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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

"It Brings Tears To Your Eye": Matrimony, Excitement, And A Total Eclipse Of The Sun; It Took 1 Hour And 8 Minutes For The Moon's Shadow To Traverse The Country From Texas To Maine; NY Appeals Court Judge Denies Trump Bid To Delay Criminal Hush Money Trial; Special Counsel Urges Supreme Court To Reject Trump's Claim Of Immunity; Trump Says Abortion Laws Should Be Left To The States. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired April 08, 2024 - 20:00   ET



RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dissent that we're seeing among some of these young black voters, and they framed it as a race between a president that actually cares about making life better for Americans, even if they haven't felt the full impact just yet, and another candidate who they say, and I'm quoting, "cares only about his rich friends and himself."

All that said, Erin, they realize this dissent is there and they are working. They say it is their priority to turn it around.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: We shall see. Really fascinating and so important, that work.

Rene, thank you.

And thanks so much to all of you for being with us. Anderson starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, a generational event we will not see again for decades, the total solar eclipse that produced moments both magical and even matrimonial. The images from today, plus Bill Nye, the science guy.

Also breaking news, tonight in the former president's criminal hush money trial, we have a judge's decision on his latest, but by no means last, attempt to delay, and we've learned what prospective jurors could be asked about associations with fringe groups.

And later, the former president's latest stance on abortion that his former vice president today called a "slap in the face." The fallout, plus a history of how his opinions have changed over the years.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us. We start with a stellar event today that plunged much of the United States into darkness and will not be repeated for more than 20 years. The total eclipse of the sun witnessed firsthand by tens of millions in the U.S., plus many more in Mexico and Canada. It was the rare event when people from all over could stop, look up and share a celestial moment together.


COOPER (voice over): Total eclipse excitement began on the shores of Mexico, quickly spreading as the path moved northeast through Texas.

In Russellville, Arkansas, more than 350 couples said, I do, as the moon crossed over the sun.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, it made me cry. I didn't think I'd cry. Yes, tears of joy, obviously, and I'm just so happy to be married to her.


COOPER (voice over): Tears of joy and wonder.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, wow. That's amazing. It looks like something out of a sci-fi movie.


COOPER (voice over): Thousands gather on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.




COOPER (voice over): Including two former astronauts, the parents of CNN's Kristin Fisher, showing us that it never gets old looking up at the sky.


KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: You've seen a sight that so few people have seen. You've been to space. How does a total solar eclipse compare to the view of the earth from space, dad?

WILLIAM FREDERICK FISHER, FORMER NASA ASTRONAUT AND FATHER OF KRISTIN FISHER: It's just as beautiful. It's just as beautiful. I have no words. It was much more dramatic than I thought it'd be.


COOPER (voice over): A moment of transcendence in Cleveland, Ohio.


KELLY KORRECK, NASA PROGRAM MANAGER: I think this is just a universal experience in understanding how much we all belong and we're all one on this little planet going around a star. It's just beautiful, breathtaking. There's so much to just feel.


COOPER (voice over): And in Stowe, Vermont.


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Look at the stars that have popped up. Look for the planets.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you. Will you marry me?


VAN DAM: True love story cemented in the darkness of a total solar eclipse.


COOPER (voice over): There was wonder even on a rooftop in New York City where only a partial eclipse was visible.


COOPER (on camera): Oh, yes. A day, a moment for the ages.


COOPER: For the record, my little son Sebastian did wear glasses. He actually saw it and he said it looked like a banana.

Humans were not the only ones affected by this event. Ed Lavandera was in the path of totality at the Dallas Zoo in Texas witnessing how the animals responded to the eclipse. That's where he joins us tonight. So what happened? Did the animals notice it?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we saw a little bit of everything. Instinctual, energetic, dismissive and I have to be honest with you, when we first got out here, I was a little worried about what we were going to see. I was worried it might fall flat. But what we've experienced was a completely unique way to see the total eclipse.


LAVANDERA (voice over): It was like momentarily walking into the classic comedy "Night at the Museum," a glimpse into the secret lives of animals at the Dallas Zoo when humans aren't around to watch.


LAVANDERA (on camera): Zebra started chasing him and then the ostriches got into the mix as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP) LAVANDERA (voice over): Just as the zoo slipped into total darkness, a jolt of, well, animal energy seemed to shoot through the grounds. The moment mesmerized Lisa Van Slett, a curator of mammals at the Dallas Zoo.


LAVANDERA (on camera): So did the total eclipse today meet your expectations?

LISA VAN SLETT, ASSOCIATE CURATOR, DALLAS ZOO: It exceeded my expectations today. There was a lot more activity than I expected to see out of the animals.


LAVANDERA (voice over): Just before total darkness, an ostrich laid an egg and hovered over it for a time, protecting it. Zoo officials say it's not clear if the moment was caused by the eclipse, but that the timing was certainly curious, they said.


