Return to Transcripts main page

Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump: Special Counsel Is An Example Of A "Weaponized Department Of Justice"; Former President Trump Faces Second Thoughts Among Some Of His Past Voters As He Launches 2024 White House Bid; Michelle Obama Reveals To CNN She Struggles With Self-Doubt. Aired 9- 10p ET

Aired November 18, 2022 - 21:00   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: All right, moments ago, we did hear from the former President, about the appointment of a special prosecutor, today, to oversee separate federal investigations, into Trump's conduct, partially involving the January 6 Riot, the other investigation into the potential mishandling of classified materials, as well as the possible obstruction of justice, in that investigation. Again, we did just hear from the former President, a short time ago.

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the decision was prompted by quote, "Extraordinary circumstances," primarily the former President's announcement, to run for president, again, but also, President Biden's stated intention to do so as well. Biden continues to say that it is his intention, to run for president.

Do we have the sound of Trump, guys?

All right, we do not have the sound of Donald Trump. Let's go to Evan - oh, wait. All right, hang on. We have Donald Trump. Let's listen to what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Before we begin, I want to address the appalling announcement, today, by the egregiously corrupt Biden administration, and their weaponized Department of Justice.

Would you like me to talk about that? Larry, would you like me to talk about that?


TRUMP: This horrendous abuse of power is the latest in a long series of witch-hunts that started a long time ago. I thought the investigation with the document hoax was dying or dead or over.

And the investigation into January 6, in my very peaceful and patriotic speech, remember, peaceful and patriotically, was dead, especially after the record-setting 40 point loss of Liz Cheney, in the great State of Wyoming. I thought it was dead.


TRUMP: I thought that put the final nail in the coffin. Only to find out that the corrupt and highly political Justice Department just appointed a super-radical-left Special Counsel, better referred to as a Special Prosecutor, to start the process all over again. We thought it was just about dead.

As you know, just about the top person, one of the top people, in the Justice Department, Lisa Monaco, a major Trump-hater, major, I mean beyond belief, is in charge of the case. And she's totally controlled by Andrew Weissmann. Do you ever hear the name, Andrew Weissmann? I think you did. In this room, you did. Bad person. Bad guy. But he's an even bigger Trump-hater.


Sounds like a fair deal so far, do you agree? Who works tirelessly as he did on the Mueller scam, which ended up, as you know, no collusion? To do bad things, to the greatest movement - they want to do bad things, to the greatest movement, in the history of our country, but in particular, bad things to me. But I've gotten used to it.


BERMAN: All right. As you could tell, it was the usual type of response, the exact type of response, you might expect, from the former President. That was just a small sampling. It went on and on and on and on.

And much of what he was saying was misleading. Some of it was flat out untrue. The fact of the matter is the President was being investigated, yesterday, by the Department of Justice, for what happened in January 6, and also for the possible mishandling of these documents.

He is still being investigated, today, and will be investigated, tomorrow, for January 6, and also the potential mishandling of documents. That investigation has just moved to a different super advisor - supervisor, I should say.

So, let's begin our coverage now, with CNN's Senior Justice Correspondent, Evan Perez.

Evan, let's get the facts, here. What did Attorney General, Merrick Garland, say about these two separate investigations?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, these two investigations are now going to be led, by this Special Prosecutor, Jack Smith. And what he's doing is taking two investigations that are well underway.

And by the way, just to pause there, the former President is just making it up, right? I mean, there is no - nothing to say that this was a dead investigation, or that it was being abandoned, and far from it. I mean, the people around him, have been getting subpoenas in recent days.

So, there was nothing to indicate that this was about to go away. And certainly not anymore, right? Because of the former President's decision to announce that he's running for office for a third time. The Justice Department says that they needed to appoint a prosecutor, a special prosecutor, to oversee them.

Now, as you pointed out, both things are ongoing. One of them is looking at the former President, and his allies' efforts, to impede the transfer of power, after his loss, on January - in the 2020 election. And then, the second one is the mishandling - the alleged mishandling of these classified documents that the FBI retrieved, in that extraordinary search, at Mar-a-Lago, in August. And so, those now are going to be going on.

The Attorney General said that they're going to have all of the resources, they need, and that this special prosecutor is going to make those decisions, as to whether there should be charges.

BERMAN: All right, this special prosecutor, Jack Smith, many people had never heard, of Jack Smith, before a few hours ago.

PEREZ: Right.

BERMAN: What's his background?

