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State of the Union

Interview with Former VP Joe Biden (D); Interview With Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired July 07, 2019 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Independence Day. First he broke ranks to back impeaching President Trump. Now, citing a partisan death spiral, he's leaving the Republican Party.

REP. JUSTIN AMASH (R-MI): I think people need to stand up for what is right.

TAPPER: Is this Michigan congressman eying a higher office? Congressman Justin Amash joins us exclusively in moments.

And back to the future? In a crowded field, the Democratic front- runner carves out his lane.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Look, it is center-left. That is where I am.

TAPPER: While his challenges try to draw contrasts.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is not 2016. This is 2020. And people are woke.

TAPPER: CNN's exclusive interview with 2020 presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden next.

Plus: Women rule. The U.S. women's soccer team faces off in the World Cup finals.

MEGAN RAPINOE, U.S. WOMEN'S SOCCER PLAYER: We think that the game should be played with exuberance.

TAPPER: A 15-year-old American phenom wows at Wimbledon. American female athletes are standing out and speaking up.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the State of the Union celebrating our nation's independence.

We have a lot to get to this morning, including a new expression of regret from 2020 front-runner former Vice President Joe Biden. But we begin this week with a new declaration of independence, a sitting Republican congressman announcing he is leaving the Republican Party.

In an op-ed released on the Fourth of July, Congressman Justin Amash writes -- quote -- "I have become disenchanted with party politics and frightened by what I see from it. The two-party system has evolved into an existential threat to American principles and institutions."

Amash had been the most outspoken Republican critic of President Trump, becoming the first and only Republican lawmaker to call for impeachment proceedings after reading the Mueller report.

The president, unsurprisingly, shared his feelings about Amash's decision Twitter, calling him a total loser and calling his decision great news for the Republican Party.

And newly minted independent Congressman Justin Amash of Michigan joins us now exclusively live for his first national interview since making the decision.

Thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

AMASH: Thanks, Jake. Appreciate it.

TAPPER: So you didn't mention President Trump in your op-ed in "The Post." But you did say you believe the GOP stood for limited government and economic freedom until recent years.

Do you think you would be leaving the Republican Party if Donald Trump were not president?

AMASH: Yes, I do.

And I have had concerns with the Republican Party for several years. I have had concerns with the party system generally. When I first got to Congress, I thought I could change things from the inside. But, as I have spent time there, I have seen that, not only me -- I don't think there's anyone in there who can change the system.

It's pretty rigid. It's top-down. It comes down from leadership to the bottom. And, over the years, it's gotten more rigid. So it's more difficult now to actually change the process than it was even a few years ago.

TAPPER: Do you think it's fair to say that President Trump and your fellow Republicans' unblinking support for President Trump was the straw that broke the camel's back?

AMASH: I think this term in Congress has really shown how bad it can get.

When I started the House Freedom Caucus -- I was one of the founding members -- what we were fighting for was better process. We were fighting for a more open government, a more accountable government. We wanted members to have a voice in the process, so that we'd have a deliberative body and we'd be able to represent people back home, whatever the outcome.

Sometimes, the outcomes would be more conservative. Sometimes, the outcomes would be more progressive. But whatever the outcome, we wanted to open it up.

But, over the years, I have seen that people are just falling in line behind the leaders, including people in my own caucus, you know, which I left. So it's gotten worse and worse.

And I think this was the term that really broke it for me.

TAPPER: The president lashed out on you on Twitter Thursday, after your announcement that you were leaving the Republican Party, saying -- quote -- "Great news for the Republican Party, as one of the dumbest and most disloyal men in Congress is -- quote -- 'quitting the party." No collusion, no obstruction. Knew he couldn't get the nomination to run again in the great state of Michigan, already being challenged for his seat. A total loser."

I wanted to give you an opportunity to respond.

AMASH: I mean, I don't have a response to it. It's -- it's what the president does. It's what he says.

