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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Detroit News Reports, Trump On Tape Pressuring Officials To Not Certify Vote; Trump Rails Against Ruling, But Often Called To Disqualify People; Giuliani Files For Bankruptcy After $148 Million Defamation Verdict; Data Shows The Congressional Productivity Sunk To New Lows; President Biden And Mexico's President Hold A Phone Call Meeting As The Border Crisis Continues To Spiral; Actress Taraji P. Henson's Honest And Emotional Explanation Of Hollywood's Pay Disparity Goes Viral. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 21, 2023 - 22:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The twins, by the way, to meet President Biden and Vice President Harris, a visit that included everything from viewing the Oval Office to admiring the festive decor.


And this comes as Carey's classic Christmas medley, All I Want for Christmas returns to number one on the Billboard Hot 100, right where it belongs, knocking out Brenda Lee's Rocking Around the Christmas Tree after it made it there this year for the first time 65 years after its release.

And thank, thank you so much for joining us. CNN NEWSNIGHT with Abby Phillip starts now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: New evidence of Donald Trump acting like an insurrectionist as he declares he's not one, that's tonight on NEWSNIGHT.

Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip in Washington. The former president is reportedly caught on tape yet again. In just moments, I'll speak live with the Michigan secretary of state after it has been revealed that Trump allegedly pressured more state officials to not certify the 2020 vote. And the tape includes a surprise accomplice.

But, first, let's keep in mind this comes as Colorado is kicking Trump off the ballot for his role in the insurrection. He is on a bender, ripping the state's decision, which is ironic because, frankly, Donald Trump is usually the head cheerleader for team disqualification. He did it as a birther with the bogus argument that Barack Obama wasn't eligible for the presidency. He did it with Ted Cruz in 2016, calling on Iowa to give him the boot. And he also did it with another rival that same year.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Kasich shouldn't be allowed to run. Honestly, Kasich should not be allowed to run. He's not doing well in Ohio. Kasich shouldn't be allowed to continue and the RNC shouldn't allow him to continue.

He should not be allowed to run. It's very unfair because he's taking our votes.


PHILLIP: He also did it with Anthony Weiner, who Trump says should never be allowed to run because of his sexting scandal. And of course, he did it many times with Hillary Clinton.


TRUMP: She should not be allowed to run.

Who should not be allowed to run because of what she did with the emails.

Honestly, she shouldn't be allowed to run based on the emails.

This alone means that she should not be allowed to serve as president of the United States.

She is so guilty in so many different ways that she shouldn't even be allowed to run for president.


PHILLIP: Now, don't forget, in this year's Republican race, Trump has called for the primary debates to all be canceled since he's so far ahead in the polls, the polls that he's always insisted are fake.

But as Trump goes to war, now, with the 14th Amendment in Colorado, it is notable that this is not his first battle with the amendments of the Constitution. His issues with the first are lengthy, whether it's calling to silence the press or essentially declaring that the U.S. has one religion, he's used the second on the campaign trail, weaponizing it against Democrats. Legal experts are worried that the third will become relevant as Trump reportedly plots to use the military in American cities. And, of course, the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 10th, and 12th Amendments have all been uniquely relevant throughout Trump's presidency or in his many, many court cases.

But let's begin in the state of Michigan, where tonight an incident -- an indecent proposal to stop the 2020 election is caught on tape. The Detroit News says that they have listened to the recordings of the former president, Donald Trump, turning the screws on Republican canvassers in that state.

Now, that call took place on November 17th, two weeks after the 2020 election. On the phone was Trump, RNC chairwoman Ronna McDaniel and two canvassers from the Wayne County -- from Wayne County, that's Monica Palmer and William Hartman.

Now, here's what they were offered. Trump implored the pair to reject the vote, which went for Joe Biden, of course. In exchange, he and McDaniel offered legal protection for the canvassers. Listen here to the reporter who broke the story, describing the moment that he heard Trump's voice.


CRAIG MAUGER, THE DETROIT NEWS: It was an appeal to these canvassers. It was a direct appeal to them, directly asking them, how could you sign this knowing what I'm telling you? How could you sign it?

The president of the United States told these two county canvassers that they would look terrible if they signed this.


PHILLIP: Joining us now, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, who knows quite a lot about all that transpired in that state around this time. Secretary Benson, you just put out a message on X talking about this day, that it was called into question whether they would actually certify these votes.


