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tv   Inside Politics With John King  CNN  February 23, 2022 9:00am-10:00am PST

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welcome to "inside politics." i'm john king in washington. we begin the hour with sober breaking news. a dramatic intelligence warning, ukrainian, u.s. and western officials telling cnn the united states has delivered a new warning. tuesday morning local time it was delivered in kyiv that a full-scale russian invasion is
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imminent. a senior ukrainian official says the country has not verified the intelligence and the united states has communicated similar warnings over the past month. but today a plan to declare a state of emergency across ukraine and a vow of an instant response to russian aggression. a new cyber attack takes ukrainian websites off line and this, the latvian prime minister saying they have moved across the line. we begin with kylie atwood. >> reporter: intelligence shared with you cranes a russian invasion into ukraine, a full-scale invasion, is imminent. and, john, we have heard this word used by biden administration officials quite a bit the last few weeks, but there is a growing sense of urgency. that has been reflected in the comments we've heard from u.s. and from european officials,
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president biden just yesterday in his speech talked about blood and medical equipment by the russians being moved to the front lines. he said you don't do that unless you're going to start a war. we heard from the nato secretary-general that all indications are russia is continuing to prepare for a full-scale invasion. he talk about the russian troops moving into places where they could actually fire into ukraine. so there is some public reflection of what we are learning is this intelligence the u.s. has that a full-scale invasion in a ukraine by russia could be imminent, that they have shared with the ukrainians, that was shared yesterday local time with the ukrainians, and there is one city, kharkiv, one city the united states believes could be particularly subject to this full-scale invasion. it is right up against the border of russia and just yesterday the ukrainian foreign minister was here at the state
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department. he was asked if ukraine has plans to evacuate that city specifically. he said there are no plans to do so. he said plan a is diplomacy. plan "b" is to fight and that the ukraines would fight for every inch and fight for every city this is, of course, a fast-moving situation. the ukrainians have always said they are going to pick up their weapons and fight, but we may see some changes because this information has been shared with them and because the real indication here is that the united states believes a full-scale invasion, not just the beginning of an invasion is imminent. >> kylie atwood kicking us off from the state department. straight now to kyiv and cnn's matthew chance. matthew what do we know about this new warning and do the ukrainians believe this time it's real? >> reporter: i'm not saying skepticism but they said they
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haven't verified this intelligence passed to them from the united states about a full-scale invasion, an imminent full-scale invasion, and they made the point, look, the united states has communicated things like this to ukraine in the past about imminent attacks that have failed to materialize. and so you have to remember, i think, of course, the ukrainian government have been playing down any of these or many of these intelligence reports this very acute and severe and imminent threat from russia. we've also heard from nato officials that they've seen that same intelligence but they've also cautioned that even though they've looked at it and seen the intelligence from the united states they can't read what is going on in the mind of vladimir putin because, remember, as with all of these predictions, all these reports or warnings, it all comes down to the decision of one man, vladimir putin,
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sitting in the kremlin even at the last minute of the 11th hour to decide whether or not to pull the trigger. we'll see whether this full-scale invasion warned about again from the united states actually comes to fruition. ukrainians are taking something seriously. the president volodymyr zelenskyy has requested the parliament to impose a state of emergency from midnight tonight. whether that's anything to do with this new warning they've got from the united states or not is unclear. but the intensions with tens of thousands of troops poised on the border of ukraine are running extremely high right now in ukraine. >> matthew chance, grateful for the live report from kyiv. straight to moscow now and try to understand vladimir putin's
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intention. nic robertson is there for us. the tone from russian officials seems to have turned and turned in a more aggressive fashion. >> reporter: yeah, all the time we've been trying to figure out if, how and when will russian forces move into those separatist areas they've decided to back, they have the legal authority, putin has that. we heard from the russian ambassador at the u.n. and he gave some clarity. originally putin had signed off for a peacekeeping mission, unclear what that meant, but the ambassador says the russian forces are going in to monitor a ceasefire. they won't be going in softly-softly which in the context of russian forces going in seems to imply that they will be going in to contribute to whatever fight they see is going on, that they will be going in to shoot back. normally the context that we understand ceasefire monitors to go in is they sit down close to the frontline. they count who is shelling,