PEREZ: Well, John, look, I mean, when we reported just a couple weeks ago that the Justice Department was looking at making this decision, we started making calls, to try to figure out who you could possibly get. And this is the guy that they ended up with.

And he is a war crimes prosecutor. He has been working out of The Hague, investigating war crimes, in Kosovo. He's a former prosecutor, in Tennessee - federal prosecutor, in Tennessee. Also ran public corruption investigations, here, in Washington, at the Department of Justice. He's also a former D.A. - Assistant D.A. in Manhattan.

So, he's got, from what we can, from everything we've heard, he's got a stellar reputation. He is seen as somebody, who's going to be down the middle, by the book, and is expected to at least be able to survive, what we expect is going to be an onslaught, of scrutiny, about whether he has any partisanship, in his background. Of course, that's going to begin immediately.

BERMAN: What's interesting about - we heard the former President, complaining about this. If you go on Twitter, which does still exist, as of tonight, I saw just as many lefties--


BERMAN: --complaining--

PEREZ: Oh, yes.

BERMAN: --about that the fact that the Attorney General is appointing a special counsel, because they think it's going to slow it down. And the Attorney General, he actually says he made this appointment, to prevent the appearance of a conflict of interest.

PEREZ: Right. And look, I think, Merrick Garland may have said that, and I think he really does believe it. But it is wishful thinking. Let's be honest. Right, John?

I mean, this is - these are the times we live in, and there's absolutely nothing that can insulate, anything like this, from the political criticism, which is already coming, from Republicans, from the former President. And you heard him, right there, just already accusing being - accusing Jack Smith, of being a far-left partisan.

What we expect - and look, and I think what we expect is that even though the Attorney General and Smith himself in a statement said that they expect that this is not going to slow things down, it is bound to do at least that a little bit, right?

You have a new prosecutor, who is going to take over. He's going to inherit all of this - all of this work, and then he's going to want to review it, and just by its nature, is going to slow things down, at least a little bit. And, of course, we know, the 2024 elections are coming up very, very soon. And so, it's going to be a challenge, for the Justice Department, going forward.


BERMAN: Evan Perez, I know you're going to have your hands full--

PEREZ: Oh, yes.

BERMAN: --reporting on this for some time. Thank you very much.

PEREZ: Thanks.


BERMAN: More now, from CNN Justice Correspondent, Jessica Schneider; CNN Legal & National Security Analyst, Carrie Cordero, a former counsel to the U.S. Assistant Attorney General for National Security; and CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney.

Carrie, I want to start with you. Your reaction - well, you know what? I don't want to talk about the former President, what he said anymore, because so much of it was, I think, misleading or just, shiny objects, there.


BERMAN: Yes. So, Merrick Garland?

CORDERO: Nonsense, John!

BERMAN: Merrick Garland, the appearance of a conflict, how necessary was it, do you think, for a special counsel? CORDERO: I think the Attorney General had a lot of discretion, here, to make the decision, for a special counsel. He didn't have to do it. He wasn't required by law to do it. But it's in his good judgment, to do so.

And he gave the reasons for it, in particular, the timing with respect to the former President's announcement that he is now a candidate, and the fact that the current President has indicated, all of his intentions, to run too.

So, what the Attorney General is concerned about is the appearance of a conflict, the appearance of impartiality. And so, I think his decision, to move forward with the Special Counsel, is absolutely defensible, if it wasn't absolutely required.

BERMAN: So Jessica, what do we know about how Jack Smith, I suppose, how and even where he's going to be operating?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, interestingly, John, he will not be operating within main Justice, here in Washington, D.C. As he's following the same steps as other special counsel, he will be operating in another building, away from the Attorney General, and top Justice officials. So, that's very interesting.

Not exactly a household name. But he does have this long history, as a prosecutor, at the state level, in New York City, the federal level, under DOJ, also, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tennessee. Most recently, though, he's actually over in the Netherlands, right now. He's been working for the International Criminal Court, prosecuting war crimes.

Most interestingly, and where he may be able to lend his most of his experience, he led the Public Integrity Section, at DOJ, for several years. This is a really prestigious assignment. And crucially, here, he oversaw the prosecution of public corruption and election crime cases. So, he has been at the center of an array of cases here.

He already released a statement today, John, where he put it this way. He said, "The pace of the investigations will not pause or flag" under his watch. So, he's ready to jump right into these two major investigations that are really already months in the making here.

