tv Inside Politics With John King CNN January 19, 2022 9:00am-10:00am PST
country's covid exhaustion. many democrats worry the biden white house is not up to the midterm year political challenge. they say the trumps have inflated his assets to $100 million. now he wants his children to explain the fuzzy math under oath. there are difficult days ahead. russia just sent troops to its borders. the worry is an invasion is next. to we begin this hour with president biden. the president is holding a rare news conference in just a few hours. he will begin his take on his first year's performance and the most pressing challenges as we turn the page now to year two, and then the questions. his leadership will be a focus of many. whether the issue is another covid winter, the stalled agenda or the ukraine.
dan balz at the "washington post" and kaitlan collins, cnn. he walks into a room and assesses, how does he grade his first year, kaitlan? >> his aides have talked about this privately. i think he comes kind of with a sense of humility recognizing where the country is now and where it will be tomorrow in his presidency and the issues that have arisen. of course, the pandemic is still number one on his to-do list. this is not where they expected to be one year down the road, one year into poffice, and it i still very much an issue they are dealing with. you can see the white house trying to get ahead of some of the questions by launching that website formally today is send free at-home kits to people, making them available for pharmacies to pick them up. that will be the first priority for the president to talk about, because that is what he came into office saying he could do better than the last
administration, which is get a handle on the pandemic. of course, some parts of that are unpredictable, but he's got these other crises that are facing him, including the fact that what's happening on capitol hill right now where there is this all-out battle in the democratic party when it comes to voting rights legislation and the dead-end efforts, apparently, of where that is headed, and what's the president's backup plan there. of course, you've got the other domestic problems at home with inflation, rising crime and all these issues overseas where there is a standoff between ukraine and russia. there is a lot on the to-do list for the president to walk into that room, to talk about, to try to project competency, which is what he came into office on, and what big questions are going to be about. >> and, dan, what's more important? you and i have lived this movie and this moment several times before. many presidents have a struggle in the first year, some have many. maybe it's covid to another, maybe it's inflation to another. while they look at what
candidate biden said, president biden said, and it doesn't match reality. i promised you competence, i promised you new leadership. where is it? >> john, i think at this point it is much more the big picture. kaitlan was right in outlining the pall that the pandemic has cast over the country and now we're in the third year. people are frustrated, people are cranky, lives are continuing to be lost. i think that's one of the big things that's overriding him. the successes that he has had, and he has had successes, have mostly come in the first six to eight months of his presidency. the problems have piled up in the last few months, and particularly that last week of his first year last week when he got hit from multiple directions. i think the question on the table right now is, and we've seen it before in other presidents as you suggested, is this a moment to say we are
going to stay the course, or is this a moment to say we are going to try to do some kind of course correction? you mentioned that the president can be a stubborn person. and i think that there is a feeling in some parts of the white house that they just need to kind of keep putting one foot in front of another and do the best they can and hope that that begins to unlock things and give people a different impression of the president. but i think that the question for him today is, how is he going to speak to people who are frustrated? is he going to acknowledge those and is he going to take any responsibility for the frustration they're feeling? >> kaitlan, you write about this with several colleagues in the white house team. a string of setbacks have eroded the confidence that once surrounded the president and his team who spent most of his life in government with a pledge of restoring order. they do have deep experiences. one of the challenge of experience is this is a different time, this is a different challenge, whether
it's covid or something else. maybe the way we did it yesterday or five years ago or ten years ago doesn't work today. are they doing that assessment inside team biden, or to the point dan just raised, are they saying one foot in front of the other, we're right, we just have to slog it out? >> i think it depends on the issue. i think when it comes to covid, that is the mentality, of keep your head down, keep doing the work. we are trying to adjust in realtime to these issues. he will still face questions over testing and the nationwide shortage we've seen with the omicron variant. in i think a question about a change in tactic has to do with what he's doing with colleagues at the hill. he was three decades in the senate, he relished his time there, but he sometimes operates as though it's the same senate of 30 years ago when he was there. we've seen how much that has changed. i think that's a big question. one thing we found when i was reporting this with my colleagues kevin and jeff was when democrats got the majority
