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State of the Union
Trump Nearing Indictment?; Interview With Gov. Chris Sununu (R- NH); Interview With Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ); Interview With Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragan (D-CA). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired March 19, 2023 - 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): Bracing for charges. Former President Trump claims he's about to be arrested in New York and calls for his supporters to protest, reminding some of January 6.
How likely are charges? Could they stick? And how might it affect the presidential campaign?
And moral compass. Vladimir Putin visits occupied Ukraine days after The Hague issued an arrest warrant for war crimes.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think it's justified.
TAPPER: One potential GOP White House contender says his party is wrong to back away from Ukraine. Republican Governor Chris Sununu joins me next, and then Democratic Senator Mark Kelly on what's next in the war.
Plus: failure to bank. The markets have the jitters after a week of worldwide banking concerns, another major economic test for President Biden.
JANET YELLEN, U.S. TREASURY SECRETARY: Our banking system is sound.
TAPPER: But does it raise the risks of a recession?
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is on edge.
After calling for protests, Donald Trump has everyone's attention once again, as the former president and his team prepare for the possibility he could be indicted in New York City this week, what would be the first ever criminal charges against a former U.S. president.
In a social media post yesterday, Trump claimed that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday and called for his supporters to -- quote -- "protest, take our nation back" -- unquote -- "echoing his calls for protests prior to January 6, 2021." Trump's attorneys later told CNN-that the Tuesday claim was based on media reports. We do know district attorney Alvin Bragg appears to be building a case against Trump stemming from that hush money payment to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 campaign, potentially including whether Trump falsified business documents to cover up that payment and whether that was a campaign finance violation.
Combining those two alleged offenses and making them a felony charge would be a risky, untested legal approach, experts say. And sources tell CNN that Trump thinks that this could all help him politically.
Bragg's response to Trump was a statement that his office will not tolerate intimidation attempts. The case continues and the grand jury in this case is set to hear from another witness on Monday, according to a source.
Joining me now to discuss, and much more, is the Republican governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu, who is considering a presidential run.
Governor Sununu, always good to see you.
Let's start with Trump saying that he expects to be charged by the Manhattan DA. What's your reaction?
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Well, again, I think there's a lot of unknowns.
I can tell you, I think it's building a lot of sympathy for the former president. I think the fact that I was with -- coffee this morning with some folks, and they're -- none of them were big Trump supporters, but they all said they felt like he was being attacked.
And, as you pointed out, this is likely some sort of misdemeanor on an issue seven years ago. This has nothing to do with January 6. There's folks out there that still thinks this has something to do with January 6.
So, I just think that the, -- not just the media, but really a lot of the Democrats have misplayed this, in terms of building sympathy for the former president. And it does drastically change the paradigm as we go into the '24 election.
TAPPER: The former president has also called for -- quote -- "protests," and he's urging supporters to -- quote -- "take our country back."
Obviously, every American has the constitutional right to peaceful protest, but do you think former President Trump has a special responsibility here to make sure that his supporters protest peacefully after what happened on January 6?
SUNUNU: Well, sure.
Look, if someone's calling for protests, you always want to make sure that they're peaceful. And we know that that's going to happen. And that has happened before. In long history, in recent history in America, folks are always out there protesting what they see as an unjustified arrest or an unjustified indictment.
But you want to make sure it's peaceful. We don't want history to repeat itself in overly negative ways. But -- so, that's going to happen out there. And it's not -- you can't just put it on the former president. It's our responsibility, right, in society, in our communities, to make sure that, if we have something to say, we're doing it in the right way, and making sure we're making a positive effect going forward.
But it is going to be a circus, right? It is going to be a bit of a political circus. There's going to be a lot of unknowns. As you brought up, this could be a misdemeanor. This was tried -- I believe something similar was tried against Edwards, the former presidential, candidate years ago, and got nowhere.
So, this is untested. There's a question about the why they're doing it, something seven years ago. It's not a nothing, but it's moving money and how he claimed money being moved between him and his lawyer. You know, there are other issues that really take precedent in terms of where this country needs to go, what we need to do to get stuff done, how we manage our budgets, how we secure the border.
There's much more pressing issues of the day. It's just unfortunate this has taken the headlines.
