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CNN Live Event/Special
U.S. Autoworkers On Verge Of Historic Strike; Hunter Biden Indicted On Three Federal Gun Charges; Kevin McCarthy Drops An F-bomb On Plans To Oust Him As Speaker; CNN Fact-Checks Donald Trump's claims On Impeachment Inquiry. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired September 14, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I really don't know who gave him the commendation. I wouldn't have done it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Presidential commendation, one -
TRUMP: I know, somebody probably candid him commendation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Of course, the someone who handed Dr. Fauci and others who were involved in Operation Warf Speed vaccine efforts, that commendation was former President Trump himself. You can see it here. This happened on his last full day in office January 19th, 2021. One of his 2024 campaign rivals is not buying that he doesn't remember who did so.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Was that the Immaculate Commendation that just happened to happen? It said Donald Trump awards Fauci this commendation.
So, I thought it was really pathetic to sit there and listen to that dribble. It is totally false.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Immaculate Commendation, that's one that just does not roll off the tongue.
Thank you so much for joining us tonight. CNN Primetime with Abby Phillip starts right now.
Abby, I don't think I ever thought that that would be what was said in the middle of this 2024 race.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: The gloves are apparently really off between those two. We'll see where this one goes. Thank you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: Bye, Abby.
PHILLIP: All right. Good evening, everyone, I'm Abby Phillip.
And we begin with some breaking news that will have a massive impact on the entire United States economy. In less than two hours, workers across the nation are scheduled to go on strike against the big three automakers. It is the first ever simultaneous strike of Ford, General Motors and Stellantis, which owns Jeep and Chrysler.
And in moments, we're expecting to hear from the president of the United Auto Workers Union about the next steps.
So here is what is at stake for you, 145,000 union members and an economic impact of $5 billion. The union is demanding nearly 40 percent pay increases, better benefits, and a four-day work week.
And among the players in this whole saga is Shawn Fain. He is that UAW president who has been pretty unpredictable in talks so far and also the CEOs of these companies who say that the demands will put them out of business.
Also there is the president himself, President Biden. He's under pressure both economically and politically tonight.
First, let's start with CNN Business Correspondent Vanessa Yurkevich, who is live from outside of the UAW headquarters in Detroit. Vanessa, less than two hours now until this contract is expected to expire, where do things stand in these negotiations right now?
VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Listen, Abby, deals have come together in the last moments, but two hours is not a lot of time to come to an agreement. And as you mentioned, we are waiting just moments away from UAW President Shawn Fain to announce exactly where the UAW plans to strike starting at 12:00 A.M. on Friday, tomorrow. He's going to go live from inside this UAW headquarters.
But in terms of what the offers have been, General Motors came with a new economic proposal earlier this morning, a 20 percent pay raise across four years, that matches Ford's 20 percent offer, and Stellantis was at 17.5 percent in their last public offer. But as you mentioned, that is nowhere close to the 40 percent that the union has been looking for since day one.
And what we expect to hear from Shawn Fain is that they are going to target select plants by activating select unions across the country. That is by design to keep the companies guessing so that they have to try to figure out who's going on strike, who is not. That leaves, though, some workers still in the plants working. It is very unclear because there will be no contracts.
What will happen to those workers, Ford CEO earlier telling me that those workers will likely not be paid. But in just moments we will hear more about this rollout plan as there are two hours until this very critical deadline, Abby. PHILLIP: Yes. And, Vanessa, about that 40 percent pay increase that the unions are asking for, you spoke with the Ford CEO, Jim Farley, about this earlier today. Tell us what he had to say.
YURKEVICH: Yes. So, the union is tying this 40 percent in pay increases to what they say the CEOs of these big three have made in increases over the last four years. I will point out that Ford says that Jim Farley has only received a 21 percent pay raise, and that is very close to what they are offering workers. But, ultimately, he says a 40 percent pay raise for workers is out of the question. It's untenable.
Here's more of what he told me earlier.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM FARLEY, PRESIDENT AND CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: 40 percent will put us out of business. We would lose $15 billion. We would have to cut people, close plants. What's the good of that? It's not a sustainable business.
There's a fine line here that we won't go past, which is we want everyone to participate in our success. But if it prevents us from investing in this transition to E.V.s and in future products, like the ones we have now, like the new F-150, best-selling vehicle in the U.S., then everyone's jobs at risk if we don't invest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
YURKEVICH: And I spoke to Jim Farley about two days ago, and he was very optimistic that Ford could reach a deal with the UAW and avert a strike. But as the days went on, you could see him becoming less and less certain that that would happen.