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where the shells are coming from, who is being hit, the number of violations, and they report back to both sides to try to de-escalate the situation. the russian ambassador seems to imply if there are ceasefire violations and we know the russian separatists have been claiming without solid evidence that the ukrainians have been firing on them over the past couple of days what the russian ambassador is implying if that is repeated the russians will be firing back. i think that's how we have to take away his version of not going in softly-softly. so this does seem to be a troubling development. it seems to give an indication the russian forces are absolutely going into that separatist area. what happens beyond that at this stage is hard to know. with the russian forces poised the way they are, the outlook from moscow does seem grim and we've heard nothing from president putin that would seem to indicate he is ready to hold back. his only words today on the
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subject were russia's security is nonnegotiable. john? >> nic robertson, thank you. let's get some important perspective from the former director of national intelligence. let me start with you, if you hear this context, a full-scale, not a limited assault in the separatist areas is imminent with an emphasis on kharkiv. if you look to the right on the map you see the shaded separatist areas where separatist troops, pro-russian separatists groups have control but kharkiv is to the west of that along the russian border. from a strategic position, the intelligence warning and we've seen commercial satellite images that show a considerable build yum of russian troops up in that area. why kharkiv? what's the significance strategic importance? >> well, obviously the most important thing is it's not part of the separatists, what putin
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is saying he is willing to go beyond the actions that his duma has authorized which is to take over and essentially take over control of the separatist area but this is going a little bit further. i found his words interesting that the security of russia is nonnegotiable which means he's not worried about ukraine. ukraine is not going to invade russia. this goes back to his funneled amountal ends that he is seeking, that nato pulls back from the borders, and that he is focused more on trying to send a message that what he has been negotiating on now, if he doesn't get what he wants he may invade nonseparatist areas of ukraine. >> beth, come in on that point. if you are in the american intelligence community, as you were in a very senior position, you're warning the ukrainians
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right now. you're putting american and nato troops in the region on alert. as you analyze the images and the words coming from russian government officials about what they call peacekeeping troops and they are invasion forces, let's be clear about that, crossing into ukraine and they will not go quietly, will not go softly, as nic robertson reported, what is your assessment of the situation right now? >> dire, i would say. i don't -- i just cannot put together any alternative to an invasion at this point. it may not unfold, again, with the rockets going into kyiv. i think it will unfold by these air quote, peacekeeping troops going into the donbas area controlled by the separatists. yesterday the deputy defense minister claimed that 60,000 ukrainian troops were amassed on that border. not true but as nic pointed out
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they're fabricating all sorts of ukrainian attacks and posturing and atrocities and genocide. putin has set up the rationale for ukraine pose as threat and they're going to fight back, not softly-softly which nic pointed out, this will lead to full-scale war. >> if it leads to full-scale war, general kimmitt, the nato and u.s. forces are outside of ukraine. the president has made clear he's not sending american boots into ukraine. there has been a rush of anti-tank weapons, other equipment. there's a lot of advice back and forth between the two. what is the capability of the ukrainian military if vladimir putin decides to roll what will he see? >> well, he's going to see a pretty good first line of defense, but he's also going to be blowing their communications off the air. he's going to be jamming their communications. he's going to be using cyber attacks. what he's going to try to do is
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break up the coherency of the ukrainian army, and if he does, it will be a bloody battle but he should be able to achieve his objectives in a very short time. one point i would make, i think the alternative that putin is looking for is zelenskyy to stand up and say rather than go into a war i will not join nato. that's what he's trying to achieve. >> he's trying to bully ukraine to back down. the french president as he was leaving a meeting one of his aides gave a read out to reporters and he said he noticed vladimir putin no longer the same as the one he had seen in december of 2019. macron had found the kremlin a man at the same time stiffer, more isolated, basically gone into some sort of ideological insecurity minded drift, as his aides call it. do you see, as you assess what we know and what you know -- you have access to more information than we do -- is this a different vladimir putin or the
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same for some reason emboldened? >> this is vladimir putin exposed. this is who he is, and we're seeing it in a way that is generally hidden, much more controlled, and, you know, the speech on monday made clear who he is and the anger that is inside of him. and, with all due respect, this isn't about nato membership,my perspective. putin made it very crystal clear ukraine does not exist as a state. it is part of russia, and he's not going to stop with any declaration. it won't come in any case. but that's not enough. he said yesterday to the azerbaijani president i respect the sovereignty of all the other states but not ukraine because ukraine is different. it's part of russia. >> ukraine is different to him.