And I think most people understand that's not how people are supposed to talk about each other and to each other. And I think he's really identified what I talked about in my op-ed, which is, he thinks that people owe loyalty to him.

But people are -- people are elected to Congress with an oath to support and defend the Constitution, not an oath to support and defend one person, the president, who happens to be from your own party.

TAPPER: Do you think that kind of attack, personal -- personal, nasty name-calling, do you think fearing that kind of attack is why more of your Republican colleagues don't speak out when they see things they don't like from the president?


AMASH: Yes, it's a big part of it.

They're afraid they will be attacked. They're afraid that people back home who are listening to certain forms of media will say, well, the president's right, this guy's a terrible person, and we need to go after him.

So it's a combination of things. I don't think a lot of the partisan discord and the rest started with President Trump. It's been going on for years, and it's gotten worse in recent years. But he's helping to fuel it, and he's making it worse, and he's making it more difficult for people to be independent in Congress.

TAPPER: You stand to lose some political power by leaving the Republican Party. The vice chair of the Republican Conference, Congressman Mark Walker,

tweeted -- quote -- "Amash left the Freedom Caucus. Now he's leaving the GOP. The House GOP never left Justin Amash. We simply ran out of space for his ego. However, we should make sure he leaves the Republican Conference and his committee."

What would you say to a supporter or constituent who says, by leaving the party, you are hurting your congressional district because you no longer are going to have potentially -- I mean, do you anticipate you're going to be kicked off the Oversight Committee?

AMASH: I anticipate that I may be kicked off. And that's OK. I understand the consequences of doing what I'm doing.

At the end of the day, though, I have done this for several years. I have worked within the Republican Party. I have tried to make changes from within. My colleagues have tried to make changes from within. It hasn't worked. It's not working for anyone.

And I'm not the only one trying. I have colleagues who are trying every day, and who are frustrated. But they are not speaking out the same way.

I hope they will speak out.

But it's time to try something different. It's time to be a committed independent representative for my district, so that everyone back home knows where I stand, because, right now, when you go back home, you hear Republicans who don't trust you because you're not aligned with the president. You hear Democrats who don't trust you because you're a Republican.

And most of the people in my district do trust me, they respect me, they support me. And I want those people to know that I'm there for them. I'm there to represent every single person in the community.

TAPPER: But not having any power on a committee, doesn't that hurt your ability to serve your constituents?

AMASH: In today's politics, the committees have almost no power.

And I want people at home to understand that. Everything is really run top-down. When I say that, I mean it very literally. The speaker of the House very much controls the entire process. The speaker decides what comes out of committee.

When Speaker Ryan, our Republican speaker, was there, the -- I was on several committees, and nothing ever came out of the committees that wasn't approved by Speaker Ryan.

TAPPER: So, let me ask you about that, because I talked to Brendan Buck, who was a senior adviser to both Speaker Paul Ryan and to Speaker Boehner.

And he says one of the reasons why Congress isn't functioning as it should is because of the Freedom Caucus. That's the perspective of a lot of people in Republican leadership, as I'm sure you know.

Specifically, Buck said: "You can't have an honest conversation about partisanship and polarization in the last five years without acknowledging the role the Freedom Caucus played. They insisted on loyalty to their own tribe above all else, and drove this toxic notion that compromise is treason."

As you mentioned, you're a founding member of the Freedom Caucus. What's your response to that? Do you -- do you think that the Freedom Caucus deserves any blame for how things are going in Congress right now?

AMASH: So I don't want to speak for the Freedom Caucus today, since I'm no longer a member.

But I will say, when the Freedom Caucus was founded, the purpose was to open up the process. And the speaker of the House and his spokespeople have it totally backward. They were closing down the entire system. And members of the Freedom Caucus said, well, we need to band together to ensure that we open this up. We want to be able to offer amendments on the House floor.

Under Speaker Ryan, for example, for the first time in congressional history, we had a whole Congress where not a single member of Congress was able to go to the House floor and offer an amendment. It was the first time in history. It was the most closed Congress in history.

