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Trump Celebrating 78th Birthday Today At Mar-a-Lago; GOP Unites Behind Trump During His Return To Capitol Hill; Ben Carson, Byron Donalds To Join Trump At Detroit Roundtable; Turning Point USA Founder Said Women Have "Been Sold A Lie"; Supreme Court Strikes Down Ban On Bump Stocks On Guns. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 14, 2024 - 12:00   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on Inside Politics, is flagged, and also Donald Trump's birthday. The former president presumptive Republican nominee is celebrating the big seven, eight. He says he did wants to pretend the day does not exist. But it does and it highlights one of the biggest issues of this election.

Plus, a Supreme Court decision on guns. The highest court in the lands striking down a ban on bump stocks, like the one used in the deadliest mass shooting in American history. One liberal justice warns ruling will have quote, deadly consequences, and quote, lesser of three evils.

That -- that's how some voters who backed Trump in 2016 and then Biden in 2020, explain why they're choosing Robert F. Kennedy Jr. this time around. You'll hear firsthand how swing voters in a swing state are weighing their choices.

I'm Manu Raju in for Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

First up, they say age is just a number. But in this presidential race where both candidates would be the oldest president ever inaugurated. It's so much more. Donald Trump turned 78 today, but he got an early birthday gift from House and Senate Republicans yesterday, a huge show of loyalty.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is in West Palm Beach close to where Trump is spending his birthday. So, Kristen, what are you hearing about how the president plans to commemorate -- the former president plans to commemorate this big day?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Manu. We're going to be at an event later today. It's called Club 47. It's basically his biggest supporters in Florida are holding an event for him at the convention center in West Palm Beach, that he's going to come and speak to.

Now I will note, part of the reason that we are down here, covering this so closely is because this is the same event, not his birthday, obviously, but a Club 47 event that last year in October, right after the attack in Israel -- the terror attack in Israel. Donald Trump got up and started talking about Bibi Netanyahu, much to the chagrin of many of his biggest Jewish supporters really criticizing Netanyahu. And that is how Donald Trump gets often when he is in a room full of his biggest most rabid supporters.

Now, let's talk about age for one second since we brought it up. 78 is not a young man. And as you said, age is a huge issue in this presidential election. And one of the things that we have continued to report out is you'll never hear Donald Trump specifically referring to Biden's age partly because he is so close behind Joe Biden. If he were to win in the fall, he would be the oldest person -- older than President Joe Biden was to accept the presidency to come into the White House. So, it's one thing to keep in mind.

The other part of this is a Donald Trump has a lot of donors who are older than Joe Biden, something that he is keenly aware of. Now, you mentioned something else, the gift that he got from both Senate Republicans as well as House Republicans.

I will tell you I had a very candid conversation with multiple senior advisors who said that they were happy with the unity around Donald Trump yesterday, they obviously were not happy with the remarks and how they played out calling Milwaukee in particular, horrible. Some of the other things that came out of that House Republican meeting.

But the one thing that they really focus down on, and I heard this from a number of senior advisors was this picture. Donald Trump shaking hands with Senator Mitch McConnell. All of them pointed to this picture as the most notable moment from yesterday, essentially cementing Donald Trump's grip on the Republican Party.

As we you and I have continually reported, this has been a very rocky, very icy relationship. The two of them hadn't spoken, and since McConnell certified the election, since he congratulated -- since the election was certified. And McConnell congratulated Biden. This was a moment really of unity. And they are celebrating that in particular, coming out of yesterday.

RAJU: Yes, indeed. Kristen Holmes, live for us in Florida. Thank you so much for that. And I want to bring in my great panel of reporters, the Boston Globe's Jackie Kucinich, CNN's Isaac Dovere, CNN's Eva McKend, and Ramesh Ponnuru of the National Review. Nice to see you all.

I want to start off with where Kristen just left off about that show of support on Capitol Hill yesterday. I spoke to a lot of House Republicans and Senate Republicans and said was, did anyone raise any concerns? Were there anyone -- any dissension? The answer uniformly was No.

Whether it was a vulnerable Republican, was it people who were upset about the way Donald Trump handled January 6. January 6 didn't even come up in the conversation, even though that was a chief concern of Mitch McConnell on this issue. What does that tell you?

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE & CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It tells me, they know where their bases. They know where the Republican voters are. And they know where the -- who the party is standing behind, and that person is former President Trump. And you know this better than I think any of us, Mitch McConnell wants to win. McConnell is a realist. He is a Republican and he -- and this is where the party is, and he's not going to be a field of where his voters are.


