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Dr. Anthony Fauci Grilled Over COVID's Origins By GOP-Led Subcmte; Now: Jury Selection In Hunter Biden's Federal Gun Trial; Biden: "I Am The President But I Am Also Dad"; Weekend Polls Show Limited Impact Of Trump's Verdict; Trump "OK" With Going To Jail, Warns Of "Breaking Point"; Dems Split On How Much To Campaign On Trump Guilty Verdict. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 03, 2024 - 12:00   ET



Dana Bash, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on Inside Politics. I am the president, but I am also a debt. Joe Biden in the complicated position of commander in chief candidate for reelection. And concerned father, as his son sits inside of Delaware courtroom, facing criminal charges brought by the Biden Justice Department.

Plus, trial and error. Donald Trump's conviction on criminal charges rallies Republicans to his side, while Democrats are divided on this question. Is branding Trump with a convicted felon label helped or hurt their chances at stopping his returned to the White House? And Capitol Hill clash. At this hour, Republicans are grilling Dr. Anthony Fauci on his tough and controversial decisions during the COVID pandemic.

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

We start right now -- we are going to go right up to Capitol Hill. And we're going to get into that hearing. Marjorie Taylor Greene is questioning Dr. Anthony Fauci.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, (R-GA): OK. Well, we'll take that as a -- you don't know what you represent.

Dr. FAUCI: Oh, I --

TAYLOR GREENE: But this as director of the NIH, you did sign off on these so-called scientific experiments. And as a dog lover, I want to tell you this is disgusting and evil, what you signed off on, and these experiments that happen to beagles paid for by the American taxpayer. And I want you to know, Americans don't pay their taxes for animals to be tortured like this.

So, the type of science that you are representing, Mr. Fauci, is abhorrent and it needs to stop. Mr. Fauci, you also represent the type of science that you were -- you confess that you made up the COVID rules including six-feet social distancing and masking of children.

Dr. FAUCI: I never said I made anything else --

TAYLOR GREENE: You admitted that you made up. You made it up --

Dr. FAUCI: I didn't say, I made it up.

TAYLOR GREENE: What did you say?

Dr. FAUCI: I said that it is not based in science, and it just appeared.

TAYLOR GREENE: But this is science.

Dr. FAUCI: What does dogs have to do with anything that we're talking about today?

TAYLOR GREENE: These are scientific experiments. This is what you signed off on. But you also told the American people, they had to distance by six feet. They had to wear mask. But let's also talk a little bit further about the type of science that you represent. NIH scientists made $710 million in royalties from junk drugmakers, a fact that's been hidden.

Let's talk about the fact about -- is it right for scientists and doctors getting paid by the American people, government taxpayer paychecks to get patents, where they're paid millions and hundreds of millions of dollars and royalty fees? Especially when the NIH and these government agencies, most powerful agencies in our country are recommending medical suggestions and advice and making up guidelines like six-feet distancing and masking of children.

Do you think that's appropriate to the American people deserve to be abused like that, Mr. Fauci because you're not doctor. You're Mr. Fauci in my few minutes. No, I don't need your answer. I want to talk about this right here.


Dr. FAUCI: Mr. Chairman, objection. Ms. Chairman, objection.

TAYLOR GREENE: I reclaim my time. I reclaim my time, Mr. Raskin.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And lady with order.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Mr. Chairman of order, just in terms of the rules of decorum, are we allowed to deny that a doctor is a doctor just because we don't want him to be a doctor?

TAYLOR GREENE: Yes, because in my time, that man does not deserve to have a license. As a matter of fact, it should be revoked, and he belongs in prison.

RASKIN: The gentlelady, suspend. And the gentlelady should recognize the doctor as a doctor.

BASH: OK. We're going to come out of this now and talk for a minute with our panel here, specifically with Manu Raju. And we have a lot to fact check. We're going to get to that in a second. Manu, this is something that Republicans who are in charge of the House have -- this is sort of one of their top issues. And he's one of their -- if not the top boogeyman, separate and apart from the president of the United States. And now they have the gavel.

And even though Anthony Fauci is retired, they do have the ability to call him before Congress, which is what is happening. I should say, the dog picture and some of the other things that she was pointing to. We will look at into. But what are your thoughts? I mean you talk to these Republicans all the time.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. In fact, I talked to her on the way in and she said a lot of very similar things. And she went on to call him a mass murderer or even going as far and as extreme is that kind of rhetoric, blaming him for the pandemic. In every -- all the millions of deaths and people who are ill throughout the course of it. Of course, the question is, how much of that is actually true?