And now, under Speaker Pelosi, we have the same problem, where we're not allowed to go to the House floor and offer amendments.

So, the thing is closed down. We need to open it up. And, sometimes, you have to form a group like the Freedom Caucus to stand up to the establishment in Washington.

TAPPER: So, just to give their perspective, for instance, the Senate passed immigration reform during the Obama years. It was a bipartisan bill. It passed with 60-something votes, mostly Democrats, but some Republicans as well.

Speaker Boehner wouldn't even bring it up. And they say it's because the House Freedom Caucus would insist on, you can't bring up any legislation unless you know that a majority of Republicans are going to support it. And, for that reason, there wasn't a free and open process. And...

AMASH: Well, that was never the philosophy of the Freedom Caucus.

The Freedom Caucus was about opening up the process. I can't speak for individual members who may have felt that way. But the speaker -- the Freedom Caucus was about opening up the process and ensuring that the speaker allowed us to offer amendments, allowed us to offer suggestions, because it's supposed to be a deliberative body.


We're not just supposed to take things and pass them. We're supposed to debate and represent the American people.

TAPPER: You have said that people turn to -- into -- quote -- "zombies" when they come to Washington, because they're telling you things privately that are different than what they say publicly.

What are you hearing from fellow Republicans privately -- obviously, you don't have to mention their names -- about your decision and about being a Republican member of Congress in the Trump era?

AMASH: Well, I get people sending me text messages, people calling me, saying, "Thank you for what you're doing, great op-ed."

When I was discussing impeachment, I had fellow colleagues and other Republicans, high-level officials, contacting me, saying, "Thank you for what you're doing."

So there are lots of Republicans out there who are saying these things privately. But they're not saying it publicly. And I think that's a problem for our -- for our country. It's a problem for the Republican Party. It's a problem for the Democratic Party, when people aren't allowed to speak out.

So I -- I think we really need the American people to stand up and say, hey, enough is enough. We have had it with these two parties trying to ram their partisan nonsense down our throats week after week. We want a person to go represent us and be open and represent the entire community.

TAPPER: Are you running for reelection as an independent to Congress?

AMASH: Yes, I am.

TAPPER: You are? And you think you can win as an independent?

AMASH: Yes. I'm very confident about that.

TAPPER: What about the possibility of your running for president as a libertarian or some under -- some -- under some other ticket? I asked you about that four or five months ago, and you didn't rule it out. Is it possible you would run for president?

AMASH: I still wouldn't rule anything like that out.

I believe that I have to use my skills, my public influence where it serves the country best. And I believe I have to defend the Constitution, which -- in whichever way works best. And if that means doing something else, then I do that.

But I feel confident about running in my district. I feel a close tie to my community. I feel -- I care a lot about my community. I want to represent them in Congress.

TAPPER: When do you think you will make a decision about a possible presidential run?

AMASH: Well, it's -- it's something people talk about all the time. It's not something that's right on my radar right now.

So I couldn't tell you.

TAPPER: What do you think about when -- what does it feel like when you have, first of all, when you -- I think you made your announcement about impeachment, and Donald Trump Jr. on Twitter basically threatened that he was going to support whoever primaried you.

Then you announced that you're not running as a Republican. President Trump issues the tweet that he issues. This is the most powerful family in the country right now, and they're gunning for you. What does that feel like just as a person?

AMASH: Well, it doesn't scare me.

I feel confident in what I do. I have people back home who support me. I have people back home who care about me. When I go back to my district, people are coming up to me and saying, "Thank you for what you're doing."

People want open, honest representation. They want people to come to Congress and work with integrity. And what the president is doing is actually lowering the tone across the country. He's harming civil discourse. He's creating a lot of partisan divide. He's enhancing it.

And I think that's very dangerous for our country. And I don't think a lot of people appreciate it. I think a lot of people put up with it because the economy is good right now. But I don't think they'd put up with it if things went south.