of the senate, that razor thin majority with the two senate seats in georgia, you saw it kind of changed the expectation k game of what democrats could accomplish. one democrat we talked to yesterday said we're operating as if we've got 50 democrats or 60 democrats in the senate when it comes to the agenda. we do not have that, and that's why it's been so difficult. so as dan noted, even though the president has delivered when it comes to the american rescue plan, when it comes to infrastructure, he's ending the first year in office with people talking about what he has not done yet, and that's not what the white house wants to hear. >> he thought he had a very different presidency. he thought he had a democratic house and republican senate. then you have a majority but you're 50-50. you wrote in your piece the second act is ahead. he could scale back on some of the ambitions and accept smaller
victories, but that would require him to confront a liberal activist wing of his party that has kept the pressure on him to deliver on his big campaign promises. do you scale back, do you meet in the middle in the midterm election year where you're asking the votes you need, eat your peas. >> it's such a difficult choice for him. he's been under pressure from the activist wing of the party throughout his presidency. to some extent i think he played into that by the decisions he and his team made very early on which was to go very, very big. they decided that i think the combination of the end of the trump era and a desire for at least some calming of the waters, but at the same time the problems that had been exposed by the pandemic and the disruption that had been caused gave him an opportunity to do some things that liberals have wanted to do for a long time. and i think that they plunged ahead with that without taking full account of the fact that they have a 50-50 split senate
and a very narrow majority in the house as well. and they tried to do more than any president has tried to do with less in terms of their majorities. i think another point about this is that there are two elements of a presidency. one is the ability to rally public opinion. it's been said that a president can only do as much as he can get the public to go along with. this president has not proven to be effective as kind of a bully pulpit communicator. i think that's one of the questions about his leadership style. he has great empathy, he has passion, as we've seen in some recent speeches, but in terms of that kind of uplifting leadership, i think that's still a question about him. and then the second, as kaitlan noted, he's operated as a senator for a long time, and he still has those instincts about quiet conversations and back room conversations, but so far those have not produced what he had hoped to produce. so i think the question is what does he do at this point?
>> we'll see the president later ahead. we'll return to this later in the program. but first, donald trumump a key ininvestigators. a new focus for the january 6 committee. ♪[music]♪ at aetetna® we're shifting medicare coverage ininto high gear with benefits you may be eligible for when you turn 65. benefits that may include a $0 monthly plan premium. telehealth emergency coverage while you travel an over-the-counter allowance plus dental, vision, and hearing because the right medicare plan should help you feel...yeah, like that. aetna medicare advantage plans call today to learn more.
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learn how abbvie could help you save. why does walgreens offer prescription copays as low as zero dollars? ♪ so you won't have a medicare in the world. ♪ fill your medicare prescriptions with walgreens and save. now to the dramatic new developments into the investigation of the former president of the united states. in a new court filing tuesday evening, the new york attorney general says it quite plainly. she says she has evidence proving the trump organization repeatedly committed fraud. the new york attorney general has keyed in on six trump properties, including his golf club. she accuses the trump organization of lying about the value of those properties by hundreds of millions of dollars, and lying, she said, to lenders,
to insurers and to the irs. the disclosure puts the legal investigation at a crossroads. the attorney general made that filing because she said the only way to clear up who, when and what about those lies is to put the top people in the witness chair. that would be ivanka trump, donald trump jr. and donald trump. >> this filing she made last night was her best push about why she needs this testimony. she said they have come through this investigation across specific detailed allegations and fraud misstatements, vovrvovrl i -- involving a number of his properties, including his golf courses, there is a building in manhattan that they own as well as the trump tower penthouse itself where trump lives. on his financial statements he said it was 30,000 square feet
