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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Supreme Court Says It'll Decide If Trump Qualifies For Ballot; Campaign Duels, Biden And Trump Unleash On Each Other; NRA Chief Wayne LaPierre Resigns After Tumultuous Reign; Abby Phillip And Guest Panel Discuss Politics And Unethical Abuse Of Lobbying Power In American History; Jeffrey Epstein Accuser Speaks Out. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 05, 2024 - 22:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Jennifer Mascia, it's quite a moment to see this happen today. Thank you for your expertise and watching this so closely.


COLLINS: Thank you. And I want to thank all of you for joining us tonight and every night this week. I hope you have a great weekend. We'll see you back on Monday.

CNN NEWSNIGHT with Abby Phillips starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: If democracy is on the ballot, it could also be on the docket. That's tonight on NEWSNIGHT.

Good evening, I'm Abby Phillip from New York.

An unprecedented decision for an unprecedented time in America, can a state kick Donald Trump off the ballot over the 14th Amendment, which bars insurrectionists from holding office?

Now, the nation's highest court will soon decide that very question. The Supreme Court tonight announced that it will take up Colorado's case, which means the nine justices, including three of whom Trump appointed, they are now squarely in the middle of the 2024 election, that very election that would decide whether Trump returns to power.

It's the most involvement that the court, any court, has had in presidential elections since Bush v. Gore, and already Trump's team is winking and nodding their way into tipping the scales.


ALINA HABBA, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: I think it should be a slam dunk in the Supreme Court. I have faith in them. People like Kavanaugh, who the president fought for, who the president went through hell to get into place, he'll step up. Those people will step up not because they're pro-Trump but because they're pro-law, because they're pro-fairness. And the law on this is very clear.


PHILLIP: Now, is that a suggestion of a quid pro quo? Is that a suggested threat? And is this even a legal argument or just a public relations one?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How much of you, being an attractive, smart woman do you think played into.

HABBA: A role in this to him or in the public? Because I can tell you it's been a double edged sword.


HABBA: It's been something I have had to deal with in the positive and in the negative. I don't think I would be on T.V. or sitting here if I didn't look the way I look. I think I caught attention. I'm very honest about that. And I don't mind. I'm not a feminist, okay? I believe in strong women. Somebody said to me, Alina, would you rather be smart or pretty? And I said, oh, easy, pretty. I can fake being smart.

You have to be honest. It doesn't hurt to be good looking in this world, in the P.R. world, on T.V.. It doesn't hurt.


PHILLIP: In the P.R. world. That's Donald Trump's lawyer admitting that that's where she is in the P.R. world.

Now, tonight's announcement comes as the current president warns that another Trump term could destroy democracy. I'll speak live with a reformed January 6th insurrectionist who served time herself to react to Biden's words.

But first, the supremes. Joining me now is Eric Olson, an attorney for the petitioners in the Colorado 14th Amendment case that will now be before the Supreme Court. Eric Olson, thank you very much for joining us.


PHILLIP: The court has now scheduled oral arguments to start on February 8th. That's about a month before Colorado's primary and Super Tuesday. Are you comfortable with that timeline?

OLSON: That's the timeline we asked for. We want to make sure that the court has the time necessary to read the briefs, hear the arguments, and issue a decision well in advance of Super Tuesday. And by setting the schedule they did today, they did exactly that. We should have a decision well before Super Tuesday.

PHILLIP: And do you think, ultimately, on the big question here, that the Supreme Court could rule in favor of Colorado without actually weighing in on this big issue of whether or not Trump engaged in an insurrection?

OLSON: I think they can rule in favor of Colorado. We've had a thoughtful decision from the Colorado Supreme Court doing just that. A lot of commentators have said it's an easy call for us. But in order for us to prevail, they do need to find that Donald Trump violated Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which requires, among other things, that he engaged in an insurrection against the Constitution.

Those facts were found by the court below. We expect the Supreme Court won't disturb those facts because the evidence is overwhelming, but that will be part of the decision they would need to reach in order for us to prevail.

PHILLIP: And your co-counsel says that you don't plan to ask Justice Clarence Thomas to recuse himself from the case. The reason that this would be on the table potentially is because Justice Thomas' wife played a role In the January 6th insurrection in supporting it.


Does that mean that you're comfortable with that? Do you think that it won't play a role in your case?