TAPPER: Well, let's turn to one of those pressing issues, Ukraine and Russia's war against Ukraine, because a Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Russian-occupied Mariupol overnight in Ukraine,.
That's his closest visit yet to the front lines of the war. This comes just days after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Putin's arrest for war crimes relating to the abduction of Ukrainian children.
What do you make of the visit by Putin to Mariupol?
SUNUNU: Well, look, he knows he has to somehow get the morale of these -- of what troops are remaining up in any way he can.
The Russian army has been absolutely decimated. It's been demoralized. They're leaving the lines left and right. This is Putin's last -- if you will, last stand. I mean, I think it could go on a long time, but his last, latest big attempt to get some morale-boosting and kind of add into that propaganda machine.
Ukraine has done just a miraculous job in terms of the resolve of those individuals and resolve of those people. Obviously, I have been very clear and a lot of other folks have been very clear about us having to back Ukraine's play. Russia is no friend of the United States.
So this is the United States. We support freedom, right? We don't capitulate. We don't back down from it. We support countries. We support our allies. We support coalitions. And, again, I think what you're seeing out of Vladimir Putin is a little bit of desperation now just to keep the troops together.
TAPPER: Let's talk about your new op-ed just released, in which you say that some of your fellow Republicans -- quote -- "have lost their moral compass on foreign policy" -- unquote.
You specifically called out Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who called the war in Ukraine a territorial dispute and said it was not a vital national interest for the United States.
Do you think Governor DeSantis' view on this is disqualifying for him?
SUNUNU: Well, I don't think it's disqualifying, but this is a clear -- it's not even a questionable -- a clear vital national interest to support what is going on in Ukraine.
It sends a message to our enemies if we were to back out now that we're not resolved. It sends a message to China if they were to take an aggressive approach to Taiwan. It sends a message to our coalitions and our allies that we are going to be there, that they can count on us, that this -- we're not just a partner.
This is the United States of America. We lead from a place of strength, of freedom, of courage. And we -- and folks need to know that they can count on us to be there. And so that, again, creates opportunities here at home. It secures our interests at home, when not only we say we're the world leader, but we act like it too.
TAPPER: About -- according to CNN polls, about 40 percent of Republican voters are supporting Donald Trump right now. About 36 percent are supporting Ron DeSantis. You haven't declared yet.
So I guess my question is, that's a big chunk of the Republican Party supporting people who disagree with you on how vital Ukraine is. Explain to a Republican voter out there who is skeptical of why this is in the national interests, other than notions of the U.S. stands for freedom.
Why is this in the national interest to support the war in Ukraine -- to support Ukraine in the war, I mean?
SUNUNU: Well, let's walk through it.
If you -- yes, so if you let Russia start -- come in and walk over Ukraine, you put all of Eastern Europe at risk. You put all of our NATO allies there at risk. And then, when a NATO ally is now at risk, now you really risk having to put potential American troops on the ground, which nobody wants to see and shouldn't happen.
But if they're starting to go after NATO allies in Eastern Europe, now that's a much bigger problem. It sends a message to China, who wants to aggressively go after Taiwan, which creates a vast majority of the technology that we need for our everyday lives.
And then that puts our consumers at risk. It puts our manufacturers at risk. It puts our economy at risk if you allow that to happen. So this will hit home very, very quickly. I have heard people say, well, no blank checks. And I agree with that. No blank checks.
We're putting about $50 billion of support in Ukraine. Understand this; $50 billion to not put a single troop on the ground, potentially defeat and decimate the Russian army, that's less than 10 percent of our defense appropriation in just a single year.
I'm the most fiscally conservative governor in the country, and I'm telling you, that's a deal. That's a good effort of backing our play and backing our allies' play across the world.
TAPPER: Speaking of the economy, two banks have collapsed in the last week or so, and a third is being propped up right now after 10 tumultuous days for the American financial system.
Investors and markets are rattled. At least some sense of calm seems to have been restored, at least temporarily. Are you satisfied with how the Biden administration is handling this, or would you be doing something differently if you were president?
SUNUNU: No. No.
Look, what you have now is, you have a bank that did not manage their investments well. You have a giant bailout from the federal government. And that's what this is. These are -- as a lot of folks now know, these are big companies with big money in that bank. They should have hedged their investments. They shouldn't have put their employees and their businesses at risk.
