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State of the Union
Interview With Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-NY); Interview With Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI); Interview With Fmr. Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired August 13, 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): Paradise in ruin. Hawaii braces for a long recovery after deadly wildfires destroy homes and lives.
SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D-HI): We are here during a time of grieving and loss.
TAPPER: What's next for the island? Hawaii Senator Mazie Hirono joins me live next.
And a year of trials? Donald Trump could soon face a fourth indictment.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did nothing wrong.
TAPPER: And now President Biden's son may go to trial himself.
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It is in the public interest to appoint a special counsel.
TAPPER: Will legal troubles dominate this election? Oversight Committee Democrat Dan Goldman joins me to discuss ahead.
Plus: crunch time. It's political season at the Iowa State Fair.
MIKE PENCE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Give careful consideration to the choice that you will make.
TAPPER: But with the debate in less than two weeks...
FMR. REP. WILL HURD (R-TX), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The GOP should be a party that appreciates a competition of ideas.
TAPPER: ... who will be on stage? Republican presidential candidate Will Hurd joins me in moments.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is in shock. The fire that swept through Maui this week is now the deadliest U.S.
wildfire in more than 100 years, officials said last night, with at least 93 people dead.
And that figure is tragically expected to only grow, as emergency workers uncover more scenes of horror, lines of abandoned charred cars that trace the fury of the flames fanned by the winds of a hurricane hundreds of miles away, homes reduced to ash as people ran for their lives, some of them running into the sea, where some floated for hours, battling fumes and watching their city burn.
The ocean off Lahaina, Hawaii, will also need to be dredged for bodies, one leader said. And as those who recover ask desperately for help and information, top officials say they are still battling dangerous circumstances on the ground and pledged to get Hawaii all the resources it needs to recover and to investigate why the island of Maui was not more prepared for this disaster.
Joining us now live from Hawaii, Senator Mazie Hirono, a Democrat who spent yesterday surveying the damage on the island of Maui with the governor and the director of FEMA.
Senator, thank you so much for joining us. I'm so sorry it's under these tragic circumstances.
You toured the devastation firsthand yesterday. What did you see and what did you hear from people on the ground?
HIRONO: The entire historic town of Lahaina burned to the ground, and the images of cars totally in -- they have been demolished.
And we saw a group of cars near the ocean, and it's quite clear that the occupants of those cars probably fled into the ocean. And I was told that at least 12 people were rescued from the ocean in that location. But to see all of these charred, totally demolished cars, but the scenes of devotions will stay with me.
And that is why I really thank the president for declaring an emergency declaration within hours of being asked to do that by the state of Hawaii. And I was there with the family of federal agencies, including the administrator of FEMA, SBA, U.S. Fire. And 150 FEMA people are there.
They brought in, sadly, cadaver dogs to continue the search.
TAPPER: What is it like for you on a personal level and on an emotional level to see this kind of horrific destruction and loss of life in your beloved home state?
HIRONO: Many of us have in Lahaina. I did too. And it is an iconic town. And so many people went there because it's very, very historic. It was the seat of the monarchy, the capital of the monarchy.
And there are many historic buildings, including, I have to say, this, massive banyan tree, 150 years old, the oldest banyan tree in the country. And it is -- my hope is that it will be restored. But, very importantly, yes, as I said yesterday, we are in a period of
mourning and loss as we search for more people who are still unaccounted for. Some of them have been found in the shelters. I visited one with some 400 residents sleeping on cots.
And we are going to need to provide them with short-term and long-term housing. But we are all there en masse to do that.
TAPPER: Ordinary Hawaii residents have been mobilizing to support the victims of these fires. And, as you note, FEMA there and other government agencies.
My colleague Bill Weir is reporting from Maui, and he's hearing from people there who are still desperate for more help from the government, people who are wondering, where's the Navy? Where's the Army? Why isn't the military flooding into the region? Where are the hospital ships, et cetera?
Are you satisfied that everything possible is being done to ensure these Hawaiians are getting all the help that they need from the government?
HIRONO: I can understand why there is frustration, because, as I said, we are in a period of shock and loss.
From what I can see, the government agencies are there. They are going to set up areas where people can come and get their driver's license restored, all of those kinds of things. But, yes, they are going to need a lot of help. And, from what I saw, there is a pledge. President Biden called me directly to pledge his support, because we know that recovery will be long and the resources will be necessary.
