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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Hunter Biden Faces Nine Criminal Charges In Federal Tax Case; Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) Blasts GOP For Censure Over Pulling Fire Alarm; Pressure Mounts On University Presidents Over Anti-Semitism; CNN's Abby Phillip Discusses Ukraine Aid, Border Policy And Healthcare With Lawmakers. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 07, 2023 - 22:00   ET




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I'm going to be there watching as well. Thank you so much for joining me tonight. We'll be back tomorrow night.

CNN NEWSNIGHT with Abby Phillips starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Sex clubs, a rented Lamborghini, plane tickets for an exotic dancer, all things Hunter Biden allegedly spent money on instead of paying his taxes. That's tonight on NEWSNIGHT.

Good evening, I'm Abby Phillip in Washington.

Breaking tonight, indicted again, the president's Justice Department charges the president's son with tax crimes. David Weiss accuses Hunter Biden of cheating the government out of $1.4 million that he owed.

The Justice Department says that the president's son faces a maximum of 17 years in prison on nine felony counts, three counts, tax evasion, assessment, three counts, a failure to file and pay taxes, and three counts filing a fraudulent tax return.

Now, minutes ago, Hunter Biden's attorney responded to the special counsel's charges saying that if Hunter's last name was anything other than Biden, the charges in Delaware and now California would not have been brought.

Let's get right over to CNN's Evan Perez. Evan, you broke the story that this was coming down the pipe. Walk us through what this very lengthy indictment says about where all of this money went.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Abby, what prosecutors do over the course of 56 pages is that they detail what they say was an extravagant lifestyle. Hunter Biden was using a company that he owned and making deductions for some of the expenses that he was using on his personal life.

A lot of it is obviously a very messy personal life that he has detailed during the time that he said he was addicted to drugs. He was paying for escorts. He was paying for luxury clothing. He was paying for, you pointed out, that Lamborghini. He had used or he had claimed a deduction for a $10,000 membership to a sex club. He also, according to prosecutors, spent $188,000, more than $188,000 on adult entertainment. There was money that he was paying for women that he was romantically involved with, including one woman who was pregnant with his child.

So, all of this, they say, was during a time that he should have been paying his taxes and instead was using it to fund what they say was an extravagant lifestyle.

You pointed out, Abby, that this was something that, according to his lawyer, should have been wrapped up in a plea deal. Of course, that fell apart spectacularly last summer, over the course of the summer. So here we are. Hunter Biden is now facing charges in Delaware for that gun that he bought when he was prohibited from purchasing firearms. And now he's facing these nine counts in Los Angeles. So, he's got two trials in the coming months. Abby?

PHILLIP: Yes, very serious charges here, Evan. Thank you very much for all of that.

I want to bring in now David Axelrod, CNN Senior Political Commentator and Host of the Axe Files podcast to break all of this down and the consequences of this politically, which are very important. I mean, you can't get around the fact that this is, in fact, the president's son. And despite what his attorneys said, that this wouldn't have been a case if he were not a Biden, do you think that that will pass muster or are these charges serious enough that it seems like they are legitimate?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, Hunter Biden was going to plead to some charges that obviously were related to the things that were in the indictment today. That plea bargain fell apart. So, some of what's alleged here, he's not disputed.

If you're asking me about the political consequences of it, the important thing that we should notice that this is Hunter Biden and not Joe Biden. And the Republicans have tried very, very hard for the last couple of years to make the linkage that somehow the president was involved with his son's business, that he profited from his son's business. None of that has turned out to be true. They certainly haven't turned up any evidence of it.

But is it problematical? I mean, this is not going to be welcome news at the White House. It may not be surprising news at the White House since the plea bargain went down, but it's not going to be welcome news, of course.

PHILLIP: But to that point, I mean, if you're a Republican and you're trying to make the case that the Justice Department is going easy on Hunter Biden, that there's some hidden nefarious thing that Joe Biden did related to Hunter Biden's misdeeds.

This indictment seems to lay it squarely on Hunter Biden and also seems to indicate the Justice Department is working. That might very well be something that the Biden administration doesn't mind.