OLSON: We're confident based on the facts. We know that a motion to recuse or request to recusal is not appropriate at this time. And we have every confidence that every member of the court will look at the facts and the law carefully, apply the law and we're comfortable with the outcome.

PHILLIP: Eric Olson, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

OLSON: Thanks, Abby, happy to be here.

PHILLIP: Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman of New York. He is on the House Oversight Committee and was lead majority counsel in the first impeachment inquiry against former President Trump. Congressman Goldman, thanks for joining us tonight.

And I want to get to your concerns about another justice, Justice Clarence Thomas, in just a moment. But as the Supreme Court is taking up now this very important case on the 14th Amendment, Trump's attorney, Alina Habba, specifically called out Justice Brett Kavanaugh as the reason that Trump will win this Colorado case before the court. She's citing in part that Trump appointed him, even going as far as calling it a slam dunk. What message do you hear in what she had to say?

REP. DAN GOLDMAN (D-NY): This is like a consigliore of a mob family who's sending a message to someone who you think you have some control over. And it's a very clear message as to what Donald Trump expects from Brett Kavanaugh because he nominated him to the Supreme Court.

And it's part of the reason why all of this is so unprecedented. It's remarkable to have someone who's hoping to get on the ballot and that determination is going to be made by Supreme Court justices, three of whom he appointed. But it is a complicated morale. And at the end of the day, unless there's any further indication, we have to take faith that Justice Kavanaugh will abide by his oath of office and do what the law requires, not what Donald Trump wants.

PHILLIP: Turning now to Justice Clarence Thomas, it's kind of a similar issue in some ways. You want him to recuse. It sounds like you don't think that he will follow what the law requires because of what his wife has done in the past.

GOLDMAN: I am actually optimistic on this case, and I'll tell you why. It's not necessarily because it's so open and shut and clear that he should recuse himself. It's more that he already has recused himself from one case related to January 6th. You'll recall that he did not recuse himself from the Mark Meadows text messages case. After those text messages came out, then the public learned about the involvement of Justice Thomas' wife in January 6 and the lead up to it and the effort to overturn the election. After that, though, Justice Thomas did recuse himself from John Eastman's case related to his attorney-client privilege claims over his emails.

So, Justice Thomas has now set a precedent himself where he acknowledges and recognizes that he should recuse himself from any case relating to January 6th. That would include this case and that would include any other case, including the criminal case, and whether or not Donald Trump has absolute immunity. Justice Thomas cannot sit for any of those cases based on his own acknowledgment and concession that he must recuse from January 6-related cases.

PHILLIP: And as you point out, ultimately, the decision lies with the court. The decision lies with the justices themselves. They police themselves. Back in November, when Chief Justice Roberts announced this code of ethics for the court, you pointed out that it lacks teeth and basically maintains the status quo because there's no enforcement mechanism. So, is your demand similar? I mean, does it essentially lack any muscle here?

GOLDMAN: It does. And even when you say the justices and the court, it's not. It's Clarence Thomas himself who makes this decision without any oversight or enforcement from anyone else, including the chief justice. He unilaterally makes the decision whether or not he should recuse. And there is no mechanism to appeal that. There is no mechanism to potentially punish him for failing to recuse in a case in which there's a conflict of interest.

And so this ethics lipstick on a pig that Chief Justice Robert tried to push through last fall doesn't get anywhere, because what you would need for any code of ethics is some sort of investigative body and enforcement mechanism. And The code that they released in November, the amalgamation of a variety of different canons of ethics laws that are not equivalent to what the rest of the federal judges have, does not include any kind of enforcement mechanism.


And as a former federal prosecutor, I will tell you, in order to have a proper enforcement mechanism, you must have an independent investigative body with the authority to investigate whether there are any violations of those ethics rules, of those disclosure laws, and the Supreme Court does not have that. And that's why Congress must now act, because they have refused to do so. PHILLIP: If Clarence Thomas does not recuse and the court rules in

Trump's favor in this case, what effect do you think that will have on the legitimacy of this ruling for the American people?

GOLDMAN: Well, as you've seen from public poll after public poll, the legitimacy of this Supreme Court is cratering. The credibility of the court is at an all-time low, and that's largely because of all of the ethics violations that have been uncovered about Justice Thomas in particular, but Justice Alito as well, and even in some cases, some of the other justices with questionable ethics, adherence to the ethics rules.