I have also heard from my Senate colleagues, Chuck Schumer and others, pledging their support. Recovery will be -- take a lot of resources. And the focus right now is truly on the recovery. There are still people who are unaccounted for. They need to be identified. There is a call for people to come in to provide DNA.
So we are in the -- still, I would say, the initial phases, but we're going to do everything we can to provide the kind of support that people will need.
TAPPER: We're also hearing from Hawaiian's questions about how this could have happened. There was a statewide assessment released last year saying that the threat to Hawaii residents from wildfires was low.
A 2021 Maui report on wildfire prevention efforts found that the county fire department had no actual plan for preventing fires. And then I'm sure, as you have heard personally, many Maui residents say they didn't receive any official warnings before it was too late. And state officials are acknowledging that none of the 80 warning sirens on Maui were ever activated.
Why do you think officials were so unprepared for this?
HIRONO: I'm not going to make any excuses for this tragedy, but the attorney general has launched a review of what happened with those sirens and some of the other actions that were taken.
So that is happening. And there will be time enough, I would say, for those kinds of reviews and investigations to occur. But we are really focused, as far as I'm concerned, on the need for rescue and, well, location of, we know, sadly, more bodies.
And as I talk with the people who are at this large place where the residents were, that, yes, we're going to need to provide a lot of support. And that is why I'm asking for and I expect to receive bipartisan support for additional funds that will enable us to recover.
That recovery is going to take time. It is not going to be overnight, by any means. It will take years. This is an entire town that has burned to the ground. Some 11,000 residents live there. And of the tourists who were there, thousands were evacuated to Oahu mainly. And the airlines really stepped up to lower their fees. And of -- the hotels have also stepped up to provide lodging for our visitors.
So I think that we are doing a lot in order to provide the kind of support we need to be providing, but there will always be the call for more. And my hope and expectation is that all of that will come.
TAPPER: Experts warn that extreme disasters such as this one are only becoming more common because climate change is fueling stronger storms, hotter temperatures, more widespread droughts.
TAPPER: And, earlier this week, President Biden incorrectly claimed he had already declared a climate emergency, which would give him additional powers to combat the climate crisis.
Given what you're seeing on the ground, do you want President Biden to actually declare a climate emergency?
HIRONO: I think that we very much need to acknowledge that climate change is upon us.
There are whole states, by the way, Jake, where you can't even use the words climate change because they still have a head-in-the-sand attitude.
But, for example, the Inflation Reduction Act provided some $300 billion to combat climate change and to move us away from continuing reliance on fossil fuels. Yes, there is more that needs to be done. And there will be lessons learned from this ongoing tragedy for the other counties, as well as the county of Maui.
Clearly, wildfires is an occurrence in Hawaii. People don't realize that acres are burned in Hawaii, as in so many other states. And in terms of the percentage of acreage burned, Hawaii is on a par with other states. There is not enough recognition that we are going to need to combat these kinds of wildfires.
And we have situations where the tremendously high winds that were attendant to Hurricane Dora just resulted in these flames just leaping and spreading in just -- just -- I can't even tell you how fast the flames spread. So, we need to be assessing our ability to contend with these kinds of natural occurring disasters which we are seeing more of and the frequency and the damage that is done.
Clearly, this is happening all across the world.
Senator Mazie Hirono, we thank you for your time.
HIRONO: Thank you.
TAPPER: And our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Hawaii this morning. Thank you so much for being with us.
HIRONO: Thank you.
TAPPER: And for those of you at home looking for ways to help Hawaii wildfire victims, you can head to CNN.com/Impact, CNN.com/Impact, where we have a list of vetted resources.
Or you can donate by texting the word Hawaii, H-A-W-A-I-I, to 707070, 707070.
Coming up next: shocking new evidence in Georgia's election interference probe. We're going to talk to Donald Trump -- one of Donald Trump's rivals in the presidential race about it next.
And a potential Hunter Biden trial in the middle of his dad's campaign? Oversight Committee Democrat Dan Goldman joins us ahead.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
Some shocking news just in this morning being broken by CNN's Zach Cohen and Sara Murray in Georgia's election interference probe. Prosecutors tell CNN that they can connect -- or sources tell CNN that prosecutors can connect a 2021 voting system breach to the top levels of Donald Trump's inner circle.