and worth over $300 million. two years later saying, actually, it's 10,000 square feet worth $116 million. they acknowledged it was a misstatement by $10 million. donald trump signed these financial statements while he was running the company. she said she also needs to talk to donald trump jr. because he took over while he was president. she also wants to talk to ivanka trump because she was a keighlie a son to deutsche bank who loaned the company more than $300 million. the trump organization coming out saying they have done nothing wrong. in a statement they say the only one misleading the public is letitia james. her allegations are baseless and will be vigorously defended. ultimately this will go down to a judge to decide whether and when these depositions would
take place. >> just the filing and the judge's decision moving it forward. grateful for the live reporting there. let's get some perspective from our leading analyst carrie cordero. you can sort of get why they would want to go to the top. in 2012 it's valued at 229 million and in 2016 it's suddenly only worth 26 million. trump tower triplex, 327 million, wait a minute, only 200 million. the trump financial statement, $735 million, in 2014, $257 million. why is it important, in your view, if donald trump signed the papers, he's liable, anyway, whether he knew about it or not, but why is it important to try to connect the dots to the fuzzy math? >> on the one hand, as you just laid out, john, it shows she
does have facts gathered in this investigation that indicate these financial discrepancies. so that's the basis of her investigation, which is a civil case, not a criminal case. but what gives me pause in her filing about the prospects for a conclusion that is successful for the attorney general in this case is that while she's asking for the court to enforce these depositions against the trump family members, she says that mr. trump, donald trump's actual knowledge and his intent is an essential component to resolve her investigation. likewise she says that the knowledge of donald trump jr. and ivanka trump, that their testimony is necessary. if she's relying on trump family testimony to make her case, i think that does not give a lot of confidence in the fact that she has enough documents and other witnesses to make her case. >> we'll watch that play out. that's an interesting
perspective. we'll watch as the judge makes his decision. let me bring your attention to washington. a couple new developments from the january 6 committee. they want subpoenas for some of the president's closest friends, if you will, in promoting the big lie, rudy giuliani, sidney powell, jenna ellis, boris epshteyn. you know it's coming, they're going to claim attorney/client privilege. >> on the january 6 committee, their primary objective is to create a factual, correct account of what happened leading up to the events on the day itself. so as they continuing to investigate and receive testimony from it at this point, hundreds of individuals who have cooperated or have come in to speak to the committee, they are now narrowing down to the inner circle of the former president.
these individuals were obviously integral to the efforts and his arguments to subvert the result of the 2020 election. several of them will argue they have attorney/client privilege, but attorney/client privilege pertains to actual legal advice that is being provided to an individual. much of the things they were doing were public relations and were in furtherance of subverting the election itself, which would be, i would argue, privileged. >> we just talked about the attorney general's focus on the committee. we understand they have obtained some records of phone calls. eric trump and kimberly guilfoyle, eric trump, donald trump's son. we have learned that many of the advances in the evidence the committee has made is through e-mails, text messages,
metadata, digital mail. >> the record of calls, this again is going to help the committee establish a timeline. they have already been provided with text messages from other individuals who have provided information to the committee, and so then this is additional individuals and their call records where they can add that to the timeline and continue to build out the story of what transpired leading up to january 6th and on that day. >> it will be fascinating to see if the committee gets testimony. there i'm skeptical. you're skeptical about nork no -- new york, i'm skeptical about the trump family cooperating with the committee. the democrats are worried. they are pointing fingers at the biden white house. d, by switchid even save 665 dollars. hey tex, can someone else get a turn?
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i want to bring you some detailed new cnn reporting right now on what i'll call a major, major case of democratic jitters. it is just january but a number of democrats involved in the midterm campaign strategy are deeply worried and deeply unhappy with the biden white house political team they just do not see as up to the task, or at least not giving 2022 planning urgency in which they would wish. who is running this thing, one democrat put it.