So, the credibility is incredibly shot at this point. And the only way for the Supreme Court to restore credibility is to maintain its precedent, maintain its rules, and demonstrate that there is some sort of fealty to the rule of law and the canons of ethics. And if Justice Thomas does not recuse himself in this case, it will undermine dramatically more the credibility and legitimacy of this Supreme Court, which is already at an all-time low.

PHILLIP: Ron DeSantis argued against states kicking Trump off the ballot. He suggested that Biden may be removed from the ballot in Florida over the border crisis. Putting aside the politics of that, he makes a point about the slippery slope here. Do you worry that there's a slippery slope for other candidates when it comes to states' efforts to kick candidates off of the ballot?

GOLDMAN: I don't worry about that. This one is directly related to a specific clause in the Constitution. There was a finding by a judge, there was appeal that went, and, ultimately, a majority of the judges made a specific determination.

Ron DeSantis is welcome to go into court and to try to remove Joe Biden from the ballot because of some phantom rationale about border policy but there isn't a judge in America that agree with him, even ones who were appointed by Donald Trump.

And so I believe that our courts ultimately will hold, as they held in January 6th and the lead up to January 6th, and, unfortunately, with this MAGA Republican Party that is trying desperately to eliminate our democracy and overtake our rule of law with authoritarianism, the courts and the judiciary have to be our last bastion of independence. They proved to be three years ago, as the day before January 6th. Tomorrow marks the third year anniversary of that. And they will prove to be again because that is ultimately what this country is founded upon, is the rule of law.

PHILLIP: Congressman Dan Goldman, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And still ahead, Donald Trump responds to Biden's warning that Trump may destroy American democracy. And I'll speak live with someone who served prison time for the insurrection on January 6th.

Plus, one of the most controversial figures in American society over the last two decades is now out. Why the NRA chief, Wayne Lapierre, is calling it quits.

And a new batch of Jeffrey Epstein documents reveal more famous friends. I'll speak with one of Epstein's accusers about what has surprised her the most.



PHILLIP: On this eve of the third anniversary of the January 6th attack, we've got dueling speeches tonight. One from the man accused of fomenting the insurrection, and the other from the one who replaced him. They also happen to be the two frontrunners in the 2024 race.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Is democracy still America's sacred cause?

We all know who Donald Trump is. The question we have to answer is, who are we?


PHILLIP: Now, this was billed as the kickoff speech for the Biden campaign season, and his disgust with Trump was apparent.


BIDEN: Taking a hammer to Paul Pelosi's skull, and he thinks that's funny. He laughed about it. What a sick -- my God. I think it's despicable, seriously.

The legal path just took Trump back to the truth that I'd won the election and he was a loser.

Called dead soldiers suckers and losers, how dare he? Who in God's name does he thinking he is?


PHILLIP: Now, just a short time ago, Trump addressed this speech in front of a crowd in Iowa with a mature response.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: That's why Crooked Joe is staging his pathetic fear-mongering campaign event in Pennsylvania today. Did you see him? He was stuttering through the whole thing. He's going, he's a threat to democracy. I'm a threat. They've weaponized government. He's saying, I'm a threat to democracy. He's a threat to democracy. Wow. I couldn't read the word.


PHILLIP: Now, Trump's words, they used to resonate with my next guest, Pam Hemphill. She believed then-President Trump and she showed up at the Capitol on January 6th. She was convicted and she served two months inside federal prison.


She joins me now. Pam, thank you for joining us.


PHILLIP: What is your reaction to what you just heard there from President Trump? Is Biden fear-mongering about the fate of democracy?

HEMPHILL: Absolutely not. You know, that's the MAGA -- I don't know, planet. But they have this way of demeaning you and putting you down. And that's what they've got going right now is this huge gaslighting smear campaign going on, telling me that it was a peaceful protest.

I was there. I was there when they pushed those gates and those officers, and when they stepped on my head, and it was an officer that saved my life that day.

Biden is right on with everything he's saying. Trump is a dangerous, and I mean dangerous narcissist. He's a cult leader. He needs to be put in prison. He's not any different than his friend. What was that guy that just got -- they're saying that he was -- killed himself in the prison. Epstein, friends with Epstein. Trump is disgusting.

