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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt

Hunter Biden: Republicans Humiliated Me To Damage My Father; Hunter Biden Offering To Testify At Public Hearing "Today"; White House Source Calls Hunter Biden's Remarks "Powerful And Forceful". Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 13, 2023 - 11:00:00   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: Hunter Biden says he is here and he is ready to testify publicly. The President's son lashing out at

Republicans on Capitol Hill for what he called illegitimate investigations. We'll discuss what it all means for the President and the election.

Plus, Ron DeSantis using a CNN town hall to attack frontrunner Donald Trump on everything from the economy to abortion. But, is it too late for him to

overcome the former President's massive polling lead? And I will discuss all of this and more with the Ragin' Cajun himself, James Carville. That's


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, Wednesday,

December 13, just 33 days until the Iowa caucuses, 327 days until Election Day. This is today's State of the Race.

"I'm here", a defiant Hunter Biden spoke to reporters on Capitol Hill a short time ago, coming out swinging against what he calls a MAGA attack

machine that aims to take down his President, his father, Joe Biden. Hunter was subpoenaed to testify before a House Committee behind closed doors this

morning. He says he'll only do it publicly because he wants to correct the record.


HUNTER BIDEN, PRESIDENT BIDEN'S SON: Let me state as clearly as I can. My father was not financially involved in my business, not as a practicing

lawyer, not as a board member of Burisma, not my partnership with a Chinese private businessman, not in my investments at home nor abroad, and

certainly not as an artist. In the depths of my addiction, I was extremely irresponsible with my finances. But, to suggest that is grounds for an

impeachment inquiry is beyond the absurd, is shameless.


HUNT: All right. Let's bring in Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill for more. Lauren, this was an unexpectedly lively morning on Capitol Hill around all

of this. And I have to say it does feel to me like one of those potentially turning point moments in a presidential campaign, albeit early in this one,

that you end up referring to again and again as the year or the campaign unfolds. What did you see play out on the Hill today?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I think that this moment has political implications for both the Republicans and for the Democrats.

In the immediate, House Republicans are expected to vote as soon as later today on that impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, voting to start

that process formally. It's a process that's really been ongoing since Kevin McCarthy announced it in the fall.

But, there is also implications for Democrats here, because as I have been reporting this out for the last several months, there has been some concern

from Democrats on the Hill, that the White House, that Joe Biden, that they're not forceful enough in talking about Hunter Biden, that this is

such a sensitive issue. And today, Hunter Biden really went out there and sort of tried to separate out the facts that he sees, one of them being

that, on the one hand, he says he has made mistakes.

On the other hand, he said his father's only crime here was loving him, trying to help him through his recovery, and that his father was never

financially involved in any of his business dealings, either as a lawyer in his foreign investments. All of those things, he says, were totally

separate from the President of the United States. And obviously, that is the crux of what House Republicans are trying to prove. They're trying to

show that there is a link. And while they have yet to show a direct link between the President and Hunter Biden's foreign business dealings, they're

arguing today, as they take this step to open the impeachment inquiry on the House floor, that this is going to help them get more information. This

is going to help them bring in more witnesses.

I also would point out, Kasie, there is sort of this separate issue because House Republicans are saying that if Hunter Biden won't come for this

private deposition that they may move forward with contempt of Congress against him. I think one interesting moment here, and obviously Hunter

Biden's lawyers are well aware of how this would play out in court, they're trying to argue he is willing to testify. He is just willing to do it

publicly. I'm very curious how that plays out if this goes all the way to the court.

HUNT: All right. Lauren Fox for us on Capitol Hill, thank you very much for all of that.

We're going to dive into it now with today's panel, CNN Political Commentator, Paul Begala; Scott Jennings is CNN Senior Political

Commentator and former Assistant to President George W. Bush; CNN Political Analyst, Laura Barron-Lopez, also a White House Correspondent at the PBS

NewsHour, and Legal Analyst Shan Wu joins us as well, Defense Attorney and former Federal Prosecutor.


Welcome all. Thank you very much for being here.

Paul Begala, I have to start with you, because of course my immediate question here was whether the White House knew about this. What they

thought of it. But, big picture, were you surprised to see this today? I mean, we barely ever see Hunter Biden on camera. It was a remarkable moment

in time.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. Well, this was clearly a political call, not a legal call. I'll Shan, as a lawyer, tell us whether

it was wise to let a criminal defendant go out and speak like that. But, as a politician, I like it. The thing that was missing, I can coach Hunter and

the Democrats on the Hill. He is fighting a subpoena. Now, he should comply with subpoena, if you ask me, politically as well as legally. If you're

subpoenaed, you should testify. And so, he is fighting it.

But, he has pretty good argument that one of the guys subpoenaing him, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, was himself subpoenaed by

the same Congress 600 days ago, and has yet to comply. Liz Cheney, the Co- Chair -- the Vice Chair of the January 6 Committee believes that Mr. Jordan, Congressman Jordan, was a material witness to the riot of January

6. They subpoenaed Congressman Jordan to testify. He has refused to do so for 600 days now. I think they should throw that into the mix. Again, I

think Hunter had -- you have to testify if you are called. He has a right to take the Fifth. But, I thought this sort of pugilistic approach was

pretty good.

