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Inside Politics

Biden Sharpens Contrast With Trump On World Stage; Harris on Trump: "Cheaters Don't Like Getting Caught"; Trump Vows Revenge As He Awaits Criminal Sentencing; Early Polls Show Mixed Reactions to Trump Verdict; Hunter Biden Trial; Veepstakes; Rep. Wexton Makes History While Battling Rare Brain Disease. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired June 09, 2024 - 08:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks so much, and thank you for spending a part of your morning with us.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: We'll see you back here next weekend. Have a good day.



MANU RAJU, CNN HOST (voice-over): Taking the stand. Israel makes a move in Gaza.

And President Biden tries to outshine Donald Trump overseas.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I refuse to believe that America's greatness is a thing of the past.

RAJU: While at home, the vice president calls Trump's conviction disqualifying.


RAJU: And exclusive details on a new plan to further overhaul immigration and quell progressives' concerns.

Plus, retribution.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I would have every right to go after them.

RAJU: New reporting as Republicans promise payback.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Things have consequences. They're going to have consequences as they should.

RAJU: And need perseverance. A rising Democratic star confronts a debilitating terminal diagnosis.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When it comes to illness, progressive is not a good thing to be.

RAJU: Our exclusive sit down ahead.

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


RAJU (on camera): Good morning and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Manu Raju.

President Biden woke up in France this morning after he spent the last several days warning about the risks to democracy and marking the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Yet as he tries to assure American allies about the U.S. commitment to the world order, Biden has not mentioned Donald Trump much by name, not once during his pair of major speeches, but the contrast he's trying to draw is clear as he seeks to reframe the race and take on his major vulnerabilities.

New this morning on that front, CNN has breaking news on how the president is trying to address one big weakness with a major policy move. More on that in just a moment.

But first, he and his team are dealing with the aftermath of that Israeli operation in Gaza that rescued four hostages, as Gazan officials say, at least 274 Palestinians were killed.

CNN's senior White House correspondent Kayla Tausche is live from Paris.

So, Kayla, how is the president's team addressing the fallout of this rescue operation?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Manu, the White House says it supports all efforts to secure the release of hostages still held by Hamas, including Americans, whether that's by negotiations or by other means. Here in France, President Biden and President Macron have reiterated the need for an immediate cease fire. But this all comes as Biden is wrapping up a multi-day trip to France, where he has tried to set himself apart from his GOP opponent.


TAUSCHE (voice-over): As President Biden memorialized war heroes in Normandy --

BIDEN: Such remarkable bravery on that day.

TAUSCHE: -- his reelection campaign released this --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A good commander in chief is somebody who gives (EXPLETIVE DELETED)

TAUSCHE: -- veterans knocking Donald Trump in a new ad as unfit to serve. The aim, to distinguish Biden from Trump on defense.

With this week's decorum on display, pledging unwavering support for European allies.

BIDEN: We will not, we will not -- say it again -- walk away.

TAUSCHE: Where Trump is noncommittal.

TRUMP: I've been saying, look, if they're not going to pay, we're not going to protect, okay?

TAUSCHE: In speaking from the cliffs American troops scaled on D-Day --

BIDEN: We're the fortunate heirs of a legacy of these heroes.

TAUSCHE: -- Biden earning comparisons to a Republican, Ronald Reagan --

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Our armies are here for only one purpose, to protect and defend democracy.

TAUSCHE: -- who 40 years ago was also selling voters on a second term.

So far, they're not sold. According to one recent poll, independents favor Trump over Biden by 12 points. Trump traveled to Normandy, too, to mark the D-Day 75th.

TRUMP: Today, we remember those who fell.

TAUSCHE: But after his speech, attacking Democrats in an interview.

TRUMP: Her name, it's nervous Nancy, because she's a nervous wreck.

TAUSCHE: Trump later came under fire for skipping a visit to a cemetery outside Paris, reportedly calling the Americans buried there "losers", something he's denied.

But Biden doesn't want people to forget, telling campaign donors last week, he said they're losers and suckers. Who in the hell does he think he is?


TAUSCHE (on camera): In just a few hours, President Biden is scheduled to visit that very cemetery outside Paris before departing France, the Trump campaign, meanwhile, for its part, calls the Biden team desperate and says it's president Biden who's been disrespecting service members -- Manu.


RAJU: Kayla Tausche in Paris, thank you.

And now, there's a lot to unpack. So, let's break this all down with our great panel this morning.

