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State of the Union

Interview With Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR); Interview With Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired June 16, 2024 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Motor City message. Donald Trump makes a play for black voters with a message on crime and election conspiracies.


TAPPER: As the fight to be his v.p. Enters its final weeks, who will he choose? I will sit down exclusively with potential running mate Senator Tom Cotton.

Plus: red carpet cash. Celebrities turn out for President Biden's reelection bid, as Biden returns from rallying crucial allies abroad.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You cannot wait us out. You cannot divide us.

TAPPER: But as he juggles multiple international crises, could the real test come at home in November? Top Biden ally Senator Chris Murphy joins me.

And going on offense.

Democrats issue a stark warning about reproductive rights, even as they score a win at the Supreme Court.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is not a cause for celebration.

TAPPER: But can Democrats turn their message into votes? My panel breaks it all down ahead.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our nation is seeing stars.

The 2024 campaign is in full swing this weekend, as President Biden turned to some help from Hollywood, bringing out celebrities from George Clooney to Julia Roberts to Barbra Streisand. Here's host of the event Jimmy Kimmel with a pre-show selfie with two of the other headliners, Obama and Biden.

As for turning that star power into buying power, President Biden raised more than $30 million, a record-breaking number for Democrats, but not for Republicans, who raised $50 million at an event in April.

This all comes after a Biden trip overseas to try to reassure allies of America's commitments to the world and to democracy, both of which he says are at risk if the former president, Mr. Trump, wins in November.

Donald Trump, meanwhile, spent his Saturday in Michigan, a pivotal part of Biden's blue wall in 2020, former President Trump courting the black vote at a church in Detroit, baselessly casting doubt on the 2020 election as a way to attack the 2024 election, at a Turning Point Action conference last night.


TRUMP: And we're not going to allow them to rig the presidential election in 2024.


TRUMP: We need to watch the vote. We need to guard the vote. We need to stop the steal. We don't need votes.


TAPPER: All of this as we're just 11 days away from a key moment in the presidential election, the very first one-on-one debate, which will be right here on CNN.

And my first guest could be theoretically joining Donald Trump on the Republican ticket.

Joining us now, potential Trump vice presidential pick Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas, also a U.S. veteran.

Thank you so much for being here, Senator. Really appreciate it.

Let's start with Ukraine, which I know is an issue you care about in terms of military aid. Last night, at a rally in Michigan, the former president, Mr. Trump, went after Ukrainian President Zelenskyy for constantly seeking U.S. aid, saying -- quote -- "It never ends. It never ends."

This is a criticism that comes after he reportedly told House Republicans when he was on the Hill the other day that the money the U.S. is sending to Ukraine isn't worth it, and asked -- quote -- "If Ukraine wins, what will be the benefit?" -- unquote.

Now, you have been a strong supporter of military aid to Ukraine to fend off Putin's war. What is your answer to that question? What will be the benefit if Ukraine wins?

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Well, Jake, thanks for having me on, and happy Father's Day to you.

TAPPER: To you as well, sir.

COTTON: And happy Father's Day to all the dads out there.

I think it's important to look at the context of what's happened in Ukraine over the last 10 years. I have noticed that Vladimir Putin only invades Ukraine when Democrats are president. It happened under Barack Obama. It happened under Joe Biden. It didn't happen with Donald Trump.

In fact, the weapons that Ukraine used in the early days of this war to fend off the Russian invasion are the weapons that Donald Trump sent, that Barack Obama and Joe Biden had refused to send.

One reason why Joe Biden -- or why Vladimir Putin thought he could get away with going for the jugular in Ukraine is because of the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, which projected weakness and indecision. It was just a few weeks later that he began to mass troops on Ukraine's border.

President Trump has said that he believes and supports Ukraine's survival and strength. But he also thinks that Europe should do more and, in fact, should care more, because it is in their backyard. It is on their borders. I think that too. Europe should be doing more of this.

But what we all want is a return to the peace and stability that we had when President Trump was president, not the war and chaos we have seen over the last four years.

TAPPER: Does it bother you at all when President Trump says things like, if Ukraine wins, what will be the benefit, which contradicts the policy issues you just illustrated?


COTTON: Well, President Trump, again, presided for four years over peace and stability.

I understand that European leaders and Democrats here in America didn't care for some of the language or rhetoric he used. I would say that was necessary to get tough on foreign leaders who are our putative allies who had been free-riding off of American military strength for 35 years.

And what you saw is European leaders actually finally investing in their common defense. That's something they will do again when President Trump is back in the White House.

TAPPER: The Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court, Friday overturned the Trump era ban on bump stocks, which were used to make firearms arguably deadlier during the 2017 Las Vegas shooting, which killed 58 people, the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

The court suggested -- there does seem to be a majority in the court that would support such a move legislatively, just not through the regulatory process. Would you support enshrining the Trump era ban in legislation?

