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Inside Politics

Supreme Court Allows Abortion Pill To Remain On Market; Trump On Capitol Hill For First Time Since Jan. 6 Insurrection; Trump Brags To GOP That Few "Impeachers" Are Left; Trump Meets With Corporate Chieftains Who Once Shunned Him; Trump Calls DOJ "Dirty, No Good Bastards" In GOP Meeting; McConnell: Trump "Earned The Nomination" And "I Support Him"; New Biden Ad Attacks Trump For His Role On Jan. 6. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 13, 2024 - 12:00   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS: Welcome to Inside Politics. I'm Manu Raju in Dana Bash. The following breaking news. Supreme Court has upheld access to abortion pills like Misoprostol, which had become the most common way to end a pregnancy. It was a unanimous ruling and a big setback for the anti-abortion movement in the court's first major decision on abortion to overturn Roe v. Wade two years ago.

Now the case was brought by a group of anti-abortion doctors. And Trump appointed justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote that citizens and doctors do not have standing to sue simply because others are allowed to engage in certain activities, at least without the plaintiffs demonstrating how they would be injured by the government's alleged under-regulation of others. But this fight is far from over.

And for that, I want to bring in CNN senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic and Jeff Rosen, who is a President and CEO of the National Constitution Center. Joan, first to you. Joan, you are in the room. You've just got back to the studio in time for this. So, thanks for that. But this was a unanimous ruling from a court that's been very divided on abortion. So, explain their thinking on this ruling. And what does this mean for future cases about abortion pills?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure, Manu. It's great to see you. It goes to -- the Supreme Court is still very divided on abortion. But this really wasn't an abortion case, as it was decided. And I'll explain and I'm glad you refer to the drama in the courtroom. And it was very dramatic when Justice Brett Kavanaugh began his reading in the courtroom in one of the special guests seats was his wife, Ashley Kavanaugh, who we had seen, you know, obviously a lot of and back in 2018. And you refer to the fact that he was a Trump appointee, and he was.

But all three Trump appointees and all nine justices signed this opinion. And that's because the key issue was who can even sue. As you mentioned, Manu, this case was brought by a group of anti-abortion physicians who said that they had been injured by women's access to these medications. They said that sometimes they might have to -- in emergency room settings, perform abortions because of things that might have gone wrong with the pills.

But Brett Kavanaugh with the unanimous Supreme Court behind him went through each of their reasoning on why they should be able to sue, rejected them out of hand. Starting with the notion that some of these physicians said that they would have conscience objections to ever performing an abortion.

And Justice Kavanaugh said, the federal law already has a conscience clause that protects individuals from having to perform a procedure that would violate their moral or religious faith. So, went through them methodically, shut the door to any kind of challenge from these groups because they had no real injury.

And I want to stress that even though this affects the FDA policy, and it was the FDA's policy of expanding access to abortion, for example, allowing the medication to be taken at 10 weeks and not just seven weeks, allowing the medication to be obtained from male. But the justices did not endorse one way or another that policy. They just said, these groups could not sue.

And as I said, when you get into unanimous ruling like that, it really goes to more how they are protecting federal courts from cases that should not be in federal courts. That should rather be as Justice Kavanaugh said, put before policymakers like the Food and Drug Administration or Congress.

RAJU: Yeah. That is a key question, right, the implications here. And Jeff, you know, given that this is a procedural ruling, can this come back to the court? And could the decision be different the next time around?

JEFF ROSEN, PRESIDENT & CEO, NATIONAL CONSTITUTION CENTER: Well, I suppose it's possible that if you've found people who are concretely injured by the change and making abortion more accessible after 2016, it might come back, but this particular challenge is going to be hard to bring back in the central ruling. As Joan said, is to reject the idea of doctors standing.

Justice Kavanaugh said the plank of loose (Ph) approach would allow any doctor or healthcare provider to challenge any FDA decision. Yet all these examples what if the EPA ruled back emission standards. Could doctors say they need to spend more time with asthma patients basically, they were afraid of opening up the federal courts to any doctors who didn't like a particular government policy and could object to sue.


