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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Biden Considers Risk Of Revenge After Three Soldiers Killed; The Secrecy Behind Tower 22, The U.S. Outpost Attacked; Trump Urges House GOP To Kill Bipartisan Border Deal; Border Situation, A Rallying Cry For Conservatives; E. Jean Carroll Speaks Out After Defamation Trial. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired January 29, 2024 - 22:00   ET



HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Her concert will end at about 5:00 A.M. Las Vegas time on Saturday, 11.5. She should make it back in plenty of time for the 3:30 start on Sunday. I have no doubt if she wants to be there, she will be there. She's Taylor Swift. She can do anything she wants.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Are your Taylor Swift sources saying that she'll be there?

ENTEN: I am -- yes, I believe she may very well be there. If my hopes and dreams come true, she will be there.

COLLINS: Harry Enten, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

COLLINS: And thank you so much for joining us on this busy news night. CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: President Biden confronts a presidency- defining decision. That's tonight on NewsNight.

Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip in New York.

And in just a minute, a CNN exclusive, my interview with Bernard and Francine Moffett, the parents of 23-year-old service member killed in a brazen attack on an American military outpost in Jordan. Their daughter, Breonna was one of three Army reservists who were murdered inside of Tower 22 when a terrorist drone evaded U.S. air defenses.

Now, the deaths are first reported -- the first reported American casualties since the October 7th Hamas rampage and it propelled Israel and Gaza into a brutal war.

Now, tonight, the president faces the most solemn choice, how to respond to that attack by Iranian-backed militants and if that response requires putting more of America's sons and daughters in harm's way. The president must weigh the risk of what happens next against the anguish of three families in the middle of mourning. And joining me now is Francine and Bernard Moffett. Their daughter, Breonna, was just 23 years old. Mr. and Mrs. Moffett, thank you so much for coming on the show tonight and I just want to say I'm so, so very sorry for your loss.

This is, I know, a really painful time for you. It's a devastating time for you and the families of the other service members, but, Francine, could you just tell us a little bit about your daughter, Breonna? What was she like?

FRANCINE MOFFETT, MOTHER OF U.S. SOLDIER KILLED IN JORDAN ATTACK: Breonna was always an amazing person. She just light up a room whenever -- whenever she walks in. She was my firstborn. And she was always there for like everybody.


F. MOFFETT: She loved her friends, she loved her family, and she was just so amazing, just so amazing.

PHILLIP: She gave the ultimate sacrifice for her country, and for that, you know that that can never be repaid. Bernard, I just wonder, tell us a little bit about what the last couple of days have been like for you. When did you learn about what happened?

B. MOFFETT: It was yesterday morning. It was just like on the movies or whatever. They came to the house and knocked on the door, the military. And it's been extremely rough, extremely rough. But we'd get through it though. We're definitely going to get through it.

PHILLIP: Was there any moment as you heard that there was an attack in that part of the world, Francine, that you thought that your daughter would be affected?

F. MOFFETT: We didn't hear of the attack until after we was notified.


F. MOFFETT: We was getting ready for church. I just got her little sister dressed, ready for church. I was getting ready to get myself dressed. So, we didn't hear of the attack until the military came and let us know that it was our baby.

PHILLIP: Breonna was your first daughter, your first child. Bernard, tell us about how the rest of your family is doing. My understanding is that she has a sister who's very close in age to her. Kiana (ph), how is everybody coping today?

B. MOFFETT: We're doing as best can be expected. My daughter, Kiana, she's been strong. She's been strong. It is rough on us right now because like you said, they're real close in age. And --yes, but we're getting through it.

[22:05:02] We're getting through it. I appreciate all the prayers that you guys have for our family and I just want to thank you all.

PHILLIP: Francine, what made Breonna want to join the Army?

F. MOFFETT: She -- we used to talk about it before she joined. And I was the first female in the family to join the military.


F. MOFFETT: So, we talked about it. And so she decided that this is the career choice that she wanted. So, she became the second female in the family to join the military. And she's very proud of herself. And I was always very proud of her. Because if that's the route that she wanted to take, I wanted her to do that, and she earned her service as she was always proud to be in the military. She was actually thinking about re-enlisting after her time was over with this one. So she was going to re-enlist. But, yes, she joined because her mother was a military person.