What do you make of this new reporting about the pressure that was happening behind the scenes?

SEC. OF STATE JOCELYN BENSON (D-MI): Well, thanks for having me, Abby. And this is really extraordinary. I mean, I wasn't aware until Craig's reports that this recording existed. It's quite extraordinary. We had a gut feeling and had lots of different pieces of evidence to suggest that this was happening.

So, I wasn't surprised by anything that was revealed or any of the revelations in the recording. It does, you know, underscore the fact that there is evidence that the former president did actively try to pressure local officials to block the certification of a fair and legitimate election.

And it brought back all of the memories of that moment, which for me was the night of the Wayne County Board of Canvassers Certification was one of the lowest moments for me of the entire post-election process, because we knew if Wayne County didn't certify, and that's where Detroit is in Michigan, then that would delay certification for the entire state. And then that could potentially delay or confuse certification in all of the battleground states, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Wisconsin, because we were going first.

And then if that happened, that opens it up for state legislatures to then override election results and allocate the state electors to perhaps then-President Trump, opening the slate of electors, the false slate of electors to come in and then be accepted by Congress on January 6th.

So it was all this plan that we knew was, could unfold in that direction. And it all began that night in the Wayne County Board of Canvassers meeting. PHILLIP: Yes. And that, of course, was the intention of Trump to basically throw a wrench in the entire process, on the basis, according to him and according to this reporting, that, in his words, of course, Detroit is corrupt. There's no proof other than just his feelings about that.

The Trump campaign has said in response to this reporting in a statement, quote, all of Trump's actions were taken in furtherance of his duty as president of the United States to faithfully take care of the laws and ensure election integrity. What do you make of that response?

BENSON: His duty at that moment as someone who had lost a presidential election was to accept the results, accept the loss, and enable a smooth, clean transition of power to the actual winner of the election. And, instead, to abdicate that duty, to abuse his position and call these local officials who are simply prepared to do their job under the law and certify these accurate election results, perform their ministerial role under the law to then try to interfere in that process, knowing that this great conspiracy could unfold and enable him to block the full nationwide presidential election results starting in Wayne County.

It was really remarkable. It was incredible to live through, because every day you didn't know what additional tactic would be thrown our way. But the bottom line is his duty was to accept his loss, accept the results, and move on. And we've been waiting for that to happen now since that night.

PHILLIP: Yes, and we are still waiting. So, you've obviously spoken to Special Counsel Jack Smith. Did you get the sense from his lawyers on that team that they were aware of this call, of the details of what happened between Trump and these canvassers?

BENSONP: I did not. We knew that there was a call from Georgia and that was very highly publicized all the way back in January of 2021 when it occurred. I did not know that a recording of this nature existed again until the reporting tonight.

PHILLIP: Yes. So, in light of this information, do you think that the state of Michigan should consider legal action against this canvasser, one of them is no longer living, and also notably against the RNC chairwoman who was part of all of this and, of course, former President Trump?

BENSON: You know, I have great faith in our Attorney General Dana Nassel. She just today announced charges against, in a very different inquiry against former state employees for abusing their power. So, when the law is violated, she will ensure there is accountability. So, we'll see how that unfolds.

I think the other thing to remember here is, at the end of the day, the commissioners and the folks on the Wayne County Board of Canvassers did their job. They certified the election, as the state board did as well. So, despite attempts to bribe or cajole or interfere influence, it was unsuccessful. And democracy prevailed in part because hundreds of citizens showed up that night to demand that the law be followed, and indeed, it ultimately was.

PHILLIP: Secretary Jocelyn Benson, thank you very much for joining us.

BENSON: Thanks for having me.

PHILLIP: And joining me now on this as well as Republican Presidential Candidate Asa Hutchinson. Governor, thank you for joining us tonight.

What is your reaction to all that we are now learning from the Detroit News about Trump directly pressuring these canvassers in Wayne County?

ASA HUTCHINSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, thank you, Abby, and it's a great concern. But what you see is a consistent pattern of Donald Trump of misleading his supporters.


And his supporters, whether they are election commissioners or the Republican base, he continues to tell them that he won the 2020 election. He continues to try to pressure in that in this case those commissioners to not follow the law. And these are good people and they are trusting a president and they overcame that and ultimately signed the certification.

And so the lesson here is that Donald Trump is misleading his supporters and he has continually done that and he has abused that relationship of trust and he should be a held accountable for it.