It's really striking that this was unanimous. But it's also does not tell us much about what could happen to this regulation in the feature or to the other big abortion case that the Supreme Court is considering involving, whether or not Idaho can override a federal requirements that all women are treated in emergency rooms and ban abortions in all circumstances.

RAJU: Yeah. And that Idaho case, of course, was not rolled down today, it could be rolled on. There's another decisions day tomorrow. We'll see if it's then or later in the term. Jeff and Joan, thank you both so much for your analysis and expertise.

And I want to bring it here in the room to my great panel reporters who are joining me now, Nia-Malika Henderson of CNN and Bloomberg, Seung Min Kim and the Associated Press, and Axios's Margaret Talev. Nice to see you all.

You know, in some ways they assess the politics of this because, you know, obviously abortion has been a dominant issue in recent cycles in the aftermath of the Dobbs ruling. Republicans were fearful. And even though they supported banning Misoprostol and other abortion pills, effectively banning them. Now that is still access to the -- in the market, prep some of them maybe breathing a sigh of relief.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh. I'm sure many of them are doing that very thing, particularly Donald Trump as well, of course, his meeting with lawmakers today and apparently counseling them to have sort of softer approach to abortion. It would have been terrible for Republicans if the Supreme Court had ruled a different way on this. I think, you know, as arguments were happening, there was a sense that it would likely go this way.

So, in some ways, it's not really surprising. Listen, I think if you're Democrats, you still have the same argument, which is who knows what the Supreme Court is going to do? Who knows what Republicans want to do with a woman's right to choose more broadly? We'll see what happens out of the Idaho case. But I don't think this takes the wind out of the sort of political sails of Democrats when it comes to abortion.

RAJU: Yeah. And to that point, Joe Biden put out a statement saying, quote, today's decision does not change the fact that the fight for reproductive freedom continues, attacks on medication abortion are part of Republican elected officials' extreme and dangerous agenda to ban abortion nationwide. Can that still be an effective argument for Democrats in the aftermath of this ruling?

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: They're certainly trying. What I found really striking about President Biden statement is that there's no -- there's no sense of relief with a decision. There's no applauding of the ruling. He's really trying to instill that urgency on the public that a host of other reproductive rights are still at stake. And that's what both President Biden and his campaign really wants to do.

You know, shortly after the ruling came out a campaign official text that saying, we don't want voters, the public, the media to take away from the fact or to take away from today's ruling, that Misoprostol is somehow safe. In their view, it is not.

That's how they're going to try to motivate voters, particularly in these key swing states where we've seen abortion be such an effective political issue for the last two years. And for them, their strategy -- today's ruling doesn't change. They're really going to keep pushing out. MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS: You know, I just don't -- I don't think this takes abortion off the table as a really primary election issue. Yes, the economy is going to be the issue that touches everyone. But in terms of Democrats' efforts to turnout women voters or to keep some women voters home, abortion will continue to be at.

And this is I think not just about messaging, is not just about how do you message this. It is a fact that the fight over Misoprostol will now move to the states. And that the justices not only left the door open but pave the way for that. And so, for those who want to ban pills, the Supreme Court is not saying you can never do that. They're saying you can't do it this way. The fight will move to individual states.

And so, if you are a woman for whom reproductive rights is an issue, or if you're just a person for whom that is an issue. I think in today's politics, it's true that no issue is ever resolved, right, but abortion is definitely never resolved. It's not there's no court decision that any court can make where the other side is going to be like, OK, this is now settled.


HENDERSON: Yeah. Because Republicans still have the same goal, right, which is to eliminate abortions. You know, they sort of say now, it's up to states. But if they have their way, they would significantly reduce the number of abortions nationwide. We've obviously seen a very severe restrictions in states like Mississippi and Idaho is going to -- is doing the same thing. And so, I think as long as their core purpose remains eliminating abortions, this is the --

RAJU: And speaking of which, Donald Trump, behind the closed doors today, talking about Republicans will dive much more into that in the next segment, but abortion did come up. And he talked to members about what he said the court being smart. I'm told by someone who was in the room about -- talking about this issue.