Seung Min Kim of "The Associated Press", Astead Herndon with "The New York Times", CNN's Isaac Dovere, and Mara Liasson with NPR.

Good morning.


RAJU: Good morning. Great.

Thank you guys all for joining me today. A lot to discuss. There was an interesting trip over the last several days.

What's re -- interesting, of course, is that we all know that elections are typically decided by the economy. But this is an election, of course, that has two wars that are raging overseas. There are the -- Biden has been making the case about democracy, that's his major selling point.

This is how voters view how the issues that are important to them. Economy number one, 31 percent. Immigration, number two, we'll talk about that in a second.

Preserving democracy, 16. But still, the issues about Ukraine and the Israel-Hamas war ranking lower down.

Seung Min, you cover the White House for "The Associated Press". How does the Biden campaign believe that these issues, foreign policy issues, may have an impact, or do they not think it'll have much of an impact come November?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, there's a lot contained within that foreign policy category. Obviously, we know that one of their biggest weaknesses is the Biden administration's handling of the war in Gaza, which has really disillusioned progressives -- disillusioned progressives and young voters.

When the -- on the issue of democracy, which you can also kind of put into this foreign policy category, as we have seen over the last several days with President Biden and France, they believe that is a really fundamental issue that unites not only their coalition, but gets those independent voters, those so-called Nikki Haley voters that we have seen persistently turn out in these primaries. They believe that that is something that could attract them to their side.

And that's why you saw -- that's one of the reasons why you saw Biden speak so forcefully in these issues over the last several days. You know, he never really said the words Donald Trump. But you see the political subtext, you can't help but see that contrast that President Biden and his aides are trying to implicitly make against, you know, someone like Donald Trump who disparages the NATO alliance, who has said, who has kind of given the green light to Putin to do whatever he wants.

And Biden says that is not the way. And he really invokes the memory of D-Day, invokes the honor of these Army Rangers to say, you know what would they ask us to do? They would ask us to -- one quote was, vanquish hateful ideologies, and you can't help but think that President Biden was thinking about Donald Trump in that moment.

RAJU: Yeah. And look, but you talk about Trump versus Biden on some of these issues. That's how voters view them, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll, preserving democracy has Joe Biden ahead, not by a lot, seven points, but he is losing, but he's underwater in both the Israel-Hamas War and the Russia-Ukraine War.

I mean, Mara, I mean, what do you think explains that? Because Trump has barely talked about what his policy is on the Israel-Hamas War or on Ukraine, for instance?

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Oh, he's been pretty clear on Ukraine. He was impeached the first time because he held up military aid to Ukraine.

RAJU: But about how he will end this war.

LIASSON: Oh, yeah. No, except for that. He'd end it on day one.

RAJU: Yeah, right.

LIASSON: This wouldn't have happened if he was the president.

RAJU: Right.

LIASSON: But what's interesting about that, the bad numbers on Gaza are about internal Democratic divisions that young people and progressives are angry with Biden about, that. I think that as if Biden can succeed in conflating foreign policy and the threat to democracy, which is pretty high up on those list of concerns, foreign policy is way down, but democracy is way up. If he can conflate them, I think that can help him.

And what really struck me about the president in Europe, the things he said could have been said by any president. In other words, of course, we're going to defend democracy in our allies. But because he's running against someone on a pretty openly authoritarian platform who said, nice things about Putin, disparaged NATO allies, said, you know, we don't really belong in Ukraine. It's not our fight. That's what made this contrast so explicit.

RAJU: And I want to I want to turn to what you have, Isaac, which is some breaking news here about a major issue that the president's going to confront in dealing with immigration.

Right now, if you look at the -- this is Isaac's story from this morning. Biden nears huge next move on immigration as he tries to win over Latinos in key states.

This past week, he moved forward on an executive action that angered a lot of folks on the left to try to clamp down on migrant crossings at the southern border. This time a shift. What is it?

ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Look, well, our reporting is that the president is very close to moving forward on what would be the next round of executive actions. It would be to make work possible legally for long term undocumented immigrants who are married to Americans. It sounds like a small group. It's actually about 800,000 people, predominantly Latino.

And when you think about the effect that this has, it's not just on those people themselves. It's of course, on their spouses, on their kids, on their whole networks around them. That really makes a reverberating effect through millions of people.

By the way, many of those people concentrated in Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, places that the president has been behind, especially with Latinos.


There's a political benefit here.

