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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
New Charges For President Biden`s Son As House Republicans Set To Authorize Impeachment Inquiry; Hunter Biden Faces Nine Charges In Federal Tax Case; Indictment: Hunter Biden Spent Millions Of Dollars On Extravagant Lifestyle Rather Than Paying His Taxes. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired December 08, 2023 - 11:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: Hunter Biden charged again, federal prosecutors accusing the President`s son of failing to pay over a
million dollars in taxes and spending money on drugs and women instead. What this means for House Republicans anxious to impeach his father.
Plus, Donald Trump is expected to testify in his civil fraud trial Monday. The former President chose to attend the proceedings in New York yesterday.
He was not required to be there. But, he still called it a witch hunt, and complained that he wasn`t on the campaign trail anyway.
And in Texas, a heartbroken pregnant woman facing down State Attorney General Ken Paxton, who is threatening her doctors with prosecution if they
follow a court order granting her permission to have an abortion, which she and her lawyer say is at stake, ahead.
Good day, everyone. I`m Kasie Hunt to our viewers watching in the United States and around the world. It`s 11 a.m. here in Washington, Friday,
December 8, just 38 days until the Iowa caucuses, 332 days until Election Day. This is today`s State of the Race.
Welcome in. We begin with nine new criminal charges against Hunter Biden in the federal tax case against him. The President`s son was already facing
gun charges as part of Special Counsel David Weiss` investigation. But, this latest indictment includes salacious details from the period when he
was addicted to drugs, as Hunter Biden details in his book. Prosecutors alleged that he failed to pay more than a million dollars in taxes, instead
spending lavishly on things like escorts and exotic cars. Hunter Biden`s defenders say these charges are politically motivated. His lawyer saying
this, "Based on the facts and the law, if Hunter`s last name were anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware, and now California, would not
have been brought."
The indictment comes as House Republicans pushed to formalize their impeachment inquiry into President Biden. It`s important to underscore that
so far they`ve not been able to find any incriminating evidence tying President Biden to any wrongdoing.
Let`s dive into all of this with today`s panel. Karen Finney is a CNN Political Commentator. She was a Senior Spokesperson for Democrat Hillary
Clinton 2016 presidential campaign; Doug Heye, Republican Strategist and former Communications Director at the RNC, Gloria Borger, a CNN Senior
Political Analyst, and Carrie Cordero is a CNN Legal Analyst who previously served at the Department of Justice. Very grateful to have all of you on
I`d like to start, Karen, kind of with the politics of this.
KAREN FINNEY, FMR. SR. SPOKESPERSON, HILLARY FOR AMERICA, & CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah.
HUNT: OK. Let`s -- I want to show everyone first because we have the statement from the lawyer. Former Attorney General Eric Holder was on CNN
with my colleague Laura Coates last night. This is how he talked about things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think that he is being not targeted, but treated perhaps a little differently because of who he is.
There is a political component to this case, which is not to say that the special prosecutor Mr. Weiss is doing anything inappropriate. But, I think
there is certainly political pressure that exists in this case that you would not see with regard to other matters.
LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The pressure being if he does not pursue this case, based on the last name of Hunter, then he must be trying
to do a favor for Joe Biden. Is that the assumption?
HOLDER: Yes, something along those lines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: What do you make of that?
FINNEY: Well, I agree with him. But, what struck me when I was reading about this this morning, remember 2016. Are we all enough to remember 2016
HUNT: Oh, yes. Like every day of that campaign.
FINNEY: When Donald Trump set bragged about not paying his taxes and said you`re stupid if you pay your taxes.
HUNT: Yeah. Gosh. I forgot about that.
FINNEY: Remember that? Yeah. So, by Donald Trump`s own logic, what Hunter did was actually smart. Now, when we follow, I`m just saying, and now that
we`re in bizarro world, obviously, by the rules of law, it was completely inappropriate. But, I think --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: But, he paid back. He paid back his taxes, actually.
FINNEY: Yes, he did.
FINNEY: And Hunter has paid back.
FINNEY: Donald Trump has not. I think it`s important to remind us of that. And I think what the former Attorney General said is right, that if he
wasn`t Joe Biden son, we wouldn`t be seeing this level of scrutiny. And look, again going back to 2016, this is all a part of the much broader plan
on the part of Donald Trump to muddy the waters, to try to create these false equivalencies. There is no in universe where failure to pay your
taxes and then paying them is anything like trying to overthrow an American election. I just -- we need to be very clear. But, Donald Trump is going to
try over the coming months to make it seem all very shady and muddy the waters, and again, no connection to Joe Biden.
HUNT: So, here is where I -- to just to stick with, I`m glad that you emphasized there is still no connection to Joe Biden.
We need to keep, I think, saying that as we`re covering this. However, Gloria, the question I have when I watched these -- if I am talking about
how political this is, I wonder what the White House is thinking? Because they`re about to head into a campaign where they are going to try to say
that the Justice Department is credible, aboveboard, not partisan. Right?
BORGER: And the Republicans are saying it`s weaponized, right?
