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State of the Union
Interview With Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ); Interview With Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA); Interview With Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired August 21, 2022 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Scorched earth. Western states forced to conserve water, as rivers dry up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don't take it seriously now, you're insane.
TAPPER: How bad will it get, and what can be done? Arizona Democratic Senator Mark Kelly joins me exclusively in his first Sunday show interview ahead.
Plus: More to come? A judge will decide whether to reveal more information about the Mar-a-Lago search. And former Vice President Pence says he'd consider talking to the January 6 Committee. What more will Americans learn about the former president. January 6 Committee member Congressman Adam Schiff will be here.
And one-way ticket. Washington and New York struggle to cope, as border states bus thousands of undocumented migrants up east.
ERIC ADAMS (D), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: It's just a mean and cruel thing.
TAPPER: What is the long-term solution on the border? Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw is coming up.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is wondering just how strong that red wave will be.
After months of Democratic concern and despite persistently high inflation, Democrats in Washington, D.C., are now feeling more hopeful about their chances to maintain control of the U.S. Senate this fall. Polling in key battleground states where Republicans had hoped to defend or pick up seats now appears to be trending blue.
And Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is blaming -- quote -- "candidate quality" after a series of Trump-backed hopefuls with liabilities ranging from political clumsiness to outright extremism won their Republican Party nominations. And, today, with less than three months until voters get their say, a
new top issue is emerging out West, a multistate drought worsened by the climate crisis. The Biden administration just announced strict new water restrictions for states in the Colorado River Basin, though some state leaders are pushing for longer-term solutions.
As the region experiences the worst drought in literally centuries, my next guest has made addressing that crisis the centerpiece of his reelection campaign.
And joining me now exclusively for his very first Sunday show interview as a senator, Democratic Senator Mark Kelly of Arizona.
Senator, thanks so much for joining us.
So, you're standing in front of the Phoenix Grand Canal in your home state of Arizona that -- your state is in the midst of an unprecedented drought. The federal government just announced new restrictions that are going to cut Arizona's supply of the Colorado River by 21 percent.
What will those cuts mean for Arizonans? And will they actually do anything to address the core problem here, which is that there simply isn't enough water, at least in part because of the climate crisis?
SEN. MARK KELLY (D-AZ): Well, Jake, let me start by saying that these cuts were decided during the last administration, you know, the states working together to come up with a plan to deal with this unprecedented drought.
We took cuts when Lake Mead fell below 1,075 feet above sea level, and now again below 1,050 feet. So, we were anticipating this. And the states worked together on this plan. And you're right. We have this climate crisis that is affecting water in the West. And these reservoirs, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, have gotten to what are now historic -- historically low levels.
And the rate of decline is such that we have to do more. Now, let me make it clear, we have got other sources of water other than the Colorado River. I mean, this is water from the Salt River.
But the Colorado River is a good amount of our water. It's important for agriculture. It's important for communities across the state. But we're good at solving hard problems, and we're going to work our way through this one.
TAPPER: So, the Biden administration is currently warning that this drought could lead to a -- quote -- "catastrophic collapse" of the Colorado River system, which, as you note, is a critical water source for not just Arizona, but the entire region.
So far, the Biden administration has largely left this issue to the states to resolve. And here's what you had to say about this issue back in June:
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KELLY: Arizona has done everything that Arizona has been asked. And we're going to continue to step up here.
But we need partners and long-term commitments from the federal government, because this is a basin-wide problem, not just an Arizona problem.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I mean, it's an existential crisis for your state and others, as I don't need to tell you.
Is the Biden administration being too passive, too cautious?
KELLY: Well, first -- first of all, it's not existential.
We have got solutions. I was able to add $8 billion into the bipartisan infrastructure bill for more water storage and resiliency and settling tribal water claims, more recently, in the Inflation Reduction Act, $4 billion to deal with this drought.
So we do have the tools in place. What we don't have as the partnership right now with other states. Arizona has made an offer to put more and leave more water up in Lake Mead by far than any other state. So we need the other Upper and Lower Basin states to step up and do their part.
If they do that, we're not going to have a -- as you say, a catastrophic collapse of the system. We will be able to stabilize it.
TAPPER: Lake Mead and Lake Powell have been shrinking for decades and are currently at historically low levels.
You're an astronaut. You have flown in space four times. Have you seen firsthand from space the effects of climate change on our planet?
KELLY: Yes, I have.