But to folks who have been involved with this, this looks a lot to them, like DACA 2.0. This time 2012, it was June 15th, 2012, Barack Obama created the DACA program for people who had been brought here as children unknowingly to -- so that they could be in legal status. That to a lot of people, was one of the turning point moments for Obama's reelection campaign.

There is a deep desire to replicate that, both in terms of the policy effect here and in terms of the political effect.

RAJU: Yeah. And look, the political effect is one thing we'll look at right now. Obviously, both polls show that Biden is struggling with on the issue of immigration as one of his major vulnerabilities.

But how do Biden supporters versus Trump supporters look at the idea of undocumented immigrants, and whether they should be able to stay in the us legally, if certain requirements are met?

The recent Pew poll said 85 percent of Biden supporters would -- are supportive of that. But just 32 percent of Trump supporters, such a divide here. But it's clearly -- he's moving. You could say to the left to try to placate those concerns. He's hearing about how he's been handling this.

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Certainly, I think it reflects the kind of cross pressures he's feeling on the number of issues, not only immigration but foreign policy. This is a president who's tried to, you know, be everything to everyone in a lot of points. And with on both the border and I think in foreign policy you've seen the difficulties on that.

I think that Biden, you know, came in obviously with this as a strength that has flipped to a political liability. And I think it's because Democrats have not had an affirmative position on a lot of these issues. They have been able to criticize Donald Trump and Republican actions, but there has not been a unified view from both top of the party to the base on what to do about immigration, on what to do a look abroad. But I think it's important that we don't see these issues as

completely separate. You know, when people talk about the economy, they often bring up the fact that we're bringing that we're giving a lot of money to Ukraine and Israel. When people talk about foreign policy, they'll bring up, preserving democracy. These things are working together. And also Biden's perception, even things like age, the perception of him is not in the driver's seat of kind of events.

But reacting to events is something that happens on the foreign policy stage that is contributing to his perception of unpopularity domestically. So these things are all kind of all working together to create a really difficult picture for this president. But I think what we're seeing now is the is the White House trying to take a more active role in shaping ahead of this debate so that by the time Donald Trump makes these arguments, he can point to very specific things that he has done recently, specifically on the issues he has the most.

RAJU: Seung Min, Isaac mentioned about the impact that this would be like DACA. The Biden team kind of views this as DACA 2012. You covered this very closely at that time. Biden has struggled since then with Hispanic voters. Does this have any impact, do you think with that key demographic or is this is this similar in any way to what Obama did more than a decade ago?

KIM: Well, I was -- I was talking with some, some people who work in this space, and there was so much anger after the border executive action that the that the president rolled out this week that there's some thought that they might not even want to praise whatever affirmative action that the administration rolls out that would help these undocumented immigrants.

But I think another thing to remember, too, is that President Obama in 2014 rolled out something similar on executive action that was actually blocked by the Supreme Court and was never implemented. And now I'm sure Biden's team -- I'm sure Biden's lawyers are trying to make sure to craft this proposal in a way that they feel could withstand scrutiny.

But first of all, the Supreme Court is a lot more conservative now than it was in 2014. And, you know, he's already going to you know, he could do these things either on the border or on that and could get blocked by the courts. And then what does that do then what does that do to those people who he's trying to court?

RAJU: It's such a good point. But I'm sure Republicans will have something to say about this as well.

All right. Coming up next is retribution on the ballot in November. We'll dive into President Trump's -- former President Trump's new calls for revenge, and my new reporting on how far his party is willing to go to back him up.


RAJU: Are you going to vote for Trump now he's been convicted?

REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Manu, Manu --




RAJU: Vice President Kamala Harris making news overnight and going on the attack and even going a bit further than her boss, taking aim at Donald Trump in the aftermath of his felony conviction. Speaking to Michigan Democrats last night, Harris called Trump a cheater and said he thinks he is above the law. She said that should be disqualifying for anyone who wants to be president of the United States.

But how is the rest of the political world responding to the guilty verdict? In my new reporting this week with Annie Grayer, we speak to some of the most vulnerable Republicans and Democrats and find it's often the Democrats unwilling to speak about the verdict, while swing district Republicans rallied to the former president's defense and have no qualms with the convicted felon at the top of their ticket.

My panel is back to discuss this.

Isaac, you spent a lot of time with Kamala Harris. What do you make of the fact that she's going further --


RAJU: -- than Biden on the guilty verdict?

DOVERE: I in April spent a bunch of time with her, wrote a piece about how she is really embracing the campaign and the campaign aspects of things, sort of. She's looser. She's swinging harder at Trump.