But what it really says to all the other banks that are out there is, if you take risky investments, if you don't manage your investments wisely, don't worry, the federal government will back your play. So that actually incentivizes worst management -- worst management,higher risk by other banks down the road, because now we have set this precedent going forward.
So, it was not the right play. It sends the wrong message. If you want to move the FDIC number up from 250,000 to something higher, I have no problem with that, right? If you want to provide some supports, I have no problem.
But this whole idea that we're going to fully -- fully back the play and bail out all these tech companies, it's not right, and it sets a terrible precedent on the macroeconomic scale for this country.
TAPPER: Let me just ask you, before you go, sir. You're a popular Republican governor in a purple state.
You just wrote an op-ed about foreign policy. So I want to ask you, are you any closer to making a decision about whether or not you're going to run for president than last time I asked?
SUNUNU: Well, I guess we're a few days closer, right? I know I probably -- all of us have to make some sort of decision as
we hit the summer months. I'd love to be in a debate, if we actually go down that path. I just think that'd be really fun to kind of get on stage with some of my friends and really have it out and talk about real issues, not just headlines and political stunts and all that, and kind of put each other on the line.
So I think everyone will have to make the decision as we get to summer. So, obviously, we're a little closer there, but our message is really gaining traction. It's about competency-related results, leadership that can bring something to the table, that can work with Republicans, work with Democrats, get immigration reform done, balance budgets, address all of these real serious issues that we have in this country, as opposed to just living in the headlines.
TAPPER: All right, Governor Sununu, it sounds like -- it sounds like you're going to run.
TAPPER: Thanks for joining us. Appreciate it.
SUNUNU: All right. Thank you, buddy.
TAPPER: Vladimir Putin thumbs his nose at The Hague with a visit to Russian-occupied Ukraine.
Democratic senator former Navy pilot Mark Kelly will join us to talk about what's next in Ukraine's war for survival.
And, ahead, a New Yorker who goes way back with the former president on why Trump thinks a potential indictment could actually help him.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has visited occupied territory in Ukraine in a visit announced just days after the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for Putin's arrest on war crimes for deporting, essentially kidnapping Ukrainian children, bringing them into Russia.
The defiant visit by Putin to Mariupol, once a symbol of Ukrainian resistance, comes just as Putin prepares for a consequential summit with China's President Xi Jinping.
Joining me now, the Democratic senator from Arizona, Mark Kelly.
Senator Kelly, thanks so much for joining us. Let's start with the latest on Trump. Obviously, arresting a former
president would be unprecedented in the history of the United States. We do not know what exact charges could be filed yet. What we do know includes the idea that falsifying business records might be one of the charges.
That's a misdemeanor in New York, unless prosecutors use what a lot of experts say would be a risky legal approach to try to charge him with a felony, all of this, by the way, over an improper accounting of a $130,000 payment.
Do you think -- do you have any concerns that this specific charge might not rise to the magnitude of justifying a step such as this?
SEN. MARK KELLY (D-AZ): Well, let me start by saying, Jake, we're a country of laws, and nobody's above the law.
I think it's very important for the Manhattan DA to look into this thoroughly. If they come to the conclusion that he should be charged, I mean, the former president has some constitutional rights, and this is a process that's going to need to be worked out between him and his lawyers.
I would hope that, if they brought charges, that they have a strong case, because this is -- as you said, it's unprecedented. And there are certainly risks involved here. But, again, nobody in our nation is or should be above the law.
TAPPER: Trump also called for his supporters to -- quote -- "protest and take our nation back."
There are a lot of people in law enforcement looking at how Trump's calls for protests after the 2020 election culminated in deadly violence. And they worry about violence now too. Are you concerned?
KELLY: Yes, sure.
I mean, I was there that day on January 6 in the Senate chamber. But the president's supporters, they have First Amendment rights, and they should be able to exercise those peacefully. I think it's going to be important for law enforcement to pay attention to protests and make sure it doesn't rise to the level of violence.
TAPPER: Let's turn to the war between Russia and Ukraine.
You said the collision between a U.S. drone and a Russian jet was a combination of aggressiveness and incompetence. Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said it's a test for the Biden administration, that the U.S. should fly more drones in that area, potentially flanked by fighter jets.
You were a Navy pilot for more than two decades. What do you think of Senator Rubio's idea?