I flew my first spaceflight in 2001 and my last one in 2011, when Gabby was in the hospital. That was four flights over a decade. And the deforestation that you see across the planet is evident from space. And if one guy can see changes in our planet from low-Earth orbit, we have got a problem.
And we're putting more carbon up into the atmosphere every year. Now, the Inflation Reduction Act is giving us some of the tools to deal with this and bring down the amount of carbon that we're putting in the atmosphere.
And, at the same time, it's allowing us to create the renewable energy that we need here and build it in the United States, and not have to buy stuff from China anymore. So that was a positive first step.
Hey, this climate crisis that we have and the situation we have in the West, with wildfires and drought and the snowpack just evaporating, instead of melting into the Colorado River, it's a challenge. But, as I said, as Americans, we are really good at solving hard problems, especially engineering problems.
So, I'm confident, Jake, that we're going to work our way through this. Arizona is so important to the country. I mean, if you're -- if you're eating, like, green lettuce in the winter, it came from Yuma County.
So we have to solve this problem. And it's so important that the other states step up and do something about it. It just can't be on the state of Arizona.
TAPPER: What states are you specifically talking about? What states are the problem? And what is the problem? Is it the legislature? Is it the governors?
KELLY: Well, Upper Basin states, so Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Lower Basin states, Nevada, California, and Arizona.
So far, Arizona is the only one to put a -- make a significant offer to leave additional water. I'm not talking about the 21 percent cut. I'm talking about additional water up in Lake Mead. So we need other states to step up. Specifically, California gets a large portion of the water from the Colorado River. So it just can't be on us.
This is about -- it's also about food security for our entire nation. If Yuma County doesn't have the water it needs to grow produce, then that means that that -- those products are going to be more expensive across the entire country.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about your Republican opponent in the upcoming Arizona Senate election.
He says Democrats want to -- quote -- "change the demographics of the country." He has openly embraced Donald Trump's election lies. He has the support of a lot of openly racist notorious individuals.
Your -- the Arizona Republican nominee for governor says that President Biden isn't a legitimate president. He -- she says she wants her Democratic opponent in jail. The Republican nominee for secretary of state in Arizona, he's a self-proclaimed member of the Oath Keepers.
You hold the seat once filled by John McCain, who was a conservative, but he did work across the aisle. He was very critical of voices like the ones I just mentioned, not them specifically, but that kind of what he would call Looney Tunes.
What's happened to the Arizona Republican Party?
KELLY: Well, unfortunately, I think right now that the folks you mentioned have some really dangerous ideas, and they're not consistent with most -- most Arizonans, even most Republicans in Arizona.
So I'm hoping we can move away from that. My Republican colleagues that I talk to in the United States Senate, I mean, these are good, good people, by and large, who are working really hard. And they don't need those dangerous ideas in the United States Senate.
TAPPER: Would you want President Biden to come to Arizona and campaign with you?
KELLY: Hey, I will welcome anybody that come to Arizona, travel around the state at any time, as long as I'm here, if I'm not up in Washington in session, and talk about what Arizona needs.
This water situation is significant. And, right now, we have some of the tools necessary to deal with it. I'm trying to get some answers from the Department of Interior on more -- like, what authority do they have to make some decisions themselves on this?
Because, as I said earlier, the other states are not stepping up to help Arizona deal with this. But if anybody wants to come to Arizona and talk about Arizona issues or issues that affect the country, I will be here.
TAPPER: Well, that's not exactly an open invitation to President Biden to come and campaign with you, even though he won the state of Arizona in 2020, saying you would welcome anybody.
Do you have concerns about whether President Biden is the best candidate to keep Arizona blue in 2024?
KELLY: Not at all, Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Senator Kelly, good to see you. Thank you so much for your time today. Appreciate it.
KELLY: Well, thank you for having me on. I really appreciate being on your show, and look forward to doing it again.
TAPPER: And we should note we have also invited Senator Kelly's opponent, Republican Blake Masters, to join us in an upcoming show.
Former Vice President Mike Pence says he would consider testifying before the January 6 Committee. We're going to get the latest from Congressman Adam Schiff on that next.
And border governors are busing undocumented migrants up east. Texas Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw will join me to discuss that and much more coming up.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
The January 6 Select House Committee has promised new evidence and more witness testimony in hearings next month. Joining us now is committee member Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat
of California and the author of "Midnight in Washington: How We Almost Lost Our Democracy and Still Could."
