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Inside Politics

Juneteenth Commemorates The End Of Slavery In The U.S.; Biden Campaign Slams Trump's "Flagrant Racism" On Juneteenth; Clyburn: Biden "Offers Freedom, Freedom To Vote"; Sen. Warren: "I Appreciate" What Biden Is Now Doing On Immigration; Right-Wing Media Uses Deceptive Videos To Target Biden Over Age; Sr. Biden Aide: Netanyahu Statement "Perplexing" & "Wrong"; Rep. Jackson Lee On The Right To Make Juneteenth A Federal Holiday. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired June 19, 2024 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, happy Juneteenth. It's a day to commemorate the end of slavery and an awful chapter in U.S. history. Politics are of course part of it too. And today the Biden campaign is highlighting what it calls flagrant racism from Donald Trump.

Plus, rip it up and throw it out. That's what Donald Trump says, he'll do to Joe Biden's new immigration plans on day one of a second term. As both candidates get much more aggressive on one of the most critical issues of this election.

And 345 votes. That's what's separating an ultra-conservative congressman and his Trump endorsed challenger. The bitter Virginia Republican primary is still too close to call and could be heading to a recount.

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

We start with Juneteenth, marking the day back in 1865, where the last group of enslaved people learned that they were free. That was more than two years after the Emancipation Proclamation. What was once an informal celebration of freedom, became a federal holiday in 2021. President Biden is not holding any official events today, but his campaign did release an ad marketing the holiday.


BASH: CNN's MJ Lee is at the White House. It seems like a one two punch, MJ, a very positive ad that we just saw part of their and the written statement goes straight at Donald Trump.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. And you know, Juneteenth is a federal holiday that the president established back in 2021 to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States. And as you said the president himself this holiday is in Rehoboth, doesn't have anything on his public schedule, but his campaign has certainly been busy, hitting Donald Trump for his treatment of black Americans. They put out a rather scathing statement that says in part, Donald Trump has spent his entire life denigrating black Americans that won't stop him and his campaign from celebrating Juneteenth today. If there are two things Trump loves outside of himself, its irony and racism. Trump may have selective memory, but black Americans haven't forgotten his lifetime of racism.

That is totally quite different from this new campaign ad that we saw release today, which is really sort of lofty and optimistic. And it's a celebration of Juneteenth and black Americans across the country.

And I think just zooming out, there's no overstating the importance of the black American community as a constituency for President Biden. He often talks about how that community has been there to support him throughout his long political career, of course, including his election in 2020.

And I think what we are seeing is a campaign of trying to make the argument that they -- that when they hear Donald Trump talking about everything he has done for black Americans, they see that as superficial and fraudulent, and certainly not on the level. Dana?

BASH: MJ, thanks so much. We'll see you a little bit later this hour. As for the Trump campaign, it released its own statement commemorating Juneteenth, saying in part. Today, we reflect on how far we have come as a nation and remember that light will always triumph over darkness. When President Trump's leadership -- with President Trump's leadership rather, our party will continue to advance the American dream for all people.

Let's dig into all of this with my great group of reporters here CNNs Kayla Tausche, CNN's Daniel Straus, and Bloomberg and CNN's Nia-Malika Henderson. Hello. Nice to see you all. Nia, what do you make of just the contrasting statements between the Biden campaign, which is focused on the written statements?


BASH: Biden going hard.


BASH: Calling Trump a racist. And Trump, you know, with this lofty statement from his campaign, we haven't heard from him directly.


HENDERSON: Yeah. You know, certainly from his campaign, sort of poetic language about a light transcending darkness, which is kind of odd to hear from Donald Trump who was a lot of darkness and painting a very terrible picture of the country.

Listen, I think the Biden campaign has to figure out how to talk about race, how to talk about racism. You know, they clearly are relying on African American voters to turn out, right? And they clearly see a pattern where there are at least some African Americans who are attracted to either staying home or being attracted to the Donald Trump campaign, right?

About 10 to 12 percent of the African American electorate that are black Republicans. You see in Donald Trump a real, I think, successful effort to unite black Republicans around his campaign. So, the Biden team is obviously worried about that.

If you look at polls, they're at like, 70, 75 percent. In terms of their support among African Americans, they need 90 percent in some of these places to win. So, they are hitting him with the race card and bringing up some of his darker moments in terms of characterizing African Americans, whether or not to work in terms of what they need to do campaign wise and politically, a big open question.

BASH: Well, you mentioned that they're trying to kind of find their way inside the Biden campaign. They rely heavily on surrogates in particular, one surrogate who -- whose endorsement back in 2020 helped make Joe Biden -- really made Joe Biden the nominee because of his win in South Carolina. That, of course, his Congressman Jim Clyburn. Listen to what he said this morning.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): People know what their conditions are. They watch these candidates. They listen to their rhetoric. You telling me that black families are going to reward him. Joe Biden offers freedom. Freedom to vote, freedom of reproductive rights, the kinds of freedoms that people, oh, dear.


BASH: Can you?