Guinea fowl suddenly crowed wildly.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I can hear the - I hear the birds are starting, yes.

LAVANDERA: The birds are getting louder.



LAVANDERA (voice over): Just before the moon covered the sun for almost four minutes, a young giraffe and its mother galloped around the enclosure. The zebras joined in the chase as well. Here and around the country, elephants grouped together and appeared to head back to the area where they sleep. Flamingos packed together in the middle of a pond in their habitat. Primates apparently also thought it was bedtime.

Animal experts say the sudden darkness triggered a natural reaction among many of the animals.


VAN SLETT: At nighttime, predators go out a lot more, and so they have to kind of huddle together to be safety in numbers and in case something's coming, so they went into that instinct pretty quickly.


LAVANDERA (voice over): At this doggy daycare in the Dallas area, this group of dogs seemed to stop, confused by the sudden darkness. When the sun returned, the dogs started playing around again.

Another video captured a cat wanting to come inside its home when darkness struck. At the Toledo Zoo, a polar bear didn't seem to care about all the fuss, nonchalantly dove into the water before the sun disappeared.

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials teamed up with NASA to set up these acoustic recording devices to monitor the sounds of animals in the wild.

But not all animals were flustered or impressed by the total eclipse. Tobogo (ph) the giraffe mostly walked around, unfazed, ready to start chewing on the lettuce the humans feed him when the sun came back.


COOPER: So are zoo officials - I mean, do they use the information they learned today? Is it any scientific value?

LAVANDERA (on camera): Well, it's interesting. They were handing out forms to people as they came into the zoo today to document what they see. And one of the things that zoo officials say they will do is that they're going to collect all these observations and share them with other zoos across the country and also talk to other zoos that were in the path of the eclipse, Anderson.

There's very little research and data that is available because these total eclipses are so rare. So they're hoping to kind of gather all of this and kind of crowd source and share all the information so people can kind of capture exactly how all these different species reacted to the four minutes of darkness.

COOPER: All right. Ed Lavandera, Thanks so much.

I'm joined now by Bill Nye, the science guy. So, Bill, you were in Fredericksburg, Texas, today in the path of totality. I know we have a clip of you watching the eclipse that I want to play part of that.


BILL NYE, CEO, THE PLANETARY SOCIETY: Oh, my goodness, everyone. April 8th 2024. Shared experience with The Planetary Society members.


NYE: Oh, wow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (Inaudible) ...

NYE: I hate to say it, everyone, but remember, when you see the return of the diamond ring, it's time to put your glasses back on.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Please, please put them back on.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a prominent effect.

NYE: There's the diamond. Just starting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a flare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a solar flare.

NYE: It's a solar flare, thank you. Yes. We saw a solar flare through the clouds.


COOPER: So, how did you feel about it? Was it worth the wait? And what is a solar flare?

NYE: A solar flare is a round term. I think it was a prominence, strictly speaking. I was caught up in the moment. So, it's these magnetic fields of the sun blast these charged particles out into space. When the moon is between us and the sun in syzygy, you can really get a glimpse of them. And the clouds here were just thin enough to make the prominence easier to see.

They blocked out some of the very bright part of the sun or the rim around the moon. And then you could see this prominence down. I don't know if the footage is going to catch it. They're down sort of on a five o'clock position if it were - if the disk were a clock. And it was spectacular. I'd never seen that before.

The other thing - there's a breeze here all day, Fredericksburg, Texas. But during the eclipse, it stopped. And there must have been air masses bumping into each other. It just stopped. And then way off to the east, you could see sunlight at first. And then it went dark. And then four minutes later, you could see the sunlight marching toward you. It was really - it was spectacular.

COOPER: Have you seen one before?

NYE: Yes, I saw 2017. I was in Beatrice, Nebraska. There's a national park there. And in 2002, I was in South Africa on the east coast for another partly cloudy event. And it was - it's still spectacular, even in the clouds.

COOPER: And ...

NYE: I mean, it goes dark, everybody.

COOPER: And as you were saying, the clouds in this case actually kind of helped.

NYE: It helped us, yes, see something that I'd never seen before.


But overall, you want a clear day, I mean, for crying out loud. But it was pretty great here. It was really - it was this - another thing I talk about all the time is the shared experience.


NYE: We were all out there, close to a thousand people from The Planetary Society, sharing this experience. It was really, it was wonderful.

COOPER: Well, it was cool, even in New York City. I was at the top of my house. And to see people in other buildings, out on their roofs and balconies and stuff. It was one of those moments where you suddenly see your neighbors and wave. It was - it is - it brings people together.

Do science - I mean, is there a scientific value in studying the eclipse?

