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State of the Union

Interview With Fareed Zakaria; Interview With World Food Program Executive Director Cindy McCain; Interview With Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA); Interview With Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired April 07, 2024 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): On notice. Six months after the Hamas terrorist attacks, the U.S. ramps up pressure on Israel over a near-famine in Gaza.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: An immediate cease-fire is essential.

TAPPER: Is Israel any closer to a deal to free the hostages or end the war? World Food Program director Cindy McCain on the crisis in Gaza. And the parents of hostage Omer Neutra are here ahead.

And on alert. As Israel and the United States prep for a significant attack by Iran in the Middle East, Congress debates sending more aid to allies. With House Speaker Mike Johnson's job on the line, can he pass it? House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Turner is next.

Plus: Ka-ching. Donald Trump cashes in with big donors to try to catch up to President Biden's money haul.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (R) AND CURRENT U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are just wanting change. Rich people want it. Poor people want it.

TAPPER: But with warning signs for each candidate, who will struggle more with swing voters this fall? Our political panel is coming up.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C., where the state of our union is, frankly, heartsick.

News this morning out of Israel, as the region marked six months since those brutal Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7 against Israel, killing 1,200 and taking more than 250 people hostages. The Israeli military now says it has withdrawn forces from the Southern Gaza Strip, though -- quote -- "Significant force remains in other areas of Gaza," that as an Israeli official told CNN this morning, that an Israeli delegation is expected to join hostage release and cease-fire negotiations in Cairo, Egypt. All of that as Israelis' anger over the roughly 100 hostages still in

captivity spilled onto the streets of Israel last night, demonstrators demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over his handling of the war and his failure, in their view, to sufficiently focus on bringing those hostages home.

Meanwhile, in Gaza, the brutal toll continues in the Israel Defense Forces' war against Hamas, which embeds within the populace. Israeli attacks have resulted in the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of innocent Palestinians. And aid organizations say all 2.2 million people in Gaza do not have enough to eat, with half the population on the brink of starvation.

Here in the United States, the desperate conditions in Gaza and President Biden's support for Israel in the wake of the Hamas attacks have damaged his standing with his progressive coalition. And, this week, President Biden raised the pressure on the Israeli government to allow more aid to enter Gaza.

Joining us now is the chairman of the House Committee on Intelligence, Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

Mr. Chairman, I want to start on the news this morning.


TAPPER: The Israeli military says it has withdrawn some ground forces from Khan Yunis in Southern Gaza, though a significant force remains in other parts of Gaza.

How significant is this move?

REP. MICHAEL TURNER (R-OH): Well, I think you're certainly seeing some efforts to respond to the White House's vocal criticism of the operations of Israel in Gaza.

As you indicated, Jake, this is the sixth-month demarcation of the horrific attack that occurred October 7 and then the subsequent declaration by Israel that they would enter Gaza for the purposes of eliminating Hamas. Today, the Palestinians in Gaza remain hostages to Hamas, and Hamas has not been eliminated.

We have seen, I think, an overconfidence of Israel both -- on its intelligence, both when it failed to see October 7 and when it went into Gaza to eliminate Hamas. That has been, I think, part of the outcome that we have seen of the both haphazardous and dangerous military operations that resulted in unacceptable civilian deaths and certainly the food crisis that you described.

TAPPER: This comes as more negotiations for a cease-fire and release of the hostages are beginning.

Does this move by Israel to withdraw some troops from Gaza, does it make you more optimistic, the news that Israel is sending a delegation to Cairo? And what's your position on the urgency of a cease-fire with the return of hostages?

TURNER: Well, the CIA director, Director Burns, has done an excellent job in shuttle diplomacy and trying to bring all of the parties together to get the hostages released and to get a cease-fire.


And, quite frankly, it seems that almost President Biden has been asleep at the wheel, as he has not responded to the crisis as it's unfolded, and now making public statements criticizing Netanyahu, criticizing Israel, when this has been going on for some time.

Director Burns has tried desperately to get a cease-fire and to get the hostages released. I think he's done an excellent job. Certainly, the last cease-fire and hostages that were released were a result of his efforts.