COTTON: Well, Jake, first, I want to make a point about the Supreme Court more broadly.

For years, Democrats like Chuck Schumer and Joe Biden have attacked this court because they don't like the fact that it's got a center- right constitutionalist majority. They claim that it makes outcomes- based decisions.

What you saw on Friday was the opposite of that. You saw the six Republican-appointed justices reversing a Trump administration regulation. That's the opposite of outcomes-based judicial -- or judging. They focus on the text and the meaning of statutes and of our Constitution, exactly as they should.

Now, on the legislative question, I would suggest, before we infringe on the rights of law-abiding American citizens, we should crack down on violent crime and gun crimes. I have introduced numerous bills that would extend sentences for gun felons. The Democrats won't join me because they don't believe in harsh criminal penalties.

Or maybe we should close our border, where we have had so many criminal aliens crossing. We just recently learned that the murderer of Rachel Morin, a beautiful young mother of five, was a savage degenerate from El Salvador who raped and beat her after doing something similar in El Salvador.

Yet Joe Biden, rather than getting serious about immigrant crime, is about to give amnesty to more than a million illegal aliens. That's what we should be doing before we start threatening the rights of law- abiding Americans.

TAPPER: So, you think that banning bump stocks is an infringement on the Second Amendment?

COTTON: I think it treads close to the line. You would want to look at the legislative language. But more than anything, what we need to do to stop crime in this country is to get tough on crime.

Look what just happened across the street from the White House. You had a bunch of pro-Hamas lunatics engaged in violent protests, defacing the statues of great American veterans, a black-letter violation of American law. There was not a single arrest of those protesters, of those hooligans who were attacking statues, who even injured a law enforcement officer.

That's to say nothing of the prosecutors we see all across this country elected as Democrats who are not serious about prosecuting violent crime.

TAPPER: I want to play something you told me the last time you were on the show, which was, believe it or not, September 2020, after Donald Trump, then the president, had just cast doubt on whether he would ultimately support the peaceful transfer of power should President Biden -- should then-Vice President Biden win.

Take a listen.


TAPPER: It's really quite alarming to a lot of Republicans his refusal to say, of course, if I lose, I will abide by a peaceful transfer of power.

COTTON: He's since said that, if there's a clear winner, if the courts settle a contested election, that, of course, he will.

But the premise of the question that you just played me, Jake, is, the president's going to lose. I don't think the president's going to lose. The president is going to win.


TAPPER: It's a prediction that didn't age very well. Not only did President Trump lose. He did not accept the court-settled contested election, as you phrased it, or abide by the peaceful transfer of power.

COTTON: Jake, first, I think I need to come on more often, because there's a big difference between how we looked four years ago and now.


TAPPER: You haven't aged. I have quite a bit. I have quite a bit, but yes.


COTTON: But, Jake, I mean, I think the president has said, as I have said about this election...

TAPPER: This election.

COTTON: Of course, we will accept the results if the results are from fair and free elections.

Every candidate in any race has a right to go to court to seek legal redress...

TAPPER: Of course.

COTTON: ... if they think there's been any kind of fraud or cheating, if they think a state or a city didn't follow the rules or customary practices of their elections.

I think that that's reasonable for President Trump to say. It's reasonable for any candidate for any office in America to believe.

TAPPER: I don't disagree, but that's not what happened in 2020. I mean, he contested it up to the U.S. Supreme Court, and then it went past that, as you know. COTTON: Well, look, what happened on January 6, 2021, is that there

was a protest in Washington that got out of hand, and it became a riot.

And as I have said from the very beginning, anyone who injured a law enforcement officer or committed acts of violence on January 6 at the Capitol should be prosecuted and face severe consequences.


Again, that's unlike Democrats, who won't prosecute violent protesters, for instance, from Democratic street militias outside the homes of Supreme Court justices or defacing statues of veterans right across from the White House.

Anyone who commits acts of violence, in my opinion, should be prosecuted and face severe consequences.

TAPPER: So you disagree when Donald Trump says, as president, he will considering -- he will consider pardoning every one of the January 6 rioters convicted in court? He said every one, not -- and I understand that others who maybe didn't participate in violent protests are different than the ones who used violence or assaulted police officers.

But he says every one. He's considering it.

COTTON: But he didn't say -- he didn't say he would.

TAPPER: No, he said consider it.

COTTON: He said he would consider it. I think what that means is what he did in his first term. He'd take each case for a pardon request on a case-by-case basis.