HUNT: So, just -- because you're the right exact person to ask this question of. Is it the Trump team and the people like Jim Jordan, who

pioneered this ignore congressional subpoenas in the face of impeachment, or was it your former boss Bill Clinton?

BEGALA: He complied with everything. He gave blood for Christ's sake. He did. He did everything. And I thought it was a total kangaroo court that

half the kangaroos in Australia were ready to resign.


BEGALA: But, he complied with everything, because that's our loss.

HUNT: Shan, your name was invoked in terms of a legal strategy here. What do you make of it?

SHAN WU, DEFENSE ATTORNEY, & FORMER U.S. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It was a very smart legal strategy, aggressive, out of the box, and the reason it is

smart is for two reasons. First, Biden has very little to lose Hunter Biden, because he is already -- was ready to plead guilty. So, these

charges are now coming down, kind of bogus. There is nothing like mysterious about it. Nothing is going to do to implicate himself.

Secondly, it was a very strong legal argument in many ways. It's like an opening argument to a jury, in this case, perhaps the jury of public

opinion. But, what he is saying is, I'm here. So, it's going to be a little bit of a technical uphill march to hold them in contempt. You saying I'm

here. I'm willing to testify. Unlike some of the GOP folks, he has not just blown off the subpoena and not showing up. He is saying I'm ready to go.

HUNT: Well, I mean -- but he doesn't comply with a subpoena, I mean, like sitting down at the microphones that the GOP had set up for him behind

closed doors. I mean, he is not doing that. I'm confused about the distinction you're making.

BEGALA: That's what they would argue.


BEGALA: And he is saying that in your original correspondence with me, you said "either deposition or before Congress". He is saying I want to be

before Congress, not before deposition.


BEGALA: Now, they certainly make sense. They want him in a deposition. You don't want the first time you're questioning someone to be out in public.

That's normal. But, getting him held in contempt, I mean, a little bit of an uphill march, I think.

HUNT: All right. Let's look - -let's watch a little bit more of what Hunter Biden had to say today about Republicans specifically, as he went after

them for how they're -- they've been conducting this investigation. Watch.


H. BIDEN: Republicans do not want an open process where Americans can see their tactics, expose their baseless inquiry, or hear what I have to say.

What are they afraid of? I'm here. I'm ready.


HUNT: So, Scott Jennings, what do you say to that?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, & FMR. SPECIAL ASST. TO GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, he was here and he was ready. He just wasn't ready to

give a deposition today. And he wasn't ready to answer questions, because he marched off the podium without taking a single question from me,

assembled media. Donald Trump Jr., I think, appeared for five closed-door depositions. He doesn't get to dictate the terms of this. And so, this --

by the way, this guy is the least sympathetic person you can imagine out arguing character right now, and who is going to be open and honest and

transparent and who isn't.

And so, I question whether this was a good idea for them to do today. He is in a lot of trouble. I mean, remember, this man is under massive federal

indictments over tax fraud, and he may face more in the future. And so, Alan Paul (ph), if I were him, I would try to find a way to comply with

this, because when you're in a lot of trouble, one of the things you want to try to do is to stop getting into more trouble. And I think he got

himself into more trouble today.

HUNT: We're going to talk a lot about the sympathy around his addiction and his family after we take a quick break. I want to stick right now with kind

of the facts at hand and what's going on. I mean, Paul, you're laughing now as you kind of listened to Scott. Talk about this. I mean, I will say some

of this turn was taken after Hunter hired Abbe Lowell --

BEGALA: Right.

HUNT: -- who is a -- I think you are well versed in -- he is this -- for our viewers, especially overseas, who you don't know Abby as well as those

of us who cover Washington, I mean he is known for these kinds of tactics.


He has represented very high-profile people on both sides of the aisle in really tricky situations. Do you think he is doing the right thing here

with Hunter Biden? And especially if you're -- if you're Joe Biden in the White House, you're sitting down in Pennsylvania Avenue, what are you

thinking as you're watching this unfold on the Hill this morning?

BEGALA: Well, first, a dad, I think the President is proud of his son. He is overcoming addiction. Every family has been cursed by addiction. And I

thought he showed courage. He stood up to a bully. I think people like that. As a political matter, I actually think this is a winner for the

President. There is not a shred of evidence connecting Hunter Biden's bad behavior with the President of the Unites States, not a single shred. And

the Republicans look like they're about to make 18 Republican Congress members, whose districts Joe Biden won, vote on an impeachment inquiry into

Joe Biden. That could be a political death sentence for them. I don't understand why they're doing it to their most vulnerable members in pro-

Biden districts.

Today's actions or this week's actions, honestly, it could set in place a Democratic takeover of the Congress.