I think I put a great deal of faith in the work that he's doing, and I'm certainly hopeful that that will result in both hostages released and a cease-fire, so additional humanitarian aid can get to the Palestinians.

TAPPER: Meanwhile, the U.S. is actively preparing for Iran to strike after Israel killed high-ranking Iranian military officials who were at a diplomatic facility in Damascus, Syria.

Can you be any more specific about the nature of the threat from Iran? Are Americans in danger?

TURNER: Well, I think Americans in the area remain in danger.

Remember, Iranian proxies have continued to attack U.S. troops in the area, again, with the Biden administration being slow to respond and ultimately responding to those attacks. And, of course, the United States has moved additional capabilities and assets in the area to deter Iran from entering into this conflict directly with Israel, although their proxy is Hamas, which the conflict is directly with.

And Hezbollah continues to be a threat to Israel in Lebanon. But I think what we're seeing here is, certainly, the consulate in Syria was a legitimate target from -- for Israel because Iran certainly is the source of which all this is coming.

At the same time, it still is very unwise. As we were trying to put pressure on Iran to keep them out of this conflict, both with U.S. presence and with our response to the attacks on our own troops, this certainly does escalate the issue throughout the entire region.

TAPPER: Let's turn to Ukraine, an issue that's important to you and your fellow Republican Chairman Michael McCaul, who runs the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Congressman McCaul made a comment this week about what he says sounds like Russian propaganda from some conservative media and why it's so difficult to explain to Republican voters why supporting Ukraine is important. He told Julia Ioffe -- quote -- "I think Russian propaganda has made its way into the United States, unfortunately, and it's infected a good chunk of my party's base."

He singled out prime-time shows on conservative channels. Do you agree with him? And how big is this problem?

TURNER: Oh, it is absolutely true.

We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages, some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor.

I mean, there are members of Congress today who still incorrectly say that this conflict between Russia and Ukraine is over NATO, which, of course, it is not, Vladimir Putin having made it very clear, both publicly and to his own population, that his view is that this is a conflict of a much broader claim of Russia to Eastern Europe, including claiming all of Ukraine territory as Russia's.

To the extent that this propaganda takes hold, it makes it more difficult for us to really see this as an authoritarian-versus- democracy battle, which is what it is. President Xi of China, Vladimir Putin himself have identified it as such. We need to stand up for democracy. We need to make certain that we know that authoritarian regimes never stop when they start an aggression.

Ukraine needs our help and assistance now, and this is a very critical time for the U.S. Congress to step up and provide that aid.

TAPPER: Speaker Johnson's leadership is in trouble if he puts a bill funding Ukraine, providing aid to Ukraine on the floor, according to Marjorie Taylor Greene, your colleague from Georgia, who's already threatened a motion to vacate.

How worried should Speaker Johnson be?

TURNER: I don't think he's at any risk. I think that what people have been referring to is the chaos caucus, those individuals who are seeking attention for themselves and trying to stop all of the important work in Congress, are now seen as merely disruptive.

Hakeem Jeffries, minority leader on the Democratic side, has made it clear that the Democrats will not join with efforts to unseat Johnson as we, this year, approaching the election, undertake the most important work of Congress, which, of course, is making certain we fund the government, make certain that these national security packages pass, and, of course, that our Foreign Surveillance Reauthorization Act passes.

TAPPER: Yes, let's talk about that, because Speaker Johnson announced this weekend that the House is going to vote on that foreign surveillance bill, the -- to reform and extend authority for spy agencies, for them to be able to conduct surveillance of foreign intelligence on domestic soil. It's known as FISA.

There have been abuses in the past. I know this has been a contentious issue between you and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, who have different views on this. [09:10:03]

Are you going to vote for this latest version of the FISA bill? And do you think it will have the votes to pass?

TURNER: Absolutely.

You know, I was -- the Intelligence Committee was instrumental in drafting the bill that's going to the House floor. And, Jake, I appreciate you raising this issue, because the -- this is surveillance, surveillance of foreigners who are abroad. They are -- we're not surveilling foreigners in the United States. We're not surveilling Americans in the United States.

