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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Supreme Court Hands Trump 9-0 Ballot Challenge Victory On Eve Of Crucial Super Tuesday Primary Battles; New Polling Finds Broadly Negative Views Of Biden, His Policies As He Turns To General Election Battle; Biden To New Yorker On Rematch With Trump: I'm The Only One Who Has Ever Beat Him, And I'll Beat Him Again"; Haiti's Gang Violence Increases As Govt. Declares States Of Emergency; Texts And Emails Show Pro-Trump Attorney Kenneth Chesebro Kept Proposing Ways To Overturn 2020 Election After Jan. 6th Capitol Riot. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired March 04, 2024 - 20:00   ET



WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Military experts warn the risk of a major global conflict no longer a distant threat, but a looming crisis. Ongoing wars in the Middle East and Ukraine threatening to spill over highly sensitive technology moving at lightning speed.


SENIOR COL. WU QIAN, CHINESE DEFENSE MINISTRY SPOKESPERSON: China pays close attention to security risks posed by military applications of AI technologies.


RIPLEY (voice over): China's military capabilities expanding at an unprecedented pace, simmering tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea, setting the stage for a catastrophic showdown. As the world teeters on the brink of a new era of warfare, machines making life and death decisions on the battlefield.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.

(End VT)

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Thanks for joining us.

Anderson starts now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, a supremely favorable day for Donald Trump. The High Court says he can stay on Colorado's ballot and every other states, too.

Also tonight, with most Americans saying Joe Biden's too old to serve four more years, we'll talk to a reporter who spoke at length with the President and he'll detail the Biden he saw.

And later, some rare reporting from inside Haiti where armed gangs rule the streets and civil society is coming apart at the seams.

Good evening, everyone. Thanks for your time. John King sitting in for Anderson tonight.

We begin with one certain thing. Donald J. Trump will be on the ballot in all 50 states. The Supreme Court today making it a reality and making history, settling an issue that's been unclear since Reconstruction. All nine justices deciding that neither Colorado nor any other state can bar him under the 14th Amendment Section 3 insurrection language. Quoting from the opinion: "We conclude that states may disqualify persons holding or attempting to hold state office. But States have no power under the Constitution to enforce Section 3 with respect to federal offices, especially the Presidency."

The opinion was per curiam, meaning not attributed to any specific justice. However, in a concurrence that you might say reads more like a dissent, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson take issue with the ruling's broadness, which they suggest is to "insulate this Court and petitioner from future controversy." The petitioner, of course, being Donald Trump.

As for him, he praised the ruling, then pivoted to the court's next big decision on presidential immunity.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you make a decision, you don't want to have your opposing party or opponent or even somebody that just thinks you're wrong, bring a criminal suit against you or any kind of a suit when you leave office. I have that right now at a level that nobody's ever seen before. I have rogue prosecutors and I have rogue judges. I have judges that are out of control and it's a very unfair thing for me.


KING: Keeping them honest, there is, of course, no evidence of rogue prosecutors or judges, no matter how many times he says that there are. Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold also weighing in a bit earlier here on CNN.


JENA GRISWOLD, (D) COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE: First and foremost, I'm glad that they issued a decision. Colorado voters and American voters all across the country deserve to know whether Donald Trump is qualified or not as we go into Super Tuesday.

But in terms of the bigger decision, I'm disappointed. And I also think that the big concern is still there. Donald Trump incited the insurrection. He incited that violent mob onto the Capitol to try to stop the peaceful transfer of presidential power. And he has not stopped his attacks on democracy since then.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Joining us now, the Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, whose state Supreme Court back in December rejected an attempt to keep Donald Trump off the ballot.

Madam Secretary, grateful for your time.

You did file an amicus brief with the Supreme Court back in January. You took no position as to how the legal issue should be resolved. But you said, "For the good of democracy, the Court should resolve them now." Are you satisfied with the - today's opinion? You get clarity. Did you get what you wanted?

JOCELYN BENSON, (D) MICHIGAN SECRETARY OF STATE: Yes, I am. And thanks for having me.

We, here in Michigan, and election officials all across the country are fully prepared to do our jobs this year, which is making sure every citizen can vote and that we're administering full, free and fair elections, so that continues. The clarity provided by the court is to affirm what I and the vast majority of my colleagues have also said since the beginning, which is that it's inappropriate for any one state to weigh in and make a decisive position on such a thorny legal issue. It really is best left to the federal government. And the Supreme Court has affirmed that, given us that clarity so that any state or state court still wrestling with the question of how to apply Section 3 of the 14th Amendment now has that clarity to declare Donald Trump's eligibility as a candidate in this election.


KING: Yet you heard your colleague, your Democratic colleague from Colorado, Secretary of State Jena Griswold, telling Wolf Blitzer earlier tonight while she accepts the court's ruling, she still believes individual states should be able to disqualify a presidential candidate from the ballot if they've deemed that candidate participated in an insurrection. Do you agree with her?