KELLY: Well, I don't think we should be intimidated by the Russians or deterred from what we think is the right operational approach to this.
We shouldn't pull back our MQ-9s that are flying in the area. But let me reiterate that the Russians here have shown how reckless they are, how incompetent they are. I flew with Russian pilots in the back seat of my NASA jet for decades. I flew in space with Russians.
I'm not surprised by this. I mean, I flew with Russian pilots, fighter pilots who couldn't fly formation. And I watched this video, and it's pretty obvious what happened. He lost sight of it, and he crashed into it. He didn't do it intentionally, but it was reckless, and it's incompetence that we see on the battlefield every day in Ukraine.
And that's why the losses that the Russians are suffering right now are really high. At this point, I mean, the best choice for Vladimir Putin would be to say, hey, this isn't working, and he's got to stop this illegal invasion.
And, I mean, it's horrific what is going on in Ukraine with war crimes, and he's killing women and children.
TAPPER: Yes. And, obviously, the International Criminal Court put out a warrant for his arrest based on the abducting of Ukrainian kids, which is just horrific and terrifying.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis this week said that the war in Ukraine, he described it as a territorial dispute. He said that it's not a -- quote -- "vital national interest" for the United States.
You're on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Do you agree?
KELLY: I was shocked.
I think it's stunning for the Florida governor, who's running for president, to say this. I mean, what is he saying it for, to get votes? I mean, what happened to Ronald Reagan's peace through strength?
I mean, we need to show Vladimir Putin that he -- it's unacceptable for him to invade a neighbor. This is in our national security interest for him to lose. We can't allow him to be successful. If he's able to take Ukraine and win a war in Ukraine, who's going to be next? It's going to be one of our NATO allies.
And then we're going to be putting U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines in harm's way. We're not -- we don't have to do that right now. We need to make sure that Ukraine wins this thing and Vladimir Putin and his cronies are held accountable for this.
TAPPER: I have heard other people in the Republican Party view the conflict in Ukraine similarly. Obviously, Donald Trump does. Ron DeSantis said what he said.
I have seen Josh Hawley, your Senate colleague Josh Hawley, say that you're either a globalist or a nationalist. And I think he's suggesting that nationalists are superior.
What's your take on all that?
KELLY: I mean, I think it's unfortunate that they have made this political and it's about an election.
And, really, what it should be about is our national security -- national security and our allies and what's right, morally and ethically right. I mean, Putin is a war criminal, committing crimes against humanity, killing, intentionally targeting and killing women and children.
It -- I mean, I haven't seen this -- we haven't seen this in our lifetimes, Jake. And we can't allow them to be successful. And I don't get my colleagues -- there's very few of them.
By the way, let me -- let me just say, in the United States Senate, the Republicans in the Senate and Democrats, we're pretty much on the same page on this, I mean, most of us, that this -- we need to give the Ukrainians the support they need to be successful. We're doing that.
We're providing them with the weapons and weapon systems. We have got to look to do more. I mean, I just led a letter to Secretary Austin on this about F-16s. What are the steps we should take to get to the point where we can make a decision to provide these airplanes, to give them that next piece of edge to be successful?
TAPPER: Let's turn to the Southern border.
Obviously, you represent Arizona in the Senate. President Biden rolled out some new measures cracking down on illegal border crossings, restricting migrants' abilities to come into the United States and claim asylum.
Dozens of your fellow Democrats, Bob Menendez from New Jersey, Cory Booker from New Jersey, responded by expressing great concern, calling the move disappointing. What do you think? Do you support President Biden's actions?
KELLY: Well, it's a crisis. It's been a crisis on the Southern border for years, not just during this administration, but before this.
And Border Patrol has such a hard time handling the numbers. The numbers are down because some of the steps the administration has taken. And I have worked with the administration. I have worked with Secretary Mayorkas on this to make some changes. I have successfully added border wall to close some gaps south of Yuma.
I was on the phone with Doug Nicholls, the mayor of Yuma, just this week. And he acknowledged that the numbers are down. It's allowing Border Patrol to focus more on fentanyl. So the steps that have been taken are positive.
There's still that -- there's still more that needs to be done. I don't agree with some of my Democratic colleagues on this. I mean, this is a really -- this is very challenging for border states. And if you're a small town on the Southern border in Arizona or Texas or California, this has been a real struggle, and we have got to do more.