Those individuals who say that this is a warrantless search of Americans' data are just not telling the truth. These are foreigners abroad. They're a select group of individuals who are a national security threat.

If you're an American and you're corresponding with ISIS, yes, if we're -- if we're spying on ISIS, your communications are going to be captured. You would want us to do that. All Americans would want us to try to make certain that we keep ourselves safe from these terrorist, outside terrorist groups and organizations.

We are not spying on Americans. This is not a warrantless surveillance program. This is foreigners who are abroad only, and this needs to pass.

TAPPER: And do you think it has the votes? It will?

TURNER: I think it does. I think it will.

I think that those who mischaracterize this are small compared to those who understand that this goes to the heart of our ability to get intelligence. It allows us to be able to keep Americans safe. This is not a warrantless surveillance of Americans.

TAPPER: All right, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio, thank you so much, sir. Appreciate your time.

TURNER: Jake, thanks for having me.

TAPPER: In the wake of the World Central Kitchen attack, how much aid is getting into Gaza? Is more going to be able to come in? Director of the World Food Program, Cindy McCain, joins me next.

And later: What can history teach us about the rise of Trump?

That's coming up.




Six months ago today, it was six months ago today when more than 250 Israelis and others were kidnapped and taken hostage by Hamas and other terrorist groups. And several of those hostages are dual Israeli-American citizens, including 22-year-old Omer Neutra. He's the grandson of Holocaust survivors, born on Long Island. He decided to take a gap year and join the Israeli army.

Joining me now are Omer's parents, Ronen and Orna Neutra, and their other son, Daniel.

Thank you. I -- again, I know -- I feel like I have known you guys now for six months. And it's horrible. I can't imagine how you're feeling on the six-month anniversary. What's going through your mind?

RONEN NEUTRA, FATHER OF ISRAELI-AMERICAN HOSTAGE OMER NEUTRA-ORNA: I can't believe we're sitting here six months later, and having to experience the terror every day.

Every day that we wake up, we're saying, what are we doing to bring our son back home? And we feel that we're failing day by day. And it's six-month mark. We can't believe that.

TAPPER: Well, you're not failing. You guys are doing everything you can. I don't -- I can't even count how many times I have interviewed you, but, certainly, our leaders are failing.

And there are people in the streets of Israel critical of Netanyahu and his government for not being focused enough on the mission of getting the hostages back.

However comfortable you are, do you agree with them?

ORNA NEUTRA, MOTHER OF ISRAELI-AMERICAN HOSTAGE OMER NEUTRA-ORNA: Bringing the hostages back should be the top priority. It should be a world top priority.

Everyone looking for de-escalation in the region should be opening the sentence saying, release the hostages. You know, any sentence of any demand of cease-fire without release of hostages is a death sentence to them.

As far as what's going on in Israel there's broad range. Everyone feels that more needs to be done. Everyone is demanding more from the government. People and families -- different families have different perspectives on how to achieve that. And that's what we're seeing.

TAPPER: Daniel, what do you want people at home watching right now, what do you want them to know about your brother?

DANIEL NEUTRA, BROTHER OF ISRAELI-AMERICAN HOSTAGE OMER NEUTRA-ORNA: Well, my brother is a strong, friendly, amazing guy. He's a really funny guy.

And so many people have reached out to me from his youth group, from school, from so many different places, hundreds of people just reaching out to us to tell us how much he means to them. And he's really a person who builds communities around him. And, without him, these communities are lost. We don't know what to do without him.

TAPPER: Prime Minister Netanyahu has come under a lot of criticism for how he's conducting the war on Gaza. Do you see this -- I -- it's not political for you. It's not theoretical. Your son is in Gaza.

Do you have -- what are your -- do you have thoughts on the war, the pressure from Biden on Netanyahu?

R. NEUTRA: It's tough. We're not political people. And we are put in a difficult spot.

We met Prime Minister Netanyahu about 10 days ago.

TAPPER: Was that the first time you met him?

