Republican Party, and his thoughts on how a successor that's been handling his old role. Stay tuned.




Tomorrow marks eight months since that unprecedented vote on the House floor when eight Republicans joined with Democrats and removed the Speaker of the House from power throwing the chamber into disarray and upending GOP politics to this day. A lot has changed in that eight months.

And here with me to go through all of it is California Republican Kevin McCarthy, the former speaker. Mr. Speaker, thanks for joining us today and I appreciate you sitting down with me.


RAJU: Oh, thank you. I appreciate that.

MCCARTHY: It must be a conservative show because you're using the inexpensive (INAUDIBLE). That's a good sign.

RAJU: You'll be surprised how much that may cost us.

Let's talk about the news from this past week.


RAJU: So obviously you've made your views known about how you disagree with the verdict in the Trump criminal trial.


RAJU: But you're -- you know, politics. Is it a good idea separating out your view of the verdict, is it a good idea for the Republican party to nominate a convicted felon?

MCCARTHY: Listen. Is it a good idea that Donald Trump is the nominee? The answer is 100 percent yes. Will Donald Trump win this presidency? The answer is yes.

And it's interesting. I was watching the earlier part of your show and I get it. The verdict has just come in and the question is, should it even have gone to trial. The majority of Americans understand that if Donald Trump did not run for president, this never would even gone to trial.

The D.A. before decided not to do this. The Department of Justice decided not to do this. The FEC said there was no problem.

You have a statute of limitations. You have a judge that wasn't selected at random, was actually selected. You've tried it in the second most Biden county in the entire nation.

You have the rulings within the judge to the instructions to the jury, which people continue to question.

So is it politically motivated? Yes, it is.

RAJU: But still -- but the end result is still a conviction, right. So I'm asking about the political impact because 12 Americans, hold on, hold on, before you jump in, 12 Americans on a jury did come to that decision.

And yes, its firing up the base. But what about Independent voters? What about the suburban voters that are going to be so critical there. Are you not concerned that this could turn off women voters, for instance?

MCCARTHY: See, I think this is the part that CNN is missing. This is a reelection of Joe Biden for president. An NPR poll says that the majority of Americans, 53 percent to 42 percent of just Independents, not Republicans or Democrats believe another four years of Joe Biden is a threat to democracy.

Joe Biden is running on democracies on the ballot, Biden economics. These are the two driving things that people are opposed to. Do people want four more years of this?

This is where people are missing really what is going on with the American public. They're concerned about the border.

You know Massachusetts does not have one Republican in Congress for Massachusetts, but you know what the state of emergency the governor selected in Massachusetts, the border.

You talk to the mayor of New York, the governor of New York. It'll be the border.

Inflation --

RAJU: So you're basically saying --

MCCARTHY: Every single --

RAJU: You're saying this is not going to matter to voters come November. Not as much as the other issues.

MCCARTHY: Look, I'll put an asterisk there because it's still new. People will have some concerns about it, but it's not going to determine this election. I think at the end of the day Democrats have overplayed their hand and it happens in world history when someone persecutes a political enemy simply because they're political enemy, it usually backfires on them and it creates a movement.

RAJU: But I want to --

MCCARTHY: And the early indication, if you go for the amount of money raised, just look at the cheers that the president had -- RAJU: That's on the base, that's on the base. I'm talking about the --

MCCARTHY: No, no. But I'm telling you --

RAJU: I want to ask before you go on --

MCCARTHY: Let me finish. I was just traveling in California, raising money for the party in all the cities. And I was with people who did not support Trump.

I'm with people who gave money against Trump and Republicans and unspoken to me they said I'm giving to Trump. This is unbelievable what's happening.


MCCARTHY: It's pushing people in the other direction.

RAJU: I want to ask you, though, about just the underlying allegations of this trial.

He allegedly paid off a porn star to keep an extramarital affair quiet. Does that conduct concern you?


MCCARTHY: Look, I think people knew about this before the last election. I don't think this is something --

RAJU: They didn't know that he paid her off the last election.

MCCARTHY: Ok. But from this standpoint, if you go with this premise that this is something illegal, what was in the law that this broke? Then you would go back and should Hillary Clinton be tried because she paid a law firm to create a fictitious Russia issue.

RAJU: And I'm not talking about Hillary Clinton.

MCCARTHY: I know you're not talking about that, but the American public is going to look at all this is. This isn't just a CNN question. You're asking what does the American public look at?

You had -- you had Joe Biden go out and tell of the American public that the laptop wasn't true. You had this network say a dubious, doubtful about it.

I mean, people put it in perspective. Was this politically motivated that you even took him to court about this? The answer is overwhelming yes.

RAJU: I want you to listen to what your predecessor Paul Ryan says about the former president.


PAUL RYAN (R-WI), FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I understand the binary argument. It's a reasonable argument. I just don't agree with that argument.

I just -- character is too important to me. And it's a job that requires the kind of character that he just doesn't have.


RAJU: He's talking about Trump there. He says, you know, it's not about policy essentially. Hey says it's about character. He says it's about character.

Why don't you agree?