NYE: Oh, yes. It's a natural coronagraph, simply put. Now, by blocking the sun, we can, or scientists who are skilled with the right instruments, can observe the weather around the sun, as it's called. We see all these prominences, solar flares, coronal mass ejection, CMEs, around the sun, where this material, charged material, atoms are shot out into space and twisted around by these very powerful magnetic fields.

And so we learn more about the sun. We're learning more about stars. And I just always like to drop this in. When we study stars, we are getting closer to having fusion in a controlled way on Earth and have fusion power plants. It would be almost magical if we could pull it off in the next couple decades.

So it's more opportunity to collect data about stars - a star that will inform humankind as it understands - as we work to understand our place in space.

COOPER: It was also amazing to me how fast the eclipse moved across the country, more than 1,500 miles per hour.

NYE: Yes, why don't they do something about that? No, it's the spin of the Earth, you guys, makes this happen, and the atmosphere is spinning right along with it. And it is just - the scale of the thing really is jaw-dropping, how fast it goes across the continent, and that we live in this one place in the solar system, and maybe the one place in the galaxy, where the satellite of the planet we live on, the moon, is just the right size to block out the sun.

So in October, we had an annular eclipse, as it's called, a ring of light around the moon, because the moon was a little farther away, about 40,000 kilometers farther away than it was today. But when it's all set up just right in this syzygy, you get this spectacular effect.

COOPER: Well, Bill Nye, thank you so much. We're going to later in the program talk to Harry Enten, who is up in Niagara Falls. You may not know this, he's our data guy, but he actually graduated from weather camp when he was a teenager, so he's going to fill us in, yeah.

NYE: Good, I'm all for weather camp, yes, camp on. COOPER: Bill Nye, thanks so much.

Still to come, multiple breaking news stories on the former president's many legal trials. First, a judge's decision on whether he can delay his criminal hush money trial, set to begin next Monday. Plus, CNN's obtained the actual jury questionnaire.

Also, just moments ago, Special Counsel Jack Smith telling the Supreme Court to reject the former president's claims of immunity in the election interference case. We have details on that.



COOPER: Breaking news now on the former president's criminal hush money trial, a New York appeals court judge today denied his request to delay the trial, which is scheduled to begin one week from today. That decision only took the judge about 40 minutes after arguments concluded. And we're also learning what prospective jurors will be asked. Kara Scannell joins us now with the details.

Well, I just got this questionnaire. It's really fascinating. What stands out to you?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, there are the basic questions about where do you live in the city, what do you do, where do you get your news, but they're also trying to dig in and root out whether there's any bias here for or against Donald Trump when they do this. So they've asked a number of questions of have you ever worked for Trump, his campaign, his administration. Have you ever attended any rallies for Trump, have you attended any rallies against Trump and they're also asking if you belong to any fringe groups. They cite QAnon, the Proud Boys, but also Antifa.

And one question they asked, which I thought was interesting and really specific to this case, is do you have any strong beliefs about whether a former president can be criminally charged in state court, because there are these questions about immunity and about whether the politics of going after a former president.

I mean, another thing that is interesting here, the judge made it clear there will be no questions about political contributions, who you voted for or who you like. Because as the judge has said and reminded the lawyers in his jury questionnaire, that the issue here is not to determine whether someone likes Trump or doesn't like Trump, but whether they can be fair and impartial.

COOPER: So as of now, this trial is happening Monday?

SCANNELL: Yes, this is a go for now.

COOPER: And no judge has ruled against Trump?

SCANNELL: Yes. Trump's team went to the court today asking them to delay the trial so they can make a motion to challenge the venue, because they say New York has been saturated with this story. There's been the E. Jean Carroll trial. There's just a lot in the news, and they did a poll of 400 New Yorkers in which they say that a lot of people, more than half, said that they thought that Trump was guilty.

Now, the prosecution opposed that, saying, there's nowhere you can go to bring this case where people don't know about it. It's an international story. And they pushed back, and the judge, as you said, ruled pretty quickly afterwards, denying this. And, will Trump's team try to make another go at the appeals court on another issue remains to be seen.

COOPER: The former president's team, they made some motion about Stormy Daniels and a subpoena, what is that?

SCANNELL: So they're still trying to enforce some subpoenas that they issued just last month. One is to Stormy Daniels. They want to know about any communications she's had about her documentary. Any communications she's had with trial witnesses, including Michael Cohen. They've been on podcasts together.


And also, if she's had communications, what were they with E. Jean Carroll and two other women who have accused Trump of sexual assault. The reason that they argue they need this is because they're suggesting that there's some potential motive here for Stormy Daniels to give, as they put it, false testimony in order to profit off of this. So they're trying to see what they can learn.

COOPER: I want to bring in two former federal prosecutors, Elie Honig and Jessica Roth, who's now a professor at the Cardozo School of Law here in New York.