TAPPER: So you have come out in support of impeaching or at least beginning the proceedings of impeaching President Trump.

You said there's no point in formally bringing articles of impeachment right now because Speaker Pelosi doesn't support it. Is she making a mistake? Do you think that the Democrats should be starting impeachment proceedings, based on the Mueller report, what's in there about potential obstruction of justice, which is the case you laid out?

AMASH: Yes, from a principled, moral position, she's making a mistake.

From a strategic position, she's making a mistake. If she believes, as I do, that there's impeachable conduct in there, then she should say so. She should tell the American people, we're going to move forward with impeachment hearings and potentially articles of impeachment.

When she says things like, "Oh, I think that we need to have the strongest case before we go forward," what she's telling the American people is, she doesn't think there's a strong case. If she doesn't think that, then she shouldn't open her mouth in the first place and say she thinks there's impeachable conduct. I do believe there's a strong case. I believe she believes there's a

strong case. And, if so, she should move forward and make sure that the American people understand what's going on, because people at home aren't reading the Mueller report. Most people don't have time to read a 448-page report.

They expect their members of Congress to do the work for them. They want Speaker Pelosi to do the work. They want other members to do the work. And if she doesn't want to go forward, then we're going to have a big problem.

TAPPER: Last question.

How many of your Republican colleagues do you think have actually read the Mueller report?

AMASH: I think it's probably less than 15 percent.

And I would say that's probably the case on both sides of the aisle.

TAPPER: Do you think it's -- that, once anyone reads it, they would reach the same conclusion as you?

AMASH: I think a large number of them would reach the same conclusion.

There are some who would reach different conclusions. But when you look at the conduct in there, when you look at the evidence that's presented, I think basically anyone would be indicted for that conduct, anyone who is not the president of the United States.


TAPPER: Congressman Justin Amash, independent of Michigan, good to see you, sir.

AMASH: Thanks, Jake. Appreciate it.

TAPPER: Thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is using President Obama's name to defend his record -- record and character, and he's calling out his rivals for unfairly attacking him, he says.

So, why is he now saying he's changed?

We will hear from the former vice president in a CNN exclusive next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

In a major speech yesterday, former Vice President Joe Biden attempted to defend his record, saying that he has changed since the 1970s and that he was vetted and selected by President Obama. That defense comes after weeks of criticism from his Democratic

opponents, who are suggesting the former vice president is out of touch on issues such as race.

The vice president spoke exclusively with my colleague Chris Cuomo and tried to explain his position on voluntary school busing in the 1970s.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: If busing didn't work, then it made sense that you weren't for it back then. But why say you were for it? Why not just be straight about it and move on?

BIDEN: Because there's three different pieces. I was for voluntary busing, number one. I was for busing where the court showed that, in fact, a legislative body took an action preventing black folks from going to a school.


That is de jure -- I know you know -- de jure segregation.


The difficult piece is, this is 50 years ago. People don't understand the context.

The third one is, do you have an administration, through their non- elected officials, Department of Housing, decide every school should be equally balanced across the board? That's a different issue. And the way to deal with that problem is what I did from the time I was a kid.

I got out -- I got out of law school, came back, had a great job, became a public defender. I -- I fought for putting housing in -- low-income housing in suburbia.

I talked about eliminating red-lining. I talked about school districts should be consolidated in ways that made sense. So in fact...

CUOMO: Why didn't you fight it like this in the debate?

BIDEN: In 30 seconds?

CUOMO: What happens most in a debate, Mr. Vice President? People blow their time cue. You're the only person I have ever seen on a debate stage say, "I'm out of time."

BIDEN: Well, we never had a place where you have 30 seconds, man.

What I didn't want to do was get in that scrum. Do you think the American public looked at that debate -- take me out of it -- and thought, "Boy, I really like the way that's being conducted. They're really showing themselves to do really well"?