Sources tell CNN that Atlanta prosecutors have text messages and e- mails that directly connect members of Trump's legal team to the 2021 breach of a voting system in Georgia's Coffee County. This comes as a grand jury presentation in Georgia is expected to start as soon as tomorrow, and that could potentially result in a fourth indictment for Donald Trump. Republican presidential candidate Will Hurd, former Texas congressman,
joins us now.
Thanks so much for being here. I appreciate it.
So, what is your response? Prosecutors say, according to our sources, that they have evidence that the Trump team was involved in this breach of election equipment.
HURD: Well, as someone who's helped -- I have built, helped build cybersecurity companies -- I think this is an example of how this is not about the First Amendment.
This is about a president trying to overturn an election and creating a conspiracy. This kind of infrastructure is considered critical infrastructure, and it's supposed to be defended. The Trump team tried to get access in other places. And they went through the legal process, and the courts gave access to some of the information.
In this case, they weren't getting it, so they tried to take it themselves. And, to me, it's an indication of how fragile our election system is and how Donald Trump's efforts were making us increase our lack of trust in our systems, and one more example of why Donald Trump is running for president, is because he's trying to stay out of jail, because, as more of this information comes out and as the American people recognizes the extent of his baggage, they're getting sick and tired of it.
TAPPER: Well, do polls indicate that Republicans are, though? Because all the polls I have seen suggest that most Republicans believe this lie about the election that has been fed to them by not only Donald Trump, but FOX and other right-wing media and other people on Capitol Hill who are lying about the election being stolen, when, obviously we know that's not the case.
HURD: These are the same pollsters that thought Issue 1 in Ohio was going to pass, and it ended up getting crushed by 18 percent.
These are the same people that in 2022 said Kevin McCarthy was going to have a 40-plus majority in the House, and it ended up in five. Here's the reality.
When I crisscross the state, whether I'm in New Hampshire, Iowa, Texas, California, Alabama, people come up to me and they say, hey, you're right. He is running to stay out of prison.
So, I'm not questioning his front-runner status, but what I am saying is that many people don't want to see Donald Trump or Joe Biden be the nominees. And people are looking for something different. And guess what? If they want to have these things happen, and if those people want to see something different, I need them to go to HurdforAmerica.com, help me get on the debate stage, so we can talk about these things.
And all I need is $1, a donation, to make sure I hit those thresholds. TAPPER: So, in order to get on that debate stage in two weeks, you
need to hit a polling threshold, you need to hit a donor threshold, 40,000 donors, and you need to sign the pledge, the RNC debate pledge.
You think that you're going to hit the first two, right, the polling and the donor threshold?
HURD: That's correct. That's correct. I'm hoping that, at the end of this conversation, I can say all of Jake Tapper's friends watching TV helped put me over the -- helped me put over that 40,000 threshold by going to HurdforAmerica.com.
But, look, Jake, I have said it before. I'm not going to lie to get access to a microphone. I have never signed a contract without making amendments to it. And, unfortunately, since 2015, I have been one of the only person in this race that has been critical of Donald Trump and talked about how he's a national security threat.
And so my goal is to hit all those requirements and force the conversation. Oh, and guess what? Donald Trump hasn't even agreed to sign the debate pledge. Donald Trump hasn't even agreed to show up to the debate. And it was Donald Trump and his team that got the RNC to put this loyalty oath, because he wanted all the other candidates to bend the knee to him.
I won't do that. I'm going to be -- I have been honest about that. But, again, we're working hard to hit those other requirements.
TAPPER: Yes, just -- and just to be clear, the pledge says that whoever -- if you participate in the debate, you will support whoever the nominee is.
And you're right. Donald Trump said, I think just yesterday, or maybe the day before, that he's -- that he -- there are like three or four people that he would never support. So he's expressed skepticism.
But that does suggest, though, that Donald Trump, who has already said he might not be at the debate anyway, but that you won't be on the debate stage. And is that a campaign-ender for you?
HURD: No. A lot can happen in the next 10 days. And so I want to be able to force that conversation and see what happens.
