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Biden Campaign Hires Kinzinger Staffer To Lead GOP Outreach Effort; U.S. Judge Orders Ex-Trump Adviser Steve Bannon To Report To Prison By July 1; Trump Steps Onto Campaign Trail For First Time Since His Conviction. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 06, 2024 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: We have new reporting today from CNN's Isaac Dovere on President Biden's campaign making its biggest play yet for anti-Trump Republican voters. We've learned that Adam Kinzinger, former chief of staff, Austin Weather -- Weatherford has been hired to lead Republican outreach efforts for the Biden campaign.

Now, it's part of a larger effort to try to win over GOP voters who don't like Donald Trump, but they are skeptical about voting for a Democrat. My panel is back.

And Laura, you also have done reporting on this for PBS. What are you hearing?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well last week they held a call, actually the day before the verdict came out in Donald Trump's New York case.

And the Biden campaign spoke to a number of former Republican lawmakers basically telling them like we want to work with you as much as possible. And can you help us get bigger name Republican endorsers? Can you be surrogates out there for us on TV? They want to regularly talk to them. I mean, some of them want the Biden campaign to listen to them on policy.

The Biden campaign is like, we're the campaign, we're not the White House. And some of them were frustrated and felt as though the Biden campaign needs to be out there, more talking about the economy, making the economic message to these Republican voters. The message is essentially going to be on threats to democracy, reproductive rights. And some on the economy.

But so far since that call, one of the sources on it said that they haven't really gotten much of a readout yet from the campaign on how they're going to use these Republicans beyond what they were discussing last week.

BASH: That's really interesting. And Isaac, on the whole question of the big name, big name Republicans who do not like Donald Trump, Isaac, our colleague is reporting that Liz Cheney, who's an obvious one, has been deliberately, she's been given space by the Biden campaign because they want her to kind of do whatever she's going to do on her own timeline.

I will tell you that I spoke to a source familiar with Chris Christie and what he is doing. And that source said that Chris Christie has heard nothing from the Biden campaign at all. And that Christie, I'm told, believes that it's because the people around Joe Biden, he considers him maybe too ideological to reach out to somebody like Chris Christie, but boy, I mean, that would be a huge coup if they could get Chris Christie on board, considering the fact that he was the first former rival of Donald Trump in 2016 to endorse him.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He kind of became known as one of the few, you know, nom -- candidates at that point that was willing to attack Donald Trump. And including, you know, for threats, his not just his policies, but threats that he posed to the country. So you would think that would be kind of a given for them.

Also, Asa Hutchinson as well, the Arkansas governor has said that he hasn't been reached out. Which is, this is all surprising to me, because I remember when Haley dropped out, the Biden campaign sort of made a big splash and issued a statement saying that they welcomed also her voters, you know, into his constituency group as well.

So you would think that some of these surrogates would be able to appeal to some of those more moderate Republicans that, at this point, don't see a viable option in either candidate right now.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. Yes, and I also think, too in building that big coalition, obviously, the Biden campaign does have a challenge in making sure that they're keeping their progressives or they're left in the fold.


And I think that is one sort of factor that the campaign is thinking about when it comes to courting these Republicans. But I will say that in terms of, you know, focus according those so called Haley voters or those disaffected Republican voters, that is one place where you Donald Trump's convictions last week could actually help.

I was talking with, you know, a Biden campaign official last week, soon after the verdict. And they were like, we're looking at basically two groups of voters that this conviction could actually affect. One is the voters that they often talk about the voters who aren't yet paying attention.

The ones who still believe that, or who still don't believe that it's a Donald Trump-Joe Biden matchup that they kind of forgotten about the chaos. And obviously the conviction from mind. Someone of that chaos surrounding Donald Trump, but the second group is again those Haley voters who are, you know, they're not Democrats.

They don't. They like Republican policies. They support Republican policies. But this conviction also reminds them that this could, you know, that this is who you would be voting for if you don't vote for Joe Biden.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And that's why it's going to be so important for the Biden campaign to potentially have these former lawmakers who are still Republican go out there and talk about, yes, I don't agree with the president on any of these policies, but this election is about something bigger and creating that permission structure. Two data points on just what Seung Min was saying about the verdicts potentially shifting is that a focus group that I sat in on with two time Trump voters, right?

A day after the verdict, they were two-time Trump voters were already kind of a little hesitant about voting for him a third time. A majority of them in that focus group said that the verdict made them less likely to support him this year.