MCCARTHY: Look, I would because everybody is entitled to their own opinion. And you know what I've served with both presidents; with President Trump and President Biden, and I'm making a decision on what's best for the country.

We didn't have inflation. We didn't have war in Europe. We didn't have five embassies evacuated.

We didn't have 13 Goldstar families by a missed decision in Afghanistan. We didn't have this new axis of evil that we haven't seen from the 1930s, pushing China to Russia--

RAJU: But it's character, so character shouldn't matter. I'm on (CROSSTALK)

MCCARTHY: Character matters but there's a whole (INAUDIBLE).

And is there a character matter when you say Biden used his own power to tell the American public that the laptop was not true. That Biden use now through the secretary of state to go to 51 people in the intel community, former CIA directors, to tell the American public that that wasn't true.

RAJU: But you're concerned about character there, but not character about Trump.


MCCARTHY: But I'm weighing it all. I'm being consistent. You're being inconsistent in this if you listen. Think for one moment you're saying only character matters and you're only going after Trump. People are human in this place of where we go. This is a decision of an issue that people knew about since 2016. So they voted on it.

You're going back to something ten years. So if character matters, would you put somebody up on trial just because they're your political enemy? I think that matters into character.

RAJU: I'm wondering because obviously you have aligned yourself with the former president after January 6, you were on the floor of criticizing him.

You went down to Mar-a-Lago about a week or so later. You -- people say that helped rehab him -- set him on the trajectory to where we are today.

When you look back at that moment, do you believe that helped Donald Trump move back, move, you know, rehab him, bring it back to acceptance among more establishment Republicans.

MCCARTHY: I don't know if I was all powerful if it rehabbed him, and because I was with them, that that's not a negative thing. I mean, I think people -- rehab is a positive understanding of where people are regardless of where they are, whatever happened in their lives.

So I mean you're making me that powerful, I guess that is so great.

RAJU: I mean, you are the speaker of the House, so --

MCCARTHY: I wasn't there.

RAJU: Yes. Well, you were almost the Speaker of the House --


MCCARTHY: I had to win the majority first.

RAJU: Yes, you did. That's true.

Trump has not said if he would accept the results of the election, do you think that he should? You know, given what happened last time?

Should he say I accept?

MCCARTHY: I think everybody, I think Hillary Clinton should accept the 2016 --

RAJU: She did. She conceded the race.

MCCARTHY: Oh, come on now.

RAJU: She conceded the race.

MCCARTHY: You guys always say. No, I've watched it time and again.

RAJU: The day after she conceded. He never conceded

MCCARTHY: Look, I watched Raskin. I've watched Stacey Abrams.

Democrats have challenged -- this is a question you should have for Democrats as well. I know what network I'm on, but this is what's interesting to me.

RAJU: We asked them, you know --

MCCARTHY: No, wait a minute. No, don't --

RAJU: Hold on, hold on. I just think -- yes or no, did he accept the results?

MCCARTHY: Let me answer a question, come on. Don't be so nervous. RAJU: I will. I will.

MCCARTHY: Democrats have challenged every single Republican elected to president since George Bush. Raskin challenge that even Trump should be impeached before he was even sworn in.

I mean, this is a question that for the whole American public, that we've got to get beyond this.

RAJU: So just to bone it up. Should Trump accept the results.

MCCARTHY: I think every American should accept the results.

RAJU: He would be an American. All right.

So we have a lot --

MCCARTHY: Hilary Clinton too.

RAJU: All right. We have a lot more to discuss, especially what happened in the aftermath of that vote to remove him from power.

We'll be back stick with us. We'll have more from my interview with former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.



RAJU: Welcome back.

We're back for more with former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy.

Speaker McCarthy, Mike Johnson, your successor, he recently faced an effort to try to oust him from the speakership. He stayed in the job because Democrats essentially came to help them. Was that the right approach?

MCCARTHY: Well, look, staying in the job is the right approach. He didn't give the Democrats anything, he had 11 Republicans vote against him. That's a challenge. Look I --

RAJU: Because you had eight against you.

MCCARTHY: I had eight but I don't believe in the motion to vacate. I mean, think about what has transpired these eight -- the real question is you had eight Republicans work with all the Democrats to pick who the speaker was and that's what's disrupted Washington and really haven't been productive since.


RAJU: I wanted you to look at the -- it's been eight months, as you mentioned, since that vote to oust you. There were eight -- those are the eight Republicans you mentioned.

You see them on your screen. What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you see them?

MCCARTHY: Dysfunction.

RAJU: You see the dysfunction.

MCCARTHY: I mean they all do for different things. I mean, the one leader is just trying to protect himself because I'm in the ethics committee and so that's all what it's all about.

RAJU: Yes. Yes. But you are working with the Republican outsider that's trying to oust, trying to defeat some of these members in their primaries. And Gaetz being one of them.

Are you on a political vengeance tour?

MCCARTHY: No. I know you guys tried to say that.

Now last week I went to Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego raising money for the Republic party.

I've been out, look, it wasn't easy building this majority. When I was elected leader, Nancy Pelosi was elected speaker. We won the majority by five. When Republicans in the Senate lost both cycles, Republican governors, legislators we won five new seats in California, five in New York. I'm proud of that fact and it's a tough majority within there.