And if Donald Trump doesn't participate, what is the RNC going to do? So there's a lot of variables at play here. My issue is not supporting the Republican nominee. My issue is, I'm not going to support Donald Trump. Donald Trump is not running for president to make America great again. Donald Trump is running the president to stay out of prison.
TAPPER: Would you vote for President Biden over President Trump?
HURD: My goal is to be -- vote for myself. And that's my plan. And that's plan A. And that's what I'm focused on. TAPPER: I want to ask about Hunter Biden, because a lot of
Republicans, including former House colleagues of yours and some of your 2024 rivals, are blasting Attorney General Merrick Garland's appointment of the special counsel, David Weiss, in the Hunter Biden probe.
They claim it's a cover-up to protect the Bidens, even though some of them had previously asked for Weiss to get the special counsel powers. What do you make of that? And what do you think of the appointment of the special counsel?
HURD: Well, I think a special counsel should have been appointed in this case.
The question is, this is the individual that it looked like tried to negotiate a sweetheart deal for Hunter Biden on those two other cases. So the question that most conservatives have, is he going to use the full extent of his powers in order to prosecute this, or is this going to be an effort to shield information going to...
TAPPER: Yes, but what do you think?
HURD: Look, time is going to tell.
I have made it very clear that DOJ should show a level of transparency that they have never shown in their history because of the sensitivity of all these cases, whether it's the documents case and the January 6 case against Donald Trump, or it's what's happening against -- against Hunter Biden.
There's a lack of trust in our institutions. And the only way you can repair trust is by showing a level of transparency. And that's what is called for in all of these cases. And, again, I think the whistle- blower that talked about Hunter Biden calling his father when he had -- when he had clients on the line, here's the reality.
The inner circle or the immediate family of a president should not be allowed to be lobbyists or consultants when their father or their -- or their husband is the president of the United States.
TAPPER: Yes, I mean, this -- that call, just FYI, took place in 2017, when Biden -- when Joe Biden was not in office.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about immigration, because you're from -- you used to represent a border district.
And just on Thursday, a 3-year-old child who was aboard a bus of asylum seekers died. The bus had been headed to Chicago from Texas as part of Texas Governor Greg Abbott's program sending asylum seekers who had come into Texas to Democratic-run cities across the country, obviously, a horrible incident.
Do you support what Governor Abbott is doing in shipping these migrants? And what about this little boy?
HURD: Well, look, any death is unacceptable. And we should all be saddened from it and try to prevent that from happening.
But 100 people died just last month in Texas because of the inhumane policies. We always focus on...
TAPPER: Because of the "open borders" -- quote, unquote?
HURD: Because of open borders, because we're not stopping narcotraffickers and the human smugglers, because we're not addressing root causes in places like the Northern Triangle.
And so this -- we should be upset about all of this. And 5.5 million people coming into the country illegally is unacceptable. Last year, there was a drowning case, two drowning cases a couple of weeks ago. But, last year, 141 people drowned in the Rio Grande -- in the Rio Grande River. And nobody was talking about that.
The policies of Joe Biden are the ones that are inhumane. He needs to start treating human smugglers like terrorist organizations. We also need to be addressing the fentanyl issue. I think fentanyl is a precursor element of a weapon of mass destruction. We should be treating fentanyl with that level of focus.
And we need to be working with our allies throughout Central and South America, something that Joe Biden has been incapable of doing. Oh, and, by the way, Donald Trump was pretty terrible at that. So these are the -- these are the things that we need to be doing.
And, also, these are the conversations we should be having. And this is why Americans are sick and tired of both Donald Trump and Joe Biden and all their legal baggage, because there's a lot more issues we should be addressing that we haven't had the chance to do.
TAPPER: Congressman Will Hurd, always good to see you, sir. Thanks so much for being here in studio.
HURD: Thank you.
Coming up next: The president's attorney general picks a special counsel to investigate Hunter Biden. What is that going to look like?
House Oversight Committee Democrat Congressman Dan Goldman of New York will join me next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
A special counsel, an election year trial? I'm talking, of course, about Hunter Biden after the collapse of his plea talks with the Justice Department and the naming of his special counsel to investigate him.
Joining me now is member of the House Oversight Committee Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman of New York.
Congressman Goldman, thanks so much for joining us.
So Attorney General Garland said that he believed it was in the public interest to appoint U.S. attorney David Weiss as special counsel overseeing the Hunter Biden probe. Do you agree? Is it in the public interest?
REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (D-NY): Well, I defer to the attorney general's determination on this.
What we now know is that David Weiss, the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney in Delaware, was right all along, that he did have ultimate authority. And when he requested special counsel status because the plea agreement has broken down and he may have to charge Hunter Biden in -- outside of his own district, which he requires additional authority to do, he got it.
And this is just another reflection of the true independence of this Department of Justice. A Trump-appointed U.S. attorney is investigating the president's son. That is pretty remarkable. And you don't hear from the other side a respect for the fact that Joe Biden has stayed out of this investigation.
And so I defer to Merrick Garland and David Weiss. If Hunter Biden has committed crimes, he should be charged with them. I'm a Democrat saying that. You don't hear any currently elected Republican saying that, if Donald Trump committed crimes, he should be charged with them and held accountable. And that's a critical distinction that the public needs to understand.
TAPPER: So, House Republicans say -- and we kind of heard Will -- former Congressman Will Hurd say something similar just now -- hey, U.S. attorney Weiss, he may be a Trump appointee, but he also was the one that signed off on this slap-on-the-wrist, sweetheart deal -- their words, not mine -- when it came to Hunter Biden being charged with two misdemeanors and a diversion program, instead of full felony charges.
Therefore, Speaker McCarthy and other Republicans say, David Weiss can't be trusted to be the special counsel. What do you say to that?
GOLDMAN: Well, no one knows what the evidence is. So when they say this is a sweetheart deal, they are blowing smoke, because they have no idea.
And so this is, to my mind, having been a federal prosecutor for 10 years, not at all a sweetheart deal. This is something that is routinely treated in a civil way, through civil penalties, not criminally. And yet Hunter Biden was charged with crimes. This is a five-year investigation. They looked at everything. We know
that from testimony in the Oversight Committee. They had foreign bank records. They had domestic bank records.They had hundreds of thousands of documents. And this is ultimately what they thought they could charge.
Now, in the ordinary course, you would not give immunity for other conduct than what is charged. But this is not the ordinary course, because you have a petty, vindictive bully running as the -- for president on the Republican Party who will use revenge and weaponize the Department of Justice to potentially charge Hunter Biden.
So, even though I'm sure Hunter Biden has confidence that David Weiss will not charge him with additional crimes, they have no confidence that, if Donald Trump wins, that he would weaponize the Department of Justice to charge Hunter Biden, go back and charge him.
And that's why this plea agreement has broken down, because of the threat of Donald Trump's weaponization of the Department of Justice if he were to become president.
TAPPER: You said that President Biden has stayed out of that. I know you meant in terms of interfering with the Department of Justice.
But I want to play something that the president said in an interview just a few months ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My son's done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: We understand this is a dad talking about his son, but it's also the president of the United States talking about a potential defendant in a case that his Justice Department is prosecuting.
Also, he was about to plead guilty to some things that he did wrong. Does the president need to stop publicly saying his son did nothing wrong?
GOLDMAN: Well, look, I think the president has been very clear that he's going to let the process play out.
What we do know is that, through all of the investigations in Congress, they're simply investigating a private citizen. Hunter Biden is not running for president. And Joe Biden is running for president. And yet -- and he is the president. And yet, notwithstanding all of the time, effort and all of the moving goalposts, there's no evidence connecting President Biden to any of his son's business dealings.
And you can sing all you want and make all sorts of accusations, but the fact of the matter is that President Biden, there's been no evidence to show that he's been involved in anything. And so Hunter Biden will be treated by the Department of Justice as he should be. But Congress needs to stop investigating a private citizen and stop
this fishing expedition to try to link President Biden to Hunter Biden's conduct, when there is no evidence to support that.
TAPPER: Well, I -- Devon Archer, Hunter Biden's business partner, told you in closed-door testimony that Hunter would put his father on speakerphone with -- while he was meeting with his business associates.
And this happened at least 20 times. And Archer told you that Hunter would use these calls to send signals to his business partners, to create the impression that his father was involved and helpful to his business, even if -- you're right -- as there has been no establishment of any facts that Joe Biden did anything as vice president or president relatedly.
But shouldn't President Biden have realized what Hunter was doing here, getting on the phone, talking on the speakerphone with his business associates? Did he at the very least show a major lapse in judgment and a blind spot with his son and how he handled this?