I've been doing this a long time and one of the staples of almost 40 years of doing this is the secretaries of state, the chief elections officials, whether you're a Democrat or Republican from a Midwestern state as you are, the East Coast or the West Coast, most of them get along and focus on the mechanics of running a free and fair election. Is there a disagreement among your colleagues, whether they're Democrats or Republicans, on this question?

BENSON: Again, I think the vast majority of my colleagues have taken the same position I have, which is that it's inappropriate for a state official to weigh in on this issue. And today, the Supreme Court affirmed that position and said, indeed, in cases like this where the legal and factual issues are not straightforward. The Constitution requires they be determined at the federal level, not at the state level.

And then again, I think on all of this, we have to remember who has the ultimate authority, which is the voters in every state. And that, again, was to me affirmed today by giving voters the opportunity to weigh in on who they should hold politically accountable at the ballot box for the issues at stake in this year's election.

KING: Did it surprise you or did you view it as smart on the justices' part that they did not directly address the question of whether Donald Trump actually engaged in insurrection on - in and around January 6th?

BENSON: I was surprised. I was at the oral arguments as well and expected, as I think many of us did, for a lot of the discussion to be focused on the definition of insurrection, the facts in this case. But notably, the court said, look, there are lots of different issues at play, both legal and factual. And the question is really who is the appropriate authority, what is the appropriate forum and when is the appropriate time to make these determinations.

As a legal scholar and a former law dean, I know you have to determine those who and what and when law - at the same time or perhaps before you get to the substance of the case. And so I wasn't surprised at all by even the unanimity or the per curiam aspect of the decision today. And I was grateful because it showed by issuing it today before Super Tuesday, the court is aware of the importance of both clarity and timing in this case. And again, in making sure voters go into this election cycle with the clarity of their power to determine the future of our country in this upcoming election.

KING: Secretary Benson, grateful for your time on this important day. Thank you so much.

With me now to continue the conversation, the bestselling Supreme Court biographer, Jeffrey Toobin, our CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig, and Cardozo Law School's Jessica Roth.

Jeff, based on the oral arguments, not a shock. If you listen to the oral arguments, this is where the court seemed to be leaning that day. So we always look for clues, right? Number one, they're unanimous. That's rare. That's rare, especially for this court.

Number two, as the former president noted, there's - he noted it in an inaccurate way - but there is the giant question of immunity still looming before the court. Do we get any clues about tomorrow from what we read today?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: There was a paradox about today at the Supreme Court. They were unanimous, which is in controversial cases unusual in this Supreme Court. However, there were some pissed off justices there. You could just tell from the paper the opinions were written on. The three justices didn't dissent - the three liberals - but they really went after the five for saying that - for giving a road map for how this law should be applied instead of just saying, look, what Colorado was - did was wrong. That's all we should have done.

The most interesting opinion was from Amy Coney Barrett, who wrote an opinion agreeing with the three liberals, but saying, can everyone please chill out. Saying can we just - like, we have a controversial election coming up, let's not engage in stridency, as she said it.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I agree with Jeff. There's some heated rhetoric in the concurrence, meaning the opinion put out by the three liberals. But I think it's important to understand just exactly where the disagreement sits, because it's really not much of a disagreement when you dig into it, okay?

All nine agreed unanimously, this is not for the states. The difference is the five in the majority said Congress is in charge of this. And the other four said, well, maybe Congress, but maybe other federal authorities. I'm not even clear what that is. But that's the entire base. It is a sliver of a disagreement, yet it gets blown up into this almost like world war three kind of disagreement, which I think is just - doesn't match with the actual substantive disagreement.

KING: So as you jump in, let me read a little bit here. This is, I believe, Amy Coney Barrett: "Writings on the Court should turn the national temperature down, not up. For present purposes, our differences are far less important than our unanimity: All nine Justices agree on the outcome of this case. That is the message Americans should take home."

So as Jeff said, she's trying - not legal language, but I liked it - chill, everybody. Chill. The question is, though, you're looking at this decision about Colorado.


Does it tell us anything, even though she's trying to say we should all get along? But do they give you any clues about how they're going to deal with immunity?

JESSICA ROTH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: I think it does, potentially. And I think that Amy Coney Barrett's concurrence was trying to say, this is not such a big deal here, right? We don't need to make such a big fuss about the disagreements here. And I think that the liberal justices were saying, no, no, no, there's actually a lot at stake here.

One is that with respect to Trump and disqualification, there's actually a lot of significance to what the majority goes ahead and reaches that they didn't need to hear. They're really foreclosing other avenues of adjudicating through federal courts whether or not Donald Trump engaged in insurrection. And they talk about, for example, somebody who is in some way aggrieved by an action taken by him as an executive officer could bring suit to argue in federal court that he was disqualified under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment.

So they're angry that the court is precluding that kind of alternative federal adjudication of his ineligibility. But I also ...

TOOBIN: But remember when ...

ROTH: I'm just ...

TOOBIN: I'm sorry, please.

ROTH: On the looming immunity point, there's a sort of methodological question here of should courts go ahead and reach unnecessary questions or should they narrowly decide the case before them. What I read into that disagreement is what they expect could happen in the immunity case. In other words, a narrow decision on immunity might hold there is no immunity for the allegations in this indictment and we don't have to reach anything further.