BERMAN: Elie Honig, one of the things that we have heard, and we heard it last hour, from George Conway, is there is this notion that Merrick Garland would not have done this, if he did not think there was a possibility, maybe even a probability, but let's call it a possibility that there could be indictments here. You don't appoint a special counsel, if you don't think there's going to be any case.

ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Right. I don't think it's a sure sign that Merrick Garland has convinced this case is going to be indicted. I do think it assures us that Merrick Garland believed there was at least a nugget of evidence, at least enough, to go on good faith here.

And what's really important to know here is we've not gone from, no investigation to investigation, right?

BERMAN: Right.

HONIG: From no prosecutor, to prosecutor? We've just changed the guy, who's going to make part of the decision. He's probably going to have the exact same team of prosecutors and investigators, and the same evidence.

But what I think he really does do, this special counsel, is provide a heat shield of sorts, for Merrick Garland. Because, the way it works is the special counsel has to first say, "I believe we should or should not indict." He has to go to the Attorney General, who then is required by law to give, quote, "Great weight" to what the special counsel says.

So, this enables Garland, whether the recommendation is indict, or don't indict, to say, "I will give him great weight. And I will defer to his decision," insulating Garland, against really attacks, both from the left and the right.

BERMAN: Yes. Again, and that's why I didn't want to pay too much weight, one of the reasons, to what Donald Trump was saying, there, because honestly, his situation isn't changed, today. Merrick Garland's situation is changed today.

HONIG: It's no different. Donald Trump doesn't have to be happy or sad or angry or anything. It's just someone different is going to make a very important decision, in the intermediate.

BERMAN: And Carrie, what about the timing of this? Because I mean, how much more investigating, do you think there really is to do, at this point? Is this about investigating? Or is this really just about deciding whether to indict or not?

CORDERO: Well, I think, I mean, based on what we're seeing publicly, I think, this seems like a very active ongoing investigation. They're continuing to bring witnesses into grand juries. They're continuing to serve subpoenas, so.

And remember, there are different investigations, here. So, there's the investigation into the efforts to overturn the election. That's one big set of a very complex and novel and unique type of investigation.

Then there's the separate investigation, into the handling of presidential documents, and classified information. And in national security investigations, involving classified documents, not withstanding, if they involve a former President, can take a long time. They are complicated cases to bring.


The third piece, which is also related to that investigation, is the obstruction. And it was interesting to me that the Attorney General mentioned "Obstruction," a couple times, in his remarks, tomorrow - today, making clear that that is part of the ongoing investigation. Obstruction might be the most straightforward of the potential investigations that they're currently conducting.

BERMAN: No, I'm glad you brought that up. Merrick Garland, a man who chooses his words carefully, and he chose to use that word, multiple times, carefully, obstruction, investigation into obstruction.

Jessica? So, we do know that there are things happening, in these investigations, with people surrounding the former President. What is the appointment of the Special Counsel, how might that affect them?

SCHNEIDER: Well, as Carrie mentioned, I mean, this has been ongoing, wide-ranging. It really, at this point, shouldn't change too much of the dynamic. These investigations have been ongoing for months.

What it could change is that things could really ramp back up, because we're past the election, now. That quiet period is over. And our team has already reported that prosecutors have in fact been sending out an array of new subpoenas, just over the past several days.

So, this special counsel - special prosecutor, is coming in here, when it's already moving full steam ahead. He could come in, though, with this fresh focus, maybe more scrutiny than we've already seen, of the former President, his associates, even his lawyers.

Because, as Carrie mentioned, the Attorney General talked at least twice about obstruction. It's those people, in Trump's orbit, as well as maybe Trump himself, who really could be implicated, in any obstruction charge, stemming from these classified documents, at Mar- a-Lago.

So, it's going full steam ahead. And the Special Counsel has already said he's not going to be part of any pause. He is ready to jump right on this, and keep going.

BERMAN: So, Elie, why is speed so important here? What are the time pressures?

HONIG: John, every day that passes makes this a harder job for prosecutors. Everyone is very fixated on will there be an indictment, or will there not be an indictment.

But let's keep in mind an indictment is the start of a case. It's not the end, right? You don't have a victory party, when you indict somebody. And, as a prosecutor, part of the beauty of being a prosecutor is, you get to decide, when you indict, but you do not get to decide when a trial happens.

The average trial, in the federal system, give or take, is about a year after an indictment. In this case, you're going to have all sorts of motions, appeals, a year would be lucky.