GOLDMAN: Look, I think that same witness also made very clear that they never discussed business, that Hunter Biden was trying to promote an illusion of access to his father for his own reasons.
That's Hunter Biden. And you can make whatever judgment you want to make about whether that was appropriate or not. But the president saying hello to people when his son puts them on the phone is not at all doing anything to influence any policy, to use his position for any nefarious purposes.
And, in fact, what we do know is that the only official action the president took related to Hunter Biden's business interests was detrimental to Hunter Biden's company business interest. It was detrimental to Burisma, as Devon Archer, this new star witness, for the Republicans said, because the -- Burisma had the corrupt prosecutor general -- quote -- and I quote the witness -- "under control, and that that was a good thing for that prosecutor general to be in office.
And yet Joe Biden urged Ukraine, the Ukrainian government, to fire that prosecutor general. That's the only connection that President Biden had with any of Hunter's business dealings.
TAPPER: All right, Congressman Dan Goldman, thank you so much for your time today. I appreciate it.
GOLDMAN: Thank you.
TAPPER: Coming up: It's not all corn dogs and butter cows at the Iowa State Fair. There was also some trolling this year.
We will get into it with my panel next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My friend Donald Trump is arriving. And he and I share something in common. Neither of us do pretty well in a number two position.
NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's his decision whether he wants to get on the debate stage or not.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You got to be willing to stand up and support the team.
TRUMP: We're not taking any chances. We're way up in the polls in Iowa and all over the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
It's time for the Iowa State Fair. My panel joins me now to talk about it all.
So let's start with the former Republican congressman. Do you see any winners here? Are you excited about any of these candidates?
MIA LOVE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm actually excited about someone we are not talking about very much, Tim Scott. He's got broad appeal.
My uncle, who's a Democrat, he's like: "If he's on the ticket, I will vote Republican for him."
He just seems to be, to everyone, to me, who knows him personally, reasonable. He's just reasonable. He's always willing to step outside of the Republican box to solve a problem. And I appreciate that.
TAPPER: You know him from South Carolina. And do you agree with that assessment?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, I do think that, for many individuals, Tim Scott is someone who represents what they want the Republican Party to be.
Tim Scott is actually very, very conservative, and I don't think that people really give that a great deal of value. He has one of the most conservative voting records up there. But he does have to answer for the record back home in South Carolina and many of the failures in well-beings of the state of South Carolina.
But, all in all, he is a friend of mine, and he's somebody who is at least palatable -- is that the right word? -- palatable on the Republican side.
SELLERS: He's better than a lot of these guys who are running. But, at the end of the day, Jake, like many people know, this race is Donald Trump's alone.
TAPPER: And Trump's been trolling a lot of the candidates out there.
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he's specifically trolling Ron DeSantis...
JENNINGS: ... which is the campaign that they spend most of their time on.
Trump did go to the Iowa Fair. He was in the plane more than he was on the ground.
TAPPER: I think, yes, he was on the ground for -- well, I don't know.
JENNINGS: It's a long flight...
TAPPER: Not a long time, yes.
JENNINGS: A long flight for a short cakewalk.
But the fair is like a narrative play, right? You want to show people you're trying to earn it. That's what DeSantis is trying to do. He's doing the fair. He was doing all the rides with his kids. He's trying to create this -- trying to finish the 99-county circuit. So they're really pushing the narrative that he's trying to earn the votes, whereas Trump is trying to push the narrative and, to some degree, successfully so far, that everybody else is just ants under my boot.
And that's how he's trying to portray the race. And I suspect that's how he's going to view the debate coming up, which doesn't sound like he's going to be able to participate in, is, why would I participate in a debate with a bunch of people who know within spitting distance of me right now?
TAPPER: Do you think Donald Trump should participate in the debate?
NINA TURNER, FORMER NATIONAL CO-CHAIR, BERNIE SANDERS CAMPAIGN: I do, Jake, just as I believe that the current president, President Biden, should participate in debates as well.
TAPPER: With Robert Kennedy Jr. and Marianne Williamson?
TURNER: Yes, Marianne Williamson.