AXELROD: Well, pretty clearly there hasn't been interference here because the indictment was placed. And, in fact, David Weiss, the special counsel who was then not the special counsel but was investigating this for five and a half years, told Congress last fall that he hadn't -- there was no interference with him, with the case and he was doing what he thought was appropriate.

There were issues about whether he could file cases in different venues because he was in Delaware and so on, and this one is filed in Los Angeles. So that's a difference between now and when he wasn't the special counsel.

But, Abby, I expect that the Republicans are going to try -- they will -- you know, there's an impeachment move. The speaker said the other day that he's ready to move to an impeachment inquiry. I think Donald Trump is very much encouraging that because he wants offsetting penalties.

And it's really important to keep in focus that what Donald Trump is -- Donald Trump is on trial for things that Donald Trump did. And, apparently, the House of Representatives wants to impeach the president for things that he didn't do.

PHILLIP: A lengthy 50-something-page indictment here against Hunter Biden. But so far over on Capitol Hill, they have not brought this evidence, to your point, that Joe Biden had anything to do with it.

AXELROD: But one point I want to make, people will ask about the political implications of this. Joe Biden is a father and I think there are emotional implications to this. He's lost two children. His son obviously struggled. That is -- the indictment reflects that. He went through a hard period in his life. And all of this is going to be going on in the middle of a presidential race while he's president of the United States, and it's just one more added burden.

PHILLIP: It very much is. David Axelrod, thank you as always for joining us tonight.

Tonight, a conversation between two lawmakers, one Republican and one Democrat, about some of the biggest issues of the day. And as we head into this election year, our hope is that we get to

have an honest debate about the direction that our country should follow.

So, we want to welcome this evening's NEWSNIGHT debate, New York Democrat Jamaal Bowman and New York Republican Mike Lawler.

Thank you both for joining us.

And before we get to these issues, I do want to start with some news.

The House just censured you, Congressman Bowman, today, 214 to 191. The inciting incident was when the congressman set off a fire alarm in the middle of a fight to avert a government shutdown just a few weeks ago.

Congressman Bowman, Adam Schiff, your colleague, when he was censured, he said that it was a badge of honor. Do you think it's a badge of honor?

REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): Well, it's another example of how the Republican Party is not serious about governing. They have no ideas. They have no policies. They can't inspire the American people.

So they focused on censuring me, even though, after the fire alarm incident, I took full responsibility right away. The legal process is playing itself out. And if all things go well, the case will be completely dismissed in January, have to pay a fine. Ethics at the moment is not moving forward.

So, once again, the party is focused on censures and culture wars and messaging, and not focused on governing for the American people. So it's unfortunate.

PHILLIP: I should note, Congressman Lawler, you voted in favor of the censure.

I guess I should ask. I mean, he took responsibility just then and before. Is that punishment, even though the censure has no real consequences, but is that fitting to the crime that he committed here?


With all due respect to my colleague here, he pulled a fire alarm intentionally. He can try to say that it was not or that he made a mistake, he thought the fire alarm would open a door. He was a middle school principal. He certainly understands the difference between a locked door and a fire alarm.

He ran by seven Capitol Hill police officers after the alleged mistake and didn't say a word. He only spoke to them once a BOLO went out and they went and found him and started inquiring about it.

So, with all due respect, this was not a mistake. It was intentional. The Democrats were playing shenanigans that day, doing single-line voting, single-file line voting, using paper cards, rather than their electronic cards, to delay the vote on a continuing resolution.


And so there needs to be accountability. Last week, I took on a member of my own party, along with Anthony D'Esposito. We introduced a resolution to expel George Santos because he was unfit to serve.

So, if Mr. Bowman and others are happy to expel George Santos, at the very least, there should be accountability. A censure is saying, you did wrong. And that's what happened today.

BOWMAN: I don't want to belabor this point, but, as you can see, my Republican colleague is trying to get into my head and articulate my state of mind, despite my multiple consistent comments to the contrary, despite me not being charged for disrupting a congressional proceeding.

And, remember, this is a vote to keep the government open. So, in a rush to get there, yes, I ran past many Capitol Police officers. But I was trying to get there.

PHILLIP: So, you deny -- you unequivocally deny that this was an attempt to delay that vote?

BOWMAN: Absolutely not.