Come on, man.

CUOMO: They're going to come after you.

BIDEN: Sure, they were going to come after me.

CUOMO: Were you prepared for them to come after you?

BIDEN: I was prepared for them to come after me, but I wasn't prepared for the person coming at me the way she came at me. She knew Beau. She knows me. I don't -- anyway, but here's the deal.

What I do know -- and it's the good and the bad news -- the American people think they know me, and they know me. Since that occurred, I had the most sought-after endorsement for the mayor of Atlanta, a black woman who's a great leader, Mayor Bottoms, endorse me. I have had numerous numbers of the Black Caucus endorse me.

CUOMO: Here's the tough question for Democrats. They need a warrior, OK, because, not to aggrandize, not to lionize, but this president knows how to fight in the ring one-on-one.

Kamala Harris is friendly fire. Cory Booker is friendly fire. How can Democrats have confidence that you can take on the biggest and the baddest, when you're having trouble sparring in-party?

BIDEN: I don't think I'm having trouble sparring. It's how you want to spar.

Look, I'm the guy at the time everybody talks about things that are change. I took on same-sex marriage. I took on a whole range of issues. I took on arms control. I took on dealing with Russia with the arms control agreement. I took on Putin in terms of Iraq -- I mean, excuse me -- in terms of what was going on in Ukraine.

I have taken on these leaders around the world.

I'm the guy that's gone in and met them. I have taken on all these things. I mean, I -- this is ironic. I have never been accused of being -- not being able to spar. I have been accused of being too aggressive.

CUOMO: But the day -- the game has changed.

BIDEN: Well...

CUOMO: And you think that what's happening with Harris is anything compared to what would happen with you and this president?

BIDEN: No, but everybody knows who this guy is. Come on, man. Come on.

CUOMO: How do you beat him?

BIDEN: I would beat him by just pointing out who I am and who he is, and what we're for and what he's against. This guy's a divider-in-chief. This guy is acting with racist

policies. This guy is moving to -- to foment hate, to split. That's the only way he can sustain himself.

CUOMO: Nothing about him worries you?

BIDEN: Oh. Well, sure it worries me, in the sense that I'm looking forward to this, man. You walk behind me in a debate, come here, man.

Don't you think I -- you know me too well.

I mean, the idea that I would be intimidated by Donald Trump? He's the bully that I knew my whole life. He's the bully that I have always stood up to. He's the bully who used to make fun when I was a kid and stutter, and I would smack them in the mouth.

Look, this is not -- but that -- they -- I think the American people want a president who has some dignity, who has a value set, who is actually trying to restore the soul of this country, so, when they turn on the television, they look up, and their kids say, "I want to be like that guy or that woman."

CUOMO: You vs. the rest of the field.

On the economy, they're all going big, 70 percent tax rates, free college, re-architecture of the economic, forgiving debt for college, which happens to be the biggest asset on the American government's balance sheet.

You do not believe in those things.

BIDEN: I don't believe in the way they're doing that.

For example, I think every -- there should be health care for everyone. I have a plan how to do that that's rational and will cost a hell of a lot less, and will work. In terms of...

CUOMO: Too incremental?

BIDEN: No, it's not incremental. It's bold.

CUOMO: Would you bring back the individual mandate?

BIDEN: Pardon me?

CUOMO: Would you bring back the individual mandate?

BIDEN: Yes. Yes, I would bring back the individual mandate.

CUOMO: You think that will be popular?

BIDEN: Well, it's not -- yes, now it would be, compared to what's being offered.

And here's the deal, Chris. We're in a situation where, if you provide an option for anybody who, in fact, wants to buy into Medicare for all, they can buy in. They buy in. And they can do it.

But if they like their employer-based insurance, which a lot of unions broke their neck to get, a lot of people like their -- they shouldn't have to give it up.


The flip of that is, if you don't go my way, you have -- and you go their way, you have to give up all that.