PHILLIP: In their appeal to the Supreme Court, I'm sure you know, Trump is facing being taken off the ballot over his role in January 6th. Trump's lawyers are alleging that January 6 was, in their words, not an insurrection and that even if it was, President Trump did not engage in it. What do you make of that argument?

HEMPHILL: Oh, there's no argument. I have a lot of faith in Jack Smith coming with some receipts to prove that Trump was involved. He asked us all to go down there to that Capitol. Why? You know, he already had his speech. Why did he want us to go down there?

I'll tell you why, because he had a plan, along with a lot of other people. And why haven't they made Mike Flynn and Steve Bannon responsible, come forward, you know, talk to them? They know what happened? But, no. You know, I can't say enough that I really believe that Trump was involved. Trump knew exactly what was happening that day, and he set us down there. It was a trap.

And the lie that Nancy Pelosi was responsible for not having the National Guard, well, I debunked that one. That's not true. Trump didn't call the National Guard, or whoever had that authority. It wasn't Nancy Pelosi. They do nothing but lie about everything.

PHILLIP: So, your life now is dramatically different than it was three years ago. So, what's going through your mind ahead of this three-year anniversary of the Capitol attack?

HEMPHILL: Right now, under the administration of Biden, it's getting better. However, the narrative with the J6 is getting worse. And what's happening with Trump's rhetoric out there, the lone wolves is what I'm worried about that are going out there and they're becoming dangerous.

When you threaten a judge or the secretary of state and want to do a swat on somebody, it's really scary because the narrative is getting worse and worse that the election was not stolen, they will not let go of that one, and we know that's a lie. And Trump knew the election had been stolen and he had us come there anyway.

I mean, I'm so tired of the narrative that they're putting out there. And that's why I speak out, because I have all the receipts. I was there. I know what happened that day, and I hold Trump totally responsible.

PHILLIP: So, today, former Capitol Police Officer Harry Dunn, he was a key figure on January 6, defending the Capitol. He announced that he's running for Congress. If you had the opportunity to speak with Officer Dunn, what would you say to him?

HEMPHILL: Oh, well, I would hug him and tell him I'm so sorry for what happened to him. I did myself try to help the officers that day. It was the worst part that I experienced when I saw them being pepper sprayed.

Now, I'm not on the violent side where it's shown all over the news. I'm on the other side of the Capitol, but they were being pepper sprayed there, too. And the captain told me just to stay in one area because they couldn't allow me to help him.

But I would say thank you for running for office. He has a lot of integrity. He's going to do good for this country. And I would like to hug him and just tell him thank you. You are the hero for January 6th, not the J6 defendants.

PHILLIP: Pam Hempill, thank you for joining us again on this show.


HEMPHILL: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And the longtime leader of the NRA, Wayne LaPierre, announcing that he is resigning today. So, what's next for this powerful gun rights group?

Plus, new documents related to the Jeffrey Epstein case just released. We will speak with an Epstein accuser ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PHILLIP: He's one of the most controversial figures in American society. And tonight, after more than 30 years, the head of the NRA is now out. Longtime CEO Wayne LaPierre is announcing his resignation today, just days before the start of a civil trial case against him and other NRA leaders.

The case, brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, seeks to dissolve the organization, alleging that it violated laws for non- profit groups and committed tax fraud.

Now, LaPierre cited his health as the reason for this resignation, but it is just the latest in a long string of trouble to face the NRA in recent years.


Let's discuss this with Philippe Reines, former Hillary Clinton Spokesperson and Mark McKinnon, former Media Advisor to George W. Bush and former Presidential Campaign Advisor for John McCain. He's also the executive producer and creator of "The Circus".

Mark, starting with you, you have undoubtedly seen the NRA through a lot of years of LaPierre's leadership. In your experience, do you think the NRA and its place in Republican politics today is because of this one man?

MARK MCKINNON, FORMER BUSH CAMPAIGN MEDIA ADVISER: I think he had a lot to do with it but I think that when all is said and done, we're going to find out things that went on within this lobby organization that were not only criminal but the most unethical abuse of lobbying power in American history. And I think books will be written about it for years to come.