RAJU: Yeah. And let's turn back to the issue of age and this being Donald Trump's birthday. He's not excited about it. This is how he put it in a rally with Las Vegas voters this past weekend.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you. I wish, thank you. You know, there's a certain point at which you don't want to hear happy birthday. You just want to pretend today doesn't exist.


RAJU: Just want to pretend the day doesn't exist. Obviously, this is a huge issue among lots of voters, which is why we've been talking about a lot about the age about Biden in trend. Biden wants to make sure that people remember Trump's age as well. This is how poll shows. The CBS poll has to the -- both candidates have the mental and cognitive health to serve as president. Biden 35 percent, Trump 50 percent. But the Biden campaign is more than happy to try to point out the verbal stumbles and Trump try to muddy the waters a bit.

EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Yeah. Look, these are both older men who are -- have lost some of their control, their syntax over the years and are moving differently. I mean, I think it's notable that Joe Biden has been for all of the keeping up a pretty busy schedule, and Joe -- and Donald Trump has not had that busy schedule.

But I was at a fundraiser in New York on Tuesday night with Doug Emhoff, the husband of a Kamala Harris and he said, Donald Trump is degrading before our eyes. You see that that's where some of this is going among Democrats. It's still for the Biden campaign, not an issue that they really want to talk about. They'd rather not talk about the age at all, but they feel like if we're going to talk about age, let's talk about both of them big old.

You see Joe Biden saying that. And then you see some people JB Pritzker, the Governor of Illinois, was in Wisconsin last weekend. And he said, it's not a verbatim, but close. He said, Donald Trump is a flashing old man who was falling asleep in his court trial, right. Like, that's where some of this energy is gone.

RAJU: Does that -- do you think that has any impact among voters Trump's aid versus Biden or as Trump, you know, he's taking advantage of the fact that voters look at Biden as someone who's too old? RAMESH PONNURU, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, I think that a lot of voters would prefer it if we had candidates who were more mentally agile than either of these two. I do think that people wear their age differently. And Biden is wearing his in a way that voters find more troubling.

But at the same time, I do wonder about the campaign tactics on either side, because I think this is one of those things that voters can draw their own conclusions about. They see these people on TV, they hear them, and they don't really need other people to tell them what to think about this issue.

RAJU: Yeah. And I want to turn to how Trump is planning to engage in the next couple of days and build his coalition and also tried to court his right-wing base. This is -- this weekend, he's going to Michigan. He's going to be campaigning with two potential VP candidates Byron Donalds, Ben Carson, to reach out to black voters.

That is obviously a question about whether Biden can maintain his huge advantage that he had with black voters in the 2020 election. Some polls do show that is slipping. Eva, what is your sense of how much Trump can cut in to Biden's advantage with black voters?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Republicans are really confident that this will be the cycle. But I am skeptical because Republicans have said that for several cycles that this is going to be the time when they're going to have a deep inroads with black voters. They do see his style of toughness, his brand of masculinity as appealing to some black voters.

He has black surrogates in different communities, talking to small black business owners about Capitol. And they're confident in this strategy that they are employing, you know, black men are very much seen as a swing voter, I think in this cycle. A group that both parties are really trying to appeal to, and Democrats I can say with certainty are worried.

RAJU: Yeah. And what's interesting is that there's a new story out from Semafor from Kadia Goba. And interesting look at how Trump has courted some black celebrities really black former athletes over the years who are supporting him. People like Darryl Strawberry, the former New York med. Lawrence Taylor, the former New York giants. And calling about man's man Mike Tyson, the former boxer. Saying they want to treat him in court.


That's the way they did black people. And Trump himself was talk to her about this as well. Talking about how he has -- this is what he said in the same article. He said, I have so many black friends that if I were a racist, they wouldn't be friends, they would know better than anybody and fast. They would know -- they would not be with me for two minutes if they thought I was racist, and I'm not racist. Your reaction?

PONNURU: Well, I mean, it is a little bit of a cliche to say that, you know, I can't be racist because I have black friends. On the other hand, I actually do think the problem with the cliche historically, is that people -- these were actually their friends, their people who work for them, or people they had passing acquaintance with. And to the extent it's a real friendship, I do think that counts as evidence.