PHILLIP: Following in your footsteps in a lot of ways.

When did she start this deployment? And did she ever talk to you about going where she was going and any feelings that she might have had about that?

F. MOFFETT: She left in August of 2023. She was -- this is her first deployment, so she didn't know what to expect. So, I don't know if she had mixed feelings about it. We did talk about it, you know, all the time, but she just kind of had mixed feelings. She didn't have, you know --

B. MOFFETT: She didn't know what to expect.

F. MOFFETT: Yes, just didn't know what to expect. She's, you know, just being nervous.

PHILLIP: Yes, her first deployment, I mean, that's a big deal, a major experience for her. But it sounds like she was already ready to sign up again, which says so much about her.

Bernard and Francine, I want to ask you both, but I'll start with Bernard here. Take me back to the last time you spoke with your daughter. What was that conversation like? What do you remember about it?

B. MOFFETT: That conversation was about -- I think it was -- we were cooking. Now, we'll always come in and stick my head, you know, in there and just look, you know, we got to find stuff to let trips out, you know, and it probably was about food.

F. MOFFETT: So, the last time I spoke with her, she wanted me to send her package and I did. And in that package was her real estate book and some clothes. And the most important that was to her was her strawberry shortcake snack cakes and her sunflower seeds. She said, do not forget that. She had not had it and that's what she wanted. So, we just talked about her care package and she was just like smiling. She was actually getting ready to go to (INAUDIBLE) when I talked to her the last time. She's like, mom, I'm going to call you back, and I didn't hear from her. I didn't hear from her.

PHILLIP: Francine, I know that you're waiting to hear from the president.


PHILLIP: What do you want to hear from him? What do you want to say to him in this moment?

F. MOFFETT: I don't know what I'm expecting because my soul is just so broken. I don't know what to say. I don't know what to expect. I don't know what to hear, what to expect to hear. And, you know, we have the apologies, and I'm very thankful for the apologies. I just don't know at this moment. I can't explain it. I don't know.

B. MOFFETT: Sure can't.

PHILLIP: This is such a tough moment for you, for any family. But in these moments, obviously, we can't bring your baby back, but I hope that you can hold onto these memories of her. Can you share with us, Bernard and Francine, but I'll start with you again, Bernard, if you could just tell us one thing you'll miss the most about her, what would it be?


B. MOFFETT: I think it would be -- actually, it's a couple of things, but I think it would be that she loved drums. She loved -- she was a drum major of a local school here. And she loved Cadence, my son, as well. That's his part of my son's name, Cadence. But that's about what the strongest thing I can remember about her. And, of course, back to food, they were foods poachers (ph), all of her foods.

F. MOFFETT: So, the thing that I'm going to miss is that she just come up to the door and she was just banging on the door and then she just ran the house like, ma, ma, ma, what are you cooking, what are you doing? And I'm like nothing, Breonna. And she's like, are you cooking today? I'm like, I am, Breonna. What do you want to eat? It doesn't matter, just whatever you cook. I was like, okay. She's like well, I'll be back later.

So -- and she just always just went upstairs and called her friends and she just be so loud, like just very, very loud just always laughing and giggling and just having such a good time on the phone with her friends. And I just I just know that they miss her just as much as we do.

PHILLIP: Francine --

F. MOFFETT: And her sister.

PHILLIP: Yes, her sister. F. MOFFETT: And her sisters and her brother.

PHILLIP: Yes. Francine, I keep thinking about what you were saying about that last phone call with her. And you didn't get a chance to talk to her again. She wasn't able to call you back. What would you have said to her if she had been able to call you back?

F. MOFFETT: If we knew what we know now, we would have held on to that phone call as long as possible. We want to record it. Oh my God, I love you. And everything just -- and make sure that she knew how much we loved her and that we never wanted her to feel alone.


F. MOFFETT: And that we're always be right there by her side. And so this -- we just try to pull a moment of time, as long as possible.