Elie, the jury questionnaire does, as Kara said, talks about Proud Boys, QAnon, Boogaloo Boys, and Antifa.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It's a fascinating document. So first of all, jury selection is so crucial when you're a prosecutor or a defense lawyer. The stakes are so high. You let one bad juror through, you're going to regret that for a long time. And what the judge and the court is trying to do with this document is suss out any undue biases. And it really sort of breaks into a couple parts.

One of them is just basically the basics, the biographical basics, what type of job do you do, what's your family situation. But then it gets into, without quite asking, how do you feel about Donald Trump, do you love him or hate him, asking a lot of proxies for that.

For example, where do you get your news, are you a member of any organizations. And then, as Kara said, are, have you been to a Trump rally. Are you part of any Trump email list? It also asks, have you been a part of any anti-Trump organization.

Now, I don't know if Democrats count as anti-Trump, so there's a little bit of interpretation here. But what's going to happen is the jurors will fill out these questionnaires, and then it's sort of a guessing game. As a lawyer, you have a limited glimpse into a person, and based on their answers, you have to surmise, is this person going to be good for me or bad for me? The whole case is at stake.

COOPER: Private attorneys will often have jury consultants who sort of analyze jurors. Does the state, do cities, I mean, do public prosecutors have that?


HONIG: Very, very rarely.

ROTH: ... very rarely. I mean, it's just not generally done. I don't have any insight into whether they're doing that here, but that would be very rare (inaudible) ...

COOPER: Jessica, what is the difference? I mean, they're asking where people get their news, whether they've attended a Trump rally. The judge is pointing out and he's saying, there are no questions asking potential jurors, whom they voted for or intend to vote for or whom they've made political contributions to. What's the difference if they're trying to get at it this other way?

ROTH: Yes, because what the judge is trying to make clear, and what the judge is going to be trying to make clear to the potential jurors, is that they're not being asked their political views and they're not being asked which party, if any, they are affiliated with.

COOPER: But they're sort of being asked that.

ROTH: But what they're really trying to get at is can you be a fair and impartial juror in this particular case, will you decide the case based on the evidence and the arguments presented in court as opposed to any bias that you bring in that you wouldn't be able to put aside?

And this is just the beginning, these questions, because then there will be follow-up with jurors who say, for example, yes, I've attended a rally, right? Then there would be the opportunity for follow-up questions to try to get at whether their attendance at such a rally in some way indicates a bias that would impair their ability to be fair and impartial.

COOPER: Go ahead.

HONIG: I was going to say, you're going to get a pretty good sense of who these people are, right, even without coming out and asking. But imagine if someone says, I'm a member of the NRA, I've attended a Trump rally and I primarily watch Fox News. Imagine if someone says, I'm a member of the ACLU, I've donated to anti-Trump efforts and I primarily watch MSNBC.

I mean, there will be examples of certainly the latter in Manhattan, maybe the former. So some jurors are going to have a pretty clear view, but then there's always those jurors who are cagey, and you have to just sort of use your instinct.

COOPER: And, I mean, are we - there are seven days. Is there a chance for a venue change still?

SCANNELL: I mean, at this point, before this judge today, I mean, she made the ruling, and that's the end of it at this court, at this level. I mean, could he go to the higher court of appeals? It's a possibility that he could, but there's going to be no more briefs before this first level of appeal.

COOPER: But if you went to the higher court, that could still change something by next Monday.

ROTH: In theory, but he doesn't have a right to have them hear this appeal. It would be discretionary on their part whether they would take it. And honestly, on the merits, it's so weak that I have a hard time imagining that they would consider it.


HONIG: He's going to lose on venue.

COOPER: How long do you think jury selection is going to take?

HONIG: So the estimates that we've heard are a week or more, but remember, they're going to have to go through each of these individually. I mean, you have to winnow down hundreds of people down to 12. I would guess over a week, maybe just over a week. It takes longer in state court than federal court.

It's also important to know in federal court, we used to pick juries in a day, two days.

ROTH: Yes. I mean, this is an extraordinary case for all the reasons we're familiar with. One thing I noted in the cover letter that the judge attached to the jury questionnaire is he - if I read it correctly, he's saying to the lawyers, for jurors who say, basically, I have a reason I cannot serve in this case, that he's going to essentially excuse them at that point without doing further inquiry because that will really cut down the time, yeah.

SCANNELL: That will speed it up.


SCANNELL: And that was a point of contention at one of the hearings. Trump's team initially wanted to poll everyone individually, and they had started to do that in the Trump Organization tax fraud trial a couple of years ago, and midway through changed their decision because it was taking too long. So that seemed to me they were looking to speed it up that way.


The Trump Organization trial took about a week to seat the jury. The E. Jean Carroll, which is federal court, took one day. I think the estimate for this is one week and they're only meeting four days at first week.