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us, or Mr. Chairman, I should say. You're also chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
So you asked for a damage assessment in a classified briefing from the intelligence community last week regarding the raid on Mar-a-Lago, the search warrant on Mar-a-Lago. Have you heard back from the intelligence community? And do you have any concerns about the potential for this precedent, a search of a president's house, to be abused?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): We haven't received a damage assessment yet. I assume that is being undertaken, and I have every expectation that it will be shared with us. So I look forward to that.
We would also, I think, as a committee like to see what documents that were marked top secret, SCI, were in the president's possession at Mar-a-Lago. This is very serious business. When documents have those markings, it generally indicates that the source of information is very sensitive and, if the document itself were revealed, it could jeopardize that source.
And it might be a human source or a technical source. But you would not only expose the information in the document. You would lose any future intelligence you might gain from the same source, so very serious business, and we want to get to the bottom of it.
In terms of the precedent, I'm confident that Merrick Garland took every precaution, made every effort, short of executing the search warrant, to obtain those documents. And if the public reporting is correct that the Trump lawyers asserted in the affidavit that they'd given all these documents up, and the Justice Department had good reason to believe that wasn't true, then it justifies this means of getting the information and the execution of a search warrant.
So, yes, it's a very powerful precedent. At the same time, I'm confident that it was used appropriately, given the circumstances.
TAPPER: A federal judge will consider releasing a redacted version of the FBI affidavit this Thursday. The Justice Department is, of course, asking to keep it sealed. They say that it could provide a road map for potential defendants and witnesses.
As a former prosecutor, what do you think we could learn from what's in this document? And do you agree that there's a clear public interest in learning the justification, at least some of it, for this search?
SCHIFF: Well, you could learn a lot from the affidavit.
You could learn what witnesses may have seen in terms of the handling of those documents or people coming and going from where the documents were located. You could learn about whether representations were made that proved to be false, in terms of whether they had given up the classified information. You could learn a great deal.
That's just the problem, though, for the Justice Department. I think probably their concern is very legitimate. That is that, if this affidavit is revealed, it will put those sources of information at risk. We have seen the president retaliate against anyone he considers a whistle-blower, accuse them of treason.
And, of course, we have seen the president's incendiary rhetoric already lead someone to go to an FBI building with an assault weapon who was shot to death by the FBI defending itself. So, the risks that the Justice Department identify are real.
Now, the public interest is also real. But I think the question is, at what point in time does the public get to see that affidavit? And I think the Justice Department makes a powerful case that, at the early stage of the investigation, when it could jeopardize the pursuit of justice, this is not the time to be giving essentially the Trump lawyers a road map into how to intimidate witnesses or how to derail a legitimate investigation.
TAPPER: But, surely, you understand the concerns expressed by, for instance, your Republican counterpart on the committee Congressman Turner of Ohio that a search this unprecedented -- and I get that the president's behavior, Donald Trump's behavior is potentially also unprecedented -- but a search this unprecedented requires oversight by Congress to make sure that everything is being done correctly and for the right reasons.
SCHIFF: Oh, absolutely.
The question is, during a pending criminal investigation, at what point does Congress get access to Justice Department files? And I think whatever information is in that affidavit that bears on a danger to the national security information contained in those documents, I would hope that that would be shared with Congress, even if the affidavit is not.
But I don't want to see Congress or anyone else interfere with the conduct of the investigation. I'd like to make sure that we do our oversight of that, but that we do it in such a way as not to jeopardize the pursuit of justice.
TAPPER: There was an interesting comment made by Vice President Pence a few days ago suggesting that he might be available to testify before the January 6 House Committee if an invitation was extended.
Has an invitation been extended? What was your response to that, your reaction?
SCHIFF: I was encouraged to hear it. And I hope it meant what it sounded like it meant.
We have been in discussion with the vice president's counsel for some time. So he knows of our interest in having him come before us. And I am confident that, if he is truly willing, that there is a way to work out any executive privilege or separation of powers issues.
There is, of course, nothing precluding the vice president, should he decide to, to come before Congress. And I would hope, given the severity of the issues we're addressing here, an attack on our Capitol, an attack on our very democracy, that he would be willing to come in.
He could plainly share a lot of very firsthand information about what it was like to be the subject of those efforts to get him to violate his constitutional duty and arrogate to himself the power to decide who won or who lost an American presidential election.
TAPPER: The daughter of prominent Putin ally Alexander Dugin, who has been called Putin's brain and the spiritual guide of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the daughter was killed in a car explosion yesterday.
An acquaintance of the family said it was Dugin's car. Russia suggested Ukraine might be responsible. Ukraine is denying it. Have you been briefed on anything having to do with this attack? Who might you think is behind it?
