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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt

Trump Asking Supreme Court To Intervene In Immunity Dispute; Trump Endorses Daughter-In-Law As Next RNC Co-Chair; Trump Expected To Attend NY Hush Money Hearing Thursday. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired February 13, 2024 - 11:00   ET




JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: The Supreme Court once again in the spotlight, Chief Justice John Roberts has asked Special Counsel Jack

Smith to respond to the request that they block a ruling against Donald Trump's claim of absolute immunity, and all of this playing into Trump's

strategy to delay, delay, delay. Plus, voting underway in New York, where a special election will fill a vacant House seat. In almost an evenly divided

House, both Democrats and Republicans view it as a must win. And House Speaker Mike Johnson is vowing to kill the Senate's bipartisan foreign aid

package with Donald Trump signaling his opposition to both foreign aid and immigration reform. Can Congress pass anything on these key issues?

Good day everyone. I'm Jessica Dean to our viewers watching all around the world. It is 11 a.m. right here in Washington, Tuesday, February 13. There

are now just 11 days until the South Carolina Republican primary, 265 days until Election Day. And this is today's State of the Race.

We have our first indication of how the U.S. Supreme Court is going to handle Donald Trump's latest legal maneuver. We're learning Chief Justice

John Roberts has asked Special Counsel Jack Smith to respond by next week to Trump's request to block a lower court's ruling which has denied that he

has immunity from criminal prosecution. Of course, the delay has been a key part of Donald Trump's legal strategy, and political strategy for that

matter, trying to put any criminal prosecution off until after Election Day in November. Whatever the court decides, though, could determine if Trump

will face trial, the Special Counsel's election subversion case before the election.

Meanwhile, the former President moving to solidify his control of the Republican Party itself. He is endorsing loyalists, including his own

daughter-in-law, Lara Trump, to take over top leadership spots in the Republican National Committee.

Let's dive into all of it with today's panel. Lance Trover was the spokesperson for North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum's presidential campaign.

Chris Kofinis is the Democratic Strategist and the former Chief of Staff for Senator Joe Manchin, and Margaret Talev is the Senior Contributor for

Axios, and the Director of the Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship, at Syracuse University. Great to see all of you.

Margaret, let's just start with you. As I'm laying it all out there, we go -- we turn back again and again to there is the legal bits for Donald Trump

and then there is the political piece of it, and we continue to see them collide. What do you make of the Supreme Court now going to have a hand in

all of this?


there. And the question is, not just what does Chief Roberts and the court do now, but how quickly do they move to do that? Through the primary

season, it's definitely clearly benefited the former President to be able to use all of these court proceedings, in federal court and civil courts in

states, to energize his base and help solidify his move toward the nomination. It's is a different prospect. Probably, it's certainly a more

complicated prospect in the general election. And you've seen in poll after poll the idea that there are -- there is a block of Americans who say it

would make a difference whether or not he were convicted.

And so, the delay strategy becomes increasingly important as you head into a general election.

DEAN: Yeah. It's interesting. When I was on the campaign trail, the Republicans who are now out of the race in that primary, a lot of the

people around them would say, look, it's the convicted word. That's it. That's the tipping point we think for some of our people. I want to listen

to what Nancy Pelosi said about Trump's claims of immunity and also what this means for the Supreme Court. Let's take a listen to that.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): That would mean that this President thinks that he is above the law. And I think that he is on trial for certain things. I

think the Supreme Court is on trial as well. Four votes to hear it. Five votes for a stay. How could they possibly give a stay for justice to



DEAN: And Chris, the Supreme Court has had a bumpy ride lately in terms of public trust and views of it being a partisan body. What does it mean for

the Supreme Court and their decision going forward?


institution right now in the country, and there is not a lot of trust of anybody or anything. And sadly, the Supreme Court used to be kind of above

that. That is kind of collapsed. So -- I mean, they're dealing with a lot of -- if you look at from the Supreme Court's perspective, they have to

deal from, OK, it is your constitutional issue here.


These are legal issue here that we need to consider. Are we being used as a political tactic employ? And at the same --


KOFINIS: Yeah. Of course. Right. And then at the same time, what kind of reputational damage does it do to the court? I'm not sure there is a good

solution here one way or the other for the court.

DEAN: right.

KOFINIS: Right? They don't hear it. OK. It just may delay the process. But, there is probably going to be another point. Plus, if you read, I can't

believe I actually read the Trump filing, but I did, they had a purposeful strategy, when you read it, to raise all these very heady constitutional

issues about presidential power, presidential immunity, that I can see the court wanting to answer. And that I think is kind of the tactic behind the

politics. Delay is obvious. Right? He gets convicted of any of these. The political damage of that, it's going to be -- there is going to be

political damage. How much? I guess to be debated. But, you're obviously going to be at a disadvantage running as a convicted candidate.

DEAN: Sure.

KOFINIS: Right? So, I think he is trying to avoid that. But, what we've seen is, I think in the past is the court loves to address these kinds of

constitutional issues, and I have a bad feeling they're going to want to address this one.