COOPER: And has the - Kara, has the president's - former president's legal team given a sense of what their defense is here?

SCANNELL: I think the main defense is attacking the credibility of some of these witnesses, Michael Cohen. He is the one person that can testify about the conversation he had with Donald Trump in the Oval Office about the reimbursement. We're not going to hear from Allen Weisselberg, who was part of that. We will hear from some other Trump Organization executives.

But I think connecting Trump to the falsification is where they're probably going to focus a lot and try to distance Trump from that.

COOPER: It's tough, though, to go after the credibility of Michael Cohen. I mean, there's plenty of reasons to go after the credibility of Michael Cohen, but when Donald Trump had him as his right-hand man for eons ...

HONIG: That'll be exactly the argument, right? He trusted him back then. And it's really important to keep in mind, the crime here is not hush money. It's not a crime to pay hush money. It's falsification. Can they tie Donald Trump to the logging of those payments as legal fees.

ROTH: And specifically the state is arguing that the reason it was illegal was because this was an unlawful, undisclosed campaign donation. Trump is going to argue, no, it was to protect my marriage. That's why I paid her the money. And I imagine that that might be some of the focus of the defense, as well, at trial.

COOPER: Jessica Roth, thanks so much, Elie Honig and Kara Scannell.

Coming up, more breaking news, what's in a new filing with the Supreme Court for Special Counsel Jack Smith, ahead of this month's scheduled arguments to determine whether the former president can claim presidential immunity from federal prosecution. We'll be right back.



COOPER: More breaking news now, a new filing from Special Counsel Jack Smith, who's urging the Supreme Court to reject former President Trump's sweeping immunity claims. At the moment, the federal election subversion case against the former president is effectively on hold. The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments in the case April 25th. CNN's Evan Perez has the latest.

So, Evan -- so Jack Smith criticizes former President Trump's immunity argument as novel and sweeping. What else does he say in this filing?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Anderson. Jack Smith says that the president's -- the former president's claim to have this broad immunity has no basis in the Constitution, and certainly doesn't have any basis in the nation's history and in the principle that no one, including presidents, is above the law. I'll read you just part of what this 60-plus page filing from the Special Counsel says. He says, "The President's constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed does not entail a general right to violate them." He goes on to say, "The Framers never endorsed criminal immunity for a former President, and all Presidents from the founding to the modern era have known that after leaving office they faced potential criminal liability for official acts."

Now, former President Trump, Anderson, has claimed that if this prosecution is allowed to go forward, this is going to impair the presidency forever, including all former presidents. And Jack Smith pushes back against that argument here. I'll read you just another part of this. "The petitioner is charged with crimes that, if proved at trial, reflect an unprecedented assault on the structure of our government. The effective functioning of the presidency does not require that a former President be immune from accountability for these alleged violations of federal criminal law. To the contrary, a bedrock principle of our constitutional order is that no person is above the law, including the president."

Anderson, we also see a lot of pushback here from the idea that this case should be sort of put on hold and sent back to the courts for more hearings. Jack Smith is saying that the courts have already handled a lot of the questions that are at issue here.

COOPER: And just remind people the timeline of this case?

PEREZ: Well, the timeline, you know, the Supreme Court is now hearing this. But if you remember, Jack Smith had asked them to take a look at this and consider this back in December. And so the fact that we are here now, we're going to have the oral arguments on April 25th. That means that we may not hear -- we might not have a final decision from the Supreme Court until July, which is when we expect that their term will end, Anderson.

COOPER: All right, Evan, thanks.

Joining me now to break it down, the Special Counsel's latest filing is former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who served on the House January 6th Committee and former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin.

So, Jeff, I want to read something else from Jack Smith's filing. He wrote, "Federal criminal law applies to the President. Petitioners suggest that unless a criminal statute expressly names the President, the statute does not apply. That radical suggestion, which would free the President from virtually all criminal law, even crimes such as bribery, murder, treason, and sedition, is unfounded." Do you think that's enough for the Supreme Court?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think the broad Trump claim that he is absolutely immune from all criminal charges relating to -- when he was president, that's never going to win. That -- that is not a tenable argument. And I think Jack Smith's argument there makes it pretty clear. The problem for the government, the problem for the Justice Department, Jack Smith here, is this idea that there may be some areas of presidential conduct that are, in fact, off-limit, and the district court has to have a hearing to decide whether this case implicates that. That would delay this trial well into next year. And -- and -- and you could tell in reading the government's brief that they're concerned about that. The issue is a remand, sending it back to the district court for more hearings. That's the real worry here for the prosecution, not that somehow Trump is going to win and be completely immune.

COOPER: And couldn't the Supreme Court just decide instead of it being sent back for a remand?