DANIEL STRAUS, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah. And look, Clyburn has offered pretty clear skepticism that the Trump campaign and Republicans can snatch away a large swath of African American voters from Democrats and Biden. At the same time, the fact that the Biden campaign is clearly going on offense or trying to establish and frame -- further frame Donald Trump as a racist.

At this point in the campaign cycle, speaks to how much of a threat they see in losing some of that support right now, either, as Nia said, by those voters staying home or voting for Donald Trump. At the same time, though, this is -- this overall speaks to a larger pattern in this election that this is right now two campaigns fighting over very, very specific slices of the electorate. And how close both campaigns expect this election to be.

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And you mentioned the Biden campaign, and I think what they're trying to do is have Biden as president staying above the fray, act as if some of the rhetoric that's coming out of the campaign is beneath the office of the presidency and have the campaign take it up to 11.

But the voters don't really see it that way. The voters see President Biden as the candidate who is running for reelection. And if these words come on paper and not coming out of his mouth, then it's really hard for them to hear that and for that message to land.

BASH: Yeah, that's interesting. What speaking of taking it up to 11. Let's talk about immigration, which you were covering at the White House yesterday. President Biden obviously his second very big executive order, this one, allowing people who are undocumented, who are married to U.S. citizens to stay in the U.S. if they've been in the U.S. for 10 years.

I want you to listen to both Donald Trump -- excuse me, both Joe Biden and then Donald Trump and his reaction.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: To patients of goodwill of the American people is being tested by their fears at the border. They don't understand a lot of it. These are the fears my predecessor is trying to play on. When he says immigrants, immigrants and his words are poisoning the blood of the country.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He's going to formally grant a mass amnesty to millions of illegal aliens that came into our country. A deluge of illegals will be given immediate green cards and put on the fast track to rapid citizenship.


HENDERSON: Listen, if you flashback to 2016, this was a winning issue for Donald Trump. He had the who build the wall slogan and the politics on this have moved right word. And this is exactly why you saw a Biden with that first executive order where he's cracking down on the border limiting asylum. That was the stick and now he's got the carrot.

And if you're progressive, you like the carrot better than the stick. But again, it's unclear whether or not this politically will do what is designed to do, which is -- which is stanch the bleeding of Latino voters who again, either want to vote for Donald Trump or third party or just stay home, right?


You know, it was a sort of a flashback to what President Biden did when he -- President Biden did in 2012 in granting rights to children here illegal -- immigrants who are here were children. That was a different time. It was a different sort of political landscape in terms of Latino voters as well as in terms of immigration. So, you know, this is a president who needs to stitch together a very unwieldy coalition, and they haven't done it yet.

BASH: You mentioned the carrot and the stick, which is a great way to put it. Elizabeth Warren who talked to Manu Raju on Capitol Hill after the president gave his speech. And listen to what she said to kind of crystallize or encapsulate what you just said.


SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA): It just not how I would have approached it. But I do appreciate that right now what the president is doing, is he's saying families are important to Americans. And that we are going to do everything we can to protect the spouses of American citizens.


TAUSCHE: Well, it's a challenge. I mean, the president is trying to pursue a Goldilocks strategy with the restrictions on asylum two weeks ago. And with the executive action earlier this week, but it's still unclear whether it's going to yield the results that he needs.

I mean, I talked to a top Democratic strategist yesterday, who said, you know, he's doing this to appease progressives who are angry about his perceived crackdown at the border, but it's not progressives who are going to get him elected. And that's a problem. If he needs to take a position, he needs to take it and say it firmly and have it not be wavering, and not be a both sides type position.

Now, it's clear they're trying to neutralize immigration, ahead of the debate and ahead of the election. But the one thing the White House hasn't been able to answer on this is the timing. Why, given the longstanding nature of this problem, and the fact that advocacy groups have been talking about it for years, did they decide to unveil it right now in this moment?

I mean, it has very distinct apply for student loan forgiveness the month before the midterms' vibes to it, and White House, by the way. But the White House has said, look, the immigration system is broken. But they have not been able to say why on Tuesday, June 18, the president decided to do that.

HENDERSON: I think we know why.

BASH: Well, yeah. I mean, listen, one argument has been -- take it or leave it, that they were hoping that Congress would do it. I mean, we've been --

TAUSCHE: But they put out their immigration plan in the very first week of President Biden's term and nothing happened.

BASH: Yeah.

TAUSCHE: So, they're writing on the wall here was clear for some time.

BASH: I want to make a bit of a turn in our conversation to something that we've been wanting to talk about on the show for a little bit. And just to be totally transparent, trying to figure out how to do it.

And when I say it is a lot of memes, and what the White House is calling cheap fakes, which means that these are -- there are videos that are being put out on social media and then amplified on conservative media. That in some cases are just not right, and in other cases are highly, highly misleading of President Biden.

And I don't want to go -- I don't want to let a moment go by where I can read a tweet from Barbra Streisand on the show. So, I'm going to do it. And she said, we must stay vigilant to the ongoing and pervasive spread of misinformation, maybe now more than usual in the lead up to the presidential election. And her argument was, don't amplify it.