A lot of it is Republicans running with very little and trying to cast Anthony Fauci, blaming him for everything that essentially went wrong. You're right, he is essentially been the boogeyman all along. These hearings are essentially what they are is theatrics, right? He gives the member of Congress a chance to rail about whatever subject they want to rail about. Not really give a change to witness -- a chance to respond.

They're calling him Mr., not calling him doctor, not giving Fauci any opportunity to respond. You know, we'll see how much more he does as the Democrats come. There'll be an opportunity for the Democrats to rebut what Marjorie Taylor Greene has to say and get a chance to weigh in that.

BASH: Yes. And we're going to -- we're going to come to that as soon as that happens. Every -- is that happening now, Ben (Ph)? OK. Ok. And as we wait for that to change, we're also hoping to get Lauren Fox, who's a reporter covering this up there. You hear a lot, Kristen, from the Trump campaign and from Republicans in general about Dr. Anthony Fauci. He was in charge of the COVID response when Donald Trump was president. Donald Trump put him there. I mean, Mike Pence was the -- was in charge of the task force. But he listened to Anthony Fauci, particularly at the beginning.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, I think by the end, it was clear that there was a rift between them. But Donald Trump has continued to blame everything that went wrong with the pandemic response on Anthony Fauci. He has become a villain, as you said.

And you know, for indictments and a conviction ago, before all of this Donald Trump was planning on running, really with Fauci being the boogeyman because they were more concerned about the COVID response, particularly during the Republican primary when DeSantis was saying he kept the state open, and Donald Trump closed it. We know that Donald Trump is still asked about this all the time. He was asked about an interview with Megyn Kelly. Do you regret listening to Anthony Fauci? Do you regret giving him an award, a medal? He said, I don't know who gave him that. It was a presidential medal. So, it clearly came from the White House.

BASH: I'm going to go up to Capitol Hill. Now Lauren Fox is with us. Lauren, you have been listening to the whole hearing so far. And there has been a lot of back and forth about a lot of different things, separate and apart from what we just heard briefly from Marjorie Taylor Greene. Give us a more fulsome sense of what is happening in that hearing room?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, the room is really tense. I was in and out of that hearing room over the course of the last several hours. And obviously, the testimony you just heard from Marjorie Taylor Greene really gets at that tension in the room. But you know, it's not just her who's questioning Dr. Fauci's time at NIH, his legacy at NIH. His time and management of the pandemic, specifically getting the vaccine from the beginning to the end, so that we could get shots in arms.

Just within about a year's time, almost every single Democrat who talks to Dr. Fauci before they begin their questioning, thanks him for his time and his service. Meanwhile, you have Republicans really questioning every decision he was making during -- what we should point out was a very chaotic and uncertain time when the pandemic began. And that is everything from masking guidelines to distancing guidelines.

And you heard Dr. Fauci outlining, it was not ultimately his decision to decide that six feet was the proper distance. He said that that was a decision that was made by the CDC. Republicans questioning why he wasn't publicly questioning decisions from the CDC. And I think it is just important and Democrats have been pointing this out as well.

To lay out the fact that at the time in 2020, there was a lot that was unknown about the Coronavirus pandemic. There still is some questions about the origins of this pandemic. And that is another area where Republicans are going after Dr. Fauci. Meanwhile, Democrats arguing that it is irresponsible to say that Dr. Fauci is in any way responsible for the origins of this virus and this pandemic.

BASH: All right. And I'm just getting a text from somebody who was working on these issues inside the administration -- the Trump administration, reminding me that it was Dr. Birx -- Deborah Birx who was in charge, and the doctors like Anthony Fauci were under her leadership. You know, like for everybody, COVID is kind of -- kind of a blur, but incredibly important.


Lauren, thank you. Please keep us up to speed on what's happening in that hearing room. We do now want to go up to Delaware where it is a historic day. President Biden's son Hunter is in a federal courthouse, joined by the woman he has called mom since he was a little boy, the First Lady of the United States, Jill Biden.

Today jury selection is beginning, setting in motion a courtroom drama that will captivate Republicans and make life harder for Democrats. Hunter Biden is facing gun charges, charges brought by his father's Justice Department. The president is not there. But he did release a statement trying to straddle the line between his oath of office and promised to stay out of Justice Department business and his duty as a father.