And what's going to happen when you have 300 million people landing on a health care plan? How long is that going to take? What's it going to do?

CUOMO: How do you convince the party that these more advanced ideas, all in on Medicare for all, that matter to them...

BIDEN: I wouldn't call them advanced. I would call them...

CUOMO: Well, but they're popular in the party.

BIDEN: Well, by the way, watch. That's what this election is about.

I'm really -- I'm happy to debate that issue and all those issues with my friends, because guess what? Again, look who won the races. Look who won last time out. We had -- and, by the way, I think -- I think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a brilliant, bright woman. But she won a primary.

In the general election fights, who won? Mainstream Democrats who are very progressive on social issues and very strong on education, health care.

Look, my North Star is the middle class. When the middle class does well, everybody does well.

CUOMO: What do you say to the people in party right now when polled who say, yes, I like Joe Biden but I think his ideas are the old ideas, the new ideas; I see a Warren, I see a Sanders, I see a Harris?

BIDEN: I have not seen that.

CUOMO: You poll lower than them -- you poll lower than them on ideas for the future.

What do you say to them?

BIDEN: I say to them, take a look at my ideas. Take a look at my ideas.

I haven't seeing those polled. I haven't seeing where people say -- what I have seen around the country is, the vast majority of Democrats are where I am on the issues. We've got to be aggressive.

And they're big ideas, the big idea on education, on health care, on dealing with the environment. I mean, it's just -- I love how, you know, all of a sudden -- I wish I had been -- I wish I had been labeled as a moderate when I was running in Delaware back in the days, when it was...

CUOMO: Eighty percent of your party says it's center-left.

BIDEN: I am center-left.

CUOMO: You know, farther left is getting more attention.

BIDEN: No, no, no, no.

CUOMO: It's getting amplified.

BIDEN: It is. Look...

CUOMO: But there's a disconnect.

BIDEN: Look, it's center-left. That's where I am. Where it's not is way left.

Now, look, but that's what we can find out. That's what this debate is about.


TAPPER: Next up: Senator Kamala Harris is responding to the vice president.

Is he woke enough for the 2020 field?

Stay with us.




JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Was I wrong a few weeks ago? To somehow give the impression to people that I was praising those men who I successfully opposed time and again. Yes, I was. I regret it.

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's just be really clear. This is not 2016. This is 2020. And people are woke.


TAPPER: The former vice president expressing regret yesterday about comments about working with segregationists in the Senate early in his career but are Democratic primary voters too woke to ultimately back Biden in 2020. Let's discuss. Dr. El-Sayed, let me start with you. What do you make of it all?

ABDUL EL-SAYED (D), FORMER CANDIDATE FOR MICHIGAN GOVERNOR: Look, I think we're starting to see not just an ideological rift in the party but really a generational rift in the party. And you have folks like Joe Biden who cannot actually go back and say, look, when I was working with some of the folks, I was wrong on issues that were called out, or you've got somebody like Speaker Pelosi who is going after the most popular congresswoman by far in the country and you're starting to see --

TAPPER: Ocasio-Cortez.

EL-SAYED: Ocasio-Cortez. So you're starting to see this generational rift wherein you're seeing this old school politics where not everything was caught on camera, not everything was, you know, access to a cell phone or tweeted. And it is not OK any more to just say I was right, no matter what happened.

We have to be able to say, look, I was wrong about something and I've changed. The world has changed and this is how I've evolved with it and we're seeing it on multiple fronts.

TAPPER: How would you have advised the vice president to deal with this beyond not bringing up the segregationists to begin with?

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think I would have advised him to do this several months ago. There were a couple of things he could have done years ago, including calling Anita Hill. But we are where we are.

I think his advisers and I know his advisers were telling him for months, this is going to be a hard race. People are going to come after you because you are going to be the front-runner. You're going to have to reintroduce yourself.