She also at this moment does not have a direct opponent, right. We're waiting for Donald Trump to pick a running mate. We'll see who it is.

But that puts her in this position where she can continue just going at Trump and going at it him in a way that I think actually speaks to where a lot of the Democratic voters would like more Democrats to be. The response from Joe Biden and from the Biden campaign overall to Donald Trump's conviction is just to say he's a convicted felon, not really talk about the details of it and not really talk about it that much, even at all.


And that has struck a lot of Democrats in the wider world as a sort of strange approach, given that they would like to --

RAJU: Did you embrace it? She made it a core part of her messaging.

DOVERE: Yeah. I mean, their goal here is to beat Donald Trump, and part of that would be from making him more disqualified in the eyes of voters. Harris went right at that. And by the way, she went at it at a Democratic Party in Michigan, a Democratic Party event, rather, in Michigan.

That is where I think we should expect to see her much more over the course of the next six months.

HERNDON: It reminds me of in her presidential campaign, you know, justice is on the ballot. Kamala Harris prosecuting the case against Donald Trump. These were all kind of doses that were part of the original premise of her as a politician. I think that is going to be the role she plays to Isaac's point, to be a -- to actually be able to make the case in a more direct way than Joe Biden will.

But at the same time, we haven't seen real returns from this, and especially because on the public side, the conviction has not registered as a huge shift. You know, we were following "The New York Times" polling about what actually moved people after the conviction. And you saw all the kind of two points moving away from, from kind of Trump to Biden. But some of that was drop off, just the interest in third party. Some of that was, you know, the landscape is really messy around this conviction, but it's not telling the sea change.

And last year, when we were talking to Democrats about the premise of Biden's campaign, part of it was a belief that the legal problems would make Donald Trump inherently unelectable. And we have not seen that come to fruition.

RAJU: Yeah.

HERNDON: And so what the Harris is doing, I think, is to try to make that true in a way that Democrats have not been able to kind of make that reality such so far, but their belief that it was inevitably happen has not come to pass.

RAJU: And we're going to dive a little deeper about the impacts or not impact we'll have on the numbers in the next segment. So thanks for that deal. Sorry. No, no, it's good. It was good.


RAJU: It's good. People, you know. there was going to be more to come.

Meanwhile, we've heard Trump and his talk about retribution. And what is that exactly mean. You know who really knows. But this is what he's talking about.

This is his messaging in the aftermath of his conviction.


TRUMP: Well, revenge does take time. I will say that it does. And sometimes revenge can be justified. So I have to be honest, you know, sometimes it can.

It's a very terrible thing. It's a terrible precedent for our country. Does that mean the next president does it to them? That's really the question. Look, when this election is over, based on what they've done, I would

have every right to go after them.


RAJU: I mean, sure, he's rallied the base in the aftermath of the conviction, but is there a risk of going too far?

LIASSON: There might be.

The thing that struck me about Donald Trump's campaign is how much it's been base-oriented. How much he doesn't seem to care about those independents or Nikki Haley voters.

RAJU: He's just -- which is really been ever since the beginning. He came to the political.

LIASSON: Yeah, this is his theory of the case. It's like a cable news business model. You don't have to have a bigger audience. They just have to watch you 24/7. And that's what he wants. And look how much money he's raised off of that.

But I think that the Republican Party has fallen in line. I mean, some of his supporters are calling for jailing Alvin Bragg. Some of his supporters are calling for executing Alvin Bragg. But -- and to a person, they're behind him.

Will it have a risk? Certainly we haven't seen that in the polls so far. But this is a race that's going to be won or lost on the margins. A tiny little shift of voters could make a big difference in a battleground state.

RAJU: Speaking of falling in line, yes, I spoke to I spoke to a number of some of the most vulnerable Republicans in the House, the people who represent districts that Joe Biden won, some districts, even by double digits.

And I asked them, you have a convicted felon at the top of the ticket? Are you still going to support him?


RAJU: Now that Trump has been convicted, are you planning on supporting him in November?

REP. MIKE GARCIA (R-CA): Versus Joe Biden? Yes. Yeah.

LAWLER: I already voted for him in the primary.

RAJU: And in November.

LAWLER: This is about the American people.

REP. ANTHONY D'ESPOSITO (R-NY): I have no issues in supporting Donald Trump for president of the United States.

REP. LORI CHAVEZ-DEREMER (R-OR): He's the Republican nominee. I'm the Republican.

REP. NICK LALOTA (R-NY): Yeah. And a lot of my constituents are I think even more of them are supporting him now because the Democrats went way too far.

