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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Team Expects To Use SCOTUS Ruling To Get Jan 6 Case Tossed; NY Times Editorial Board Calls On Biden To "Leave The Race"; Says Dropping Out Would Be His "Greatest Public Service"; Presidential Historian On What May Follow Historic Debate; Supreme Court Decision On Trump Immunity Claim Expected Monday. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired June 28, 2024 - 20:00   ET



RYAN GOODMAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Supreme Court often leaves some of the most controversial cases for the final day and then they leave town. And it also doesn't then have an effect on their other parts of their caseload in terms of how their other opinions are received. I do think that there's almost no chance that Donald Trump will be vindicated with a maximalist view of presidential immunity.

And I think when we see the case on Monday, the big question will be what does it also mean for future presidents, is there this blanket immunity or not? I do not think the court is going to give that.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: It's so interesting. It's always great to have you here. Thank you all so much.

GOODMAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. Thank you. And thank you all so much for joining us today. I'm Kate Bolduan. Have a great weekend. AC360 starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on 360, the day after the debate disaster, a very different Joe Biden shows up on the campaign trail as Democrats agonize over his debate performance and The New York Times editorial board says Biden should drop out.

Also tonight, what voters in the host state and swing state Georgia took from the debate and whether it changed how they plan to vote.

Plus, even with no Supreme Court decision yet on Trump's claim of immunity for January 6, how one Supreme Court ruling today will affect some January 6th defendants.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight with this, Time magazine's new cover, which certainly speaks to the panic many Democrats felt waking up this morning. More than 51 million people watched last night's CNN debate in Atlanta, 51 million. And within moments of what they watched, a halting performance by a fragile looking Joe Biden, seemingly unable to counter a torrent of lies by the former president. The calls began from within the Democratic Party to consider the possibility of him bowing out of the race. Today, there were also calls for the exact opposite. Chill the F out, is how Pennsylvania Democratic senator John Fetterman put it today.

And now, at the end of a traumatic night and day since the debate, both the chill out and freak out Democrats have something to point to, because today in North Carolina, even as he acknowledged his debate shortcomings last night, it was a markedly different President Biden on the stump.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, I don't - folks, I don't walk as easy as I used to. I don't speak as smoothly as I used to. I don't debate as well as I used to. But I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth. I know like millions of Americans know, when you get knocked down, you get back up.


COOPER: And he got backing for that from his old boss, former President Obama, who posted, "Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know." Then renewed his endorsement of President Biden. Other Democrats followed suit. With that said, the day ended with this pretty stunning message from The New York Times editorial board, quoting now, "Mr. Biden has been an admirable president. Under his leadership, the nation has prospered and begun to address a range of long-term challenges, and the wounds ripped open by Mr. Trump have begun to heal. But the greatest public service Mr. Biden can now perform is to announce that he will not continue to run for re- election."

The President is now at a private event here in New York. CNN's Arlette Saenz has new reporting from inside the campaign, joins us now. What are you hearing from the campaign?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the Biden campaign is reacting to that news from The New York Times editorial board, really downplaying what The New York Times had to say. The Biden campaign co-chair, Cedric Richmond, tonight saying, quote, the last time Joe Biden lost The New York Times editorial board's endorsement, it turned out pretty well for him. That is a reference to the endorsement process back during the 2020 Democratic primary when The New York Times endorsed Amy Klobuchar and Elizabeth Werner over Joe Biden.

For a long time, the Biden campaign advisors from that period in time held real disdain for The New York Times over that endorsement, pointing to the fact that they had a supporter, a security guard who worked at The New York Times building who had this viral video where she told the President that she loves him so much. That was something that advisors back then were quick to point to as they pushed back on The New York Times.

But it all comes under much different circumstances this time around as there has been private anxiety within Democratic circles about President Biden's debate performance last night with some questioning whether it's going to be a step aside in this 2024 race. Now, the Biden campaign spent part of the day working the phones today to try to ease some of the current concerns of Democratic lawmakers, but also Democratic donors. That will be a key group to watch to see how the money continues to flow into this campaign.

One thing that the Biden campaign tonight I'm told is touting is the fact that the President is about to appear at an LGBTQ Plus fundraiser here in New York City where a source familiar with the matter tells me that he is expected to raise more than $3 million. That is the largest figure for that single event that takes place on an annual basis.

This comes on the heels of the campaign just yesterday saying that they raised $14 million around debate day, which they said was the biggest grassroots fundraising haul of this campaign.


But a lot of eyes will be not just on how the donations continue to pour into the Biden campaign if they continue to pour in, but also if there's any other further public Democratic anxiety that arises after the President's debate performance.

COOPER: Yes. Arlette Saenz, thanks very much.

I want to get some perspective now from our CNN Political Commentators and Contributors, Bakari Sellers, David Urban, Alyssa Farah Griffin, Biden biographer Evan Osnos, and former Republican congressman, Adam Kinzinger, who endorsed President Biden just two days ago.

Evan, first of all, what is your reaction to this call from The New York Times editorial board for the President to drop out?