LAWLER: I just want to make a point. The video evidence speaks for itself. I don't need to get in your head. The video shows you threw the signs on the floor, you tried opening the door, it didn't open. You went and pulled the fire alarm.

You ran by seven Capitol Hill police officers. That is not a mistake, and it took you an hour, by the way, to get to the floor to go vote. So don't say you were in a rush to go vote, when you weren't.

BOWMAN: Let's get to the more important issues, please.

But, again, to this point, only some of the video was released, not the entire video. So he's only speaking from a small percentage of what he saw.

PHILLIP: Congressmen, stand by.

We will discuss the rise of antisemitism on college campuses, as one university president's job is on the brink tonight.



PHILLIP: Last night, there was a Republican primary debate, and arguably one of the most stunning episodes came when one of the candidates, Vivek Ramaswamy, invoked the Great Replacement Theory on that stage.

We have seen also these college presidents come before Congress, and they were asked to state unequivocally that calls for genocide are not acceptable on their college campuses.

Do you think both parties right now have a problem with antisemitism in their ranks?

LAWLER: Look, the vitriol and hatred that we are seeing across this country, the antisemitism on college campuses, in the halls of Congress is disgusting.

And everyone should be held to account for it. The fact is that those college administrators should all be fired, every last one of them, that they couldn't say that calling for the genocide of Jews on their campuses violated their conduct.

In fact, some of them said it's context. It needs to turn into action. Are you calling for the actual genocide of Jews? You want them to be killed first before you take action your campuses?

I introduced a resolution on the House floor that made it very clear that Israel has a right to exist, because if you look at the terrorist attack of October 7, it's clear Hamas and its backer, Iran, do not believe Israel has a right to exist.

They want to eliminate the Jewish people, period. And so we need to be unequivocal and clear. There is no moral equivalency here. This is good versus evil. Hamas is a terrorist organization that has oppressed the Palestinian people, that has used them as human shields.

So, if we want to combat antisemitism, not only do we need to take it on, on our college campuses and in the halls of Congress, but we need to make it very clear that terrorist organizations like Hamas and its funder and backer, Iran, that we do not support that at all, that we stand by Israel, and, very clear-eyed, we believe in Israel's right to exist, its right to defend itself, and the right of the Jewish people to practice their faith.

BOWMAN: First of all, if there is antisemitism in Congress, it is coming from the Republican Party, not the Democratic Party, number one.

Number two, I introduced a resolution condemning the Great Replacement Theory as a freshman in Congress for the first time in history that had been done, and that resolution passed because we had a Democratically controlled House.

Not one Republican voted for my resolution condemning the Great Replacement Theory. So, once again, they are not serious about addressing the issue of antisemitism. They are not serious about addressing the issue of racism or Islamophobia. They are not serious about governing.

Absolutely, we condemn the Hamas attacks of October 7, absolutely. Absolutely, we condemn...

LAWLER: Then why did you vote against a resolution to do that?

BOWMAN: Absolutely, I made my own statement condemning Hamas. Absolutely, we condemn any calls for genocide of our Jewish brothers and sisters or any group of people.

But what my colleague just did was conflate criticisms of Israel with antisemitism, and that is incorrect.

PHILLIP: What about...


BOWMAN: Let me -- let me just finish this point.

A criticism of a state, the state of Israel or any other state, doesn't mean you criticize the people that that state claims to represent. Really fighting antisemitism is doing the work in terms of education, engagement, connecting communities, and learning what it is and how to do something about it.

PHILLIP: Well, I just want to be specific here, because one of the issues at hand here is this phrase "From the river to the sea," right?

This is something that was spoken by your colleague Rashida Tlaib. It's something that is chanted on some of these college campuses. That is a phrase that Jewish people believe is a call for the genocide of Jewish people.


Do you think that that should be something that is off limits in the halls of Congress and on college campuses?

BOWMAN: It is not a phrase that I use. It is not something I subscribe to. And it is something that absolutely needs to be addressed --

PHILLIP: Do you believe it is a call for genocide?

BOWMAN: It's not a phrase I use because I know many of my Jewish brothers and sisters believe that it is, so I don't want to encroach upon what they feel that is. And I don't even use the phrase.