BASH: Did they say that they would support Biden?

BARRON-LOPEZ: They did. About just -- they're not just going to stay home. Right. So one of them said RFK Jr. Another one said unsure. But a majority in that, you know, nine to 10 person focus group said, they were prepared to vote for Joe Biden. There's also a local poll out of Pennsylvania today that shows that there has been, you know, a shift in terms of since the verdict, some voters saying they're considering Joe Biden.

BASH: One of the data points, to borrow your term, could be about some of the things that Donald Trump has been saying recently about and his allies like Steve Bannon, who's now going to be heading to jail, about what he would do with a second term specifically with the DOJ, weaponized the DOJ, to borrow a term from him.

We talked a lot about that on the show yesterday. Last night, Trump was on with Hannity and Hannity was clearly trying to throw him a lifeline and it didn't look like Donald Trump was ready to grab it. Let's listen.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Focus on those that want people to believe that you want retribution, that you will use the system of justice to go after your political enemies.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So, number one, they're wrong. It has to stop, because otherwise we're not going to have a country. Look, when this election is over, based on what they've done, I would have every right to go after them.

HANNITY: End this practice of weaponization. Is that a promise you're going to make?

TRUMP: You have to do it, but it's awful. Look, I know you want me to say something.

HANNITY: No, I don't want you to say it. I'm asking.

TRUMP: But I don't want to look naive. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: OK, we're going to sneak in a quick break on the other side. We're going to talk more about that and more about the Steve Bannon sentencing that we just brought you earlier this hour. Don't go anywhere.



BASH: Going back to our breaking news from earlier this hour, you see outside a federal courthouse here in Washington. That is Steve Bannon with his attorney speaking after a federal judge just ordered Steve Bannon to report to prison on July 1st. Donald Trump's former top advisor was convicted of contempt of Congress in 2022, and his sentence is four months in prison, which now two years later, he will begin actually serving. My panel is back here with me.

This is very much directly related to what we were talking about before the break, which is the claims of the weaponization of the Biden Justice Department, which there is absolutely, absolutely no evidence to back up but maybe more importantly, the promise slash threat that by people like Steve Bannon just a couple of days ago on his podcast or radio show that if Donald Trump is elected again, they will seek retribution with the courts and with the DOJ.

KANNO-YOUNGS: Right. Steve Bannon has been very outspoken about this. He's been candid about this. He has said Republican prosecutors at this point should be making a name for themselves. That's why he texted my colleagues on Tuesday by going prosecuting Democratic prosecutors. This is very clear and it comes from the words of some of Trump's very allies. It's not just accusations.

KIM: Right. I mean, he did say I think it's a conversation that you're referring to that he is calling for a quote, purge of the Justice Department if Donald Trump wins election this November and, you know, the Steve Bannon is not someone who is necessarily in daily contact with Donald Trump anymore, but he still carries so much influence in that sort of MAGA world that -- when you see that kind of rhetoric and those and that coming from -- when coming from someone like Bannon, you know that is a view that has, you know, that is in a lot of -- part of the right.


BASH: And it's not just view. It's actually just quickly action. I mean, he was the one who said explicitly what was going to happen on January 6th publicly before it happened.

BARRON-LOPEZ: It did. And it's not just Steve Bannon, Stephen Miller, who also was formerly in the Trump administration who could very well end up in a second one. And Donald Trump himself has said that he wants to install loyalists across the board, whether it's at the Justice Department or other agencies. So that way he has yes men around him and he can do whatever he wants, be it going after President Joe Biden or other Democrats.

BASH: All right. Thanks for the great discussion. Donald Trump is turning his attention to the campaign trail. He's going to one of the bluest places, San Francisco to be exact. We're going to explain why with the great Kara Swisher. There she is. She's coming up.



BASH: Donald Trump is set to raise even more campaign cash after a week of post-verdict fundraising. Today, he's going to, first of all, be back on the trail for the first time becoming a convicted felon. He's going to stop at a town hall in Phoenix hosted by a far right group, but then he is going to the very blue city of San Francisco for a fundraiser with big tech billionaires.

There's no one better to talk about this with then-CNN contributor Kara Swisher, the host of Pivot and On podcasts. Hi, Kara. Thank you so much for being here.


BASH: What does it -- tell us about the names, these big names of tech who are going to be with Donald Trump and why they're supporting him?