HUNT: Well, so, Laura, I mean, on that point, I mean, this of course -- the timing of this is fortuitous in some ways that this was the day that this

deposition was set for. The vote on this impeachment inquiry is set for tonight. The Republicans hadn't until now had the votes. They have managed

to -- Paul mentioned these kind of moderate Republicans who had been resisting doing this because taking the vote would be a political problem

for them. They seem to have decided that it's fine if they're going to go along with this. Why the change now?

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, & WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "PBS NEWSHOUR": I think that their reasoning or the argument that they're

making is that they're voting for this process of starting an official inquiry and that they can still vote against the impeachment if it comes to

a vote on the floor down the road. And now, I think the Democrats are going to use this vote and run it in ads, particularly because when I've talked

to independent voters or disenchanted Republicans and even Democrats, those voters say that they do find Hunter as sympathetic that they feel as though

addiction, as Paul said, has hit a lot of families and that they feel bad. They don't like that he is being dragged through this process.

Now, they think that, of course, if he committed crimes, which he has been indicted for that he should be held accountable for that, I will say that

the White House -- also, Hunter going out and making this public statement, he is defending himself because the White House in a public capacity is not

going to do that. They've made very clear that they are keeping this investigation totally separate. They have no heads up on what's going on

with the Justice Department investigation. White House sources did tell me, though, that on Hunter's statement today that they thought that it was

powerful and forceful. Officially, though, they're not going to be touching this at all, and -- because they want to just make clear, aggressively that

the President had nothing to do with his son's business dealings.

HUNT: Shan, back on the question of contempt, because after this happened, and after Hunter did not go behind closed doors to do what they asked him

to do, they did say they're going to proceed with contempt proceedings. Obviously, there is criminal contempt. There is civil contempt. But, I

guess my question for you is, this investigation right now is not a formalized impeachment inquiry. They would have to vote on that. Does the

fact that it hasn't been formalized have an impact on whether this contempt situation is real for him, or does it not matter?

WU: I think it matters. It adds some weight to his counter-arguments for why he wouldn't be in contempt. A, I'm willing to testify under certain

circumstances, b, maybe your subpoena doesn't really have any force right now. Now, those are arguments to make. And the question is for them. I

mean, in the Trump era, we have shown -- we've been shown the toothlessness (ph) of contempt before Congress. How long it takes if you go suddenly?

Will the Justice Department be willing to actually do something? So, time is on his side here before anything happens.

HUNT: Yeah. It sure is. All right. Still ahead, we're going to have much more on Hunter Biden's public comments and his efforts to keep his father

separate from his financial and legal troubles. We will be back in just a minute.





H. BIDEN: I'm here today to acknowledge that I've made mistakes in my life and wasted opportunities and privileges I was afforded. For that, I'm

responsible. For that, I'm accountable. And for that. I'm making amends.


HUNT: All right. Let's get straight back to our panel, because this is an aspect of this I want to talk about. We've touched on it so far on the


But, Scott Jennings, I mean, that was part of what Hunter Biden had to say, taking responsibility for himself. Does he get any credit for it?

JENNINGS: Well, I mean, to take responsibility at a press conference, I guess is one thing. I guess he could go up to court in California and plead

guilty to all the charges against him. It would be --

HUNT: Well, he did try to plead guilty.

JENNINGS: Well, he tried. He tried and nearly --

HUNT: Or I guess he tried to plead guilty to misdemeanor, if it's not fair to say.

JENNINGS: -- and nearly succeeded in getting a sweetheart deal. But, I mean, the way to hold yourself accountable here would be to say, OK. Fine.

I did it. I didn't pay my taxes. I was an irresponsible person. Underlying all of this --

HUNT: But, we are talking specifically about the -- what is at hand here, saying that he put his -- he is basically acknowledging, yes, I did things

that are not -- I was not supposed to do but my father was not involved. Right? Like that's what the Committee is focused on, like whether or not

Joe Biden was involved.

JENNINGS: I know. And I -- respectfully for all the people saying there is not a shred of evidence, we know Joe Biden met some of this guy's business

associates. We know Joe Biden in 2020 and his top people personally organized the biggest luminaries in the U.S. intelligence community to try

to convince the American people that this was nothing more than Russian disinformation. Enormous pressure was put on media outlets to censor

information about this guy. It looked -- I think Joe Biden's instincts on Hunter Biden are always to lie and to cover-up. He has lied and lied and

lied about this contacts, what he knew.

HUNT: Joe Biden has lost (inaudible).

JENNINGS: Yes. Of course, he has.

HUNT: Paul, your face, please just --

BEGALA: I guess I want a case of what Scott is drinking. I'm sorry, brother. That is so far from reality.

JENNINGS: He has met with Hunter Biden's business associates after saying he never met them, knew nothing about it. There had been contacts between

these people. Now, is that impeachable? I don't know.

BEGALA: You don't know?

JENNINGS: But, he has not told the truth about it.

BEGALA: You don't -- let's just -- so, how would you vote on this?

JENNINGS: On an inquiry?


JENNINGS: I think an inquiry is fine.

BEGALA: So, you're OK?

JENNINGS: Whether it rises to the level of impeaching the President, I don't know.