But a broader holding might be under this standard that we're going to set forth here today for the first time, a president could be immune from prosecution. And now we're going to send it back to the lower courts to apply that standard to the facts here. And that would lengthen the proceedings on the immunity question such that we would never get to trial before the election.

TOOBIN: But remember what just happened in the - at the Supreme Court. They just granted certiorari on the immunity case and they put the case on, I would say, a fairly slow schedule, which will not quite but almost guarantee that Donald Trump will not be tried before the election.

It is not out of the question that the three liberal justices were pissed off about that and I think some of the language you saw, the anger on what is, as you said, a relatively minor disagreement suggests that the court is as polarized as it usually is even in a unanimous decision.

KING: And so again, that's what fascinates me as the non-lawyer at the table. The liberals are outnumbered. They know that. It's six to three. They're outnumbered. So when you see Amy Coney Barrett, the last Trump appointee, coming in and saying, let's all try to get along here, the question is, number one, do they take it as genuine, the colleagues, or do they take it as more of a political argument. But you're always watching, Roberts saved Obamacare, where's Roberts going to be, that's what everyone always asks first.

But what about the Trump justices? Are we learning anything about her? Is she trying to be more Sandra Day O'Connor or can you figure that out?

HONIG: I feel like it's not going to get better in terms of how they're all getting along. I mean, it's just hard math. It's six three. And if you're on the liberal side and you want to win, you need to flip to you need Roberts plus one and I - we haven't seen that. Well, we've seen it happening in some cases, but none of the big political cases.

And immunity, I really think could be a defining moment here. And I think Jessica's right. I think we need to watch out for the possibility that they don't even decide it, that they send it back down to the trial court, which will completely end any chance of trying it before the election.

TOOBIN: That is, if they do that ...


TOOBIN: ... is the biggest gift they could give Donald Trump. Let's be clear about that. That anything other than a clear victory for Jack Smith in the Department of Justice is a victory for Donald Trump, even if they say there's no absolute immunity, as Trump is asking for.

KING: Clarity. You want clarity.

TOOBIN: I just want to follow the news.

KING: Jeff Toobin, Elie Honig, Jessica Roth, thank you for your time tonight.

Some of the former president's griping that you heard at the top of the program about what he calls rogue judges may have been about his two New York cases, the civil fraud case he lost and the upcoming criminal trial later this month. There were new developments connected to both today through The Trump Organization's former top finance guy, Allen Weisselberg, and his former attorney, Michael Cohen.

CNN's Kara Scannell has been following all of those developments and joins us now.

Kara, what did we learn today?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Allen Weisselberg, a longtime confidant of Donald Trump, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of perjury. This all relates to testimony he gave during the New York attorney general's civil fraud investigation into The Trump Organization and when he testified at the trial last year. His false statements relate to testimony about the size of Trump's triplex apartment at Trump Tower. It had been valued for years on the company's financial statements as though it was 30,000 square feet. In reality, it was just under 11,000 square feet.

One of the statements that Weisselberg admitted today being false was he was asked at the trial and in his deposition whether he had been present when Donald Trump talked about the size of the apartment. He said he hadn't. In reality, he had been. He was present when Trump was talking to reporters from Forbes magazine about that.

So Weisselberg, under this deal, will serve about five months at Rikers Island. This will be his second trip there because he already served a hundred days when he pled guilty in 2022 to 15 counts of tax fraud.


Now, importantly, though, as part of this deal, despite pressure from the DA's office, Weisselberg is not cooperating against Donald Trump. So he will not be testifying at the trial later this month involving those hush money payments, despite being at the center of it, both with knowledge of Michael Cohen advancing the payment to Stormy Daniels and then the reimbursement of that money to Cohen, John?

KING: And as that plays out, the former president's legal team is again going after the Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg. What is that about? What do they say? SCANNELL: Yes. I mean, this has been a constant point of scrutiny that they've been putting on Bragg, saying that this is prosecutorial misconduct, saying that he's essentially picking on Allen Weisselberg, but not looking at the testimony that Michael Cohen had given both at the trial, that same trial, and in other court hearings saying that he should be prosecuted.

This has come up before. Prosecutors have said that that is fair game for cross examination by Trump's attorneys at the trial, and that trial, that jury selection, is expected to begin three weeks from today, John?

KING: Three weeks from today. Kara Scannell, appreciate those important updates.

Up next, now that the Supreme Court has taken the ballot access off the table, we'll look closer at the campaign itself, some troubling new polling for the incumbent president, and how tomorrow's Super Tuesday primaries could come close to clinching the delegate math for Donald Trump.

And later, you don't want to miss this, our David Culver inside Haiti, torn by gang violence and now under a state of emergency.



KING: The big Supreme Court ruling today, Super Tuesday is tomorrow, the State of the Union address Thursday night. Yes, it's the first week of March, early in the primary season, but the path of those primaries so far, plus some new polling over the weekend and into this new week, are turning the conversation already more and more to the likelihood of a Biden-Trump fall rematch. Let's look at where we are and then some of the numbers.