Of course, Abby, two hours to go, the clock is ticking. We have seen deals come together in the final moments. But as it stands now at 12:00 midnight, we could expect thousands of UAW workers to head out to the picket lines, and that, of course, will cause disruptions in the auto industry and beyond in the whole economy here in the U.S. Abby?
PHILLIP: Very much a significant night tonight. And, Vanessa, we are standing by for this announcement. I know that you are too, so we will get back to you as soon as it happens.
Up next, though, I want to bring in a UAW member, Charles Wade, who's at a Ford assembly line in Michigan.
So, Charles, can you tell us what are you and your colleagues feeling tonight ahead of the possibility of this historic strike?
CHARLES WADE, ASSEMBLY LINE WORKER, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: Anxious and ready to create a new standard for the American worker.
PHILLIP: You talk about a new standard. Is that what this is about for you?
WADE: Well, it's about equality of life. And, you know, he fairly wanted to say how he wants --
PHILLIP: Charles, I'm sorry, I'm going to interrupt you very quickly. UAW Chief Sean Fain is speaking right now.
SHAWN FAIN, PRESIDENT, UNITED AUTO WORKERS: -- with Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis. For the first time in our union's history, we had all three companies bargaining right here at the Solidarity House, leading into the final hours of our strike deadline.
We've been working hard, trying to reach a deal for economic and social justice for our members. We have been firm. We are committed to winning an agreement with the Big Three that reflects the incredible sacrifice and contributions UAW members have made to these companies.
We've been open the companies, the members, and the public know that what we've been fighting for. And we've been clear, midnight on the evening of September 14th is a deadline. UAW family, that deadline is nearly here.
Tonight, for the first time in our history, we will strike all three of the big three at once. We are using a new strategy, the Standup Strike. We will call on select facilities, locals or units to stand up and go on strike.
Tonight, we call on three units to stand up and go on strike at midnight if we do not reach a tentative agreement in the next two hours. We are calling on G.M. Wentzville Assembly, Local 2250 in Region 4 to stand up and strike. We are calling on Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex, Local 12 in Region 2B to stand up and strike. And we are calling on Ford Michigan Assembly Plant, Final Assembly and Paint Only, Local 900 in Region 1A to stand up and strike.
These three units are being called to stand up and walk out on strike at midnight tonight. The locals that are not yet called to join the Standup Strike will continue working under an expired agreement, no contract extensions. Though the contract is expired, most of your contract is still in effect.
Management cannot change terms and conditions of work in your workplace. You do not become an employee at will. You cannot be fired or disciplined for no reason. This strategy will keep the companies guessing. It will give our national negotiators maximum leverage and flexibility in bargaining. And if we need to go all out, we will. Everything is on the table.
I encourage you to visit uaw.org/standup for everything you need to know about working under an expired contract.
No matter what, all of us need to keep organizing, rallies, protests, red shirt days and community events. We must show the companies you are ready to join the Standup Strike at a moment's notice. And we must show the world that our fight is a righteous fight.
Again, tonight at midnight, G.M. Wentzville Assembly, Local 2250 in Region 4, Stellantis Toledo Assembly Complex, Local 12 in Region 2B, and Ford Michigan Assembly Plant, Final Assembly and Paint Only, Local 900 in Region 1A, will stand up and walk out on strike. The rest of us will keep organizing and support them on the picket line. If we strike tonight, I'll see you on the picket line at Michigan Assembly at midnight.
Tomorrow, we'll be holding a mass rally at the UAW Ford Joint Trust Building in downtown Detroit at 4:00 P.M. We will show our strength and unity on the first day of this historic action.
All options remain on the table. National leadership will determine the appropriate targets and timing for further standup strike action. This is our generation's defining moment. The money is there, the cause is righteous, the world is watching, and the UAW is ready to stand up. This is our defining moment. Thank you.
PHILLIP: You were just listening there to Shawn Fain, the president of the United Auto Workers. He just made a very important announcement that, at midnight, if there is no deal, which there is not yet, he has called on three plants to go on strike, striking three of the big three automakers all at once.
Fain says everything is on the table and they will use these strikes to gain maximum leverage against these automakers.
I want to go back now to Charles Wade. Charles, you're a UAW worker who was who works at one of the plants that Shawn Fain just mentioned, correct? So, you plan --
WADE: Yes, ma'am.
PHILLIP: -- to go on strike at after midnight if there is no deal?
WADE: I plan on going to join them as soon as it starts. And at 6:00 A.M., I'll be actually shuttling people to make sure they get out there membership to the line to hold the line for the strike line. We're going to be out there picketing it all in the next -- until they get a tentative agreement, for sure.
PHILLIP: I noted that Mr. Fain said this is a generational fight. That's how he views it. Do you view it that way? What did you make of what he had to say along with the announcement of the strike?