R. NEUTRA: Not my first time.


R. NEUTRA: ... Orna's first time.

And we feel that the priority is on -- we're not sure the priorities are right. There's no question the war must be won and Hamas must be eradicated. But the hostages are running out of time. And six months in, yesterday, it was just announced that one additional hostage was announced dead, and his body was brought back to Israel.

It just -- we are constantly under that fear and the urgency. It's not clear whether the Israeli administration has the priority right.



How do you maintain hope in this...

O. NEUTRA: We have to.


O. NEUTRA: That's what he needs from us.

We have to imagine that he is holding up, and that he's waiting to be rescued. But time is of essence. Every day is -- you know, is a death sentence to the Israeli...

TAPPER: Daniel, this is your older brother, your big brother?


TAPPER: I have a brother. I know how close brothers can get.

Tell me something about Omer that our viewers around the world will remember when they hear his name. Give me a detail that a brother would know.

D. NEUTRA: Well, I guess I could tell you that, in the past few years, he's been really busy.

I mean, he was always super involved with, like, sports and youth groups and all that. So he wasn't at home all the time. And, of course, especially after he drafted to the army, I didn't get to see him all that often. But as soon as I did, he would always come home, and first thing he would do is just completely smother me in bed...


D. NEUTRA: ... wouldn't let me sleep, just fall asleep on top of me.

And that's who he is. He's this really big and strong guy. But at the same time, he has this really soft core. And he's just this big, like, bear-like, hugging guy. And that's -- I mean, we really need him.

TAPPER: Omer Neutra, we hope that he comes back soon. We hope that the priority is put on getting the hostages out, the priority by Biden, Netanyahu, Qatar, Egypt, and even the people of Hamas. I hope that they bring him home soon.

Thank you so much for joining us.

R. NEUTRA: And we have to remember that everything can end if Hamas gives back the hostages and puts down their weapon.


R. NEUTRA: This whole war can end.

So, all the pressure on Israel, yes, Qatar, of course, Egypt, but, end of the day, Hamas needs to put...

TAPPER: Yes, the war would end today if they gave the hostages back and laid down their arms. Agreed.

Thanks so much for being here. Next time with Omer, OK?


TAPPER: Next time with Omer.

Israel is set to open a new humanitarian passage into Gaza after that horrific attack that killed seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen. It's a move that has threatened to slow the already meager flow of aid into the devastated region.

And joining us now is the executive director of the World Food Program, Cindy McCain.

Cindy, Ambassador McCain, good to see you. Thank you for joining us.

Israel has already -- also approved opening the Erez crossing from Israel into Northern Gaza to get this desperately needed aid in. How important is opening that crossing for you and your workers with the World Food Program? Will that help hold off this famine that you have said is imminent?

CINDY MCCAIN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WORLD FOOD PROGRAM: Well, there are two entrances. There's Erez, as well as the Ashdod port. And all of that is very important. We need to get food at scale up north.

But, with that said, we have to make sure that we continue to get not trucks just in up the fence road, but up the beach road, but also through the various entrances. We need more, though. This just isn't enough.

And, as you know, we're literally on the brink of going over the edge, over the cliff with famine and not being able to recover from it.

TAPPER: So, Secretary Blinken praised the move by Netanyahu to open Erez crossing, but he said -- quote -- "The real test is results."

When do you expect your trucks will be able to move through the Erez crossing? Have you seen any tangible evidence yet on the ground that more aid is going to get in?

MCCAIN: Well, there are certainly meetings that have been had, and I'm aware of some of them, and I know that there's plenty more going on right now.

Please remember this, though, and so our viewers understand, WFP stands ready. We have right now a mass outside on the border food for 1.1 million people for three months. We just need to get it in. That's why these crossings are so important, and more crossings are needed, as you know.

TAPPER: You have been sounding the alarm about this crisis, especially in Northern Gaza, for months now.

Why do you think there has been such a holdup getting the aid into Gaza? Is it because of security concerns that weapons might be smuggled in? Is it punitive because the October 7 attacks were so horrific? The hostages still remain in Gaza. What is the reason for the blockade, as it's been?

MCCAIN: Well, from our experience, we have just had difficulties getting through the checkpoints.