EVAN OSNOS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I mean, it's significant. It is not the kind of thing that the Times does lightly. It's pretty rare to think of last time that The New York Times has called for a Democratic president to step aside from his re-election attempt. But I also think if you're trying to understand what's going on inside Joe Biden's world right now, inside his mind, I think you've got a pretty clear sense of that today when he got up and he said in this crowd in North Carolina, and he said, when you get knocked down, you get back up.

For him, that is an idea that is way more than just a sort of bromide that you might throw around. This is kind of his central political mantra, and it's been a part of his life for a very long time. The question now is, does he believe it so strongly that he is perhaps not as open to seeing what the other evidence is that's going to come out over the course of the next weeks and days about - days and weeks about what sort of support he has. That balancing those two, I think Anderson is going to be at the core of how he navigates this over the course ...

COOPER: Bakari, you've been talking to Democrats all day. What are you hearing? BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think we all disagree with The New York Times. We disagree somewhat with Evan as well. We are where we are. I mean, we have two choices. We either have - either you choose Donald Trump, who is somewhat of a sociopath, who led us down a path of financial ruin and destruction after inheriting a great economy, who said that he could touch women the way he wanted to touch them, who put three Supreme Court justices on the United States Supreme Court who overturned Roe. I mean, you can continue to go down that path if you want to or you can choose Joe Biden.

There aren't many choices left and I ...

COOPER: So the talk last night from Democrats said ...

SELLERS: It's not only - it's irresponsible, it's impractical, it's politically impossible. I mean, Joe Biden is already on ballots around the country. You're not going to go and replace Joe Biden. People who are talking about Josh Shapiro or Wes Moore or Gretchen or Gavin, I love them all. They are fascinating surrogates. The problem they really have, though, is that you know the $220 million that the Biden campaign has, that only transfers to Kamala Harris.

So the people who are actually having this discussion, who don't even want to look at Kamala Harris, they are actually feeding the frenzy, but they're being factually inaccurate. And I would also say, again, I said this with David earlier today, we literally have three choices as Democrats. Either you vote for Donald Trump, you vote for Joe Biden or you stay on the couch.

And last night, we got throttled. It wasn't a good debate. We got beat in the pregame. We got beat in the debate. We got beat in the postgame. The people around Donald Trump - excuse me, around Joe Biden need to be held accountable. I'm talking about Jen O'Malley Dillon, I'm talking about Anita Dunn, I'm talking Ron Klain. They all need to be held accountable or to account.

But the fact is, he's our horse. And what do you want from democracy? That is the question that has to be asked.

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think he - you're practically right. You are right that it would be unprecedented, incredibly challenging, incredibly risky to make a change. But what falls so flat for me is you and I agree that Donald Trump is a threat to democracy. He's a threat to our justice system, to the American way of life. And I strongly believe in a few weeks we are going to see him in double digits ahead in battlegrounds. There is not a way to turn around what 50 million people saw last night.

And I heard from people all over the world who stayed up till the wee hours of the morning in The Hague, Munich, London texting me because they were scared because of the impacts on the war in Ukraine. The stakes are too high to do the party politics and the congeniality.

SELLERS: This isn't party politics and I apologize for interrupting you. But this is the fact that Donald Trump, when he said you can have a woman by her vagina, did not get out the race. Donald Trump, when he actually castigated - when he castigated John McCain, did not get out the race. When he let ...

GRIFFIN: Yes, but replicating Donald Trump is not what Joe Biden should be doing.

SELLERS: But we're not trying to replicate Donald Trump. What we are saying is that it's June. And I am saying that my candidate got his behind kicked. But what I'm also saying is that Joe Biden, on his worst day, is a better candidate than Donald Trump.

GRIFFIN: I don't know if ...

DAVID URBAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Bakari is a warrior for his team, okay? And I admire that. He's - you got to do what he's got to do. He's girding his loins and he's getting in a fight for - but for, you know, for President Obama to describe Joe Biden as having a bad night is like saying my hair is thinning, okay? It's just not factually - it's not factually based in anything.

Bakari is, you know, Bakari gets it. He's the ...

SELLERS: I thought I'd figure out how to evaluate that.


URBAN: ... exactly. Bakari gets it. He's - they got their ass handed to him and you - 51 million people? You know the - you know what the election was decided by in these states, right? Twenty-seven thousand in Michigan, 40,000 in Pennsylvania. We're talking about razor-thin margin of people that we ...

SELLERS: But let me - can I just ask a question?

URBAN: ... we need to flip those numbers, right?

SELLERS: Of amazing people like you and Alyssa and Evan and everyone else who's joining us remotely as well, if you are a woman who values reproductive rights, after watching that debate last night, are you going to vote for Donald Trump than Joe Biden?

GRIFFIN: No, but this is the false ...

SELLERS: It's not a but, it's a yes or no ...

GRIFFIN: ... but no, it's the false binary you're setting up. He's at this LGBTQ event right now. I'm working with center-right groups that are afraid of Obergefell falling if you have Donald Trump back in the White House ...

SELLERS: Correct.

GRIFFIN: ... (INAUDIBLE) Supreme Court appointments.