TOOBIN: Yes, that's what -- that's what Smith is asking them to do. He's saying, look, just let this trial proceed. And that's what the D.C. Circuit, the Intermediate Appeals Court, decided that there don't have to be any more hearings, this case can just go. That's what Smith wants the Supreme Court to do. But he's clearly worried that they are going to ask for more hearings before they let the case go to trial.


COOPER: Congressman, the Special Counsel's team also references a piece of legal logic the most high school history students could probably follow, which is that President Gerald Ford would not have pardoned former President Richard Nixon after Watergate if a prosecution wasn't a possibility. Do you think the Supreme Court will care about that?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I mean, I think, look, I think this thing is going to be, if it doesn't get remanded, it's going to get like dismissed out of hand 9-0 or 8-1. But let's look at the politics of this. So the Gerald Ford example is really important.

Secondly, we fought a revolution against the British because we believe that no person is above the law. We were against having a monarchy rule us that's untouchable and taxation without representation.

The other thing that's interesting here is the same guy, the defendant, Donald Trump, who was saying that he has absolute immunity from everything, is still out there at every speech talking about the laws, that so-called -- you know, the so-called laws that are being broken by Joe Biden, which, of course, there's no evidence of.

But you can't, on the one hand, say that a president has absolute immunity and on the other hand say that the president of the United States, Joe Biden, is violating laws or he needs to be locked up or all this kind of stuff. It's asinine, but that goes to the whole point here. The whole point is not to argue deep legal theory and not to get an answer of deep legal theory. It's to stall and delay so that Donald Trump in his mind hopefully wins and then he can direct the Department of Justice to dismiss this case. And they will because they will be under his direction. COOPER: Jeff, I mean, as part of their argument for immunity, Trump's attorneys, they've been arguing or pointing to the fact that no president has ever faced criminal charges on his official acts. And Jack Smith addresses this, writing, "The absence of any prosecutions of former Presidents until this case does not reflect the understanding that Presidents are immune from criminal liability and instead underscores the unprecedented nature of petitioner's alleged conduct." They're essentially saying there just hasn't been a former president like Trump?

TOOBIN: Exactly. And, you know, the fact that no other president has tried to overturn an election in which he lost doesn't mean that you get a free pass when you actually do try to overturn. I mean, the idea that Donald Trump is different, that this conduct is different from any other president, former president, is, you know, at the heart of this case. And the idea that because Trump has done something so novel and so awful that he gets away with it is something that I don't think the Supreme Court is really going to buy.

COOPER: And Congressman, your former January 6th colleague Liz Cheney said -- or your January 6th committee colleague said recently that it's very important members of the Supreme Court recognize Trump is just trying to run out the clock and not allow him to do that. Do you think the court should take the timeline of the case into account?

KINZINGER: Well, I really think they do. They should, personally, because, look, this is going to be obviously very important for the structure of the nation. The other thing is the president has gotten a lot of consideration that a regular defendant, and not just on the immunity issue, wouldn't get.

So I think it is something they should now -- should they rush the judgment? Not necessarily. You know, we have to make sure this is done fairly, and Donald Trump gets his due course to litigate this in the law.

But you also have to recognize that this is very important stuff for a country that's about to make a very important decision. And it's clear -- and I think, you know, justices have to look at just the reality here. It's clear that what Donald Trump is trying to do is utilize them to buy time simply to get past an election.

And then, frankly, if he wins, it doesn't matter what happens after that when he just simply directs DOJ to drop the case.

COOPER: It is kind of amazing. Clarence Thomas is going to be weighing in on this, whose wife was involved on January 6th.

TOOBIN: Unbelievable.


TOOBIN: Unbelievable. I mean, the idea that someone whose wife was intimately involved --

COOPER: And still a believer that -- that -- TOOBIN: And -- but she's entitled to believe anything she wants, and

she's entitled to exercise her First Amendment rights in any way she wants.

But it creates the impression, when your husband is evaluating some of the same conduct you were -- you as the wife were advocating, it's unbelievable. And just the fact that he hasn't recused himself yet, it just shows how we are, you know, becoming immune, to use a phrase, from this egregious conflict of interest that Thomas has. But, you know, there is no oversight over the Supreme Court. There is no binding ethics code on the Supreme Court. So other than impeachment, there's nothing anyone can do to Clarence Thomas.


COOPER: Jeff Toobin, thanks so much. Congressman Kinzinger, thank you.

Coming up next, why former President Trump's latest statement on abortion is being met with criticism from pro-life groups and members of his own party. That's next.


COOPER: Former President Trump today made what may be his clearest statement yet on where he stands on abortion. Conservatives have called on him to support a federal nationwide ban, but that is not what he did in this video posted online.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint. The states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both. And whatever they decide must be the law of the land. In this case, the law of the state.