The Israeli -- when the Israelis take a look at the trucks and X-ray them, that's done in a very efficient and effective manner. It's just, once we get in -- and, many times, either the right foot's not talking to the left foot, or it just depends. And, of course, you have seen the examples of when we were looted very heavily.

People are desperate. And you and I both know you would do anything to feed your children. So we have to remember this is an insane thing that's going on, and it's something that we, as humanitarians, must be able to get in with our humanitarian principles and deliver aid in such a way.


TAPPER: Access is also -- to Gaza also extremely limited for journalists.

So, can you paint a picture, based on what you have seen or based on what your aid workers have told you, about just how dire the crisis has become? What is the impact of the food shortage, especially for children?

MCCAIN: Well, children are dying as we speak.

And those that are not dying or haven't died yet are so emaciated and lacking so much in the way of important nutrients at this particular time in their life cycles, they won't -- if they do live, they will never recover from it. So it's much more than just getting food in.

It's about the kind of foods that we get and making sure that we can get certainly foods for adults, but most importantly those for younger children, who really are not in desperate need of nutrients right now.

TAPPER: There's this news this morning that the Israeli military says that they're withdrawing some ground forces from Khan Yunis in Southern Gaza.

Would this mean anything significant for the World Food Program or other aid workers? Would it make it easier to get food to people who need it?

MCCAIN: I really don't know. I don't understand the implications of the withdrawal yet. And I'm not -- obviously, I'm not privy to those decisions and those discussions at all.

What I do know is that, without the ability to gain access and to be able to get our food in, and get it in at scale, more importantly, people are -- more people are going to die, and die at a much faster rate.

TAPPER: You have just reached the one-year mark as the executive director of the World Food Program.

I know you have been doing a lot of other important work in other places around the world, such as Sudan and Haiti. What are your hopes for what needs to be accomplished in those places during your second year on this job?

MCCAIN: Well, I'm hoping that the world does not lose track of these countries that are in such desperate need.

Right now, Gaza is getting all the attention, and understandably. But we cannot forget Sudan, DRC, Congo, Somalia, Yemen, Haiti, as you mentioned. These are parts of the world that are literally on the brink of causing some even larger food crisis than are already -- already happening right now. And I speak specifically to Sudan on that.

TAPPER: Cindy McCain, thank you so much for being here. And thank you, as always, for the work you do.

MCCAIN: Thank you.

TAPPER: Donald Trump has a new line of attack to try to provoke President Biden. Should Biden take the bait?

My panel joins me next.




TRUMP: We have an empty podium right here to my right. You know what that is? That's for Joe Biden. I'm trying to get him to debate.


TRUMP: I'm calling on crooked Joe to debate any time, any place. We will do it anywhere you want, Joe, so that we can discuss in a friendly manner the real problems of our country.


TAPPER: In a friendly manner, he says.

Welcome back to the STATE OF THE UNION.

Donald Trump pledging to debate -- quote -- "crooked Joe" any time, anywhere, any place.

My panel joins me now.

Congressman, if you were advising President Biden, should he take debate? This is obviously going to be a campaign tactic. They even printed out little signs to try to make him look strong and Biden look afraid to debate him.

REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): First of all, the person who is usually challenging for debates is the one who is losing just in politics.

TAPPER: That's true.

KHANNA: So, it shows that Trump is not as confident.

The second thing is, Biden won those two debates the last time. I mean, you remember, the first debate, Trump was so over the top. He didn't come off as likable. So, I'd say, sure, debate him in the proper time, in the fall, and I think the president would do very well.

TAPPER: What do you think?

TIFFANY SMILEY (R), FORMER WASHINGTON SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: For a president who talks about democracy and how important democracy is, I think he should absolutely debate him.

The American people deserve to see our two presidents who are running for president debate on the world stage. That's democracy in action. And so, absolutely, he should debate him.

TAPPER: But, at this point, Biden has not committed to debating him. He has said -- I mean, noting the performance in the first debate last time.


TAPPER: Go ahead.

CUTTER: Can we level-set?

TAPPER: Yes. Go ahead. Go, level-set, whatever that means.