RAJU: Having a convicted felon in a district like yours hurt Republicans?

REP. JOHN DUARTE (R-CA): My district is full of very smart people with a firm grasp of reality. They can smell (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

RAJU: Do you have a comment, sir?


RAJU: That last one was Congressman Tom Kean Jr., who did not respond.

The other ones indicated they did. Look, in another political universe, you have a candidate who has some baggage. You're a vulnerable member you run away from. You don't want anything to do with them. This is the Trump era when Republicans are fine. He's a convicted felon. They'll side with his messaging on this.

KIM: When I was watching that, I was reminded a lot of the dynamics that we saw after the "Access Hollywood" tape in 2016, when we did see some un-endorsements, but most of the party rallied behind him because they know, you know, they're, you know, the Republican lawmakers you talk to, they've either accepted or maybe are resigned to the fact that President Trump is their party's nominee, and they know they cannot lose their base of supporters if they want to win.

You know, they do need to attract the independent voters, which is why they say things like, well, we're supportive of Trump and we don't like the verdict and all that, but let's talk about the economy.


Let's talk about immigration. That's how they try to broaden their own coalition of voters. And I was just -- I mean, blast from the past, Manu.

But remember when Joe Heck in 2016 famously unendorsed Trump on live TV after "Access Hollywood"? I remember strategists at the time saying, that's kind of where his campaign started going downhill, because you really need to, you know, call or really bring together, consolidate your own base first.

RAJU: Yeah, good. Good reference the 2012. There's also -- it's also the dynamic here is that there are Republicans in the swing districts who are fine with endorsing Trump. Then there's the vulnerable Democrats, vulnerable Senate Democrats in these purplish, even red states, and whether they are going to talk about the Trump guilty verdict.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: Do you think that Trump --

SEN. BOB CASEY (D-PA): I will come back.

RAJU: -- the Trump verdict was, do they get this correct? The Trump verdict, the jury in New York?

CASEY: Well, the jury made a decision. And they -- that's their -- that's their decision. And we'll see what the next step is.

RAJU: Did the jury get it right in New York?

SEN. SHERRON BROWN (D-OH): I put out a statement I've said what I've said. Do you support that verdict?


RAJU: I mean, meantime, their Republican opponents have gone after them with ads. Tim Sheehy in Montana put out an ad saying that Jon Tester, who's running against him, is standing on the, you know, attacking him for the verdict. And Sherrod Brown's opponent tacking him over the verdict. And these members don't want to talk about.

What does that tell you?

DOVERE: Well, look, I mean, that's Montana, which is a very Republican state and Jon --

RAJU: And Bob Casey is from Pennsylvania.

DOVERE: I think that that's right. And look, I think that this is the tension they're facing.

Look, I had a story a couple of days ago that was also about the Biden campaign's outreach beginning to Republicans. And I think it is definitely the case that Republican leaders, current Republican leaders, do not want to have any sunlight between them and Donald Trump.

But among a lot of former Republican leaders, there is now a some connections going on to the Biden campaign. And the question that a lot of them raised to me is how many Republican voters are there out there who maybe don't want to say it publicly, but who, once they go into the voting booth, pull the curtain tight, will actually not vote for Donald Trump or even vote for Joe Biden. Maybe skip it or vote for Biden.

RAJU: That is a huge question for the rest of the campaign.

All right. Up next, our first hints at how Trump's verdict is sitting with voters. We'll dive into this week's polling and hear how why some voters could be on the brink of switching sides.


[08:31:47] RAJU: It's been ten days since Donald Trump became a convicted felon.

Now we have an early sense on whether it's having any impact at all on voters. While new polling shows there are some small-sized shifts, broadly-speaking, it has not made much of a dent in Trump's standing, at least not yet.

New poll from Fox News shows the former president still ahead in several key states, except notably in Virginia, where the poll shows the race is tied. And of course, President Biden won Virginia in 2020 by about ten points.

Our panel is back.

Just a little bit deeper in that Fox News poll about how Independents, what they view, this has an impact in these swing-states, the hush money verdict here, the guilty verdict.

There are 29 percent of voters in Virginia say it matters, up to 44 percent in Florida, then you have it doesn't matter, 68 percent in Virginia, all the way down to 52 percent say it doesn't matter.

Now we don't know that that means whether they're going to actually vote or how they will vote but it doesn't seem to be -- a game changer.