So, let's do the math here. When's an indictment going to happen? We're already basically into 2023. Trial is going to be in 2024. You know how difficult that's going to be, if Donald Trump's a nom - a front-runner into primaries, maybe a nominee?

So, if I'm the Special Counsel here, heaven forbid, my first instruction, to the team is what is the fastest humanly possible, we can make a decision here?

BERMAN: So Carrie, what do you do, right now, if you are a lawyer, for the former President? What's the strategy?

CORDERO: Well, the lawyers for the former - I mean, the former President seems to change his legal strategy, frequently. I mean, I think he was - he had a very poor legal strategy, in handling the entire thing, related to the Mar-a-Lago searches, because he was trying to litigate it, before he even knew if he was going to be charged with anything.

So, at this point, his team is going to need to see where the Justice Department goes. And they're going to need to decide whether or not they're going to cooperate, in any way, or whether he's just going to batten down, and wait to see what the Justice Department does.

But also, John, just to follow up, from something Elie said, Attorney General Garland's mention of the urgency of the case, I thought was interesting, and a little bit unusual.

Because usually, Justice Department officials will say, "We'll investigate as long as it takes. We'll take the facts, wherever they go, as long as it takes, for justice to be served." And he used the word, "Urgent," today. And I think that does play into the timing that Elie is describing.

BERMAN: Right. I mean, I think, the idea, is you can't have some kind of exception, to all law, because someone chooses to run for president. That can't be a two-year get-out-of-jail-free card, for lack of a better term, forever there. And that's what Merrick Garland may be trying to avoid, if in fact, there are charges.

Carrie Cordero, Jessica Schneider, Elie Honig, great discussion. Thank you all very much.

Coming up, legendary journalist, Carl Bernstein, joins us, to discuss this moment that we're in, where a former President is running, for the White House, and is now under the lens, of a special counsel, who could potentially, potentially, bring charges during a campaign.

And later, a sneak peek at a CNN Special, airing this Sunday night. First lady - former first lady Michelle Obama, and others, join CNN moderator, Sara Sidner, to discuss their struggles, with self-doubt, and how to empower women across the globe.



BERMAN: In his response, to the appointment, of a special prosecutor, last hour, former President Trump called the investigations, into his actions, surrounding January 6, plus the investigation into his potential mishandling of classified materials, he called the investigations "Appalling," and "Horrendous," and a "Horrendous abuse of power." And he said, it's one of the most - he is one of the most honest and innocent people ever in this country. That's just a very small sampling of what Trump just had to say.

Perspective now, from someone, who has spent a career, reporting on presidents in legal jeopardy, CNN Political Analyst, and journalist and author, Carl Bernstein.

Carl, great to see you tonight.

You've got some history, here, with seeing special prosecutors, appointed, in different situations. Just talk to me about the significance of this moment.

CARL BERNSTEIN, JOURNALIST AND AUTHOR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, AUTHOR, "CHASING HISTORY: A KID IN THE NEWSROOM": I think it's significant, because it indicates that the Justice Department believes that there is reason, to keep investigating, on an expedited basis, which was one of the words, used in the announcement, of the special prosecutor.

But also, I think, anybody, layman or a professional lawyer, whatever, who has really followed these two events, it's very difficult to see how any prosecuting authority, whether it is a special prosecutor, the Justice Department, can fail to not go forward with further investigation.


There is obviously - let's take a look at the January 6 committee report, and the investigation. There is a mountain of evidence, already that shows very likely criminal activity, to thwart the investigator - to thwart the transfer of power. Be impossible, if that were intended to investigate it.

And let me tell you, I've talked to a lot of Republican lawyers, as well, who believe, absolutely, that these investigations have to go forward.

BERMAN: So, you're saying, you're talking to a lot of Republicans, lawyers, and I imagine otherwise too, Carl.

Look, previously, before Donald Trump would get huge support, within the Republican Party, and elected officials, who would parrot and mimic everything he said, in defense.

Are we in a different moment, now? Just over the last two weeks, you've had Republicans, publicly blaming him, for their underwhelming performance, in the midterm elections. Do you think Republicans might be more hesitant, to come to his defense, this time?

BERNSTEIN: I don't have a crystal ball. I'm a reporter. This could play two ways. It could energize his supporters, who think that he's being persecuted. So, I think we have to wait and see what happens.