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i appreciate the insides, general kimmitt, beth sanner, we will stay in touch. new developments and insights from the only man to ever serve as white house chief of staff cia director and secretary of defense. got bongos thumping in my chest♪ ♪and something tells me they don't beat me♪ ♪ ♪ ♪hehe'd better not take the rig from me.♪ i don't just play someone brainy on n tv - i'm an actual neuroscientist. and i love the science behind neuriva plus. unlike ordinary memory supplements, neuriva plus fuels s key indicators of brain performance. more brain performance? yes, please! uriva. think bigger.
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the sober breaking news this hour, word a new american intelligence warning delivered to the ukrainian government says this, that a russian invasion is imminent. at the united nations the u.s. ambassador demanding the world send vladimir putin a message. >> there's no middle ground here. calling for both sides to de-escalate only gives russia a
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pass. russia is the aggressor here this is 2022. we're not going back to an era of empires and colonies or to the ussr or the soviet union. we have moved forward. >> cnn's nick paton walsh is live for us in odessa, ukraine. this warning, new cyber attacks, an urgent message from the ukrainian president, what did he say and where are we? >> reporter: yeah, we are not -- we are not in a good place, it seems, in the past hours or so and certainly the tone of the ukrainian government has shifted dramatically from 48 hours ago president volodymyr zelenskyy talking about how he didn't see a full-scale russian invasion occurring to a presidency now calling up reservists, a state of emergency that's hit this town in southwestern ukraine on the black sea far away from the violence in the east.
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we've seen police on the streets here in numbers showing their presence because of the state of emergency. the cyber attacks you mentioned now as well. and the intelligence warnings, too, pointing to this broader issue, john, about the timetable here for those russian forces on the border. it's clear they are there in significant numbers and as a western official said to me a couple days ago they can be there for a matter of days, those that are there in the tactical formation,that ready position, to kind of pounce, as it were, a move across the border, men living in their vehicles and that cannot be sustained forever so the essential question is the rhetoric we're hearing from vladimir putin, the extraordinary dressing down he gave his own security circle, the 57-minute speech which revised the history of ukraine, called nato an aggressor that would use nato as a platform to attack was laid in full certain, showed a man very much isolated and obsessed with detail. is that leading us to some sort of new departure here in this
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lengthy standoff, john? >> nick paton walsh, one of our great many correspondents on the ground. thank you very much. brand-new reporting coming in, a senior u.s. official says the russians have completed all necessary preparations for an invasion of ukraine. barbara starr with us for the latest. what can you tell us? >> reporter: a senior u.s. defense official telling me a short time ago their assessment now is that the russians have completed all of the necessary preparations. this official saying they are as ready as they can be for that very much not wanted, of course, invasion of ukraine. the indicators that u.s. military intelligence and the u.s. intelligence services across europe have been looking at is the millions of pounds of ammunition the russians have moved into forward positions and over the last several days indicators they have been loading up their warships, loading up their aircraft with that ammunition, vehicles as well being poised ready to go
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from those forward positions. the russians will want darkness to begin this invasion. they will also want good weather. they do not want to move in the rain because their heavy vehicles can get readily bogged down in the mud. that's the u.s. assessment. so they're going to want it as dry as it can be and they're going to want darkness and that, this hour, is causing tremendous concern not just at the pentagon, not just in washington, but i would venture to say across the world, john. >> barbara starr, grateful for the important new reporting. keep us posted throughout the hours and days ahead. some unique perspective from the former cia director, former defense secretary and the former u.s. chief of staff, leon pan panetta. a sober and consequential day here. i will walk through your different jobs through the government. number one, the united states government delivering an assessment we were told yesterday to the ukrainian government that russian invasion appears to be imminent. you heard barbara. you were once the secretary of