This cycle its easier for Republicans to win this cycle than the last two cycles. And we won both cycles.

RAJU: But you want Gaetz to lose. Clearly you're supporting his primary opponent. Why do you want him out? Is it simply because he led the charge to push you all?

MCCARTHY: No, I just don't think Gaetz is a conservative. I mean, if you think about it, if there's anybody who should go to trial, I mean, Gaetz is one who should be convicted at the trial.

RAJU: Why? Why do you say that?

MCCARTHY: Well, we all know the challenge here. You can't sleep with an underage woman and think you can get away with it.

RAJU: He denies that.

MCCARTHY: Well, the women don't. And so there's people in jail because of it. And I think that's a place where people should have a court. I just don't think that as an individual should be represented in Congress. I don't think the constituents would want that either.

RAJU: Now, Trump has endorsed him and Nancy Mace, who is another one of those Republicans who voted to oust you. Are you disappointed that the former president --

MCCARTHY: No, look, the people in that district couldn't make those decisions. I saw President Trump endorse state senator John Maguire a Navy Seal in Virginia against Bob Good. I think that's a very important race, especially a Navy Seal like John Maguire, state senator in Virginia that served this country is willing to serve again.

RAJU: So you're trying to help some of the people who pushed you out.

MCCARTHY: That's all right. Everybody has their own opinion.

RAJU: I just want to get back on the Mike Johnson front. He did rely on Democrats to pass a lot of his agenda. Do you think that he can remain as speaker in the next congress?

MCCARTHY: Yes. Listen, to remain speaker, you've got to keep the majority. So you've got to expand the majority. And the one thing if you look at the last two cycles, all these political pundits said we would lose seat.

The last time Biden was on the ballot. Everybody projected that I would lose 15 seats. They got to party. They got the number right, but the party wrong. It was the first time since 1994. No Republican loss.

RAJU: But do you think that he, Mike Johnson, is an effective speaker?

MCCARTHY: He's doing the best job he can as he goes through this, it's not an easy job. But winning seats solves a lot of problems.

Remember, Joe Biden won the last presidency by 48,918 votes. His favorability was plus ten. It's minus 20 now.

Before people would say there's six to seven swing states. No, this has expanded. If you looked at Virginia and New Hampshire they're now tied in the presidential race. Minnesota looks like it's in play.

You look at the youth vote is now with Trump. You look at the Hispanic vote and the black American vote. This is an opportunity for Republicans. They even the expand further than they had before.

They've got open seats in Michigan, Slotkin that we came close to winning. We'll pick up that seat. Spanberger will pick up that seat.

Three seats in North Carolina. We could pick up Alaska. This could be a ten-seat game.

RAJU: So it sounds like you don't think that the push to oust you has hurt the Republican Party.

MCCARTHY: No. Look, it's an individual within there, the party is bigger than any individual, I think you've got to have a party that could actually govern.

They're in a disarray right now, they'll find -- they'll find their groove and get back.

RAJU: OK. Before we go, do you -- I wonder if you look back at your time as speaker. Do you miss being a speaker of the house? Do you want to be? Would you rather be in that position now? I was I was privileged to serve 17 years. It was an honor every single

day. I loved every day I went even when you harass me I still loved it.

RAJU: You miss that too?

MCCARTHY: Maybe a little bit.

No. I mean, there's a timing for everything. It was a privilege to serve. I would serve it. I would do everything all over again.

I look at our accomplishments. Even you say maybe as nine months we had a border security bill, we had energy independence, we had parents bill of rights. We had our biggest cut, American --

RAJU: But now they can't pass much of their agenda.

MCCARTHY: So yes, so maybe I was more effective than you thought.

RAJU: All right. Former speaker Kevin McCarthy. Thank you for joining me today.

MCCARTHY: Thank you.

RAJU: All right. Up next, Senator Joe Manchin declares independence from the Democratic Party. Could he jump back into politics.



RAJU: Senator Joe Manchin has long flirted with leaving the Democratic Party. And on Friday, he finally did it, switching his affiliation to Independent.

Now he'll still caucus with Democrats. So the 51, 49 majority will not change. At the moment he is still planning on retiring from the senate at year's.


RAJU: But sources familiar with the matter tell me that his decision to become an Independent leaves the option open for him to run for the senate or governor this year. The filing deadline to run as an Independent in West Virginia is August 1.

Now, this is what Manchin said when I asked him recently if he'd run for the Senate this year as an Independent


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I don't think that's going to happen. I think that's a long, long long-shot scenario. So I don't anticipate that happening. I don't anticipate running.

RAJU: So it sounds like it's a highly unlikely but not 100 percent no. Is that fair.

MANCHIN: I don't know if anything in Washington D.C. it's 100 percent.


RAJU: He told me he was looking forward to whatever came next, which as you can see, has taken -- so far taken him far from the halls of Congress.

That's it for INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. You can follow me on X, formerly known as Twitter @mkraju, and follow the show at INSIDE POLITICS.

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Up next, CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION". Today's guests include RNC co- chair Lara Trump, Congressman Adam Schiff and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. We'll see you next time.