At the same time, we need comprehensive immigration reform in our country. I mean, it's good for our economy. It'll help us grow our GDP. And I really get incredibly frustrated, Jake, with -- that we haven't been able to provide a pathway to citizenship for dreamers, as American as my own two kids.
So, there's a lot we need to do. There's -- I have traveled to the border many times, most recently with a bunch of my Republican colleagues, bipartisan trip where we have come up with some bipartisan ideas about how to make our border more secure and, at the same time, do it in a way where we're treating people in accordance with our morals and our ethics.
TAPPER: Lastly, sir, your fellow Arizona Senator, independent Senator Kyrsten Sinema, her term ends in 2024.
Your fellow Democratic Senator Joe Manchin said on the show that -- quote -- "I would think that she needs to be supported again, yes," because of her -- quote -- "independent spirit" -- unquote.
Do you agree with him? Or do you anticipate supporting whoever the Democratic nominee for that Senate seat would be?
KELLY: Well, I'm not going to get ahead of Senator Sinema. She hasn't made an announcement.
What she has said is, she doesn't want to be focused on politics right now. I have worked with her very closely over the last two years, I mean, really in a very positive way. She's very effective in the United States Senate. We have got a lot done. And I look forward to doing that over the next months and the rest of this year.
TAPPER: Before we go, though, I do want to ask you.
NASA and Axiom Space just unveiled a new spacesuit for the Artemis 3 moon mission. What do you think of this new design?
KELLY: Well, I took a look at it the other day.
I mean, Jake, is this spacesuit, like, for the dark side of the moon? I mean, you fall behind a rock and a shadow, are they going to be able to find you? So, I imagine that they're going to go through some iterations.
I will tell you what I'm excited about, though, not so much the suit. And I'm sure the suit, operationally, is going to be very, very effective and protect my former colleagues. It's exciting that we're taking these steps to go back to the moon, and then one day onto Mars.
So I'm really excited about that. Unfortunately, now I'm -- I'm out of that business, and I'm in the United States Senate. And we have got a lot more work to do, including making sure NASA has what it needs to be successful.
TAPPER: Dark side of the moon reference, I like it.
Senator Mark Kelly, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
KELLY: Thank you, Jake. Thank you.
TAPPER: Potential charges against Donald Trump.
The reporter who knows Trump best, Maggie Haberman, joins us with her new reporting. That's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Donald Trump is under multiple criminal inquiries, but there are signs he may face charges in the first of those this week.
For more, I want to talk to the reporter who perhaps knows Trump the best, senior political correspondent for "The New York Times" Maggie Haberman, who has been awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the former president.
Maggie, behind the scenes, what can you tell us about how Trump is handling this situation?
MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, Jake, he's very anxious about the prospect of being indicted for a couple of reasons.
Yes, two things can be true at once. He is aware that there are reasons to believe this could help him politically. We have heard a lot about this morning already. But he does not want to face getting arrested, which is what happens when you get indicted. You get fingerprinted. You get brought in. You have to ask for bail.
None of that is something that he is excited about. So he and his folks, his political folks, are preparing for a huge blitz politically to push back on the Manhattan district attorney. You saw that start yesterday, although I don't think that his TRUTH Social posts yesterday morning calling for protests was part of -- part of a grand plan.
He did it, and a bunch of his aides were surprised by it. But I do think that that is separate from what you're going to see legally. And while I know that his folks are suggesting this as a weak case, they don't actually know what the evidence is.
What it is, is trivial compared to the other inquiries. That doesn't mean there won't be a conviction. And they have to be mindful of that.
TAPPER: Trump called on his supporters, as you noted, to protest and -- quote -- "take our nation back" on that TRUTH Social post. Obviously, the last time Donald Trump called for his supporters to
rally, it resulted in an insurrection at the Capitol. Does he have any concern about violence?
And this is not something that he expresses enormous concern about to anyone. That doesn't mean people around him are not concerned about what he's saying about protests. And they are because, as you know well, he is still under investigation. One of these inquiries by the Justice Department is about the events leading up to January 6 and his efforts to stay in power.