LIASSON: No. It's not a game changer. Look, we always said this was the weakest of all the cases against him. It turns out its the only one that's probably going to happen before election day. And most people say it's not going to change their votes.

NPR/PBS/Marist had a poll, 60 something percent said it won't change their votes, but 17 percent said they would, and that matters in a battleground state.

So it might happen around the edges, but the Biden campaign has to figure out how to make it matter. And I don't think they're very clear yet on the best way to do that.

RAJU: Astead, you had actually been speaking to some of these voters throughout the course of these legal cases in your podcasts. You talked to a voter about whether they would switch to Biden.

This was someone who had said they were going to vote for Trump and now will they switch -- vote for Biden now that he's guilty -- guilty in this case? Listen.


KURT, AUDIENCE: So I was thinking along the lines of the January 6 uprising.


KURT: If you went after him on that and you were able to get him on something like that. That might make me change my mind. But this thing that they got him on, I'm sorry. It just doesn't sway me. I think it was a crime I am that in another world, if he was another

person and nobody would have touched it.


RAJU: What do you -- I mean this is an Arizona Republican voter. Says his mind hasn't changed.

HERNDON: Yes, this is part of two groups we spoke to. The first, which includes Kurt, was people who had said in the October "New York Times" poll, that if Trump was convicted of a crime, they would change their mind.

They would -- that they were Trump supporters who will be open to backing Biden was about 7 percent of people.

Now, when we called a lot of those folks back as "New York Times" polling was doing over the last week, almost universally they were adding caveats to that opinion, say, oh, it was a different case as Kurt said, or maybe if it turned out or maybe the facts were more.

But the folks weren't really changing because of this. But when we called back the majority of voters in the general national survey, you did see 1 to 2 percent of movement away from -- away from Trump toward Biden.

And so that can to, you know, to the point about margins make a small difference.


HERNDON: But I would caution against saying this doesn't matter at all. Donald Trump's legal problems have been ingested by most people, and it's part of the reason Democrats have done better in things like the midterms.

It's part of the reason Joe Biden has a narrative to tell swing voters and Independents because oftentimes it has come back to hurt Donald Trump.

Donald Trump is a weak general election candidate, partially because of these things. All that the polling would tell us that Republicans will be better served if someone else was at the top of the ticket.

However because he's going up against another weak candidate and Joe Biden relative to each other, he's still retaining that level of support. So that's what really came through in this polling.

And it's not that people did not care about Donald Trump's baggage, it's that it wasn't enough to overcome some of the unpopularity of Joe Biden.

That's what we're seeing. That's a little more deeper-rooted I think some Democrats expect.

RAJU: And of course, the fact that a lot of these other cases almost certainly will not -- get reach a verdict November then it shows you that voter may not be swayed. We'll see.

But I do want to turn to the other big criminal case. The Hunter Biden case, the president's son, there could be a verdict this week. In fact, it's still a question about whether Hunter Biden will testify. It seems unlikely he will in his own defense in this criminal case.

What's been -- you know, we'll see what the fallout is depending on what the verdict ultimately is.

What's been notable is there's been a shift a bit in Trump's own messaging about this from 2020 to now.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hunter got thrown out of the military. He was thrown out dishonorably discharged --

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's not true. He wasn't dishonorably --

TRUMP: -- for cocaine use. And he didn't have a job until you became vice president.

I feel very badly for them in terms of the addiction part of what they have right now, because I understand the addiction world and I've also not only a brother, I've lost a lot of friends to addiction.


RAJU: So suddenly he's changed his tune on Hunter Biden.

DOVERE: like many people saw that moment when -- in the debate that followed that in 2020, when Joe Biden spoke very personally and viscerally about his son facing addiction and families in the face -- it's one of Joe Bidens best moments in the campaign.

Donald Trump seems to be responding to that.

I think the other thing here is that this case is its really complicated what happened with Hunter Biden here. It's not about drug use, it's about the gun charge related to drug use and Trump's supporters -- or Trump aides have said that they feel like this is not the kind of thing that they would like to be prosecuting the case on Hunter on. It doesn't get to the business dealings. It doesn't get to Joe Biden enriching himself.

Look, if you're going to get into complicated family dynamics with a lot of children, the Trump family has some --

RAJU: You don't say. But, you know, speaking -- obviously there's personal issue on the president, but politically zero concern in the Biden camp about what a guilty verdict may mean for the president in November. They think that, you know, people will view these things separately.

KIM: Well, I think they're trying to make sure that these legal -- his legal -- Hunter's legal cases don't get conflated with what the former president has been convicted of.