So what I'm saying is when we talk about dealing with antisemitism, condemnation of a phrase or an action is not enough.

The Republican Party is looking to cut -- let me finish -- looking to cut the Department of Education. They are looking to cut the Department of Civil Rights. They are looking to cut the departments where you actually address the issue of antisemitism.

And then, lastly, we can't deal with antisemitism, in and of itself, without also addressing the issue of Islamophobia. Many of my Muslim and Arab and Palestinian constituents and people all across the city, state, and country feel completely erased and dehumanized not only by the Republican Party, but by many members of Congress, and we've got to stop having one-sided conversations without the other because what happens is it continues to exacerbate antisemitism.

LAWLER: I just want to respond to that for a second. "From the river to the sea" is antisemitic, period. You sound like the college administrators the other day in the hearing trying to put context around it.

BOWMAN: Uh-huh.

LAWLER: There is no context for it. Calling for the eradication of the Jewish people is a genocide. And that is exactly what these folks are doing when they're chanting "from the river to the sea, Palestine will be free".

I want the Palestinian people to be free from their oppressors, Hamas, the Palestinian Authority. Hamas has used the Palestinian people as human shields for years, killing them, using hospitals, using schools as a vehicle to launch attacks against Israel.

BOWMAN: Are you going to completely --


LAWLER: The Palestinian Authority -- excuse me, do not interrupt me.

BOWMAN: Do not -- do not try to frame this conversation --

LAWLER: The Palestinian Authority --

BOWMAN: -- as if someone has given Hamas cover.


LAWLER: With all due respect --

BOWMAN: What should be with all due respect? Don't say what someone is doing.

LAWLER: Palestinian Authority pays Palestinians -- pays Palestinian --

BOWMAN: Go ahead. I let you finish.

LAWLER: The Palestinian Authority pays Palestinians to kill Jews. Is that not wrong?

BOWMAN: Of course, it's wrong.

LAWLER: OK. We passed the Taylor Force Act five years ago. This administration is failing to enforce that. In fact, giving the Palestinian Authority funding.

Hamas is a terrorist organization. If you want a ceasefire in Gaza, there's a very simple way. Join me in calling for Hamas to surrender.

They should surrender right now. They should turn over all of the remaining hostages and they should free the Palestinian people from their control. They have been the governing body in Gaza for over 15 years. They have oppressed the Palestinian people.

BOWMAN: You made your point.

LAWLER: But you called Israel -- you said what Israel is doing defending itself, you said that they're committing a genocide in Gaza. Is that what you believe?


PHILLIP: Do you believe -- as some of your colleagues have said, what Israel is doing in Gaza is a genocide?

BOWMAN: It is a mass murder. It is a war crime what is happening in Gaza right now.

You talk about Hamas having control over the Palestinians in Gaza. There has been a blockade of Gaza for several years. The people in Gaza cannot leave one way or the other. The water, the food, the energy is controlled by Israel.

So do not say one side of it, Hamas is controlling its own people, and I agree with you. The people of Gaza do not want that -- without leaving out the Israel blockade.

And then why don't you ever speak about the occupation of the West Bank and settlement expansion in the West Bank in the number of 700,000 settlers right now? Do you support a two-state solution?

LAWLER: Look, I would --


BOWMAN: Do you support a two-state solution?

LAWLER: I would love to see a two-state solution --


LAWLER: -- which is why I introduced the special envoy for the Abraham Accords because --

BOWMAN: Have you condemned the occupation?

LAWLER: Which is why I introduced the special envoy for the Abraham Accords because --

BOWMAN: Have you condemned the occupation? Do not -- you harm --


LAWLER: -- if you want to -- if you want to bring peace -- if you want a two-state solution and you want to bring peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis, you need to normalize relations between Arab majority countries and Israel.

BOWMAN: And the Palestinians.

LAWLER: The only way you do that is if people accept the premise -- BOWMAN: Have you ever been to the West Bank?

LAWLER: -- that Israel has a right to exist.

BOWMAN: Have you ever been to the West Bank?

LAWLER: That Israel has a right to exist. I've been to Jerusalem.

BOWMAN: Have you ever been to the West Bank?

LAWLER: Israel has a right to exist.

BOWMAN: See, we have -- this is what happens.


