Transcript for ABC New Live: High-stakes GOP primary in Wyoming
[AUDIO LOGO] - Good Tuesday afternoon. I'm Kenneth Moton. Here's our top headlines. President Biden is set to sign the Inflation Reduction Act into law today. The health, climate, and tax bill is the largest climate investment in US history. The White House says it will also lower the cost of prescription drugs and health insurance, and raise taxes on large corporations and the wealthiest Americans.
First lady Dr. Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. The White House says she's double vaccinated, twice boosted, and is experiencing mild symptoms. She's been prescribed Paxlovid, and will isolate from others for at least five days. Former President Trump is calling for the release of the unredacted affidavit behind the FBI's search of his Mar-a-Lago estate, but the Justice Department is battling to keep it under seal.
Prosecutors responding to ABC News and other media organizations seeking the release, saying it would compromise their investigation.
And we begin with today's high stakes primaries. Voters are heading to the polls in two states, Alaska and Wyoming. And those races are a key test of former President Trump's influence on the Republican Party. Two incumbent Republicans, Senator Lisa Murkowski and Congresswoman Liz Cheney, are facing election deniers in their primaries, backed by the former President.
FiveThirtyEight's Nathaniel Rakich has a closer look.
- Two of the most high-profile Republicans who have stood up to former President Donald Trump's false claims of election fraud are facing the voters on August 16. And while one of them will almost certainly survive, the other is probably going to lose.
Out of the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump for his role in the January 6 riot, only one is also running for re-election this year. Alaska Senator, Lisa Murkowski. And she's virtually guaranteed to make it to the November ballot. But not necessarily because Alaskans agree with her criticism of Stop the Steal.
It's because Alaska has a new top four primary system, where all candidates, regardless of party, run on the same ballot and the top four finishers advance to a ranked choice general election. Murkowski may not finish first on Tuesday, but based on her name recognition and cross-party popularity, she'll definitely be in the top four.
Murkowski's main opponent is Kelly Tshibaka. Tshibaka has repeatedly questioned the results of the 2020 election. And on a podcast with former Trump staffer Steve Bannon, she said that President Biden's win in Arizona should never have been certified. Tshibaka is all but guaranteed to make the top four as well, meaning this election fraud fight won't be over until November.
The other state holding its primary on Tuesday is Wyoming, the home of Representative Liz Cheney. Cheney has become the most visible Republican member of the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot, and she has not minced words about Trump's election fraud claims.
- President Trump engaged in a massive effort to spread false and fraudulent information, to convince huge portions of the US population that fraud had stolen the election from him. This was not true.
NATHANIEL RAKICH: That position has made Cheney one of the top targets for the Trump wing of the GOP, and they've coalesced around candidate Harriet Hageman to defeat her. Hageman's position on the 2020 election is pretty much the polar opposite of Cheney's.
- Absolutely, the election was rigged. It was rigged to make sure that President Trump could not get reelected.
- And there's not much suspense about which of these messages will prove more popular in a state where Trump won 70% of the vote in 2020. A Mason-Dixon poll of likely primary voters showed Hageman creaming Cheney by more than 20 points. Candidates who question the legitimacy of the 2020 election are winning their races around the country.
If you want to learn more about the election deniers running for office in your state, follow along with FiveThirtyEight.
- Let's move on, because we know that Wyoming is front and center today as voters decide whether Republican Congresswoman and vice chair of the January 6 committee Liz Cheney will keep her seat. ABC's Brittany Shepard joins me live from Cheyenne, Wyoming. It's good to see you, friend.
So we know that Liz Cheney is unlikely to be reelected after splitting with her party by voting to impeach former President Trump. What are voters there saying about her?
- You know, Kenneth, to say that Wyoming Republicans are eager to send Liz Cheney to the unemployment line would be a gross understatement. They're angry. They're frustrated. And not just about the turning on Trump of it all. I spoke to several voters, both today and last weekend, who say that in trying to take Trump to task that Liz Cheney has abandoned constituents when she needed them most.
Here's a little bit from Myrna Burgess. She's a Cheyenne Republican, someone who used to support Trump. Now she's not so hot on him, but she feels that she can't even count on Liz Cheney to show up to any of her events.
- After she jumped in on the January 6 thing and she jumped in on the impeachment, she was nowhere to be found. She wasn't meeting with the people, she doesn't care about us.
- And other voters like Myrna are frustrated with Cheney, calling her a Republican in name only for doing bipartisan votes like-- like being one of the few Republicans to cross the aisle and support President Joe Biden sweeping gun legislation past just a few weeks ago.