And I look at Georgia, they were misled there and they're under indictment, some of the election officials and Republican officials. And this is a sad day whenever you have one person who's misleading them.

PHILLIP: What about Ronna McDaniel, the RNC chairwoman? She's on this call. She offered legal protection if the canvassers did the wrong thing and did not certify the election. Do you think that she should lose her job as chairwoman of the Republican National Committee because of the role she played here?

HUTCHINSON: You know, the fact is Donald Trump lost the election. It was obvious to everyone after they went through the election contest, and Ronna McDaniel should have stepped aside and said, we're going to honor the results of the election. That's leadership. That is in the best integrity of our Constitution and our country.

When I saw what happened and I saw that Donald Trump was not even going to be there when Joe Biden is sworn in, I said I'm going to be there, because that is the height of our democracy.

PHILLIP: So, should he lose her job then?

HUTCHINSON: You know, I think she's being fair. But what troubles me is that the RNC is intervening in the Colorado case and supporting Donald Trump being on the ballot. And I suppose you can say that's a role of the party, but I think it goes beyond when they're spending hard campaign money for a result in trying to protect Donald Trump. And I don't believe he deserves that protection.

PHILLIP: But do you think he should be -- on the Colorado ruling, I was just going to ask you about that, do you think he should be taken off the ballot in Colorado?

HUTCHINSON: I've said long ago that he is morally responsible for what happened on January 6th. As to whether he is legally disqualified is a question that the United States Supreme Court is going to answer.

What happened in Colorado was predictable. They found that he supported an insurrection. And then the lower court judge said the 14th Amendment doesn't apply to the president. Obviously the Supreme Court reversed that. It made it easy for them to reverse that as a matter of law.

And so I believe that he should not be running for president of the United States. And that's why I'm a candidate. I want to see him beat at the ballot box and the voters are going to have to hold him accountable more so than the courts.

But the Supreme Court needs to be definitive about this. We don't want this to be an albatross around the GOP's neck between now and the November election. And that's exactly what it will be unless the Supreme Court is definitive in their decision.

PHILLIP: I want to play for you what Ron DeSantis, one of your arrivals for the nomination, suggested about this.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And my fear is, is that Democrats states are going to go and move on this ground to do. What do we want? Can Republicans, can we just go in and say, you know, Biden -- take Biden off the ballot? He led in 8 million people illegally into this country. He did not satisfy his oath of office.


PHILLIP: Fundamentally, I mean, is that a legitimate argument? He's trying to compare a disagreement over border policy with Trump's role in insurrection against the United States.

HUTCHINSON: No, it's not a good comparison. DeSantis is a better lawyer than he is acting like he is there. And there's a specific constitutional disqualification for someone who supports an insurrection as a federal official. That is clear. If there's policy disagreements, we don't like what Biden is doing along the border, that's what elections are for. And that is a ridiculous argument that Mr. DeSantis is presenting there.

The fact is that the Colorado Supreme Court followed the law in their judgment. The United States Supreme Court is going to have to make a decision as to whether they're going to punt this down the road for the general election and let it come back to them at that point and say, we're going to defer to the parties and give them more discretion in who they're going to have on the ballot.


And to me, that's the judgment that the United States Supreme Court is going to have to make. I would like to see them make a definitive decision now and not later.

PHILLIP: And so when it comes to your candidacy for the presidency, you told a local paper that you're flying coach. You told the New York Post that your campaign is living paycheck to paycheck. Your events are mostly empty chairs, say, for flyers from your campaign. At least right now, you're not going to make any of these debates, it seems. When are you going to decide about staying in the race or dropping out?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I've decided I'm in the race and I've made that clear. And the fact is that the pressure for candidates to drop out does not strengthen the alternatives. It actually strengthen Donald Trump. Whenever you see the latest poll by the Des Moines Register that showed that Trump went up, whenever we had -- Mike Pence and Tim Scott went out, he went up in his. So, multiple voices is important.

PHILLIP: You've also seen candidates like Nikki Haley going up in the polls recently, too, as the field has winnowed. I mean, at some point, do you think that it is the responsible thing to do to get out of the race if there's no reasonable chance that you could be the nominee?

HUTCHINSON: Sure. At the right time down the road, that should be on the table for every candidate. I'm in this for Iowa. We're going to be going through the counties for two weeks after January 2nd. We're going to be engaged in the caucus. And that's the expectation that the voters are going to narrow the field. It shouldn't be the media and it shouldn't be the RNC and it shouldn't be the polls that are trying to figure out what's happening. Obviously, this is an unpredictable year.