But the problem with Trump's support right now among black voters, and it is disproportionately younger black men, is that these are also disproportionately people who don't vote regularly. So, there's something real happening here, but it's also precarious. And we're not really going to know until November whether it pans out.

DOVERE: Right. You know, I think it's also an age question in this. I mean, Lawrence Taylor, Mike Tyson, Darryl Strawberry, these are people from my childhood. I'm not sure in connecting with young black men, the celebrities -- the black celebrities of the 80s and 90s. It's all wrapped up together, though they are definitely people that Trump was friendly with from his pre politics.

RAJU: And I mentioned how Trump is. He's trying to quote, black voters this weekend. He's also trying to rile up folks on his right flank. There's a far-right group called Turning Point USA. They're trying to put action. He's going to this conference to speak to them this weekend, along with some others. And Democrats are going to take advantage of the fact of the person who is running this group, Charlie Kirk. The things that he has said in the past, including this.


CHARLIE KIRK, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF TURNING POINT USA: Young ladies present a great opportunity. They are not conservative. They've been sold alive through culture, through media, through -- even some of their parents that you basically have to go pursue this corporate trajectory, and that men are always the problem and suppress your biological impulses. A lot of them are on birth control too. And birth control, like really screws up female brains.


MCKEND: You know, he also has suggested that women over 30 are less desirable. I take real objection to that.

KUCINICH: Bless his heart.

MCKEND: But listen, women are such an important constituency for both parties. We know that Trump lost women in 2020, that Biden walked away with about 60 percent of the female vote. It was a little bit more white women that supported him and mostly women of color, that led to Biden's victory.

But he is sort of, I think a complicated ambassador and surrogate for Trump because I'm going to Turning Point this weekend. So, I'll have this conversation with women myself. But I would assume that many women would find the comments that Charlie Kirk makes deeply offensive.

KUCINICH: Though I do wonder if the associated -- Trump has all sorts of associations with lots of people with views that are objectionable to a lot of people. I think it's Trump himself what he will say there and what comes out of his mouth that is much more detrimental to women -- to his standing with women and perhaps other groups.

PONNURU: And if a few women who's not offended by things that Trump has said and done, then you're not going to be offended by Charlie Kirk.

MCKEND: Exactly, right.

RAJU: It's such a good point. We'll see. Of course, women key to this election as they have been in past cycles. All right, next. Donald Trump trashes the city that will serve as the stage for his convention coordination. Plus, Joe Biden gets an audience with a personal idol, the pontiff.




RAJU: New this morning, the Supreme Court has struck down a Trump era federal ban on gun bump stocks, delivering a major blow to gun safety advocates. The vote was 6 to 3, breaking down along familiar lines. Bump stocks allow a shooter to convert a semiautomatic rifle into a weapon that can fire hundreds of rounds a minute.

But in the court's majority opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas argued that quote, a bump stock does not convert a semiautomatic rifle into a machine gun any more than a shooter with a lightning-fast trigger finger does.

I want to bring in CNN senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic in court as his decision was being read. And Joan, there was a fiery dissent from the liberal justice.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: It's good to see you, Manu. Yes, this is the time of the year when we get our most consequential decisions from the Supreme Court. And on occasion, we'll get a rare oral dissent from the bench. And that's exactly what happened today. After Justice Thomas read from his majority opinion, then Justice Sotomayor gave this very impassioned dissent.

But first, let's remind everyone of the context of this prohibition on bump stocks and how it came during the Trump administration in 2017, after a gunman fired into an outdoor music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 people and wounding more than 500. So, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms under the president -- former President Trump, expanded the idea of what would be covered under the 1934 machine gun prohibition, saying that bump stocks because of what they can enable a weapon to do should be covered.


What today's decision came down to, Manu, was actually something quite techno -- technical in that 1934 law that refers to automatically firing with a single movement of the finger or the single function of the trigger. And Justice Clarence Thomas backed as you said by the ideological -- conservative ideological majority.

All Republican appointees, said that that provision has to be read narrowly to not include bump stocks because he said, for a bump stock, it doesn't fire as -- you know, up to 800 rounds, as it can fire up to 800 rounds with just a single function.

Justice Sotomayor said, no, once somebody pulls that trigger and maintains pressure on the weapon and the trigger rest, it can fire continuously, so it should be covered. And I have to say, Manu, as she read portions of her dissent from the bench, she had a really gloomy voice to say this decision now puts machine guns bump stocks back in the hands of civilians, Manu.