He said, quote. I am the president, but I'm also a dad. He wrote, Jill and I love our son, and we are so proud of the man he is today. Hunter's resilience in the face of adversity and the strength he has brought to his recovery are inspiring to us. As the president, I don't and won't comment on pending federal cases. But as a dad, I have boundless love for my son, confidence in him and respect for his strength.

I'm going to get right to CNN's Evan Perez, who is outside the court where jury selection is underway. Evan, what can you tell us?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, we're about three and a half hours into this jury selection process. There are about 250 prospective jurors who are in the building. And we're already seeing a lot of the themes that will be at the center of this trial, already showing up in the questions that jurors are facing. And in some of their answers, the issues of addiction and recovery that you just mentioned.

And of course, gun rights. There was a moment a short while ago where Hunter Biden's lawyers Abbe Lowell in particular, signaled that he wanted to strike a juror -- remove a juror from the pool from consideration, because he said that he believes Donald Trump but not Democrats who are victims of political prosecution.

He is a retired Wilmington police officer. He brought up Donald Trump's New York trial. He brought up the Trump Russia investigation. And said, he believes that prosecutors -- as a result of this, he believes prosecutors pursue some cases for political reasons.

We also heard from a member of potential juror who told the judge about her parents, suffering from -- struggling with alcoholism and trying to get clean. And she said she believed it would be easier for her to adjudicate a case like this because she understands those issues. Another man whose voice broke because he talked about family members struggling with this issue, Dana.

BASH: Evan, thank you so much. Really appreciate your reporting. And my panel is here with me, including Kevin Liptak, who covers the White House for us. And Kevin, I just want to read for our viewers part of the story that you wrote this morning. You wrote. For the president, the legal problems facing his son had been reasoned to pull him close, rather than push him away. Joe Biden has paid little mind to some of his allies who questioned the approach. Instead, his concern for his son's well-being surpasses any potential political fallout, advisers said. You know, in some cases, you could look at that and say, oh, that spin. In this case, it is. It seems to be by all accounts, exactly what is happening.

KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yeah. And I think the reason for that is this case center so much on such a painful moment in the Biden family history. It was around the time that Beau Biden has passed away. It tells with sort of the darkest issues of addiction that were really grappling -- that family was grappling with at the moment.

And what you've seen the Biden family do, really over the last several days that we've noticed very specifically is hold Hunter Biden very closely. For example, they were at church together over the weekend. President Biden and his son went on a bike ride in Rehoboth, really there is no attempt to put any distance between themselves.

And you know, when you talk to people, President Biden is sort of consumed by this. He has been consumed by this over the last several years, really with a concern for his son's well-being. They talk almost every day, either on the phone or by text. This is a very, very close relationship.

And I think for President Biden, certainly he is going to continue his job as president, for example, he's going overseas end of this week. But as a father, this is something he's paying very, very close attention to. He is in Wilmington today. He's spending the day there and certainly -- I think, as a family, they're watching this very close.

BASH: And just to sort of maybe state the obvious. When you say hold him close, and other members are holding him close. He's an addict, and he's recovered -- he's recovering. But this is something that is quite typical. If you know anybody who has -- people who are in recovery in their family, making sure that you are in close contact with them, particularly under time in -- times of stress is really key.


And I should remind our viewers that this is a trial that wasn't supposed to happen because there was a plea deal and the deal fell apart for lots of reasons. And now you see him in the court there in Wilmington at the beginning of a long process.

AYESHA RASCOE, NPR HOST, "WEEKEND EDITION SUNDAY" AND "UP FIRST": Yeah. And I mean, normally a trial like this with -- like people were not charged necessarily with this -- and this -- in cases like this, unless they use the gun in a crime or things of that nature. So, this is also unusual in that case, and that there are some who would say that if, you know, Hunter Biden was not the son of a president, he would not be going to trial right now.

But you know, I think that -- you know, over these past couple of weeks, we have seen that no one is above the law, whether it's state law or federal law. And even though this is a political show. I do think this is really -- it is something we're going to talk about it is worthy of being discussed. But it seems like by all accounts, Biden -- like this is his son. And so regardless of the political implications, he seems to be thinking of this, this is my son. This is who I love. And I'm going to stand beside him and not really think about the political implications of it.