And so I'm going to be there in Iowa and we'll see where we go from there. People can go to and they can make a difference, making sure my voice is heard.

PHILLIP: All right. Governor Asa Hutchinson, we appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you.

HUTCHINSON: All right. Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And next, Rudy Giuliani files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, as a judge demands that he start paying millions to the poll workers that he defamed. Olivia Nuzzi joins me next.

Plus, why the most unproductive Congress in modern history can be compared to the cult classic, Office Space.

And a color purple actress makes an emotional plea about women and their salaries.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I'm just supposed to smile and grin and bear it and just keep -- like enough is enough?




PHILLIP: If he hadn't yet, Rudy Giuliani really learned the steep cost of doing Donald Trump's dirty work. Today, the former Trump attorney who parroted those lies and conspiracies over the 2020 election, he filed for bankruptcy this afternoon in federal court.

Now, this comes less than a week after a jury ordered him to pay a whopping nearly $150 million to two former Georgia election workers whom he defamed. And that settlement is far from his only legal and financial headache. According to the bankruptcy filing, Giuliani faces nearly a million dollars in unpaid taxes. He owes his lawyers hundreds of thousands of dollars and is staring down a number of upcoming defamation suits.

With me now is Washington Correspondent for New York Magazine Olivia Nuzzi, who has spent quite a lot of time studying Mr. Giuliani here. Olivia. He is facing several other lawsuits filed by everyone, from Hunter Biden to former employees, to a grocery store worker. You've reported extensively on his assets. What can you tell us about what he has?

OLIVIA NUZZI, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK MAGAZINE: Well, he has some real estate. He makes about half a million dollars a year, give or take, on his radio program and his podcast and related endeavors, none of which would be enough, of course, for him to be able to make good on these debts. As you noted, he owes about a million dollars to the IRS. He's in several million more dollars of debt in various other legal cases, and this judgment, which is just this fantastic number.

And as we're going through all of his various troubles this week, which have really come to a head, you have to just wonder, is it really worth it at this point? Everything that he did for Donald Trump, it seemed like what he got in return was relevance, attention, proximity to power. After his time as mayor ended, he did not become the Republican presidential nominee as he had wanted to in 2008. Things did not really go well for him.

He was sort of on a downward slide and fading from relevance, and Trump brought him back. He was a fixture on cable news. He was a fixture in right wing media. He became a bit of a hero in that faction of politics.

And it seems like it must not be worth it at this point. And I don't know, it doesn't seem like that's dawned on Rudy Giuliani yet, and I wonder if it will.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, I wonder the same thing. I mean, at what point is enough enough? I mean, putting aside Donald Trump for a second, at what point is he going to stop putting himself in more legal jeopardy? He doesn't have to keep talking. He can easily just stop. Why won't he do that?

NUZZI: Well, don't him that. I'd like him to call me back.

PHILLIP: Olivia is available, Mr. Giuliani, if you want to call her anytime.

NUZZI: I think he is addicted to attention. I think something happens to people when they get a taste of the spotlight and people who are in politics -- not to get too deep on the psychoanalysis, but people who are in politics who want the approval of millions of people who crave that and who need that, they're not built like normal human beings.


They're different. And I think that he's one of those people. It's a certain, I think, mental illness to want to rule a group of people larger than, I don't know, like a bachelor party. And I think that he has sort of something wrong with him in a way that a lot of politicians do, frankly. And the spotlight is addictive. And I think he would do almost anything to maintain the attention that he gets now.

PHILLIP: Yes. And we know that he has gone down to Mar-a-Lago to ask Trump to do more, to help him with all of this that's bearing down on him. Do you think that at some point Trump will do that, that he will help him directly, financially?

NUZZI: Well, you know, he's a generous guy, Abby. He's known for that. I think it's unlikely. Donald Trump has a lot of his own legal troubles, a lot of his own legal bills. There are a lot of people in Donald Trump's orbit who need help with their legal fees. You find that -- just the other day, I was in Phoenix at a Republican convention, and I was talking to a random woman who, as it turns out, she's been wrapped up in the legal matters surrounding Donald Trump and his associates and owes tons of money and legal fees and doesn't know how she's going to pay it. There are countless people like that.