And there have been lots of people, hundreds arrested in connection with that attack on the Capitol. So, this is not something he voices a whole lot of concern about. But it is absolutely something folks in his world are mindful of, that this is going to keep coming up, especially as he pushes this.
TAPPER: And this is having an effect of rallying Republicans around him.
I mean, you have Speaker McCarthy calling it an outrageous abuse of power. That's not that surprising. He's always been very supportive of Donald Trump, but even would-be rival Mike Pence says he's taken aback, and he says it reeks of political prosecution.
We heard Governor Sununu today suggesting that he didn't think this was -- this rose to the magnitude of such an unprecedented action. We still have not heard, however, from Nikki Haley or from Ron DeSantis. What do you think is the political calculus there?
HABERMAN: I think that Ron DeSantis is going to try to avoid weighing in on this as long as possible, and he will then decide whether as long as possible has been met.
You saw yesterday on Twitter one of Trump's advisers, Jason Miller, highlighting that DeSantis has not said anything yet. DeSantis is obviously the governor of the state where Trump lives. And should Trump decide he's not going to surrender, should that not happen peacefully, if he is indicted and expected to be charged, then DeSantis would have to make some decisions.
And so this gets very complicated. Trump's own folks are aware -- and I -- this came up last week repeatedly as I was reporting this out. They believe that, if Trump was to be charged, this could put his rivals in a bind, especially Ron DeSantis, because they are going to be called upon to speak out against it. And, as you just noted, the pressure is already building.
TAPPER: So Trump says he's committed to staying in the 2024 race even if he is indicted.
That sounds completely characteristic, but is it realistic? HABERMAN: I don't think it's unrealistic, depending on what else
If it is just this case, then I think it isn't unrealistic that he stays in, although we have no idea exactly when a trial would be. Would it even be this year? Would it stretch into next year?
The point, I think, is that we are talking about potentially multiple indictments. We are talking about an indictment in Georgia possibly happening in the coming months. We are talking about indictments -- indictments from the federal government happening in the coming months.
That becomes a lot of freight to carry in a presidential race. And you can start to see a world where Republicans might say, on this one case in Manhattan, we feel it's trivial, but these other cases, this drip, drip, it's just constant drama, and let's move on.
We will see.
TAPPER: Yes. The other charges, as you note, are much more serious than this one.
Maggie Haberman, always good to see you. Thank you so much.
Coming up: the fallout from a potential ex-presidential indictment more on that when the panel joins us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Mr. President, did you know about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No.
In Georgia, your secretary of state, who I can't believe this guy's a Republican -- he loves recording telephone conversations. That was a -- I thought it was a great conversation, personally.
If you're the president of the United States, you can declassify just by saying I'm -- it's declassified.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
The many investigations into former President Trump may come to a head next week with a possible indictment in one of those cases.
My panel joins us now. And, Marc, let me start with you.
So, Trump says he's expected to be charged and arrested this Tuesday for his involvement in the -- in that hush money campaign involving Stormy Daniels.
Do you think, if he is indicted, he should drop out of the presidential race?
MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO FORMER VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: I think it's hard to say you drop out because an indictment, Jake.
I do think that this probably benefits the president the short term, because it does rally Republicans around him, saying he's once again the object of an unfair prosecution. But I do think, for him -- and also he wants to create this lore that it also casts doubt on the Georgia investigation and the DOJ investigation that are far more serious with real ramifications.
And so, if he can create this notion they're all politically based, I think it helps him politically. And, certainly, that's what he's trying to do. And trying to encourage protests in the shadow of January 6 is reckless.
TAPPER: And, Congresswoman, what do you think of that?
Because I think it's fair to say, I think everybody would agree, that the Georgia and DOJ investigations are much more serious than this one, which I think it's -- I think a lot of experts wonder if it rises to the momentum of taking such an unprecedented step of indicting a former president.
REP. NANETTE DIAZ BARRAGAN (D-CA): Look, we're a nation of laws, and we shouldn't be looking at, oh, is this big enough or not big enough?
If he broke the law, he broke the law. My concern is, when he calls for these protests, for me, I immediately thought about January 6. I immediately thought about the call for violence and what broke out there and the insurrection.
As somebody who was in the capital when that happened, it's going to be dangerous. It's not just dangerous for the DA, what may happen in New York, but also for members of Congress. I think that there's great concern about the dangers there.