WADE: Absolutely. Like I said, we're bound -- we're trying to make a new standard and it's for the future. It's for my children. It's to make this a job that's a career, not a job. You know, when I hired in, it was a career. It made me feel as though I was proud to build the car and be able to afford one that I built. And now, 70 percent easy of most of these plants can't even afford a vehicle that they build. They're buying foreign vehicles because they just can't afford an American, you know, the vehicle that they built.
PHILLIP: When he says everything is on the table, how long do you think this can go on? Are you willing to strike for weeks, months, longer?
WADE: I'm willing to strike until we get something that's equitable and fair for everybody in this, in the UAW. The retirees, these new hires, we need to end tears (ph). We need to pop up the higher end pay from $16 to a livable wage that's not creating these families that are struggling.
I'm working right -- I'm a legacy that has a pension. Let's get some pensions in there and get these guys these new hires and folks something to look forward to. And let's support our retirees.
PHILLIP: Do you have a sense of how this strike, three separate plants in different parts of the country, each impacting one of the different automakers? How will that affect the everyday person? Give us a sense of what this means for the production of a car that an American might be driving at home.
WADE: Throughout history, every time the UAW has went on strike against the big three, there's always -- anything that we've had significant gains on, it affects the whole United States, the nation in positive ways. If our pay goes up, we spend more. We're consumers. We're the middle class.
And somewhere along the lines we got forgotten about, and now we're just upper poor. If you don't get the middle class back, we're just going to have a stagnant economy. The more money you give us, the more we're going to spend, the more that we're more likely to be able to afford and buy one of your cars.
PHILLIP: Earlier today, the Ford CEO, Jim Farley, said that a 40 percent increase over four years for auto workers would bankrupt his company. What's your reaction to that?
WADE: He is wrong, but at the same time, I can see where he's coming from in a strategic point of view, but we're only 6 percent of the cost of vehicle. If that's the case, tell him to stop gouging the consumers that aren't the workers at a 30 percent more on each vehicle tag, gouge up the price 30 percent in all their vehicles.
PHILLIP: All right. Charles Wade, thank you very much. Good luck to you. We'll be following this story. It's very important for us tonight.
WADE: Tick tock, tick tock. Thank you.
PHILLIP: I want to now bring in Democratic Congressman Dan Kildee from Michigan. Congressman, thanks for being here.
You just heard that announcement there from Shawn Fain at the UAW. What do you make of what he just said tonight?
REP. DAN KILDEE (D-MI): Well, you know, I stand with the workers of the UAW. These are my constituents. Tens of thousands of these people are people that I work for. And, look, they are fighting for the future.
You know, it was a couple of generations ago right here in my hometown of Flint, the workers staged a sit-down strike. I think it's poetic that this is referred to as a stand-up strike. But back then, the workers occupied the factories and got that first UAW contract. And as the previous guest said, that led to the creation of the middle class in the United States of America.
So, what's happened in the last couple of decades is much of what was gained was lost. And, in fact, the workers that we're talking about actually made concessions in order to keep the American auto industry alive when it was challenged back a decade or so ago.
So, this negotiation is really about getting back to that principle that says that if you work hard, if you work for one of these companies, a highly successful company, highly profitable company, that the workers ought to share in the incredible wealth that their product of hands actually generate. And that's what this negotiation is about. And if it does result in a strike, that's what the strike will be really focused upon.
PHILLIP: So, President Biden leading up to this has spoken to the UAW president, he's spoken to the auto workers, and yet here we are at almost quite literally the 11th hour, there's no deal. And President Biden said he didn't even think a strike was going to happen.
Why are we at this point right now? And do you think President Biden and the White House could have done more?
KILDEE: Well, I know the president has been engaged on this. Gene Sperling, who is part of the president's team, I talked to Gene on a regular basis. He's been tasked to sort of monitor this. He's the most pro-union president that we've had certainly in my lifetime, and I think he knows that this is important.
But the negotiation is between the workers, the United Auto Workers, and the companies. The federal government is not a party to a contract. So, we can encourage, we can provide support, but at the end of the day, it really comes down to those workers and their representatives in UAW sitting across the table from the companies and coming to agreement.
They haven't gotten there yet because they started out pretty far apart. But there's been progress. And so while, obviously, we all want to avoid strike, what we don't want to do is forgo the opportunity to build a much stronger future for those UAW families. And that's what's at stake at the bargaining table right now. Everything that they can gain, as the previous guest, that auto worker from Ford said, everything that they gain goes right into the U.S. economy.
So, in the short-term, this is challenging. It's difficult. But in the long-term, whatever they're able to generate, whatever they able to get at the bargaining table will benefit not just auto workers, but it will benefit workers in all these communities where the auto worker's salary is what keeps the economy alive.