BORGER: Yeah, against Biden.
HUNT: And so, how does it help Joe Biden to have his son out there with a defense that says the system is rigged, when they`re trying to run a
campaign that says this system is not rigged?
BORGER: It doesn`t help. It doesn`t help Joe Biden. I think it is a very difficult personal situation, and it`s a very difficult political situation
for him. I mean, his son is under indictment. They may think it`s a political indictment. The original strategy was kind at a low key, all of
this, get the plea deal, etc., etc. And now, it`s just turned into something else. And don`t forget, Biden is also facing an impeachment vote,
to authorize an impeachment inquiry in the House. So, it`s a total mess, and the political world and the legal world is just colliding.
BORGER: And it`s not good.
HUNT: I want to get Doug. I want you to weigh in in the impeachment query in a second. But, Carrie, can you first kind of put your legal hat on for
us? I suppose that`s your only -- your main hat that had available to you. But -- and explain, when people say that there are political motivations to
charging certain things, how -- can you -- what I don`t understand is how much discretion is there, isn`t there? There seems to be a lot of leeway.
And how do political considerations play into these decisions behind the scenes?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, & FMR. U.S. DEPT. OF JUSTICE ATTORNEY: So, the bottom line is they`re actually not supposed to play a role at all
in the prosecutor`s decision. So, Justice Department prosecutors, which includes the special counsel in this case, is a U.S. attorney and appointed
as a special counsel by the Attorney General to try to lessen the appearance of any kind of political influence, is supposed to make
decisions based on the facts, on the law, whether the facts of this particular case, only as they pertain to Hunter Biden accord with an
appropriate reason to charge the case, and is in accordance with Justice Department guidelines, and how they normally would bring a case in this
type of circumstance.
So, Hunter Biden, even though he is the President`s son, shouldn`t be treated any better or any worse than any other American who commits -- who
is alleged to have committed this type of crime. I will say the amounts, if we think about some other high-profile cases that our viewers might be
familiar with, some people might remember like the Wesley Snipes case, which was a big tax case, which was 20 some million dollars of unpaid
taxes, this is a little over $1 million of unpaid taxes, which is glorious that he has reportedly has paid back. So, the Justice Department shouldn`t
take politics into play. But, the fact that there is even a special counsel in a little tax case like this, indicates that there is a political overlap
DOUG HEYE, U.S. REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, & FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, look, very clearly, Republicans are going to move forward
with an impeachment inquiry. And we saw James Comer say about the announcement on the indictments with Hunter that this isn`t enough. Nothing
is going to be enough. It`s -- this is how these things are set up, is there is never a standard that is met where the opposing party says, Oh,
we`re good here. The Department of Justice did everything right. And we`re going to stand down.
But, as a communications person, I`m struck by the similarity of the messaging from what we just heard from Eric Holder, from others. This is
exactly what Donald Trump and his team were saying when he was indicted by Alvin Bragg. If his name was any -- if his last name was anything other
than Donald Trump, he wouldn`t be indicted. And privately, on the Bragg case at least, a lot of Democrats would agree.
HUNT: Right. No. I think that`s actually fair. And look, let`s put up, I think the man representing Hunter Biden now is Abbe Lowell. He is a famous,
infamous, depending on how you view it, lawyer here in Washington, D.C., and these are the other clients that he has had in his storied career,
Jared Kushner, Bob Menendez, John Edwards, Bill Clinton. Most recently, he did spend some time in the Trump orbit defending Jared Kushner. And it does
seem like this, Karen, is part of the aggressive strategy that we have seen from the Hunter Biden team in the last couple of months is being driven by
Abbe Lowell. How does the White House see this?
And I just want to bring our viewers that we`re seeing the President here is -- just landed at Joint Base Andrews. He is departing Washington to head
to Las Vegas. If he stops here to talk to reporters, we`re going to check in on those live pictures and make sure that our viewers can all hear what
the President is saying.
But, Karen, I mean, is the White House pleased with this sort of pugnacious new strategy from the Hunter Biden team?
I mean it does seem -- we know he is a family man. He has always said he is going to stand by his son. His son was having a very difficult time in his
personal life. But, it does seem -- I mean, I`ve talked to Democrats who say that the way Hunter has been handling this lately has taken the White
House by surprise, and they don`t love that.
FINNEY: Well, they`re true.
HUNT: He was always going to go with that. But, I will just say that.
FINNEY: At the same time, it is a personal matter. It is a personal family matter. And Hunter does have the right, just as Donald Trump, just as
anyone in this country, to pursue a vigorous defense in the way that they believe is going to have the best outcome. And so, that is part of why this
is so challenging and difficult. There are politics in this. This is a personal matter. And we happen to know that this all was happening at a
time when Hunter was -- he has admitted using drugs, going through a very rough time, which is something that his family has talked pretty openly
about. So, this is where, though, politics and the personal interact in ways that if you`re sitting in the White House and you`re the
communications director, you hate it, because you can`t fully control it. Right?