And I know that Dr. Cornel West is running in the Green Party, but, yes, just go ahead and throw Dr. West in there too. Both of the front- runners just seem to have this attitude as if, it's us, and the American people do not have a say. They do not have a choice. And so we're not going to give audience to the other peasants below us.
And that's what it is.
LOVE: And we're tired of being taken for granted. Earn the vote.
TURNER: Earn the vote.
And as far as the Republicans, I mean, Bad News Bears, Senator Tim Scott notwithstanding -- this man has said that racism doesn't -- anti-blackness does not exist in America.
SELLERS: Doesn't exist.
TURNER: So I got a problem with that.
I agree with brother Bakari, in that he's somewhat palatable, but any self-righteous black man alive today that would say that anti-black racism does not exist in America needs to go see a specialist.
SELLERS: But to the point of Donald Trump participating in the debate, why?
What value, inherent political value, is there, when you're beating everybody by 40 points, to sit up there and just get bludgeoned by Chris Christie and everybody else?
Now, we do know we have seen Ron DeSantis debate twice. He debated my...
TAPPER: When he ran for governor.
SELLERS: He debated my friend Andrew Gillum and got destroyed in that debate.
TAPPER: I don't know about that. I was the moderator of that. I don't know that he got destroyed, but, anyway, keep going.
JENNINGS: He got so destroyed that he won the race, and then he got so destroyed that he won by 20 points for reelection.
SELLERS: First of all, me and you both could have beat Charlie Crist, OK?
But he actually did not perform well in that Charlie Crist debate either. So what I'm trying to say is, Ron DeSantis is not going to be a good debater when he's on that debate stage with others, even if Will Hurd makes the debate stage. Will Hurd is a brilliant man. If he makes the debate stage, it's going to be very, very difficult for somebody like Ron DeSantis or Donald Trump, if he's there, to come out looking great. LOVE: I don't think people are ready for Will Hurd. I have worked with Will Hurd. I have seen him in hearings. He's actually pretty -- he's so smart.
He's actually pretty phenomenal. And he can get...
TURNER: I don't...
LOVE: He can a point across and make people understand and feel it. That's the whole -- he's a great communicator.
TURNER: But with former President Donald Trump on the stage, like, he has nothing to lose, but he's treating them like peasants, as I said.
But he's a street fighter. I mean, the man flew into Iowa during the Fairside Chat with a -- he took all the oxygen out of the room. As you laid out, Scott, he barely walked the grounds. And during the Fairside Chat that DeSantis was having with the governor, he had -- a plane was flying by saying, be more likable, Ron.
I mean, they're not ready for the show that Donald J. Trump can put together, smart or not, because it's not about being smart.
LOVE: No, he's great at insulting people.
TAPPER: Donald Trump.
TURNER: This is about the theater. I mean, this is about the theater.
LOVE: He's good at insulting people and making it stick.
TAPPER: The be more likable thing is an allusion to a story in which Ron DeSantis was being prepared for a debate, I think, in fact, the Gillum debate, and somebody had told him, be more likable.
TAPPER: I don't know that you support DeSantis, but I do sense some hopes for his campaign from you, if that's OK to characterize.
Do you think he's succeeding at being more likable?
JENNINGS: I mean, no one of the non-Trump candidates is succeeding at consolidating the non-Trump half of the Republican Party. I mean, that's his main problem, is the fragmentation.
You have got all these people out there. None have -- some have come, but none have gone yet. And until that happens, I don't know how any of them, whether it's DeSantis or Tim Scott or anybody else, are going to get near Donald Trump.
If you look at all the surveys nationally, he's at 50 or just above. Even in Iowa, where I think DeSantis is better than he is in the national polls, Trump's still well over 40 percent in the surveys right now, which is more than enough to win the race.
JENNINGS: I mean, 200,000, 215,000 votes in this thing, and he's already sitting at 40 percent of it? It's hard to imagine the fragmentation doing anything other than putting an anvil on the head of the rest of the field.
TAPPER: So I just want to change the subject for one second to Hunter Biden, because we had Democratic Minnesota Congressman Dean Phillips on the show, on "THE LEAD," on Friday.
And he is somebody who's out there saying that there should be a primary challenge to President Biden and expressing concerns about Biden in 2024. And here's what he had to say about the special counsel being appointed.