And I do think there's a strong case for many of the defendants to be pardoned, because they didn't engage in acts of violence. They didn't damage federal property. In some cases, they were subject to pretrial detention for a longer period than the sentences for the misdemeanor crimes that they faced.

Some of them are probably about to have their convictions or their indictments overturned by a Supreme Court decision, because the Biden administration stretched the law beyond reasonable bounds to go after some of the people who were present, not even in the Capitol, but near the Capitol that day, which is, again, in contrast to the violent pro- Hamas protesters you see outside the White House or Democratic street militias who are marching in violation of federal law outside Supreme Court justices' homes trying to intimidate them on the way they rule in a particular case.

TAPPER: I will just observe that some critics might say you -- it sounds like you have a different standard. You have a tough law and order stance on everything, other than these issues here that have to do with President Trump and his supporters.

You seem to have it -- because you have a very hard-line stance on law and order.


TAPPER: But, here, you're talking about, oh, maybe pardoning them if they didn't engage in violence.

That's not the language you use when you're talking about the Black Lives Matter protesters or others.

COTTON: Well, many of the BLM and Antifa riots in 2020 were not so- called peaceful protests, as some on your network said. They were looting and rioting and committing arson and murder.

Again, these same -- America techniques that were used for every grandma in a MAGA hat who was within a country mile of the Capitol on January 6 are not being used for the street militias who protested outside Supreme Court justices' homes or the pro-Hamas lunatics who were defacing statues of veterans or who occupied college campuses last month.

I'm simply calling for the same standards to be used regardless of one's politics. That's the essence of the rule of law.

TAPPER: So, the Republican National Convention kicks off in Milwaukee in less than a month. Donald Trump is set to unveil his running mate there.

You are one of the top contenders. Do you want to be vice president?

COTTON: Well, I think, if the president asks you to serve in any capacity of our great nation, you would have to consider it.

But I also know that there's probably only one person who knows who's on his short list. And I suspect the president will make a decision about his vice president when he's ready. And it'll be a good decision for him and the ticket, but, more importantly, a good decision for the country.

TAPPER: But you would say yes if he asked?

COTTON: If the president asked me to serve in any capacity, I would, of course, entertain it.

But, right now, I'm very happy being a senator representing the people of Arkansas and working to elect President Trump and a majority of the Congress so we can begin to repair some of the damage that Joe Biden and the Democrats have inflicted over these last four years.

TAPPER: I hope you have a great Father's Day with your two boys and your wife. Thanks so much for joining us. And happy Father's Day, sir.

COTTON: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Jack Black, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Joe Biden?

Hollywood rolls out the red carpet for the president's reelection bid. A top ally for President Biden, Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut, will be here in moments.

And what Donald Trump told Republicans behind closed doors about how to navigate reproductive rights and abortion ahead of the election. My panel's here to weigh in.



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

George Clooney, Julia Roberts, Jimmy Fallon, Barbra Streisand, Jason Bateman, Jack Black, Jimmy Kimmel, too many other Tinseltown luminaries to mention, raised funds last night for the president, setting a Democratic Party record.

But fresh off his trip to reassure G7 allies overseas, the president's real challenge at home is just beginning.

Joining us now, Biden ally and Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Senator, we have so much to start with, but I do want to get your reaction to something that Senator Cotton said.

So, on Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Trump-era regulatory ban on bump stocks put in place after the horrific mass murder in Las Vegas in 2017. In a concurring opinion, Justice Alito suggested that it wasn't the law itself for at least three of them, three of the conservatives; it was the way it was done.

He said: "There is a simple remedy for the disparate treatment of bump stocks and machine guns. Congress can amend the law and perhaps would have done so already if ATF had stuck with its early interpretation. Now that the situation is clear, Congress can act."

You heard Senator Cotton there. He didn't sound particularly supportive of the idea of banning bump stocks. He said it might infringe on the Second Amendment. Is there an appetite in the Senate for it?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, I think it's really scary that we have lost Republican support for banning machine guns. That's what a bump stock does. It turns a semiautomatic weapon into a machine gun.

TAPPER: Or something like a machine gun.

MURPHY: With one pull of the trigger, you can fire hundreds of rounds at one time.

And, of course, this is a Republican administration that banned bump stocks. At the time, Republicans in the Senate and the House were supportive of it. But now that they have got a Supreme Court that seems ready to unwind the entirety of the Second Amendment and take away from Congress or the executive branch the ability to keep our communities safe, they're once again lining up behind the gun industry.

TAPPER: But he was just -- there were -- there are, obviously, three liberal justices and three concurring Republican justices -- or conservative justices who would support it if done the proper way, in their view.


MURPHY: Well, listen, I would hope that Republicans who said back during Las Vegas shooting that they want bump stocks regulated now, in the wake of the Supreme Court decision, would join us. If we pass a law, the Supreme Court says that they would honor that law.