FINNEY: When it comes to a President`s family, that`s -- it`s a much harder job. And again, not to mention, to the point that Carrie was making, this
is -- it is true that this is the kind of case, unfortunately, again, politics are playing a role in it, not just because he is the President`s
son, but because we have -- we know that -- because we have a special counsel.
BORGER: If you look, it`s just such a convoluted bungled history to all of this, if you ask me. It is just that you had originally a plea deal, right,
five years of investigation, then you had a plea deal, then the judge objected to it, and it all blew up and fell apart. And then, Weiss says,
oh, wait a minute, I have to be appointed as special counsel. OK. He gets appointed as special counsel where he has more authority, more
jurisdiction, and suddenly you`ve got these felony charges. Right? And so, it`s -- the question is, how did it get from there to here?
HUNT: Carrie, that`s a question for you.
CORDERO: Yeah. And the thing is, this is a hefty case now for Hunter Biden. I mean, this is over --
HUNT: That 54 page.
CORDERO: -- 50 -- this is the over 50 pages of an indictment. It includes felonies now, not just misdemeanors. And so, he is now looking at a case
that potentially carries many years of potential jail time if he were convicted on all the charges that have been brought. And so, politics not
withstanding Hunter Biden`s interests have to be in his own interest now, and just like any other defendant, he really is. And I`m sure this is what
his defense attorneys are telling him. He has to set aside what the political piece is because this is about his life and his liberty and his
freedom for the future now --
HUNT: Yeah. No. Freedom.
CORDERO: -- as any other criminal defendant would face.
HUNT: Right. All right. We`ve got a lot more to talk about today, because Donald Trump will take the witness stand Monday in his civil fraud trial in
New York. How he has been using the case to campaign this week? That`s up next.
HUNT: Donald Trump was in court Thursday in New York, watching a defense witness testify in his civil fraud trial. The former President getting
ready to testify himself on Monday as he continues to deny what the judge in the case has already found that he falsely exaggerated the value of his
assets in order to get better terms on loans and insurance. He is on trial, not on the campaign trail. But, obviously, he was campaigning on his way
into the courtroom. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: This is a political witch hunt. This is meant to influence an election. It`s a disgrace to our country. And again,
I should be right now in Iowa and New Hampshire, and South Carolina. I shouldn`t be sitting in a courthouse and I don`t have to sit here. I could
just do whatever I want to do. But, I want to make sure that you get the true story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Just for the record, he is not required to attend the case in New York. He is choosing to be there.
Our panel rejoins us now. And we are joined by CNN Reporter Alayna Treene, who has been covering Trump. And Alayna, it`s great to have you on the
panel. You talk to the Trump campaign regularly. How do they view what he is doing in the courtroom? Because -- and you and I were talking a little
bit earlier this morning. It sounds like based on your reporting, there may have been some nerves early on that this stuff was going to catch up to
him, but that they don`t feel that way anymore. I mean, how are they thinking about it right now?
ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Yeah. I think early on, it was less so about nerves that it would catch up with him and more of they didn`t know if he
would continue enjoying the boost in the polls and fundraising that he saw in the immediate aftermath of when he was indicted those four times over in
the spring and throughout the summer. They weren`t sure if that would last. But, it has. And so, because of that, his campaign has really thought we
can merge the legal jeopardy, really, and kind of turn it into a campaign slogan.
And that`s exactly what they`ve been doing. And I also think that`s why you`re seeing Donald Trump show up in court so much. They recognize that
even more than when he is on the campaign trail and holding rallies, he is getting wall-to-wall media coverage. He is soaking up all of the oxygen
when he is attending court, especially when he is going to be on the stand. And so, I think that`s where a lot of this comes in.
And I do think he was on the stand last month as well. That time, he was being grilled by prosecutors. This time, he is going to be answering
carefully crafted questions, I`m told, from his defense attorneys. But, I do think you`re going to see similar to what he did last month, which is
trying to make this and treat it like another campaign stop, kind of give speeches while on the stand, using the rhetoric we`ve heard him use time
and time again, which is to criticize the judge in the case, criticize the Attorney General, call this political persecution.
TREENE: I think you can expect that on Monday.
BORGER: Well, he has to be careful not to violate a gag order.
BORGER: So, just speaking outside, he didn`t violate the gag order. He called everything corrupt. But, he didn`t talk about the people prosecuting
him or anything else.
HUNT: Right. And he is barred primarily from attacking court -- people who o work for the court --
BORGER: Right. Right.
HUNT: -- functionally.
Doug, what is the sense among Republicans in the -- Republican leaders party on Capitol Hill about how this all affects their own races, the
Republican Party as a whole. To Alayna`s point, I mean, it seems to help Trump even more than appearing in Iowa does.
HEYE: Yeah. Well, every Republican I`ve talked to on this, members of Congress, a few Senators, they don`t know, because if you ask them on
Monday, they`re like, well, this could benefit us. This could rally the base. Or on Tuesday, they say, but we`re going to have a problem with
independence. They really don`t know. And you know what`s striking to me about the video that you played Trump is, that`s most of the Republican
primary at this point.