SELLERS: Two of them.

GRIFFIN: Running Joe Biden is ensuring Donald Trump wins.

SELLERS: How does that ensure? Because every down ballot - every ...

GRIFFIN: That performance is not worthy of the presidency. I don't think he's - I'm worried he's not capable of seven months of (INAUDIBLE) ...

COOPER: Well, let me bring Congressman Kinzinger. You just endorsed President Biden the day before the debate.

URBAN: How's that going for you?

COOPER: I'm just wondering, any regrets about that or, I mean, how do you see this? You're a Republican.

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. And you know what, look, David - no, David, listen, man, you know what I'm proud of? I'm proud that I'm not standing here, sitting on a stage, supporting a man who is a habitual liar, who couldn't tell the truth, who pretended like the January 6th Committee deleted all evidence and it's on the frickin' Internet.

He has a defense team that can also come up with whatever evidence they want. So it was a terrible night. The Biden campaign and Democrats gained nothing by pretending like it was anything but a terrible night. And Democrats have to decide what is the best way to defend democracy. But the thing I am so proud of not having to do is to defend a man who could not tell the truth last night (INAUDIBLE) ...

URBAN: But do you wish you didn't endorse him? Do you wish it's somebody else?

KINZINGER: No. No. I don't wish I didn't endorse him. I'm proud of standing against the habitual liar who lies about everything from January 6th to his golf game, that he wins club championships that he's never lost. That makes me proud. Democrats have a lot of thinking to do in terms of how to right this ship. But you have to prosecute the case against Donald Trump.

And I'll tell you, one of my disappointments is it should have been Joe Biden that was crushing Donald Trump's lies last night, and he wasn't able to do that.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, Evan, if it comes to it, is there, I mean, Bakari's painting a - what I think sounds like a very realistic sense of the Democratic Party right now. Is there someone in President Biden's inner circle who he would listen to if they said it's time to step aside? I mean, we talked about this last night. I think David Axelrod said maybe the First Lady would be the only person, and it certainly doesn't seem like, you know, that's going to happen.

OSNOS: You know, the First Lady is, in the end, the final voice in the room on a question like that. There are others with influence. His sister Valerie is very important to him. He's - she was the first campaign manager of his very first campaign back in '72. She's been an unofficial advisor ever since. There are others who also have his ear, people like Ted Kaufman, who, of course, has been with him for decades. In some ways, his communication with them is almost nonverbal. He can read from them if it's a moment to go ahead or a moment to pull back.

But I think for the moment, there is no sign. I think you saw this very clearly in his performance in North Carolina, which was a very strong performance. There is no sense that they believe that their moment has arrived to get out. If anything, they are doubling down, and I think that's the moment we're in on this day.

COOPER: Bakari, let me ask you. The thing I don't understand about last night is, given all the Biden team was putting out about the preparations, you know, the mock debates, things like a - you know, everybody's watched the Nixon-Kennedy debate, and everybody knows about, like, the cutaway shot and a reaction shot, and you know you're going to be on camera watching a candidate, and even the cutaway shots, I mean, that they - nobody seemed to have prepared or thought about even the way the president looked at when he wasn't speaking.


COOPER: I mean, that's a basic thing. That's even not a talking point.

SELLERS: (INAUDIBLE) and the reason that I'm calling out by name the people who are closest to him is that they BS'd us all, right? Even the people who come on TV. Like, this is for viewers who are watching this, this is not something - debates don't happen in isolation. Like they don't happen in vacuums. We talk to people before these debates happen. We try to lay out what we feel will happen. We get a sense of what will happen, and the communication from the campaign in regards to what he was going through or what it may look like or where the bar should be, was non-existent. They failed.

COOPER: I will also say that, you know, I interviewed Vice President Harris afterward. She gave the best defense of President Biden that I have heard and the most spirited ...

URBAN: Right.

COOPER: ... like presentation.


Why isn't she - why aren't they putting her out a lot?

SELLERS: Well, I mean, I think - you know, today her schedule was insane. Today it was L.A. to Vegas to Salt Lake City to ...

COOPER: Because she - last night, she was a revelation.

SELLERS: ... correct, back to Los Angeles. And so, I always tell people, the two most talented people in our party, whether - if you really want to be objective, are Pete Buttigieg and Kamala Harris, and we also have Gretchen Whitmer and Wes Moore, and Raphael Warnock, and they're kind of - and Josh Shapiro - they're kind of on the next tier. Last night, we failed. And if anybody can look in the mirror and simply say that we won this debate, we did not or won the day, we did not. And we did not uphold from the donor class or the grassroots or the grass tops, we did not give them anything to be proud of last night.

GRIFFIN: It felt more significant than losing a debate, if I'm being honest. I stood up last night and re-watched Mondale-Reagan when Reagan got smoked, and this was a different universe than this. I don't know a modern, historic example of a president imploding to that degree, being unable to litigate their case and their policies.

SELLERS: But that's not my point, though, and that's what I want people to understand. That is literally not my point. My point is, right now, you have two choices or three choices. So either you vote for ...

GRIFFIN: Unless Democrats make a change ...