CUTTER: This is a -- the likely Republican nominee who refused to debate in the entire primary process.



SMILEY: That was a calculated decision. He didn't need to at that point.


SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It wasn't necessary for the former president to debate against people who were polling at 20 percent, 10 percent, 15 percent.

CUTTER: What was he afraid of? What he's afraid of?

SINGLETON: But it makes all the sense in the world to debate...


TAPPER: Hold on one second.

CUTTER: We know what the strategy was.


CUTTER: But, also, this president -- I mean, this former president...


CUTTER: ... has refused to debate in the typical Presidential Commission debate system. He has pulled out of that.

So what is it exactly is he asking for? We know that this is just a campaign tactic. The congressman is right. When somebody is doing this -- we have all been on campaigns where this is a tactic.


CUTTER: Typically means you're losing. We know what he's doing.

I don't think President Biden is afraid of debating him. But there will be a time for that, typically post conventions in the fall, where people are really focused and tuning into the election. I don't think the president is scared of anything. He just sees what Donald Trump is doing, and it's a gimmick.

TAPPER: Stephanie is right, though...


TAPPER: ... that, generally speaking, you can tell a campaigns is behind when they say, like, they're calling for 400 debates against Congressman X, right?


TAPPER: And that is normal.

SINGLETON: But Trump isn't behind.

TAPPER: Right.

SINGLETON: He's ahead in every national poll.


SINGLETON: He's ahead in most battleground states.

If the election were held today, despite 91 indictments, four federal trials, he's still ahead. That says a lot. And the fact is that President Biden is hemorrhaging support among African-Americans, among young voters, among other voters of color. They're not excited about him.


And then, when you throw in the slew of independent candidates, RFK, Cornel West, Jill Stein, it doesn't look great for the president in terms of his path of winning the election.

TAPPER: So, let's do turn...

KHANNA: Can't we just have a consensus?


KHANNA: Jake Tapper moderates the debate between Donald Trump and...


(CROSSTALK) CUTTER: That sounds good.

TAPPER: President Biden isn't the only presidential candidate getting votes, though, right now. There are -- there are -- as you noted, there are these third-party candidates...


TAPPER: ... Robert Kennedy Jr. Cornel West, Jill Stein, others that threaten Biden.

But we should note voters in the Republican primaries are also turning out to vote for people that are not named Trump. A "Washington Post" analysis found that nearly one in five Republican primary voters across four contests Tuesday voted for an option other than Mr. Trump.

Since Nikki Haley dropped out of the campaign after Super Tuesday on March 5, an average of 17 percent of those voting in Republican contests have voted against Trump, compared to 11 percent voting against Biden. If you exclude low-turnout caucuses in deep red Southern states, Trump is ceding an average of 20 percent since Super Tuesday.

There's still a lot of -- yes, there are dissatisfied Democrats out there and we see the protest vote.


TAPPER: But there are even more dissatisfied Republicans.

SMILEY: Look, it's early in the process. So I -- we -- Shermichael and I were talking earlier, and these people will absolutely come home for Donald Trump.

Donald Trump just had his largest, biggest small-dollar donations in March, grassroots, small-dollar donations. The American people are waking up to the fact. And they're seeing and feeling -- they believe that our judicial system is sort of rigged, right, against Donald Trump, like lawfare.


TAPPER: You mean by the investigations and...

SMILEY: Well, for example, the judge, Juan Merchan, in the hush money case.

Donald's -- his daughter, his daughter, for crying out loud, raises money for Adam Schiff and Kamala Harris using the ploy that we will lock up Donald Trump.

TAPPER: Go ahead.

KHANNA: Look, I...

SMILEY: And Trump will keep raising small-dollar money on that, absolutely. That judge needs to recuse himself from that case.

KHANNA: Here's the thing that the Republicans haven't come to terms with. Abortion rights, the right to choose matters. That's why they underperformed in 2022. That's why you're going to lose a lot of suburban women and suburban men.

And this -- the Florida decision where you have got a six-week ban that the judges have upheld, and you're going to have ballot initiatives, I think the polling is overestimating the support again.