It is interesting, given the fact that there she -- there was a famous case, where somebody took a picture of her house in Malibu, and she seemed to not have that shown. And then it turned out that people started looking at the picture more than before. So, it's the question that I started this conversation with is, how much to talk about it versus how much to just kind of ignore it. And we're trying to kind of do both here. What are your thoughts?

STRAUS: I have never seen something like in any election, I've covered the topic of frailty and age being so important and impactful to voters. I mean, you see this with that how sensitive the Biden campaign is to any sort of perception that he is too old, that he has not even lost a step, but he has sort of become a little more frail. And how eager the Trump campaign is to amplify that, even though both candidates are old. They are old. But this is -- this is the issue that some voters and low information voters really care about.

BASH: But there's that which is a reality. You have a 78-year-old and an -- 81-year-old. And we have lots of examples of both of them. Maybe Trump's aren't played as much, but both of them appearing to use your words, lose a step. That's one thing. The other thing is to take something that actually happened and make it look worse than it is.


HENDERSON: And listen, the Trump campaign is going to do this and voters are going to see it. They're going to imbibe this and not necessarily know that it's fake, it's a real problem. You see the Biden team trying to counteract this, but I think the problem is to the Streisand example. In fact, checking it, do you amplify it, right? This thing is fake.

Well, what is this the thing that you're talking about it and then you go see it. So, it's a real problem. But I think at the core, there is this problem with both of these candidates in terms of age and perceptions.

BASH: OK. Everybody standby. Coming up. What is he talking about? The White House officials are publicly airing their confusion about a claim from Benjamin Netanyahu that the U.S. is withholding weapons from Israel. It is yet another sign of a deepening rift between the two leaders.



BASH: And now signs of a new dust up between the White House and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a top U.S. official, calling out the prime minister in a private meeting. CNN's MJ Lee is back with us with some new reporting. MJ, what do you got?

LEE: Well, Dana, this is yet another instance of the tensions between the U.S. and Israel spilling out into public view. This comes after Prime Minister Netanyahu said publicly that the U.S. is withholding weapons and ammunitions to Israel in a rather remarkable video.

Now, those comments really ruffled some feathers here in Washington, given how much the Biden administration has been supporting Israel since the onset of the Israel Hamas war. One senior official I spoke with today, saying that those comments were perplexing and simply wrong.

And our colleague Natasha Bertrand reports, that U.S. envoy almost Hochstein actually told Prime Minister Netanyahu in a private meeting yesterday that those comments have been unproductive and completely untrue. And U.S. officials have been also stressing that there's really only one shipment of arms that the U.S. has been holding and really nothing else.

Now, important context here is that there is an Israeli delegation that is currently in Washington for a series of meetings. And one meeting that was slated for tomorrow appears to have been perhaps postponed. The one official says that it was in response to what the Prime Minister said, other officials telling CNN that it was simply about a scheduling issue.

But at the end of the day, I think what is clear is that the days of President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu and all of the senior officials that are involved. The days of them privately airing their frustrations are clearly over as his war is dragging on and both leaders are really confronting a tremendous amount of pressure, both at home as the war is going on and the ceasefire agreement that they have been working on for so many months, appears nowhere near imminent.

BASH: MJ, thank you so much for that reporting. Appreciate it. Up next on this Juneteenth. I'll talk to a congresswoman who tireless -- tirelessly pursued making today a national holiday.




BASH: I want to now turn to a woman who fought to make today Juneteenth a federal holiday. Democratic Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas joins me now by phone. Congresswoman, thank you so much for being here. I want to start with the fact that it was 2013 when you first introduced the Juneteenth resolution. You continued every single year until it finally became a national holiday. Can you explain to our viewers why it was so important to find the success that you finally did? REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D-TX) (voiceover): Good morning and thank you so very much for having me. And before your listeners, I want this to be part of America's history. I want people to rise up and consider Juneteenth a viable part of American history. I want the story to be a real story that our fellow Americans understand, no matter what their ethnic background.

And of course, the story of Juneteenth is a story of freedom. It is the story of General Granger. It is a real story. And it is a story of General Granger, literally showing up on the shores of Galveston and announcing to all the people that the slaves are free. Heretofore, they were free. In terms of the seven workers, they were not free, they will still slave. So, it is my goal, my hope, my prayer that we turned doom into America's holiday.

BASH: And it is, and it is. I mean, your prayer was answered. We are celebrating today. The whole country is. Why do you think it took so long to give this day the recognition it deserves?

JACKSON LEE (voiceover): I'm glad you asked that question. And it is the difficulty that we have had dealing with African Americans and dealing with slavery. You know, slavery has been an enormous challenge for America. A challenge for us to understand and a challenge for us to recognize how painful it was.

So, the reason why I'm doing this is because Juneteenth recognizes from 1863. We had to endure the pain of slavery for two extra years. That means that African Americans were slaves for two extra years. But the burden of slavery is so egregious. The indignities, the viciousness, the hanging, all of that continued to go on for extra two years.

I want people to realize that we endured it. We suffered through it. And now we made it to the 1865 to create a moment of celebration and jubilee, and that is Juneteenth. But I do think it is important for me to make the point that the 1865 timeframe gave America a time to reflect on what this holiday truly meant.