DEAN: All right. I want to put a pause on the panel for one second and go out to Kristen Holmes, who of course covers the former President. She is in

West Palm Beach. Kristen, tell us more about what you're learning today as this unfolds.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, right now, we're just figuring out that Donald Trump is going to be going to New York for his

court appearance. It had been kind of up in the air. There are two hearings regarding Trump's legal issues on Thursday, one being in New York regarding

the hush money case, the other in Georgia. There had been some intrigue on Donald Trump's part to go to Georgia. There is a possibility that Fani

Willis, the District Attorney there, was going to testify. It still hasn't been completely ruled out.

And just a reminder that this hearing is whether or not Willis needs to be disqualified from running this case. Defendants have alleged that she had

an improper relationship with a top deputy there, and that that has rendered her unable to run this case.

So, whether or not she testify is still up in the air. But, Donald Trump was interested in possibly attending that hearing. Instead, he will go to

New York. And I'm told by senior advisors that the decision at the end of the day was relatively easy. In New York, it's a hearing directly related

to his criminal case there, directly related to something that impacts them. They view what's going on in Georgia more as a procedural issue.

So, when it comes to Donald Trump, the other thing to note here about New York, if this case holds, if the trial date holds that the judge set on

March 25, it will be the first criminal trial that Donald Trump goes through. So, that's another very important factor here. There have been a

lot of questions about whether or not that was going to hold given the other criminal charges that were brought against him, both by the

Department of Justice and in Georgia. But, it does appear that with that election interference case being put on delay, the Department of Justice

case, that this is going to be the first trial that he actually faces.

DEAN: All right. Kristen Holmes for us with the latest on all of the legal chaos surrounding the former President. Thanks so much.

And Lance, it's interesting to hear her talk about how the former President is going to appear, is planning to appear. That has been such a strategy,

in addition to delay, delay, delay. That has been a big strategy for him is to go to these court appearances and really use that to weigh this in the

court of public opinion. And that's a difference than being convicted. Right? That's kind of using it in more of a strategic way. How long do you

think he can afford to kind of walk that line, and do you think it's going to work?

LANCE TROVER, SPOKESPERSON FOR DOUG BURGUM'S 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, it's Donald Trump. This is what he does. He commands the media. He

commands media attention, and he does it to great effect every single day. And I think you hit on something that I think is really interesting. We see

polls now that say, convicted, yada, yada, yada. He is going to be in deep trouble. But, most voters aren't really tuned into this presidential

election. And I think as he starts to litigate this in the court of public opinion, there will be voters that start asking questions about, well, what

is going on? And why now, and why are all these cases going on? Why is the Biden Justice Department coming at him?

And I would just remind folks that no one has shown resiliency the way Donald Trump has with broad swaths of the American public, and that is

because if you talk to pollsters around the country, people are able to separate the policies from the man oftentimes with voters out there. And I

think that's something to think about, no matter what the Supreme Court decides at the end of the day. He is still going to be there right at the


DEAN: Right. And in the meantime, while this is going on, we're watching him continue to really make the Republican Party his in a way, installing -

- trying to install his daughter-in-law even in a top post at the Republican Party, and it is kind of remarkable. We do have a statement from

the Haley campaign. They said Trump just announced he is rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.


Under Donald Trump and the current RNC leadership, Republicans lost elections in 2018, 2020 and 2022. And now, the RNC is effectively bankrupt.

But, Margaret, the fact remains, whether you're looking at the RNC even with Ronna McDaniel and with this new group as well, you're looking at the

Hill, his stranglehold on the party remains.


DEAN: Yes.

TALEV: In terms of being able to use a carrot and stick but mostly stick or the fear of the stick to keep Republicans in line, particularly in House

races. But, really, you're seeing a couple in the Senate also, Republicans who don't want to get primaried, Republicans who would rather avoid Donald

Trump's wrath and Republican voters who -- his message resonates with -- a lot of his message resonates. But, I think if you look at what's going on

in the party structure, now fundraising has been a problem. And -- I mean, it's a real concern actually, heading towards the general election is Ronna

McDaniel's fault, is the person, the head of the party, partly responsible for that. I think we're going to find out in the months to come.

On the one hand, it's not unusual at all for the head of --

DEAN: Sure.

TALEV: -- the party, whether they are the incumbent or the anointed nominee about to become the nominee to take control of the party structure. That's

not unusual at all. But, the sort of epic public and --

DEAN: Daughter-in-law.

TALEV: -- all of that and the drama of it, and Ronna McDaniel was quite a loyal --

DEAN: Older.

TALEV: Yeah.

DEAN: Yeah.

TALEV: -- for Donald Trump for a lot of months. So, I think there is sort of the -- almost made for TV style drama of it. But, in the end, I'm not

sure how much it changes. It's already Donald Trump's party, and this just solidifies it and formalized the trick.

TROVER: Donald Trump made for TV.

TALEV: Yeah. Yeah. Right. Yeah.