SCHIFF: We have not yet been briefed on it. And I couldn't say who was behind it. There are so many factions and internecine warfare within Russian society, within the Russian government. Anything is possible.
I certainly hope that, if it was an attack on either one of those people, that it was an internal Russian affair, and it wasn't something emanating from Ukraine. We have seen terrible war crimes by Russia against Ukraine, and Russia should be held accountable. And I certainly would never want to see anything like an attack on civilians by Ukraine, and hope that their representations are correct.
TAPPER: The midterm elections are now just 79 days away. Speaker Pelosi has previously vowed to step down from leadership after this term.
There's already been some jockeying behind the scenes to replace her as either speaker or House minority leader, however the elections go. Would you want to be leader of the House Democratic Caucus?
SCHIFF: Well, first, I think the speaker has been truly the most impressive and credible and productive speaker in our history. So I hope that she will stay.
If she makes the decision not to stay, right now, all I'm focused on is making sure that we are successful in this midterms, that we have a majority to pick the next speaker. And, frankly, I'm very encouraged by the fact that momentum seems to be moving in our direction, and we have a greater and greater chance of holding on to the majority and, therefore, holding on to our democracy.
TAPPER: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Congressman Adam Schiff, Democrat of California, thank you so much for your time.
SCHIFF: Thank you. TAPPER: Is the GOP becoming the party of defund the FBI?
I will ask former Navy SEAL, now U.S. Congressman Dan Crenshaw after this quick break.
TAPPER: Welcome back the STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
As we wait for more information on the FBI search of Mar-a-Lago, Republican lawmakers are largely standing by former President Trump.
And joining us now to discuss is Texas Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw.
Congressman, thanks so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): Jake, thanks for having me.
It's a slow news week. I don't know what you want to talk about.
TAPPER: So let's -- there's a lot to get to.
Let's start with the fact that you're a former Navy SEAL. You have depended on the intelligence community in very real, tangible ways to protect your life and those of your brothers. As someone who understands just how precious intelligence can be, I'm wondering if it bothers you that there was apparently classified information in an unsecure location at Mar-a-Lago.
We know that one box was labeled TS/SCI. That's top secret, sensitive, compartmented information.
Well, look, you know me, Jake, and I'm not wanting to withhold criticism, and even make my own side mad. I want to get to the truth. And -- but I will be honest with you hear. It -- this -- it's hard to justify what the Department of Justice did here, in my opinion.
And here's why. Here's what it really boils down to. It's not a question that it's bad to have classified material in a non-SCIF environment, right? So, that's a non secret, compartmentalized infrastructure there. That's wrong.
But there's ways to mitigate that. There's ways to resolve that issue. And I still haven't seen any evidence that he was even asked, that Trump was even asked to get these documents back. He's been cooperating with them on these issues for a while now, for months. And so why take it to this extreme extent?
And I think that's why you're seeing so much backlash from Republicans. You're seeing -- you're seeing everyone coalesce. It doesn't matter what side of the issue they're on with Trump. You have seen a lot coalesce around this one, because it does seem unjust.
And there does seem to be a long history of loss of credibility at the Department of Justice at the hands of Democrats. And I think people are rightfully frustrated about that.
TAPPER: I think they're -- well, first of all, I think there are a lot of Hillary Clinton folks who would argue that they don't think that they were treated well by the FBI either.
CRENSHAW: Absolutely. So, it just gets to the point, though.
TAPPER: So -- but what I will say is, I mean, look, you're right. There's a lot we don't know, so I can't defend anything.
But I will say is, it did go to a magistrate judge. The FBI director signed off on it. He was appointed by Trump. There was concern, according to the documents that have been released, about whether or not information would be destroyed.
So, look, a healthy skepticism about law enforcement and FBI raids is always fine and welcome as far as I'm concerned. But aren't law enforcement -- isn't law enforcement isn't innocent until proven guilty as well?
CRENSHAW: Yes, again, people signing off on it doesn't mean it's -- it doesn't -- that it has precedent. It doesn't. This is a very unprecedented measure.
And you know that when you're going after an ex-president who may run again, that this is -- this is automatically political. You can't -- you cannot separate the legal aspects of this from the political aspects of it. You can't. And it doesn't seem to me like they have acted responsibly as a result of that.
And look, again, why not just ask him? Why not just ask him?
TAPPER: But didn't they? I thought they'd been negotiating and trying to get the information from him. And...