My bigger worry, Jake, is that this Supreme Court has been signaling in some of their decisions on guns that they are readying to fundamentally rewrite the Second Amendment and take away permanently the ability of Congress to do simple things like require people to go through a background check or move forward on taking dangerous weapons like AR-15s off of the streets.

So I think this court is poised to make it very hard for Congress or state legislatures to be able to regulate guns and keep our communities and schools safe.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the U.S. Supreme Court, because we're still waiting for two major January 6-related cases to be decided on presidential immunity and whether or not the obstruction of a proceeding charges were appropriate ones for the January 6 rioters.

At a fund-raiser in Hollywood last night -- or Los Angeles last night, President Biden referred to the upside-down flag that Martha-Ann Alito flew outside their home. He said: "The court has never been as out of kilter as it is today." And there were a lot of other remarks along those lines.

Is it appropriate for a president to criticize the court like that?

MURPHY: Oh, absolutely.

I mean, I think there's a crisis on the court, I mean, in particular with respect to Justice Alito and Justice Thomas. What Justice Thomas is engaged in is just a grift, right? He's got a major political player on the outside who absolutely has political and business interests at the court paying off a justice.

Justice Alito is openly displaying affiliation with political causes in public. I think it would be irresponsible for the president not to talk about the fact that this court is becoming brazenly corrupt and brazenly political. And it's up to the American people this election to do something about that. It's also up to Congress to step up and pass a code of conduct, a code of ethical conduct, for this court before it's too late.

TAPPER: Let me ask you about Ukraine, because President Biden was obviously at this big fund-raiser in California as he looks to shake up his deadlocked race with Donald Trump, which Donald Trump is probably ahead. If the election were held tomorrow, Donald Trump, you would have to give him the edge.

Vice President Harris, meanwhile, was attending a peace summit held by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Switzerland, doing that instead of Biden. Zelenskyy said Biden's absence would be met with -- quote -- "applause" from Putin.

Should Biden have been there with Zelenskyy, instead of with the Hollywood bigwigs?

MURPHY: Well, there is no doubt that Joe Biden has been the president that has allowed Ukraine to survive and to be able to fight another day.

Without Joe Biden's support for Ukraine. Congress would not have passed this latest tranche of aid. And it's just a reality that President Biden has to do two things at once. He has to campaign for reelection. The fact of the matter is, there are going to be a handful of massively funded billionaires on the Republican side that are going to put lots of money into this campaign. Joe Biden has to raise money to counter that.

This peace summit, though, was extraordinary, in the fact that the entire Western world came together around a simple premise, that Ukraine should be sovereign, free, and independent.

And Donald Trump at that very moment was attacking the ability of Ukraine to fight for itself and signaling that, if you elect Donald Trump president, he is likely going to hand Ukraine to Putin, which will upend the entire post-World War II order and potentially get the United States in direct conflicts with countries like Russia and China, an incredibly dangerous moment, a clear contrast between Joe Biden, who's going to stand up for the free world, and Donald Trump, who's going to hand the free world over to autocrats and dictators.

TAPPER: So you noted that Biden had to -- has to campaign, in addition to being leader of the free world.

Let's talk about the campaign, because Trump was in battleground Michigan last night making a pitch to African-American voters. Polls show Biden trailing Trump in key battleground states and polling well behind your Senate colleagues who are running for reelection.

Look at this "New York Times" poll from last month. Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin is up nine points in Wisconsin. Biden's only up two points. Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey up five in PA. Biden's down three. Arizona Congressman Ruben Gallego, running for Senate in Arizona, up four, Biden down seven. Nevada Senator Jacky Rosen up two in Nevada. Biden's down 12.

How can you look at this, these statistics, these numbers and not conclude that Joe Biden is a drag on the ticket?

MURPHY: Oh, that's not going to be the case.

TAPPER: But look. Look at the numbers.

MURPHY: Well, that's one poll.

TAPPER: I mean, you're happy for your colleagues, I'm sure, but Biden is underpolling all of them.

MURPHY: Well, that's one poll.

I can also show you 60 other polls that show that Joe Biden is in the lead. There are plenty of polls in swing states that show that Joe Biden has a small lead. This is going to be a close race. There's no doubt about it.

But what we have consistently seen is that Democrats are outperforming polls, because we're seeing a surge of turnout, especially young people who are freaked out that Republicans, led by Donald Trump, are going to take away their right to reproductive health care, are going to destroy our democracy.


I think this is going to be a close race. But I have no doubt that Joe Biden is going to win and he's going to lead Senate Democrats to hold the majority.