DEAN: And Nikki Haley is making the argument that Mitch McConnell has tried to make, other Republicans have tried to make, which is, if we keep doing

it his way, we're going to keep losing. But, it doesn't seem like that is resonating.

KOFINIS: Yeah. Yeah. They will have a big problem with that argument.

DEAN: Yeah.

KOFINIS: What that problem is? Nobody in the base is listening. See, this is the part where again I think people, especially in the Republican Party,

but even the Democratic Party, to some extent, do not understand that there is something bigger than Trump. Trump is speaking to a dynamic that clearly

explains we may drive all of us or some of us crazy when we think about it. But, something explains why he has persevered and survived things that

would normally have killed a political candidate 1,000 times.

DEAN: It is remarkable.

KOFINIS: right? And I think it has to do with, he speaks to a real kind of disaffection, populist anger within the Republican Party. And so, when

McConnell or some of the old, more establishment Republicans go out and speak, I mean, I don't think -- it doesn't hurt Trump. It helps Trump every

single time.

DEAN: Yeah. And I want to -- before -- quickly, we only have about a minute left for this. But, I want to share the polling in South Carolina because

obviously, there is one person left in against Donald Trump and that's Nikki Haley. And right now, the new CBS News poll shows 65 percent

supporting Donald Trump, 30 percent supporting Haley in her home state of South Carolina. And even more telling, how firmly decided are you? 87

percent firmly decided to 78 percent of Haley. So, they're pretty walked in, it seems, at this point.

TROVER: No question about it. And I found her statement about the RNC, the ship of the Titanic, and I'm thinking, you're down 35 points in your home

state. What are you talking about?

DEAN: No. It is kind of -- it is -- I think a lot of people -- she certainly wanted to kind of stake her claim on her home state. But, it is

Trump country now. And she hasn't been on the ballot there in a long time.

TALEV: She is running out of moves.

DEAN: Yeah.

TALEV: But, this is the position she has made a decision to articulate, and I think she is going to do it right up until the end. But, the way the

voters speak and primary is different than a general election, but in the Republican primary contest so far, the voters have said that they -- those

voters have said that they continue to feel most aligned with Donald Trump.

DEAN: Yeah. All right. Well, coming up, we're going to come back to -- we have plenty more to discuss. Coming up, how a high stakes special Election

Day in New York could have big implications for the balance of power in Congress, and also the general election later this year, when we come back.




DEAN: The polls are now open for a special election in New York that has implications far beyond that state's 3rd congressional district. Voters are

deciding who will replace former Republican Representative George Santos who, remember, was expelled from Congress over ethics violations. Former

Democratic Congressman Tom Suozzi is facing off against Republican candidate and county lawmaker Mazi Pilip. Democrats are hoping for a chance

to further narrow and already raise within the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and this election could also preview what could

be a highly competitive fight for the House in November.

Let's talk first with Athena Jones who is joining us from a polling station on Long Island. Athena, what are you seeing there today?

ATHENA JONES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jessica. Well, I can tell you, you can see this polling station here behind me. It's not very

active. We're at a Boys & Girls Club in Glen Cove here on Long Island. Earlier today, we were at a Middle School, also only seeing a trickle of

voters. We've been here since about eight o'clock, and I'd say we've seen about two dozen voters. I've spoken to a good deal of them and they seem to

be splitting roughly down the middle.

People who are voting for Mazi Pilip, their biggest concern is immigration. And this is something that she has been hitting with her -- with all of her

ads. This has become the most expensive race of the 2024 cycle so far at over $20 million between the campaigns and outside groups. And all of Mazi

Pilip's ads have been hitting Tom Suozzi as soft on immigration, for open borders and the like. People who are voting for Suozzi say that they're

either longtime Democrats. They've got to support a Democrat. The ones who mentioned issues talk about abortion and their fears about an abortion ban.

But, what's so interesting about this district is that the third district is made up partly -- parts of Nassau County here on Long Island and parts

of Queens, which is part of New York City. And so, the immigrant issue, the migrant crisis is something that has affected communities, certainly in the

city, but also there are concerns on Long Island. People really, really worried about public safety and kind of -- and immigration as well. And so,

those are the topics that both sides have been hitting.

But, this is the typical sort of suburban district that election observers believe will play a big role in deciding the election, the presidential

election in 2024. Well, the presidential election, of course, the control of Congress. As you mentioned, Republicans have a very slim majority in the

House right now, seven seats. Democrats are hoping to break into that in this race. But, this race is likely to happen again in November between

these two candidates because it is a special election.

Now, these poll workers behind me tell me this is the deadest they've seen it in all the years they've been working here. I spoke to someone who has

been working eight years as a poll worker, someone else since 2011, so, a dozen years.


They've never seen it this slow because of the snow, because schools are closed. People are staying home. This is not usually the kind of turnout we

see. But, I will say that some of these poll workers have said that because it's a special election and because so many people voted early, more than

80,000 people are voting early. That may also be playing a role in terms of turnout.