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defense in the building she reports on so well talking about what u.s. military officials believe that russia is fully capable and ready to launch an attack. what is the significance of the united states government saying we're going to present this to the ukrainian government to get them as ready as they can be? >> i think it's absolutely critical that the united states provides as much military aid as possible to the ukrainians. we've been doing that. hopefully they've been preparing. but there's no question when 130,000 russian troops cross that line that russia has overwhelming power here to achieve its objectives, but it will come at a price. i think what we're seeing is that we're crossing the line from a lot of talk and a lot of movement into actual killing that's going to take place with missiles, with bombs, with
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tanks, with forces. we are going to see innocent men, women and children killed. we're going to see russian soldiers killed. we're going to see ukrainian soliers killed. that is the price of war. >> and help me with context, any russian invasion of ukraine is unacceptable. it's vladimir putin trying to steal another country's land. additionally a thought they would only go into the separatist areas in eastern ukraine which they claim russia has recognized their, quote, unquote, independence which is a farce. they are saying kharkiv, a city we can show on the map that is to the west, the northwest of those along the russian border is a potential target, a troop buildup across the border. how is it different, and i use the word just carefully, if the military is not just in the separatist regions but in other major ukrainian population centers as well, how does that
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escalate the stakes? >> it does become a full-scale invasion of ukraine at that point. taking the separatist areas with something a lot of people anticipated. but once they cross that line into the ukraine with tanks and with soldiers and with a full-scale invasion, what happens here we have moved to a full-scale effort by russia to take over ukraine. that's the difference. and the reality is putin hasn't pulled any punches the last few days. there's no question in my mind that he is intent on now taking over ukraine. that's his goal and that's what he's after at this point in time. >> let's go deeper into that.
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general kimmitt said they would put up a fight but the russians have an edge in training and equipment. what about, let me move you over to your cia hat -- what about what should the worries be about russian intelligence capabilities inside ukraine, operatives, attempts to overthrow where we've seen the russian government poison people around the world including their own dissidents? russian operations, putin operations inside ukraine. >> a real combination between conventional warfare with tanks and military forces. a great deal of cyber agents being able to go into the ukraine to try to undermine stability there and try to undermine the government. there are a number of different tactics that can be applied here, but it all spells one
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thing. russia is aiming to take over ukraine and make it part of russia. that's the goal and i think it's pretty clear that whatever we try to do right now is not going to deter putin and russia. >> and so to that end, last question, i asked you about the defense secretary role and the cia role. what would the white house chief of staff leon panetta be telling president biden right now? what must he say, what must he do at this moment? >> i think it's extremely important because i think this is a pivotal moment in history in the 21st century that's going to tell us a lot about the future. the future of democracy and autocracy and is extremely president and our allies remain very strong, very unified and
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take some tough actions not only to increase the sanctions and create a real bite in the russian economy but also continue to provide military aid and reinforce our positions along nato. all of those steps are essential. putin needs to know that when we say he's going to pay a price, he will pay a price. >> leon panetta, appreciate your time very much. >> thank you. up next for us, the political fallout here back home. vladimir putin is invading a democracy and is seizing its land. donald trump still the lead earp leader of the republican party calls it genius. and get t the same fast relief in a delightful chew with peptoto bismol chews. before treating your chronic migraine, 15 or more headache days a month each lasting 4 hours or more, you're not the only one with questions about botox®.