And so I think it would be certainly out of character for Donald Trump to decide that he wants to be extremely generous with Rudy Giuliani. And the loyalty with Rudy and Trump, like loyalty with everyone else in Trump's orbit, is sort of just a one-way street. Trump does not often repay loyalty with loyalty. He's ready to throw anyone under the bus if it will help him. We've seen this for decades, his long time in public life. And I don't think it's any different with Rudy. I think, unfortunately for him.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, Trump just wants more and more loyalty, and he won't give any of it back.

Olivia Nuzzi, we hope that Giuliani calls you back. And if he does come back, tell us about it. Good to see you.

NUZZI: I will. Good to see you.

PHILLIP: It's the time of year to reflect on everything that got done in 2023, or in the case of this Congress, did not get done. The brutal record lawmakers just broke here in Washington.

Plus, why an A-list movie star, Taraji P. Henson, says enough is enough when it comes to the pay disparity for black women. That's ahead.



PHILLIP: Congress has a perpetual case of the Mondays. You hear it a lot that Congress is broken and now we actually have some new measurements to show us exactly how broken. The data shows the congressional productivity sunk to new lows.

Twenty seven -- that is the grand total of laws this Congress has passed in 2023. That's a basically -- a whopping two laws per month. Now, the Republican-led House held 724 votes. So, their batting average basically is, if you will, is .37. That's .037. Now, Congress got some of the stuff done. It absolutely had to, like funding the government and raising the debt ceiling. The other bills, though, that became law, well, they're not exactly the stuff of the New Deal.

So, take HB 1096, for example. That's the COIN Act. Literally, legislative pieces of flair, because it passed the Department of Treasury. Now, they can mint 50,000 $5 gold coins, 400,000 $1 silver coins, and 750,000 half-dollar coins to commemorate the 250th birthday of the United States. And then the United States is Marine Corps.

Or take HB 3672, for example. It's a completely laudatory but uncontroversial bipartisan bill. It renames the VA clinic in Indian River, Michigan. It would be the equivalent of, you know, filing just expense reports all year at your job. Or, you did about as much work as Peter Gibbons does in office space.


UNKNOWN: After that, I just sort of space out for about an hour.

UNKNOWN: Space out?

UNKNOWN: Yeah. I just stare at my desk. But it looks like I'm working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I'd say in a given week, I probably only do about 15 minutes of real, actual work.


PHILLIP: Wouldn't we all like to do that? But except these lawmakers, they make a pretty hefty sum for not working all that hard. $174,000, just about 100 grand more than the median American income.

Now, even if you compare 2023 with other woefully unproductive years, the 118th Congress operated at historic levels of incompetence. In 2013, when Congress was split basically the same way that it is today, the House passed 72 bills -- that's 45 more than it did this year. Now you can't forget, Congress started the year with round after round

after round of failure for Kevin McCarthy. And it's now ending the year with a new Speaker -- that's Mike Johnson. It took the House three passes at pushing out the talented Mr. George Santos.

And Republicans, though, they were good at one thing, maybe, and that was reprimanding Democrats. They did it three times, censuring Adam Schiff -- Rashida to leave, and Jamal Bowman, all in one year. Now, there are some Republicans who agree that their body of work, frankly, deserves a failing grade.


DUSTY JOHNSON, REPRESENTATIVE, (R-SOUTH DAKOTA): If we don't change the foundational problems within our conference, it's just going to be the same stupid clown car with a different driver.


PHILLIP: Now, there are others who say, yeah, it's us, hi, we're the problem


CHIP ROY, REPRESENTATIVE, (R) TEXAS: One thing, I want my Republican colleagues to give me one thing, one, that I can go campaign on and say we did. One, anybody sitting in the complex, if you want to come down to the floor and come explain to me, one material, meaningful, significant thing the Republican majority has done besides, well, I guess it's not as bad as the Democrats.



PHILLIP: And then there are the Bill Lumberghs among them who insist someone show up on a Saturday even though no one is really working at all.


KEVIN MCCARTHY, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: By having this now, we've worked out how to work together. That's just the first five days, and we're just getting started. So, we made a commitment to America, and we're going to keep it.

This is actually a fundamentally different Congress. I've had Democrats coming up to me telling me, we're running it much better. We're keeping our commitment. It's just another check off on all what we said we would do.