But, at the end of the day, it's got to be about being a nation of laws and us making sure that we're carrying it out, despite on who the person is. Nobody's above the law.
JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I agree nobody's above the law.
But it does feel like a selective prosecution, insofar as, look, karmically, Trump deserves everything he gets. He invites these problems for himself. He's Pig Pen. He surrounds himself with bad people and bad ideas and bad actions. That said, if his name were John Smith, Alvin Bragg would not be
bringing this case. And so I think that's a real political problem. I think it's a real problem of justice. And I do think -- I think Marc is right that, even though, rationally, legally, logically, it doesn't make a lot of sense to say, because this thing is an overly zealous political prosecution, that, therefore, the other investigations are illegitimate, that kind of stink does spread around a lot.
And I think it could work effectively in the short term. In the long term, I kind of think this sort of accumulated drama problem is a real problem for Trump. Is it really just worth putting up with these stories for another four years is an argument that could work against him.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think I'm going to go a little wider.
It's horrible for democracy, it is horrible for this country that a former president of the United States, again, essentially called for violence, I mean, calling for protest among a group of people who you know stormed the Capitol.
I also want to point out that, on Friday, his campaign announced his first rally will be in Waco, Texas, next Saturday. Hmm. What is Waco, right? I mean, talk about right-wing militia and sounding certain dog whistle notes. I think he knows exactly what he's doing. I think it is also going to be, frankly -- I mean, look, you have got some in Florida calling on Ron DeSantis to use the militia to stop -- or the -- I'm sorry -- the National Guard to prevent him from being arrested.
And so I think that's terrible for the Republican Party. That cannot be what they want to be talking about right now or what Ron DeSantis wants to be talking about right now. But, again, bigger picture, it's horrible for democracy to see the -- a former president doing this, and then to have the speaker of the House basically attack a duly elected district attorney.
I just think it's bad all around.
TAPPER: It is putting Trump's would-be opponents in the Republican primary race into an awkward position, where you heard Governor Sununu, who might run for president, basically saying he doesn't think this rises and that the other cases are much more serious.
And then, of course, here is Vice President Pence, who might run for president, talking about the possible indictment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The idea of indicting a former president of the United States is deeply troubling to me, as it is to tens of millions of Americans, and particularly happening in what appears to be a politically charged environment in New York, where the attorney general and other elected officials literally campaigned on a pledge to prosecute the former president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you agree?
SHORT: Yes, of course, I do, Jake.
I mean, I feel like the reality is -- the reality is, the Democrat cry was not the same when it was against John Edwards 20 years ago, a similar campaign finance allegation. So I think this is politically charged.
But I think the vice president's making the case that, look, there's a lot of challenges around Donald Trump right now, and that's for the American people to decide. I think we have trouble when it's politically appointed district attorneys who are taking a political agenda against the former president.
That, I think, creates a pall around it. I think it's more important that the American people have the ones make the choice to make this decision.
DIAZ BARRAGAN: It feels like he's having to take this position because he wants to run for president and he's got to protect the base.
He's got to...
TAPPER: You're talking about Vice President Pence now, or...
DIAZ BARRAGAN: Yes.
DIAZ BARRAGAN: I'm talking about the vice president, Pence.
I think it's a political decision for him to do this, because he wants to run for president, and he doesn't want to alienate everybody, and he's trying to get some of those folks onto his base. So it's unfortunate, though, because I remember that the mob was calling for his head and his hanging.
SHORT: I think he remembers it too.
DIAZ BARRAGAN: And so for...
DIAZ BARRAGAN: Yes, but for him to basically just, I think, say, oh, well, it's just politically charged, and not even, I think, consider that as something that could result from not that, but the violence that could result from the calling of the protests -- and I know he did mention, oh -- I think he mentioned something in his comment about the violence at the -- January 6, and he referenced that. But I just -- unfortunately, this is more politics of him running for
TAPPER: I will give you...
SHORT: Well, no, I mean, obviously he stood up for the Constitution on January 6. He believes strongly in that.
And the same comments in that interview, is to say no violence should be tolerated. Anybody that has violence should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, just as he said with all the people who perpetrated the January 6 riots.
FINNEY: But then why won't he go -- he should have gone to the January 6 Committee. He should have -- he should be not fighting testifying in front of a due process, the due process that he swore an oath to uphold.