Yes, he said, stand by your convictions, but leave it up to the states and don't talk about this. And he believes a politically damaging way. He recognizes the potency of this issue, even though he named the three Supreme Court justices who overturn Roe v. Wade. Donald Trump has been dancing around this issue because he knows he could pull back on it.


KIM: Right, right. And we've seen this all throughout the primary campaign when a lot of his challengers were taking stances on a six week ban, 12 week or endorsing some sort of a federal abortion ban that is something that at least for the longest time that he declined to do, because on this, he knows where the politics are.

He knows that the politics are against Republicans that, you know, I found the counselling interesting because, you know, being smarter in the way that Republicans have been trying to talk about a message, it just hasn't worked because public sentiment is not on their side. If you look at polling after polling, they support the broader access to reproductive rights that Roe had protected for 50 years. And I don't know how you message your way out of -- that kind of public sentiment.

RAJU: And just to get remind viewers about what he has said. This is what he said back when he was campaigning in Iowa last year.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe in the three exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother. I believe in that. Without the exceptions, it is very difficult to win elections. We can't do it for just the election, but you have to follow your heart. At the same time, we have to win elections.


RAJU: You have to follow your heart, we have to win elections.


TALEV: Boil down what it means to be a politician right there.

RAJU: Exactly. You know, but that's not going to be enough for a lot of them folks. On the right there are groups like anti-abortion activists who are pushing for a national abortion ban and wanted in the Republican Party platform. And this is something that he has to deal with.

TALEV: We've seen them all fall in line behind Donald Trump pretty decisively. And I actually don't think he's going to change his messaging to court. Those groups -- I think those groups have made their bet, and their bet is Donald Trump over Joe Biden. And that's what the election is between right now.

So, what he's -- what Donald Trump is telling the Republican Party is if women around the country believe that you're going to take away their right to access an abortion at any -- at all times, they're not going to vote to elevate us. So, you need to water down the message and play it state by state. And that's the -- it's not a mystery. That is the actual direction he's given.

RAJU: And of course, the risk when you say it's up to the states is that, you may owe some of the states more restrictive abortion laws, like in Florida or any other -- any number of swing states. And that's, of course, what Democrats will try to do. We'll see how it plays out.

All right, coming up. The Justice Department is filled with quote, dirty, no good bastards. And why would Taylor Swift endorse this dope? That's exactly what some of what Donald Trump said behind closed doors this morning with House Republicans. You'll want to hear what else came up.




RAJU: Donald Trump is on Capitol Hill today for the first time since telling his supporters to quote, fight like hell on January 6. He's got a packed day, started this morning with a meeting with House Republicans. And sources inside the room tell us it was a typical Trump performance, bragging about his polls, attacking Republicans who have opposed him, questioning why Taylor Swift would support a Democrat. And we're told he even did an impression of President Biden. Later today, he'll meet with the Senate Republican Conference.

CNN's Lauren Fox joins us live from Capitol Hill who is been outside that meeting. So, Lauren, what are you hearing from what happened inside the room?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Manu. It is as many Republicans put it to us. Basically, just typical Donald Trump, he really careened from one issue to another, calling out his opponents, including people like Jeff Roe, a Republican strategist talking about the differences between him and Joe Biden.

But also calling out Republicans who haven't supported him in the past, making clear and sort of boasting that most of the Republicans who voted to impeach him are no longer in Congress. Even call that one a member, Representative David Valadao saying basically, that he never really liked him much.

So, it just shows you that this is not a Donald Trump that has changed from the president that many of these Republicans knew and worked with closely. This is a Republican presidential nominee who is out for revenge. He of course, according to Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, talked about the Justice Department, talked about weaponized government. Here's also what she said he poked fun at.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): He saw me in there and he was like, hello, Marjorie. He's always so sweet and recognizes me. And he said, are you being nice? He was joking. Are you being nice to Speaker Johnson? And I said, ehhhh. And he said, OK, be nice to him, and I nodded my head.


FOX: And obviously, Manu, we have covered the saga of Marjorie Taylor Greene trying to get rid of speaker Mike Johnson, calling for a motion to vacate, causing so much turmoil in the House Republican conference. Of course, she they're making light of it saying, that Donald Trump sort of poked fun at the situation.

