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Politics chat: Executive order on abortion access; Trump allies subpoenaed; jobs up

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

President Biden expressed shock and sadness over the assassination of Prime Minister Abe yesterday and then remarked on how rare gun violence is in Japan compared to the U.S. His comment comes just a few days after the mass shooting at a public July 4 event in Highland Park, Ill., that killed seven people, left dozens more wounded and even more traumatized. Joining us now to talk about the week in politics, as he does most Saturdays, NPR's Ron Elving. Ron, thanks so much for being with us.

RON ELVING, BYLINE: Good to be with you, Scott.

SIMON: Ron, what does it say in America that the man charged with the Highland Park shooting was labeled a clear and present danger by local police in a state with stringent gun laws but still passed background checks to buy a gun?

ELVING: It says our laws and our lawmakers are out of step with most Americans. Too many of our elected officials have surrendered to an extreme view of gun ownership that not even gun owners support. The latest poll done by NPR and Ipsos was before the Highland Park shooting, and it showed roughly two-thirds of Americans who own at least one gun favor red flag laws and raising the minimum age for assault weapons. More than 80% of them support background checks, meaningful ones. When you have people such as the Highland Park shooter, people obviously calling out for help, the answer is not to give them an assault rifle that's designed to kill as many humans as possible.

SIMON: Yesterday, two weeks after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, President Biden signed an executive order on abortion access. What is this order supposed to accomplish?

ELVING: The idea is to salvage something from the ruins of Roe, some way to help women who want to exercise some degree of control over their pregnancies. So there's a pledge to protect abortion providers, including the people setting up clinics just over the state line from where abortion access is being restricted or denied. And he ordered up a plan to guarantee the availability of abortion by medication and access to emergency contraception and IUDs. Of course, what this executive order does not do, and what no executive order could do, is to restore the right to abortion under the Constitution. The president can't do that on his own, no matter how much people want him to. So bottom line, Biden wants people to know where he stands and that he'll do what he can. If people want the right to abortion codified in law, they have to elect state and federal lawmakers who will do just that.

SIMON: Some positive news for the U.S. economy yesterday - 372,000 new jobs in June, which was much better than expected. But what does this say about the overall health of the economy?

ELVING: Off the top, it's got to be good to see more jobs being created and the unemployment rate historically low. These numbers suggest any talk of recession is premature at this point. Of course, there's no silver lining without a cloud, and great jobs numbers mean higher wages, more inflation pressure. So the Federal Reserve is more likely to keep raising interest rates in the months ahead, and that could spell recession down the road.

SIMON: Finally, Ron, former White House counsel under Donald Trump Pat Cipollone testified before the January 6 committee yesterday, closed session. And several of Trump's most vocal allies, including personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, Senator Lindsey Graham, were subpoenaed by a special grand jury in Fulton County, Ga., over the president's attempts to overturn the 2020 election results in that state. Ron, is it me or getting just a little hot in here?

ELVING: Of course, the former president is no stranger to legal exposure. But right now the heat is pouring in from every register in the room. That Georgia tape recording of Trump saying just find me 11,000 votes seems the best evidence we've seen so far. It's always seemed like the clearest path to a criminal proceeding. But you've also got the New York civil case about the dubious property evaluations. And as for Pat Cipollone, well, Trump has had many lawyers, but few, if any, have had Cipollone's credentials and reputation. He's defended Trump against impeachment charges, and now here he is being downloaded by a congressional committee behind closed doors. It can't be fun to have your legal defender doing that unless, of course, you have nothing to hide. And maybe we'll find out more about that in videotape testimony when the committee goes back on TV next week.

SIMON: NPR's Ron Elving, thanks so much.

ELVING: Thank you, Scott.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ron Elving is Senior Editor and Correspondent on the Washington Desk for NPR News, where he is frequently heard as a news analyst and writes regularly for NPR.org.