PHILLIP: All right. Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you very much.
KILDEE: Thank you.
PHILLIP: More on this breaking news and what to expect in the economy tomorrow and in the weeks to come.
Plus, Hunter Biden is now the first child of a sitting president to be indicted as he faces gun charges tonight. Why his lawyer now is blaming MAGA Republicans.
And the tensions are flaring on Capitol Hill as Speaker Kevin McCarthy fights to save his job.
PHILLIP: Tonight, Hunter Biden is the first child of a sitting U.S. president to be indicted. Federal prosecutors charging him with three felony gun counts, which include illegal possession, lying to a gun dealer and making a false claim on a firearm application.
It is a rather stunning turn of events after his original plea deal collapsed. Here's what his lawyer said tonight on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ABBE LOWELL, ATTORNEY FOR HUNTER BIDEN: It is the folks like Chairman Comer and the Republican MAGA crazies who have been pressuring this U.S. attorney to do something to vindicate their political position. And guess what? They succeeded.
Hunter owned an unloaded gun for 11 days. There will never have been a charge like this brought in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: If this does get to a trial, it's quite possible it would be in the middle of his father's re-election campaign.
And let's keep in mind that the charges contradict Joe Biden's defense over the years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: This is not about me. It's not about my son. There's not a shred of evidence that anything done was wrong.
No one, no one has asserted my son did a single thing wrong. No one has asserted that I have done anything wrong except a lying president.
My son did nothing wrong.
And let's get something straight, my son did nothing wrong or illegal, period.
Let's talk about what Trump did hit and what he's doing.
First of all, my son is done nothing wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Let's discuss this with CNN legal analyst and former White House Ethics Czar Norm Eisen. Also with us, Vice President of Domestic Policy at the Heritage Foundation and former DOJ Civil Rights Trial Attorney Roger Serevino and CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger.
Norm, I want to start with you. On the substance of these charges, it's really part of the story here because the DOJ kind of declined to go here at first, and then they settle on these gun charges that are already on shaky legal ground in another jurisdiction. So, where does this end?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's going to end in at least one of the gun charges being thrown out on constitutional grounds. The Supreme Court has said that you have to read the Second Amendment the way it was written at the time that the Constitution was adopted, and you look at gun regulation in terms of what was permitted or forbidden then.
Another circuit has indeed just found that these identical charges are unconstitutional because there was no limit for drug or substance abuse on gun ownership at the time of the adoption of the Constitution. And in this circuit, in the Third Circuit, in the range case, Abby, the Third Circuit has said a closely analogous provision, almost identical for former felons, unconstitutional. So, I think that's going to fail.
This was the subject of a diversion agreement because it's a weak case. Abbe Lowell, one of America's best trial lawyers, the government is going to have a real fight on their hands. And I think my friend, Roger, we don't often agree on things, but he probably agrees on my second one.
PHILLIP: And can I just say how the tables have turned here?
ROGER SEVERINO, VICE PRESIDENT, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: It is quite the irony.
SEVERINO: So, you have the defenders of President Biden, President Gun Control, now standing up for the Second Amendment to try to get Hunter Biden off the hook. This is the extreme irony.
PHILLIP: But, I mean, do you think what, to what Norm was saying, that this is a weak charge because this gun statute is being challenged on Second Amendment grounds?
SEVERINO: No, I think it's a very strong case, in fact. I mean, the law is clear, you can't lie on a federal form, right? That's one of the charges. And he lied on a federal form. And that's not a constitutional issue at all. He said that he was not addicted to drugs when he's a notorious drug abuser. Like that is the common knowledge. And even very strong Second Amendment proponents have real issues with handing a gun to a known, open, in this case, crack addict. I mean, there are some reasonable limits.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: But these -- let me just say, these, I'm not a lawyer. But these things are normally not charged the way this was charged, that Hunter Biden, whatever you think of him, was not a felon using the weapon in a terrible way.
PHILLIP: And also had no prior convictions.
BORGER: No prior convictions.
PHILLIP: Violent or otherwise.
SEVERINO: Well that goes to sentencing, how severe the punishment is going to be, as well as whether you're charged or not.
PHILLIP: Well, I think it's also a question of --
BORGER: Or whether you go to trial.
PHILLIP: Or it's a question of whether any other person. I mean, we've had a parade of lawyers on CNN today basically saying they personally have never heard of anyone being charged.
EISEN: And if you look at the statistics, for example, in 2019 there were only three referrals of these kinds of charges in Delaware. Do you know how many were actually the referred to U.S. attorney? Do you know how many were actually prosecuted, Roger? Zero.
This is a disproportionate treatment precisely because he bears the name Biden. In a normal universe, this would never be charged. I've represented people, including on weapons charges. For 30 years, this case would never be charged if his name were not Biden.