Now, when it comes to these campaigns, they've been campaigning up till the last minute. On the Long Island Railroad last night, a campaign worker was

handing out Suozzi flyers. And I mentioned both campaigns giving rides to people to the polls. And Suozzi was just at a UPS shift change in

Uniondale, urging those workers to come out and cast a ballot for him. So, this could be a very, very close race. People are out doing their civic

duty. But, we'll have to see who comes out on top, what message resonates most with the voters of the 3rd district. Jessica.

DEAN: All right. Athena Jones in Glen Cove, New York, thanks so much.

Back here with our panel. Well, that is a special election for you. And also, it is snowing. There is a pretty significant snow event that's going

on there.

TALEV: OK. You were (inaudible).

DEAN: Yeah. I mean, that's a good point. Yeah.

TALEV: I just think this race is so weird for so many reasons. But, the -- what looks like voter apathy is as much as a snow day at this point. What's

really remarkable about it is that Santos, George Santos was like -- he is such a terrible congressman. And you -- like -- I tried to imagine like in

a traditional time, voters being like, wow, we really need to wake up and pay more attention because we want a local member of Congress, whichever

party they're in --

DEAN: Yeah.

TALEV: -- to represent us on like district issues as well. Let's not make that Santos mistake again. Let's do our homework. And instead, like, what

you're seeing is people just being like, I don't know. So, maybe we'll see something different. Maybe we'll -- maybe there is actually a lot of votes

cast and turnout.

But, the other thing that's interesting about this race is that there is such a kind of role reversal. You've got an Ethiopian immigrant who has

been a Democrat, who served in the IDF, who is a woman of color, and she is running as the Republican nominee. And then, you've got kind of a long-term

incumbent in the Democratic seat. So, there is a lot of role reversal. There is a lot of potential for voter intrigue, and it's all combining to

make a very strange race. I don't know if it's a bellwether.

DEAN: Yeah. I totally have been talking about -- you have to remember, Biden won this in --

KOFINIS: Yeah. Yeah.

DEAN: -- in 2020. But, they, in 2022, elected George Santos, obviously. And that was -- it was those kinds of districts specifically in New York State

that gave Republicans that teeny majority they have.


KOFINIS: Go ahead.

TROVER: Yeah. I was going to say and you hit on it, I mean, a brief history, Republicans did a really good job in 2020 of recruitment and

getting candidates particularly in California, in New York, with these great backgrounds. You see it here playing out in New York, and they won

with Donald Trump at the top of the ticket. They took out Democratic incumbents. They got reelected in 2022. And so, this idea that the House

may go down. I know Democrats are targeting it. That may not be the case here. I'm not much into reading tea leaves in terms of these special


The only concern I would have if I were a Democrat is it's a Biden plus eight district. My understanding is the Democrats have had to outspend

Republicans here. They're calling it a dogfight. And the top issue has been immigration come November. That's not a good sign for Democrats if that's

what's going on.

KOFINIS: Yeah. I mean, one, I agree that for the most part, special elections, everybody makes a big deal out of them, especially right now

you're seeing, I'm not sure I'm going to read it one way or the other that much. Right? It's not the end of the world if Democrats lose. It's not the

end of the world if Republicans lose. But, what I think is interesting in terms of the politics of that area, it actually has changed. Right? It's

become a little bit more conservative. Right?

TALEV: Right.


KOFINIS: And even in the recent polling, it's fascinating. Like you see in the most recent polling for whatever it's worth, it's tough to pull special

elections. But, putting that aside, you got the Democrat up in the polls, up about three, four points. And then -- but Trump was up in the

presidential race. So, that is strange.

DEAN: Yeah.

KOFINIS: And I think it's emblematic of what's going on in that part of New York. So, I'm not sure I'd read it -- read too much into it. That being

said, I think the reason why everyone is fighting so hard to win it speaks to the larger closeness of the races that we are continuously seeing

happening right now --

DEAN: Right. And --

KOFINIS: for the presidential all the way down.

DEAN: Yeah. Yeah. And Lance, you mentioned immigration, which I think is a good thing to kind of talk about and discuss here. That's been such a key

issue in this race. And we have clips from both candidates on that. So, let's listen to kind of what they've been saying.


TOM SUOZZI (D-NY), U.S. DEMOCRATIC HOUSE CANDIDATE: I think that President Biden is underwater in my district, but President Trump is also underwater

in my district. Nobody is popular coming out of Washington, D.C. these days because they're not getting enough stuff done. The President supports the

bipartisan deal in the Senate right now.


That would close the border, but it's being stopped by President Trump and the Republicans and Speaker Johnson just because they want to win political


MAZI PILIP (R-NY), U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE: Today is all about doing the right thing. So, it's all about securing our borders. It is all

about being tough on crime. And supporting law enforcement is all about improving our economy. And to send the message to Suozzi, his time is over.

He created this mess, the border crisis. He opened the border. And as a result, we are facing a border crisis.


DEAN: And so, that has become a key issue. And of course, in New York City, very close there to Long Island, there have been an influx of migrants into

that city that they've been trying to absorb and deal with. It's also worth noting that they just came up with a bipartisan border bill in the Senate

that Trump wanted to kill and did successfully kill for this exact reason, right, to make it an issue in the upcoming election.

