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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

U.S. Strikes Targets In Iraq, Syria To Avenge Soldier Deaths; Biden On Retaliatory Strikes, U.S. Not Seeking Conflict; Admin Official To CNN, U.S. Will Not Strike Inside Iran; A Federal Judge Postpones The Trial Date For Trump's D.C. Election Interference Case; Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis Acknowledges A Personal Relationship With The Lead Prosecutor In The Trump Georgia Criminal Case. Aired 10- 11p ET

Aired February 02, 2024 - 22:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Adam Sandler posted this message on Instagram remembering him as a true, great man, a great dad, a great actor, a great athlete, loved his entire family and Carl will always be known as a true legend, that he certainly will be thinking of his family tonight.

Also tonight, as we were at break in the story we started out with, this is brand new video coming from the Pentagon tonight of those B-1 bombers taking off from Texas for the strikes tonight in the Middle East. Much more on what you were seeing here and this breaking news with CNN NEWSNIGHT with Abby Phillip starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: America fires back, but the revenge comes with a risk. That's tonight on NEWSNIGHT.

Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip.

President Biden tonight ordering strikes against Iran's military and some of its affiliated militias, which the U.S. blames for the death of three American troops in Jordan. Now, Biden's green light comes after days of considering options and the reluctance to spark a wider regional conflict.

Here's what we know at this hour. The Pentagon, it says that the U.S. forces have hit more than 85 targets in Iraq and in Syria from the air using long range bombers. The president says that this is just the beginning of a retaliation campaign and he warns of further strikes.

Now, a U.S. general says that the operation took just about 30 minutes and likely resulted in some militant casualties, but they insist that the targets were chosen specifically to avoid hitting civilians.

Now, remember, this is coming after weeks of tensions and provocations in the region by these militias since the Hamas attack on Israel. That includes the drone attack days ago on a U.S. outpost in Jordan. That's where the three service members that you see here were killed, dozens of others were hurt.

Now, President Biden today attended the dignified transfer of their remains at Dover before the news of the strikes.

Let's get straight to CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman in Amman, Jordan. Ben, you're there on the ground. What will the wider regional implications be of these strikes?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly these strikes represent, Abby, the closest the United States has ever gotten to direct war with Iran. Certainly, what we're seeing is that they are picking their targets carefully. Certainly, there's been plenty of forewarning that this was going to happen.

And we understand that many of the Iranian advisers in Syria and Iraq, as well as members of those militias, actually evacuated many of these facilities before they struck. But, certainly, this raises tensions, even further, tensions that were already very high as a result of Israel's war in Gaza. And it puts many of the governments in this part of the world in a difficult position.

On the one hand, there's not much love lost between many of the pro- American autocracies in the Middle East and Iran. On the other hand, they're very sensitive to popular public opinion, because many people see the United States as a direct participant in Israel's war in Gaza because of its very generous military and political support for Israel.

So, they're walking a fine line along with the United States. But the worry is that even though the United States has made it clear it will not strike Iran, the worry is that there could be a mistake, that some of these groups in Syria and Iraq, they don't take dictation from Iran, and oftentimes they act independently. And they could do things that could, in fact, draw the U.S. even further into basically what we're seeing as a medium-intensity regional war between the United States and Iran, but fought through proxies. The worry is that the war could be a direct military confrontation between Iran and the United States.

PHILLIP: Yes, something it seems no one really wants.

Ben Wedeman in Amman, thank you very much.

We're now here at the magic wall with former Pentagon Counterterrorism Official Alex Plitsas, who's going to give us a little bit more insight into what is happening there in that region.

Alex, we're just learning a little bit more about some of these locations where the strikes were carried out this evening and also where, of course, these U.S. troops were killed right here in Jordan on the border with Syria.


What does it tell you that we're talking about strikes inside of Syria and Iraq?

ALEX PLITSAS, FORMER PENTAGON COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: It's a great question because it hits right on the main point here, and it was what Ben was alluding to in the previous segment. The administration has been very clear over the last week, both publicly and privately, they do not want to war with Iran.

They do need to make sure that the IRGC, Iran's Quds Force, that has proxies all across the region, is held accountable for arming and equipping these groups, even if they didn't provide direct direction to these folks to come and conduct the attack itself, and they also want to start a war. So where do you do that and make that happen?

And so that would be in Iraq and Syria, where IRGC officers are stationed, and they're providing arms and whatnot to the militias. So, that's why we saw that today.