RAJU: And Dana, I talked to a bunch of Democrats this morning about whether they're concerned about the prospects of a conviction, whether it have an impact on Joe Biden. And they are making the case that this is Hunter Biden. He's not running for president because Jamie Raskin told me.

He said Hunter Biden is not running for president. Donald Trump is running for president. He said that they're trying to make a distinction that they respect the judicial process. They respect the judicial system. It does come down to a conviction. They're not going to necessarily rail on the judge, rail on everything the way that we have seen Donald Trump and Republicans do on that side. So, we'll see how much voters actually give them credit or not credit for it, and how they handle this.

BASH: Yeah. All right, everybody standby. Up next, the aftermath. The political world is still taking stock of Donald Trump's felony convictions. With Republicans unsurprisingly rushing to his corner, Democrats are trying to find their political footing and how to react. We're going to explain after a quick break.




BASH: The jury has spoken Donald Trump is a convicted felon. Now it's the voters turn to decide whether that matters. CNN's Harry Enten joins me now from the Magic Wall for a closer look on how they are reacting in the polls we have seen so far. Harry?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah. You know, I think there was a question of whether or not we would see any real change in the horse race we haven't yet, all right. So, this is Trump versus Biden margin. Pre New York conviction tied. Where are we now? Biden up by two. But again, that is well within the margin of error. There is no clear leader. That's what I want you to take away from this, very minimal movement.

Now we'll see what happens if this is replicated across polling. If it is, well, a two-point move might be statistically significant. But at this particular point, we had a close race before the conviction, after the conviction, we have a close race.

Now, why would it be that we haven't seen that much movement? Well, part of it has to do with the fact that this is basically what Americans thought should happen, and in fact did happen, all right. Trump's New York hush money case. Before the verdict, 56 percent of Americans thought that Trump was guilty. Now after the verdict, 57 percent which looks an awful bit like that 56 percent said that they think the jury made the right verdict. So, basically no real shift in this. No one who was convinced that wasn't convinced before on either side of the aisle.

Now, I think there's this real question, though, of whether or not Trump's messaging got sorted through that this is "a witch hunt" against Donald Trump to try and keep him from the White House. Well, Trump's messaging isn't really necessarily getting through without outside of his own base.

So, New York hush money case was mainly about enforcing laws fairly to uphold the rule of law. That is the majority answer. 52 percent, although a pretty high percentage, 46 percent believe that these charges in this case was politically motivated to hurt Donald Trump. But again, the majority position here was that this case and the outcome was about enforcing laws to fairly uphold the rule of law. Of course, there is a big political split on this.

All right, the New York hush money case was mainly a politically motivated attempt to hurt Trump. Look at this, large percentage of Republicans. My goodness gracious, 87 percent believe that that was it. So, Trump has certainly locked down his face. That's a big reason why he was able to raise all of that money.

But the fact is, Independents and Democrats don't buy it. Independents 44 percent believe that in fact, the New York hush money case was mainly a politically motivated attempt to hurt Trump. And of course, very few Democrats just 9 percent believe that was the case, Dana.

So overall, not a lot of movement. Basically, what we expect it to happen, and the American public continues on in this campaign that just seems to keep going and going and going, not necessarily loving their choices for president, but having to deal with it. nonetheless.

BASH: Harry, thank you so much. Always good to see you.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BASH: Appreciate it. And let's talk about this more with our panel. You heard him say at the end there that voters aren't necessarily loving their choices. Well, let's look at another poll from ABC. Among and by what they call double haters, so people who just don't like either. And the question is, was the verdict correct, 65 percent, Trump should end his campaign, 67 percent. what does that tell us Manu?


RAJU: You know, I think this is uncertain -- you know, I think that this still needs to get fully into the public consciousness. Is this an issue that voters will actually care -- how they will cast their ballot in November? I think that some of those polling, even the voters to say, I'm not going to vote for a convicted felon. Maybe they will end up voting for a convicted felon or maybe some of the voters who say it doesn't matter. Maybe it will matter come November. So, I just -- this is such an unprecedented situation. That is, I think the polls are not fully capturing this because we've never seen anything like this before. What is the sentencing? What is the messaging of the convention? Will any of the other issues go verdict -- cases go to trial? All huge questions.

BASH: And I know you have some new reporting, Kristen, on what the Trump campaign is thinking and doing, and the candidate himself.