SELLERS: ... but you cannot make ...

GRIFFIN: ... or the President make the change.

SELLERS: ... but you literally - you cannot ...

URBAN: The change would be Kamala Harris. You get Kamala Harris.

SELLERS: ... is that you - and you literally - you cannot make a change. That is - that's why when we have special packages or we're going to things about how changes can happen, that is a political non- reality ...

GRIFFIN: On the money, you're right, but ...

COOPER: We have to ...

SELLERS: That's $220 million.

COOPER: ... we've got to take a quick break.

Also ahead, we're going to talk to Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin on how candidates, especially incumbents, handle what happened to this incumbent last night. More ahead.



COOPER: Of all the Democratic voices weighing in today on last night's debate performance, few carry more weight with Joe Biden and South Carolina congressman James Clyburn. He was instrumental, of course, in helping the president secure the Democratic nomination in 2020. He reiterated his support for him today while also saying this.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): That was strike one. It was a poor performance.


COOPER: Back now with the panel.

Congressman Kinzinger, are you surprised that prominent Democrats, for the most part, are sticking with the president? I mean, you know, there was a lot of freak out last night, people woke up, and, I mean, is this just sort of the reality of the situation prevailing?

KINZINGER: Yes. I mean, I think it is. It's, you know, look - and again, there's real benefit to the Democrats to admit that last night was awful, because pretending like it wasn't people see right through that. So any spin shouldn't be, you know, actually it was really good.

Now, it point out that Donald Trump is a lying liar, but I guess this is what I'd expect. Because ultimately, yes, if you change candidates, it is possible by the way, so saying it's not realistic or not possible is just not true. But you can imagine the division the Democrats would go under in that process of replacing.

So I think, look - and again, today, this rally that Joe Biden did could assuage some fears. The problem is 50 some million people weren't watching that rally. So I think keeping Joe Biden out there, keeping him energetic is the best way to right this ship if they decide to stick with him in the long run, which looks like they will.

URBAN: And I'll just say, you know, to kind of push back on the rally, the great performance of the rally, he's given a script on the plane down right to Raleigh. He reads it. They put in a teleprompter. He reads it in front of a crowd.

I mean, look, it's great performative art, right? It's great - he looks great on the, you know, they can show him clips everywhere. But it's not the same as what we saw last night. It's not a debate.

SELLERS: No, it's the exact same thing. No, no, no ...

URBAN: Oh, no, no, no.

SELLERS: ... the fact is ...

URBAN: That was not it. Bakari, come on.

SELLERS: No, no, no, that's not - that - no, no, no, let me be extremely clear and intentional with my language. The reason it's the exact same thing is because we judge last night based upon performance. We didn't judge it based upon substance. And what the President did today, the current president did today was go ...

URBAN: Read up a teleprompter.

SELLERS: ... but he went out and performed. He performed well. You know what he did? He showed energy. He showed the fact that he could read a crowd.

GRIFFIN: You don't get teleprompters in head of state meetings.

URBAN: Yes, that's not ...

GRIFFIN: You don't get them at the 3 AM phone call like - the concern that I have is that ...

SELLERS: But on a - but in a head of state meeting, you have notes, you have staff. In a head of state meeting, you know, there ...

GRIFFIN: I've been on calls with the NSC that it is unscripted. They are high level. They are very, you know ...


GRIFFIN: ... it go a lot of different ways. You've got to - you need somebody who feels sharp.

SELLERS: But again, let me ask you a question. Let me ask a simple question. It comes back to this, on an NSC meeting where you're talking about Russia and Ukraine. Do you want Donald Trump, Alyssa ...


SELLERS: No, no, no, let me ask a question. Do you want Donald Trump or Joe Biden?

GRIFFIN: Well, no, and that's why I support the people other than Donald Trump.

SELLERS: I mean, that's the - well, that's what American - that's the voter.

GRIFFIN: Who know that there is a reality where they could be change and there is a reason that some of the most prominent liberal leaning outlets are calling for a change because the stakes are high and it is worth considering.

COOPER: There's also the flip side, it's not, you know, people decide to vote for Trump over Biden who like Biden, but just sitting out. People just sort of (INAUDIBLE) ...

SELLERS: Well, I mean, I told you that.

GRIFFIN: Who under 30 is going to vote for that? I said that today in a liberal Manhattan audience and got applause.

SELLERS: Well, I - let me just say something. I spoke to ...

URBAN: Or the couch, the couch wins.

SELLERS: ... I - the couch - I've been a big ...

GRIFFIN: The couch wins, yes, no one's (INAUDIBLE) ...

SELLERS: ... the couch is one of the most amazing candidates in the history of American politics. It runs no ads and it's really successful. And I've actually spoken with people today. I was on an airplane coming up here today and there was a young lady beside me and she said, look, I watched the debate last night. It didn't do it for me. I must sit this one out.

The follow up to it was, I wish we could just run on cruise control for the next four years and come back and vote in 2028. So that is a real thing that the Biden campaign has to deal with.