senator jon tester of alabama said, we haven't talked about our accomplishments near enough. i point the finger at myself as much as everybody in the senate, in the house, in the executive branch. he interviewed three dozen democrats. tell us what you're hearing. >> a number of things i'm hearing are promises that joe biden made to patrick maloney, head of the democrats' campaign arm, saying, i want to sit down and talk to you about the races, i want to help, find out what i can do. those conversations happened in june and july. their staff followed up again and again. no meetings have been scheduled. but it's not just those. one person said to me, it's not that we don't get no's, we don't get a response at all. they are feeling like they're being left out with a white house that is not feeling the urgency of what is ahead of them given the situation in the country, given the president's
approval ratings and given the spectrum of what it would mean if the republicans took control of the house and senate. possible impeachment, election certification coming in 2025. that's where they are and what they're thinking about that. >> there is a lot of depth in your reporting and i urge people to go online and read it in full detail. it's not just what this congress thinks or this operative thinks. they're seeing things inside that are scaring them. >> when you look at democratic focus groups and polling that's been done in states for particular races for senate governor, house races, they are seeing a really scary picture for democratic operatives. the president is coming off detached, not part of the effort, looking like he's on top of things, looking like he's old, like he's absent from the conversation. that is feeding into larger democratic narratives of competence or lack thereof when it comes to many things the
administration is dealing with whether it's covid or inflation. there is this fear that biden keeping biden in washington as much as he's been, either doing events in the white house like the press conference later today, which there haven't been many of, or short appearances at the white house not playing into his strengths as a retail campaigner, the presence he could have through maximizing the bully pulpit, uit's a problm for them. the good news for biden is a lot of democrats want to see him on the trail, enjoy seeing him out there if they can get him there. >> joining us, kim of the "washington post," laura lopez. laura, let me start with you. it's not uncommon. i've been around a lot longer than the three of you. it's not uncommon at this moment in time for people to get nervous about the midterm. but it seems like they're starting to point fingers a little early. in the biden white house, how do they answer the question when
they say a lot of people think you don't return your calls, or you don't get it? >> a lot of times the answer has been that white house staff is constantly in touch with democrats on the hill or democrats, you know, that work in advocacy groups or operatives and that they can't possibly answer everyone but that this is just whining from either house democrats that don't understand what their priorities are, or that need to just suck it up. i mean, they take a pretty hard line with him. this is something we've been hearing from democrats for a while now, which is they want to see biden be out there and be more forceful and be on the stump and to just go out and make the entire case and going to districts where republicans didn't vote for the infrastructure bill or republicans didn't vote for the stimulus package early on and to say this republican didn't vote for all this help for you in the middle of the pandemic. >> you heard isaac lay this out, and michael bennett, the senator from colorado, talks about it in
his piece. he said, biden would be a lot better off and we would be having him out talking to people about legislation. that's all fine and good but the biden white house does have a specific agenda, and number two, this is not the president's choice. we live in the middle of a pandemic and it is hard to travel. >> right, right. but what has happened and what's become one of the democratic party's biggest problem for the past year is that they are just mired in process, a process narrative, a process story, and so their accomplishments, of which they do have many, aren't kind of breaking through to the broader narrative. i think that's partly what president biden is going to try to do later today to kind of sell the story of his presidency and the a accomplishments of his first year. one thing i found remarkable in isaac's story that we've been discussing is just how much democrats really want the president and the white house to make a bigger contrast with republicans and call out republicans for their positions,
for their reluctance to get on board with democratic initiatives. it's something i have heard from democratic lawmakers frequently, and i think that's why president biden's january 6th speech was such a hit with his party because he made that contact with his predecessor. i think as the midterm goes on, despite the natural contours of an election year, you will hear president biden make that contrast more and more. >> one of the challenges, though, is who are you talking to at any given moment? the president can talk covid, and you spent a lot of time covering constituency groups in the party, they are frustrated with justice reform, i could go on and on. the former clinton strategist puts it this way. >> learn with what you got. you don't learn with what you didn't get. quit being a whiney party and get out there and fight and tell people what you did.
>> he says go out there and tell people what you did, but a lot of pressure in the party right now is about what they haven't gotten. >> exactly. the biden administration is sandwiched between the people who want them to get as much as they can, even that piecemeal legislation, saying you can talk about covid relief, talk about the infrastructure and that should be the pitch for the midterms. and another wing of the party says it's simply not enough, that going bigger was absolutely necessary because that was the baseline of what they promised to voters. and the administration is trying to walk a tightrope between both of those worlds. in some ways this week is remarkable because you have the culmination of the party putting pressure on people like senator manchin and sinema. but in other ways let's remember this has been the state of play for a long time. they have not changed their position on the filibuster. this was true back in may when i was in mississippi talking to folks about voting rights. they were talking about the filibuster back then. the question is did the
administration reflect that type of urgency in prioritizing the right issues? that's going to be the question folks have going through the summer and midterms. you're hearing those jitters turn from a whisper to a larger crescendo. next for us, russia appears poised to invade. and after a decade of support, a powerful group rescinds its support of manchin and sinema. plus, we give you $200 in facebook ads on us! so you can reach more customers, create more opportunities, and make this the best year for your business yet. visit your local t-mobile store today. growing up in a little red house, on the edge of a forest in norway, there were three things my family encouraged: kindness, honesty and hard work.