TAPPER: Before we go, I do want to note that it was high school graduation week in Newtown, Connecticut, typically a joyous occasion, but this year was obviously overshadowed by the absence of 20 students who should have been graduating had they not been murdered in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting 12 years ago.

I can't believe it was 12 years ago.


TAPPER: I'm sure it was an emotional week for you, watching the survivors who have had to overcome so much to get to this point, while remembering the classmates who never got a chance to grow up.


And today's Father's Day. And I have two sons who are about the same age as those kids, a little bit younger. And I had the gift of being able to watch them grow up over the last 12 years, a gift that was stolen from those parents in Sandy Hook.

A lot of those parents have become part of a movement to try to change the laws of this country, so that that never, ever happens again. There is good news to celebrate today. Urban gun homicides over the last two years have dropped by 20 to 30 percent.

There are all sorts of young men and women who are alive today who are celebrating Father's Day with their father because of the laws that we passed, laws that were made possible in part by the families from Sandy Hook who turned that grief into action.

So, we have a lot of work to do to make sure that something like Sandy Hook never happens again, that every kid gets the chance to graduate. But we have some reason to believe that this country is starting to turn the corner and change our laws in a way that makes our kids and our families safer.

TAPPER: And I know there's not a day that goes by -- and I'm sure it's the -- I know it's the same with me as it is with you -- that we don't think about the Sandy Hook parents.

Nicole and all the other Sandy Hook parents out there, you have touched us, and we think about you all the time. And we are praying for you today.

Thank you so much, Senator Murphy, for being here.

MURPHY: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Appreciate it.

Former President Trump making a big pitch to black voters in Michigan yesterday, but is it the right message and is it enough to tip the scales in that crucial battleground state? My panel's here next.




TRUMP: The crime is most rampant right here and in African-American communities. We don't want to get robbed and mugged and beat up or killed because we want to walk across the street to buy a loaf of bread.

But the black population wants law enforcement more than any other population.


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

Former President Donald Trump there campaigning over the weekend for black voters, specifically in Detroit, focusing heavily in his message on crime and law enforcement, as polls show black voters potentially more in play this year than in any other election since the civil rights movement.

My panel joins me now.

And, Ashley Etienne, this is your first Sunday at STATE OF THE UNION.


TAPPER: So, welcome, and have at it. What do you make of his pitch to black voters?

ASHLEY ETIENNE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, listen, I think that this is a little overhyped by the media, Trump's appeal to black folks.

There are some that he's peeling off the margins, but the majority of black people remember that black unemployment was double under Trump, that he tried to invalidate Barack Obama with a birtherism, that he told police to dominate them after the -- dominate the protests -- protesters after George Floyd's death.

But I also think that it's having the opposite effect. It's actually forcing the Democratic Party to make bigger investments earlier in appealing to black voters. Ashley Allison and I have been in those war rooms in these last presidential elections, and it's not until October where we're ripping our hair out saying, pay attention to black voters.

Now the party is making the biggest, largest investments earliest than it's ever had in engaging the black votes.


TAPPER: She's suggesting Donald Trump's doing them a favor.

ETIENNE: Absolutely. I'm doubling down on it.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, they are spending a lot of resources, and that is a smart political play.

But the reality is, the former president is doing something that no other Republican president or candidate has ever done, I would argue, since perhaps Richard Nixon, and that is to make a very serious and legitimate play to African-Americans.

TAPPER: Richard Nixon in 1960.


TAPPER: Yes, yes, yes.

SINGLETON: You're talking decades ago. I mean, Trump was in Detroit. He has a rally coming up soon in Philly. They're spending real dollars on campaign ads. They're spending real dollars to target black men across social media and radio.

They just hired an African-American to oversee their African-American outreach strategy. So, I think this is legitimate. There's a reason why the Biden campaign is spending more resources, because they're clearly concerned.

And on the issues of some of Donald Trump's statements in the past, Barack Obama, I certainly disagreed with him on that. I thought it was abhorrent.

But let's not forget that President Biden also has some very serious, shaky issues in the past with issues of race as well. My point here is that both of these gentlemen are not perfect on that issue. Nevertheless, Donald Trump is showing up and it's important. And I think it is going to make a difference. ALLISON: OK. He went to Detroit. I'm not sure that it was an event

that the audience was actually all black. That audience was...

ETIENNE: Very few black people.

ALLISON: Very few black people. It wasn't a black audience for a black for Trump event. So, that's one thing to be important.

But the clip you played, Jake, was actually in response to a question about black entrepreneurship. And he didn't have an answer, except for crime, crime, crime, crime, crime.

Well, if you asked Joe Biden that, what Joe Biden can say is that black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs. Black men are coming up second behind them, and that Joe Biden has actually doubled entrepreneurship. Black business ownership has doubled since the pandemic. And that's under Joe Biden.