BEGALA: I will just tell you. Here is the ad that's going to take back the House for the Democrats. Right? At a time when our closest ally in the

world is fighting terrorism, Israel, at a time when Russia is on the march against our ally in Ukraine, at a time when our border is under crisis, at

a time when mothers and fathers are trying to pay for child care, Congressman Jennings didn't vote for any of that.


He voted to impeach Joe Biden because he didn't like his son.

JENNINGS: I will just say in Kentucky's Fourth Congressional District that will play just fine.


JENNINGS: But, if I did and I got the nomination, I would gladly hire Paul to make that ad, and we will do just fine. Look, this election for Congress

is not going to turn on ads about Hunter Biden. It's going to turn on the job performance of the President.

HUNT: Really? I mean, tell that to the Republicans in Congress about it. I mean --

HENNINGS: If they were worried about it, they wouldn't be -- if they were worried about it, Don Bacon and all these New Yorkers wouldn't be voting

for this. This election is going to turn on the job performance of Joe Biden. There is a big YouGov/Economist poll out today. Only 24 percent of

the American people want the sitting President to even run for reelection. This is not going to come on ads about Hunter Biden.

HUNT: They don't want --


JENNINGS: It's going to turn on whether people think they can afford a car or a house or a ham sandwich. And right now, they don't think they can

afford any of that.

HUNT: Yeah. And I guess when I say it could turn on ads on Hunter Biden, it's that Republicans who want to make Hunter the center of the story, who

want to make it about him and things that he has done in order to help Republicans win the presidential election.

Laura, I do want to get back to this idea, though, that -- and you mentioned this, Hunter Biden talked a little bit about his family and how

they supported him through his addiction. I want to show you a little bit of what he had to say there about his parents, specifically.


H. BIDEN: During my battle with addiction, my parents were there for me. They literally saved my life. They helped me in ways that I will never be

able to repay. And of course, they would never expect me to.


HUNT: So, the White House also, we have some sources that say that they thought his testimony was a little bit emotional. And I think you saw a

little bit of that there. How do -- I mean, I think that there are -- it is a relatively universal experience for parents to see things that their

children do, whether they are four-years-old or 45, and feel like I really wish my kid had not done that --


HUNT: -- and support them anyway.

BARRON-LOPEZ: And that's what the President has done. I mean, according to Hunter, according to sources close to the President, he -- look, it was

devastating to him to see his son in this position, to see his son become an addict and to make bad choices, but that he has been supportive and

tried to help him come out of this the entire way through, and you've heard that -- when the President or when the White House does talk about what is

happening with Hunter, they just say that he loves his son, that he will always love him and that he supports him, and that's what they say. And

that's what the President says when he talks about this.

I think that -- just to go back to what this looks like in the arena of the public and public perception, a lot of the Republican and Democratic

pollsters that I've talked to say that, in focus groups when they bring up Hunter, voters are not focused on Hunter Biden right now at all, and that

they don't think -- they don't see enough evidence that connects him at all to the President. So, right now, if anything, they just see him as this sad

son who has a really sad story that should be held accountable for what crimes he may have committed, but they aren't. It's not turning any voters.

It's not adding any voters to the Republican camp or adding any voters to the Democratic camp.

HUNT: Well, so, Shan, what it is doing? I think is -- if you listen to what Donald Trump says on the campaign trail, he basically will equate the legal

challenges he is facing with what's going on with the Biden family here. And there is this kind of element in our politics right now where everyone

is exhausted by it and fed up with it. And there do seem to be some voters who are willing to say like, yeah, you know what? They're all a certain

way. They're all this way. But, just quickly as we kind of wrap up here, can you underscore the differences between what Hunter Biden is facing and

who Hunter Biden is and what the former President is facing, from a legal perspective?

WU: Sure. First of all, he is not the elected official. That's number one huge difference. Second of all, to Scott's point earlier, he has tried to

take responsibility. He still is. I mean, he is willing to plead guilty to the facts of the case. This is not going to go well for the special counsel

that goes to a jury for the same reason that it's appealing to voters. A jury is going to be very sympathetic to this. And it's a debacle for the

Justice Department. I mean, the plea broke down. The solution is to go back, figure it out how to get it done, not now pile on new charges, and

they have to take it to a jury of where, frankly, they may lose.

JENNINGS: Guys, you think a jury is going to be sympathetic to a guy who made millions and millions of dollars and didn't have to pay his taxes

away, regular people on that jury?

HUNT: Yeah. I do feel like we're confusing the tax situation with the political --

JENNINGS: That's the charges. That's the charges. Right?

WU: Yeah. Absolutely. I think he'll make a very sympathetic defendant, if he testifies, and the important point is, he was willing to plead guilty,

and now the special counsel just looks like he is trying to punish him and bend to political pressure.


HUNT: Very last word.

BEGALA: The silver lining for the Democrats is Republicans have finally found a millionaire who didn't pay his taxes that they didn't like, and

they finally found a gun purchase it was illegal that they want to stop. So, this is two for two for me as a Democrat. I'm finally getting

Republicans over to my side.