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secretary of state tony blinken is in ukraine today and he is there with a sober warning. intelligence says that russia plans to increase their troop buildup and an invasion could occur at any time. >> reporter: tony blinken said there are hundreds of troops along the ukraine border. but he went a step further. he said it is possible russia could amass double that number on short order. his trip to ukraine is largely symbolic. he talked about a lot of things we heard from u.s. officials, continued military support to ukraine, and here was his message to ukranians about the tough days that could be ahead.
>> leaders inside and outside ukraine's government have to put aside their differences in favor of the shared national interest and work together to purchase f -- to prepare for what could be difficult days. but in doing that, the united states wants you to know this. as you stand up to efforts to divide, anticipate, to threaten, the united states stands with you resolutely. >> now, a lot of ominous signals, john, that russia continues to build up its military presence along the ukraine border, but the president there is meeting with tony blinken on thursday. we don't know if there will be any diplomatic breakthroughs, but the fact they even scheduled that meeting means maybe diplomacy is not dead. john? >> maybe. we'll watch as that meeting plays out. tonight another important update. a senate record to put up what we already know.
democrats do not have the votes to pass new voting rights bills because they don't have the votes to change senate rules to get around republican opposition. senator joe manchin and kyrsten sinema are two that won't back down. manu? >> one senator told me this morning he is open to a primary of both joe manchin and kyrsten sinema when they run in 2024. he's running in a state, of course, that donald trump won by nearly 40 points. so the fallout for him politically may not be as bad as it could potentially be for kyrsten sinema. just yesterday, a list that supports female candidates who back abortion rights came out
and indicated it would withdraw its support for kyrsten sinema if she does not get along on the same page as democrats to advance this voting rights bill, saying in a statement, we've joined with many others to impress upon sinema the importance of passing this bill. their concerns have now been addressed. and, john, sinema herself could also face that challenge from one of her members of her delegation, ruben gallego in 2024, and the senator who is voting for this bill and voting to change the filibuster rules, republicans are planning to use sinema's opposition to this against mark kelly saying she supports bipartisanship but he does not. >> it's a remarkable moment today. we'll see what the ramifications are going forward. manu, great reporting. a big moment today. a news conference at the one-year mark and a dizzying list of frustrating challenges.
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about a daunting list of second year challenges including yet another covid winter, a stalled agenda and several challenges. discuss that this is what makes the moment of the president most significant. it's not one thing. covid is the main thing happening in the country, but the secretary of state right now is traveling overseas warning about a possible russian invasion of ukraine. the president of a year ago, 200-page plan to beat covid still with us. inflation and the like. it's not one thing the president needs to do, so how do you hit the reset button? >> exactly, and that's the challenge for him. this is a window of time that democrats knew would be a comple fleeting one, a year in which they had the white house and congress and a year to complete that agenda. in the fourth quarter, this is a reset button. i think this is the white house making a play they had great accomplishments but they need to
make an effort on pushing for the wide agenda even if it's currently stalled. >> you can look at the president's approval rating which we know is underwater and it's gotten worse since the year ended. americans, when biden took office, 27% said we're on the right track. that's static, essentially, it's gone one point. it's the long track and it's gone up one point to 60% now. just by that metric, the country is not happy one year in. >> certainly. white house officials know they have to do two things. they have to get covid under control and get the economy bouncing back again. nothing is really going to change about the politics of president biden and the approval rating or the fate of the democratic majority in the house and the senate. until those two factors change, which is why you're seeing a lot of aggressive moves particularly on the covid front. you have free masks being distributed. obviously the covid website is up and running today. but it is also a lot about, again, like we talked earlier, about selling the narrative and