PHILLIP: Yes. There's also the fact that we're learning that this strike was carried out with a long-range bomber. We heard Ben talking about it earlier. This is the B-1 Lancer and it flew from the United States actually to the region. What does that tell you about the nature of this strike?

PLITSAS: So, the nature of the strike itself with the B-1, the B-1 was designed originally to fly underneath Russian radar, but it also has a ceiling of around 40,000 feet, somewhere between Mach 1.25 and down to 0.96 for its speed. But its real use here and its utility, as you can see, as you have is the weapons and the number of weapons that it can hold compared to a smaller aircraft, so smaller number of aircraft necessary.

And then there was also a lot of messaging ahead of time that a lot of leaks that have been gone uncontrolled, which should have been controlled at this point if it wasn't purposeful is what it sounds like, which I think was part of the messaging that we don't want to war with Iran. These aircraft are coming. They're going after targets there. They're not going to be inside of Iran.

PHILLIP: This all comes after these attacks on U.S. troops, essentially, that occurred on Sunday. These deadly attacks, as we were just discussing right there on the border, this is a region that is basically a tinderbox, but a message needs to be sent to Iran. That much the United States has made clear. Is this enough to do that, this reaction?

PLITSAS: I think the initial set of strikes are unlikely to be sufficient to do that based on what we've seen to date. So, the attack here where we saw the three U.S. troops that were killed, another 40 wounded, we saw statements being made.

There was confusion between Jordan and Syria because it's right on the border. The base actually protrudes across the base into Syria. And we saw previous strikes of a couple of F-16s bombing some small warehouses. It was sending a message. The Iranians simply didn't listen and neither did the militias.

So, it's clear more is going to be needed. And I think we're going to see more strikes in the coming days, as the president alluded to in his comments.

PHILLIP: All right. Alex Plitsas, thank you very much for all of that.

I'm joined now by CNN National Security Analyst James Clapper. He is the former director of national intelligence. Director Clapper, thanks for being here.

These strikes, according to our reporting, appear to target essentially supply lines that were used by these Iranian-backed militias. Is that, in your view, sending a strong enough message to Iran to cut this out?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I doubt it, Abby. I think if the approach is going to be to just punish the militia, the proxies in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, et cetera, and Lebanon, there's going to have to be a lot more of these kind of strikes that's going to have to take out a lot more of the militia infrastructure, when the ultimate objective here, of course, is to change the attitude and the behavior of the Iranians, who are calling on shots with these proxies.

So, if the approach is going, and we've stated this, we're not going to strike in Iran, I kind of wish we'd -- in a way, we'd left the Iranians wondering what we might do there. But if we're going to limit our attacks only to the militia, then we need to be prepared for a long haul, a long slog, to take out sufficient infrastructure to get them to change their behavior.

So, I understand the approach. We're trying to thread a needle here to change the behavior, but not induce a wider war, and that's a tough thing to do.

PHILLIP: For sure a tough call, but you're raising an interesting point. There have been some decisions made. There was a decision to wait about five days before responding to this. And as you pointed out, a senior administration official ruling out that there would be strikes inside of Iran.

What do you make of the decision of this administration to telegraph those -- to make those decisions to wait and to telegraph that?

CLAPPER: Well, I'm, you know, I'm an outside (INAUDIBLE) with no responsibility, but I will say that I would have -- had I been a part of the discussion, I would have recommended that we not telegraph the fact that we're not going to apparently do anything to -- against Iran directly, at least right now.


I had previously suggested that perhaps we consider some cyber attacks on a very selective basis, very careful, against Iran. But that's not the approach the administration has taken right now.

So, I think this is a preliminary first step. I think the use of the B-1 conveys a message, in a sense, using a bomber, a long-range intercontinental bomber for this mission, which perhaps is an indicator that we're in it for the long haul.

PHILLIP: What do you think Iran is going to do in response to all of this, the administration is particularly concerned about escalation and retaliation from Iran?

CLAPPER: Well, I think in large measure, Iran considers the proxy militias as expendable cannon fodder. And so unless there are Iranian advisers or liaison people, that sort of thing, that are connected with these militias, who themselves are killed, where we've then induced pain on the Iranians, even though they're outside Iran, that may have some effect. I don't know. But I think, ultimately, the infrastructure and the decision-making mechanisms in Iran are the ultimate target, if we're intent on changing behavior.