You know, I mean, ultimately, this is a force that put profit over the murder of young children. And Wayne LaPierre is a big reason why. And the sort of cesspool of self-dealing and money that we're now learning about just makes the whole thing even just more appalling.

I mean, the lobbying itself was bad enough, but the fact that these people were all self-dealing in millions and millions of dollars, it's just -- it's an epic, epic story. I think the worst case of what lobbying can do in American government.

PHILLIP: And the consequences, as you point out, are absolutely life and death in this case. So, Philippe, what's next for the NRA in your view? I mean, just reading the tea leaves, can we expect a move further to the right or for the organization to try to course correct in the face of what seems to be a real threat to its future?

PHILIPPE REINES, FORMER HILLARY CLINTON SPOKESMAN: Well, look, if you set aside all the problems that Wayne LaPierre has had over the last 10 years, whether it's the spending tens of thousands of dollars at Zegna boutiques in California or traveling to Italy, traveling to Florida, that even if there was someone in there or even if it was Wayne LaPierre that didn't abuse the finances, the NRA has had a real problem.

It's gone from six million members to about four million members -- that's a loss of a third. Its revenue has gone down about forty five percent. So, someone there, whether they're on the board or whether one of its lieutenants, or some that comes in needs to realize that the NRA seems to be out of step with its membership, the fact that's been bleeding people all this time.

You know, I'm probably not the person asked about what's going to happen next inside the NRA but I do know over the last couple years since the Attorney General of New York filed this in 2020, there are some people who have turned on Wayne LaPierre from inside the organization and more importantly, those people have signalled that they were open to some degree more gun control.

I don't think someone like me is ever going to sit here and applaud the NRA. But it is a, you know, fork in the road for them. And if they continue down this past no matter who is on top, then they are going to continue to believe and become, you know, eventually irrelevant.

PHILLIP: Yeah. And turning to politics now, the 2024 race and President Biden, he gave this key address at Valley Forge today. During that speech, he emphasized this idea of democracy and the role that it would play in his re-election campaign.

Now, Philippe, earlier today, presidential candidate Dean Phillips, he's a Democrat running against Biden, he criticized Biden for only discussing democracy when it benefits him. He's alluding to the idea that Democrats are not having a full primary process. Do you think that's a fair assessment?

REINES: That couldn't be any less of an unfair accusation because I'll tell you what, if you remember Joe Biden's initial announcement to run for President in April 2019, he flat out said he was doing so because he thought Donald Trump was an existential threat to the United States and that maybe we could handle four years of him, but certainly not eight.

Prior to the midterms in 2018, I believe he gave three or maybe even four different speeches about this very topic. To say to someone who's giving too many speeches or giving them speeches about democracy is wrong is kind of funny. But if you think about it, considering that this is a democratic process, the biggest thing that distinguishes us from the rest of the world.

So, no, I think Congressman Phillips is way off, and he's just throwing spaghetti at the proverbial wall to see what he could hit President Biden with, but this is not it. This is something the President clearly feels from the gut. And anyone watching the speech today see how him was actually coming through. And frankly how much he was relishing, hitting the former President.

PHILLIP: But what commitment to democracy -- mean -- having debates and the Democratic primary --having a Democratic -- a true Democratic primary?


REINES: Well, I mean, to begin with, there have been what? Five, six, seven, eight Republican primaries --debates and Donald Trump has skipped all of them for no other reason than being afraid. He'll probably be too afraid to debate, you know, in the general election against President Biden. I don't think President Biden is avoiding something, you know, all due

respect to the congressman, he's basically not on the radar. I don't think it's uncommon for a sitting president with essentially no primary challenger to speak of, certainly no legitimate or tenable to be debating them. And I think Joe Biden probably wants to. He probably wants to get out there and talk to all these gadflies.

PHILLIP: Mark, in terms of Biden's messaging here on the democracy piece, do you see this as really resonating? And is it resonating mostly with Democrats or is there a broader audience for this argument against Trump?

MCKINNON: Well, as Philippe knows really well, the importance of, you know, a fundamental, effective message is one, it's got to be relevant. Two, the candidate has to have some history and association with it, and he's got to be passionate about it.

He hits the trifecta on all these. And the speeches that I've seen of Biden's over the years, where I've said, wow, he's really connecting and he really believes this, he's really passionate about it, have all been about democracy. It was just a year or so ago.