Donald Trump is campaigning from a courtroom, saying I should be in Iowa. I should be in New Hampshire. I`m not. But, he is able to campaign in New
York City in a courtroom, in Georgia, wherever it may be. Meanwhile, what he just said there is exactly what his opponents could use against him, and
say, if you`re Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump won`t be able to go to Iowa and New Hampshire and Michigan and Arizona, and all these
targeted states because of the court case, and we need somebody focused on beating Joe Biden. None of them are saying that.
One last thing, completely unimportant, but if you look at what Donald Trump was wearing, the exact same outfit that Vivek and Ron DeSantis wore
at their debates, loose suits, red ties. They`re not trying to emulate Trump. They`re dressing like Donald Trump.
BORGER: Oh, no.
HEYE: It`s that bad.
HUNT: I`m like we (inaudible) see that.
BORGER: How long was the tie?
HUNT: Right. That`s the key question. So, this is a great segue to put up. Look, there is only 30 something days until Iowa, right? So, that`s where
we are. But, let`s put up the 2024. This is the legal and political calendar for the first four months, or I`m sorry, two important sections of
January and March, and May and July. March being, in my opinion, particularly critical, because what you have there is Super Tuesday on
March 5. The day before Super Tuesday is the day that the election subversion trial is set to open.
Gloria, this puts like a remarkable -- if in fact, we haven`t seen much of this up until that point, and Donald Trump rolls through Iowa, rolls
through New Hampshire and is set to roll through on Super Tuesday, the Republican Party is going to be very much on track to be nominating someone
who is going to be --
HUNT: -- on trial as this is going on.
BORGER: And could potentially be a convicted felon.
BORGER: Now, you know that Trump`s attorneys are trying to delay this as long as they possibly can. And so, it may not -- the trial may not start on
March 4. But, I think the judge seems pretty intent on having this trial go ahead, and that the Trump people are planning for late spring, kind of, I
think. So, look, this puts him in a -- for normal politician, and we put them in a terrible situation, for Donald Trump with the Republican
electorate, it doesn`t seem to matter.
HUNT: No. If anything, it seems to heckle them.
BORGER: Heckle. Right. Exactly.
HUNT: And sometimes, I talk to people who say, well, maybe if Donald Trump has been indicted, he would be losing.
BIRGER: Right, because he plays the victim card really well. And it plays.
HEYE: And to all of his opponents who reinforced his messaging that he was a victim. So, where were Republican primaries supposed to go if Nikki
Haley, Ron DeSantis, and others say Donald Trump is right, there are two tiers of justice, and he is a victim?
TREENE: But, the thing I will just add is that, to your point earlier, Doug, I do think when we get further into past the primaries, that is
something that Donald Trump`s team is a little bit concerned about, your point about general election voters. As we -- if any of these trials are
delayed, and they`re overlapping with the general election, there is a concern from Trump`s team that they don`t know how this will play in a
general election. They`re hoping it will continue to help them. What they`re seeing happen now will continue. But, that`s a big question mark
that they`re still unsure about.
HUNT: Yeah. Well, and this turning point seems to be this question about a conviction. Sorry, Carrie. Jump in.
CORDERO: And we`ll see if these trial dates actually hold.
CORDERO: I mean, it really is a legitimate question, especially as to the March trial dates that pertain to the January, the federal January 6 case
here in D.C. The Trump team is challenging that on legal grounds that he has immunity, I don`t think is a substantive matter that those immunity
claims are eventually going to be successful on the merits of them. However, it does have the potential to push back that March trial date,
notwithstanding the fact that the district court judge wants -- really wants --
CORDERO: -- to have the trial in a timely way. But, the fact that that does need to now work its way, that immunity issue needs to work its way through
the appellate level, and then potentially if that didn`t go in his direction, he could have the option to appeal to the Supreme Court. Then
they`re really pushing on that timeframe. And then the trouble is on the legal calendar. You push into the May tentative date for the classified
documents case. So, the -- as Gloria said earlier, the collision course of the legal and the political maybe starts with March, but it`s going to
continue throughout the entire campaign season and up through nominations.
BORGER: We never say anything like this.
HUNT: Yes. So, I should never take a vacation in this --
BORGER: No, no, no. That`s right. And we`ve never seen anything like this. I mean, usually, the standard practice was for the legal to step aside
during the political year or the month preceding --
CORDERO: Well, we see charging decisions. Sometimes as you get really close to a charging decision, then the Justice Department --
CORDERO: -- wouldn`t want to bring a case. But, this is a whole different world.
BORGER: But now, they`re interwoven.
BORGER: And it`s like nothing we`ve seen.
HUNT: And -- I mean, in July, of course, we have the Republican National Convention. I mean --
HUNT: -- Carrie, I`m not sure if this is a question for Carrie or a question for you Doug, but in the event that Trump is convicted in one of
these cases, first before the convention, then after the convention, if it`s before the convention, I think this is for you, what does the
Republican Party do? Do they nominate someone? Can they -- I mean, it`s -- is it prohibited in the bylaws? I don`t think it is.