HUNT: This is why we invite you to, Paul Begala. Shan Wu, thank you very much for joining us today. The rest of the panel is going to be back up

with us in the next block, because still ahead, something we haven't seen much during this Republican presidential campaign, Ron DeSantis taking

shots at the frontrunner, former President Donald Trump. We're going to have highlights and takeaways from his CNN town hall last night.


HUNT: Welcome back to the State of the Race. We are just over a month away from the Iowa caucuses. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is stepping up his

attacks on former President Donald Trump. He used the spotlight that he had in the CNN town hall last night in Des Moines to criticize Trump on

everything from the economy to abortion, to his handling of COVID, making it clear that he, of course, as he has always been, is all in on Iowa.


RON DESANTIS, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the first three years of the Trump administration, the economy is better than it has

been. But, that last year with COVID, I think it was mishandled dramatically. I went to the rallies with Donald Trump. He said he was going

to build the wall and have Mexico pay for it, and that didn't happen. I think, though, one thing in this race that I think is important to point

out is Donald Trump flip flopping on the right to life.


HUNT: Flip flopping on the right to life. Trump remains the clear Republican frontrunner, both nationally and in Iowa. The former President

is in the Hawkeye State today. He is planning to speak at a caucus event in the town of Coralville. National Correspondent Kristen Holmes is there in

Coralville, Iowa. Kristen, good morning. Always good to see you. I think the one thing that we should not lose sight of here, and I know you've

focused on this in your reporting, is that for all the talk about how Donald Trump has been the dominant frontrunner in spite of all his

problems, his campaign also has really been careful not to take their eye off the ball in the place where you are after what happened to him there in



Tell us more.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. That's right, Kasie. They are taking this very seriously. They have been holding a series of

these events which we are going to look at later tonight. Donald Trump will be here. They're called "commit to caucus" events, and they're spending a

lot of time really walking Iowans through how to caucus. They want to bring people out. I will tell you, at the event I was at just a few weeks ago,

they asked the crowd how many people had never caucused before and would be showing up for Donald Trump. And about half the room raised their hand. And

one thing we know the former President is good at is bringing out new voters.

Not, Ron DeSantis, his attacks on Donald Trump come after we saw that Des Moines Register poll that had Trump up at 51 percent. And I will note, the

campaign does see more confident now after seeing that. There has long been talk among Iowa Republican operatives that it was likely closer than any

poll was showing between Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump. Now, with that last poll, you are seeing more confidence in Trump's campaign, that even if it

is closer, it doesn't seem as though it would be possible for DeSantis to actually catch up to Donald Trump. So, that's what I'm hearing from them.

Now, Donald Trump, we are expecting him to talk about Ron DeSantis. It's unclear whether or not he is going to react directly to the comments

DeSantis made on CNN town hall last night. But, he is going to talk about one thing, I'm told by sources, that he mentions a lot, which is Ron

DeSantis' congressional record on Iowa farmers. He hammers this home saying that DeSantis flip flopped on his ideas about Iowa farmers and ethanol once

he was running for President. And I am told it's going to be much of a standard speech. That's what we've seen here in Iowa. But, again, this all

happening on the heels of that poll showing Donald Trump with such a large lead and giving confidence to his team.

HUNT: Right. All right. Kristen Holmes for us in Iowa. Thank you very much for that report.

Our panel is back to talk more about this. Scott Jennings, what do you make of DeSantis really taking it to Trump here at the 11th hour, really? Is it

too late? Or what do you -- how do you see it?

JENNINGS: Well, he has got no choice. I mean, if he wants to try to draw a contrast, you are running out of time. And I thought on the town hall last

night, he was as good as I've seen him. I think that format was better for him than some of the debate formats that we've seen.

HUNT: Agreed.

JENNINGS: He churned out quite a bit of what is really center cut content for the average Republican voter, whether it was on the COVID stuff that we

saw in the clip there, on immigration. I mean, down the line, he said everything that a Republican would want to hear. The problem is that Donald

Trump also says things that Republicans want to hear. They like Donald Trump. And I really think the main problem for him and Haley is Republicans

think vindication is at hand. They see these polls showing Trump beating Biden. They see Biden is extremely weak. And this argument that, well, we

got to vote for somebody who can win, which may not be Trump, is out the window, because they now see Trump winning, and they want vindication for

impeachments, and Russia and indictments and whatever, and they think it is --

HUNT: So, they buy the revenge.

JENNINGS: -- they think it's -- they're on the brink of being able to save the country. I told you so. And only Trump can deliver that.

HUNT: Yeah. So, speaking of how some of these other candidates -- you mentioned that Ron DeSantis says exactly what Republican voters wants to

hear -- want to hear. Paul, I'm kind of interested in your take on how, I thought this was interesting, how Nikki Haley talked about abortion

yesterday, because, of course, Kate Cox, the woman in Texas, who -- whose baby was diagnosed with a fetal condition and wasn't able to get an

abortion in her home state, has been in the news. This is how Nikki Haley said people should be talking about that. Watch.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is exactly why I've said you have to show compassion and humanize the situation. We don't

want any women to sit there and deal with a rare situation and have to deliver a baby in that sort of circumstance, any more than we want women

getting an abortion at 37, 38, 39 weeks.