PHILLIP: Well, let me -- let me --

LAWLER: With all due respect --

BOWMAN: This is what happens.

LAWLER: What happens what?

BOWMAN: What do you mean with all due respect?


LAWLER: What happens what?

BOWMAN: You are speaking with a sense of authority as if you've been there.


You have never been to the West Bank.


BOWMAN: You have never been stopped at a checkpoint.

LAWLER: Right.

BOWMAN: You have never spoken to the people in the West Bank, in Hebron, in Ramallah. You haven't seen the water tanks at the top of their homes that they have to preserve just in case Israel cuts of the water, man.

LAWLER: So you think --


PHILLIP: Well, let me follow up -- let me follow up.

BOWMAN: You need to --


LAWLER: You honestly believes --

PHILLIP: Congressman Lawler, let me follow up on that for just a second, because I want to -- I want people to understand what you're talking about here.

Just in the span of weeks since October 7th, there has been a spike in settler violence against Palestinians in the West Bank, that the Biden administration has been trying to address.

Do you believe that there should be more done by the Israeli government to curb that in the interest of peace?

LAWLER: Well, no -- there should be no civilian violence at all. We do not want innocent civilians getting harmed, getting killed, whether they be Israelis or Palestinians.

I think the challenge in all of this is, you know, a lot of my colleagues call for a ceasefire, including Jamaal. There have been eight ceasefires in 15 years. Each time violated by Hamas.

So if you are the Israeli government, in October 7th, the largest slaughtering of Jews since the Holocaust, are you supposed to sit back and wait for it to happen again?


BOWMAN: The response has been disproportionate. It's collective punishment.

LAWLER: But, Jamaal, this is what you seem to not addressed.

BOWMAN: That's against international law. We have one 1.8 million refugees --


LAWLER: Hamas -- Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran believe Israel does not have a right to exist.

BOWMAN: This is Gaza.

LAWLER: Are you waiting for the full-on genocide to happen?

BOWMAN: This is -- this is Gaza.

LAWLER: Are you waiting for them to be completely eliminated?

BOWMAN: There are 1.8 million refugees in Gaza.


BOWMAN: This is collective punishment. They cut -- immediately cut off food --

LAWLER: They have been -- they have been addressed by their own government.

BOWMAN: -- water, energy, starvation in Gaza. I'm talking about right now.


LAWLER: They have been oppressed by their own government for over 15 years.

BOWMAN: I'm talking about since October 7th.

LAWLER: If you want peace --

BOWMAN: I'm talking about since October 7th.

LAWLER: -- if you want a ceasefire, Hamas must surrender. Even on this most recent short-term ceasefire to turn over the hostages, they violated it. They violated it.

So how do you expect Israel to be able to negotiate and deal with them when Hamas refuses to accept the terms of a ceasefire?

PHILLIP: Stand by for us. We still have even more ahead with the two of you.

Coming up next for us, is the United States Congress now on the verge of not sending money to another war zone in Ukraine? We'll discuss that as President Biden calls the standoff to gift -- a gift to Vladimir Putin.



PHILLIP: More now on our NEWSNIGHT Conversation with Democrat Jamaal Bowman and Republican Mike Lawler. The topic now, Ukraine, some suggest that Ukraine is losing this war to Putin. And the United States is now asking for even more money, the Biden administration asking for more money from Congress. Your Party is pushing back on that hard. Do you think that the money that is being sent over to Ukraine is well spent?

LAWLER: So my wife is from Moldova. Her family lives on the Ukraine border. And I have been concerned from the very beginning that if Ukraine were to fall and Vladimir Putin is successful, that Moldova would be next. And the Foreign Minister made that clear just last week.

So I have supported funding for Ukraine and will continue to do so. The challenge that we have here is that the Biden administration refuses to negotiate on critical issues such as securing our own border.

So while I do believe in providing funds to Ukraine to secure their borders and protect their sovereignty, we need to do the same here in America. Since Joe Biden took office, nearly 10 million migrants have crossed our southern border, many of them illegally. The asylum process is fundamentally broken, taking two to three years for these cases to be heard. And when they are heard, nearly two thirds rejected.