TAPPER: What do you think is going to matter more? I mean, let me -- let me -- let me rephrase that.

How much do you think that the idea of these investigations is actually going to help Trump, not just with his base, but maybe with swing voters or independents who think...

CUTTER: I don't think it's going to help...


CUTTER: ... swing voters?

I mean, the polling shows, if he is actually found guilty in any of these cases, the election moves significantly to President Biden.

I mean, nobody is really questioning whether the former president used hush money to cover something up in the 2016 election.

TAPPER: You can say her name. Stormy Daniels is her name.


CUTTER: Thank you. Stormy Daniels. I actually wasn't sure which one.


TAPPER: Well, there were a couple.

CUTTER: There were a couple.


CUTTER: Voters don't have an open question on that. He did do that. Now he's being held accountable for it.

But that's not the only thing he's being held accountable for. If he is found guilty in any of these cases, he is going to lose votes. And these people probably wouldn't be with him anyway. His deep MAGA base don't care about these court cases. They do think the justice system is weaponized against him.

Those aren't Biden voters and those aren't -- those aren't technically Trump voters either. They are the swing in this election.

TAPPER: But you know they might be Robert Kennedy Jr. voters. And, Shermichael, I want to get your position this because we had a --

we had a focus group runner the other day on our show, somebody who runs focus groups, saying that she's actually -- she actually thinks that maybe he's going to hurt -- RFK Jr.'s candidacy might hurt Trump more than it hurts Biden.

And then, just on Friday, RFK Jr. raised the possibility that the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, was not a true insurrection. He said -- quote -- "It's quite clear that many of the January 6 protesters broke the law in what may have started as a protest, but turned into a riot. I have not examined the evidence in detail, but reasonable people, including Trump opponents, tell me there is little evidence of a true insurrection.

"I'm concerned about the possibility that political objectives motivated the vigor of the prosecution of the January 6 defendants, their long sentences and their harsh treatment. One can, as I do, oppose Donald Trump and all he stands for and still be disturbed by the weaponization of government against him," which sounds like Tiffany.

So, I mean...

SINGLETON: Well, people believe that, but RFK Jr. is a Democrat. He's not a conservative. Trump supporters...

TAPPER: I don't know what he is, frankly.

SINGLETON: Trump supporters are not going to abandon their guy. They'd walk off a cliff if it meant getting Donald Trump back into the White House.

Now, here's a bit of math here. So, in 2016, Donald Trump won the election with 88 percent nationally of Republican support. In 2020, he received 94 percent to President Biden's 96 percent. If President Biden sees a decrease below 94 percent of Democrats support nationally, and Trump can maintain that 94 percent from 2020, he absolutely gets back into the White House.


And the current math today showcases that that path does exist. So I'm not worried about RFK.

CUTTER: So the only reason President Trump won in 2016 is because of third-party candidates. And he himself has admitted that RFK helps his candidacy this time.

TAPPER: As of now.

CUTTER: As of now.

The only way he will win is if a third party is taking votes away from President Biden, because, let's be real. President -- former President Trump's base is not going to grow. It is what it is. He has no -- he's hit his ceiling. For RFK, I mean, yes, I guess in the past he's been a Democrat. I don't know what he is now, other than a conspiratorialist, a liar.

SINGLETON: He's certainly no conservative.

CUTTER: I mean, I think he's trying to have it both ways.


TAPPER: Very quickly.

KHANNA: Beyond the politics, as someone who was there on January 6...


KHANNA: ... for RFK to talk about that as protests, when people are vandalizing the Capitol, when they're hitting police officers, I mean, there should just be consensus that's wrong.


KHANNA: And it's sad that the son of Robert Kennedy...


SMILEY: That happened in all of our cities across the country as well.


TAPPER: Thanks, one and all, for being here.

Is loneliness the key to Donald Trump's success?

Fareed Zakaria joins me next with his take after this quick break.



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

Politicians always like to say that whatever race they're running at that moment is the most important election of our lifetimes. But, this election, could that actually be true?

Joining us now to talk about is CNN anchor Fareed Zakaria. He's author -- also the author of a brand-new book called "Age of Revolutions: Progress and Backlash From 1600 to the Present," which debuted this week on "The New York Times" bestseller list at number two.