selling accomplishments of his presidency that often can get drowned out by the process chatter here in washington. how much that changes and how much president biden really goes and forcefully redefines his presidency, especially his first year, will be something definitely to watch. >> you mentioned the masks and the new testing which are important, but it also fits in with one of the criticisms. this is brett stevens from the "new york times." he said, americans spent the past two years suffering from the government's inability to meet basic needs. the president needs to communicate he's a step ahead of these problems. so far he's been a perpetual step behind. important to note, stevens says two years. laura, the point being, especially when it comes to things like testing, when it comes to these masks, the administration did get ahead on vaccines but they seem a bit reactionary on some of these other big tests. >> right, and last summer is when president biden said the country was about to be free of the pandemic, and since then, it appears as though they have been
playing catch-up to a lot of these incidents. there's been frustrations from democrats wanting to see from the white house more pressure to either get boosters approved at the end of last year or to really just be ahead of everything in terms of tests, in terms of masks, and also explaining it to the public. we saw biden has repeatedly, in the past few months, tried to explain what his administration is doing and what they expect and to prepare the public for coming waves. >> so one of the many questions come up, seung min kim. one could be, do you have a staff shake-up? two could be do you get more confrontational with republicans which is not joe biden's dna? what do they think about debating in the white house? >> there are a lot of questions that could arise. you could get a question the other way, for instance, your own tone of a sense of unity that you had in your inauguration.
there is a lot of preparation for all sorts of questions. obviously a lot of the foreign policy challenges as well that we are facing on so many fronts around the world and certainly a lot to discuss and debate later today. >> fascinating moment for the president. we will all watch it together. appreciate it, seung min, laura, astead. a talk about masking. who is joining?
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the show or you just want to watch again, you can catch our podcast. to listen scan the qr code in the corner of your screen or search podcasts wherever you get your podcasts. a most unusual step in florida with governor ron desantis pushing a map of his own, a new congressional map. shock, it undermines democrats. let's get to steve who covers bipartisan reporting for us. this is a shock, even to republicans. >> it was, john. when i had a conversation earlier this week with the top republican on the senate redistricting committee, he said he learned about it himself from reading the news. democrats have said they believe this map is not constitutional and it won't pass the voting rights act, and they expect a long legal fight over this map. so the question becomes, are republicans in florida willing
to put ron desantis in a long legal battle? if you remember last decade, it took four years for a map to be produced and went all the way to the supreme court. is this a battle that republicans want to fight again? >> as we wait for that one, steve, the governor also wants to establish a special police force with the job of monitoring elections and he's asking the legislature to allocate $6 million for that. what's the deal here? >> the governor first proposed this idea in november at a time when there were a lot of calls from many trump supporters to investigate so-called fraud in the elections. now, obviously we know in florida, state trump won. there was no evidence of fraud, and many democrats are wondering why this is needed at all. republicans have been noticeably quiet on whether they support this at this point. one thing worth noting is that the size of this force, 52 full-time employees, is larger than the police force for investigating homicides in many
of our florida's largest cities. >> steve contorno, thank you very much. i think the governor wants to be part of these issues. a word today from a pair of supreme court jusskcourt justic. sotomayor and gorsuch say we are warm colleagues and friends. we did not refuse to mask up. the justice is diabetic and therefore increases risk of covid complications. the biden making 400 million masks available to the public. it's coming in a stockpile. you can pick them up at pharmacies and community centers next week. the covid sites will be running in february.
the at-home covid tests also alive. every household can sign up for four free home tests. they usually ship within 7 to 12 days. thank you for joining us on "inside politics." we'll see you back here tomorrow. ana cabrera picks up our coverage right now. hello, i'm ana cabrera in new york. thank you for being with us. the president facing tough questions in several crises as we count down to his press conference this afternoon. as president biden approaches one year in office, he looks to reset a trajectory of a presidency struggling to gain traction, hitting road blocks within his own party, covid cases hitting record highs, his approval rating slipping. he is plowing forward in the shadow of