New York City is facing an existential threat. Eric Adams said the migrant crisis is destroying New York. They're talking about cutting funding for police and fire and emergency services.

Joe Biden needs to get serious about securing our border. What we have said in the House Republican majority is that we will support Ukraine, but it needs to be tied to real changes in border security policy.

In addition, Chuck Schumer has done absolutely nothing. He has passed nothing through the Senate. He's the Senate Majority Leader from New York. He has done nothing on the border, nothing on Israel. He's the highest-ranking Jewish official in America. Has not passed one thing to provide aid to Israel. The House passed it in a bipartisan way weeks ago. What is Chuck Schumer doing?

PHILLIP: I'll let you respond.

BOWMAN: So our -- the challenges at the border and how we process the migrants that come into our country was destroyed by Donald Trump, not President Biden. That's number one. Number two, Democrats have been pushing and fighting for true immigration -- comprehensive immigration reform. Republicans have stopped it for decades.

We are a nation of immigrants. We welcome them when they are coming, seeking asylum and we will continue and should continue to do that. And we must meet them with humanity and care to make sure that they are able to contribute to our economy in the way that they want to.

With regard to the Ukraine, I have supported continuing to support Ukraine. What I'm hearing in my district is tremendous frustration because we seem to always have hundreds of billions of dollars for war and conflict and mass murder and suffering. But we don't have the same hundreds of billions of dollars for affordable housing, for childcare, for education, for healthcare. And we never, ever, ever, ever, ever have a conversation about reparations for black Americans.

PHILLIP: So your constituents growing tired?

BOWMAN: They're going to decide -- yes.

PHILLIP: Everyone --


BOWMAN: They are very frustrated because we solve every conflict with militarism as opposed to diplomacy. We have to find diplomatic political solutions to war all over the world. And we need to invest those hundreds of billions of dollars into uplifting the humanity of people here in our country.

[22:35:13] PHILLIP: On immigration, Congressman Lawler, just to follow up on what Congressman Bowman said, why won't Republicans simply come to the table with an actual plan to negotiate on the overall immigration system and border security by itself?

LAWLER: Well, with all due respect --

PHILLIP: I mean, that's an option that is available?

LAWLER: With all due respect, Republicans are the only ones that have actually passed anything on border security.

PHILLIP: No, I'm talking about --

LAWLER: We passed H.R. -- I'm going to answer your question.


PHILLIP: I'm talking about, what he was asking.

LAWLER: I understand.

PHILLIP: -- with comprehensive approach.

LAWLER: But the border is an immediate crisis.

BOWMAN: Have you been to the border?

LAWLER: Not yet. The border is an immediate --

BOWMAN: The man hasn't been to the West Bank. He hasn't been to the border. But you're speaking like an expert on both.

LAWLER: Well, Jamaal, with all due respect --

BOWMAN: I have been to the border.

LAWLER: And is it going well?

BOWMAN: I've been to the Texas.

LAWLER: And is it going well?

BOWMAN: I've met with CBP.

LAWLER: And is it going well?

BOWMAN: I've met with FEMA down there.

LAWLER: And what did CBP tell you? They told you that it is not working.

BOWMAN: They told me that 95 --

LAWLER: They've come and testified.

BOWMAN: Listen, I'm going to answer your question.

LAWLER: Excuse me it was my --

BOWMAN: They told me that 95% of the people they bring in are not criminals. That's what they told me.

PHILLIP: Let me -- let me --

BOWMAN: Let me actually finish. Thank you. So here's the issue. The border is the immediate crisis. We passed H.R. 2, The Secure the Border Act. Democrats in the Senate have done absolutely nothing on this. I introduced, along with a bipartisan group from the House, the Dignity Act, which would not only deal with the border, it would deal with the undocumented, and it would fix our legal immigration system. It's the first bipartisan piece of legislation in over a decade on immigration reform.

Immigration reform has not occurred since 1986, the year I was born. Now, I look at this and see it, that it is one of the greatest challenges we have in this country because, as Jamaal said, immigrants do enrich our communities, our culture, our economy as our population declines, we need immigrants in this country. We welcome them. But there has to be a process, and it has to be done legally.