HEYE: They have no idea what they can or what they should do. And the reality is, they`re very scared that while Donald Trump can become the
nominee, if he is convicted, that that will turn off enough independent voters that the race is effectively over.
HUNT: That seems like a valid fear. Now, what happens if he is convicted after but he is elected President?
CORDERO: Well, so as a constitutional matter, he could still be nominated. That wouldn`t affect the nomination process. And then, we get into whether
or not he is convicted. He could be convict -- if the trials actually take place, he could be convicted, and then actually elected. As a legal matter,
what he wants to get to, from his defense perspective, is he wants to get to a place where he is nominated on the political side. He wins the
election on the political side. Then they can make arguments that as President, he can`t sit through trial. And so then, both cases could be
dropped if he was able to influence the Justice Department to drop cases, or as a legal constitutional matter, they would argue that a sitting
President can`t be tried and it all has to get pushed. But, that`s way, way, way down the road.
HUNT: Could he just fire the special counsel?
CORDERO: He can --
CORDERO: -- exert as much authority as the Executive has over that matter.
HEYE: And by the way, 2016 taught us that Republicans aren`t going to do anything to Donald Trump.
HEYE: Let`s be clear.
HUNT: Yes. And we`re going to have much more about -- Jonathan Martin has an excellent comment, POLITICO, about that very thing, but they have been
sitting silently by all of this. Alayna Treene, thank you very much for joining us.
TREENE: Thank you.
HUNT: Always good to have you on the panel.
TREENE: Thank you for having me.
HUNT: Come back soon. The rest of the panel is going to join us later in the show.
But, still ahead here, a pregnant Texas woman`s heartbreak collides with her state`s strict abortion bans. She sued to have an abortion after she
learned the baby likely wouldn`t live more than a few days, and she could lose the ability to have more children. The Texas Attorney General now
threatening her doctors if they follow a court order to allow it. That`s next.
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. I`m Kasie Hunt. We`re live in Washington. Now to a critical test of one of the strictest abortion bans in
the nation. The Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, is threatening doctors with prosecution if they follow through on a judge`s order to allow an
abortion for a woman with a potentially life-threatening pregnancy. Now, Paxton is taking the case to the Texas Supreme Court. At the heart of the
story, Kate Cox, 31-years-old, 20 weeks pregnant, with a baby diagnosed with a fatal genetic condition. Doctors say that her baby would likely not
live more than a few days outside of the womb. They also say carrying the baby to term could jeopardize Cox`s ability to have another baby. She sued
to be allowed an abortion despite the state`s strict ban. Cox talked to NBC after the judge first ruled that the abortion could proceed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE COX, SUING TEXAS FOR RIGHTS TO ABORTION: It`s a hard time. Even with being helpful with the decision that came from the hearing this morning,
there is still -- we`re going through the loss of a child. There is no outcome here that I take home my healthy baby girl. So, it`s hard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Yeah. My panel is back with me now. Gloria, I -- honestly, I can`t believe she has been able to hold it together enough to --
HUNT: -- talk to the cameras --
HUNT: -- because she is going through something like this. I mean, this is the exact kind of scenario that people across the board, not just here in
the political world in which we normally inhabit, but the medical world, and other places warned could happen. And it is going to be a key test
BORGER: And Ken Paxton has just made her life that much more difficult. I mean, threatening the doctors, saying if you perform this abortion, you`re
going to be liable to legal scrutiny, etc. etc. I mean, this poor woman. And when you talk about these cases, they`re going to continue in a state
like Texas. And that has to have some impact on people as you think about the Dobbs and what each party wants to do about it, because you look at her
suffering and you say it`s just unimaginable.
FINNEY: And remember also, in Texas, because of their vigilante law --
FINNEY: -- let`s say she decides to go outside of Texas to get an abortion. Her neighbor sees her leaving the state. She can bring charges against her.
I mean -- because that`s how extreme it is in Texas. And the thing about this case, having worked on this issue for over 10 years, this is exactly
what we said would happen when Dobbs was over -- with the Dobbs decision when Roe was overturned. These are the kinds of damages and harms to women,
to their real lives. This woman is trying to make the best decision for her own health, for her unborn child. She is consulting with her husband and
her doctor. And Ken Paxton and the laws of the state of Texas are in that room making that decision for them, taking her choice away from her, and it
is going to continue to happen. And this is why people are so furious across this country about this issue.
HUNT: I`m glad you mentioned. The attorney general was the focus of some comments this morning from Kate Cox`s attorney on CNN this morning. Let`s
watch a little bit of what she had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOLLY DUANE, ATTORNEY FOR KATE COX: This is the attorney general saying that he should be the one practicing medicine rather than the physicians in
his state. And that even when a court says that a physician and a patient are in a situation where life-saving care is on the line, I mean, Ms. Cox
is a mother. She has two young children. She is hopeful to expand her family. She and her husband say that they have always wanted to have a big
family. And what the attorney general is saying is that he values this non- viable pregnancy of hers more than her own life and her future children. And so, I just -- looking at how a physician is supposed to operate in this
environment, it`s absurd.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: I mean, Doug Heye, when you listen to that, it seems to make it pretty obvious why voters keep showing up and seeming to say they want
abortion to remain legal.