COOPER: Yes. Evan, I mean, is this the - you've written a biography of President Biden, you've interviewed him for many years, is this the most difficult political position he's ever been in? I mean, it must be.

OSNOS: I think it is. Look, he's had moments in 1987. For instance, he had a plagiarism scandal. Of course, people remember that drove him out of a presidential race. But today the stakes are really incomparable. He is running against a man who, of course, he has accurately described as a threat to democracy. He's sort of been one of our primary exponents for just explaining why it is that Donald Trump is such a threat. And now it is right on his shoulders, this question of what is the way to defend the system?

I think if you go inside his mind for the moment, he is at a moment - it's a crucible moment. It's a time when he is deciding ultimately, what is it that my legacy will be in this country and this is going to play out, I think, over the course of the next few weeks.


And he may well be the nominee. But if he is, that means he has to make a case that his vision for the country is so much more powerful than the reasons people are hesitating about his performance.

COOPER: You know ...

URBAN: And remember, we went into this with Biden behind. He had to prove that he was ready, that he was up for things. He had to change people's mind.

John King said last night before we started, Joe Biden needs to bend steel tonight, right? He didn't bend steel. He didn't bend aluminum last night, right? He didn't change anybody's mind about whether he is vigorous (INAUDIBLE) ...

COOPER: The - when you watch it again, as I did part of today ...

GRIFFIN: I'm so sorry.

COOPER: Well, I - one of the things that's so disappointing about it is that the former president was lying constantly ...

SELLERS: The entire time.

COOPER: ... and also not answering, you know, has no answer for what he's going to do about helping people get child care.

SELLERS: No, no, no, the most amazing ...

URBAN: But Dana and Jake gave the opportunity to rebut.


URBAN: Biden didn't do anything.

COOPER: I know that's ...


SELLERS: But Americans - but the American public is not stupid. When you ask a question about ...

URBAN: I mean, Joe Biden looks stupid.

SELLERS: ... when you ask a question about climate change and your response is that there ...

COOPER: I'm just saying as a debate opportunity, it was a prime opportunity.

SELLERS: Correct. But you saw last night. Tell me what you want to do about climate change. Well, there a hundred migrants that are raiding the Capitol right now. I mean, that was the response. That was the tone and tenor. Joe Biden has to do a better job and he has to get out there and that will happen.

COOPER: Everyone, thank you.

Coming up, we're going to hear from the people whose opinions on Joe Biden's age and President Trump's character ultimately matters, namely the voters. Our Gary Tuchman introduced you to a cross section in Georgia who watched last night's debate, even those who say they're strong supporters of President Biden said that watching was difficult.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was concerned, very, very concerned about Biden's real ability to carry this nation forward just from a physical perspective.

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (off camera): Do you feel the same way?





ANDERSON COPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Before the New York Times editorial board called for President Biden to drop out, one of his advisers told CNN today that not only would he not exit the race, quote, "There's nothing that voters have indicated that they agree with that."

A reminder that it's what voters who will ultimately decide whether Biden's age or Trump's lies and character issues are the most important factors in the race.

Last night and today, our Gary Tuchman spent time speaking with voters in the battleground state of Georgia who watched the debate.


TUCHMAN (voice-over): We talked with Georgia voters at a sports pub in Atlanta immediately after the debate was over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm only 25 and I see -- well, they're both old and they're both either avoiding questions or they're both like don't know what the hell they're answering.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And we talked with Georgia voters on the recreational Beltline that surrounds Atlanta after everyone had the night to think about the debate.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't necessarily feel competent in either candidate's ability to run a country.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): We had conversations with dozens of Georgians, many of them very uninspired.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hate that it's between these two guys because I don't like one candidate more than the other.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like a younger candidate on both parties.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The headline old man versus conman really resonated with me.

TUCHMAN: Before the debate, were you leaning towards Biden, Trump or undecided?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Probably leaning towards Biden.

TUCHMAN: After this debate, how do you feel?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without a home.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Many who voted for Joe Biden in 2020 and support him currently are frankly depressed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My genuine hope is that perhaps somebody else will step up for that nomination.

TUCHMAN: On the democratics?


TUCHMAN (voice-over): These two women say they are strong Biden supporters, but watching the debate was difficult. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was concerned, very, very concerned about Biden's real ability to carry this nation forward just from a physical perspectives.

TUCHMAN: Do you feel the same way?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I care about where our country is going to be rather than who delivered the most stellar debate on stage. And I care about who tells the truth. It's going to keep me safe. Who's actually going to do things for the country. I don't feel like that's Trump.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Speaking of former President Donald Trump, many Georgians leaning towards voting for him. Tell us that President Biden's debate performance was not at all surprising to them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought he sounded unsure rather confused and not well prepared. I'm sorry to say.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think that they -- Biden, you know, looked sad. Trump was Trump.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): Here in the Beltline and back at the Wicked Wolf's sports pub, voters we talked to who had already decided to vote for President Biden still plan to. And voters who support Donald Trump aren't planning to abandon him at the ballot box either. But we did find a few undecideds who may be on the verge of a decision.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought that Trump, in this debate, and overall, I think he's more reasonable, and more cogent, and more, yes, thoughtful, than what he was four years ago. I'm undecided, but I'm thinking voting for Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I was pretty undecided.