CRENSHAW: And he cooperated.
TAPPER: But he didn't turn over boxes and boxes of materials, as far as the Justice Department says.
CRENSHAW: But he's been cooperating.
And he -- and I think he's on the record saying, whatever you need from us, just ask. It's great to see you guys. I mean, it was a very friendly environment. There's no reason... TAPPER: But his lawyers said they didn't have any more classified information, and the Justice Department said, yes, you do. And they went and got it.
And the only reason we know about the raid was because Donald Trump announced it.
CRENSHAW: Right. Well, I think we would have figured it out, even if he hadn't.
But, look, the lawyers did sign the document that they have nothing left. Now that's either a huge mistake on the part of the lawyers. But even if -- even if it was nefarious again, why not say, hey, we don't believe you, now, let us come back, and let's go through these boxes again? There's tons of boxes here.
I mean, do we do -- do any of us really believe that Donald Trump is, like, reading his nuclear secrets on his bedside at night? I -- there's an intense question here. And if you're going -- and if you're going to use the Espionage Act, and if you're going to -- and if you're going to pursue this criminal investigation, you have to prove intent.
And that doesn't seem likely in this case, right, especially when this person has been cooperating extensively in a very friendly manner. And so that's why a lot of us jumped to the conclusion that this was highly politicized, because it was so unnecessary to do an armed raid to resolve this particular issue that could have been resolved very easily otherwise.
TAPPER: I think a lot of Justice Department people would take issue with your descriptions, but I'm not here to defend the Justice Department.
I do want to note that your criticism is fairly measured. I can't say the same about every Republican in Congress. And you have been willing to criticize them, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, one of your favorites, who called to defund the FBI after the Mar-a-Lago raid.
Federal prosecutors have since charged a Pennsylvania man this week after he wrote on social media: "If you work on for the FBI, you deserve to die."
Obviously, that armed man...
TAPPER: ... tried to enter the FBI office in Ohio.
There's a Republican congressional candidate, Carl Paladino, endorsed by Elise Stefanik, who said that Attorney General Merrick Garland should probably be executed.
I mean, that rhetoric, I'm sure, bothers you.
CRENSHAW: Oh, yes. It's crazy. And it makes us seem like extremist Democrats, right? And so Marjorie
and AOC can go join the defund the law enforcement club if they want; 99 percent of Republicans are not on that train.
What we want is accountability. We want transparency. And these -- and the criticisms that we're leveling against the FBI and DOJ are fully warranted. It is not those criticisms that lead to a crazy person attacking an FBI...
TAPPER: Oh, no, I'm not saying that. I'm talking about people who are like saying, kill FBI, or...
CRENSHAW: No, it's completely wrong, right? It's -- that's completely wrong. But that's not where 99 percent of Republicans are at, of course.
And I will tell you what frustrates Republicans when you hear that kind of criticism is, last time I checked, you had even the White House spokesperson saying, yes, people should be out protesting in front of Supreme Court justices' homes, even after Brett Kavanaugh had his life threatened by this.
And so there's a double standard that frustrates the Republicans quite a bit when we talk about these issues. Again, it doesn't make it right. I like to be on the side of, it's all bad no matter who's saying.
Let me ask you another question that's important for all Americans, but especially in Texas. The governor of Texas, Greg Abbott, says Texas has now bust nearly 1,000 undocumented migrants from the border in Texas to New York City in the last two weeks.
There's an immigration researcher at Syracuse who said that Abbott is doing these migrants, these undocumented individuals, a favor and -- quote -- "practically ensuring that these migrants will be allowed to stay in the country" because immigration judges in New York tend to be more lenient than immigration judges in Texas.
What do you make of this stunt...
TAPPER: ... this move, whatever you want to call it, by Abbott?
CRENSHAW: Well, look, what he's doing is, he's sending a message. That -- there's no secret there, right? This isn't a policy move.
This is -- this is a move of desperation to get someone to pay attention to what we're dealing with in Texas, which is why I support it. Again, like I say, will they have more likely -- likelihood of staying in the country? Look, basically, everyone is crossing our border has that same likelihood. There's millions upon -- there's almost two million, I think, we're at, at apprehensions just this year. That's an unprecedented number. a huge amount of those will stay in the country, because the backlogs in our system are so severe that that's going to happen anyway.
And when we're talking about the New York and D.C. busing, we're talking about a few thousand immigrants. That's what we deal with on a daily basis in South Texas.