HEYE: Yeah. I`m reminded of the late 90s, early O`s when we dealt with the Terri Schiavo situation in Florida. And what we saw was the really terrible
situation that one person was in. She was in a vegetative state, and her husband wanted to end life support services, and she had been in a
persistent vegetative state, that politics and government gets involved. And what that does politically is, the more extreme factions of that define
things more broadly for the Republicans. And they took a lot of onboard water on this. And I would tell them, if you can`t be compassionate, be
And what happens in Texas defines Republicans in North Carolina or Georgia or Arizona or Michigan where they have their own problems. And politically,
if we thought Dobbs was a loser, this doesn`t get there, or this doesn`t help. And so, if you can`t be compassionate, be smart.
HUNT: Carrie, the legal kind of ramifications here. This is a judge who issued this order, and then now Ken Paxton is taking this to the Texas
Supreme Court. What happens next for Kate Cox?
CORDERO: Well, she is going to have to work her way through the legal system, and we`ll see if the courts bring some control over her ability to
make decisions for herself. But, I think we have to put it in the context of the Dobbs decision, and the way that the national constitutional
framework and the legal framework changed just last year. And I am reminded of the fact that just last week, Justice O`Connor died, and she had co-
authored the Kasie opinion, which was 1992. So, everyone always thinks of the --
CORDERO: Yeah. Everyone always thinks of the fact that Dobbs overturned Roe. But, Kasie was in between in 1992.
CORDERO: And one of the things that she said, and I just want to share this with you, in that opinion, she said, the Constitution places limits on a
state`s right to interfere with a person`s most basic decisions about family and parenthood, as well as bodily integrity. And that is this case.
This case is exactly what Justice O`Connor and the other decision makers in that case had when they reaffirmed a constitutional right to abortion in
1992. And here we are 30 years later, and we are just in a backwards uncivilized world when it comes to the constitutional ability of a woman to
make a decision for herself.
BORGER: Well, and the irony is it Republicans who are always for keeping the government out of your bedroom and out of your private life, etcetera,
etcetera, well, what could be more interference than what Ken Paxton wants to do right now, which is inhumane?
FINNEY: Yeah, especially considering that this could damage her ability. She wants to have more children.
HUNT: So, Karen, I was -- I want to ask you about that, because the reality is, this is obviously always an emotional political debate. But, a lot of
it, honestly, is built on stereotypes that people carry about who has abortions and why they have abortions.
FINNEY: 100 percent.
HUNT: And Kate Cox, I think, based on -- I mean, I`ve spent years reporting on -- I have sources among anti-abortion groups, people who support
abortion rights. She is both different than what the most extreme elements of anti-abortion activists would have, you believe, is the type of person
that would have an abortion. And she is also an example of one of the rare, rare, rare cases where someone is looking to have an abortion late in a
pregnancy. And she shows, by the very nature of her circumstance, that when there is someone who is looking for something like this --
HUNT: -- it is almost all the time an extraordinarily wanted child.
HUNT: And I think as someone who is a relatively new mother, my children are both under five, when you start to learn more and you are in the world
of women who are trying to have children, the heartbreak that can be associated with this is just so deep. And I feel like, as we head towards
the 2024 election, there are only going to be more --
HUNT: -- stories --
HUNT: -- like Kate Cox`s.
FINNEY: And more women who are facing a multitude of different decisions, because here is part of what her situation reminds us. Every single human
being has a different biology, meaning that your pregnancy, no two pregnancies are the same. No two women`s bodies are the same.
HUNT: You can be the same woman and have two pregnancies and they`re totally different.
FINNEY: 100 percent. Yeah.
HUNT: I just speaking from experience.
FINNEY: And yet, these men stand up and try, I`ll do love to you, of course, stand up and decide, just with a stroke of a pen that we`re just
going to create a law that just is one size fits all for every single human being based on what is a racist, sexist, outdated stereotype about who is
having abortions. And as you point out, and this is like late-term abortions in particular, they are horrible cases. I mean -- and these
women, as you saw, they are in agony. Is this not -- she said there is no situation where she gets to go home with a baby girl.
HUNT: No. And it -- I honestly, it almost puts me in tears.
FINNEY: It`s infuriating. And so, it -- again, it just shows the lack of humanity. It shows the lack of, again, the Constitution or any kind of
rationale around the Constitution. I mean, again, if you can`t be compassionate, follow the law, be smart, and recognize that each woman has
to make her own decision, because this is what`s happening.
HUNT: Doug, you`ve done great job here as the --
HEYE: I`ve been quiet for a long time.
HUNT: The local Republican.
BORGER: Yeah. But, the doctors, OB-GYNs, they`re not going to -- not flocking to states like Texas because they don`t want to deal with it.
BORGER: And this will be a problem.
HUNT: And you know what the reality is? That is going to cause many more other health crises, create more --
HUNT: -- maternal health, deserts for care, especially in a state with a lot of rural --
HUNT: -- areas like Texas. Lots of looming problems.