KOFINIS: Yeah, I mean, there is no question that immigration is going to be one of the most defining issues in this upcoming election. The research

that we've just done, you go back to like 2016 and 2020, immigration was kind of there, but it would kind of pop up, pop off. Now, it's up there

near the economy for voters, and because the frustration. And so, I think the danger here, and I see this as a Democrat begrudgingly, is the danger

here is this is not one of those issues where voters want to hear, oh, it's their fault. Right? They want to hear how -- so the bickering back and

forth may serve talking heads and political partisans, their agendas, but the average voter just gets irritated. And they get really angry at both


So, there is a danger here trying to -- try to gain political favor or advantage saying, oh, it was the Republicans' fault. Oh, it was the

Democrats' fault. I actually think that is not the right strategy. People want to hear a solution, less about the partisan on this specific issue.

DEAN: Why do you -- go ahead.

TROVER: Yeah. I just -- I don't know that voters get caught up in the machinations of Congress. I mean, I agree with you to an extent. But, the

polling has shown. I mean, Joe Biden is polling at around 28 percent, 30 percent on this issue. And he is -- this is the administration that has

pretty much ignored it for three years now, and now, here we are, and they're swooping in, saying this is a big deal because it is a big deal to

a big chunk of the country. And so, I'm not sure if voters get so caught up in it. They've clearly made up their mind. They're not happy with the

President on this issue. That's why they desperately wanted to get a deal done at the end of the day, because it's something they want to solve.

So, it's going to be there all the way till November. Whether this deal got killed and who killed it or not, I just think it's going to be there all

the way.

DEAN: Margaret, why people care? Why is this breaking through?

TALEV: Why is the immigration --

DEAN: Yeah.

TALEV: -- issue breaking through? Well, I think some of it is that you are seeing -- I mean, I think some of the GOP campaign to ship migrants into

blue cities has had an impact. I also think that the numbers are real. There is a crisis in South and Central America that has propelled a lot of

people to leave where they're from, and trying to get to what would be safe harbor. And whoever the President is, whether it's -- was Donald Trump, or

whether it was Joe Biden, is going to have to deal with that. And so, for Biden there, it's just -- it's more complex messaging, because their

immigrant rights has been an important thing to many Democratic voters. But, border security is important to all Americans.

And the idea that even if you care about someone's human rights, even if you want to help them and not separate parents and children and do all the

stuff, that the United States does not have the capacity to absorb an unlimited number of people. And I think the sheer volume, the imagery of

people in caravans, the idea that even if the reason why people want to come here is not the political fault of a President. They want to come here

for external factors. If the system cannot absorb those people, the person in charge of the administration in charge has to be able to deal with it.

The buck stops with the President.

DEAN: With the President. All right, stick with us. We have more to discuss. It is take two for House Republicans as they tried to impeach

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Will they have the votes this time?




DEAN: Welcome back to State of the Race. I'm Jessica Dean live in Washington, where the Senate pulled an all-nighter and passed a $95 billion

aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan earlier this morning. The 70 to 29 vote included 22 Republicans who defied the former President Donald

Trump and voted in favor of the funding. But, the bill faces steep opposition in the House because President Trump opposes it, and House

Republican leadership has been falling in line behind him. Speaker Mike Johnson saying last night "The Senate should have gone back to the drawing

board to amend the current bill to include real border security provisions that would actually help in the ongoing catastrophe."

Earlier, Trump posted, "From this point forward, are you listening U.S. Senate (?). No money in the form of foreign aid should be given to any

country unless it's done as a loan, not just to give away." The House will be also busy today trying to for a second time in a week impeach Homeland

Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. Even if Republicans have the votes this time around, the Senate is expected to kill that measure.

The panel is back with me. Where to begin with all of that? I think let's start with foreign aid, because that is what happened to this morning. And

now, the big question, everybody had kind of decided -- we knew the Senate was going to pass this. But, now the big question is, what happens in the

House? And you see that the House Speaker putting out that statement after the House -- the Senate had put together a very conservative, stringent

border security bipartisan legislation that they then killed, but saying that they can't move forward for that. So, now the question is, what will

Speaker Mike Johnson do?

I want to play what Senator Kyrsten Sinema told me yesterday, and then we can discuss what we think he might do.


SEN. KYRSTEN SINEMA (I-AZ): The House is incredibly dysfunctional right now. But, I believe that there are enough patriots serving in the United

States House of Representatives that together they will overcome the partisanship and dysfunction and stand up for America's national security

interests by standing and defending democratic nations in other countries.


DEAN: So, OK. Lance, let's start with you. The House is dysfunctional. It seems pretty standardly accepted that if this was put on the floor, it

would pass. The question is, will it be put on the floor?

TROVER: Pretty clear, it's dead on arrival in the House. I don't know why the House was not involved in the -- with the -- from the beginning when

the White House and the Senate were moving to make all this stuff happen. They weren't. But, setting that aside, it is an election year. This is not

unheard of for things to not get done in an election year, whether it's Donald Trump putting his thumb on the scale or not.