And I will say, Abby, kind of a big picture of comment here, why is all this going on? Well, the reason is, of course, is the war in Gaza. That is what is prompting this. So -- and this is kind -- I'll just reinforce a point I made before, that this issue is not soluble by military airstrikes alone. There has to be a political solution, first, to end the fighting in Gaza, and ultimately some sort of an arrangement to accommodate some sort of a two-state solution for the Palestinians. That, in a big picture sense, I think, is ultimately what has to be done to change the situation in the Middle East.

PHILLIP: It's an important point and one that we'll get to later in the show. Director James Clapper, thank you very much.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Abby, for having me.

PHILLIP: And next, the former IDF spokesman joins me live on how these strikes impact a ceasefire deal in leather Israel will see retaliation.

Plus, a major development tonight in Donald Trump's legal jeopardy, perhaps the most serious case against him will now be delayed. But what about the election?




PHILLIP: More now on our breaking news, the U.S. conducting air strikes against Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and in Syria as retaliation for the deaths of three U.S. soldiers. We're getting some new video of those B-1 bombers that flew from the U.S., making it to their targets in one nonstop flight. And these strikes come amid negotiations over a possible ceasefire and a hostage release deal between Israel and Hamas.

With us now is former IDF Spokesperson Jonathan Conricus. He is a senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Jonathan, good to see you here in the United States. The last few months, I think viewers became very familiar with you when you were in Israel as the spokesperson.

But now we're talking about what really amounts to an escalation, an offshoot of this conflict in Gaza. Three American soldiers killed and now retaliatory strikes from the U.S. Is the message that the administration is sending tonight, is that going to be enough to deter Iran?

JONATHAN CONRICUS, SENIOR FELLOW, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: Good evening. Thank you for having me. I'm not sure that it is an offshoot. I would rather look at the situation in the Middle East as one country that supports and exports terror in the region, Iran, which has proxies around Israel, Hamas being one of them, and we're engaged in war for the last three months against Hamas, and soon Israel will defeat Hamas. But on the other hand, Iran has other proxies in the region, and they, unfortunately, were able to kill three U.S. servicemen, and now the U.S. is retaliating.

The common denominator is the enemy, but it's not necessarily the same conflict, and I'm not entirely sure that the death of -- the very sad and unfortunate death of three American servicemen is related to the fight in Gaza, other than the fact that Iran wants to dominate the region and has proxies that do their dirty work for them.

PHILLIP: I should point out that these groups, many of them, see the United States as a party in Israel's war against Hamas in Gaza and have escalated their attacks as a result of that. But is Israel itself as concerned, as the United States seems to be, that, in general, the situation in the Middle East is so combustible that it could amount to a broader conflict in the region?

CONRICUS: Well, for Israel, it isn't combustible. We are already at war. We have more than 1,500 casualties. We have more than 500 soldiers killed and about 1,200 civilians killed. So, for us, it's not about, is this going to be bad? It really is bad. We have almost 200,000 Israeli civilians evacuated from their homes.

PHILLIP: But there's bad and then there's worse.

CONRICUS: Of course, correct, yes. And it can get worse if the biggest Iranian proxy in the region, which is Hezbollah in Lebanon, which is far more powerful than any of the other Iranian proxies, those in Syria, those in Iraq, and even Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.


If the situation escalates there and Hezbollah is told by their Iranian masters to launch a war against Israel, then yes, we could find ourselves in a very dangerous regional escalation, one that Israel is trying to prevent and I think that the U.S. has been trying to prevent that as well with diplomatic means and basically trying to get Hezbollah away from the Israeli border so that Israeli civilians can go back to their homes without necessitating the use of force.

PHILLIP: And just a few minutes ago you heard James Clapper say that he believes that, at the end of the day, what needs to happen is a political solution to this war and end to the fighting and a path toward a two-state solution, which has been the U.S. policy.

But in recent weeks, Prime Minister Netanyahu has voiced his opposition to a two-state solution. He posted on X, I will not compromise on full Israeli security control over the entire area west of Jordan. And this is contrary to a Palestinian state.

I wonder, how does denying a Palestinian state make Israel safer in the long run?

CONRICUS: You know, I respect the director, but I think statements about it, they're a bit tone deaf and people should really come to Israel, see the reality, understand the enemies that Israel face, understand their charter.

When you say in the same sentence that there needs to be an end to the fighting, defeat Hamas, an end to the fighting in Gaza, and in the same sentence you say two-state solution, you don't take into account what Hamas is.