Number one, some contests over the weekend as well, now have the former president, 247 delegates. Takes 1,200 plus, 1,215 to win, but he is on a path right there. You see the light gray states? Those are all the Super Tuesday states tomorrow. A lot more primaries. Donald Trump can't mathematically clinch tomorrow, but he can get really close by the end of tomorrow night if he continues his big run.

The Democrats also are voting. Let me just bring this up here and show this as well to bring up the Democratic side of this in Super Tuesday, we'll flip it over here to the primaries like this. President Biden, 206, two uncommitted delegates so far. He is also on a path to re- nomination, and will get very close tomorrow night as all those delegates come in, which brings in now, where are we?

Assuming Trump and Biden continue their path to the nomination, where are we? This is our CNN poll of polls. Forgive me for turning my back. I just want to bring this up a little larger, 48 percent for Trump, 46 percent for Biden. That is no clear leader. If you look at some of the late individual polls that go into this average, Trump has been running a little bit stronger, but if you average them all together, which is the smart thing to do, don't overinvest in any one poll. No clear leader, but Trump has clearly been gaining a little bit of steam as we go forward. Why is he gaining steam?

Well, these are the numbers that are troubling for the President. Here's one from The New York Times-Siena College poll, is President Biden too old to be an effective president? Among all voters, 73 percent say yes, 25 percent say no. Here's the troubling part. Even in his own party, the President needs big Democratic turnout in the fall. More than half, 56 percent of Democrats say they think he's too old to be an effective president, 43 percent say no. So that is one challenge for the President as he runs out the primary season, as he gives that big speech Thursday night - address that.

The problems are deeper for the President. Again, he is the incumbent president, 24 percent of Americans say the country's on the right track. Two-thirds say it is not, 65 percent say the country is on the wrong track as the President prepares to deliver his State of the Union address.

One more, incumbents are often judged by their approval rating. You start to get eight months out from an election, that's a problem. That's a problem. That's the number the President has to change, 36 percent approve of his performance right now in office, 61 percent disapprove. That means a lot of Democrats. If 61 percent disapprove, that means Democrats as well.

So let's have a conversation about where we are in the primary calendar, State of the Union and beyond. Let's bring in our CNN Political Commentators Van Jones and Margaret Hoover. Also joining us, the former Democratic presidential candidate, Democratic National Committee chairman and the governor of Vermont, Howard Dean.

Governor, I want to start with you. You know what it's like to give a state address, you know the President's weaknesses and you understand campaigns, what does the President - if you could tell the President to do one thing right now, whether it's address the age issue or the wrong track issue, what would you do?

HOWARD DEAN, (D) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I joke about the age issue when I talk about his unbelievable record. This is a guy who's got the strongest domestic policy record since Lyndon Johnson. And ironically, most of the jobs he's created are going to the very states in the rural states that vote against him, which is insane to me.

I think he just has to do a very good job and give a very good speech, and he's more than capable of doing that.

KING: So Van, let's follow up on the governor. If you look deeply into The New York Times-Siena College poll, here's one of the things, you look at politicians, what am I getting here, right? We live in a transactional world, right? So 40 percent of registered voters said Trump's policies help them personally. Only 18 percent say Biden's policies help them personally. Gov. Dean just said he's got the greatest record since Lyndon Johnson, why the disconnect?

VAN JONES, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Very simple, those COVID checks. People remember that I actually got some money directly and so that becomes a part of people's memory. And also, people forgot a whole bunch of the bad things that happened during the Trump years, because COVID was difficult and inflation was difficult. Now that's starting to heal, but people still have that memory of those COVID checks.

Look, I think Biden has an important job to do, not only to talk about his great record, as the governor said, but what he's going to do going forward. The prices are coming down on everything but food and housing. So he's got to show he's willing to fight on the food price. He's got to fight the grocers, tell them to quit gouging the American people at the cash register. He's got to push on the Fed to get these housing prices down, to get the interest rates down. He's got to show he's going to be fighting for what ordinary people are dealing with every day, and then he can get back in this fight.

KING: Well, when we count the votes tomorrow night, Trump can't clinch, but he can get really close. Yet, if you look at some of the past states, so it's the glass three-quarters full or one-quarter empty, I guess.


I would ask you if Nikki Haley keeps getting 20 percent, 30 percent, 40 percent, is that what you're looking for? Can the - is the President addressing his weaknesses? Is the former president addressing his weaknesses?

MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, Nikki Haley keeps addressing Donald Trump's weaknesses, much to his own chagrin. And look, she's clearly made some kind of a calculation with her campaign about what staying competitive means, both to her internally and then to her donors. Because frankly, this is literally a question of whether that staying competitive question is salient for the people who continue to fund the campaign to go beyond Super Tuesday, to the next round of states and beyond and beyond, and how far, how much does she have to win tomorrow in order for them to continue to fund this effort that, while I'm fully supportive of the Republican alternative to Donald Trump, has always felt somewhat implausible and has always rested on some kind of strategy that wasn't clear beyond a hope and a prayer.