PHILLIP: We feel that love, we feel your pain. I'm so very sorry. I'm so very sorry for your loss. But thank you for sharing your memories, your beautiful memories of Breonna, Francine and Bernard Moffett. Thank you again for joining us tonight.

B. MOFFETT: Thank you.

F. MOFFETT: Thank you so much for having us.

PHILLIP: And next for us, more on this mysterious U.S. base in the middle of the desert and what options Biden may be considering tonight to avenge their deaths. This is NewsNight.



PHILLIP: We have more on our breaking news tonight. President Biden is considering retaliation options for the deadliest attack on U.S. troops in the region since 13 service members were killed in the closing days of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Now, this weekend's drone attack targeted a little known U.S. base in Jordan called Tower 22. We're going to take a closer look now with Reena Ninan, a veteran foreign affairs correspondent, about what we're talking about here.

When we talk about Tower 22, a lot of people don't even know what this is. Talk to us about where it is in the region. It's strategically located, inly about 350 troops there. Why?

REENA NINAN, VETERAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: If you look at it right here, Abby, you see the access to Iraq and to Syria. The strategic mission of this space has been really to gather intelligence and to train. And Jordan, as you see, it's right here in Jordan, while they've been sort of secretive about it, this is a strategic training site for them as well, to get these forces trained up largely from Syrian rebels.

They focused -- you see the easy access to Iraq and to Syria, and that has been crucial in gathering that intelligence.

PHILLIP: I just want to zoom in here a little bit so you can see this is what it looks like from an aerial perspective. It is in the middle of nothing.

NINAN: which is why even most of us who operate understand the Middle East, this is not some sort of facility that we've all really come to know and understand. But just understanding the mission in that region, the attacks on U.S. troops in this area since October, since the war in Gaza has begun, over 160.

PHILLIP: Yes, let's take a look at some of those here, 98 in Syria, 66 in Iraq, and 1 in Jordan, 165 total. And this is really kind of the crux of the matter here. This is the apex of weeks, months of these kinds of attacks. When Biden looks at his options, what do you think he's weighing right now?

NINAN: There are a lot of things that they've already done based on these attacks already. They've struck weapons depots, they've struck military installations in Iraq and in Syria. They even took out an Iranian back leader in Iraq. That doesn't seem to deter Iran.

You've already heard the calls on Capitol Hill from Republicans saying there needs to be a more aggressive action. That could look like taking out maybe naval facilities, taking out other things for the Revolutionary Guard that have been influential in their installations as well.

But the real truth is, Abby, there aren't great options for the United States when you're looking at this region and what to do.


The trick is to put the pressure on, make them feel it, but not escalate in the Middle East, and that is not an easy thing to do right now.

PHILLIP: Yes, it certainly is not. This is perhaps the most difficult that balancing act has been in quite some time.

NINAN: And we heard from Secretary of State Blinken saying that this is the toughest it's been in the region since 1973. That tells you everything.

PHILLIP: Everything you need to know. Reena Ninan, thank you, as always.

And moments before the show, I spoke with Democratic Senator Mark Warner from Virginia. He's the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. And here's what he said about the need to respond to those attacks against U.S. troops without, as we were just discussing, inflaming tensions in the region.


SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): To date, we have not been able to push back some of these proxies. We will have to balance that with not having an expansion of the war in the region or potentially take down what has at least been announced on your network in terms of the potential deal over hostages. So, how you thread this needle is really important, but I think the President will do that, and we do need to send a much stronger response than what we've done to date.

But I would remind some of those most strong voices right now that under President Trump, there were a couple of times that he got up the line. A matter of fact, there was one meeting where he said he was going to strike. He thought better of it and didn't take that kind of action that might have then launched us into a war with Iran.

We've got those same conditions, but even potentially more so now because I think all of us would like to see this potential deal move forward with the exchange of hostages and potentially a pause in the conflict in Gaza. Anything that ratchets up the conflict overall in the region would very well have the possibility of unraveling that announced deal that still obviously got some more negotiations ago before it takes place.


PHILLIP: And you can watch that full interview with the senator on my social media channels right after the show.

And up next for us, it's the definition of cynical politics, Donald Trump and House Republicans blowing up a bipartisan border deal. Al Franken is here, and he joins me live on set to react.

