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Dems Split On How Much To Campaign On Trump Guilty Verdict; Now: Fauci Faces Lawmakers On Capitol Hill; Sen. Scott: "Never Trumpers" Are "On The Bandwagon" Now; Trump Says Supreme Court Should Decide His Sentencing. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 03, 2024 - 12:30   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it really was. And look, there's some Democrats said to me, could you imagine if the shoe was 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.

But then some say it could be a backlash given how divided this electorate is and then that this may not be the driving issue in November, economic issue. You need to take head on. And so, it seems that the Biden campaign is still trying to figure out this messaging to going forward.

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: OK, everybody stand by because we have our resident fact checker, Daniel Dale, who is going to bring us a lot of important and interesting information. Don't go anywhere.



BASH: Right now, Dr. Anthony Fauci finds himself back on Capitol Hill, facing some of his fiercest antagonists, members of a Republican-led House panel, who are accusing him of being of helping set off the worst pandemic in a century. Not everything that they are saying is true.

I want to bring in CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner in his scrubs. Thank you. I know you're actually going to do surgery very shortly. The first thing I want to get at with you is what happened live on our air at the beginning of this program, which is --


BASH: -- Marjorie Taylor Greene alleging that Dr. Fauci personally approved funding for experiments that tortured dogs. Does that fit in with what you know about how they, NIH, funds experiments?

REINER: No. Actually, the care and handling of animals is something that is very strictly regulated by NIH and also by FDA. Anyone who works at NIH or anyone who works with a grant sponsored by NIH has to abide by very stringent rules and regulations that cover the humane handling of animals. So that makes zero sense.

BASH: And she also alleged that Fauci admitted that he did, quote, "make up COVID rules." Your response?

REINER: Yes. Well, you know, every -- since COVID was a brand new novel virus, everything that was done was had to be created from scratch. And at the beginning of the pandemic, as we were learning that the virus was not just transmitted by aerosol droplets, but also, you know, basically floating in the air, we had to figure out how to try and prevent transmission.

So, yes, we had to make up, you know, rules for masking. We had to invent ideas for how to separate people to prevent the transmission of this highly transmissible virus. So yes, everything was, quote, you know, made up but only in the sort of with best of intentions in real time.

BASH: Thank you so much for coming on quickly and fact checking. You're a busy man. You are a doctor.


BASH: Anthony Fauci is a doctor and I should say that she was also on her air saying that she was going to call him Mr. Fauci. And it was the Republican chairman of the committee who reprimanded her saying that she needs to be respectful. And I know quickly you have a feeling on that too.

REINER: That's, you know, that's, you know, that's really funny because I grew up and so many, you know, thousands of physicians around the world grew up with the textbook of internal medicine that was literally written by Anthony Fauci. So not only is he a doctor, he's actually written the book.

BASH: OK. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Good luck on your surgery. Thanks for jumping on.

REINER: My pleasure. Thank you.

BASH: Coming up, will voters care about Donald Trump's newest title, convicted felon? I'm going to ask a strategist to just talk to some voters in a new focus group. Stay with us.



BASH: Senator Tim Scott has apparently been on the phone a lot since Donald Trump became a convicted felon. Here's what he told Fox.


TIM SCOTT (R), SOUTH CAROLINA SENATOR: What we've seen is Never- Trumpers calling me and saying, Tim, I'm on the bandwagon now. I've seen this two-tiered justice system working against the president of the United States. It could work against me, too. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: I want to bring in Republican strategist Sarah Longwell. She is the publisher of "The Bulwark," host of "The Focus Group" podcast, and executive director of the Republican Accountability Project. In addition to all of those jobs, Sarah -- you have a lot of jobs -- you are also a Never-Trumper, so I have to ask, were you on the phone with Tim Scott? Anyone you know in the never Trump world getting on the bandwagon for Trump?

SARAH LONGWELL, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes, I don't know who he's talking to. I don't think there are a whole lot of Never-Trumpers. I mean, it is in the name. When we say never, we mean never because Donald Trump has been unfit from the beginning.

But, look, I don't know who he's talking to, but I will say for me, I do focus groups all the time and I did one on Friday with two-time Trump voters, many of whom rate Trump is doing a very bad job. This is a specific category of voter who's kind of, they voted for Trump because they're Republicans, but they do not like him. They do not want to vote for him again.

And in that group of nine voters, five of them said that this made them less likely to vote for him. And, in fact, the majority of the group was going to go Biden. And so, I just, I think that Republicans are circling the wagons. They know that being a convicted felon will have an effect on marginal swing voters.

And so they're doing their best to build a narrative that this is good for Trump. And I think that sometimes people --

BASH: Sarah, I just -- I'm sorry to interrupt.

LONGWELL: Go ahead.

BASH: I just want to play for our viewers some of the focus group that you're talking about.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing's moving the needle, needle for me. Trump is unfit for office. And so I thought the trial highly politicized, but in the hands of the jury, both sides had the chance, you know, to present their case. And that's ultimately how it should have been done.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe I would stand up and sell Bible for 60 when I -- when they put me all over the news for exactly what we saw on the news yesterday. So I can't vote for him. I don't know what I'm going to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: So based on that and the broader discussions that you have regularly with these voters, these swing voters, do you think that this verdict could have an impact in swing states?