To just allow 10 million migrants to flood the southern border and act as though that's not a problem. And if you've been there, I can't understand why you would not vote in favor of legislation to secure the border. We have to deal with this. This is not about being against immigration. As I said before, my wife is an immigrant. I have been through this process. I have been through this process. It is a fundamentally broken one. But if we're going to secure the border of other countries, we better start by securing our own border.

PHILLIP: Congressman Bowman, last with you.

BOWMAN: Yeah. So you want to secure the border with more police? I'm saying we need --

LAWLER: No, we need more court personnel to handle these asylum cases.

BOWMAN: Yes, so we need more judges.

LAWLER: That's what the Dignity Act does. Why don't you sign on?

BOWMAN: And a lot more police.

LAWLER: Why don't you sign on?

BOWMAN: We need more judges. We need more counselors and social workers. We need more lawyers to help with the processing. And we need more investment in FEMA. That's number one.

If you go to the border, you will have a more holistic perspective as to what's happening there. So stop writing bills about places you never bit, number one. Number two, I didn't just go to the border. I've also gone to Central

and South America. I went to Guatemala and Honduras to meet with the indigenous people there to learn about what is happening. Why does mass migration keep happening? You know what's happening? Multinational corporations are coming in, supported by America and the west to destroy the ecosystems of these communities. That's why poverty is so high. That's why there's no education system. They're left helpless and hopeless. And that's why they're coming from the U.S. --

LAWLER: It's fascinating the --


LAWLER: -- blame America for all the world --

BOWMAN: America even take some responsibility.

LAWLER: It is fascinating to watch you -- you know what?

BOWMAN: My man. We love fathers --the number one lessons --

LAWLER: You were complaining about being censored, today is talking about taking responsibility --


LAWLER: -- for every single problem in world.

PHILLIP: We have to leave it there.

BOWMAN: We got western --

PHILLIP: Gentlemen, we have to leave it there. We have to leave it there. More of our Special News Night debate. Do Republicans plan to go along with Donald Trump's demand to do away with Obamacare? That's next.



PHILLIP: And welcome back to our NEWSNIGHT debate, a conversation between lawmakers about the issues that matter.

Now turning to maybe the most important issue for Americans across the country, and that is health care.

Congressman Lawler, recently, Donald Trump said that he had a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. Again, Republicans have been down this road before. Is this really something that he can do, since he's failed to do it before?

LAWLER: Well, obviously, during his administration, they attempted to, and, as you point out, it didn't -- didn't pass. I don't see Obamacare being repealed at this point, certainly not in

its entirety. I think we do need to look at how to improve the quality of care. We need to look at how to improve access to insurance. And we need to look at how to reduce costs.

Obamacare clearly has not reduced costs when it comes to health care. In fact, health care costs are at record highs. And when I go out and talk to folks across my district, people are feeling the pain of that. And while I think health care is certainly one of the most important issues facing the country, I think immigration is a major issue, including our Southern border.

I think housing is a major issue. I sit on the Financial Services Committee and the Housing Subcommittee. So there are a lot of issues pertaining to affordability, pertaining to our economy.


Health care is a major part of it. When you have insurance companies owning health care providers, that is, frankly, disturbing. I think that we need to reevaluate how some of this is operating within the health care space and how we provide more access.

We also have a shortage of doctors, of nurses, of home health aides. That all plays a role. And that's why I brought up immigration. We have to deal with this holistically.


So, Congressman Bowman, roughly three in five Americans now favor Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act. They like the preexisting conditions. They have gotten used to the law as it is. But you support a Medicare-for-all system.

Do you still think that that is something that should be on the table?

BOWMAN: Oh, absolutely. We need...

PHILLIP: Even though most Americans are -- seem to be comfortable with the way things are now?

BOWMAN: Most Americans want to be able to go the doctor when they're sick and not have to pay for it.

So, whatever that looks like is what I'm game for. Our caucus and myself, we support universal health care. We support Medicare for all, because we spend more than other developed countries on health care, and we're not as healthy as a nation.

So, Trump is not going to be successful in rolling back Obamacare, one, because Democrats are going to have control of the House and the Senate, which is going to make it much more difficult for him to do that if he were to get in, and I don't think he's going to get in, but we will leave that on the side.