He did talk a little bit about abortion during this meeting, making clear to members that they shouldn't be afraid of the issue that this is now a state's issue, something that Republicans have been fighting for and arguing about for a long time now. But you know, it was a little light on policy and a lot larger on sort of his revenge tore up here this morning. Manu?


RAJU: Yeah. And something tells me that Marjorie Taylor Greene will not be taking Donald Trump's advice but be nice to Mike Johnson. All right. Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill, thanks for that. My great panel is back.

So, just a little bit more about what he said inside the room. We talked about Steve Scalise. At the 2017 congressional baseball shooting, he said, when he saw him in the hospital, he said Steve shows great courage. I saw him in the hospital. I can tell your wife really loves you, Steve, because some wives wouldn't care. He also -- as Lauren said --


RAJU: Yeah. He also went after, as Laura noted, David Valadao, who is one of the 10 Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump. Said, I never loved it. Of course, he wants David to win in November. He went after some of the -- how the other impeaches as he called them, are no longer members of Congress.

And one thing he said, he called the -- when I talked about Nancy Pelosi, and some odd comments about her saying that, her daughter once told him that he Nancy would have had a great romance in another life. And Nancy Pelosi's daughter put out a statement saying that was a lie. Your reaction Margaret? Not to that, its everything.

TALEV: Yeah. It sounds like classic everything. I think we're all going to be paying a lot of attention to the things that Donald Trump says today in his relationships with lawmakers and him trying to sort of rally the troops around him and remind everyone who's boss.

But the real story is probably happening down the street of the business roundtable where he and President Biden via the President's Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, are sort of competing for the hearts and minds and loyalty of American CEOs. Over issues like junk fees, like antitrust, like post Pandemic recovery, like taxes, like policies that will affect corporate America.

And that is actually going to be tremendously powerful in terms in Donald Trump's case of a permission structure for kind of old school Republicans who, you know, if Nikki Haley was the nominee, there'd be no question where they were going. They have a choice now, like that is the story.

RAJU: Yeah. And he's speaking of which the hope among Republicans, several Republicans going is that, perhaps that we talked about a policy agenda. This was one Trump adviser told CNN. We want everyone to get on the same page, talking about policy, including the economy and inflation. That's the biggest factor in all the polling, it's the biggest thing people are worried about. And then separately, when asked if they believe Trump will discuss policy plans and campaign strategy, and while avoiding his grievances. A Republican lawmaker told CNN, you know, the answer to that. It ain't in his DNA. I think the Republican lawmaker was correct here. You know, Trump, the party wants to talk about the issues that for Trump all along -- to the entire Trump era has been about personal grievances.

KIM: Right. They want to get on the issues. And certainly, they want to get on the same page when it comes to an agenda. And so much of the walk up to this week was kind of planning for these concepts to kind of -- sort of start sketching out a 2025 agenda. You know, you had Speaker Johnson, speak to Senate Republicans yesterday, kind of start the discussions about what they would do if both Republicans or Republicans controlled, you know, both all -- you know, House Senate in the White House.

And then Trump comes in and this -- I don't think his -- the quotes that we're seeing coming out of this meeting has surprised any of us. He is not someone who can get focused on substances. He'll talk about Taylor Swift. He'll talk about the DOJ. He'll talk -- he'll say things about Nancy Pelosi. That I still don't quite understand what he was trying to say there.

And this is why you have -- this is in part why you have, you know, these -- you know, these apparatuses around him kind of forming that policy for him. Because so often when he's in a room with these lawmakers, he's distracted with other things.

RAJU: But this also just represents it, and of course, Trump is a tight grip over the Republican Party for such a long time, increasingly so -- he demonstrated, just look at the Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell. Someone in the immediate aftermath of January 6 said, Trump was morally and practically responsible for the attack on the Capitol that day. They have not spoken since December 2020.

The aftermath of the electoral college certifying the victory for Joe Biden. And then Donald Trump went on this blistering crusade attacking McConnell for years and his wife -- sometimes very racist terms. And McConnell -- DOW's endorsing Donald Trump. I asked him yesterday about whether he would confront Trump, about any of the past things that he said, including past things like this.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): President Trump is practically and morally responsible. There is simply no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy. And that would apply to all of the leaders in the party. I've said earlier this year, I support him. He's been earned that nomination by the voters all across the country. And of course, I'll be at the meeting tomorrow.