All right. Karen Finney, Doug Heye, Gloria Borger. Carrie Cordero, thank you all for being here today. Really appreciate it.
Coming up next, Republicans are running out of time to take on Donald Trump in the GOP nomination fight. Will a third candidate -- third-party
candidates upend the race? We will talk to former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, up next.
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race.
Joining us now is CNN`s Senior Political Commentator, Adam Kinzinger. He is of course former Republican Congressman from Illinois, and also the
Honorary Chairman of the Country First PAC. Congressman, it`s great to have you on the show.
ADAM KINZINGER, FORMER U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN, & CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. Good to be with you.
HUNT: So, we are in the final stretch now to the Iowa caucuses. We had what we expected to be the final Republican debate before the caucuses earlier
this week. We`re not 100 percent sure that`s going to hold. There may be another one. But, the reality remains that the people on that stage are
still in a race against each other for second place against Trump.
And Jonathan Martin, who I`m sure you know from your time in Washington, has a column out in POLITICO this morning and he writes this. "The Stop
Trump effort has been abysmal. It`s just under a month until the Iowa caucuses and there is a striking lack of urgency among Republicans who do
not want to see Trump re-nominated. There is resignation, rationalization, despair, and even denial. Yet there is little action." And I will say it
does seem to me it feels here like we`ve seen this movie before from Republicans. What is your view of how this has played out?
KINZINGER: Yeah. I mean, this is like -- this is 2016 over again, I mean, when everybody is like thinking that somehow organically Donald Trump is
going to lose or he is going to do something to knock himself out of the race.
And the amazing thing to me in the last debate, what you saw in the first three debates was everybody refusing to take on Donald Trump with the
exception of one man, Chris Christie. He was standing up there and telling the truth. And the problem is, when you have four candidates, only one is
telling the truth, three are either staying away from acknowledging that Donald Trump even exists, or defending him and the things he doesn`t need
to defend them, like violating the law. It`s no wonder that the party hasn`t moved, because they trust Donald Trump. The base trusts Donald
Trump. They also trust these people up there in this debate. And the people up there in the debate are reaffirming everything that Donald Trump has
said about himself. He is a victim. He is an innocent. All that kind of stuff.
So, this shouldn`t be a surprise to anybody, and it just -- it`s repeating the same problems over and over. So, I think this race, by the way, is down
to really Chris Christie, a battle between DeSantis and Nikki Haley for a different lane, and then Donald Trump. And unfortunately, in my opinion, it
appears that Donald Trump is going to walk away with this thing.
HUNT: Congressman, I remember having conversations with you on the air, when you were still Congressman, about leadership. And it sounds a little
bit to me like you just kind of referenced that. The voters trust these people on the stage. If these people on the stage are willing to say
something negative about Donald Trump, there would be people out there who would be willing to believe them. I guess my sort of question for you is,
is there actually a reality in which Republican base voters would be willing to believe other leaders? Or -- I mean, the track record seems to
be they simply turn on those leaders, because if they`re attacking Donald Trump, and it must mean that they inherently cannot be trusted. And I`m
wondering if you agree with that. And if so, like, how on earth does anything ever change around this?
KINZINGER: So, it`s a great question. And here is the thing. When somebody like Liz Cheney or I come out against Donald Trump, you can easily point to
us and say they`re an outlier. And when you`re in a cult, let`s be honest, the Republican Party is a version of a cult right now. What happens in a
cult is when people go outside of the parameters of the cult, they get isolated. They get denigrated. They get pushed aside. The problem is, if
all these cult leaders, all these second tier cult leaders said, this is enough, we`re done, they could bring people with them. But, if it`s just
one or two people at a time, yeah, it`s easy to isolate, to push aside, to call them an aberration, and to say, unless you want treated like they got
treated, you need to stay within the confines of the cult. That`s what we`re dealing with.
So, is it possible now? I think if everybody kind of held hands and told the truth, yes, but I think we need -- if I had a time machine, I`d go back
to frankly when Kevin McCarthy went to Mar-a-Lago --
HUNT: I was just going to bring that up.
KINZINGER: -- and reinvigorated Donald Trump.
HUNT: I was going to say, do you think this explains that?
KINZINGER: Yes. That was the big moment.
KINZINGER: Yes. I thought Donald -- Kevin McCarthy, and you know him well, he basically, I think, would have taken on Donald Trump if his race for
Speaker was in four years, but it was in two years. And he knew that he could not take on the "Trump wing of the party", which at that time was
descendant. It was declining after January 6. But, he knew he couldn`t get to Speaker and fight that. So, he made a decision to embrace it. When he
made the decision to embrace Donald Trump, his fundraising and his people, most members of Congress followed him, at least within the next few months.
And then, that sends a message to the base voter that`s out there looking for leadership.
I mean, what is leading? Well, we know what leading is, and the word leaders, actually, that`s what you have to do. You have to lead. When the
people are there seeing all these leaders say, yes, Donald Trump was a victim. He is our best choice. Everything else. We can`t expect them to
take a very different tone.