Plus, we'll talk about how Civil War is being loosely mentioned by some conservatives and what he thinks of the potential Biden-Trump rematch.



PHILLIP: It seems everything is political these days, even compromise. Now, if you haven't been paying attention to this bipartisan border deal that's currently being negotiated on the Hill, here's the story in a nutshell.

The border is in crisis, senators from both parties are actually close to a deal that could offer some solutions, Donald Trump is attempting to blow it up in part because -- he admits this out loud, by the way, because it will help President Biden during an election year.

Now, House Republicans are predictably falling in line with all of this, basically arguing that the deal isn't perfect and so therefore it's dead on arrival. In fact, some Oklahoma Republicans are said to be looking to censure James Langford for even taking part in these talks.

And joining me now to discuss all of this is former Minnesota Senator and Host of the Al Franken Podcast Al Franken. So what do you make of this? Donald Trump, basically, as we like to say, saying the quiet part out loud, he's just telling everybody what the playbook is. Don't pass a border deal so that he can run on an out of control border. That's pretty cynical. I mean, it's pretty cynical.

FMR. SEN. AL FRANKEN (D-MN): You think so?

PHILLIP: And I think you and I maybe are pretty used to the cynical nature of Washington, but do you think it could work?

FRANKEN: Yes, if people forget that that's what it was about, but we got to keep reminding them that's what it's about. The problem with this -- I mean, James Lankford is about as conservative as you get on the border.

I know James, he's a friend of mine, but he's very, very conservative on the border.

PHILLIP: Yes, this is no moderate at all.

FRANKEN: Yes, not at all. And a compromise was created over months and months and months of negotiation. And this was going to pass. And it was going to pass out of the Senate and it was going to go to the House. And we didn't know exactly what the House was going to be, but now they will vote against it if it gets there.

But this is as cynical as you can get because it's -- basically, it's all about Trump. And it's not about what's best for the American people. It's not about what's best for immigrants. It's not about anything other than what works for him and getting elected president.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, when it comes to President Biden though and this border deal, I mean, as we were just saying, Senator James Lankford, one of the negotiators here, he is very conservative. This is a pretty hard line border proposal.

Are there --

FRANKEN: We don't know exactly what's in it.

PHILLIP: But some of the things that they're talking about involve giving the president the ability to basically shut the border down. If a certain number of people cross at a particular time period, are there risks here from a Democratic perspective that this could inflame the President Biden's base?

FRANKEN: It seems like the Democrats have no control over this, whatsoever, because all the Republicans who negotiated this in good faith, many of them are dropping out of this deal. So, this is not really on the Democrats at all. It's completely on Republicans and on Trump, as far as I can tell.

PHILLIP: Is it a political problem for President Biden if he cannot get a border deal across the finish line before his re-election is underway?


FRANKEN: Well, that's what Trump is hoping. On the other hand, there can be a backlash to this, which is if you and others in the media are saying this is exactly what happened, people will know that, oh, my gosh, this guy is out for himself, and that's it. That's who this guy is. This is just who Donald Trump is.

PHILLIP: So, this --

FRANKEN: And remember that part of this was about Ukraine, funding for Ukraine. That was the other --

PHILLIP: And Israel, by the way.

FRANKEN: Yeah, this is the other piece of that, though. And so what you're going to have fall apart is funding for Ukraine and Israel. And, but, this is, again, false to Trump.

PHILLIP: The thing about this border situation is that it's really a rallying cry for conservatives. When we looked at voters in Iowa and New Hampshire, it's a top issue basically for Republicans right now. And at the same time, you're hearing a lot of Republicans also talking about civil war and saying that this issue could provoke one.

Even a Putin ally recently said the same thing, that the view from Russia is that this border issue could provoke a civil war. When you see Republicans saying that and then also suggesting that the state of Texas, for example, should ignore the Supreme Court --

FRANKEN: Okay, well, this is about the razor wire --


FRANKEN: -- along the border that the Supreme Court voted --

PHILLIP: But do you think that if they --

FRANKEN: -- say that they had to take down the razor wire.