HUNT: So, Paul Begala, is this part of why the polling is showing when you put Biden head to head with Nikki Haley, she is much farther ahead than

some of the others?

BEGALA: Yeah. She seems to be, I don't want to be unkind to her competitors, more tethered to the real world, perhaps, more consonant with

the middle of the country rather than the extreme. I thought Governor DeSantis last night, it was, just as a politician, his best moments were on

the abortion issue, where it is a completely different approach than Governor Haley.

HUNT: Well, especially in Iowa.

BEGALA: That's the thing.


HUNT: Right.

BEGALA: And our viewers need to know that. Iowa caucus is only about 20 percent of Iowa Republicans participate. And a huge chunk of that 20 are

conservative Christian Evangelicals who will support the most conservative position possible on abortion. I think also, DeSantis last night, he did

something. He attacked Trump much more effectively than he usually does. But, it's what he didn't say. It used to be, to paraphrase Joe Biden, Ron

DeSantis' sentence was a noun, a verb and woke. It's all he talked about as if drag shows were like some serious threat to the Republic.


None of that last night, nothing, no beating up on trans folks, no LGBTQ stuff, no woke. He didn't even attack Mickey Mouse. He attacked Donald

Trump. And I do think that says something about that really conservative base. And Governor Haley is looking at independents who can vote in New

Hampshire. But, Governor DeSantis last night was really dialed in on the conservative Christians.

JENNINGS: To Paul's point and for our viewers, it's Iowa or bust for DeSantis.

BEGALA: Right.

JENNINGS: If he doesn't get close to Trump there, this campaign is over.

HUNT: Yeah.

JENNINGS: So, what you have to say to those Iowa caucus goers is different than what Haley needs to say to the Democrats and independents she is

trying to talk to in New Hampshire. So, really, it's two ships on the same ocean, but they're not on the same vector right now.

HUNT: Yeah. Laura, I mean, the reality here, Scott says she is trying to appeal -- Nikki Haley is trying to appeal to Democrats and independents.

She certainly can appeal to independents and anyone who registers. New Hampshire has an open primary. That's for sure. But, I don't think we

should lose sight of the fact she does have an incredible -- I mean, the Koch network did endorse her. Now, maybe -- I don't know that you guys are

now opposed to taking the Koch money, even though they may be defined as establishment Republicans, which is very out of vogue, it seems, among the

base. Right?

JENNINGS: I don't know who is the establishment now? I think -- I mean, Trump is kind of the establishment. He has every politician that's formed.

HUNT: You're not wrong.

JENNINGS: He has got the Republican National Committee that's -- he is going to end up --

HUNT: But, if you watch Fox or you listen to Ron DeSantis, they attack Nikki Haley as an establishment Republican and say that that's why she

can't win. But, to the -- Iowa, they're right about DeSantis in Iowa. For Nikki Haley, it's really starting to become New Hampshire or bust.

BARRON-LOPEZ: It is. I mean, you've seen that in the last few days, yes, she has more donors flocking to her. She has Governor Sununu saying that he

is going to back her, and she is making that play, as Scott and Paul both laid out, for independence, for these moderate Republicans who have been

disenchanted with the party because of Trump, because candidates like DeSantis are still molding themselves in the shape of Trump and going along

with the exact same policy positions. And she is trying to fashion this lane where she is the alternate. She is maybe -- that she can win over some

of those voters that used to vote for Mitt Romney, that voted for John McCain, and who -- I've talked to many of them, these Republicans who say

that if it's anyone other than Christie or Haley, they can't return to the Republican Party.

She is trying to get those Republicans back. Now, are there enough, and especially enough that are going to vote in a primary or in a caucus? It

doesn't seem like there are.

JENNINGS: Well, I certainly think New Hampshire isn't big enough for both Haley and Chris Christie. I mean, if you just look at their vote share

right now, and if you argue that all of them would want to vote against Trump, which I'm not even sure is true, it's not -- this is not enough to

split up. And so, the fragmentation there is really helping Donald Trump. And so, Chris Christie says he is staying until the convention. If he stays

in the race and is siphoning off eight to 15 points out of what she would reasonably expect to get there, it's going to make it very difficult, no

matter how many Democrats and independents should choose to vote in the Republican primary, which to your point, I think -- that's a risky bet to

get those folks to come out and participate in the Republican side.

HUNT: Paul Begala, do you think Chris Christie should get out as a Democrat?

BEGALA: I hate to advise people, like seriously whether to run or not to run. It's like telling somebody whether they should get married or

divorced. So, I don't have to live with the consequences. OK? Having said that, Scott arithmetic is exactly right. Governor Christie has been a

blowtorch on Donald Trump. I mean, he has been rougher on Trump than Joe Biden has been. And it's not going to get him to 50 percent of the

Republican Party, but he had hoped to do some damage. So, yes, long answer. The reason Joe Biden won the primary nomination of my party is that pretty

quickly every other moderate in the race endorsed him, Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg, Beto O'Rourke, they all dropped out quickly and rallied around

Joe. If the anti-Trump Republicans have a hope, everybody has to drop out and endorse Nikki.