I think it's very significant that it looks like two cases are coming together here. The investigation is not of one event, the January 6 events, and the other one being Mar-a-Lago, and the documents, separately, they intersect, including a possible conspiracy, to obstruct justice. It's important that the Attorney General twice in that statement used the term, "Obstruct," and also "Destruct," in terms of the records. I think what is apparent, also, he wants to expedite this case, not slow it down. And often it's been Donald Trump, who has slowed down the investigations, around him, because he'd like to delay them, rather than have the possibility, of an indictment, coming down.

So, I think we don't know where it's going to go. But, I think - and also, this special prosecutor has a record of not indicting, in a number of cases that he's handled.

So, I think, the fairness question, that we can be pretty assured, unless we are the most partisan, and really believe that this is some kind of witch-hunt, which certainly I have no evidence of, and I think the contrary, I think we can believe we're going to have a real investigation, here.

And it's very possible that the same Republicans, who in the past, have defended, to go to your point, Donald Trump, this time, might - may see this as too much baggage, given the evidence that they know of, already, from the January 6 committee, especially.

But look what we know, about Trump destroying, and his people, destroying documents. Look what we know about the possible obstruction, of turning those documents over. So, there's a very, very clear case to be investigated. And, in all probability, I don't know, there's a pretty good chance, there're going to be indictments.

BERMAN: Yes. We just don't know yet.

And we, again, we heard the criticism, from the former President, a short time ago.

And I also want to note that I have read over the last several hours, criticism, from some people on the left also, who were upset that Merrick Garland did this. They feel, "You didn't have to do this Merrick Garland. You could have pressed the charges yourself. You could have made the indicting decisions. This is just going to delay things."


BERMAN: Do you think, ultimately, Garland had to do this?

BERNSTEIN: I think it's a tough call. But, I think, to give the appearance of absolute fairness, it's the necessary and right call.

I think we also better look at the dynamic of Hunter Biden in this. That's an elephant in the room here. There's an investigation going on, in Wilmington, Delaware, by a U.S. attorney, there. And there too, we have to assume that the decision is going to be made, on the merits.

And again, there is a set of facts in a Hunter Biden case that would indicate that it's worthy of investigation. And that's - and also, you're going to see Republicans are already saying it. They want an investigation of Hunter Biden in the House in the newly Republican-controlled House. We'll see what happens with that. But that is a major case to watch. That political situation is not unrelated to the other, today's announcement, by the Attorney General.

BERMAN: No. Indeed. And just to be clear, there was an Attorney General, who was held over, from the Trump administration, to oversee that election of Hunter (ph) Biden. So that investigation, very much ongoing.

Carl Bernstein, thank you very much.

BERNSTEIN: Thank you.

BERMAN: Coming up, the other hurdle, the former President may face, in his quest to win back the White House, just winning back his own one- time supporters. Next, we're going to take you to an area, where seven out of 10 voters backed him the last time around, to see what if anything is changed.



BERMAN: So, the appointment of a special counsel is getting the attention, of the 45th President of the United States, tonight. But even if that investigation goes nowhere, the former President may find it more challenging than ever to win office, this after kicking off his 2024 campaign, this week.

Our Gary Tuchman is in a deep red part of Georgia, where some voters may be ready for change, atop the Republican ticket.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Our exercise, to talk to people, who voted for Donald Trump, for president, twice.

PAUL BAKER, TRUMP VOTER: As far as I'm concerned, he's the best president, we've had, in my lifetime.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And see if they are ready to vote for him again.

BAKER: But it may be time, for someone else, with similar values, to run the country.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And who would that be?

BAKER: DeSantis.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Here, in Floyd County, Georgia, where 70 percent of the voters cast their 2020 ballots for Trump, where their congresswoman, Marjorie Taylor Greene, this week, endorsed the former President, there is clearly unrest, among many, who were supremely loyal to Trump, including here, at the Velocity gym.

Ann Hook is a labor delivery nurse, who describes herself, as someone who is against a lot of things the quote, "Far left stands for."

TUCHMAN (on camera): If it were Trump and DeSantis, who would you vote for today?

ANN HOOK, TRUMP VOTER: I'm leaning towards DeSantis, to be honest with you. I'm leaning towards DeSantis, even though I voted for Trump.


MICHAEL BAIRD, TRUMP VOTER: Donald Trump was great. But people don't like Donald Trump. So, I think, DeSantis would be better. He's very smart.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Why do you think people don't like Donald Trump?

BAIRD: His mouth. He's too mouthy.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But many we talked to, in the county seat of Rome, Georgia aren't convinced about any particular Republican, just yet.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): Debbie Bell is the owner of the Forrest Barber Shop.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Donald Trump is relying on people to be loyal, who voted for him.