- Yeah, that's what's interesting about this is that Liz Cheney has been busy here in Washington, but the constituents say that she is MIA, essentially, back home. We know, Brittany, that Cheney's primary challenger, Harriet Hageman, says she's the one stumping across the state and actually meeting voters.
How is Cheney responding to that, and how different are these two candidates?
- Well, the Chaney campaign tells us that this is an issue of security. That as much as she'd like to be going to rope line, to big tent events, that if she came across an audience, there are enough people who hate her, thanks to President Trump, that they might cause her, or her elderly father, former Vise President Dick Cheney, some real violence.
I spoke to a campaign surrogate last weekend. His name was Landon, and Landon told me that it is a crying shame that they are unable to get in front of voters. But rubber meaning the road, she's not out. She's not out talking to voters, she's in private meetings. She's in house parties, in a way that she's unable to connect with her constituents.
And Harriet Hageman is capitalizing on that. And Harriet Hageman is as Wyoming as Wyoming can be. So on one side, accusations of Liz Cheney being a carpetbagger that go all the way to her very short Senate campaign less than 10 years ago. Harriet Hageman can say I was born in Wyoming, I went to undergraduate in Wyoming, I got my law degree here in Wyoming, I practiced law in Wyoming.
I will go to every county, meet with every voter, shake every hand while Liz Cheney is busy in DC. And that is a message that is really resonating, and frankly, pissing a lot of Republican voters off because they feel abandoned. And fear and abandonment will really push people to the polls.
They already have during the early voting process, and it sure to do today as well. And I think the funniest part in me, like the most interesting wrinkle of all of this, is that Harriet Hageman used to be a Liz Cheney supporter. In fact, she was an advisor to that very short Senate campaign.
And now, since Trump's endorsement has come into play, that love has been lost.
KENNETH MOTON: Yeah. Election denier or not, Liz Cheney's opponent definitely has a better ground game there. And I never thought I'd be saying these words, Brittany, but Cheney's beliefs-- yes-- Republican Cheney appears to be appealing more to Democrats. Could they potentially save her during today's primaries?
- Yeah. It's stunning, Kenneth. 95% conservative vote Liz Cheney might be helped by Democrats and independents. But the math is really not on her side. I spoke to experts and folks at FiveThirtyEight who told me if every single Democrat, independent in the state reregistered as Republican-- something you can do here right at your polling place-- that they would still need some kind of Republicans to carry Liz Cheney.
And even though those odds are tough, that's not something stopping some Democrats from trying. I spoke to some Democrats last week who told me even though they couldn't agree on Cheney pretty much about anything-- one even told me that she got a rash changing her party identification from Democrat to Republican-- that there's too much at stake for democracy to not show up tonight.
- She got a rash. There's a cream for that. Brittany, as you put it, voters in this least populous state in the country are poised to have a huge impact on the fate of the Republican Party. What will today's results tell us about the GOP as we head into the midterms?
- I think, principally, it's going to answer two questions. One, is the Republican political legacy dead? If the Chaney name can't carry you in a state like Wyoming, what is there left for a Republican political legacy? And two, perhaps more principally, is there space for anti-Trump Republicans in this version of the Republican Party?
There's a lot of chatter on both sides of the aisle to say there might be, or there isn't. And there's lots of opining on how much of an influence Donald Trump has on the party. But if Liz Cheney goes down like we think, perhaps by double digits, 10 to 20 points, you're going to have to call into the question, how much stepping out of line from Trump will cost you your job if you're a Republican in Congress.
- All right, and we will be watching Wyoming throughout the day and this evening. Brittany Shepard, good to talk with you, friend. Thank you.
- See you.
- In a little more than an hour, President Biden is set to sign a massive health, climate, and tax bill into law. The Inflation Reduction Act is the largest climate investment in US history. Chief White House correspondent Cecilia Vega has more on other ways the law will impact Americans.
- Hey Kenneth. Yeah, this is such a big win for President Biden. He's actually breaking into his vacation, interrupting it, and flying back to the White House in just a little bit this afternoon to-- just for this bill signing. We're talking about some $740 billion overall on this health care front.
This is going to help some 13 million Americans pay for insurance by expanding subsidies. It caps prescription drug costs at $2,000 a year for Medicare recipients. And then starting next year, those receiving Medicaid would pay no more than $35 a month for insulin. This is also the largest climate investment in US history, some $370 billion on that front.
This includes tax credits and-- for solar panels and electric vehicles. And Democrats say, frankly, by the end of this decade, these incentives are going to cut greenhouse gas emissions by some 40%, back to 2005 level. So this is going to be paid for-- this is the big question-- by new taxes on large companies and stepped up IRS enforcement of the rich.