This is not a unique thing at all in terms of passing this type of legislation. I think these are all going to become huge campaign issues as

we go on. You see Donald Trump talking about -- I mean, giving money and making it in the form of loans, that's a pretty big change for American. I

think that's something that voters are going to have to weigh in on at the end of the day.

DEAN: And I also want to play something from Senator Lindsey Graham. I mentioned at the top of this segment. I'm sorry. It's a full screen. So, I

can read it to you. We can all enjoy my voice here, not Lindsey Graham's. OK. So, he said "The supplemental aid package should be a loan to the

countries in question, as suggested by President Trump. A loan on friendly terms allows America, who is deeply in debt, a chance to get our money back

and changes the paradigm of how we help others. President Trump is right to insist that we think outside the box."

Chris, Lindsey Graham has always been a hawk. He has always been --


DEAN: -- for foreign aid. This is -- it just is yet another example. It took a few hours and he was saying this.

KOFINIS: Yeah. This is the never-ending battle between politics and policy. Right? On the policy side, obviously, it makes sense to support your

allies. OK. That goes without saying. On the politics side, this is where this is dangerous, right, domestic politics, because voters right now, and

if you look at some of the polling, and you even look at some of the research we've done, right, if you look at some of the reactions of the

American public, you have people who are angry for a variety of reasons about potential aid to Israel. Right? That's a political problem for the

President. For example, in Michigan, you have anger amongst the Republicans, Republican base about war aid to Ukraine. Taiwan, I'm not sure

where the anchor goes. Right?

DEAN: We even haven't gotten there yet. Yeah.

KOFINIS: Right. So, my point of all that is, there is -- this is where I think sometimes D.C. has to kind of separate itself from the echo chamber.

The average person out there who is struggling, who is worried about the economy, who is worried about a lot of serious issues, and then Trump plays

this populous card because that's what this is. Right? It's not about aid. It's about you choosing. Are you with America? Are you with them? Are you

more -- you want more money to go to Ukraine, or do you want more money to go to your state? That is a very powerful, dangerous, you could argue

clearly from a policy perspective, but politically, a very dangerous electoral argument.

And minimizing it, like, I often hear people do in this town, ignores that -- you know what? Trump may be crazy on some of these issues, but he may be

crazy like a fox, and we've seen this. And I don't -- I think it's -- we shouldn't underestimate this message. And if we don't have an effective

counter message, and right now, to be honest, we do not, right, other than it's the right thing to do. It makes geopolitical sense. It makes strategic

sense. That's great. Explain that to the average voter in Michigan.

TALEV: By the way, do you mean Democrats, or do you mean Democrats and have the Republican Party?

KOFINIS: Either one. It doesn't matter. Right? That's the problem.

DEAN: Yeah.

KOFINIS: Right? He is bigger than them on these kinds of issues. And so, we've got to have, meaning Democrats, I'm not worried about the

Republicans, right, Democrats got to have a very clear argument about why this matters to the average voter.

DEAN: And it is -- it isn't also an example of where we are seeing this fissure between where Republicans had traditionally been, somebody like

Lindsey Graham --


DEAN: -- but certainly even still, Mitch McConnell, who was absolutely --


DEAN: -- adamantly pro-Ukraine aid. And where we are now seeing in the Senate, particularly the House has kind of been doing its own thing for a

while, but the Senate was usually a little more cohesive around its leadership. I want to play what Rand Paul said about McConnell. And then,

we have what John Fetterman said about Rand Paul. And we get what's going on in the Senate. So, let's listen to that.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): He doesn't represent me or conservatives in Kentucky or conservatives across the United States. He is doing the bidding of

Schumer and Biden. This is something he agrees very strongly with Biden and Schumer on, but the base disagrees with him. And so, he has to weather

through that. If he can weather through that, fine, but I will oppose him at every step.

SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): We're only here because of just one (BEEP), and he decides that the rest of all of our schedules in our lives and holding

up this bill to the -- getting to the House for all of this aid, it's incredibly frustrating, and there is no work being done. It's just bad

performance art.


DEAN: So, that's Rand Paul saying McConnell doesn't speak for us. Of course, he had slow -- Rand Paul had effectively slowed this whole process

down. And John Fetterman saying, Rand Paul making this dysfunctional is not working. We're starting to see some of that dysfunction that we normally

see in the House or have become accustomed to seeing --

TALEV: Right.

DEAN: -- spilling out into the Senate. What do you make of them?

TALEV: I think if you're a voter, your question may be, why does it matter? Why am I supposed to care about this?

DEAN: Yeah.

TALEV: And when you have bipartisan, loud bipartisan support for something like foreign aid to a country that a lot of Americans don't know that much

about, it helps you to understand why it's important.


If it's really important, both sides care about it, and it's about protecting American freedoms and American values and all the reasons why

you would want to minimize Russia's influence and discourage Russia greatly from testing Article Five and NATO. When you see much of the Republican

Party that was in this solid post-World War Two architecture slide away or start talking about loans or kind of using the Trump language, it dilutes

the power of that bipartisan messaging. And I think it makes many Americans who are not -- may not be focused on foreign policy, may be thinking about

pocketbook issues, saying, what does this have to do with me?