DEBBIE BELL, FORREST BARBER SHOP OWNER: Yes, I know. But I don't know. There's just a lot of things that--

TUCHMAN (on camera): You're not ready to say to him, "I'm going to vote for you again."

BELL: No, I'm not.

TUCHMAN (on camera): Why is that?

BELL: I just want to know what my other choices are.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Similar feelings, inside this downtown coffee shop, run by Christian missionaries. Who would this Trump voter cast her ballot for, if the election were today, more than a year away from the first primary votes being cast?


TUCHMAN (on camera): So, if it was Trump against DeSantis, or Pence, or Cruz, who would you vote for, if you had to make a decision?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I don't know, honestly, at this time.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And even at the County Republican headquarters, Cookie Wozniak, who says she founded the Floyd County Republican Women's organization, said she's not ready. TUCHMAN (on camera): Who would you vote for?

COOKIE WOZNIAK, TRUMP VOTER: I really don't know. I can't say. I can't say. I really don't know.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We did talk to a few people, who say they are staying loyal, to the former President.

TUCHMAN (on camera): You voted for Trump twice. Would you vote for him again?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely, yes.

TUCHMAN (on camera): And no other challengers to him?


TUCHMAN (on camera): Does it concern you the conspiracy theories that he's talked about, the election denial, from this last election, kind of like your Congresswoman here?

DYLAN WILLIAMS, TRUMP VOTER: It does, yes. I mean, it absolutely does. But, at the end of the day, from where I stand, having young children, I was the most financially free that I've ever been, when Trump was in office.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): But there are clearly plenty of people, who voted for Trump, here, who have other ideas about who should be in office.

EMILY KITCHENS, TRUMP VOTER: If I had to vote today, it'd be DeSantis.

TUCHMAN (on camera): How come?

KITCHENS: I feel like he knows how to navigate his wishes, and what he wants to do with the company - the country.

TUCHMAN (on camera): What about - didn't Trump know how to do that?

KITCHENS: He didn't know how to keep his mouth shut.


BERMAN: And Gary Tuchman joins us now.

Gary, that was really interesting. And it makes me wonder if you had talked to those same people, 12 months ago, if it would have been a similar response. I mean, how many people did you end up talking to?

TUCHMAN: So, we talked to, John, more than 20 Trump voters. And of those voters, 16 of them I talked to, on camera. The total of all those voters, who are determined, to stay with Trump, in 2024, is four people, only four. This obviously is not a scientific survey. But it's something to keep an eye on, particularly in very conservative counties, like this one.


BERMAN: No. And it was the way they talked about it, too that was so interesting.

Gary, that's a terrific piece. Thank you so much for being with us.

Coming up, the battle against crime, here in New York City. After, a new mayor promised to put his police experience to work, are things any safer? Do people feel safer? That's next.



BERMAN: A number of Republicans ran on the issue of crime, in large American cities, during the midterms. That was the main problem, raised by the Republican nominee for Governor, in New York State. He lost to the Democratic incumbent. But the race was closer than many expected.

Politics aside, crime is still a real concern, in New York City, for many of the 8.5 million people, who live here.

Our Jason Carroll looks at the human toll, and talked to the Mayor, who came to the job, after years of patrolling these various streets.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Last Saturday night, police respond to a triple shooting, in Chelsea, a neighborhood known more for its million-dollar condos, and trendy restaurants.

Reports of the shooting, not surprising, though, to New Yorkers, such as, Peter Panayiotou.

PETER PANAYIOTOU, OWNER, CELLAR 53 WINE & SPIRITS: And Manhattan is not safe anymore.

CARROLL (voice-over): Panayiotou is the Owner of Cellar 53 Wine & Spirits. And, for him, crime isn't just something he reads about or sees on the news.

CARROLL (on camera): How many times have you been stolen from?

PANAYIOTOU: Everyday, they come in and try to. I mean, I had an incident, the other day. They came in. They arrested a guy in here for something that he did outside, OK? They arrested him. They put him on the floor. And then, three hours later, he came back to buy something.

CARROLL (voice-over): Panayiotou has taken security measures, into his own hands. Wine Bottles, now glued into place.

PANAYIOTOU: Look at this, OK?

CARROLL (on camera): Oh, you can't lift up the bottle?

PANAYIOTOU: I can't lift.

CARROLL (voice-over): You have to ask for the real one. As for expensive bottles?