HUNT: Right. Fair enough. OK. Paul, Scott, Laura, thank you guys all for joining today. I really appreciate your perspective.

We do want to go now to this, though, CNN exclusive new reporting. We obtained audio from Kenneth Chesebro, the pro-Trump lawyer, who is

cooperating with investigators on what he said happened at a meeting weeks after the 2020 election with the former President Donald Trump. Marshall

Cohen is live for us now in Washington. Marshall, what have you learned?

MARSHALL COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Hey, Kasie. This is pretty interesting stuff. It comes from Ken Chesebro, who is now cooperating with a whole bunch of

prosecutors across the country. This is from his proffer session with Michigan investigators. So, look, this is December 2020, an Oval Office

meeting with some of the attorneys that worked on Trump's election challenge in Wisconsin. Two days before the meeting, the Wisconsin Supreme

Court rejected that challenge. So, it was the end of the road. The lawyers from that group, they're here in D.C.


They're meeting with Trump. They are told before they go in, do not get his hopes up about the election. And his lead attorney from Wisconsin, Jim

Troupis, he toed the line, and he delivered the bad news. So, here is the recollection from Ken Chesebro of that key moment. Take a listen.


KENNETH CHESEBRO, PRO-TRUMP LAWYER: It's clear that Troupis personally, told the President there was zero hope for Wisconsin. As part of this

message, I think, crafted to try to get him to concede or just you know, give up this long shot challenge. So, there was a -- there was a conscious

effort to deflect him from a sense of any possibility that he could pull out the election."


COHEN: Right. So, that's pretty blunt. Right? It's over. Zero chance in Wisconsin. This matters because it's yet another example of President Trump

being told to his face that he lost. And we all know what happened after that. He still tried to continue contesting the results. This could

possibly factor into some of the criminal cases against Trump.

But, Kasie, the meeting did not end there with the discussion about Wisconsin. The conversation moved to Arizona. And that's when Chesebro

chimed in, and he had a very different tone, a much more optimistic tone, even though he was told not to get Trump's hopes up. Listen to what

Chesebro said about Arizona.


CHESEBRO: So, I ended up explaining that Arizona was still hypothetically possible, because the alternate veterans had voted. And I explained the

whole logic because the alternate electors had voted, we had more time win the litigation. So, it was, I think clear in a way that maybe it hadn't

been before, that we had till January 6 to win.


COHEN: So, Trump heard two competing stories there, from one lawyer, you lost, it's over, from another lawyer, you can still fight, and we all know

which side he took. And he ended up contesting this all the way to January 6 with disastrous results for the nation.

HUNT: Yeah. And perhaps we also know why Chesebro is not cooperating with prosecutors. Marshall Cohen, thank you very much for that report.

All right. Coming up next here on State of the Race, I'm going to sit down with famed Democratic Strategist, best friend of Paul Begala, James

Carville, coming up next.




HUNT: Welcome back. Longtime Democratic Strategist, you may know him as the Ragin' Cajun, James Carville joins us now from New Orleans. James, I was

curious which team you'd be repping (ph) today. I should have known better. Thanks so much for being here.


love morning TV because I'm an early riser. (Inaudible).

HUNT: (Inaudible) my friend. Yeah. Look, let's start with what happened this morning with Hunter Biden, where he went out to the cameras, fiercely

defended himself, his father and lashed out at Republicans, calling the investigation illegitimate. But, at the same time, he decided he wasn't

going to show up for that closed-door deposition, and Republicans say they're going to hold him in contempt. Is he doing the right thing?

CARVILLE: I think he is. And I've said this from the beginning, James Comer is not a smart person. In fact, James Comer, politically, is a very stupid

man. And he got caught with a --unprotected. He got caught with a vicious right cross. And they're trying to scramble. But, the public is going to

say, let the guy show it up. I mean, let him have a say, and you can ask him anything you want. And it's clearly -- its advantage to Hunter Biden.

He didn't get a lot of advantages, and just to say the least, but this is one that he clearly got.

HUNT: You think this was a right cross to Comer, Hunter's that move this morning?

CARVILLE: Yeah. Comer is caught. We're not going to allow you to -- and of course, to publicly say, well, we love to hear. The public always wants to

hear something.

HUNT: Fair enough.

CARVILLE: I can't imagine somebody saying (TECHNICAL DIFFICULTY) behind closed doors. So, I don't know what's going on. I think the public by and

large will say, no, if the guy shows up, and he is willing to go public, let him go public and see what he has got to say. Ask him questions. Asking

him about what his dad got or anything else. What's the problem with it?

HUNT: Fair enough. All right. So, big picture here, you said back in September that anyone who doesn't think that Donald Trump could be Joe

Biden, needs to wake the "F" up. Is that still your assessment?