And I think what we've seen over the last couple of weeks is that he's learned that himself. People don't fully know him. They need to know who he is not just Barack Obama's running mate, that his opponents are going to come after him as should be expected. And what we saw this weekend is he's trying to regain footing and re-set the narrative.

Whether that works or not. We'll see. I mean, that is up to primary voters.

MIA LOVE (R), FORMER UTAH REPRESENTATIVE: I don't think Joe Biden thought this was going to be as difficult as it is. You have got Kamala Harris that is calling him out on all of his issues.

He's got two problems. One is he has to separate himself and say, look, I wasn't just part of the Obama administration, I was actually a leader there. I was -- I mean, these are my proposals. He's got to talk about what he is going to do.

And on the other end, the things that he actually did independently, he's apologizing for. He's saying, look, I was wrong. I was wrong on this. I was wrong on that.

And at some point people think and people know that a great indicator of what you're going to do in the future is what you've done in the past and you have to figure out if you're apologizing for all of the things that you did independently, how are you going be a different leader and I think he's got -- he's struggling with that.

TAPPER: So I want to ask you, Scott, because one of the things that I wonder about is President Trump in the '70s, when Joe Biden was working with the segregationists and opposing busing and et cetera, President Trump was being sued by the U.S. government for discriminating against African-Americans in housing so it is not as though he has a shiny record on these issues either. But he's out there on Twitter today attacking Joe Biden for segregationist.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And I think the president thinks his record on criminal justice reform matched up well against Joe Biden's record on the crime bill and they think he showed leadership on this issue in the modern era is going to be a nice contrast to what Biden did in his career.


And, I think, you're going to see the president's campaign continue to drive that and it is not a partisan issue this was a bipartisan effort. And a lot of Democrats are praising the Trump White House for getting it done.

PSAKI: But I think, Scott -- I mean, one of the things Democrats agree on and we're seeing this over the past couple of days is that issues like housing and education and economic opportunity are how you address racial injustice. It's not going to be a debate about 1970's busing when it comes to the nominee versus Donald Trump. That is where it is problematic for Donald Trump.

LOVE: But criminal justice was a big part of it and it's something that we worked on -- I worked with the Congressional Black Caucus on. This is something that we worked on for a very long time and actually getting that done is a big deal. So now we're moving on to the next.

But you have to be able to -- look, a person who is not an apologist for the administration, first of all I want to make sure that we're giving credit where credit is due. That was done by the House of Representatives and by Congress. And the president was able to sign that into law which is great.

But this was a big deal. Criminal justice reform was a big deal. And he is going to have to face the 1994 criminal crime bill.

TAPPER: The crime bill. Yes.

LOVE: Yes.

EL-SAYED: But let's be clear, the bigger question here is about white supremacy. You have got a president who has no legs to stand on, actively discriminating against people of color in his own apartments. I mean, there is no world where you can look at this crime reform, which like you said is an accomplishment of House of Representatives and say that the Trump White House got it done. No, I'm sorry, Joe Biden as far as it goes--

LOVE: I agree with that.

EL-SAYED: I mean, different -- different strokes.

TAPPER: So we made -- everybody in the media world made a big thing out of it the other day when President Trump refused to endorse Vice President Pence for president in 2024. Take a listen to Michelle Obama yesterday talking about the primaries.


MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Barack and I are going to support whoever wins the primary. So we're -- our primary focus is letting the primary process play out because it's very early --


TAPPER: As with President Trump, that is what you have to say. You can't really -- lean on the scales. But, boy, Biden I'm sure would have loved a note of support there.

PSAKI: Sure. But I think president -- former President Obama, Michelle Obama made a decision strategically they're going to stay out because they saw what happened four years ago when you put your thumb on the scale too early, you're going to mess up the party, the party is divided. They'll come in when it is the right time or they're going to preserve that option but until then they want to see how it plays out, they want to see what the American people think. I actually think that is the right decision on their part.

TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around. We have a lot more to talk about. The latest criticism of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez is coming from inside her own house. That is next. Stay with us.