SEVERINO: Well he's not being charged on the real issue here. The dog that did not bark in this indictment are the tax charges, right?
I think this is actually a smokescreen, because the plea deal fell apart, it was a sweetheart deal. Unusual that the judge spoke out and said, look, I really have some hard questions to ask. The plea deal fell apart because it was going to be immunity for the real charges that should be brought related to the tax evasion.
We know he's received millions, that is Hunter Biden, from Burisma and we don't know if President Biden received any of that money in some sort of an influence paneling (ph) operation.
PHILLIP: I'm glad that you said that we don't know because that's the truth. There is no evidence that he has received money in any --
SEVERINO: But IRS agents were prevented from asking those questions.
BORGER: Well, there is no evidence, first of all, I agree with you.
And I spoke to a senior White House adviser today. And, basically, well they're not saying this out loud. They believe that if his name were John Doe, he would never have been charged.
And I think it is kind of ironic that Republicans are talking about the weaponization of the Justice Department. And now, you hear Democrats saying, wait a minute, why was this charged? This could be the weaponization of the Justice Department in the special counsel. And you heard Abby Lowell talk about the fact that this was influenced by politics.
So now the Democrats are talking about a Justice Department that really overreached here. And then you have the Republicans talking about a Justice Department that wasn't, that doesn't do its job or is weaponized against Republicans.
PHILLIP: Roger, I mean, at the end of the day, I mean, this has been going on for five years. The most we've gotten out of this in terms of charges has been a gun charge that, honestly, is probably weak at the end of the day. How much longer does this have to go on for Republicans to be satisfied? It's been investigated under the Trump administration. It's been investigated under the Biden administration. Where does this end?
SEVERINO: Well, when the DOJ stops politicizing this issue. So we have two IRS whistleblowers.
PHILLIP: How can they prove that they're not politicizing it when it was a Republican investigating it, they didn't bring charges, it's Democrat, they didn't bring charges.
SEVERINO: So we have two IRS whistleblowers --
PHILLIP: What are they supposed to do?
SEVERINO: -- who have said that they were hamstrung. They were not able to, for example, issue a warrant to get documents because they were in President Biden's house.
And they were ordered from the top to not do that. And one of the whistleblowers was removed from the position. So you have two folks who have gone to Congress. They are heroes because they're exposing that they were interfered with. Corruption of Hunter Biden to protect corruption at a higher level. That's what this looks like.
EISEN: That's not accurate. David Weiss, the U.S. attorney in Delaware who has denied that strongly and in writing to Congress, is a Trump- appointed U.S. attorney. A senior FBI supervisor has rebutted parts of that account. And when you talk about Burisma, I looked at that. In the first Trump impeachment, we concluded there was nothing improper as to Joe Biden.
And 5.5 years of looking, they have not traced a single penny. They've got thousands of documents this Congress has been looking. I think that both Congress and those who are pressing these false charges against the president, there has to be an end at some point. It is so unfair. And now his son is being punished for it. It's wrong across the board.
BORGER: Well, let me just say that there is a perception here, it may not be reality, of course, that's why, you know, the questions are being asked. Why was Hunter Biden doing all this foreign work while his father was vice president of the United States? That's a legitimate question to ask. I mean, personally, I believe that people shouldn't be doing it. If you have somebody in that high-end office, you ought to be limiting your foreign lobbying.
And so that's a legitimate question. But taking it beyond that and saying that, you know, Joe Biden was involved in his son's business other than a few phone calls in which he may have exchanged pleasantries, and they haven't gotten beyond that, is taking it --
SEVERINO: He showed up at a dinner with Burisma executives.
BORGER: --and what was discussed at the dinner. These are the questions that they've been looking at.
SEVERINO: Why was the Vice President at a dinner with his son, with Ukrainian business dealings, when he was getting $1 million a year to advise this company, which President Biden, when he was Vice President, moves to remove the prosecutor that was investigating the company that Hunter Biden was a board member of?
PHILLIP: The prosecutor that both Democrats and Republicans agreed at the time was not prosecuting corruption. But Roger, we go to go.
SEVERINO: Didn't Biden have a conflict of interest when his son was getting paid by the one he wanted to get rid of?
PHILLIP: We got to go here, but at the end of the day, what's missing for you, what's missing for me, what's missing for all of us is evidence of Joe Biden profiting off of anything that Hunter Biden did. We just don't have that evidence. And until we do, we're going to keep discussing it. Norm, Roger and Gloria, thank you all very much.
And coming up next, anger and swearing erupting between Republicans in the House as Kevin McCarthy tries to hold off his critics and to hold onto his job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KEVIN MCCARTHY, U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: And you know what, if it takes a fight, I'll have a fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Plus, the big admission from Donald Trump about how he considered pardoning himself in office. Jim Acosta joins me next.