TUCHMAN: And what are you thinking now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm leaning more towards Biden.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): And we also found some people who feel like this woman.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think that we could all benefit as a country from someone other than the two options that we have today. One is a convicted felon and the other was unable to coherently explain his stance yesterday.

TUCHMAN: So who do you vote for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not sure if I will vote because of it.


TUCHMAN (on-camera): Now Anderson, we did talk to three people who say they will definitely vote for Robert F. Kennedy Jr. One of those men says he voted for Trump four years ago. One of them says Joe Biden four years ago. One of them didn't want to say. But what they all have in common is all of them say they were not inspired by what they heard at the debate. Anderson?

COOPER: Gary Tuchman, thanks so much.

New York Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman joins us now.


Congressman, appreciate you being with us. So, I mean, some people within your party are wondering if President Biden should step aside. Bakari Sellers was on earlier tonight just saying that's not going to happen and just -- it just impossible. The New York Times editorial board, as you know, has called for him to do so. What do you think?

REP. DAN GOLDMAN (D-NY): Look, I think everyone needs to calm down a little bit. It was a bad night. There was a poor performance, but one night does not make a campaign and it does not erase three and a half years of stellar leadership that has brought our country back to the forefront on a global stage, has protected democracy around the world and here at home, and has benefited the vast majority of Americans, lower class, middle class Americans through some historic, historic legislation.

And when you compare what you saw from Joe Biden last night to what you saw from Donald Trump, you realize that this is a choice ultimately in November of someone who is a decent, honest man of integrity who has served his country his entire life against a felon who is an inveterate liar and only cares about himself.

And so, yes, the New York Times is correct. The stakes are very high. But let's not go with this double standard where we just normalize Donald Trump's absurd behavior and absolute outrageous lies of denying January 6th, his refusal to accept the results of the election, his pride at overturning Roe v. Wade and taking reproductive freedom away.

That is what the choice is. That's who we're dealing with here. And ultimately, it's convenient for the New York Times to say, oh, Joe Biden should step down. Why aren't they saying that Donald Trump should step down? They're just always apologizing and normalizing for Donald Trump.

And, frankly, Anderson, that's what happened last night on the debate stage. Nobody fact-checked Donald Trump when he was blatantly lying over and over and over again.

COOPER: Well, does it concern you that -- I mean, the president of the United States did not do that or was not able to do that in real time -- I mean, in a debate against his opponent?

GOLDMAN: No, it doesn't concern me. I mean, look at the state of the union, right? It was the exact opposite. Look at how he was today on the campaign trail in North Carolina. He had an off night. He had an off night. People have an off night and he's older than, than most. For sure, you're going to have some off nights. But let's remember the job of the president is not to respond instantaneously in a debate. You are governing the country. You are making critical, important decisions, getting information from the staff that you hire, the administration that you build, and you're using all of that information to make decisions and to pass legislation and to defend our democracy.

And that is what Joe Biden has done so well, surrounding himself with outstanding staff members. 40 of 44 of Donald Trump's senior staff members will not endorse him. They worked for him and they refused to endorse him. And what he will hire will be political hacks, extremists who will bring our country down. And that's the critical difference here.

COOPER: Do you think there should be another -- I mean, there is another debate that they have both agreed to do. Do you -- would you want that to take place?

GOLDMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think Joe Biden had an off night. It was a poor performance. There's no question about it. And no one is saying anything different. But let's have another debate. Let's see what happens on a different night. Let's see whether, you know, Donald Trump continues to lie over and over, to deny his role in January six, to proudly say that he increased the deficit more than any other president by reducing taxes on the super wealthy.

He is blatantly mischaracterizing the disaster that was his presidency, and that got a lot of attention and didn't get a lot of pushback. But let's have another debate where actually the moderators will push back on Donald Trump's lies. He intimidated your network, unfortunately, and there was no pushback.

He was given free reign to just lie as much as he wants, and that's not helpful to the American public either.

COOPER: Yes. I don't know about the intimidation part, but I wasn't part of the discussions on any of this. But, obviously, in a debate, it is the primary job of the opponent to, you know, have a direct counter and rebuttal to what somebody else is saying, and clearly, the president was not able to do that. We will see obviously in another debate if that would change.

Congressman Goldman, I appreciate your time. Thank you.

COOPER: Just ahead --

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: -- after an unprecedented 24 hours, Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin joins us to put this in perspective.



COOPER: This was already an unprecedented campaign, a rematch of the current and former president before last night's poor debate performance by President Biden and the avalanche of lies told by the former president. Followed by tonight's breaking news in the New York Times, editorial board has called for Mr. Biden to drop out because of how he did last night.

We wanted to get some perspective on all of this now from presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize winning author, Doris Kearns Goodwin. Her latest book, the remarkable read, "An Unfinished Love Story: A Personal History of the 1960s."

Doris, it's great to have you on. Have other politicians been able to come back from moments like last night? I mean, famously, the Nixon- Kennedy debates, you know, where people watched it, Nixon looked terrible. It seems, you know, people rated Kennedy as having won by, you know, by comparison, I mean, has there ever been anything like this?