So, look, what he's doing, I think, is out of desperation. And it's highly necessary, because somebody has to solve this problem. This is an infringement on our sovereignty. It's an infringement on our rule of law.
And you know what? It's unfair and it's immoral to the millions upon millions of good, law-abiding immigrants or asylum seekers around the world that have no chance of getting into our system because of the backlog that people are creating because they're geographically close to the United States and they can just walk across. It's not fair.
TAPPER: I want to talk to you about Afghanistan too, because we're in this month. It's a one-year anniversary since the chaotic U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
There was a lot of concern about the fallout for homeland security and for U.S. intelligence with the withdrawal. Now, the Biden administration has since said that -- the U.S. intelligence agencies under Biden, that al Qaeda has not reconstituted.
Obviously, the Biden administration, working with the Pentagon and intelligence partners, were able to take out al-Zawahiri.
How great is the direct terrorist threat, given the withdrawal? On -- from a 30,000-foot view...
TAPPER: ... it doesn't look bad, given the fact that al Qaeda has not reconstituted, and al Qaeda's number two, number one was taken out.
CRENSHAW: Depends on who you talk to him.
General Petraeus was just on the record this week talking about how, well, look, it's ISIS that is really the threat, and really has the resources right now.
The other thing that's clear from the Zawahiri strike, which I fully support -- I'm glad the administration did that. But here's what's clear about that. The Taliban has been harboring him, right? This was in a wealthy neighborhood in Kabul. The Taliban has been going door to door all over Afghanistan for a year now.
They knew where he was. They knew where they were harboring him. It was part of the reason that we -- that we believed that the Taliban were never going to adhere to the deal that even the Trump administration made, OK?
So what frustrates me about Afghanistan is -- generally speaking, is that we didn't learn any lessons in the last 20 years.And our politicians and our leaders never told the American people the complicated truth about what's happening there.
It's not this normal war where it's us, say, vs. Saddam Hussein and there's a uniformed opposition vs. us, and then there's a clear winner and loser at the end and then when you sign a treaty. That's not what this ever was, right?
You were attacked, and then you either took revenge or you saw to prevent it from ever happening again. And our policy was to seek to prevent it from ever happening again. And that requires resources. It requires building up capacity with our allies.
And that's complicated, and it's messy. And some people call it nation-building. You can call it capacity-building, stability operations. Whatever you call it, it's tough. And over 20 years, we sort of figured out that right balance, where we're actually investing very minimal resources.
We hadn't lost a single soldier in over a year. We had very few troops there. And we had a strategic Bagram Air Base, not just for counterterrorism operations, but it's close to Pakistan. It's close to Iran. It's close to China.
CRENSHAW: And then we just give it up? Why? Because of these emotional cries to bring the troops home, no more endless wars, and instead of -- instead of addressing the complexities of this issue and understanding what national defense is, which does involve a forward- deployed presence, a connection with allies, building -- building capacity with them, so that I'm not the guy going losing my eye to do it.
And we lost it all.
TAPPER: Congressman Dan Crenshaw, thank you so much for being here. Appreciate it.
CRENSHAW: Thanks, Jake. Thanks for having me.
TAPPER: Are Democrats poised to in fact keep the Senate, maybe even add seats?
We're going to take a look at the numbers with our panel. That's next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I would love to have a couple more Democrats in the Senate, so that we can pass the rest of President Biden's economic agenda.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There's probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Our panel is here with me now to talk about this.
I never really thought, about a month or two ago that we'd be talking about whether or not Democrats can not only keep the Senate, but potentially even pick up seats. But look at these four new FOX News polls over the last few weeks showing Democrats gaining traction in key Senate races, Democrats up 11 in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, up eight in Arizona, up four, though we should note that's within the margin of error, in Wisconsin and Georgia.
David Urban, do you agree with Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's assessment that the problem here is candidate quality, as he put it?
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Listen, candidates matter in any race, right?
So people are going to look at the candidates. They are going to -- they're -- people vote for candidates much more so than issues. And I think that a lot of these candidates are having a tough time getting some traction, right?
In Pennsylvania, I think those numbers aren't correct. I think Mehmet Oz is much, much closer than 11 points. I think that's going to be a race that's -- you know the commonwealth. It's going to be a point or two.
URBAN: And these other states, I think they're going to narrow.
As we get closer to Election Day, these are going to be very close races, and the Senate is going to be very close. I don't think that the -- I think that the likelihood you're going to have a big pickup by Republicans or Democrats on any side -- either side is going to win big is not going to happen.