PHILLIP: Capitol Hill is getting a little saltier than usual today. Tempers flared and F-bombs flew as Speaker McCarthy goes to war to keep his job. In a heated closed-door meeting with House Republicans, multiple sources in the room tell us that McCarthy grew frustrated over the threats against him.
The speaker then said, quote, "move the F-ing motion." He's been facing recent threats from GOP hardliners, including the Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz, who's threatening a call for a motion on the House floor to vacate McCarthy as speaker.
Now, following that meeting, reporters pressed McCarthy on the risk of losing the gavel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: Threats don't matter, and sometimes people do those things because of personal things. And that's all fine. I don't walk away from a battle. I knew changing Washington would not be easy. I knew people would fight or try to hold leverage for other things. I'm going to continue to just to focus on what's the right thing to do for the American people. And you know what? If it takes a fight, I'll have a fight.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And not long after that, Congressman Gaetz weighed in himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I'm concerned for the speaker that he seems to be a little rattled and unhinged in a time when we need focus and strong effort. Whether or not McCarthy faces a motion to vacate is within his own hands. All he has to do is come into compliance with the deal we made in January.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And joining us now, CNN anchor, Jim Acosta. Jim, there's so many interesting things about that. First of all, the body language is very fascinating between McCarthy and Gaetz. McCarthy seems fed up, and Gaetz seems to, as we asked him about earlier this week, throwing out these threats, that he really cannot substantiate. So what do you think? I mean, is Kevin McCarthy really at risk of losing the gavel here? JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: He doesn't have a lot of job security right
now, that's for sure. And I talked to a Republican source who's close to some members up on Capitol Hill who said, you know a lot of these more moderate members in the GOP conference think that a lot of these hardliners are just blowing hot air. The problem, though, is it just takes one of these members, part of the concessions that Kevin McCarthy made to become speaker, it only takes one of those members to begin the process to remove the speaker.
So he's not in very good shape right now. There are other two dynamics at play here. One is that those hardliners have the support of the former president, Donald Trump, so they can keep pushing, knowing that Kevin McCarthy is going to bend to Donald Trump's will. The other thing that's playing out up on Capitol Hill these days is that, a lot of these hardliners in the Republican Party aren't really that worried about losing their seats. So they feel like they can do whatever they want right now.
PHILLIP: Yeah, very much so. Look, the other thing that happened, you mentioned Donald Trump. Megyn Kelly, the former Fox host, she sat down with Trump this week and she asked him about the impeachment inquiry. This is actually one of the issues that is facing McCarthy, but the impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: They did it to me. And had they not done it to me, I think, and nobody officially said this, but I think had they not done it to me, then I'm very popular in the region. They like me and I like them, the Republican Party. Perhaps you wouldn't have it being done to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Cliche at this point, but saying the quiet part out loud.
ACOSTA: Yes, absolutely. And you know, I mean, let's just be clear about this. I mean, Donald Trump is kind of the de facto speaker right now. Donald Trump wants an impeachment inquiry. He gets an impeachment inquiry. He may want a government shutdown by the end of this month. And he may get a government shutdown, because the members of this Republican conference are listening to Donald Trump and not Kevin McCarthy.
Kevin McCarthy is following in the footsteps of two previous Republican speakers, Paul Ryan, and John Boehner. Both of those gentlemen, as you know, Abby, dealt with very difficult members of that Freedom Caucus and other hardliners in the Republican conference. Two big differences. One is there wasn't a former president Donald Trump back then. The other is, Kevin McCarthy is just not as politically skilled as Boehner or Ryan. And that is certainly a problem.
PHILLIP: They still paid for it with their jobs at the end of the day.
ACOSTA: That's right. And it was Kevin McCarthy who resuscitated Donald Trump's political career after January 6. Let's not forget that scene. McCarthy has himself to blame for this.
PHILLIP: Yeah. The other thing that Trump was asked about this week in a different interview is about what he would have done, whether he would have pardoned himself in those last days of his presidency. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I could have pardoned myself when I left. People said, would you like to pardon yourself? I had a couple of attorneys that said, you can do it if you want. I had some people that said, it would look bad if you do it, because I think it would look terrible. I said, here's the story. These people are thugs, horrible people, fascists, Marxists, sick people. They've been after me from the day I came down the escalator with Melania. And I did a great job as president. People are acknowledged. Great economy, great jobs, great this, great that. Rebuilt the military, space force, everything. I could go on forever. Let me just tell you. I said the last thing I'd ever do is give myself a pardon.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: So I mean, you know a lot of people in Trump world. I think some of this has been out there, the conversations. But what had you heard about whether this was really on the table? And gosh. If you're thinking about pardoning yourself, doesn't that suggest that you think you did something illegal?