PHILLIP: But if they believe that now, it's okay to just ignore the Supreme Court --

FRANKEN: Well, it isn't, is it?

PHILLIP: What happens next?

FRANKEN: Well, then the federal government comes in and says, we're sorry, Texas, but federal borders are enforced by the federal government, not state governments, and we're taking down your razor wire. And if, God forbid, someone shoots at one of us, we're going to respond. I mean, this -- we have a form of government, right?

And the federal government controls federal borders and as clear-cut as that, this is a very conservative Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court made this ruling to take down this razor wire.

PHILLIP: November looks likely to be a Biden Trump match-up. How do you think --

FRANKEN: How do you say so?

PHILLIP: How do you think that goes if let's say the election were held today?

FRANKEN: By polling today, this changes all the time but I don't know. It's going to be a close election either way is what I say. I would like to see people like James Mattis and John Kelly. I want to read -- can I read a couple things? This is John Kelly on President Trump, the depths of his dishonesty, -- Kelly was his Chief of Staff --"The depths of his dishonesty is just astounding to me. He is the most flawed person I've ever met in my life." Okay?

This is James Mattis who was a Sec Def. He is more dangerous than anyone I could ever imagine. I would like to see those former Trump administration officials start to say who this guy is.

PHILLIP: Do you expect that will happen? I mean, they haven't.

FRANKEN: They seem to make one statement.

PHILLIP: They put out these statements, but they don't come out forcefully in the way that you're describing.

FRANKEN: I know. That's a shame, isn't it? But I would urge them to do it. I hope they're watching right now. Because if they're patriots and they feel this way about this guy, he's the most dangerous person they've ever seen, that he's the lowest character of anyone they've ever met. It's your patriotic duty to get out there and tell people about this. We can't have this man running our government.

PHILLIP: Some of the toughest critics of Donald Trump are the ones who work for him. Al Franken, thank you very much for joining us. Appreciate it.

FRANKEN: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And ahead, Sunny Hostin will join me on E. Jean Carroll speaking out for the first time since that huge $83 million verdict against Trump. Plus, Taylor Swift is now the center, believe it or not, of conspiracy theories involving her boyfriend. The election and a rigged Super Bowl. Jemele Hill will join me live, next.



PHILLIP: They say that endorsements don't matter anymore, but now that Taylor Swift's boyfriend is going to the Super Bowl, right-wing media is really worried about the impact of one in particular.


CHARLY ARNOLT, OUTKICK.COM HOST: Now, there's an online plea circulating that is begging people to become Niners fans for the next two weeks. Just so it doesn't raise Travis Kelce, AKA Mr. Pfizer's star power, along with, of course, Taylor Swift.

UNKNOWN: That -- that's persuadable power. And this administration is locked dead set on harnessing that.

UNKNOWN: But why alienate that -- your fans, the Swifties? You know, they come across from every political ideology. Why put yourself in one area?

ARNOLT: Please don't believe everything Taylor Swift says. We're all begging you.


PHILLIP: So, when it comes to some people losing their minds over the pop star, Vivek takes the cake.


Ramaswamy says that the NFL is rigging the Super Bowl to give Taylor Swift more airtime ahead of her endorsement of Joe Biden. Jemele Hill is a contributing writer for "The Atlantic" and she joins me now. Jemele, that is quite a conspiracy, I have to say.

JEMELE HILL, CONTRIBUTING WRITER, "THE ATLANTIC": Look, as it is, it's been super annoying to see people really lose it over Taylor Swift being at NFL games. All right. I can tell you, I don't care. She doesn't take away from any of my enjoyment from the game.

But a lot of people have been complaining, a lot of hardcore football fans who melt down for the 15 seconds that she's seen on camera. And this is taking it to a new level.

Listen, we know the group that he's talking to, and as much as Vivek was trying to be tongue in cheek. The reality is that that's the kind of group that he's talking to a lot of times that will take things like that very seriously and think that this is some greater NFL conspiracy to have Taylor Swift in the Super Bowl, that it's all a part of some elaborate scheme because Travis Kelce has been a spokesperson for Pfizer.