And that is the power that former President Trump is capitalizing on right now, is that it is not most American voters, jobs or are inclination, to be

thinking about foreign policy, and what the domino effects of messaging on Ukraine and Russia are. And so, I think that's why you've got Europe and

many Western democracies looking at this as a total nail biter and thinking about what does it mean for NATO? What are the implications of this a year

from now, five years from now, well past November?

DEAN: Yeah. And I -- what I'm hearing from all of you, and this is what I heard too when I was out on the trail, that it comes down to the average

voter that's not -- we love Washington, but it's not sitting here in Washington, right, and how they're metabolizing this information.

All right. Thanks so much, guys.

Up next, more on the New York special election, we're going to speak with an expert, the New York Political Director for Spectrum News, on why this

race could decide control of Congress.


DEAN: Welcome back. We want to return now to that key special election being held in New York State. As we've said, voters are casting ballots in

a contest to replace expelled Republican Congressman George Santos. And the race is an Election Day wildcard, Democrat Tom Suozzi taking on Republican

candidate Mazi Pilip, and the outcome could have major implications for Congress and even November's general election.


Bob Hardt is the New York Political Director for Spectrum News, and he joins us now. Bob, thanks so much for coming on. It's great to have you.

Let's start first with what you're watching today.

BOB HARDT, SPECTRUM NEWS, NY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, I'm watching right outside my office window here, Jessica, a winter wonderland of snow, which

is great if you want to go skiing or sledding. It's not so great if you want to go voting today.

DEAN: Yeah. It's certainly true. We had our colleague, Athena Jones, who was at a polling station and it looked rather empty. She did say, I believe

the number was about 80,000 early votes had been cast. What kind of role do you think that's going to play?

HARDT: Well, a plurality of them are coming from Democrats. It doesn't mean they're all voting for Tom Suozzi against Mazi Pilip, but that's good news

for Tom Suozzi. The district is a -- it does have a plurality of Democrats. So, it shouldn't be shocking. But, if you didn't see sort of an uptick of

Republicans, a disproportionate number, that would be a real warning sign for the Democrats. The same goes with absentee balloting. There have been

disproportionately by small amount Democrats. So, if you're a Republican, you want to make sure your base gets out today. And this weather, I think,

is going to make it a little bit more challenging.

DEAN: Yeah. And oftentimes, we, as the media, can look to these special elections or off-year elections as a bellwether for what's to come. My

colleague, Ron Brownstein, has made the case that New York State is a little bit different in several ways, but that abortion access isn't as

threatened in that state as maybe it's been in other places where elections have been held, and that the New York City media market has focused heavily

on crime and the border crisis, an influx of migrants that -- and obviously, we've seen the two candidates talking a lot about immigration in

this race. What do you think about that?

HARDT: I agree with a lot of Ron's analysis. Former House Speaker, the late House Speaker Tip O'Neill once said, all politics is local. And yes, this

is a national proxy fight between the Democrats and Republicans. You're seeing all this national money poured into the race. But, we have to

remember, these are flesh and blood candidates. And so, if Tom Suozzi wins tonight, suddenly it doesn't mean, oh, this is great news for Joe Biden.

Conversely, Donald Trump shouldn't have a parade to Long Island, should Mazi Pilip win. Each district has its own issues. The migrant crisis is

very big in New York. Crime is a big issue. But, we're also are hearing about those social issues like abortion and gun control.

So, because this is the only game in town right now, there is a lot of attention to it. But, I think Ron is right. We don't want to draw too many

overarching lessons from it. Every district is different.

DEAN: That's right. And just before we let you go, talking more generally about New York State, wins for Republicans during the 2022 midterms really

cemented the small majority that they now hold in the House. Do you continue to see kind of a tilt right across some parts of New York,

reminding everyone that this district that George Santos, a Republican won, was carried by Biden by eight points in 2020?

HARDT: Yeah, absolutely, Jessica, because two years later, the Republican candidate for governor carried that district by 12 points. So, New York --

people outside of New York State think of New York State as solid blue, which is the case in a presidential race. But, the fate of the House of

Representatives could be decided here in New York State. You have about four or five really competitive races across the state that could determine

who is running the House in 2025.

DEAN: And is there any kind of leftover aftertaste, I guess you could say, around George Santos at all, or has he just kind of been pushed to the

side, and that's it?

HARDT: I thought he would be a bigger issue in the race. But, but Mazi Pilip, the Republican, sort of disavowed him rather quickly, unlike some

other -- excuse me, Republicans in the House. So, maybe she is a little bit of Santos proof. I thought there'd be more of a Santos hangover. And maybe

when we see the results later tonight or into the morning, maybe we'll see that. But, I haven't really heard that on the trail so far.