So, again, we -- as you and I say -- talk to this all the time, Shermichael, is that when you actually look at the policies, Joe Biden is better for Donald -- or for black Americans.

I'm not saying that Donald Trump shouldn't go to the black communities to have a conversation, just like Joe Biden should.


ALLISON: We deserve to be courted, like every single voter. But when you put the facts against the facts, Joe Biden is better.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think Donald Trump has a great chance to peel off black voters for the same reason he's peeling off all other kinds of working-class Americans, inflation, cost of living, food prices.

Black voters have the same problems that Hispanic voters have, that white voters have. They think Joe Biden has failed them when it comes to just living day to day in this country. And I think the attitude of the Democratic Party and of Joe Biden specifically has always been to black voters, I just need you to shut up and show up.

And Donald Trump says, I want to have a conversation with you. And that's a different attitude.

TAPPER: So, let's go to -- you brought up President Obama. And he was out campaigning for Joe Biden last night in Hollywood.

One of the things he said, according to "The New York Times," President Obama said -- quote -- "We have the spectacle of the nominee of one of the two major parties sitting in court and being convicted by a jury of his peers on 34 counts. His foundation is not allowed to operate because it was engaging in monkey business. You have his organization being prosecuted for not paying taxes," a very robust argument against Donald Trump by former President -- let's go to you first -- former President Obama.

What do you make of it?

ALLISON: Can always count on my old boss to deliver a strong message. It's true. It is.

I think this is the important thing is that we have to do two things in this campaign. We have to continue to draw the contrast between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. I do not think that those two men are the lesser of two evil. Joe Biden and Donald Trump are not even on the same spectrum in terms of character, in terms of how they have compassion for the working-class people.

And that, I'm referring to Joe Biden, not Donald Trump, because I know you will try and say I was talking about Donald Trump, Scott.

JENNINGS: I think that it's interesting to hear Obama describe it this way.

Since Donald Trump was convicted, the probability of him becoming the next president has only gone up. You look at the major forecasters, he's now favored to win the presidency. There are credible polls in Virginia and Minnesota showing those states that are now swing states. You can tell which of these campaigns is on offense.

And the other one that's not is flailing. One week, you have got Joe Biden saying, executive order, close the border, next week, executive order, amnesty for everybody who's here. They do know not know what to do, because everything they are trying to do tends to make Donald Trump more popular.


SINGLETON: I mean, Jake, the problem here is, Joe Biden is not Barack Obama.

And I have a tremendous amount of respect for the former president. He's a brilliant man. But the reality is, the message that he's given to those donors is not the message that President Biden is able to give when he's on the campaign trail.

And it's a reason why many voters, including Democrats, are just aren't -- uncertain whether or not the president can continue for another four years. Now, does that mean that a whole swathe of them are going to go to Donald Trump? Absolutely not.

But it does indicate that some may stay home. That is just as troublesome for Democrats and good for President Trump.

TAPPER: And, Ashley, I know one of the issues that Democrats are really hitting hard is Supreme Court justices and abortion rights.

One of the things that President Biden said last night at this fund- raiser -- quote -- "The next president is likely to have two more Supreme Court nominees. Referring to Donald Trump, he said: "The idea that if he is reelected, he's going to appoint two more who are waving flags upside down is" -- Biden trailed off. "The Supreme Court has never been as out of kilter as it is today."

That's obviously a reference to the upside-down flag hung at the Alitos' house, a distress symbol. What do you make of that argument? What do you make of that pitch?

ETIENNE: Well, I mean, I think it's a strong pitch. It's a pitch we have been making as a party for some time, but now we're expanding the issues.

It was primarily focused on the Supreme Court's threat around reproductive rights. And now we're expanding it even bigger and more broadly. Affirmative action, all of the rights that we that we enjoy right now as a nation could be rolled back by the Supreme Court. And I think that's what's under threat. And that's the argument that the party's going to make.

But I just wanted to go back to this -- to what Scott said about being in the defensive posture, the Democratic Party. If you look at just this week, it undermines your argument. The special election in Ohio, Trump won that district by 30 percent in 2020. The Republican just won it by 10 percent. It swung 10 points in the Democrats' favor, low turnout.

To me, that suggests that there's a lack of enthusiasm. You have got a president, the head of the party that's consistently lost. The last three cycles, they have underperformed. In addition to that, he's having problems raising money. The money that he actually is raising, he's got to pay his lawyers to stay out of jail.

I don't know why we're on the defensive.


TAPPER: Well, hold that thought. I will come back to you on this, but we have to squeeze in a quick break.