Many states will be different. Many will have a different number of weeks or some will have more conservative than others and that's what they will be. At the end of the day, this is all about the will of the people.


COOPER: You know, this follows a brief flirtation with supporting a 15-week federal ban with exceptions carved for incest and rape or when the life of the mother is in danger. Republican candidates around the country have at times struggled to stake out a position on the issue following the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade back in 2022, a ruling that the former president says he's, quote, "proudly responsible for."

The former president's video statement drew condemnation today from his own former vice president, Mike Pence, who called it a slap in the face to the pro-life Americans who voted for their ticket in 2016 and 2020.

Republican South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham suggested that he respectfully disagreed with the former president. And the organization Susan B. Anthony, Pro-Life America released a statement saying, in part, "We're deeply disappointed in President Trump's position."

On social media, Mr. Trump hit back at his critics on the rights, suggesting their hardline stance for a federal ban would only provide a boost for Democrats in the November election. He writes, "People forget fighting Roe v. Wade was right from the beginning all about bringing the issue back to the states, pursuant to the 10th Amendment and states' rights. It wasn't about anything else," end quote.

He went on to say, "The Democrats would never give up on this issue no matter how many weeks the Republicans went, even if they went unlimited abortion."

Now, it's worth pointing out that the former president believes that abortion should be left to the states. It's just the latest in his evolving view on the issue. "Keeping Them Honest" on that, here's our Randi Kaye.


RANDI KAYE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump staked out his first public position on abortion in April of 1989 when he co- sponsored a dinner at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan for the president of a national group that advocates for abortion rights. Then, more than a decade later, in 1999 on NBC's Meet the Press, Trump defended his position, doubling down on it.

TRUMP: I'm very pro-choice. I hate the concept of abortion. I hate it. I hate everything it stands for. I cringe when I listen to people debating the subject. But you still, I just believe in choice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you would not ban it?


KAYE: As the years passed and Trump grew more serious about running for president, his position on abortion flipped. This was him at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference, in 2011.

TRUMP: I'm pro-life.


TRUMP: I'm against gun control.

KAYE: By then, Trump was opposed to abortion rights. In a CNN interview in June 2015, even Trump himself seemed momentarily confused about where he stood on the issue.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I know you're opposed to abortion.

TRUMP: Right, I'm pro-choice. TAPPER: You're pro-choice or pro-life?

TRUMP: I'm pro-life, I'm sorry.

TAPPER: Pro-life.

KAYE: Later in 2015, at a GOP presidential primary debate, Trump was asked why his position on the issue changed since 1999. He explained he'd, quote, "evolved."

TRUMP: And what happened is friends of mine years ago were going to have a child and it was going to be aborted and it wasn't aborted and that child today is a total superstar, a great, great child. And I saw that and I saw other instances.

KAYE: The following year, in 2016 --

TRUMP: I'm going to pro -- I'm pro-life. The judges will be pro-life.

KAYE: As recently as May last year, Trump was still noncommittal about what exactly a national abortion ban might look like if he were elected again.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Let's talk about the deferral abortion band. You did not say yes or no to that. You did not say how many weeks?

TRUMP: It depends what -- it depends what the deal is.

COLLINS: Curios what your idea is on that?

TRUMP: And I'll make the -- I'll make the right decision.

KAYE: In February, Trump signaling he was open to a 15-week federal ban with exceptions for cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother is in danger.

TRUMP: Now people are agreeing on 15 and I'm thinking in terms of that, I'll make that announcement at the appropriate time.

KAYE: That announcement, when it came today, marked Trump's latest attempt to thread this political needle. Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.


COOPER: Joining me now is CNN's Audie Cornish, host of the Assignment podcast. What do you make of his latest positioning?

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's consistent and that he believes in winning elections and he said in this statement, very explicitly, that that's what he thinks needs to be the concern now and has lashed out at the anti-abortion critics who have gone after him for the things that went unsaid in the statement, right? Not saying he'd sign a national ban, for example. So I think that he needs to take the credit for the end of Roe v.

Wade, but he doesn't want to take credit for the fallout, which in some 11 elections since, 11 or 12, Democrats have seen gains because people feel like things have gone too far in their states.


COOPER: I mean, a skeptic would say, well, what's to stop him from changing his views as soon as he gets into office that essentially he says what he needs to at the time in order to get elected?

CORNISH: I also want to broaden the conversation in that it's actually not just about a ban, yes or no. Right now you have anti-abortion activists who are very much seeking to end, let's say, getting abortion pills by mail. If you had a Trump-appointed chief of the FDA, maybe he would be supportive of that, he or she, right?

There's also something called the Comstock laws, which talks about mailing things again, obscene materials. There are all kinds of executive actions and orders that a Trump administration would be very much for because they are things that they did before. Biden comes in, makes changes again, and Trump has promised to roll back all kinds of executive actions.