He was down at the McCain Institute in Arizona talking about democracy. And it was one of the first times, I was like, God, this is a great speech. I don't say that very often about Biden. I think the same was true today.

The other thing I'll say about this issue is that it's, you know, this is an issue that never polled before, obviously before the insurrection, but it does now. And I've seen it in polls where it polls is the most important issue for people. And going to -- Biden's going to bring that into sharp focus next year. And it's important to realize that while he's doing that, there's going to be a trial.

And so, the story of the insurrection is going to be focused and crystallized in a trial that will be very helpful to Biden. And in addition, we have all these stories now about the fake electors. So, it's all kind of feeding the right machine, the right message machine for -- which is, I think, really where Biden wants to be and should be.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I think you're right about that. It's certainly not an issue that's going away anytime soon. Philippe Reines, Mark McKinnon, thank you both very much. Have a great weekend.

REINES: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: Bye, Mark. And tonight, hundreds of additional documents related to the case of Jeffrey Epstein are about to be released. And I'll speak with an Epstein accuser and get her reaction to what we've learned, next.




PHILLIP: Tonight, we have yet another fresh round of unsealed documents connected to Jeffrey Epstein, the convicted pedophile who died behind bars before facing trial on federal sex trafficking charges. The release follows the hundreds of pages that were made public this week.

And my next guest is an Epstein survivor. She was just 14 years old when she was recruited into his orbit, and she says that she was raped by him at the age of 15. And Jennifer Araoz joins me now along with her lawyer, Eric Lerner. Jennifer, thank you so much for being here tonight. There's been a lot of documents that were formerly held in the darkness now come to light. Of what you've seen, what do you think is the most significant of what's been out there this week?

JENNIFER ARAOZ, JEFFREY EPSTEIN ACCUSER: Well, I mean, I think a lot of people knew that there was a lot of enablers, a lot of people involved. And I just think that it's good that we have it out in the open, where we could actually, you know, make these people accountable for their crimes or their actions, for, you know, enabling a pedophile to do what he was doing for so long.

PHILLIP: What does it do to you psychologically, when again, all of this stuff from your past comes out into the public?

ARAOZ: I mean, you relive it every time, you know. I mean, trying to, you know, continue my life, continue my journey. I didn't want my story to end there, and it's not. But, you know, I want people to realize that, you know, these are very powerful, you know, men who should, you know, be accountable.

PHILLIP: So, tell us more about your story. How did you end up in Jeffrey Epstein's world?

ARAOZ: I mean, I was a young -- I was very young -- 2001 -- was 14 years old. And he pried upon, you know, innocent young women who had a lot of insecurities, you know, who were not exactly wealthy, who had a lot of damaging stories. And he pried upon, you know, girls like that. I had a lot of dreams and ambitions.

I went to a talent high school not too far away from his townhouse. And, you know, he promised me, you know, a modeling career. He promised me that he would get me in the arts, in theater, he knew so many people, you know. And that was obviously all a lie.

PHILLIP: The person who initially approached you, you haven't found that person, haven't really been able to identify that.

ARAOZ: Yeah, I mean, I don't -- I'm not exactly 100 percent sure. It was a long time ago.


ARAOZ: But I mean, there was a lot of people on the list.

[22:45:00] Well, some of his employees, obviously the secretaries, you know, I did know. And I had a, you know, filed a case against, so -- which I'm not sure why they weren't necessarily accountable, but for the most part, that's who I knew --


ARAOZ: -- on the list. But this person, Eric, is an important factor in Jennifer's story. If that person is found who recruited her into Epstein's world, what would be the plan from a legal perspective?

ERIC LERNER, ATTORNEY FOR JEFFREY EPSTEIN ACCUSER JENNIFER ARAOZ: Well, from a legal perspective, we would pursue whatever rights we had against that person. However, if that person was also a victim, we would probably have, you know, some sympathy towards them and we might not proceed if they were also a victim of Epstein.

PHILLIP: Do you think that's possible?

LERNER: Yeah, it's actually highly likely.

PHILLIP: There's also a lawsuit that you have that's been filed against Les Wexner. He's the former CEO of Victoria's Secret. You have accused him of enabling Epstein. He's been named in some of these documents as recently as this week. He says that he cut ties with Epstein back in 2007. He told investors that in 2019.