And yet, in the dark, without cameras, last Saturday, he was happy to tell the Gridiron, yes, Trump was wrong. But then, in an interview yesterday, in the light of day, he espouses the Trump talking point.
SHORT: You probably haven't seen the dozens of interviews he's done where he actually did say the same thing he said at the Gridiron Dinner, including the town hall he did with Jake just a few months ago.
So, yes, he's actually said this many times in public. You just haven't been watching.
FINNEY: I have been watching.
TAPPER: We should -- we should -- I should just note, in the interest of breaking news, that the vice president said on a different channel that he's not challenging all aspects of the subpoena, which is some news.
Do you think this puts -- we haven't heard from Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis on this...
TAPPER: ... Ambassador Haley and Governor DeSantis. Does this put them in a tough spot?
GOLDBERG: Look, it's a headache for everybody, because the truth of it is that Donald Trump is unfit to run again. He's unfit to be president of the United States.
He's clearly guilty. I mean, that's the funniest thing about all this, is that nobody is saying, oh, he didn't have an affair with this porn star. Nobody is saying that he didn't try to pay hush money. Of course he did.
But he's still very popular with a big chunk of people, and so people have to do these hair-splitting, Jesuitical things to sort of get around the fact that he's an albatross for the Republican Party and the country because he's very popular and has a big cult of personality.
TAPPER: So, Quinnipiac published new horse race polls this week. It shows Trump increased his support among Republicans since last month and has DeSantis more than 10 points behind him, with the rest of the GOP candidates polling single digits.
We should note, obviously, it is very early, and these things change all the time, but it is an indication of right now how strong he is. And do you do you think this will help -- you think this will help him?
SHORT: I agree with what Jonas said at the beginning. I think it helps him in the short term.
I think, over time, it's an albatross with so much weight of multiple different prosecutions. And I think it's the real reason he lost in 2020. I mean, I remember journalists going to some of the battleground states like Wisconsin and talking to people who crossed over and voted for Trump. They said: I got tax reform. I got a new trade deal. He took on China. He secured the border. But I'm not voting for him again. I'm exhausted.
And I think -- to Jonah's point, I think that wears on voters over time.
DIAZ BARRAGAN: I do think it's given him something to talk about. I mean, he's already fund-raising off of this, right. The fund-raising e-mails are going out there.
What I think was interesting is, you say you -- he is guilty. And so now, if we're admitting that he's guilty, why would we not go after him? Why would it be a political...
GOLDBERG: Because, normally, this would be a misdemeanor, not a felony. And they're making -- using a really sketchy argument to make it a felony. That's my point.
FINNEY: Well, but think about what the implication would have been in the days just before the 2016 election if this would have come out.
I mean, I think we can't ignore that either. It could have had a real bearing on the election. We will never know the answer to that question. And he still broke the law. I mean, it shouldn't be -- if we're going to arrest people for having marijuana, we should be arresting people for breaking the law and misusing funds.
TAPPER: Do you really think -- can I just ask a quick question?
Because, obviously, this didn't come out before the election, but the "Access Hollywood" tape did. Do you really think there's anyone who saw the "Access Hollywood" tape and voted for Trump, but if they found out about Stormy Daniels, they wouldn't have?
FINNEY: I don't think we will ever know, Jake. That's the point.
TAPPER: That's true. That's true.
Thanks, one and all, for being here. I appreciate it. Enjoy your Sunday.
It has been 20 years, 20 years today since the U.S. began bombing Iraq.
Has the United States learned its lesson about going to war? That's next.
TAPPER: It was 20 years ago today that the U.S. military began bombing Iraq in the second Gulf War. It's a conflict that would end up killing almost 5,000 American service members, tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians, largely over the false claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
It's difficult to explain to younger people today just how loud the drumbeats of war were after al Qaeda attacked the U.S. on 9/11 and how to many in the news media and the opposition party, to say nothing of the Republican Party, stomped along to those drumbeats.
The big question, of course, have we, as a nation, learned our lesson? Or, given social media and more shameless lying by politicians and certain channels, might it be even worse next time we are called to send our sons and daughters off to war? It's something to think about on this grim anniversary.
To all those who served and sacrificed in Iraq, to all those who suffered there, we send our love and prayers today.
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.