Scott, I will come right to you and then, Shermichael, to you.

As the former president adds another candle to his birthday cake -- Donald Trump is now 78 -- first lady Jill Biden has a new message about the current president's age.


The panel's back in just moments. Stay with us.



AUDIENCE (singing): Happy birthday to you!

TRUMP: Thank you very much.


TRUMP: Thank you.

I feel very young.

JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY: Joe and that other guy are essentially the same age. Let's not be fooled. Joe Biden is a healthy, wise 81-year- old ready and willing to work for you every day.



TAPPER: God bless them both. I'm 55, and I'm ready for bed.

Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION, Jake Tapper here.

Friday, Donald Trump turned 78 years young, and, yesterday, he received a spirited rendition of "Happy Birthday" from a crowd in Michigan. Joe Biden, of course, is 81, going to turn 82 in November. Both candidates would be the oldest president ever inaugurated.

My panel joins me now.

Scott, I promised I'd come to you.

Jill Biden says: "Joe and that other guy are essentially the same age. Let's not be fooled."

It is true that, chronologically, they could have been in high school at the same time.

JENNINGS: Essentially the same age.

I mean, I applaud the attempt to put a brave face on this. The reason that every single national survey shows that people don't think Joe Biden is up to this second term and that they think Donald Trump is more with it is because people have ears. They have eyes. They have observational skills.

We're observing these two people every day. That's why this upcoming debate, moderated by you on CNN...


TAPPER: Co-moderated. Dana will be with me as well.

JENNINGS: And this is why it's such a high-wire act. I mean, the Democrats are freaked out. They're trying to change the trajectory of the campaign.

It's possible this does not go the way they want it to go. He's in the quicksand in his polling. He's below 40 and has been for months because of his age and the perceived weakness that his age brings. The debate could make it worse and make it that he could never get out of the quicksand. It's a high-wire act.

TAPPER: Ashley? ALLISON: I think the debate is important, but I think most people

haven't really started to pay attention to the election. I think it's important to engage people.

And it'll be just as much as what he does on the show as what his campaign does to push the message out. And this is a campaign -- I have said this all along. This is a campaign of, it should be the people versus Donald Trump, not Joe Biden versus Donald Trump, because Joe Biden has the most diverse Cabinet around him.

He has been able to elect historic numbers of women of color in the House. He has built a robust -- and, in 2020, we had the most robust, diverse coalition. So he is able to make and expand the electorate. He needs to let people know that, we're running together. This is not about me. And I think that is a pushback to the...


SINGLETON: Maybe he expanded the electorate in 2020, but, right now, he has an issue with African-Americans. There's issues with younger voters.

And on the age issue, if you're having to defend and constantly tell people, oh, he's a vibrant 81-year-old, he's mentally sharp, he can do 50 pushups, you're losing the messaging battle here.

To Scott's point, people are seeing with their own eyes why they are somewhat concerned about the president. Look, 81 and being president of the United States is a difficult job. God bless the president. But people do have legitimate and I would say rightful concerns about, can the president continue to do this job for another four years?

I don't think it's odd to beg that question. And once the campaign trail really heats up, the president's going to have to be out there a lot more, Jake. And people are going to look at this, and they're going to wonder, can this guy continue?

ETIENNE: So I have been hearing in the media that Donald Trump is asking the question -- well, he's considering, when he's selecting his vice president, who would be prepared to take over for him if he doesn't complete his term? So he also is fully aware of his own age.

But I have worked for two 80-year-olds. And I will say that age is nothing but a number. And I think the reality is, what this thing boils down to is what have you done for me lately when it comes to voters. If you do that -- to Ashley's point earlier, presidential elections are about contrast.

If you look at what Joe Biden did just in the last two weeks...


ETIENNE: ... signed a bilateral security agreement with Ukraine, signed an executive order to protect the border, 270,000 jobs added to the economy. You compare that with Donald Trump, convicted, 34 felony counts,

trying to stay out of jail, told people: I don't care about your -- I don't care about you. I just want your vote, trashed who we are.


TAPPER: I think he was joking.

ETIENNE: And it's fine. It's fine.


TAPPER: He was joking.


ETIENNE: But my point with Donald Trump is, you take him at his word. I don't know that he's joking.


JENNINGS: But if you what you say is true, why is Joe Biden losing today as much as he was before all that?

ETIENNE: OK, more importantly, if everything you say is true, then why are you guys underperforming?

Since -- all the way since 2018, you guys have underperformed polls and...


JENNINGS: I totally agree. Low-turnout elections...


ETIENNE: Yes. But that's my point, though, yes.

JENNINGS: So you admit...


ETIENNE: So there's no enthusiasm...