It's going to be a close race. And I think this doesn't include, like, sleepers. I'm a big fan here of Tiffany Smiley. I know this is a...
TAPPER: Washington state.
URBAN: Washington state...
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
URBAN: ... against Patty Murray. Don't sleep on Tiffany Smiley. That's going to be a very close race. No one's talking about it, really, outside of the state.
URBAN: And, those things, no one's looking at right now.
TAPPER: Karen, what do you think?
It is -- I mean, it is -- I tend to agree with David that I think Pennsylvania is and will be much closer.
FINNEY: Look, I think they're all going to be close, and Democrats can't take anything for granted.
However, we have a couple of things in our favor. Number one, many of these Republicans have come through primaries where they were focused on grievance, loyalty to Trump. Now we're hearing about defund the FBI.
And the contrast -- candidates do matter, but the contrast that Democrats are now able to make between what they're talking about, inflation reduction, lowering prescription drug costs, infrastructure, a number of things that we can talk about and say to voters, you came out, you voted, here are the results, this is why we want to be returned to do more, as you heard from the congresswoman.
And, on the other side, Republicans are -- what are they talking about? What is their agenda? And I will say, talking about a national ban on abortion, that is mobilizing not just Democratic voters, but, as we saw in Kansas, non-affiliated and Republican voters.
TAPPER: Yes, especially Republican women.
FINNEY: A hundred percent.
TAPPER: Alyssa, "Washington Post" columnist Megan McArdle has a new column out this morning about how Trump and Trump voters are hurting their own cause in the midterm.
But one of the things he writes is: "Trump has been meddling and race after race, deterring strong candidates such as Larry Hogan in Maryland and Chris Sununu in New Hampshire, while elevating weak and inexperienced ones, such as Blake Masters and Dr. Oz."
Do you agree?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
It's absolutely correct. I mean, candidates matter. It's the oldest cliche in the book. But I would say this. Who makes for a good general election candidate is very different than who's most likely to cater to the base in these primaries.
Doug Ducey in Arizona would be skating to re -- to election, in my opinion, vs... TAPPER: Against Mark Kelly.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Against Mark Kelly vs. someone like a Blake Masters, who's going to have an uphill battle.
To Karen's point, we need to see if some of these maybe more fringe candidates, first-time officeholders, are able to pivot to an actual forward-looking message. Are they going to talk about gas prices, the economy, jobs? Or is it going to be a lot of, 2020 was stolen, defund the FBI?
And that's kind of -- that's going to be the question of how successful these are.
TAPPER: And you're from Michigan, where the governor is up for reelection there. This is playing out in a similar way.
DR. ABDUL EL-SAYED, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's right.
The hard part here is that Republicans think they have a message in pointing to gas prices or pointing at energy costs. But, to be frank, the Democrats have done a lot of good in terms of what can reduce energy costs, bringing gas prices down.
And it's hard to point to something, when we know that the discussion that Republicans keep having out of their primary, even into the general has all to do with these cultural war issues that just don't resonate with people.
So you can't point to gas prices and point to energy costs, and then be talking about trying to ban abortion.
FINNEY: You know, the other thing is, Trump clearly is going to loom large between now and November. He is not going away.
And that is harder for the Republican candidates, because the more they are having to either defend Donald Trump or say if they agree, which leans into reminding particularly moderate voters and those independents that's why they voted for Joe Biden. They are sick of the chaos. So, again, I think that's the other factor we have to remember here.
Second thing, in the fall, lots of state legislatures already have abortion bans ready to go. That is going to continue to mobilize and motivate, again, these women who want reproductive freedom.
URBAN: Yes, I agree with Karen.
Listen, I think, it inures to Democrat -- excuse me -- it inures to Republicans that we talk about issues, right, that we don't fight on -- on cultural big issues, we don't defend -- think the 2020 election. If we talk about -- in Pennsylvania, if Dr. Oz gets to speak about the differences in his platform vs. John Fetterman's platform, those numbers are going to change dramatically, I think, in favor of Republicans. If Republicans stick to the issues that they know and win on, they're going to do very, very well. If they're fighting meme wars, right, if you're going to fight a meme war about silly social media posts -- and that's what's happening. The Democrats are being able to dictate the terms of these races.
URBAN: They're going to win. Republicans do get back and talk about issues.
FARAH GRIFFIN: And I think it's important -- sorry, real quick -- for Republicans to acknowledge who are going to be the Republican kingmakers in the midterms.