RAJU: All right, Joan Biskupic, thanks for that. And the Biden campaign responded to the today's decision within minutes. It said, if you care about the gun violence crisis in this country, there is only one candidate in this race with a proven record of successfully lobby and suddenly taking on the gun lobby, and only one candidate who will ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. That's President Biden.

My panel is back. You know, this is the debate that Joe Biden wants clearly about guns. Is that enough to move swing voters, particularly the suburban districts. They believe so, they moved on a bipartisan bill in those around last year or about two years ago in the aftermath of the Uvalde massacre. But obviously, that's an issue that's very important to Democratic voters. swing voters, though, is the question.

KUCINICH: This is another data point because we're seeing increasingly Democrats really using the Supreme Court as a part of their campaign strategy, which hasn't always been the case. And historically, Republicans, it's like in their DNA, they campaign on Supreme Court justices. And this is another data point. In that push on the issue of gun violence and guns that I can't imagine is not going to be used as messaging on the trail.

RAJU: Yeah. Go ahead.

DOVERE: I mean, guns as an issue that seems like it has changed in the way that it's hitting people politically over the last 10, 15 years, much like abortion has since Dobbs. And I've had this conversation with some of Joe Biden's top political advisors, where they see the connection, not just about the issue itself, but a connection to extremism.

The way they talk about extremism, they're saying guns and people who are not for the kind of gun control measures, gun safety measures they want are extremists. It connects to January 6 for them. And they want to make that argument overall. So. it is something that I think we're going to hear a lot about it, it also points to one of Joe Biden's big bipartisan achievements as president, something that he says he wants to do more of and bring the assault weapons ban. RAJU: And that bipartisan, Eva, Trump opposed, but he did -- he was responsible for this regulation that essentially was struck down by the Supreme Court today. This is what he said back in 2018, about this ban on bump stocks.


TRUMP: The bump stocks, we're writing that out. I'm writing that out myself, I don't care if Congress does it or not. I'm writing it out myself, OK. You put it into the machine gun category, which is what it is, it becomes essentially a machine gun.


MCKEND: You know, Manu, what we have seen from this president is that he is not always married to any particular policy issue. At the time, he thought that this was good politics. And so that's why he advanced this. And, you know, I was on the Hill at the time, I spoke to a lot of Republicans about this. A lot of them were upset. Some of them like the Congressman Fitzpatrick of the world in swing districts liked it.

But others didn't. They thought that this was just, you know, if you give an inch, they'll take a mile on guns. So, we're very, very concerned about constitutional rights. So, I wouldn't be surprised now that the temperature and the politics have changed, if Trump doesn't view this as a victory.

RAJU: But this is, you know, speaking the way that Trump views that they campaign just put out a statement saying, the decision should be respected, and also talked about how Trump is a fierce defender of Second Amendment rights. But at the time, this was viewed as a relatively modest step of it.

Paul Ryan's Speaker of the House suggested, we don't need to do legislation. We need to do regulation. Instead, regulation is fine. And this is the blame game is now happening in the aftermath of this ruling. Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, talked about that in a statement he just put out. He said, I warned the Trump administration at the time, the only way to permanently close this loophole is through legislation. He went on to say that the right to pass legislation on this issue.

PONNURU: Well, I mean, Schumer is right, this should have been done legislatively. That's the right way to do it. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms had said 10 times as the majority opinion today says, that this regulation is not something that the law covers.

And that was briefly in Trump's political interest to cater to public opinion, and the NRA, and a lot of Republicans didn't want legislation because they feared if you allow legislation, it'll be too sweeping. So, let's get a regulation. It might get struck down in courts and lo and behold, that's what's happened.


RAJU: Yeah. And as you might Brian Fitzpatrick, he's actually a Republican in a swing district, someone who actually predicted that Joe Biden carried. He didn't -- he just reacted to those to our colleague Lauren Fox on the Hill. He called for legislation on this issue. He disagreed with this, much different than the Biden campaign. So, it shows you where some of these members in swing districts are on this issue. That mean, they're in line with Biden, more than they are with Trump.

KUCINICH: Right. But I think it's also -- it's a way to get your thoughts on this out there and not really have any consequences for that, because the current makeup of the Congress and the current speaker of the House, I doubt that that would ever, you know, get beyond the introductory phase.

RAJU: Yes, exactly. Maybe they'll try to get a vote and then not happen, and then we'll see what the voters decide.


RAJU: All right. Up next. Joe Biden's global test and a meeting of a lifetime.