CARROLL (on camera): Oh, these are empty?

PANAYIOTOU: They're all empty.

CARROLL (on camera): Just looking, you know?

PANAYIOTOU: Yes. Anything the customers need, I'll have to go downstairs, and get it for them.

CARROLL (voice-over): Shoplifting has gotten so bad, this year, Rite Aid is considering literally putting everything behind showcases. It's already closed at least two of its stores, in New York City.

A spokeswoman saying, in part, "In regards to theft, like many in the industry, we are seeing a higher level of brazen shoplifting and organized retail crime."

SARON ASSEFA, IT TECHNICIAN; LIVES IN BROOKLYN: I mean, it's a little crazy out here.

CARROLL (voice-over): It's not just the streets and the stores. Saron Assefa, an IT technician, living in Brooklyn, says she started feeling less safe, after what happened to her.

ASSEFA: I was in the subway. And somebody snatched my purse, and my shoes. I was - I had--

CARROLL (on camera): Wait. Your purse and your shoes?

ASSEFA: And my shoes.

CARROLL (voice-over): With some feeling more uneasy, they're turning to New York City's Mayor, Eric Adams, now in office, for about a year.

Adams ran on a platform that he, as a former cop, was best-suited, to tackle crime.

MAYOR ERIC ADAMS, (D) NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: I think the City and the Police Commission is moving in the right direction.

CARROLL (on camera): But are you moving fast enough?

ADAMS: Yes, we are. It's been - it's been 11 months. And what I said, I wanted to focus on, when I was campaigning, shootings, and homicides, and guns, 27-year high and removing guns off our street.

CARROLL (voice-over): Murders are actually down 13 percent, and shootings down 15 percent, since Adams took office, in January. But the numbers of murders and shootings still higher now, than they were, in 2019, before the pandemic. And overall, major crimes are at a 16- year high, such as felony assault, robbery and grand larceny. CARROLL (on camera): Critics say bail reform, which went into effect, in 2020, is part of the problem. The legislation was designed, to help New Yorkers, facing non-violent charges, who could not afford bail.


CARROLL (voice-over): But police say, it has also resulted, in some offenders, instead of getting bail, they're released with a ticket, and then they go out, and commit more crimes. Take Darin Mickens, a notorious transit and pickpocket offender arrested again this week. He's already been arrested more than 40 times.

The Mayor says bail reform was a key issue, addressed at a so-called Crime Summit, held with New York lawmakers, at his residence, Gracie Mansion, last month.

CARROLL (on camera): So, what sort of timeframe, here? Because, it sounds like what you're saying is the law does have to be changed. So, when are you going to change it? Or how are you going to change?

ADAMS: Well, you know, that's beyond my scope to do so.

CARROLL (on camera): But you can still influence the Governor, right? Or can you influence the Governor? Can you talk to the local District Attorney, here and say, "Look, we've got to fix this. Let's all get together and do something about it."

ADAMS: Yes. And that's what we did at Gracie Mansion. And the Governor has been an amazing partner.

CARROLL (on camera): What can we tell people, who are looking at this, who are going to be watching this, and saying, "All right, when is the law going to change to stop these repeat offenders from doing what they're doing?"

ADAMS: Well it's a combination that must take place. Albany reconvenes in January. In the meantime, my offices have zeroed in on those repeated offenders. And we're having conversations, right now, with lawmakers to say, "Here's what we're saying how to tweak that. But we can't wait until January. We're doing things right now."

PANAYIOTOU: Thank you and have a good day.

CARROLL (voice-over): Until things do get better, shop owner, Peter Panayiotou, says much of his inventory will stay locked down. And he'll do double-duty, keeping one eye on his bottles, and the other on everyone else.


BERMAN: Jason, what does Governor Hochul say about bail reform, and crime, in New York City?

CARROLL: Well, as you can imagine, we reached out to the Governor, to get her input - to get her input about this. And basically, what she told us, or her office, is basically saying that they would not be able to give us any comment, about bail reform.

But the Mayor has said, and told us, when we interviewed him that he has been working with the Governor, that she's been an amazing partner.

But John, when you get to the bottom line, of this? When you want to get to the sweet spot, in terms of how bail reform should work? In other words, it's helping people but you're not having offenders take advantage of it? What you're going to have to do is you're going to have to get lawmakers, from both sides of the aisle, you're going to have to get those, in law enforcement, you're going to have to get input, from judges.