And they are so different, obviously not only different facts, but Hunter's a private citizen, you know, Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. What he does has a direct bearing on the American people, whereas Hunter, you can't really argue that.

But I think the Democrats are really trying to make sure that in the eyes of the public that those two -- those two issues are kept separate.

I think the concern among Democrats is just the impact on President Biden himself. I mean he is a father. I mean this is a son going through a very difficult moment and a moment in his life.

He's got a lot going on this month. He's got the debate coming up. He's got another foreign trip later this week, and just that just weighing on him, I think that is the concern among Democrats, right now.

RAJU: He said just this past week, you would not pardon his son --

KIM: Right.

RAJU: -- if he is convicted.

All right. Next, is Trump's search for a running mate narrowing. New details from this week, including whether one possible candidate is trying just a little too hard.



RAJU: It's betting season, that time of year when the presidential standard bearer and his team intensify their scrutiny of a possible running mate. Several potential Trump VP picks have now received vetting materials and two of them, Senator JD Vance and North Dakota governor Doug Burgum joining Trump on a West Coast swing this week. Trump says he'll announce his choice at the Republican National Convention next month.

Our panel's back. Ok, Mara, your crystal ball, where do you think that Trump lands here. I mean, there's obviously a list of running mates. You can see on your screen where --

LIASSON: Who knows? It's hard to make predictions especially about the future --

DOVERE: And about Trump.

RAJU: And about Trump.

LIASSON: Look, this is the most normal part of Donald Trump. This is -- he picked Mike Pence last time. Totally normal. He wanted the Evangelical community, Mike Pence was the ambassador to that constituency. Totally understandable. In this case, he has a couple of choices. He can pick a person of color, reach out to minority voters or you can pick Doug Burgum and increase his credentials with the business community, some of -- some of whom are a little nervous about him, or he could double down on MAGA and go for a JD Vance?

RAJU: Yes.

LIASSON: What he's going to do. I don't know.

But in the past we know that he's done the normal thing.

RAJU: Yes.

LIASSON: And that would be a Burgum pass.

RAJU: Speaking of Burgum, this is how "The Washington Post" put it. "Burgum is viewed by some Trump allies as trying too hard, but Trump seems to have genuine personal chemistry with him, according to people familiar with the matter."

I mean, Trump also wants loyalty obviously, as anyone does -- particularly Trump. Loyalty trumps all else, pun intended.

KIM: I find it interesting that they think, or there are some advisors think that Doug Burgum is trying too hard because so many of these VP candidates are really auditioning without saying they're jockeying for the position.


KIM: You mentioned JD Vance and Burgum campaigning out with President Trump. You know, JD Vance was asked about this. You have Tim Scott, I believe spending $14 million on an ad campaign. They're doing a lot to try to get that VP slot, they're just not saying it.

RAJU: Yes. And look, there's the question of does it help in other parts of the ticket. Tim Scott maybe helps with black voters. Trump just got 12 percent support of black votes in 2020.

Elise Stefanik, does she help with women? He just got 42 percent. He's got to do better with both groups. But vice-presidential candidates don't always change the equation.

HERNDON: Yes, we often have this kind of discussion with them when we know this is going to be probably about the top of the ticket. What it does do obviously is set up a vice-presidential debate between this person and Vice President Harris.

But I think these kind of normal calculations is what Donald Trump is going through. What we can bet on is the show. He is announcing this at the Republican National Committee. He's hoping an hosting an apprentice-like try out.

I was at New Hampshire after the primary and when he had people speak one by one in what felt like a live audition process. So we can bet on the spectacle of it all, but I do think the kind of traditional political calculus is where a lot of these things -- it's kind of surprising, actually to see the names like Rubio on the list, kind of more traditional Republican figures.

But I think it speaks to someone who feels like he's in a good position to win this election. And is thinking more about consolidation of the party at large, rather than more firebrand type methods.

Even JD Vance isn't as MAGA as he could have gone over some people were expecting last year

RAJU: And quickly Isaac, who do you think that the Biden team wants Trump to pick?

DOVERE: They would like someone who doesn't bring in a lot of votes from, you know, Doug Burgum.

RAJU: They're scared of Tim Scott.

DOVERE: I think that that is much more on people's minds, but I do think that one thing that will be notable here as we go through this drawn-out process Trump does. is that a lot of these people, Doug Burgum said that he would not do business with Trump. Marco Rubio said people would come to regret going Trump.

A lot of these people used to say that Trump was terrible.