HUNT: So, Congressman, Liz Cheney has been out promoting her book, and she has kicked open the door to running for President, now potentially as a
third-party candidate. There are also, of course, there is the No Labels group out there that has reportedly reached out to Nikki Haley in the event
that she gets pushed out of the primary. Do you think that there is any appetite possibility reality where a third-party candidate could run in a
way where there was a reasonable chance they would actually get elected? Or are they just -- is a third-party simply a spoiler for President Biden?
KINZINGER: Well, that`s a good question, because we`re in an unprecedented moment. So, I do think there is an appetite for a third party out there.
But, here is the question, because we all know how politics works in this country. People love the idea of a third party until it gets to Election
Day, because we`ve been told to believe that basically every issue has two sides, one side represents -- the Republicans represent, the other side the
And so, people tend to on Election Day default back to those choices. The problem with the U.S. presidential election or a feature or a bug, whatever
you want to call it, is if a third party wins a state or two, they deny more than likely anybody to get to 270 electoral votes. What does that
mean? It means the House of Representatives then votes for the President. It no longer is in the hands of the American people. That`s my concern,
because I think the only thing on the ballot this year is not abortion. It`s not tax rates. It`s not guns. The only thing on the ballot next year
is democracy. Does democracy survive, or does it not in the U.S., as we know it?
And so, I don`t know the answer to whether a third party is a spoiler. It seems to me right now that it would be. But, I just know that we have to
defend democracy, no matter what that takes and whether or not we have to hold our nose doing it.
HUNT: Congressman, what`s your -- do you have a future in politics in any way?
KINZINGER: I don`t know. I mean, I`m -- obviously not in the very near term. I`m feeling the bug. The edge comes back. I was over it about 10
months ago. But, the question is, what am I? I feel politically homeless. Right? I don`t feel like a Democrat. I certainly don`t feel like a
Republican. And I don`t want to change what I`m doing what I believe to fit into some party that I don`t see anything with. Now, if the Democrats get
more open to conservative Democrats, you could see a massive shift in the political landscape. But, no, I definitely still have the passion for it,
and whether it`s me running or helping other people, we`ll see in the future.
HUNT: All right. Well, keep us posted. Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thanks very much for joining us. See you soon.
KINZINGER: You bet.
HUNT: All right. Time for a quick break here. But, stay with us. The panel is going to be back for one more thing.
HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. My panel rejoins me. Before we go, we always ask for one more thing on the campaign trail or in Washington
you`re watching in the coming days. 30 seconds. Gloria Borger.
BORGER: I`m watching immigration. We`ve all covered immigration, for what, decades here?
BORGER: And suddenly, because we want to pass -- the Congress wants to pass aid for Israel and Ukraine, they`re attaching some kind of immigration
reform to it. And I never --
HUNT: Don`t call it that. They call it border security.
BORGER: They call it border security. But, if it does anything to stop the problems we`ve been having, that would be a huge moment. And it`s ironic
that it`s being discussed as an attachment to something else, when it`s been discussed as the main object for decades.
HUNT: Although I --
BORGER: So, maybe a breakthrough.
HUNT: Yeah. I mean, it`s interesting, although I would argue that the paradigm is very different, because previous conversations were about
legalizing the millions.
BORGER: That`s right. That`s right.
HUNT: And that is definitely off the table. Karen Finney, what`s your one more thing?
FINNEY: Redistricting. So, yesterday at Georgia vote, actually redistricted loosening Beth right out of her seat. And I think it`s a reminder that in
several states -- we`d be watching several states where there are lawsuits ongoing that are going to change the map from 2022 to 2024. And we saw this
-- we were talking about George Santos and New York. We know there is redistricting going on in New York. So, keep an eye, because it will --
Republicans won by such a slim majority in 2022, in part I would say, because of gerrymandering. Let`s see how they fare in redistricting for
2024 and how that impacts the election.
HEYE: Redistricting meant that I`m no longer somewhat resident of Virginia Foxx`s district and what is now Patrick McHenry`s district. His retirement
HUNT: In North Carolina. Yes.
HEYE: -- and a tweet that I put out about Mr. Barbecue, which is my -- where I have my first job in Winston-Salem, being a good place to announce
a campaign, led to puck at a lot of people in North Carolina, speculating that I might run. I just want to be very clear. That is not going to happen
HEYE: -- deep introspection. It`s not going to happen.
BORGER: For five minutes.
HEYE: Yeah. Exactly. It didn`t take long.
Definitely not running.
HUNT: Well, so -- I mean, that`s kind of my one more thing too is that the reality is good people are leaving Washington.
HEYE: And it`s very hard to attract good people to run.
HUNT: It`s very, very hard. And that`s honestly bad for all of us, because we all Americans deserve good people here to serve their interests,
regardless of their political views where they come down on one side of the aisle or the other. And I think that that is a trend that is troublesome,
and one that we should not lose sight of in the coming days and weeks.
Thanks to all of you for watching. I`m Kasie Hunt. That`s the State of the Race for today, Friday, December 8. You can always follow me on Instagram
and the platform formerly known as Twitter. One World is up next.