And not only is it ridiculous, and frankly, it insults the intelligence of the American people, but it is unfortunately showing just how divisive our politics have become, that you can't even enjoy the Super Bowl without somebody throwing this cloud of suspicion and total rampant, unattributable speculation behind this event.

PHILLIP: I mean, I don't know that it's tongue in cheek to be honest.

HILL: I was trying to give them the benefit of the doubt.

PHILLIP: Being very generous. You're being very generous.

HILL: I probably am, probably more generous than that person deserves, but I have got to be thinking he's kidding. If not, then I'm really worried that this is somebody who actually thought he was fit to be President.

PHILLIP: So, Taylor Swift, she has dabbled in politics before. Back in 2018, she actually called Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn, Trump in a wig. She backed Blackburn's Democratic rivals. So, she's done this before in a way. But now it's politics, it's football. Is there a risk here that she could be kind of drawn into something that maybe she doesn't want to be drawn into right now?

HILL: I mean, based off just her past actions in terms of getting people to vote, like she's encouraged young people to vote and that supposedly, you know, by the metrics, it has certainly made a major difference. Just because you're a pop star or a celebrity or, you know, someone in the limelight, that doesn't mean that you automatically feel like you don't have a responsibility for certain civic duties.

I promise you, if Taylor Swift, if she were a conservative, then they would have no problem accepting the fact that, you know, she has the expectations or the politicians you know, that she feels like that she needs to use her platform. It's not for everybody. And everybody is not informed enough to do what she has done.

But you can't say, you can't say that Taylor Swift doesn't have a right to her opinion and a right to endorse or use her platform in a way that she feels like will be beneficial.

PHILLIP: Yeah, she certainly does. But before you go, Jemele, real quick, I just want to play something that you posted today. Just listen to this.


IAN WALLACE, TERRITORY MEDICAL ASSOCIATE, APPLIED MEDICAL: From the time it was decided that the 49ers in alliance with one to play each other for an NFC championship, I've been terrorizing my lovely wife with childish antics. I talk to her team and disrespect her 49ers merchandise. I --what's this word?

HILL: Apologize.

WALLACE: Apologize to the 49er faithful for my immature behavior.


PHILLIP: Now, do I need to send the authorities to go check on your husband? How is he doing?

HILL: You know what? This is what people need to understand. I only responded, Abby. Okay? This was, he terrorized me ever since the matchup was set between Detroit and the 49ers. Yes, I am from Detroit. We're both from Detroit, but I have been a lifelong 49er fan. I have been following and been a fan of this team for 40 years. He chose violence on the first day. He threw my 49ers jerseys in the trash.

So, he chose it the first day. And so I decided I would finish it. And I did because this was the bet. Like, ahead the 49ers lost to the Lions, I would have been on camera reading a statement and apologizing to the Lions fan base. So, and this was something he came up with. So, he got everything that he earned.


HILL: And so, I wrote a prepared statement for him and he had to say that before the masses and I blasted it on all my social channels. And he earned this humiliation.


He did everything to deserve it.

PHILLIP: I am never betting against you, Jemele. That is for sure. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. I appreciate it.

HILL: And I appreciate you, too, Abby.

PHILLIP: And a strange silence from Donald Trump after he was ordered to pay over $83 million to E. Jean Carroll. I'll discuss that with Sunny Hostin, who's here, next.



PHILLIP: E. Jean Carroll is speaking out for the first time after a jury ordered Donald Trump to pay the columnist $83 million for defaming her.


UNKNOWN: Did you make eye contact with him?

CARROLL: Many times.

UNKNOWN: And what was that like?

CARROLL: He's an emperor without clothes. I had been prepared for the worst force, you know, on the Earth today, the most powerful, the most effective, the most money, the richest, the most, you know, you know. And there he is. He's nothing.


PHILLIP: And joining me now is Sunny Hostin, a lawyer, journalist, and author, and the co-host of ABC's "The View". Sunny, great to have you here on the set.

SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I'm so happy to be here.

PHILLIP: We have a lot to talk about.


PHILLIP: I'm going to start with maybe your favorite topic, least favorite topic, Donald Trump.


PHILLIP: So, he has frequently attacked E. Jean Carroll, who accused him and won this defamation suit.