KING: Well, she's back in South Carolina tomorrow. The expectation is if she doesn't win - have a surprise and win a couple states that she will say enough, is that your expectation?

HOOVER: That is not my hope and I'm living on a hope and a prayer, but that may be what happens.

KING: Gov. Dean, you're a grassroots guy. You like to go out and work the streets. You like to organize and get things going, so I want your perspective. You talked about and joke about the age, talked about your accomplishments. I've been traveling a lot, and I think you have a point about some of the policies. But the thing that strikes me is the visibility issue. A lot of people think, where is the President? Why hasn't he been out more? You're still in touch with people around the country who - as you - when you're organizing days, both as a candidate at the DNC, how much of it is that, that people want to see an energetic president in their state, in their community or how much of it is he just needs to better explain what he got the Congress to pass a couple of years ago?

DEAN: This is the frustrating part. This is where I'll redux to blame the media. The media is fascinated with Donald Trump. They created Donald Trump, and they can't stay away from him because they want the clicks, no matter what the clicks and this is - I'm not just talking about television. I'm talking about the New York Times. Look at their coverage of Trump, it's an outrage every day and his people love it.

The truth is, Biden has been all over the place, and he just doesn't get the same coverage because he's not a charlatan, and an entertainer, and a crook and all the things that people like to write about. And the - it's just - it is really, really frustrating. And the other part, of course, is on social media, there's no editors, so the more clicks, the more coverage, and it doesn't matter what the clicks are about. So that's the frustrating part about this.

Biden's a quality guy, and he's performed very, very well. He's not getting the credit for it because Trump understands entertainment and Biden doesn't, and the media falls for it every time, and so do the American people. There's a lot of Americans out there who have no idea what Biden has accomplished, and they have a lot of ideas about Trump, most of which are wrong.

KING: Do you agree with that? You're also an organizer guy. I've talked to you when I've come back to some of my trips and go door- knocking in Milwaukee, and you have a 70-something-year-old black woman say, I may not vote ...

JONES: Yes. I think ...

KING: ... because I don't think it matters anymore, who specifically asked where's the President.

JONES: Yes, look, I see it a little bit different from the governor in that. First of all, this Gaza thing is weighing him down. There's a part of that - those numbers that you see are young people especially, they're just dismayed by what they're seeing in Gaza. That's real. I also think he hasn't done as many interviews. Certainly, the governor's correct that he's been out there more than he gets credit for, but he's done fewer interviews than you would expect for a president and I think those things hurt him.

I think he can turn around. I think right now a lot of Democrats are in denial that he's even going to be our nominee, but once I think it's clear that he is, they're going to go from being in denial to being determined that Trump not win. But right now this is real and I think you've got to deal with it.

So if the incumbent president, President Biden, has to deal with, try to bring younger voters back, try to get the base rallied up, another big target would obviously be anybody voted for Nikki Haley in the primary. Is that what you would do if you were working the Biden campaign?

HOOVER: Absolutely.

KING: Take all your money and resources and say, okay, 40 percent of them are not going to vote for Joe Biden, but if you can get - if in a state like New Hampshire or a state like Pennsylvania, you can give three or four percent of them, bingo.

HOOVER: Especially if you're running on democracy and defending democracy, don't you want the broadest possible coalition of voters to join with you, and that's disaffected Republicans, of which there's at least a good 25 percent, perhaps a third. By the way, and that's just the primaries, wait until we get to - I mean, the Governor respectfully says we've been spending a lot of time on Donald Trump. Will you just wait until this is a - really a two-candidate race. I think the scrutiny will come with Donald Trump in an all-new way that actually will probably play unfavorably for Donald Trump.

I will just say one more thing. This Siena poll shows that unquestionably the Republican Party is not picking a winner if they pick Donald Trump, because it is fundamentally clear that if Nikki Haley were the Republican candidate, she would be able to beat Donald Trump or whoever the Democratic candidate were.

KING: And you also see and I'll give the Governor this point, that the - we focus - he's the incoming president, so we focus more on the bad numbers for him. There's some bad numbers for Donald Trump in that poll as well. You're absolutely right about that.

Van Jones, Margaret Hoover, Gov. Dean, appreciate your time tonight.

Coming up, we'll continue this conversation and dive into an extended newly released interview President Biden granted to New Yorker. The reporter Evan Osnos joins us to explain why the President believes only he can beat Donald Trump.



KING: President Biden says he's about to prove all the snarky pundits and all the Democratic hand wringers wrong, again. In an interview with the New Yorker, the president takes a defiant tone, and says he is in the 2024 race because he believes he is best positioned to beat the former president, Donald Trump.

Biden spoke with reporter Evan Osnos, who's written a biography of the 46th president. That interview taking place in mid-January. The article, "Joe Biden's Last Campaign," is a wide-ranging interview that also covers the president's opinions on the economy, Israel, and Ukraine, and more.