The White House is calling this a once in a generation investment. It promises that it's going to save Americans in the pocketbook by reducing inflation and lowering the deficit. But really, Republicans are pushing back on that. They question-- and frankly, many experts also question-- by how much this is actually going to help on the inflation front.
And now the White House on the politics of this, and frankly Democrats all over, are really going to try to capitalize on this one by hitting the road. The President, cabinet members, they're about to go across country to really, Kenneth, try to sell this to the American people, convince them that this is helping them in their bottom line.
Of course, all of it tied to the midterms.
- All right, Cecilia Vega there on the North lawn of the White House. Thank you. The President is expected to sign that bill later this afternoon. We'll bring it to you live when it happens. Coming up, COVID and monkey pox. Two hot topics as kids head back to school. We're talking with my favorite pediatrician about it all, next.
Welcome back. The UK has authorized a booster vaccine designed to protect against both the original strain of COVID-19 virus and the original Omicron variant known, as BA1. Maggie Rulli is in London with the details.
- Hey, Kenneth. Yeah, this is a first of its kind, being called a next generation vaccine that specifically targets the Omicron BA1 variant that emerged last November. British drug regulators are the first in the world to authorize the shot from Moderna, known as a bivalent COVID-19 vaccine.
Meaning it will provide protection against both the original 2020 virus, as well as the new Omicron strain. These boosters will roll out here in September for anyone over 50. But Kenneth, the big question now is, when will they come to the US? The US has asked both Moderna and Pfizer for an even more up to date booster that also targets Omicron BA4, as well as BA5, which the World Health Organization says now makes up 70% of global cases.
Those versions could be authorized by the US as soon as September, and likely available stateside by October. Until then, Kenneth, existing boosters are still recommended for anyone over the age of five, with second boosters recommended for those 50 and over, and anyone who's immunocompromised.
- All right, Maggie Rulli. Got it. Thank you so much. In other COVID news, first lady Dr. Jill Biden has tested positive for COVID-19. The White House says she's experiencing mild symptoms and has been prescribed Paxlovid. Dr. Biden is fully vaccinated and double boosted. For more, let's bring in ABC News medical contributor, Dr. Alok Patel.
Dr. Patel, good to see you, friend. So we know the first lady is taking Paxlovid. Remind us about this drug, how effective and safe it is.
- Well Kenneth, first I have to say thank you for your shout out. And if it wasn't for my TV lighting, people could see that I'm blushing. But it's an honor to be here. Now it's good news that Dr. Jill Biden, from what we have heard, is experiencing mild symptoms. She is fully vaccinated, including double boosted, and she's on the antiviral Paxlovid.
Now it's important for people out there to understand that Paxlovid, the initial trial was in those individuals who were unvaccinated. Found to be up to 90% effective in preventing hospitalizations in that age group. And now it's recommended for people out there who are age 12 and above with underlying medical conditions, or those who are elderly.
A situation that would put you at higher risk of getting severe symptoms. But generally speaking, if you're under the age of 50, you're relatively healthy and you're fully vaccinated boosted, you may not need to get Paxlovid. So for anyone out there who has questions, maybe COVID positive, chat with your health professional.
Don't just go running and try to get one of these medications, because we suspect that it's being overprescribed.
- Got it. All right, so we know the President recently had COVID and was considered a close contact of the first lady. No surprise there. Is he still at risk now that his wife tested positive?
- Much less so, based on all the science that we know. And I don't want to speculate anything, but Dr. Jill Biden's diagnosis-- positive test-- came about nine days after President Biden tested negative. We know he's fully vaccinated. He's obviously boosted, and he has that extra dose of natural immunity now from his previous infection, which was presumably from BA5.
Now even still, he is following from what we know, CDC guidelines, and will be quarantining away from Dr. Jill Biden as long as she is testing positive and has symptoms. And we know that people in the White House, including the President and the first lady, follow stricter protocols than everyone else does.
So we'll be watching closely as they continue to get seriously tested.
- We are wishing the first lady a speedy recovery. I think she's vacationing down there in my home state of South Carolina on Kiawah Island still. That's the nice place to recover. I know from personal experience. But I do want to-- yes, definitely. So I mentioned you're an ABC News contributor. You're a doctor, a pediatrician. You're also a daddy, a Mac daddy.
But let me pivot now to talk about the kids. Because we know that schools and universities across the country are back in session. How can parents keep their kids safe as we face COVID, and now monkeypox?
- Kenneth, great questions. Now I'll put pediatrician and Mac daddy hat both on right now and tell parents the first thing to do is just follow the instructions. Be aware, but don't necessarily panic. Firstly, talking about COVID, we have to get those vaccination numbers up. When it comes to kids age six months and five, we were seeing about 5% of kids in the country having one shot.