Hamas is an organization that when they say, occupation, they don't mean Gaza, they mean Tel Aviv and Haifa and Jerusalem and all of Israel.

PHILLIP: A two-state solution isn't necessarily referring to a state controlled by Hamas. I think, obviously, in this case, it isn't. It's more about what happens to the Palestinian people and do they get to govern themselves.

So, I'll ask again, I mean, how is it that Israel could be safer by denying Palestinians a sovereign state?

CONRICUS: Definitely, you know, I think that the aim here when we look ahead, like all conflicts in history, they're eventually ended with political agreements, where both sides compromise and you find some kind of formula, which is livable for both sides

PHILLIP: Is it right then for Netanyahu to take that off the table at this stage?

CONRICUS: I think at this stage, a two-state solution, as the world has thought about it, the Oslo Accords and some kind of entire Palestinian state. At this time, I think it is very, very tone-deaf. You really have to listen to what the Palestinian Authority is saying. They're very insistent on not recognizing Israel, not recognizing Israel's right to exist, not even condemning Hamas attacks on October the 7th. The leader of the Palestinian Authority, who allegedly is the more rational player in Palestinian politics, he hasn't found it correct to condemn it.

PHILLIP: What is the solution to this political problem that would allow Palestinians to govern themselves and allow Israel to be secure? Do you see one at all -- put aside Hamas, put aside the Palestinian Authority, do you see one at all that involves Palestinians governing themselves?

CONRICUS: Definitely. That is the end of the conflict.

PHILLIP: Well, that's a two-state solution, so why take it off the table?

CONRICUS: At this stage when a Palestinian Authority is sponsoring and paying salaries to terrorists, including Hamas terrorists that went into Israel and butchered women and raped and murdered on the 7th of October, they're getting salaries by law from the Palestinian Authority. That isn't an authority that I think is inclined towards a peaceful solution. It starts with recognizing that you're standing next to someone else and that both parties have a right to exist and live within recognized borders.

When the Palestinians recognize that, whether it's the Palestinian Authority, and they have not, and definitely not Hamas, which is genocidal and wants to kill all Jews, once they recognize that, then, you know, four offers have been made by different Israeli prime ministers to end the conflict, to hand over significant parts of terrain and to end the conflict. But all those four offers were rejected by the Palestinians.

PHILLIP: Let me ask you one last final thing. A CNN investigation just a few days ago found that the IDF had destroyed at least 16 cemeteries around Gaza during the course of the war. Separately, The New York Times reports about the destruction of buildings, apartments, homes, essentially.

My question is, as someone who was in the IDF until recently was a spokesperson, is not anymore, but do you think that this is ultimately tactically necessary to carry out the war?


Because it seems to have the effect of really inflaming the Arab world, even if you could argue argue Gaza is one of the most densely populated places in the world, you could make a case that there's Hamas in every square inch of Gaza. But does that justify bulldozing cemeteries, bombing buildings?

CONRICUS: So, I agree that the optics, they're not good. When I saw the optics myself, I said, well, this doesn't look good, but I know what the Israeli troops are doing. They're looking for bodies of Israeli hostages. That's what the Israeli soldiers --

PHILLIP: In the graveyards? You're saying that's why they're both destroying the graveyard? I don't understand.

CONRICUS: They have been opening areas where there are fresh graves in order to look for bodies of Israeli hostages. That is how low Israeli troops have to go in order to try to find Israeli hostages. There are still 136 hostages in Gaza, some of them probably half are presumed dead. And it is the job of the IDF to find live hostages and if not possible, then dead.

I agree that the optics aren't pretty. War never is, but it's our duty to get -- it's the Israeli military's duty to get people back and it's the duty of the military to make sure that October 7th never happens again.

PHILLIP: And just to be clear, the IDF had said that they bulldozed these cemeteries because there were Hamas tunnels underneath. We weren't able to independently verify that despite visiting the site of these purported tunnels. You're saying there's a different objective here and it's to find the bodies of hostages?

CONRICUS: I'll tell you, even inside the Shifa Hospital, which I visited personally, together with Israeli troops, Israeli soldiers had to go in the cooling, the morgue, and look for Israeli bodies because there was intelligence suggesting that Hamas had taken Israelis and kept them at the Shifa hospital in storage, and we had to go in and look for bodies and do DNA testing.