DEAN: Yeah. And it has been interesting, though, to see like Elise Stefanik. Obviously, she is also from New York. But, it has been

nationalized in a lot of ways. Of course, Republicans and Democrats really have a lot at stake in this one race.

HARDT: We have the House Speaker here. We have the House minority leader here, both in the district. Elise Stefanik, who you just mentioned, came

down from -- she is way upstate New York, came down to try to get out the conservative base. So, it really -- it's a proxy fight. I don't know if

someone says upgrade the House speakers here. Now, I'm going to go vote for Mazi Pilip. But, it just shows you the attention that this race is getting.

There is four open seats in the House. Honestly, this is the only one that I could see flipping. The others seem pretty solid Republican, the two, and

then those one upstate that I think will stay democratic.

DEAN: All right. And yet, no visit from Joe Biden or Donald Trump here, or Nikki Haley.

HARDT: Well, that's a very good point. Tom Suozzi did not want Joe Biden in the district. Joe Biden was in New York City, raising money. It would have

been very easy to go from Manhattan to Queens.


Mazi Pilip also has not wanted Donald Trump there. They are both sort of worried about their party's presumptive nominees, assuming that Trump does

go on to beat Haley.

DEAN: Right.

HARDT: So, they don't want an elephant or donkey in the room.

DEAN: Right. All right. NY1's Bob Hardt, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

HARDT: Thanks, Jessica.

DEAN: Well, he is back, and if you're a fan of Jon Stewart and happened to catch his return to The Daily Show last night, it probably felt like he

never left. Stewart is known for his biting political commentary. After more than eight years away from the show, he is back for a once a week

hosting stint just as the presidential campaign heats up. And it is clear Stuart has not lost his edge.


JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Nine months till the election, people, and the exciting part is, we already know our candidates. It is drumroll

(BEEP), guys.


DEAN: Stewart also had some choice words about the ages of the presidential frontrunners.


STEWART: They're objectively old. There are at the age. There are no more age-related milestones to hit. They got the arrow or P card. They've got

Social Security. They've got their movie discounts. There is no, oh, wait till you hit 88. You get to drink and drive. No. The only thing left to

them is a TODAY show Smuckers shout-out.


DEAN: And obviously, he is referring to that segment on NBC's Today show honoring people older than 100 on the Smucker's jar. Stewart honed in on

the candidates' memory issue in one comedy bit that took a big swerve. Take a listen to this.


STEWART: This guy couldn't remember stuff during his deposition. Do you understand what that means? He had no ability to recall very basic things

under questioning. The footage of the President unable to recall simple facts must have been brutal to watch.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't remember the names. I don't remember the names. I don't remember ever

buying something for myself.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you recall what years you were married to Miss Naples?

TRUMP: I don't -- I mean, I don't remember that. OK? As good my memory is, I don't remember that. But, I -- I have a good memory.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, you don't remember saying you have one of the best memories in the world?

TRUMP: I don't remember that.

STEWART: Enjoy everyone. That's the wrong place. That's the high functioning candidate from nine years ago unable to recall if he has a good



DEAN: Yeah. All right. It's time for a quick break. Stay with us. My panel will be back with one more thing.


DEAN: Welcome back to State of the Race. My panel rejoins me now. Before we go, I want to ask for one more thing. What's the one thing on the campaign

trail or in Washington that you're watching for in the coming days? Everybody gets 30 seconds. Margaret, we'll start with you.

TALEV: I'm watching Republicans' age argument on Biden. Obviously, we've seen this playing out for quite a while now. But, we're about to see things

move a lot towards the Republicans and House of Representatives. My Axios colleague Mike Allen reporting that his sources are telling him we're going

to see a concerted effort for subpoenas, hearings, testimony, documents, anything around the messaging that Joe Biden's age makes him mentally unfit

to be President or run again or all of this, maybe some efforts to try to get either Special Counsel Hur's testimony or Special Counsel Hur to

appear. They feel like no matter what, this hurts Biden and they need something to hurt Biden as the economy has improved.

DEAN: Chris.

KOFINIS: Well, it's not watching. It's watched. 123 million people watched the Super Bowl.

DEAN: Amazing.


KOFINIS: Amazing. And the Biden campaign skipped the pre-game. I'm not sure if he could ever build a time machine to go back and redo something, but

this would be the moment to do it. You'll never get that back. And that, I think, speaks to a larger question. If you're going to deal with a lot of

the questions that are clearly swirling around the Biden campaign, you got to be much more aggressive Recons (ph). You got to be willing to take

risks. And yeah, there might be mistakes or not, but you can't pass up 123 million people. You can't.

DEAN: Yeah. Lance.

TROVER: We talked about it earlier. I'm watching the Nikki Haley campaign. I kind of feel like we've really jumped the shark at this point. She is

down 35 points in her home state. But really, the question is, if you want to have a future in the party, and if she wants to set herself up for 2028,

angering all of these Republican voters who you're going to need down the road is not the way to do it.

DEAN: All right. Our thanks to all of you, and thank you, everyone. I'm Jessica Dean. That's State of the Race today, Tuesday, February 13. Stick

with CNN. One World is up next.