SWISHER: You know, I'll be curious to see who goes. I have not been invited, Dana. I'm in San Francisco right now, and I'm still waiting for that invitation. But it's going to -- it's being run by David Sacks and Chamath Palihapitiya, who is a -- he worked for Facebook. Chamath did. He's a longtime investor. He was very famous for SPACs.

He worked on Facebook's ill-conceived phone many years ago. David Sacks is an investor who's sort of a middle level investor who's gotten very big in donations and things like that, trying to make himself an influencer. He was one of the many PayPal people, part of the PayPal mafia. He was -- I always sort of call him the fifth beetle because you know, about Peter Thiel or Max Levchin, or you know, all those really great entrepreneurs like Reed Hoffman. But so he's been trying to insert himself with a lot of opinionating and this and that close with Elon Musk for sure.

BASH: You mentioned David Sacks and he actually responded on X to another Silicon Valley investor who donated to Trump and David Sacks said, quote, after Biden's disastrous presidency, Trump has a lot of supporters in Silicon Valley. Many are just afraid to admit it. But with each act of courage, like this one, the dam begins to break.

Do you think he's right? Is that your impression? I mean, obviously there are still a lot who support Biden.

SWISHER: No, the guy -- no. The guy who was responding to him was someone who's been a long time, I guess libertarian. I don't even know what to call these people. I don't think they have politics. I think they have -- are interested in influence. And they realize that politicians are cheap. And so they can get a lot of influence by giving them small amounts of money. I mean, 30 million is nothing to these people. They're very wealthy.

And so, no, he was talking about someone else. There's always been conservatives in Silicon Valley. It's never been as liberal as people think it is, especially at the top. And there's been a long history, Meg Whitman, John Chambers at Cisco and everything else. These are just people who are sort of trying to get in on the game, and they realize how easy it is.

There's another group of people like Reid Hoffman, Mark Cuban, Ron Conway, who are very supportive of Biden and have been of previous things. Chamath was a big supporter of Obama and Hillary Clinton, and so I think he was with Hillary Clinton too, but so they just shift, they just want influence. This is what's, you know, and hand waving, and then they play the victim. They're all richest people in the world, you know.

BASH: Must be nice for 30 million, not to be a lot of. I want to tell our viewers, and I want you to talk about some of --

SWISHER: It's not.

BASH: I know it's not, I know. It's just -- it's hard to wrap your mind around sometimes. You and I were texting earlier about the fact that these tech billionaires, I mean, Meg Whitman aside, and she's maybe from a few years ago, but they're spending their money the way you just described.

Compare that to Melinda Gates, MacKenzie Bezos.

SWISHER: Well, these guys just want to be influencers and hand wave and tell us what we should do in Ukraine, of which they have no ability to understand it in any way, but they, nonetheless, it doesn't stop them.

MacKenzie Bezos, MacKenzie Scott --

BASH: MacKenzie-Scott. Yes. Thank you.

SWISHER: -- is what she calls herself now. And Melinda Gates have given billions, especially MacKenzie has given billions of dollars to groups all taking this fortune that she got as part of her divorce settlement with Jeff Bezos and spreading it all around the world in terms of giving money, not taking credit, just handing the money over really great things that really affect people. And just walking away.

She doesn't need to hand wave. She doesn't need to say, look at me as these guys do, and she does that. Melinda Gates has just announced she's going to be doing the same thing through Pivotal Ventures with both investments and philanthropy aimed at women and girls, but also she's giving money to helping boys and mental health and everything else.

So to me, these women represent what's great about wealthy people giving things away, and these other people are just looking to have a party and be able to sleep in the Lincoln bedroom, and they don't care who they back, and they don't care about women's rights. They don't care about anything else but themselves. And so the contrast is rather stark between philanthropists like Melinda Gates and MacKenzie Scott, and these clowns.


BASH: I keep thinking about that TV show, Loot, which I'm sure you've seen and we're out of time with Maya Rudolph, and when you're describing that, that is exactly what we're seeing. I don't know if you're going to get that invitation, Kara. I wouldn't hold my breath, but thank you for --

SWISHER: I'm not. I won't.

BASH: I'm glad that you accepted the invitation that we gave you to be on Inside Politics and I'll see you too.

SWISHER: Well, you know, it's a lot better class of person anyway.

BASH: All right. Thank you, Kara. Appreciate it.

SWISHER: Thank you.

BASH: And thank you so much for joining Inside Politics. CNN News Central starts after the break.