ACOSTA: Well, certainly. And I mean, I went back and looked at what we were reporting in the weeks after the November 2020 election. And I reported in early December that Donald Trump and his advisors were talking about not only a self-pardon for himself but for pardons for his family.
We were talking about a flurry of pardons back in those days. And his advisors, both inside and outside the White House, were telling him he could do it. I even heard a crazy story from one Trump advisor who was saying that perhaps, well, the president could resign from office and put Mike Pence and then Mike Pence would do the pardoning. And of course Mike Pence and Donald Trump weren't really on speaking terms back then.
But you know the big show in the Republican Party right now. There isn't really anybody inside the GOP right now who is willing to stop Donald Trump. If you listen to the rest of that interview with Megyn Kelly, he's talking about how he could continue to declassify documents despite the fact that he obviously can't declassify documents just by looking at them, but he is under the impression and keeps saying that he could just declassify documents.
He's also talking about Vladimir Putin being this person who is judging the political and judicial process that's underway here in the United States, with Trump being indicted in all of these different cases, looking to Vladimir Putin for validation. I mean, it just goes to show you that inside the Republican Party right now, Donald Trump answers to nobody. He's almost like Putin in that regard.
PHILLIP: Yeah, and he seems very comfortable saying pretty much anything.
PHILLIP: No one bats an eye.
ACOSTA: That's right.
PHILLIP: And the voters seem to be completely unfazed by it all. He is leading by a long way in this Republican field right now.
ACOSTA: No question about it. As I used to say when he was president, for as dishonest as he is, he can be remarkably candid. And he is being very candid in these interviews. He is showing, as he did when he was president, that he is going to be corrupt at times. He's going to be lawless at times. And he doesn't really have much regard for the Constitution.
PHILLIP: Well, Jim, thanks for being here. And I would just say, I mean, it's important, just because he says it doesn't mean that it's not significant. It's important to note these things when they happen.
ACOSTA: That's right. Absolutely. And you've got to wonder when the party is going to step in and try to do something about it. When I talk to my Republican sources, they know the clock is ticking. They're running out of time to stop them from getting that nomination.
PHILLIP: All right, Jim Acosta, thanks so much. And you can catch Jim's show this weekend on Saturday and on Sunday afternoon. Don't miss it.
And more now on our breaking news. We are now just an hour and a half away from a potential autoworker strike that could have devastating economic consequences all across this country.
With me now is Jeanna Smialek, the "New York Times" reporter, and Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's.
Mark, I want to start with you. When we look at the potential fear of an economic impact, it could be days, it could be weeks, it could be months of a strike. Could this push the economy ultimately toward a recession?
MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S: Well, there's lots of different scenarios. A lot depends on how disruptive the strike is, and of course, how long it goes on for. If it's for a few weeks, a month, maybe even two, probably not, Abby. I think the economy is resilient enough to digest that.
But of course, if it extended on through the remainder of the year, then the economy would be really in trouble. And of course, the economy is struggling with other things, right? We've got student loan payments that are going to resume. We've got a potential government shutdown. We've got higher interest rates. And most recently, the surge in oil prices and higher gasoline prices is starting to hurt as well. So there's a lot of headwinds to the economy. This is just one more.
So, you know, if it extends through the remainder of the quarter, through the remainder of the year, the odds of a recession will rise quite significantly.
PHILLIP: And Jeanna, we just heard the new head of the UAW, Shawn Fain, and he's clearly not a man afraid to speak his mind. He spoke about this really in generational terms. Take a listen to some of what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHAWN FAIN, UAW PRESIDENT: The talking heads, the pundits, the companies want to say that, you know, if we strike, it can wreck the economy. It's not that we're going to wreck the economy. We're going to wreck their economy, the economy that only works for the billionaire class. It doesn't work for the working class.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: He's talking about this gap that we all know about between the CEOs and their workers, between the rich and the poor. This is the story of this economy this year, it seems.
JEANNA SMIALEK, FEDERAL RESERVE AND ECONOMY REPORTER, NEW YORK TIMES: Yeah. And we have really seen very clearly workers trying to take back a lot of power in this economy. You know, this is not the first strike action we're seeing. We've seen a big uptick in collective action this year. And so I think this is the latest part of that story we saw with the Hollywood writers that we've seen with a lot of news outlets. You know, this has been a common theme this summer.
And I really think that it's interesting that they're couching this both in terms of inflation, you know, what workers have lost, what they're trying to regain, but also in terms of profits and the idea that CEOs are making so much that we need to sort of even out the playing field a little bit.