That is something that I think no Israeli soldier ever thought that he would have to do, but that is what is necessary when you deal with an enemy like Hamas, when they go so low as to barter with bodies and deal in bodies, then at the end of the day, the IDF needs to get them back.

Hopefully, they'll be able to get them back through negotiations and some kind of deal, but if that doesn't work, then at the end of the day, these people need to be buried and they need to be buried properly back home, and if it means bad optics and verifying where bodies are, I think Israel has the obligation to do so.

PHILLIP: All right. Jonathan Conricus, thank you very much for joining us. Good to have you on set with us as well.

And up next, a win for Donald Trump's legal team today. What will it mean for the case and the very complicated legal schedule that he is heading into in this election?

Plus, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is now under fire. She is admitting that she had a personal relationship with the lead prosecutor in that Georgia election case. That's ahead.



PHILLIP: Some surprising news tonight. Perhaps the most serious case that Donald Trump is facing has now been delayed. A federal judge has postponed the trial date for his D.C. election interference case.

That case was supposed to begin on March 4th, but a U.S. District Judge, Tanya Chutkan, delayed the trial, while the courts hear a case on Trump's claims of presidential immunity. Now, that is a win for the former President's team, which has been working to push these trials past the presidential election in November. Joining me now is Nick Akerman, the Former Assistant Special Watergate

Prosecutor and Former Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York.

Nick, this is what Trump's team has wanted really all along. And actually the strategy of pushing even a presidential immunity case of this sort was about delaying it in the courts.

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Which has nothing to do with the merits of the case.

PHILLIP: So, what does this mean for the case? AKERMAN: Well, it's not going to mean a hell of a lot because there's

another case that's going to come right in in front of that. Instead, it's going to be the case in New York, which is the election interference case that was brought by New York that relates to the 2016 election.

So, there's just going to be another case put in its place. That case will probably last two to three weeks. And hopefully by then, the D.C. Circuit has sorted out this presidential immunity issue. And that case will move ahead after the New York case.

PHILLIP: Speaking of that case, "The Washington Post" today ran a headline I thought was interesting. They called it the runt of the Trump cases because a lot of people believe that this is the weakest of the cases. It's the one

that involves perhaps the least serious allegations against it.

AKERMAN: Absolutely incorrect. Incorrect. I just take no issue with that. This case involves Donald Trump basically defrauding the voters in the 2016 election. That's what it says right up front in the statement of facts for that indictment.

PHILLIP: So, do you think this is a strong case? Because the issue is that even people who do not like Donald Trump at all worry that this case on its merits, the one in New York with Alvin Bragg, is not as strong as some of the other cases.

AKERMAN: Oh, I think it's easily as strong as the other cases. You've got two accomplice witnesses. You've got Michael Cohen and you've got David Pecker from the National Enquirer, both of whom are going to corroborate each other about the scheme that Donald Trump had, in order to try and pay off these various women to keep them from telling their stories before the 2016 election.

The whole point was after the "Access Hollywood" tape, Donald Trump could not afford to have other people coming out and basically saying the same thing that he said on tape.


So, this case is extremely important. They're corroborated by a tape between Michael Cohen and Donald Trump, where Donald Trump is on tape, actually directing Michael Cohen to make out a check relating to Karen McDougal, the other woman that they're paying off. And you've got all of these documents and other witnesses that are going to corroborate each of these witnesses.

PHILLIP: The core of what might come in all those other cases we were just showing the timetable here --


PHILLIP: It is like a minefield of legal cases for Donald Trump. But at the heart of it might very well be this presidential immunity case. How quickly do you think, the court -- the Supreme Court, should and could make a final ruling on that issue? AKERMAN: I don't think they're going to take it. I don't think they're going to need to. I mean, they are up to their eyeballs now with this case on the 14th Amendment. And that is probably more than they want to bite off at this point.

There is no reason for them to take this immunity case. The D.C. Circuit is basically going to find that there is no presidential immunity under these circumstances. And Donald Trump will try and appeal it to the Supreme Court, but they're not going to take it.

PHILLIP: They will deny it. All right. Nick Akerman, great to see you. Thanks for joining us tonight.

AKERMAN: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And the Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis is now acknowledging a, quote, personal relationship with the prosecutor that she put in charge of the Georgia 2020 election subversion case. And she's facing a subpoena now from the House Judiciary Committee. We'll ask Democratic Congresswoman Madeline Dean, a member of that Committee, about it next.