One thing that is abundantly clear is the People's House is a productive House again. There's so much we have been able to accomplish in a short amount of time.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: On rival futility funded by you, the American taxpayer. Next, a progressive Democrat who says that she can no longer defend President Biden. We'll hear why.




PHILLIP: New tonight, President Biden and Mexico's President held a phone call as the border crisis continues to spiral. We're told that they agreed on more enforcement during this unprecedented surge of migrants in the state of Texas.

Now, it also comes as a newly surfaced video shows members of the Texas National Guard appearing to ignore the pleas of a woman who is begging for help as she holds a crying baby, the Texas National Guard denying the allegation. But we want you to take a look at this video.


UNKNOWN (through translator): Hey, help me. Don't abandon me here. Help me. Help me.


PHILLIP: It' hard to watch. And as this crisis deepens, Biden is facing growing pressure from not just the right, but even within his own party. And that includes my next guest, Congresswoman Delia Ramirez, who is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. And she says she can't campaign for President Biden.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us. What action, in your view, is the president not taking now that you believe is within his power to deal with what we are seeing at the border?

DELIA RAMIREZ, REPRESENTATIVE, (D-ILLINOIS): Abby, I think that this is a moment where we can choose how we lead. We can lead with courage, with creativity, and with political will to do something about what's happening. I just got back from Guatemala and Honduras. I just saw that footage.

And for me, it's personal. I heard the stories of people that were coming to Venezuela to Guatemala. My mother crossed the border pregnant with me and nearly drowned in Rio Grande. We have to find legal pathways. We need to address the issues at the border. But it can't be going to draconian Trump era policies that leaves a woman begging, crying, to not be abandoned and at the risk of dying in those waters.

PHILLIP: So, what do you think that he should be doing, affirmatively, as opposed to what he should not be doing?

RAMIREZ: Look, there's a number of firsts. The first thing he needs to be doing is working with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. We know the issue. We know it personally. We've been working on immigration policy for a very long time. We've been talking about border policy and how we work with the Northern Triangle.

We're not really at the table. To have a meeting -- to have a meeting just a couple of days ago to check the box, but not take any of our input or no real negotiation and compromise is pretty insulting to a community that has been working so hard to convince people that Democrats and our President cares deeply about immigration and wants to make sure that we protect asylum. It doesn't feel that way. So, the first thing is we have to actually work together.

Secondly, there are people that are coming through that need to be processed immediately. And getting a supplemental that actually gets funds for administrative officers is a very good first step. Finding legal pathways so people stop coming, nearly dying through the border, I think that's a second step.

Strengthening our relationship with Guatemala, with Honduras, with Nicaragua, which is challenging there, but through our Latin American relationships to get to the root cause of migration, that's another step.

But here's the thing. When we're talking about this moment, I serve in Homeland Security. We are giving Republicans the opportunity to use fear mongering, to exploit this moment, migrants, women and children, to be able to score cheap political points so that they can regain the White House. They have no interest in fixing the border.

PHILLIP: Do you think that it's a mistake politically for President Biden to work with Republicans to pair funding for the wars in Ukraine and in Israel with border security measures and changes to asylum laws? Do you think that he's taking a risk here politically?

RAMIREZ: He's taking a major risk. And honestly, it's dangerous precedent that the Senate or the President -- the administration shouldn't take. Think about it. We're going to go back -- and this is going to come back up. And generally, 19th the continued resolution. We currently have funding the federal budget is going to expire.


First, they come for border. What's the next thing they're going to want -- and the next thing -- because they don't want to fix any border policy. I know that to my core. I sit in front of Marjorie Taylor Greene and Homeland Security. They need to have talking points about crisis. And giving them this through the supplemental is opening up very dangerous doors for any other negotiation in the federal appropriation process.

PHILLIP: All right, Congresswoman Delia Ramirez, thank you very much for joining us.

RAMIREZ: Thank you for having me.

PHILLIP: And next, actress Taraji B. Henson gets emotional about pay inequity in America, revealing that she almost quit acting over it. Actress Yvette Nicole Brown joins me live to discuss that.




PHILLIP: Tonight, Taraji P. Henson's brutally honest and emotional explanation of Hollywood's pay disparity is going viral. CNN Host Gail King interviewed Henson and the cast of "The Color Purple". It's a film from CNN's parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery. Now, King asked Henson if she was thinking about quitting acting.


TARAJI P. HENSON, ACTRESS: I'm just tired of working. So hard being gracious at what I do, getting paid a fraction of the cost. You get tired. I hear people go, you work a lot. I have to, the math ain't mathin'.