PHILLIP: He now has to pay $83 million.

HOSTIN: Eighty three point three million. Yes.

PHILLIP: And is very silent, uncharacteristically. What do you make of the fact that he is not mentioning her now?

HOSTIN: Well, I think $83.3 million is pretty sobering, even for someone like Donald Trump. He had already been found guilty of defaming her, right? And he, I think, was penalized about $5 million. That amount had to be placed in escrow. So, he already knew $5 million. He may have to pay, but he was going to appeal that.

I would say when he left the courtroom, he immediately began defaming her again, one time posting within about an hour, 37 times, within 13 minutes right before the trial, about 43 or 47 times. And so, this trial is because he has no impulse control. I mean, he has less impulse control than my 17-year-old daughter, whose frontal lobe is not quite yet developed.

And he now has learned that there are consequences to not having impulse control when it comes to defaming someone. Because if you injure someone's reputation to this extent, which he has, a jury will penalize you for that.

PHILLIP: But I wonder whether he, on the question of whether he's learned the lesson, I mean, Trump's conduct, not just in this case, but in a lot of these cases that he's facing, has been so extraordinary. I mean, you're an attorney, you understand. No one else could get away with these things.


PHILLLIP: In this case, this is about money.


PHILLIP: But some of these other cases are about his literal freedom. Do you think that this will impact how he approaches those other cases?

HOSTIN: I think this is very sobering for him. And I think that's why he's been pretty silent. Again, I think he lacks impulse control. I think that he would be the king if he could be. I think that he won't be able to control himself, especially when it's a criminal case.

And I will tell you, there's a case pending in New York, that's civil. There's a case pending in Georgia, has some trouble right now, some problems, that's criminal. There's a case pending in D.C. at the U.S. Attorney's Office, that's where I practice law.

You pull this in front of a federal judge, they're not going to be as, I would say, even kind as this New York judge was. And you can be found in contempt as most people would, and you would be put in jail. I mean, that's generally what happens in federal court.


HOSTIN: I've asked people to be put in jail for being in contempt of court. And so I hope that this is a sobering moment, and he realizes that the law is the law and applies equally to everyone. But somehow, Abby, I don't believe it.

PHILLIP: It's hard.


PHILLIP: I mean, he's so contemptuous of all of these processes.


PHILLIP: Sunny, I want to get your take on another thing, just breaking, just this afternoon.


PHILLIP: Down in South Carolina, the attorney, Alec Murdoch, he was found guilty of killing his wife and his son.


PHILLIP: He tried to get a new trial because they said that a court clerk tampered with the jury.


PHILLIP: Now, the judge rejected that claim, said no new trial. What do you make of the decision of the judge so quickly to come down and say, this is not enough for me to throw out this verdict and start afresh?

HOSTIN: Well, there's a significant amount of evidence against him. He wasn't only found guilty of murdering his youngest son and his wife, he was also found guilty of almost as many counts as Donald Trump has been indicted on. I think it's over 100 counts in civil cases. And so, this is a person that also just can't seem to follow the law, even though he's an attorney.

I will say I disagree with the judge's finding, and I wouldn't be surprised if there was an appeal here, because it only takes -- it's a jury of 12 when there's a criminal case.


HOSTIN: It only takes one person for a hung jury, and that's -- that really means that you have to try it again. You can choose to try it again or not. And so, there was one juror, I think they're calling her juror Z, I could be wrong about that, Y or Z. And she says, everything that this court clerk said to her convinced her of his guilt. That in my opinion is enough to grant a new trial.

I was a prosecutor. This is something that is just unheard of. You don't want to speak to the jury if you're the clerk. You don't want to speak to the jury if you're the prosecutor. You don't want to speak to the jury if you're the defense attorney. You stay as far away as possible so that this kind of thing doesn't happen. So, I hate to say that a judge got it wrong, but I suspect that this judge may have gotten that wrong.

PHILLIP: And that this may not be the end of the story.


PHILLIP: Sunny Hostin, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

HOSTIN: Thanks for having me.

PHILLIP: And thank you for watching "NewsNight". "Laura Coates Live" starts next.