All right, Fareed, let's get you up to number one.

In your book, you call this time -- quote -- "perhaps the most revolutionary period in human history." I want to ask you about that because this us slice of that is really

interesting. Recent polls show Donald Trump and Joe Biden in a neck- and-neck race in battleground states. I think, in the wake of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, a lot of people would have been surprised back then that we were at this point today. How do you explain that?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN WORLD AFFAIRS ANALYST: We're living through one of the biggest cultural backlashes that we have seen in history.

It's a backlash against 30 years of accelerating globalization, accelerating technological change, a huge identity revolution, and it's left a lot of people feeling deeply unnerved.

What I try -- what I show in my book is that the form this takes now is this broad cultural backlash, which says, stop this world, I want to get off. And Donald Trump is riding that wave.

What the Biden people don't seem to recognize is that this is fundamentally a new cultural war. They're still waiting for the economy to improve and hoping that that will lift Biden, as it has traditionally. But the problem is, we're in a revolutionary period. It's a break from history. It's all these cultural issues now.

"Wall Street Journal" poll last week, Jake, said, number one issue on people's minds is immigration. Immigration is the core of this new cultural war.

TAPPER: So we got these new economic numbers this week that show the economy is definitely strong, even if a lot of Americans don't feel that way, although polling suggests a lot of them feel like their personal economic situation is good, but they're worried about the economy writ large.

Why are voters more focused on immigration than, it's the economy, stupid, which used to be what people said about politics? It really all depends on how well pocketbook issues are going.

ZAKARIA: It's a great question. And it isn't just Biden, by the way.

This break between how people felt about the economy and what the president's approval ratings were had begun -- began with Obama. The economy did -- boomed under Obama. His approval ratings never really went up.

Donald Trump, until before COVID, presided over a pretty good economy. His approval ratings never budged much. And the reason, as I try to show in the book, is that what you have had over the last 30 or 40 years is a decline in the core importance of economics, partly maybe because we have become a kind of mass middle-class society, and the rise of all these what social scientists call postmaterialistic issues.

It used to be you could predict where somebody would be polling, would be voting based on how rich they were, their place in the economy. Today, it's your views on what I call the Three G's, God, guns and gays. That is the strongest predictor of how you will vote.

TAPPER: So, today obviously marks six months since Hamas attacked Israel.

And now, in the retaliation for that and the effort to eliminate Hamas, there's this humanitarian crisis mounting in Gaza. Israel's vowing to open this new aid route after pressure from President Biden. What do you expect the next six months to look like? Do you think this war will end in that period?

ZAKARIA: I think it has to end at some point.

The really crucial issue is whether Israel is thinking about what the political structure is going to look like after that. And is their strategy right now helping to create a stable political structure that has no Hamas in it, but is still stable enough that Israel does not have to engage in another decades-long occupation of Gaza, fighting insurgencies, fighting militants?


And I worry that they're not thinking enough about that. There's an emphasis, totally understandable, to destroy Hamas. But, while you do that, you have to be thinking about the day after. We learned that in Iraq and Afghanistan, to our detriment. And as President Biden has I think correctly said, Israel should learn some of the lessons from the United States' mistakes.

TAPPER: Fareed Zakaria.

The book is "Age of Revolutions." It's fantastic, critically acclaimed.

We will see you next hour on "GPS." Thank you so much.

ZAKARIA: Thanks so much, Jake.

TAPPER: You will be 20 years older the next time the moon blocks out the sun like this in the United States. We're counting down to tomorrow's eclipse. More on that coming up.



TAPPER: Tomorrow might be your last chance to see a total solar eclipse in the United States, at least for the next 20 years.

So, get your protective sunglasses ready and tune into CNN's special coverage from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow.

Tonight, we're kicking off a new CNN original series on the space shuttle Columbia tragedy. The series pays tribute to the men and women on board and uncovers the details that ultimately led to disaster. Tune into "SPACE SHUTTLE COLUMBIA: THE FINAL FLIGHT" tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN. Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next.