We're still at about 30% for five to 11. We're heading into a new school year. The one thing that we want to all do, from every side of this country, everyone agrees, is keep schools open. And that is going to take a combination of individual protection, whether that is getting vaccinated, wearing those masks, making sure your kids are tested if they're symptomatic.
But also make sure those schools are following protocols as well. Have good ventilation. Now regarding monkeypox, Kent, the most important thing is something that you just said. It's that kids can get it. This is not just a virus that is confined to one group of individuals, even if they are at higher risk in showing the majority of cases.
So parents should be on the lookout if their kids have kind of a new rash that they haven't seen before, or if there's any close contact with someone who has monkeypox. When in doubt, chat with your doctor.
- All right, yeah. And we know an eighth child in the US has tested positive for monkeypox in Texas there. Dr. Patel, I really appreciate your time. But before you go, we know the CDC says pets-- we understand that pets and other animals, including dogs, can be infected with monkeypox.
It's currently unknown exactly how, I think, but school me on this. What do you know, and can pets get monkeypox and transfer it on?
- Absolutely, Kenneth. This is actually nothing new. So we know that monkeypox, since it was discovered, is a zoo and nautic virus, meaning it can jump from pet-- from animals to humans, and vice versa. In fact, the last outbreak in the United States, in 2013, was caused by prairie dogs being sold as pets.
In fact, a child was bitten by one and got monkeypox. And according to the CDC, not only dogs, but cats. But if anyone out there has a hedgehog, for example, as a pet, these can all carry monkeypox. In this specific case, we want to find more details. But from what we've seen in initial reports, this is a couple who had monkeypox.
They isolated their dog away from others, but they still shared a bed with their dog. And as all pet owners know, it's fun to cuddle our furry companions. But just be aware that if you have monkeypox, you can absolutely transmit that on to your beloved furry animal.
- Good information. Hedgehog, Dr. Patel? Are you giving us some insight into your childhood and what you wanted?
- That is true. Listen, I'm a huge fan of Sonic the Hedgehog. And if I could have a rodent pet, I would get a hedgehog all day long.
- All right. I was pretty good at Sonic the Hedgehog when I was a kid. Dr. Patel, we got to leave it there. I'm being told to wrap it up. I think because we're having a little bit too much fun. It's good to see you, sir. Thank you again. Appreciate it.
- I have no apologies for talking about Sonic the Hedgehog, Kenneth. Thank you.
- Thank you, sir. All right, coming up. Students in Uvalde, Texas are heading back to school, and our team is in the classroom on their first day when we come back.
Welcome back. Students are starting to head back to school in Uvalde, Texas, as the community recovers from the tragic mass shooting at Rob Elementary School. Officials at a nearby school say enrollment has increased by 100%, and that includes each of the 11 students who were injured in the shooting.
Our John Quinones has more on how the community is moving forward.
- It will be a special year.
JOHN QUINONES: The school year at Sacred Heart began with a special mass officiated by the Archbishop of San Antonio, Gustavo Garcia [INAUDIBLE]. He's discovered that the best way to communicate with these child survivors is by sign language.
- I tried to communicate verbally with them, and they were--
JOHN QUINONES: You had to do it physically?
- And then I said, sign language. And it was a breakthrough.
And do you know how we say joy?
So I said to them, do you feel very sad? Do you want peace? Is that what you want? And they were--
- What kept you from tearing up?
- Well I was just for them, and with them. And I felt so happy that I was able to connect with them.
JOHN QUINONES: The Archbishop, addressing a community that found themselves as he says, wounded in a way they never imagined.
What was your message to them?
- God wants everyone to enjoy glory and Heaven. But it's not our time yet. So we need to carry on, and to carry on with joy. Because our life has meaning.
JOHN QUINONES: When it comes to overcoming grief and moving forward, says the Archbishop, we adults can learn so much from our children.
- They are easy. They gain each other trust, just sitting at the same table eating cookies. So we need to trust that children have so much potential, and so much to heal in themselves, by God's grace.
- The power to heal.
- The power to heal.
- Maybe we should be more like children.
- We need-- and the Gospel says that-- more like children.
- In just three weeks, on September 6, the rest of the students from Rob Elementary will be attending classes at schools throughout this city, and still others will be home schooled.
- And we will continue to think about that community there. I thank you, sir, John and the Archbishop.
I'm Kenneth Moton. Thanks for joining us. Remember, ABC News Live is here for you all day with the latest news, context, and analysis. And remember, ABC News Live is available on all of your streaming devices, plus the ABC News app and on abcnews.com. The news continues right after this.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.