LONGWELL: Yes, look, I have always believed that Trump's committed base -- anything like this, Trump getting convicted, it's going to make them want to vote for Trump harder, but they still only have their one vote. It is these marginal swing voters in swing states that are going to be critical and that are going to matter.

And a lot of these voters are what we call sort of double haters or double doubters or pox on both their houses. They don't like Biden and they don't like Trump. But for a lot of them, things like the conviction as well as sort of Trump just coming back into focus turns this election from a referendum on Biden to them remembering why they disliked Trump so much in the first place, why many of them voted for --

BASH: So --

LONGWELL: -- Biden or why they don't want to vote for Trump. And so this conviction is raising the salience of Trump's unfitness, and I do absolutely think it'll have some effect as long as Democrats are capable of prosecuting this case against Trump. You got to -- you can't be afraid to tell people that this man is a convicted felon and unfit to be president.

BASH: OK, so you kind of answered my question, but I'll ask it a different way and my question is, how much Democrats should be talking about it? Do you believe, based on the conversations that you've had with these voters, it should be the candidate himself, the president of the United States, Joe Biden, prosecuting the case, to use your words, or should he leave it to his surrogates?

LONGWELL: Well, look, I think that Biden should do it himself. I know that there's a lot of hand wringing about this, but I don't think anybody should -- if -- and I'll just put it this way. I come from the Republican side. If this -- the cases were reversed and this was a Republican going after a Democrat, they would not hesitate.


LONGWELL: They would not hesitate to prosecute this case. But Joe Biden does need more aggressive surrogates. Joe Biden is not going to be his best messenger. There are a lot of Democrats that should be out there going on offense and it's time for Democrats to really occupy an offense posture on these things.

BASH: Sarah Longwell, always good to see you. Come back soon.

LONGWELL: Thank you.

BASH: Up next, sorting facts from fiction. Republicans have a lot to say in their rush to defend their candidate after his felony convictions. What's true, what's not, we'll tell you in minutes.



BASH: Welcome back. We know that in politics it can be hard to separate fact from fiction, so we want to bring in our fact checker Daniel Dale to break down some of the claims Republicans are making about the Trump hush money trial.

Daniel, thank you so much for being here. I want to start with a couple of things that Lara Trump told Kasie Hunt yesterday on State of the Union.


LARA TRUMP, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE CO-CHAIR: He donated this judge to the Biden campaign. His daughter raises money for the opposition for Democrats.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: But I asked you about the jury specifically.

TRUMP: His wife works for Letitia James. I'm not done. You had a judge who told the jury that they did not have to be unanimous in their decision.


BASH: Go for it.

DANIEL DALE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: There's a mix of true and false there. So it is true the judge donated to President Biden's campaign. Although it's important to note it was a $15 donation. It is true the judge has a daughter who is a Democratic political consultant.

I have not found evidence that the judge's wife works for AG James. A woman that right-wing media purports to be the judge's wife used to work for the state AG's office. I'm not sure if it's actually his wife regardless, does not currently work for the state AG.

And then this claim, more importantly, I think, that the judge did not require jury unanimity, is just not true. The jury unanimously agreed -- was asked to unanimously agree, that Trump falsified business records, unanimously agreed that he did so with the intent to commit another crime, which had to be unanimously agreed to be a violation of state election law.

What the judge said they did not need to be unanimous on was the so- called unlawful means by which he intended to violate that election law. So there was a non-unanimous component, but the key parts of that verdict had to be unanimous.

BASH: Yes. And he -- the judge went through to each individual juror as -- after the foreman delivered the verdict, and they all agreed that they supported --

DALE: Correct. BASH: -- all of the verdicts on all 34. Another claim is that Donald Trump can ask the Supreme Court to step in. He's made that claim, apparently others, even the House Speaker. Is that even possible? This is a state issue.

DALE: It would be wildly unprecedented because this is a state issue. I'm loathe to offer a definitive fact check on what the Supreme Court may do. It's the Supreme Court. They make their own decisions. But the Supreme Court simply does not intervene in state criminal sentencing matters. It just does not happen.

BASH: OK. Another thing that we're hearing over and over from Trump and his allies is that the judge shouldn't have scheduled his sentencing to be on July 11th because it's four days before the Republican convention begins. Should they be surprised by this?

DALE: They should not because you can go look at the transcript of what happened in court. Trump's lawyers asked for a sentencing hearing in mid to late July. That is right when the Republican convention is.


They said, oh, we have some commitments in June --

BASH: And there it is.

DALE: Yes, there --

BASH: You mentioned the transcript.

DALE: Yes.

BASH: There are some examples.

DALE: So they said, look, we have obligations in June because we have this other Trump criminal case in Florida, the documents case. So could you please schedule it mid to late July? They said nothing about that convention when they made that request of the judge.

BASH: Yes. And so now the question is whether or not Donald trump is going to and his lawyers are going to push to have a change now that they kind of realize that this is an issue. Although you could also argue that politically, if he thinks that this is such a boon, maybe he'll keep it.

DALE: Perhaps. You could go either way for sure.

BASH: Yes. All right, Daniel, thank you so much.

DALE: Thank you.

BASH: Great to see you. Appreciate it.

And thank you for joining Inside Politics. CNN News Central starts after the break.