So there are all kinds of funding and rules that you don't need Congress for, you don't need the Supreme Court for, that he can affect and most likely will.

COOPER: Do you think the pushback from groups, you know, from Lindsey Graham, from anti-abortion groups, do you think that has an impact on Trump?

CORNISH: Yeah, I mean, my not-cynical view is that he cares very much about what they think and that's why he's lashing back. My cynical view is by having these groups basically say, Trump, you won't go as far as us, he gets to turn to the rest of America and say, see, I'm not extreme, I'm not them, I'm not going to push you that far. Even though it's hard to see him saying, oh, the Florida ban at six weeks that's about to take place in May, which is before most women know they're pregnant, shouldn't go into effect, right? We haven't heard him say something like that.

We haven't heard him talk about any of these state laws that have gone into effect and say that's too far. And so I think he -- it helps him to have a conversation that makes him look like he's somewhat near the middle, even though in action we know that he's not.

COOPER: He also seemed to come out supporting IVF, which again is a huge issue and one that a lot on the right do not agree with.

CORNISH: I mean, obviously, I think the minute that ruling happened out of Alabama, you had a lot of Republicans saying, wait a second, what are you guys doing? But the truth is, while they have momentum, anti-abortion activists are going to go after things that follow in line with the overall ideology, which would be life begins at conception. And if that's the case, yes, IVF is vulnerable. Conception itself, contraception is vulnerable. There's a lot of policy that follows this thinking. And what we haven't heard Trump or anyone in his circle say, say from Project 2025, these people who are preparing for a Trump second term, we haven't heard them say that's too far.

COOPER: Right.

CORNISH: Right. So I think that what will help people is if they listen to him speak in totality because it is still very extreme. And I want to say one footnote, which is that even in his speeches, he's continued to repeat the falsehood that Democrats want to do abortions after the baby is born. He said this multiple times and still says it and said it in this statement as well. So there are all of these breadcrumbs, right, that reveal where this is going, even if it's designed to make you feel like it's a gentler, softer, squishier conversation than it is.

COOPER: Audie Cornish, thank you so much.

CORNISH: Thank you.

COOPER: Appreciate it. You might remember, for better or worse, our Harry Enten, a weather camp graduate, I might add, spent last week trying to teach me about the eclipse. I don't know if you saw that, Audie.


COOPER: Now, that the big moment has finally happened, we're going to check in with Harry from his reporting post in Niagara Falls to see how things went up there. I'm very eager to find out.



COOPER: Niagara Falls is obviously a popular destination for tourists. But there's usually not big crowds this time of year. Until it was in the path of totality for today's eclipse.

As you can see, they attracted a lot of people to look at the sky next to Horseshoe Falls. Our Harry Enten, the former weather camp attendee, was there. He joins us now.

Wow, you got a hard hat on. So, Harry, how was it?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: You know, I am sick and tired of everyone saying, ooh, the eclipse was so amazing. You know, we came here to Western New York. I've been here for five days.

We just can't catch a freaking break. The Bills lost to the Chiefs in the divisional round. And today, it was pure clouds. We did not really get a true eclipse. Only magically, at the last moment, it went dark. But we didn't actually get to see the moon cover over the sun.

COOPER: You didn't see anything?

ENTEN: Honestly -- I can't believe. All it is, is you just see it go dark. That's really all that we saw.

COOPER: Was it because it was covered in clouds? Clouds?

ENTEN: It was all clouds. The entire day. It was sunny yesterday. It was sunny Saturday. Just our luck, it was cloudy today.

Derek Van Dam gets to see a gosh darn proposal in front of him. What we get is gosh darn clouds covering the entire event.

COOPER: I got to tell you, Harry, I just went up on my roof and I saw a really pretty cool eclipse in New York City. You should have just stayed here.

ENTEN: Of course. Of course. And you didn't invite me to that roof. Maybe I wouldn't have had to -- I wouldn't have had to come out to western New York to see clouds. I could have been on your roof with you enjoying it.

COOPER: This is just yet another reason why you should never leave New York City.

ENTEN: You know, I think that's exactly right. This is the reason why I should never leave New York City. It was the reason I'd never been to Canada before, although I should say a lot of your viewers think that I should be joining Canada. Maybe you and I can go together to Canada. It can be my first experience north of the border.


COOPER: Canada is one of the greatest countries in the world that the people are so incredibly nice there. So was there one experience, any takeaway from this? We only got a few seconds left.

ENTEN: Yeah, my -- I think my big experience in here is what you just said. Stay in New York unless the two of us are going to Canada, because the truth is anytime I leave the city, only bad things happen.

COOPER: All right, Harry Enten, thank you. I'm sorry you didn't see it, but we'll show you some videos.

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