PHILLIP: Here to discuss this with me now is actress Yvette Nicole Brown. Yvette, has really touched a nerve in Hollywood. She's been -- Taraji has been nominated for an Oscar. She's had multiple Emmys, Screen Actor Guild Awards. She's a household name. It's surprising to a lot of people to see those tears and to hear her say she's not being paid fairly.

YVETTE NICOLE BROWN, ACTRESS AND HOST: Yeah, I mean, the truth is none of us are. You know, the pay disparity for black women period is horrible and it extends to Hollywood, as well. What broke my heart about seeing it is that Taraji is one of our treasures. You know what I mean? She's one of the ones that has been in the trenches for forever. She should be paid what she's worth.

And the tears that she cried, they weren't just for her because each of us that are further along in our careers, we're trying to leave the door open for every black actress that's coming up behind us. And the fear that she had and the despair that she had was that she is not making enough to be able to tell them what they should be asking for.


BROWN: And she knows that if it's hard for her, it's even harder for them. So, it just, it broke my heart. And I think that's why everybody's been responding and chiming in and making sure she knows that we love her and we support her and that we're walking the same path with her.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I want to play a little bit to what you were talking about here, about what she said in a separate interview.


HENSON: Where's my raise? I haven't seen a raise in my income since "Proud Mary", and almost had to walk away from "Color Purple". Because you know what? If I don't take a stand, how am I making it easy for Fantasia, and Danielle, and Halle, and Felicia? Then why am I doing this? If it's all just for me, why are you here?


PHILLIP: Pay in any industry in some ways is very subjective. I can only imagine in Hollywood it's even more so. What do you think is the reason that, you know, Hollywood executives get away with paying someone like Taraji less and not giving her a raise movie to movie, role to role.

BROWN: Well, you know, systemic racism is a part of everything that happens in this nation. But beyond that, I think that there's this thing where they pit people against each other, where the idea is, well, you know, if you don't want to do it, we'll get somebody else to do it.

And somebody's rent may be due. And so they may take the lesser amount and we are lesser as a -- industry because we don't get to have the brilliance of someone as Taraji because they don't want to pay them what they're worth.

And it's a fight that, you know, white actors don't have and white female actors don't have. And what she said that really resonated with me, Abby, was when she said, even if she fights and gets what she needs for this particular film, she has to start all over again the next time she gets a film.


BROWN: Because you don't get to walk in and say, well, I negotiated this, this and this, and I am Taraji P. Henson, and I have this Oscar nomination, whatever. No, it's like you're starting over and you just walked in and well, you know, we're going to give you this $5 in a folding chair. It's the same for all of us and it's infuriating and exhausting.

PHILLIP: One of the factors here, the color purple, she just said in that clip, she almost walked away from that film. That's a film that is near and dear to the heart of Oprah Winfrey, who's a part of that process.

Does it surprise you to hear that even on a film like that where there is a prominent black woman as a part of the process of making it that she could still feel that she was underpaid? Taraji -- we're showing here, posted a photo of Oprah thanking her for supporting her throughout her career. But what do you make of that, Yvette?

BROWN: Well, we don't know if Oprah had anything to do with the pay situation. So, we can't say that she was warring against anything that Oprah did in particular. So, I want to make sure I say that. I think a lot of times, it comes from business affairs, you will talk to your friends, we're going to do this movie or this TV show together.

[22:55:00] And then by the time it gets to the lawyers negotiating, everything that you and your friend decided, or you discussed gets torn down by the legal process. So sometimes it's the -- it's the people in the legal department, like we're not giving her a trailer. Wait a minute, you know.

And so, we never know where the breakdown is, but we know that the breakdown happens every time. This is not an isolated incident. Her tears are not just her tears. We all have cried them. We all are fighting to make it better.

And again, it's not even just the entertainment industry. You can talk to any sister that's working in any industry and we have to always fight harder. It's just the way it is. And, and we're tired of it being that's just the way it is.


BROWN: You know.

PHILLIP: Even someone who it seems almost everybody knows who she is, is still fighting these battles. Yvette Nicole Brown, thank you so much for joining us on this.

BROWN: Thank you for having me.

PHILLIP: And more on our breaking news. Donald Trump reportedly caught on tape yet again, pressuring officials not to certify the 2020 vote. "LAURA COATES LIVE" starts next.