ARAOZ: I mean, the fact of the matter is that, you know, I have a lawsuit against him under the Child Victims Act. And, you know, he gave him his home to commit these heinous crimes. He, for me, you know, that everything that happened in that home, you know, destroyed my youth. I didn't pursue my dreams, I've stopped school.

PHILLIP: I just want to -- for you, Eric, here's what Wexner has said. You said he was "being taken advantage of by someone who was so sick, so cunning, so depraved and is something that I am embarrassed that I was even close to." But you hear what Jennifer has to say. She clearly does not see it that way. When you look at the evidence here, when it comes to this lawsuit against -- against Wexner, what should people know about why you all believe that he enabled Epstein?

LERNER: Well, I mean, Abby, you recently saw that J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank had been held accountable for financing Jeffrey Epstein in the tune of $590 million for both of these organizations. And if J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank were held responsible for financing Jeffrey Epstein, then certainly, Les Wexner is liable, as well.

PHILLIP: Where does this case stand right now?

LERNER: Right now, the case is pending. There is a motion to dismiss and Jennifer, you know, has strongly opposed that and she feels that she will be victorious and have her day in court.

PHILLIP: Jennifer, I --

ARAOZ: Yeah -- cause I already feel like I, you know, got my day in court already, kind of taken away from me when Epstein took his life, you know. And I just -- I have faith, you know, in the court and Judge Donnelly, that she will be just and fair and will give me this day in court.

PHILLIP: You mentioned Epstein, as he took his life, took something away from you in the process, as well. What does justice look like for you?

ARAOZ: I mean, me fighting publicly to give up my anonymity, to make sure that, you know, these powerful people don't get away with crimes like this, that I'm heard, that I'm seen, that I'm not going to go away. I want to fight for not only myself, but for any woman, young woman, young man out there who's been victimized, that, you know, you are heard, you know. That this is not going to continue.

PHILLIP: Jennifer, thank you for your bravery. Thank you for joining us tonight. Jennifer Araoz and Attorney Eric Lerner, thank you both.

ARAOZ: Thank you.

LERNER: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: Attorneys for Les Wexner have filed a motion to dismiss Jennifer Araoz's lawsuit and in that motion, they say that Araoz's claims are utterly devoid of merit and riddled with falsehoods. Now, in addition to that, in a statement to CNN, a spokesperson for Wexner said, quote, "Mr. Wexner sold the house to Epstein several years prior to the time of the allegations and had nothing to do with the home at the time." CNN has not independently verified that either way.

And tonight, new claims from the Trump campaign about the economy under President Biden. We have a fact check for you, next.




PHILLIP: The 2024 ad wars are officially underway, including one tonight from Trump about Biden's economy.


VOICE-OVER: Everywhere you look, Trump beats Biden on the economy. Take-home pay up six grand under Trump. Under Biden, down $7000. Mortgage rates low under Trump. Punishing under Biden. Personal and retirement investments up 40 percent under Trump. Under Biden, your investments fell along with other things.


Trump, he'll make America's economy great again.


PHILLIP: Our business team did some digging and here is a fact check on some of those claims in that ad. Starting with claim number one, gas prices.


VOICE-OVER: Everywhere you look, Trump beats Biden on the economy.


PHILLIP: Now, that one is false. If you look carefully, the ad claims that gas prices doubled under Biden, but that is not true. The average retail price under Biden is about $1 more than it is -- was under Trump, not two. Now, the current price, by the way, is $3.08. Now, claim number two, this.


VOICE-OVER: Take home pay, up six grand under Trump. Under Biden, down $7000.


PHILLIP: That one is partially true. The Census Bureau reports that the median household income rose by nearly seven percent in 2019 compared to the previous year, but it declined nearly three percent or $2000 during the 2020 pandemic. And it's true that incomes have been falling, but the change is $2000, not the $7000 that was cited in the ad.

Also, incomes fell by nearly three percent in Trump's final year in office. And finally, we have claim number three.


VOICE-OVER: Mortgage rates low under Trump, punishing under Biden.


PHILLIP: That one is true. The mortgage rates have risen dramatically since the pandemic ended due to the Fed taking aim at inflation. Now, rates have climbed as high as five percent under Trump and they're currently closer to seven. We'll be back in a moment.