This is how Osnos describes their conversation about the November election and concerns among Democrats about Biden's viability. Quote, "Given the doubts, I asked, wasn't it a risk to say I'm the one to do it? He shook his head and said, 'No. I'm the only one who has ever beat him. And I'll beat him again.' For Biden, the offense of the contested election was clearly personal."


Joining me now Evan Osnos. In addition to that biography of the president, his latest book is on the deep divisions here in the United States is titled, "Wildland: The Making of America's Fury." Evan, grateful for your time. I want to get to some of the specifics in a minute. But not everybody gets to spend a lot of time with the president around the Oval Office.

So you had that unique access. You also spent a lot of time with him over the years. And then you're back with him after not seeing him for a while for something like this. What just jumped out at you being in the presence of him? How is he different physically? How is he different temperamentally? And how pumped was he on this question of he says I can beat him again?

EVAN OSNOS, STAFF WRITER, THE NEW YORKER: You know what struck me, John? One of the first things he did when I got there to the Oval Office was he said, let me show you where Donald Trump sat and watched the revolution. That was his term to describe the events of January 6th.

He walked me over to the Oval Office dining room, which is back in the private chambers there, which, of course, is where the select committee says that Donald Trump spent that afternoon. What I -- the reason I mentioned that is one of the first things he did was he wanted in his own way. He was thinking about Donald Trump.

You cannot talk about Joe Biden right now and his state of mind without thinking about Trump. Look, on a physical level, he is slower and his movements and his gestures. No question about it. His mind seemed unchanged to me. He didn't bungle a date or a name or anything like that.

I was looking to see any signs of that. What struck me most of all, John, was that he was in a defiant state of mind. He is, in some ways, he's looking to make a case for himself now.

KING: So the point you made is actually instructive if you read the entire article, and I urge people to in detail. You don't just interview the president. You have a wide-ranging conversation with democratic strategists and other experts around there.

You talk about the first thing he did to show you where Donald Trump watched January 6th. So they believe democracy -- Trump and democracy, Trump and democracy, Trump and democracy. That's what they believe inside the White House.

Your article went to print before this latest New York Times/Siena poll, but you've seen the polling. You know, the president's job performance is way underwater. Views on the economy, right track, wrong track, are very bad for an incumbent president. So how does what he says square with those numbers? Or does he just think they're not real? OSNOS: On some level, there is a lot of suspicion in the White House about polling. I think there is a feeling that over the last few years, even going back to 2016 that polls have shown themselves to be unreliable, partly in the age of the cell phone. Look, it tends to be that candidates who are not leading in the polls tend to question the polls.

There is more specificity to their concerns. Jen O'Malley Dillon, who is an influential aid around the president working for the campaign. She says, we don't believe that these favorability polls line up exactly with what people actually do in the ballot box.

Look, that's a controversial statement, John. You know, some Democrats will disagree with that. Some will agree with it. What's interesting is that that's what they believe. If you're trying to understand their strategy, that's one of the insights that gives you a feel for why they are not more ruffled than other Democrats may be.

KING: Over the years, he has bristled and his team has bristled at the idea that, you know, Joe Biden's not a presidential contender. And, you know, he did lose twice, but then he won. So when they hear a lot of this, they call it bedwetting, they call it people who don't understand them and their team.

I want to focus on the president specifically, because it's very rare for somebody to get extended time as you did with the president. He's aware of what people are saying about him. What did he tell you?

OSNOS: You know, interestingly, John, there's a kind of deep-seated element of Joe Biden that runs all the way back to his childhood, which is that he feels like he has always been out to try to prove the doubters wrong. You know, we sometimes talk about his stutter.

You cannot understand this guy without understanding how much that is an imprint on everything he does in politics, even today at the age of 81. That he is alert to the sense that he has defied the predictions more than once and more recently defied them in 2020 -- or defied them in '22, I should say, in the midterms when Democrats outperformed, defied them in '23.

And there's an edge to him, John. Honestly, that was one of the things that really struck me. He is, over the years, there was a kind of a jolly quality about Joe Biden. There were moments of that still there, but there is a sense of conviction that he's doing something that is very personal for him.

You know, this is partly -- we sometimes say that Donald Trump stole the election. Well, he stole it from Donald --from Joe Biden, I should say. I mean, that is really on some level, one of the elements that is going on in the background. And Joe Biden is not somebody who wants to be pushed aside. That is a very clear feeling and it is very present in his conversation.

KING: You mentioned January 6th and the president using the term revolution. What are presidents -- how did he articulate his biggest concerns and the case he wants to make against Trump? OSNOS: Yes. I have to tell you, one thing that was very striking to me was he said, I am prepared for the fact that this man is going to contest this result. He said, losers who lose are never grateful -- are never graceful when they're losing. That is a big idea.


Meaning that he is prepared for the idea that we could have somebody contesting the election in '24 as we did in 20 -- I think it's worth pausing. I'm just considering the full implications of that. He's going to be making this case to Americans over the course of the next several months.

There is a deep feeling among his advisers that the offense of January 6th, that on some level, it is still something that deeply collides with our sense of what it means to be in American politics, that we don't do violence in politics. And that he thinks that as we get closer to Election Day, that idea will take on greater and greater salience, significance in people's minds.