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at this moment of global crisis donald trump is as clear as he can be. the united states, the nato alliance, the united kingdom, european union, japan, australia and more are united in condemning vladimir putin and his military aggression against ukraine. donald trump still very much the leader of the republican party has a very different take. listen. >> this is genius. putin declares a big portion of the ukraine -- of ukraine, putin declares it as independent. oh, that's wonderful. so putin is now saying it's
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independent, a large section of ukraine. i said, how smart is that? and he's going to go in and be a peacekeeper. that's the strongest peace force. we could use that on our southern border. that's the strongest peace force i've ever seen. there were more army tanks than i've ever seen. they're going to keep peace all right. this is a guy very savvy, i know him very well, very, very well. >> there was a time in american politics not all long ago that would be disqualifying. ronald reagan said, mr. gorbachev tear down that wall. trump calls him a genius, his plan is genius. i'm not wrong, am i, that if you roll back the tape to 2015, anytime before that, that would be disqualifying in american politics, disqualifying to try to steal an election, mind you,
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but that's nuts. >> it's misinformed, for starters. the former president needs a little bit of a history lesson as far as what the russian peace-keeping forces tend to do. they are anything but peace-keeping forces the majority of the time. that's the starting line there. obviously on a broader issue the fact russian aggression cannot be tolerated and the former president is out there really trying to be an agitator, which he has always tried to do. but with regard to vladimir putin in particular he has always kind of expressed some sort of intrigue with the song man approach he's taken even if lives are at stake and the sovereignty of independent nation is at stake, that doesn't seem to concern him as much as just this interesting, bold move. >> right. the old guard of the republican party may be pushing president biden to be tougher and stand up. that's one debate to have. one of the leaders of the new piece of the republican party
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host as prime time show on another network and says this. >> what's in this for me and my neighbors and the rest of us and all i'm getting is that we can feel morally satisfied because we hate putin. >> what's in this for me and my neighbors and the rest of us? it's okay for vladimir putin to steal a democratic country? can xi take taiwan and iran can do whatever it wants, too? >> it's not just tucker carlson. sentiments like j.d. vance running for senate in ohio, similar comments that putin is a great man from people like former secretary of state mike pompeo. trump adores vladimir putin, he admires his ways, is hard on the press and hard on mip north groups in russia.
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and, yeah, listening to a former president say that, it's really jarring and it's really sad. where the republican party is, where donald trump is leading it to and people are getting onboard. >> there is an isolationist part of the republican party that has been there and has expanded the last couple of years. there's not even a fine line, a bright line between rooting for putin, rooting for his strategy, and saying that the united states shouldn't be involved in any more foreign conflicts and it seems they're trending much more to strong man to an actual coherent foreign policy belief. >> it's not america first. it's america alone in the sense what you're hearing from trump at the beginning was essentially he flipped the bird at nato and he's doing it again there, the european union, nato alliance. putin is good. the west is bad. >> it's a disconnect from the realities of national security concerns the u.s. should be
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facing. he mentioned the southern border which is a concern. the current administration as well as the past. but to not then equate that with what's happening in eastern europe and the fact our nato allies are under threat, that their borders are under threat, the sovereignty of an ally has come under threat and also the fact that we have under article 5 a commitment to support nato allies. he sort of threw that playbook out the window and is very different from presidents even within his party. >> and he wants to come back and lead his party yet again. up next for us brand-new cnn reporting on the supreme court search. we will know the pick within days. we gotta tell people that liberty mutual customizes car insurance so you only pay for what you need, and we gotta do it fast. [limu emu squawks] woo! new personal record, limu! only pay for what you need.
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very important domestic news story. cnn told president biden has conducted interviews with three potential supreme court nominees and the president is prepared to make his choice public within days. the three leading contenders we know the president has interviewed. you see judge jackson, judge krueger and judge childs. the president will make history in the next 72 to 100 hours by nominating a black woman to the united states supreme court. >> listen, and if you believe the conventional wisdom and the chattering class in washington,
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ketanji brown jackson. three women here, three african american women, biden about to make good on this campaign promise to make history by putting a black woman on the supreme court. >> childs has a pretty powerful background. she has clyburn and a lindsey graham. biden having that bipartisan consensus on this pick could be something that is very much something that he wants to make this not a total circus. biden has been deliberate about the process. even if he's made his decision at this point he's going to go through it. he needs to feel he's crossed all the ts, dotted all the is before announcing who his pick is. >> we can show you the current supreme court this will be a left of center justice replacing a left of center justice, replacing stephen breyer, as you see there. still an important moment for the president. a to make history, b for the democrats to get a younger
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justice. joe biden held the role, justice breyer was the last justice confirmed when joe biden was chairman of the committee. he said this to "the washington post," senator durbin. the longer you wait, the longer things get complicated. what if war breaks out in some part of the world. things can happen. if i have a singular focus it's to get this done in an orderly, predictable way in a timely fashion. get it done. >> that's right. and the worry is someone else gets sick. will they have the votes to confirm her? you had biden come out of the box and say he was going to do it in february and as time went on in february people were like let's get this done. >> so the less vetting you have to do the better which is another reason ketanji brown jackson has the inside track. she was just confirmed last
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year. >> with three republican votes. >> and has really gone through a lot of the process already. >> we'll watch. it will be a fascinating moment. a new election agenda, a border wall named after donald trump and a tax hike for more than half of americans. you' a one-man stitchwork master. but your staffing plan needs to go up a size.