You're going to have to get all of these people, together, in order to get that sweet spot, where the law is working for those, who need it, and where you have it, so offenders are not taking advantage of it.


BERMAN: And getting those people, all in the room, not easy.

Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

So up next, a sneak peek, at a CNN Exclusive conversation, with former first lady Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney, and Melinda French Gates, on their mission, to empower young girls, through education.



BERMAN: This Sunday night, on CNN, Sara Sidner sits down, with former first lady Michelle Obama, Amal Clooney, and Melinda Gates, to talk about their shared mission, to empower girls, through education.

Sara also had a one-on-one conversation, with Mrs. Obama, talking about her life, after the White House, race, social media, mental health, and her own battle with self-doubt.


SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So many women struggle with self-doubt. Do you? And if you do, how do you push past it?

MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: I talk about this all the time, especially with the young girls, I meet.

Because they look at people like us, in these positions, and they think "Well, you must have been born into that place," which is the one - one of the reasons why, when I meet with young girls, I don't care where in the world it is, I don't want them to know Michelle Obama, the former first lady.

I want them to know Michelle Obama, that girl from the south side of Chicago. I want to break down that, that wall of impossibility, to let them know that I am them, and they are me. And yes, every other moment, I feel self-doubt.


BERMAN: And Sara Sidner is with me now.

Sara, what more, can you tell, us, about Michelle Obama's mission, and her work, really, in girls' education?

SIDNER: John, this was a pretty incredible group of women, sitting on that stage. They've never sat on the stage, together before, like this, really coming together for the Girls Opportunity Alliance, which is part of the Obama Foundation.

And what their mission is is to try and give girls, and adolescent girls, a chance at education. And they do it by giving money to grassroots organizations, who are doing the work, in places, around the world, from Kenya to Botswana, to Guatemala.

But they're talking about girls everywhere. That includes here in the United States. And there are about 100 million girls, more than that, actually, around the world, who are school-aged, who are not in school. Their mission is to change that, John.

BERMAN: And again, we know we saw Amal Clooney, there, Melinda Gates, all of whom, I'm sure, were honored to be with you, there.


BERMAN: What more - what more can you tell us about this conversation?

SIDNER: You give me too much credit, John!

Look, we asked them a question that they had asked these young girls. They had asked the young girls, "Hey, what would you like to tell your 25-year-old self? What are your dreams and hopes?"

So, I reversed the question, and asked them, what would they like to tell or say to or give advice to their 25-year-old self? And the best answer, this really stuck with me, was from Melinda Gates.


SIDNER: What would you tell your 25-year-old self, now that you've lived a life?

MELINDA FRENCH GATES, CO-CHAIR, BILL & MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION: I would say life is even more beautiful ahead than you realize.

And I would say to my 25-year-old self, "You knew in high school, who you were, and you let go of some of that for lots of reasons," people, situations, college, people around you. You knew who you were. And once you learn to re-be the girl you were in high school, is when you grew, into the full woman that you could be.


SIDNER: And then you saw me do the mic-drop, and Mrs. Obama said that part.


We all sort of agreed and nodded that you knew who you were inside. You may not have known what you were going to do, and who you were going to be exactly. But you did know who you were, and you should let yourself be your authentic self.

We have much more, coming up, tonight, at 10, John.

BERMAN: Yes, I did notice. I checked the schedule. And it's you, next hour, anchoring, Sara.

SIDNER: It's me!

BERMAN: We get about 30 seconds left. What do you have?

SIDNER: Oh, gosh! We have so many things! I mean, you've been talking about everything all day long, with what is going on, with this investigation, this Special Counsel. We're going to have some great guests, both political and legal.

And we're going to talk about this big thing called the World Cup, which is what the world watches, around the world. That is the biggest sport, football, right? But there are a lot of controversies in Qatar as well, with this being played there, at an odd time. Usually, it's played in the summer. Now, it's played in the winter. And there are lots of controversies that are bubbling up in that place.

So, we're going to get to all of that, plus a little bit more from Amal, Mrs. Obama, and Melinda French Gates.

BERMAN: All right, looking forward to it. I am the world's biggest soccer fan!

Sara Sidner, great to see you. Look forward to the next hour.

And do not miss Sara's Special Report, "Michelle Obama's Mission: Empowering Girls," featuring conversations with the former first lady, Amal Clooney, and Melinda Gates. That's this Sunday, at 8 PM, Eastern.

And more with Sara and "CNN TONIGHT," right after a short break.