DORIS KEARNS GOODWIN, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, I think we've seen the curse of presidential incumbents and that may be one way to look at this. I mean, clearly, when you look at what happened to Reagan and Mondale in that first debate, Reagan himself confessed that he had flopped, and the RNC chairman said that it was a dismal performance. That he had blown it.

And yet somehow they were able to realize that he was filled with too many facts, too many things, a sort of an echo of Biden in a way. And then the second debate, he came out roaring, not only with that great comment, I won't make age an issue and I won't exploit the, you know, the inexperience and youth of my, of my opponent. But it was rather Reagan became Reagan. He just relaxed and did what he did well.

At the same time, we saw that when President Obama debated that first time with Mondale, he looked like he wasn't interested in it. He seemed like he was rusty He didn't seem to really throw himself into it and it got a very bad performance and he realized that. He acknowledged it and was able to come back.

I think this looms a little larger, however, I mean because age was the main thing that everybody was worried about and that was what seemed to show. He acknowledged today and I think it's a good thing that he acknowledged that he wasn't the same debater that he had been. He may not have walked as well as he did before.

And that -- but he was still, he would claim, somebody who could tell the truth to us, et cetera, et cetera. But then the campaign put out a comment that said, we're not changing our strategy. I think they have to change their strategy. He's going to have to get out there more. He's going to have to have press conferences.

He's going to have to have interviews that are unscripted. If it's true that what he does inside the White House, which people who know him say he seems very competent and up to the job, he's going to have to prove that now over again, starting from a difficult position to the country at large, because the voters are going to make this decision.

We'll see what happens in the polls in the weeks to come, but it's still going to be an uphill challenge, I think, for him from here on.

COOPER: I mean, can you think of a time when -- I mean, not only the calls within the Democratic Party for him to step down at this stage, but the New York Times editorial board calling for him to step aside.

GOODWIN: You know what's so interesting to me about the New York Times editorial board today is that there was a New York Times editorial board decision in 1912, that's the first primary we ever had. It was between Taft and Teddy Roosevelt. And the New York Times wrote that it was so terrible, it was so fierce.

Teddy Roosevelt was calling Taft a pinhead, and Taft was saying he'll be a dictator, that it was embarrassing and it should bring a blush of shame on every cheek. And he said if this is the first primary system, we hope it's the last.


GOODWIN: It's just not a rational procedure. It's a mob. So that was one of their first interventions. And now here they're saying that we should -- the voters have already said that Biden should be it by the primary system. But they're saying he has to withdraw somehow and that will allow other people to be -- able to be part of the decision who weren't voted necessarily in the primaries. So they've had an interesting impact from the beginning to the end.

COOPER: You've worked in the White House. You worked with closely with LBJ. What is it like in that bubble, I mean, to be in that kind of circle of the president? Because, you know, it's very easy for people on the outside to say, well, somebody should, you know, the party should go to him.

People coming up to me on the street today saying like, should the party go to him and ask him to step down? I'm like, what do you mean the party? Like, how does it -- what's it like inside the White House?

GOODWIN: I think it's a decision that really has to be made by the president and the people around him. When I think back to what Lyndon Johnson was feeling in March of 68, he had already entered the New Hampshire primary and he came out almost behind what was Senator McCarthy was able to do.

There were pressures on him knowing that Robert Kennedy was coming into the race. That maybe he would have a really tough time. It would disunite the country. The war in Vietnam would not be settled. And he talked about it with his wife, Lady Bird, with his closest friends, but not very many people outside. And he made the decision to shock the country by deciding on March 31st that he would withdraw from the race.

Amazingly, and this would be true I suspect for Biden as well, acclamation followed. I mean, every editorial said he had done something for the country rather than himself, that it was the most unselfish decision and would assure his legacy. And for a period of time, it looked like that had done so. His approval rating had been 57 percent disapproval.

It went up to 57 percent approval after what he had done. But it would all depend if Biden were to do this and withdraw from the race. Whether or not that meant that whoever the candidate was could defeat Trump, because his belief is that he's the one who can defeat Trump. And that was the role of the dice he played in making this debate early, hoping that it would ensure people about age, knowing that he feels he's the only one who could beat Trump.

If that's not true, and somebody else could beat him, then Biden's legacy would still be assured. So it's very complicated right now, historically, and in this very day and age.


You know, one of the things that people who don't want Biden to drop out or don't think he should point out, and we've had guests on the program tonight saying this, is that, you know, a president makes decisions with a lot of other people around them and a lot of input and that it is the people that they put in place as much as it is at times the president. Do you -- is that -- do you think that's true?

GOODWIN: I think that's absolutely true. I mean, in a way we think about it, how many times does the president, when he's president have to debate? It's not necessarily the most important. measure of the kind of president he's likely to be. I mean, I've argued for 50 years, I've been studying these presidents for so long, maybe even longer than that.