Mitch McConnell has a huge slush fund through the SLF that he's going to come forward and back some of these races where -- by the way, I don't think Mitch McConnell is dying to have J.D. Vance in the Senate, but he understands it's critical to his majority.
But you have got some in the base saying, we need to ditch Mitch McConnell. So there's this kind of...
TAPPER: Including Blake Masters.
FARAH GRIFFIN: Including Blake Masters.
EL-SAYED: Here's where I worry. I worry that Democrats aren't going to press the advantage, that Democrats are just going to point to the body of work and say, that's enough.
I think Democrats right now need to press the advantage. They need to go further. I was just having dinner with a young couple, and they were talking about how student loans are really crushing them. There's so much more that the president can do to press the advantage, to demonstrate how...
URBAN: Let's talk about the issues, because I think Republicans...
FARAH GRIFFIN: Yes.
URBAN: I think Republicans win on the issues every day.
TAPPER: All right.
URBAN: So, let's talk about it.
TAPPER: All right.
Thanks, one and all, for being here. Really appreciate it. Great to see all of you.
Coming up: how proud Ukrainians are fighting back against Vladimir Putin on stage. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Tonight on CNN, an important special report by my co-host, Dana Bash, about rising antisemitism.
Dana sits down with Jason Greenblatt, a Jewish man who was one of Donald Trump's lawyers for decades.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Did you feel a special responsibility to go to him when you saw those things happening?
JASON GREENBLATT, FORMER U.S. SPECIAL ENVOY TO THE MIDDLE EAST: I did.
BASH: Can you give me an example?
GREENBLATT: The David Duke thing during the campaign.
TAPPER: Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don't want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK?
GREENBLATT: I saw what was happening, I guess, as a result of Jake's interview, and I said, look, this is what's happening. Here's what David Duke actually said. Do you stand for this? And he said, absolutely not.
So he dictated a condemnation.
BASH: And why do you think he didn't get it in the moment?
GREENBLATT: Not everybody knows David Duke, as silly as that sounds, but maybe he didn't understand what was being asked of him. Very hard to say.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The reason why his statements still hit people so hard, it's because pulling that out of him required so much effort. Donald Trump is complicated. He has a Jewish daughter and son-in-law.
He has Jewish grandchildren. There has never been a president in the history of the republic as personally close as the Jewish people as Donald Trump. And things like the Abraham Accords, these were really important. And yet, at the same time, when asked to call out white supremacists...
TRUMP: Proud Boys, stand back and stand by.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when he stood there days after Charlottesville, and said:
TRUMP: But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... the neo-Nazis knew exactly what he meant. His attitude, his language, the choices that he made ushered in this hate.
TRUMP: Excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did.
BASH: So, Jason Greenblatt, he argues that if you read all of the remarks in that Charlottesville press conference, he did condemn the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists.
TRUMP: And I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Donald Trump convincingly, consistently, clearly called out the extremists and the antisemites, it wouldn't even matter what he said at that moment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Make sure to tune in to Dana's special report, "Rising Hate: Antisemitism in America," at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.
And we want to leave you on this note.
Yuri Shevchenko died in Kyiv, Ukraine, on March 23, a well-known Ukrainian composer. He was reportedly sheltering in a basement from the Russian assault on the city, when he caught pneumonia and later died. He was 68 years old, yet another victim of Vladimir Putin's war, targeting not just Ukraine cities and its people, but its culture.
But Ukrainians are fighting back on the battlefield and in concert halls around the world. The Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra is leading what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine calls the artistic resistance against Russia.
It's the brainchild of Canadian-Ukrainian conductor Keri-Lynn Wilson.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KERI-LYNN WILSON, CONDUCTOR, UKRAINIAN FREEDOM ORCHESTRA: We're on a mission to fight on the cultural front for Ukraine, for its freedom, for its independence, as soldiers of music, I like to call my musicians, to galvanize audiences in the Western world to stay resolved and in solidarity with Ukraine.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: As one musician told "The New York Times" -- quote -- "I don't have a gun, but I have my cello."
Last night, the orchestra concluded a 12-city international tour at the Kennedy Center here in Washington, D.C., in front of a sold-out crowd.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILSON: The message is very clear to Putin and his regime, that Ukrainian culture is strong, it's vital, and you cannot silence it or erase it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Yuri Shevchenko may be gone, but his music is not.
Here now is his arrangement of the Ukrainian national anthem entitled "We Do Exist" performed by the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And our thanks to the Kennedy Center and the Ukrainian Freedom Orchestra.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next.