RAJU: And I asked him if he was going to confront him on any of those issues or discuss any the bad blood. That was his answer, they'll support him. Because there's really just no other place for the Republican leader to be the anti-Trump wing, he's almost gone.


HENDERSON: Right. And listen, it's the reason why he's probably -- he's not going to be the Republican leader anymore because of the force of Donald Trump and the grip he has on the Republican Party. No, he's not going to confront him there and he's going to do everything in his power to get Trump in office and to get Trump a Senate. That is also a Republican Senate.

So, you know, this isn't a surprise. Mitch McConnell is Mitch McConnell. Even though he said some fairly harsh things about Donald Trump in the past, he is completely rallying behind him now. And listen, that has been the story of so many Republicans going back to 2016.

You saw, you know, some sort of public wondering whether or not they would back him. And then, you know, for years, it was all privately. They say all of the things that Donald Trump would publicly, and you know, that's really all that matters publicly. They support him publicly. They back his policies as well.

It will be interesting to see what comes out of this business roundtable, he said. And what kind of fodder that provides because remember, Donald Trump has been before business leaders before in sort of promise to a giveaway the store, if he gets backing from them.

RAJU: But just to get back to your point about just, you know, the people who have been going after -- the people who have voted to impeach Donald Trump in the aftermath of January 6, a lot of our God and Donald Trump made note of that behind closed doors. We're referring to Congressman -- former Congressman Tom Rice and Liz Cheney was talking about behind closed doors.

There are multiple members who are no longer in Congress. There're just two Republicans who voted to impeach Donald Trump were still members. They have new house. She was at the meeting. He told our calling Melanie Zanona going. And he goes to every meeting. David Valadao who mentioned Trump criticize (inaudible).

Then you look at the Senate, the Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump in that impeachment trial. Three of them no longer in Congress, four of them are there, couple of them may not attend because of conflict. So, they're not quite explaining what those conflicts are. But that goes to the point here that, you know, those people who are dissenting are either gone or they're staying quiet.

KIM: Right, right. I mean, gradually, in the Trump era, we've seen those Republican voices were willing to speak out at least an elected officer, certainly Republicans outside of elected office who are very vocal about their concerns for a second Trump presidency. But if you -- if you're in elected office and you're accountable to voters, which means a very active Republican base.

The number of Republican officials were willing to kind of take on Donald Trump is rapidly diminishing. It's not the parties of like the Bob Corker and the Jeff Flake and is pretty soon Mitt Romney anymore. It's a caucus that includes J. D. Vance. You know, Josh Hawley, and that's really what the elected officials of the Republican Party are becoming because they know the power that Trump hold.

RAJU: As we saw the primary process this weekend versus people that they end up winning. One of the things that we've seen as the Biden campaign. How they're dealing with this and him being coming back -- Trump coming back to Capitol Hill for the first time since January 6. This is a new campaign ad. They put out this morning that's going to be running not just on battleground states, but I'm also told, you will also run nationally as well.


RAJU: You know, interesting, this campaign, that's not really been the theme January 6. It's really been talking about other issues. Do we expect it to be a shift as we head into the fall?

TALEV: Yes. You're going to see some testing of this messaging now. And then you're going to see a lot of this messaging and the closing waste of the campaign, even as Joe Biden tries to talk about the economy, women's rights or things that he has accomplished. January 6, is going to be a recurring closing message.

And I think even now, as you watch Trump on the Hill on the spectacle. And whatever he says about Taylor Swift, that is different than what he's saying about the Department of Justice, and trying to discredit institutions that are meant to uphold civil society and protect democracy. So, I do expect this to be a tested theme now. And then the intensifying theme in the closing weeks of the campaign.

RAJU: I'm sure will come up in the CNN debate as well, which I'll -- sure you all tune into in less than a couple of weeks. All right, coming up. Oh, to be a fly on the wall. I'll talk to a lawmaker who was at that meeting with Trump, and who actually gave the former president some advice.