It seems sometimes that the most important thing we should be looking at is temperament, its character. It somehow gets lost in the way we evaluate. Debates and who makes a gaffe and who's raised the most money and who looks better and who looks weak. I mean, what -- whether this person has humility, whether this person has empathy, whether they can acknowledge errors, what kind of a team just to go to your question, what kind of a team are they likely to create?

Are there people that can argue with them? Do they have strong minded people? Do they have an accountability for their word? Do they have an ambition that goes for something larger than themselves? These are the qualities that have made up our great leaders.

And somehow we have to be able to sort those through as we look at the two people that are going to be running for president, that's even more important than whether they do something in a debate, except it shows in a debate, standing up to pressure, it shows whether you're prepared correctly. And I think that's going to have to be proved over and over again right now.

COOPER: But it is such an important point that you're making that it's, in the end, the character of the person and the, you know, are they a good person, are they somebody who is, you know, a decent human being, and what their motivations are. That, in the end, is important. GOODWIN: And, you know, it's really interesting. In 1892, character was on the ballot when Cleveland ran for office and it was discovered that he had child had been wedded out of wedlock. And so it was considered that he was privately corrupt in that sense. But his opponent, James Blaine, had written a letter to somebody promising him a business deal and said, burn this letter, burn.

And then it was James G. Blaine, the continental liar from the state of Maine. The country chose the person who may have been worried about private morality rather than the public person who was going to be corrupt. And so private character and public character are maybe two different things sometimes, but they meld together.

COOPER: Fascinating. Doris Kearns Goodwin, always wonderful to have you. Thank you.

Up next, a major decision by the Supreme Court affecting regulations, governing clean air, and water, plus workplace safety. Also, a new decision that may limit the time served by some of the people convicted in the January 6th riots.



COOPER: Today, the Supreme Court's conservative majority upended decades of precedent underpinning clean air and water and other federal regulations by overturning what had been known as the Chevron defense that essentially said when a law is ambiguous, court should give leeway to federal agencies charged with carrying out that law.

Today's opinion could make it easier for opponents of federal regulations to challenge them in court. Separately, a slightly different 6-3 majority narrowly -- narrowed the usage of an obstruction law by federal prosecutors to potentially add years to the sentences of January 6th rioters. Also on Monday, the last day of Supreme Court decisions were expecting one on the former president's immunity claims.

I want to get some legal perspective now from former federal prosecutor Jessica Roth. So what does this obstruction ruling mean for Special Counsel Jack Smith's case against the president -- former president?

JESSICA ROTH, PROFESSOR: Well, it's not -- yes, it's not the ruling I think that the government was looking for that Jack Smith necessarily would have wanted, but I don't think it's actually that bad for Jack Smith thinking about his case against the former president that has two charges, two out of the four charges in that indictment based on this obstruction of justice statute that the Supreme Court gave a narrower reading to than the Department of Justice wanted.

The reason why it won't have that much of an impact on the case brought by the Special Counsel against Trump is because the reading that the Supreme Court gave today is that the statute can only be used against people who act in a way that has an effect on evidence used in an official proceeding.

It doesn't apply to, for example, just storming the Capitol in a way that interferes with the counting or the process itself, as opposed to something impairing evidence used or some kind of object used in that proceeding. And the way that the special counsel has framed the charges against Trump, there actually is an object or evidence used in the official proceeding at issue, which is namely the slates of electors.

And the Supreme Court in language, even in the majority opinion takes pains to say that one could violate this statute by creating false evidence, not only by destroying other evidence. And so that's, I think, the way in which the charges against Trump are safe.

COOPER: Some were surprised that Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Took part in the dissent.

ROTH: Yes, I thought that was surprising and I thought she wrote a really good persuasive dissenting opinion that frankly I think is the better reading of the statute. She said the statutory text is clear. The best reading of the statutory text is that it applies to conduct that interferes with and obstructs an official proceeding even what is not connected to evidence or other objects.

I do think, I agree with her, that that is the best reading of the statute. I don't think the majority reading is unreasonable, but I thought that it was quite interesting that Barrett joined the dissent here.

COOPER: So Monday now, we know for sure the Supreme Court is going to release their ruling on the immunity, whether or not the president is immune from prosecution.

ROTH: Right, we know that because today the Supreme Court announced that Monday would be the last day of opinions to be delivered by the court for the term. That immunity decision is one of the last ones that's pending. And so, depending on how the court rules on whether or not the president is entitled to immunity from criminal prosecution, we could see the case go forward immediately.

If the court were to rule that Trump is not immune from the charges in this case, we could see the court -- the case stop entirely if the court rules that he is entitled to immunity from prosecution. Or we could see something in between if the court essentially says there's such a thing as immunity from criminal prosecution for former presidents, here's the standard, and then sends it back to the lower courts to apply that standard to the conduct here.

If that happens, there has to be additional fact finding by the lower court, and then that decision could go up on appeal to the D.C. Circuit and again, potentially to the U.S. Supreme Court.

COOPER: Do you think the latter is the most likely scenario?

ROTH: I don't know. I think that there is -- there's a good chance that that's what the outcome is, but we really don't know. COOPER: All right. Jessica Roth, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

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