That's a political bet. It's a part of a message, and it's revealing to us to know that that's one of the things that they believe is significant.

KING: Evan Osnos, I appreciate it. It's a fascinating interview and a greater, broader piece there. Nice to keep that as you watch the next several months play out. We'll see if the baseline the president lays out. So stands the test of time.

Evan, thanks for your time tonight.

Just ahead for us, inside the gang violence that is now consuming Haiti, which just declared a state of emergency. CNN's David Culver, who's been on the ground there, joins us next.



KING: The State Department told CNN today that the U.S. Embassy in Haiti remains open a day after a state of emergency was declared. That state of emergency declared when thousands of inmates escape from Haiti's largest prison.

Meantime, protesters have demanded the ouster of the Prime Minister, Ariel Henry, who reneged on elections in the wake of the president's assassination more than two and a half years ago. The Prime Minister's whereabouts are uncertain.

CNN's David Culver is just back from Haiti and has this harrowing report.



CULVER (voice-over): It's as close as we can get driving. So, we layer up and walk.

CULVER Oh yes. You can already smell it. Wow. Look at people just still making their commute as tires are burning right in the middle of the street here.

CULVER (voice-over): No police barricade, no firefighters, most seemingly unfazed. These flames have been burning for several hours. Haiti has been engulfed in turmoil for years.

CULVER: We don't have a home to live and we don't have food to eat. That's what they're shouting.

CULVER (voice-over): Many here now fear their country is on the brink of exploding.

CULVER: Does it feel safe right now?


CULVER: It doesn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it doesn't. It doesn't. It doesn't seem. My country is broken right now.

CULVER (voice-over): These folks blame the current government and Prime Minister Ariel Henry, appointed following the assassination of President Jovenel Moise in 2021. They want Henry to go, but he says he is not yet ready to step down.

This as panicked street shootouts like this one have become a near daily occurrence. It's often a clash between police and the gangs which have essentially taken Haiti hostage. They flaunt their weapons and wealth on TikTok, threatening police and basking in lawlessness. Many residents now living behind barricades.

CULVER: This is not the gangs doing this. This is the folks that live in these neighborhoods who are putting these up to prevent gangs from coming in and kidnapping.

CULVER (voice-over): Using whatever might stop or slow the kidnappers, efforts to protect families and preserve innocence. That innocence shattered for others. This 14-year-old says he was recruited by a gang at 11. He tells me he is often forced to burn the bodies of those killed by other gang members.

I want to change my way of life, he says, with a heavy look of shame.

At an early morning food distribution, we meet dozens of women who have felt the wrath of gang violence. At times, we noticed a loss stare in their eyes.

CULVER: All of them had been victims. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All of them.

CULVER: So, there is nobody here who has not been affected.


CULVER (voice-over): This woman's sister shot and killed. This one's husband burned alive inside their homes. This woman tells us she was raped. She shows us the marks left behind.

In recent months, gangs have seized more and more control over this country, including the roads leading to Port-au-Prince. Officials estimate that gangs now control as much as 80 percent of the capital. Even the U.S. Embassy and international airport are mostly surrounded by rival gang territories.

It's led the Haitian National Police to create an undercover unit. We go with him to the frontlines.

CAITLIN HU, CNN SENIOR EDITOR: This unit actually goes into gang areas, looks for gang members, and fights them.

CULVER (voice-over): The officers ask us not to reveal our exact location. And they tell us to work quickly, given we're standing exposed on a windy hillside.

CULVER: As police have described it to me, basically everything behind me is occupied by the gangs. It's under their control. There are homes all around us. We're standing on the foundation of one home that had been abandoned.

CULVER (voice-over): They offered to drive us closer.

HU: And you can see they're getting ready.

CULVER: Yes, our drivers, all geared up now, ready for a potential gunfire to come our way. Stay away from the windows as we come in here. They describe this as the last defensive point, and beyond here is what they consider to be their frontlines.

CULVER (voice-over): From here, you can see the battlefield. No signs of any suspected gang members for now. Police are not the only ones trying to gain the upper hand here. In a fractured state, alternatives to the gangs and government surface.

We're headed to meet a commander of BSAP, Haiti's armed environmental protection agency that has splintered from the Henry government, challenging its legitimacy. We pull up to a gated compound.

The man in the purple shirt leads us in. He then changes into his BSAP uniform. It's the commander. He is in hiding from police. His message echoes the anti-government protester.


He flexes BSAP's strength in numbers and its potential to help bring stability. But, when it comes to his own family --

CULVER: You mentioned you have four kids. What do you think their future is in this country?

CULVER (voice-over): He fears their future is best served leaving Haiti.

The desperation is felt beyond Port-au-Prince. In places like Jeremie, the U.N. chopper is the safest way to get there. It's about an hour ride. Members of the World Food Programme take us through this rural coastal community devastated by recent protests.

JEAN-MARTIN BAUER, WFP HAITI DIRECTOR: Right back there, you had five people who were killed last week.