PHILLIP: Yeah, and Mark, last question to you. According to data from the auto website, edmunds.com, the average cost of a new car is $48,000. That's a huge amount of money. That is up nearly $12,000 from what it was just five years ago. These car companies are making a lot of money. Why can't they pay their workers a lot more?
ZANDI: I think they'll pay their workers more. I mean, I think it's a negotiation, right? And there needs to be compromise on both sides to get this done. So I would be surprised if we don't see that happening. Both sides have to come to the middle and they'll figure it out. But the other car companies are doing well. And I think workers should share in that success. And I think ultimately that will happen.
To Jeanna's point, the labor market is very tight. There's a lot of unfilled job positions. People have been quitting their jobs. So, you know, this is a time when I think we'll see that kind of rebalancing between the negotiating power between workers and their employers.
PHILLIP: We've been talking a lot about soft landings here. What's the word among, you know, the folks that you talk to about whether this will have an impact on this broader picture?
SMIALEK: Yeah, you know, I think I think it could go both ways. So we're seeing some data right now that suggests that consumers are really resilient. The labor market is slowing down, but it's doing so in sort of this modest way. But then, you know, as Mark just alluded to, we've got this uncertainty coming down the line. This could be pretty significant. We've got student loans restarting in October. We've got higher interest rates. There's just a lot happening right now that could derail the recovery. And so I think you've got to keep your eye on these risks and say, they're small individually, but are they going to add up to something big and aggregate?
PHILLIP: Yeah. And for the Biden administration. You know, they are navigating these tricky waters too. This is probably a moment where they're staying up a little bit late tonight to try to see if they can work this out. Jeanna and Mark, thank you both very much for joining us. We'll be keeping our eye on this story.
And coming up next for us, Daniel Dale with a fact check of Donald Trump's interview with Megyn Kelly, including one claim that one of his rivals is now mocking.
PHILLIP: Donald Trump has been in quite a talkative mood giving two interviews and a lot of bogus claims in the process. CNN's senior reporter, Daniel Dale, is here with a fact check. So Daniel, let's just listen to one of these bogus claims.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I don't know who gave him the accommodation. I really don't know who gave him the accommodation.
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: The presidential accommodation. One went off to Mark Milley, too.
TRUMP: Somebody probably handed him accommodation.
I overrode many of the things he did. He was much less important to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Who could have done it?
DANIEL DALE, CNN SR. REPORTER: It does not take a hard-boiled detective to figure out who gave the presidential commendation to Dr. Anthony Fauci. It was Donald Trump. We know this because the Trump White House posted it on their website under a headline that said, President Trump Awards, such and such. It was commendations to dozens of people involved in the Operation Warp Speed vaccine effort. Now, of course, presidents are busy. He was busy at the time trying to overturn the election. That's not sarcasm. That's what he was trying to do.
I spoke, though, today to two former Trump administration communications directors who both said they did not take anything like this would ever be awarded without his knowledge and consent. Alyssa Farah Griffin, who's a CNN political commentator, said that this kind of accommodation would require presidential sign-off.
She said she doesn't know how closely Trump would have looked at this before he signed it, but she said for him to claim he had nothing to do with it is, she said, patently absurd.
PHILLIP: Not for nothing. The backlash against Fauci around that time was well underway. But Daniel, also during this interview, Trump claimed on a separate topic that he never had an impeachment inquiry.
DALE: He did. He did claim that and he did have an impeachment inquiry in. Yeah, so let's listen to what he had to say on that subject.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: That's up to them if they want to do impeachment or impeachment inquiry. I never had an inquiry. Nancy Pelosi, crazy Nancy, said, we're going to impeach them. They didn't do inquiries. They went out and they voted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DALE: So there was an impeachment inquiry. Then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced it in 2019 over Trump's efforts to pressure the president of Ukraine to investigate his then political rival, Joe Biden. This was very public. You may remember a high-profile televised hearing after televised hearing. That was part of the impeachment inquiry. At the end of it, Democrats in the House released a 300-page report titled the Trump-Ukraine impeachment inquiry report.
Now, Trump could have correctly said there was no inquiry the second time he was impeached in 2021. That impeachment was based on his public statements in his speech on January 6th. They didn't feel like they needed a lot of investigating. But for him to claim he never had an inquiry and Democrats always just rushed impeachment votes on him, just not true.
PHILLIP: To be fair, when you're impeached twice, sometimes it's hard to figure out which one is which.
DALE: Yeah, you got to keep them straight. Could be a challenge.
PHILLIP: It could be a challenge, but that's why we have you here. Thank you, Daniel. I Appreciate it. And coming up next, we have more on our breaking news out of Detroit.
We are one hour away now from automakers going on strike. Stand by for that.