CARVILLE: Yeah. Unfortunately, I hate to say it, but a blind squirrel finds an acorn. No, no, no. I think I found an acorn in September, and

unfortunately, I still have the acorn.

HUNT: Is the White House wise enough to this? Are they taking enough action here?

CARVILLE: I can't believe that. I don't know what's going on around him. I am very just kind of skeptical that President Biden in a position to really

galvanize the country. But, my skepticism aside, I think what they're saying is, look, these economic numbers are starting to get better and

headwaiter (ph) like James Carville need to understand and put people -- in the end, I fully appreciate the magnificent work this person has done.

That's a point of view. I don't share it. But, it's worthy enough for me to repeat it. And that is what I think they would say, if you ask them.

But, I remain very pessimistic about our chances to really have a big election to really galvanize key voters, young voters, black voters, who

are so essential to our coalition. But, I'd love to be proven wrong, but I don't see much evidence for that item.

HUNT: So, speaking of black voters, The New York Times has a story about a meeting, a planned meeting, "As President Biden's allies", they write "grow

more worried that his standing is slipping among Black men, his aides aren't met on Tuesday with influential Black male Democrats to discuss how

to increase his popularity with a crucial group of voters before the 2024 election." What should they be doing?

CARVILLE: Well, we should be listening and trying to figure it out. That's why I've convened a zoom call where I get 100 people from around the state

of Louisiana to get some ideas of what we can do, and try to listen. A lot of people will be young. Most of the young black people will be interested

in their future. But, we got to wake up. And this is not -- this is a country-wide problem. It's a problem in Georgia and North Carolina. It's a

problem in Pennsylvania. It's a problem in Wisconsin. It's a problem everywhere. And I don't think it's being paid sufficient attention to. I

can't understand why we're not responding to this five-alarm fire.


But, I'm trying down here, and I guess that the White House is listening. We have to do something, because it is really bad out there. I cannot

express how big a problem this is for our party.

HUNT: When you say it's really bad out there, I mean, what are people telling you?

CARVILLE: Well, you hear -- unfortunately, you hear a lot of different things. But, I -- nothing that I've heard. And I've talked to a lot of

people. I've thought about this a lot. I've looked at a lot of polling. And there is just -- people are losing connection with their government. They

just think it doesn't relate to their lives. Young people certainly feel the same way. The youth numbers are horrible. And you have to remember, we

don't just need to carry under 30. We don't need to just carry back votes. We have to have a robust turnout in both of these demographics. And I don't

see any evidence right now that that's happening. And let's go to work. We've so much work to do between now and November of this year. It's


HUNT: It sounds to me like you think if the election were held today, Biden would lose.

CARVILLE: Well, me and everybody else? I mean, go look at it. I like to be kind of on the point and that the contrarian guy against everybody else.

Unfortunately, I'm just marching with a whole bevy of prognosticators, handicappers, election predictors, or anything else. I love to break wrench

with him. But, right now, you don't have any reason to take a short break.

HUNT: Do you think it's at all possible that someone other than Joe Biden is the Democratic nominee in 2024?


HUNT: How realistic is that?

CARVILLE: First of all -- I don't know. It's not 50:50. But, Lyndon Johnson was running for President in March of 1968. And of course, the only answer

I ever get is, well, it's different now. OK. It's different now. That's the answer. Well, the deadline is past, James. You might have been right in

June. But, this is where it is. And I've been around politics long enough to know there is not much certain in this business. And I have always

thought that the matchup would be something other than Trump and Biden. And I still think that people snicker, and they think I'm just old guy out to

pasture, run around the French Quarter or something, and that may be true, and there may be more sophisticated analysts, but there is a lot of

football left to play in this thing.

HUNT: There sure is. All right. It's time for a quick break. James is going to stick around and be back with us for one more thing. We'll be right



HUNT: Welcome back to State of the Race. Before we say goodbye, we always like to ask for one more thing in Washington or on the campaign trail that

you're watching in the week ahead. And since we have James Carville here, what's yours?

CARVILLE: Mine is read The Guardian and understand what a horrific human being that Mike Johnson is. He disrespected his own father in support of

giant polluters. I cannot begin to tell you how I detest this man.


HUNT: This is the Speaker of the House you're talking about, and this has to do with your home state. Correct?

CARVILLE: The Speaker of the House from the Fourth Congressional District of Louisiana. And I think he violates fundamental core. He certainly

violates the Honor thy father and mother command and the 10 Commandments in fundamental real and deep ways. He is also a man that uses his own children

as props in his war. It's just really hard for me to adequately it in cable TV approved language to tell you how much I detest Mike Johnson. Standby

because further events are going to unfold.

HUNT: All right. Well, I have to say I don't -- I have not taken a look at that perspective. So, I will read up on it. And I just want to say thank

you very much, James Carville, for joining us today. I always appreciate having you.

CARVILLE: Well, thank you very much. You're very kind and courteous. Thank you.

HUNT: All right. See you soon. I'm Kasie Hunt. That's the State of the Race for today, Wednesday, December 13. You can always follow me on Instagram

and the platform formerly known as Twitter. Don't go anywhere. One World is up next.