CULVER: Right there?

BAUER: It was right there. Yes.

CULVER (voice-over): We arrived at this agricultural consortium. The WFP buys food from these local farmers to then hand out. But the recent protests have blocked distribution efforts, leaving some food to spoil. It's frustrating for the WFP officials, as they know, you don't have to look far to find hunger here. These farmers pointing to their stomachs, lifting their shirts to us.

CULVER: You're hungry?

BAUER: A lot of folks will look at Haiti and they'll say it's having issues for so long.

CULVER: The question that no doubt people in the U.S. will ask is, well, why should we help?

BAUER: Well, there are two reasons why you need to help. First of all, they're on humanitarian grounds. But then there is also wrong self- interest in the U.S. So, the longer you wait to act on Haiti, the more migrants there will be on our southern border. It's that simple.

CULVER (voice-over): Many here search for normalcy where they can, even with the threat of violence, missing mass for some is not an option. They wear their Sunday best and unite in prayer. Places of worship are not immune from gang terror. They at least offer a moment of tranquility and hope for now.


KING: David Culver, joining us now. Sad, sad, but fascinating reporting, David. How do Haitians feel about the question of international intervention? And is it clear what form that might could take in the short term?

CULVER (on-camera): So in the immediacy, John, it's likely to look like 1,000 Kenyan police officers that would be deployed any day now to Haiti. And we know late last week, Prime Minister Ariel Henry was in Kenya and he signed that agreement. But that is part of what fueled this most recent outbreak. It has seen this surge in violence really get out of control.

The folks on the ground that we spoke with, they don't want a foreign force there. In fact, a lot of them would come up to us angry that the U.S., Canada, France are supporting these multinational security forces with finances. They're not contributing troops, but they say even contributing the funding is something that they don't want to see.

Instead, they hope to have the stability through elections. The question, John, is how do you create that stable climate without eradicating the gangs? And then how do you eradicate the gangs without bringing in the forces to do that? It remains unknown, and until now it looks like Haiti, like that gentleman said, will be a broken state.

And it's the folks on the ground, the people there, that are paying the price.

KING: Paying the price, every single day. David Culver, appreciate that fascinating reporting.

Up next for us, some breaking news. Email and text messages reveal the new details on the scope of the fake electors plot and how it continued, yes, even after January 6th.



KING: Some breaking news now, text messages and emails made public as part of a lawsuit show that Kenneth Chesebro, the attorney who helped come up with the Trump campaign's fake electors plot, kept proposing ways to overturn the 2020 election. Yes, even after the January 6th Capitol attack.

CNN's Zach Cohen joins us with the details. Zach, so what was Kenneth Chesebro up to after, after January 6th?

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, John, we've known that Ken Chesebro is qualified as the architect of the fake electors plot in the lead up to January 6th. But we're now learning that he continued to beat that drum after the violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.

And I want to read this text message from him to -- that he sent to another Trump lawyer from Wisconsin two days after the U.S. Capitol riot. He says, "The events of the last two days open up legal options in the states for winning rulings favorable to Trump." He then goes on to say that maybe they can revisit some of the past petitions that they were trying to use to overturn the 2020 election in Trump's favor.

He then pitches a variety of different ideas. Ideas that would have gotten other people in legal hot water. And this runs counter to what he's told state prosecutors. He's interviewed in almost a dozen states now about his role in the fake electors plot. And he essentially described himself as somebody just trying to give legal advice to Donald Trump and to the White House as they sought to legally challenge the outcome. We now know he was way more intimately involved and not just in the lead up of January 6, but in the days afterwards.

KING: And so what else was revealed in these text messages and emails say about Chesebro's actions and whereabouts on January 6th?

COHEN: Yes, John, I mean, of all the people that Jack Smith, the special counsel, has identified as Trump's co-conspirators in trying to overturn the 2020 election, Chesebro might be the only one who actually showed up to the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. These text messages include selfies, where he took selfies with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones at the U.S. Capitol on the same day that the riot happened.

And look, he even bragged at one point about being able to whiff tear gas that was fired at protesters in the U.S. Capitol in the day, kind of highlighting his proximity to the action that was going on. So it really does call into question again.

Chesebro's description of himself as just a lawyer trying to give legal advice to a president trying to challenge the outcome and maybe more as an activist and somebody who was really trying to push his own desires and his own agenda through his role as a lawyer.

KING: And what legal jeopardy does just that lawyer face right now, Zach?

COHEN: We know Chesebro has already pled guilty in Georgia where the, you know, Fani Willis, the D.A. there is investigating efforts to overturn the election results. He's an unindicted co-conspirator in Jack Smith's indictment of Donald Trump.

I'm told that the feds, the federal investigators have not reached back out to Chesebro since he informed them he was going to take a plea deal in Georgia. He's interviewed with, again, about five different state prosecutors in his time since taking a plea deal. So we're going to have to see, but lying to state prosecutors or not being fully truthful with state prosecutors can be a problem.

Learning more all the time. Zach Cohen, really appreciate it. Thanks so much.

The news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now.