JENNINGS: ... that Joe Biden -- that the only way Joe Biden can win is if nobody votes.



ETIENNE: No, I didn't say that. I didn't say that.

(CROSSTALK) JENNINGS: That's what you're saying. Low turnout means Joe Biden has



ETIENNE: I didn't say that.

ALLISON: That doesn't -- here's what I think we're having right now, and I think this is an important moment in politics, besides the two candidates.

Polls are not getting it right, and they haven't been getting it right. I sat at this very table, and you all looked like I had three heads when I said, I don't think it's going to be a red wave. It wasn't you all, particularly, but some folks looked at me crazy.

TAPPER: It was a different show, different show.



ETIENNE: A different time.

ALLISON: And it wasn't -- there wasn't a red wave. And I'm like, because people are not just voting on one issue.

Yes, they care about the economy, but they also know that reproductive rights is an economic issue.

TAPPER: So let's talk about that for one second, because the U.S. Supreme Court delivered a victory to the reproductive rights side with the mifepristone ruling.



TAPPER: But Vice President Harris was quick to note that the ruling had to do with the fact that the plaintiffs had no standing.


TAPPER: It wasn't a ruling...

ETIENNE: On the merits.

TAPPER: ... in favor of mifepristone. Here's Vice President Harris.


HARRIS: This is not a cause for celebration. This ruling is not going to change the fact that Trump's allies have a plan that, if all else fails, to eliminate medication abortion through executive action.

So we must remain clear-eyed about the threats to reproductive freedom in America and we must remain vigilant.


ETIENNE: Well, can I start by saying she looks great in that blue?

ALLISON: She does.


ETIENNE: She looks amazing in that blue.

Nevertheless, you know, this is a continuation of Republicans' war against women. I just don't understand. You have got the head of the party that's convicted of sexual assault, who brags about overturning Roe and calls it an incredible achievement, taking rights away from women as an incredible achievement.

And then you add on top of that the Republican Party in the Senate vote against IVF just this week.

JENNINGS: This is made up. I'm sorry. This is a made-up issue.

There is not a single Republican in the country, including Donald Trump...

ETIENNE: Scott, I didn't get to finish.

JENNINGS: ... who is running against IVF.

You cannot name one.

ETIENNE: I just said they voted against it. They voted against the bill.


ALLISON: It's not about a -- it's not a made-up issue.


JENNINGS: It is totally made up.

ALLISON: Women have lost a constitutional right because Donald Trump...

TAPPER: You're talking about Roe v. Wade.

ALLISON: Roe v. Wade -- because Donald Trump nominated three Supreme Court justices, with the assistance of your former boss Mitch McConnell blocking President Biden -- or President Obama's Supreme Court nomination and then accelerating President Trump's nomination.

And since we have lost our constitutional right in 2022, the red wave did not manifest. In 2023, your own home state, Andy Beshear kept his seat.


ALLISON: Kansas, a red state, now, what happened there? Ohio, my home state, it is now a part of the constitution. It has been codified.

It is an issue. Don't say it's a made-up issue.



JENNINGS: Jake -- Jake...

ALLISON: In Alabama, they tried to ban it.


TAPPER: Let's give Shermichael the last word on this.

Go ahead.

SINGLETON: The reality is, we have not, as a party, done well on this issue, Scott. No one can deny that.

And that's why the former president is having some difficulties trying to figure out...

ETIENNE: Absolutely.

SINGLETON: ... what's the talking point.

JENNINGS: He has a clear position.

SINGLETON: John -- Scott, stop.

JENNINGS: He has a clear position.

SINGLETON: Let me finish. Let me finish.


SINGLETON: We have lost on this issue. We need to leave it alone. We need to get back to the issues that people care about, immigration, the economy and foreign policy, where your guy is not strong on.

TAPPER: OK, so, wonderful panel.


ALLISON: Happy Father's Day.

SINGLETON: Thanks. Thanks.

TAPPER: Happy Father's Day. Early Happy Father's Day to you.

ETIENNE: Yay. Breaking news.

TAPPER: Coming up next, a message for all the dads out there. We will be right back.



TAPPER: Before we go today, I want to take a moment to wish a happy Father's Day to all the dads out there and to all the people who have taken on the role of dad in your own ways.

A special shout-out to my own dad, Dr. Ted Tapper. He's traveling right now.

I love you dad. I love you very much. Hope you have a wonderful day.

To my kids, Alice and Jack, who made me a dad, thank you so much for being the greatest kids in the world.

I want to note, Luke Russert gave me this tie. It used to belong to his dad, Tim Russert.

To those of you who are missing your dads today, we see you too. I hope everyone has a relaxing and meaningful Sunday with your families.

Thanks for spending your Sunday morning with us.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next.