But in terms of much of what my colleague said about health care, I agree with. One thing I want to add to it, he mentioned housing, which I 100 percent agree with, and he mentioned a holistic approach, which I 100 percent agree with.

We have to talk about the predeterminates of health and the things that we need to invest in that will help us to dramatically bring down health care costs, like universal childcare and early childhood education. Many of our babies, our children are dealing with toxic stress and chronic trauma because we don't have a universal childcare system.

And many of my colleagues in the Republican Party do not support universal childcare. But that social determinant of health, in addition to housing, in addition to other environmental factors like climate and education, will help with health care outcomes on the back end as well.

LAWLER: I would just note, under this administration and the Democrat-controlled Congress during the first two years, they increased spending by $5 trillion in new spending.

It gave us record inflation. We are staring down $34 trillion in debt. Universal health care, Medicare for all, would absolutely destroy our economy.

BOWMAN: No way.

LAWLER: There is no way for us to pay for that.


BOWMAN: What's...

LAWLER: How do you propose we pay for it?

BOWMAN: We spend $900 billion a year to build weapons of mass destruction.

LAWLER: How do you propose to pay for it?


LAWLER: And, by the way, what's the price tag on it? Do you have a price tag on it?

BOWMAN: So, corporate wealth tax, corporate tax, raise those. Wealth tax, raise that.

LAWLER: Raise it to what?

BOWMAN: Raise it to a number that's doable and feasible. By any means necessary, we need to make sure everyone has health care.

Here's the other thing. If people are healthier, easy to go to the doctor, go to the doctor for their mental health needs, what have you, they are able to contribute more to our economy. I mean, the problem with our health care system is, it's based on a

free market capitalist system. And when you're looking to cut costs, people are going to die, like 70,000 per year right now because we have a market-based system.

If we had a system where those people can get the health care they need and the dental and the optical and the hearing care they need, they can contribute more to society.

PHILLIP: How do you control those costs?

BOWMAN: What do you mean?

PHILLIP: If you're covering everything, and the government is paying for everything, how do you keep the costs from continuing to go up?

BOWMAN: Well, get us off of a market-based system.

If we had a single-payer system, public -- publicly funded with our tax dollars, you can keep the costs low. Look at the IRA. So we passed the IRA. Again, Democrats, passed the IRA, not Republicans. We already brought down insulin costs for seniors to $35 a month.

We brought down insulin costs for everyone, and we could finally negotiate drug prices with pharmaceutical companies that are crooks and ripping people off. And so we are already beginning to control costs, because the government has the opportunity to negotiate prices.

PHILLIP: What's your solution to the cost issue? You raised it earlier, how to bring costs down for consumers, if you favor a market- based system?


LAWLER: Well, I absolutely favor a market-based system. I do not support socialism.

I do not support the universal health plan --


BOWMAN: The market will not save us.

LAWLER: I do not support the universal health plan --

BOWMAN: This is not a binary.

LAWLER: -- that my colleague supports it.

At the end of the day, you have to look at this on a number of fronts. So as people are aging in place, we want them to be able to age in their home. If they are having medical issues, if they don't need emergency room care, if they don't need long term care, we want them to be able to age in their home.

So you have to deal with the employment issues in this country because we need more home health aides, we need more nurses, we need more doctors. It's why I introduced the Conrad 100, to allow for each state to provide a waiver for up to a hundred doctors to stay here on their visa.

PHILLIP: We appreciate the lively, animated conversation. I know the two of you can have this conversation in this way, but still have respect for each other.

Congressman Mike Lawler, Congressman Jamaal Bowman, thank you both very much for --


PHILLIP: -- joining us for all of that.

And, more on our breaking news. Federal prosecutors slapping new criminal charges against Hunter Biden. Eric Holder responds, ahead.




PHILLIP: New tonight, a Hanukkah warning about anti-Semitism from second gentleman Doug Emhoff.


DOUG EMHOFF, SECOND GENTLEMAN OF THE UNITED STATES: We've seen the presidents of some of our most elite universities literally unable to denounce calling for the genocide of Jews as anti-Semitic. That lack of moral clarity is simply unacceptable.


PHILLIP: And up next, Laura Coates is going to discuss the controversy on college campuses with former Attorney General Eric Holder. Stay right here on CNN.