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REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): I think it's fairly clear that Hunter Biden, a former addict, this is unsavory, probably unethical, and possibly illegal, some of what he did. We will find out.
I don't think it touches the president, but we all know what kind of an era we live in. It's not what's real. It's how people feel.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you share that concern?
TURNER: Yes, I do.
I mean, there's a false equivalency that some Republicans are trying to draw. There's a difference between former President Trump being indicted so many times, I have lost count now, and Hunter.
TAPPER: Three, soon to be four, potentially.
TURNER: Soon to be four.
TAPPER: Just to help you out.
TURNER: Thank you. I appreciate that, Jake.
TAPPER: Not including the superseding indictment, but, OK, keep going. I'm sorry.
TURNER: And then Hunter Biden, the son of the current president, former vice president.
TAPPER: Right. It's not equivalent.
TURNER: So it's not an equivalency.
Now, let the investigation take place. If there's something there, then let's have at it. But, until then...
SELLERS: That's the difference between Democrats and our Republican colleagues.
If Hunter Biden committed a crime, hold him accountable.
TURNER: That's right. That's it.
SELLERS: You don't have any Democrats running around saying, oh, my God, let's let him walk free.
JENNINGS: Sure you do.
That's exactly what the Biden Justice Department wanted to do by giving him a sweetheart immunity deal. They literally said, let's let him walk free.
SELLERS: You just saw Merrick Garland say, we're going to have a special counsel. There are charges.
The reason you have a special counsel, to be extremely clear, is that you're going to take this case to trial outside of your district. That's why you need that role. That's why you need that jurisdiction.
So, look, but let the investigation play out.
SELLERS: That's fine with me.
LOVE: ... I love you. I take issue with that, because you, out of everyone, knows that I have held the former President Donald Trump accountable...
SELLERS: True. OK. Fair.
LOVE: ... and that I'm fair.
The only issue, the biggest issue I have with the president, the current president, is that this was happening in his family. It's like the Biden crime family, $20 million because -- and this didn't happen -- Hunter Biden wasn't given this money because of his good judgment. He was given this money because his father, because of who his
TAPPER: But just to put the 20...
LOVE: It's not -- to allow that to happen is absolutely unethical.
TAPPER: Just to -- that's according to the House Oversight Committee. And that's Biden family members and associates, just -- I'm not excusing it, but I'm just saying associates.
JENNINGS: But you don't put -- you don't pay the vice president, now president's family $20 million, so he can hop on the phone and get -- give you the weather. I'm sorry. No one believes that.
SELLERS: But, I mean, again, it's -- what we're doing is, we are attempting -- and I don't appreciate Dean Phillips. He was decently self-serving, and he referred to the president's son as an addict.
We all have family members...
TURNER: That's right.
SELLERS: We all have family members who've been crushed either by crack, if you're black and coming from a certain generation or opioids, as we see going on now.
TURNER: That's right.
SELLERS: So let's first -- that's one thing. And he needs to go get a check or get, checked in, because that's not fair. That's first.
Second, I mean, we just saw Donald Trump's family, we just saw them grift their way through Washington, D.C., from hotel deals, to Ivanka and Donald Trump Jr.'s wealth blowing up exponentially and Jared Kushner's. And we have not...
TURNER: That's right.
TAPPER: Two billion dollars for the...
SELLERS: We have not simply held them to the same standards.
LOVE: Jake, we're treating it as if this is going to be -- we're all talking as if this is going to be Trump versus Biden, who's worse? I mean, there are so many other people in this picture. I'm holding
these two issues completely separately. I'm -- I used to be a member of Congress.
LOVE: Yes. I used to be a member of Congress.
TAPPER: Thank you.
TURNER: Part of the problem is, the American people are being lost in all of this. And that's...
TAPPER: Yes, indeed.
We're going to take a quick break. We will be right back.
LOVE: It's just the...
TAPPER: The world lost beautiful voices in Ukraine this week, Kristina Spitsyna, age 21, and Svetlana Semeykina, age 19.
These two young women, musicians, had just finished performing a street concert for residents of Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, Wednesday, when they were killed by a Russian missile strike. This is the last song that we know they played before they were killed by Putin's forces.
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TAPPER: Nineteen and 21.
And just today, an infant and a 12-year-old boy were killed after a Russian attack in the Kherson region of Ukraine.
Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next.