RAJU: Yes.


RAJU: Absolutely. Absolutely.

All right. Great discussion.

Coming up our exclusive sit-down interview with a member of Congress diagnosed with debilitating brain disease. How she's making history and inspiring others.


REP. JENNIFER WEXTON (D-VA): It may shock you to hear this, but this is not my real voice.




RAJU: We're back with the inspiring story of Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, an up-and-coming Virginia Democrat who was diagnosed last year with the disease, sometimes called Parkinson's on steroids.

But that has not stopped her from making strides on the Hill and making jokes in the process.

CNN's Capitol Hill reporter Melanie Zanona has the story.


WEXTON: It may shock you to hear this, but this is not my real voice.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Once a rising star in the Democratic Party, Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton, flipped a House seat in 2018.

WEXTON: I've been saying since the beginning of this campaign that changer is coming to America and change is coming to Virginia and that change came tonight.

ZANONA: Now, a rare brain disease has forced her into early retirement and robbed Wexton of the ability to speak. But that hasn't stopped her from using her voice.

WEXTON: I hope I can show that even as debilitating a diagnosis as this doesn't have to mean you are powerless and finding moments of levity and fun helps too.

ZANONA: Last year at 56-years-old Wexton was diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy, an incurable disease that impacts about 30,000 Americans. Described as Parkinson's on steroids, PSP affects the brain cells that control balance, walking, speech, and swallowing.

WEXTON: (INAUDIBLE) when it comes to illness, progressive is not a good thing to be.

ZANONA: As her condition began to rapidly deteriorate, the congresswoman and mom of two learned to adapt. Last month, Wexton became the first lawmaker to use a voice app to deliver a speech on the House floor -- a history-making moment that prompted an outpouring of support.

WEXTON: PSP makes it very difficult for me to speak and I'm using assistive app so that you and our colleagues can understand me.

ZANONA: She also uses the app to participate in committee hearings.

REP. JODEY TARRINGTON (R-TX): She shows up every time we have a committee hearings. And she represents her people. And God bless her, the people she's representing are getting a hell of a deal with her. And so thank you.

ZANONA: And communicate with colleagues and staff.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In all of the congressional text change (ph) that exist, like she is absolutely like top five funniest.

ZANONA: Wexton isn't the only member of congress using assistive technology. Senator John Fetterman relies on an app to help him process what he's hearing as he recovers from a stroke. SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): My recovery was to the point where now it's really this.

ZANONA: Fetterman was so touched by Wexton's story that he sent the congresswoman a personal note to let her know that she is not alone.

FETTERMAN: She is inspiring people by being able to perform her job because a lot of million Americans have to.

ZANONA: But everyday tasks can still be a challenge for Wexton.

The Capitol Hill campus has not historically been very ADA friendly. How have you found the institution? Do you think it's been adequately equipped to handle people with disabilities?

WEXTON: You measure notice how inaccessible a place may be until it's you who relies on the accessibility accommodations.

ZANONA: And Wexton says some of her colleagues now treat her differently.

WEXTON: It's especially frustrating and annoying when people mistake my speaking struggles for my cognitive ability. I've had experiences where well-meaning colleagues always men have approached me seeing hi Jennifer, it's so-and-so. And I'm like, yes, of course I know who you are. I've seen you here every day for the last five years.


ZANONA: The chaotic speakers race in October took an added toll on Wexton who was forced to miss doctor's appointments because of the grueling schedule.

WEXTON: That was probably the worst I felt physically and emotionally since I was diagnosed but quitting early was not something I ever seriously entertained.

Before she leaves Congress early next year, Wexton is using her platform to raise awareness about brain diseases like PSP. She organized an advocacy week last month, while the Senate recently passed her national plan to end Parkinson's Disease.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: She's an inspiration. While many would have been discouraged or lost hope with a disease like this, she has endured. She has used her struggled to help others. And now the bill goes to the president's desk.

ZANONA: A bipartisan bill named in her honor.

What do you want your congressional legacy to be.

WEXTON: I hope that one day when we have eradicated Parkinson's in Parkinson's and Parkinsonism, people will say that even though it was too late for her to help herself, she helped countless others.

(END VIDEOTAPE) RAJU: Pretty incredible story, thanks to Melanie Zanona for bringing us that today.

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

And if you ever miss an episode, you can catch up wherever you get your podcasts, just search for INSIDE POLITICS.

Up next "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana's guests include U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as well as Governors Gretchen Whitmer and Kristi Noem.

Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. See you next time.