HOLMES: So, well, that's about sentencing in particular. So, we can talk about that one second. I do just want to add to what Manu says, I completely agree with this. I don't think anyone has any idea what's going to happen. And I think even if you talk to Donald Trump's advisors, who are telling you how much money that Donald Trump is making. And that $58 million, that was just in small dollar donations. They haven't even released the soft money numbers. It's going to various paths.

BASH: Because you're talking about that. Let's just put that up quickly. This is the Trump campaign and RNC fundraising together --

HOLMES: So, this is $70 million.

BASH: And this is -- and I should say, this is according to Lara Trump. We've been seeing the FEC report.

HOLMES: We haven't seen the FEC reports. We won't see them for some time. But generally speaking, they don't lie about these numbers because it's more of a story if they do lie about. The number is than -- then if they, you know, say 70 million now. So, let's say it is $70 million. That is just coming from (inaudible) other online digital donations.

So, they're talking about the small dollar donations. Some of them -- they've said at one point, which is something that I don't believe we actually can ever verify. But they say, one-fourth is new donors. But what they haven't given us the larger soft money numbers, which is going to come from the Steve Schwarzman, the --


HOLMES: -- who was the -- yes, we're talking about giant checks that are being written millions of dollars. We know he went to dinner with Wall Street CEOs and the big-time donors every day last week -- including the night of his conviction. But again, despite the fact that they're rah, rah about the numbers, they have absolutely no idea what this does for the voters,, and they will tell that to you.

BASH: I mean, great sentencing.

HOLMES: So, when you talk about sentencing. Donald Trump has said that he doesn't care if he goes to jail that he would be portrayed as the white Nelson Mandela. Now, anyone who knows Donald Trump, knows that Donald Trump might say that he wants to be the white Nelson Mandela, but he doesn't want to actually do any of the things that Nelson Mandela did. And Donald Trump himself is a germaphobe. So, the idea of him going to jail at all. He wouldn't even use the restroom when he was in court all day long because it was a one communal restroom, because he thought it was disgusting.

BASH: So, are you serious?


BASH: He was there for eight hours a day.


HOLMES: The first day he walked in, and he went, well. And then he didn't use the restroom. Now, can I say that every single day that wasn't particular --


HOLMES: I don't know.

BASH: OK. I just want to say this conversation took a turn that I was not expecting.

HOLMES: So, overall to my point is that he's a germophobia is not somebody who will suspend anytime in prison.

BASH: OK. Let's look at the other side of the aisle and Democrats. And the fact that they are trying to figure out -- particularly based on how we started this conversation that it's really unknown if Trump being a convicted felon will move the needle or not, how much to sort of lean into that. Let's listen to some of the Democrats on that.


REP. DEBBIE DINGELL, (D-MI): I think the president needs to campaign on his record and what he's delivering for the American people.

REP. KWEISI MFUME, (D-MD): I think people see it. They feel it. And in their heart, they've internalized it. So, you don't have to go out and beat the drum on that.

REP. RAUL RUIZ (D-CA): I think that's going to be a decision on the president and his campaign team, but I for one. I have no quorums -- bringing up the fact that that a jury of his peers found him guilty.


BASH: You might notice that gentleman talking to the members in the same way -- the distinguished gentleman from Chicago.

FOX: Yeah. I mean, the Democrats are dealing with the fact that this is unprecedented. They, you know, of course, they're going to be trying to run on the record. But what Joe Biden wants to do is he wants to make this a referendum, not on his record, but on Trump. And so, the more that you can focus on Trump, and the more that you can focus on what you -- what people don't like about Trump, which is the drama, the accusations of corruption, things of that nature, like that.

The hope is that that could maybe wake up some of the Biden's base, which is very kind of sleepy right now, you know, sleepy Joe. There -- and his base is sleepy. They're not. You know, they're not activated. And so, it's like, is this something that could activate them? I think there's a realization that they're not going to be able to win just by saying that Trump is a felon. That's not going to be enough. I think they realize that.

BASH: Real quick before we got to break. It was striking the reaction you got how mixed it was.

RAJU: Yeah. It really was. And look, there's some Democrats said to me, could you imagine the shoes on the other foot if it was Joe Biden who had been convicted. And what Donald Trump would be saying about Joe Biden. He would be banging the drum, going after it all the time.