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more republican senators is pushing a plan and it has democrats saying thank you. senator rick scott is the architect of the plan, it includes a border wall named after donald trump. and, get this, it calls for all americans to pay income taxes, more than half of americans who are poor or working class do not make enough money. let's just listen. rick scott was on another network and said, no, no, no, no, democrats say there are tax hikes here. there are not. >> chuck schumer saying your plan is to raise taxes on more than half of americans. i didn't see that in your plan. did you have that in your plan? was it in invisible ink in the copy i got? i didn't see that. >> no. chuck schumer who wants to raise taxes for everything while i've cut -- when i was governor i cut on fees 100 times. we're the opposite. >> he talks about when he's
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governor. let's help senator scott there. reading is fundamental. it's right here in senator scott's plan. all americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game. over half of americans pay no income tax. can you go online. this is the senator's plan. it's right there. you can defend it. he denies it exists in his own plan. >> and it's not in invisible ink. it's in the plan. i think rick scott wants to be a president at some point. there's a fantasy among a contingent donald trump will go away. mitch mcconnell i'm sure is not happy about this. they just want the democrats to trip on their own culture works and wokeness in the parlance of republicans and there you have rick scott giving a real-life commercial, campaign ad. >> it's geo policies for the
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last five years. >> it's a base play. border wall. there are two genders. let's say the pledge of allegiance in schools. all americans should pay some income tax. if you want to defend it, defend it. now he's denying what's in his own plan. that's a tax hike. republicans are running on a tax hike in the mid-term election year. >> don't believe your eyes. when he was talking about -- to nia's point, talking about his record as governor, that doesn't sound like someone who is the head of the republican party but someone setting himself for something beyond the 2022 midterm elections. >> the wind is in the democrats' face. the history, despite great economic numbers of the inflation. it's a gift to the democrats to say this leading republican senator, runs the senatorial committee, this is his plan and
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it would raise many of your taxes. jen psaki just released an economic plan that doesn't include a single proposal to lower prices for the middle class. instead he wants to raise taxes including seniors and working families. seriously, that's their plan. >> what will democrats do with it? you imagine you will see campaign ads on this, it will be a talking point. democrats have a tough row to hoe. i do think what's interesting is we do know that sort of the culture war playbook will be part of what they're going to do and it worked quite effect ichl for the gop. >> individually this will be talked about but as a whole a lot of senators will be asked about it saying i haven't seen that. >> a lot of senators will say they want nothing to do with it. mcconnell's plan is just run against biden, against inf
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inflation, we're not them, and now you have this. it's not a contracted for america. >> it's a contract for rick scott to get on tv and raise his profile. the con sspiracy theorist ax jones. this report explores can he be stopped? the alex jones story sunday night only here on cnn. i appreciate your time on "inside politics." you can listen to our podcast wherever you get your podcasts. appreciate your time on a big breaking news day. dana bash after a break. alker. thanks, gary. and for unexpected heartburn... frank is a fan of pepcid. it works in minutes. nexium 24 hour and prilosec otc can take one to four days to fufully work. pepcid. strong relief for fans of fast.
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hello, i'm dana bash in for ana cabrera. on the brink of war and racing closer by the second. cnn has learned u.s. officials are warning ukraine's government that a full-scale russian invasion is imminent. keep in mind the stakes. dire predictions of possibly tens of thousands of civilian casualties and millions of refugees. satellite images there appear to show an escalation of readiness as they show troops and field hospitals and a senior u.s. official says russia is as ready as they can be for an invasion


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