PHILLIP: New tonight, Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis acknowledging a personal relationship with the lead prosecutor in the Trump Georgia criminal case. Now, over on Capitol Hill, the House Judiciary Committee is issuing a subpoena against her. That subpoena is part of a broader investigation that focuses on Willis' use of federal funds.

Now, Willis has yet to confirm whether she will comply with that order. For more on this, I want to bring in Pennsylvania Democratic Congresswoman Madeleine Dean. She's a member of the Judiciary Committee. Congresswoman, thanks for being here.

On the subject of the subpoena from your Republican colleagues, do you think that there are any valid concerns here about how Fani Willis used federal money and, for that matter, state money given her admission of this personal relationship?

MADELEINE DEAN (D) PENNSYLVANIA: Thanks, Abby for having me on. And I am a member of the Judiciary Committee, but I think this is a misuse of our authority. Mr. Jordan is in the wrong lane. Any strangely in the wrong lane because as you well know, Mr. Jordan is 631 days under subpoena that he has never responded to.

So, here he is issuing a subpoena against the D.A. in a state case. It's not our lane. We are not the prosecutors in that case. I'm very sad, upset for the prosecution of that case. Certainly, if there is an intra-office affair in this setting, it takes away from the work that all the good people there are doing, but we don't know the facts of that. And Mr. Jordan doesn't know the facts of that. And he's carrying the

water of Donald Trump to try to deflect, deflect, to be a part of the shadow government that is Donald Trump. As I said, it's a very sad thing.

PHILLIP: Taking off your -- well, taking off your Judiciary Committee hat for just a moment., you just mentioned that it is a sad thing. Are you worried that this could overshadow the validity of a really important case that is about the heart of what happened in 2020?

DEAN: It's an extraordinarily important case. As you well know, I was an impeachment manager in the second impeachment of Donald Trump, and we looked at the Georgia case. So, I don't think it will, in the end, overshadow. I do hope that people do the right thing, step aside from the roles that they have been assigned to.

PHILLIP: Who do you think should step aside, Congresswoman?

DEAN: Can you hear me?

PHILLIP: Who do you think should step aside, Congresswoman? Should it be Fani Willis?

DEAN: Certainly, I think the gentleman-appointed should step aside. I have not made any decision about Fani Willis. But I want to go back to Mr. Jordan. At the time of the insurrection, January 6th, I was there in the Capitol. I was taken out, rushed out, ordered to wear a gas mask and I thought that very day and everyday after, that any one of us who knew anything -- that's 1100 days ago, by the way.

Eleven hundred days ago, anyone of us who knew anything about the planning for that insurrection incited by the former President must come forward. How could you not hear an American citizen, Capitol police were attacked with American flags, with Trump flags? Mr. Jordan should have come forward 1100 days ago. Mr. Jordan is 631 days, by my count, beyond his own subpoena. He was asked to come forward voluntarily.


DEAN: So, all of that is -- it's non-sense. It's a distraction from the extraordinary wrong-doing of a former President.

PHILLIP: I want to get your take on some other Trump legal news. The judge, the federal judge in his election interference case has now canceled the March 4th start date for this trial. A new date hasn't been set yet, but what impact do you think that this could have on the election to have this case perhaps indefinitely postponed?

DEAN: Well, I'm somebody who doesn't believe that delaying adds to the American public's best interest.


DEAN: I do know that Donald Trump wallows in delay. It's what he has done over the course of decades in terms of litigation. He enjoys it. He searches for it, and delay is not in the best interest at this country or our democracy, our freedoms and, and what happens in this future election. And if you don't mind --

PHILLIP: I can't --

DEAN: -- there's something I care an awful lot about today -- do you mind if I pivot to it?


DEAN: I'm thinking of the President.

PHILLIP: Sure, Congresswoman.

DEAN: Thank you. And while all of this is important, but Donald Trump enjoys this kind of chaos and the salacious nature that he wallows in. But something happened today.

The President was a part, as well as the First Lady, was a part of the extraordinarily solemn -- I don't know a more solemn thing to do, which is the dignified transfer of deceased military members, three members who were brought home by way of Dover Military Base.

Sergeant William Jerome Rivers, Specialist Brianna Alexandra Moffat, Specialist Kennedy Landon Sanders. These are the people we should be focusing on in the 30 or 40 more service members who have honorably served our country. I don't want to focus on the dishonor that was Donald Trump. I never want to focus on that.

PHILLIP: And Congresswoman, we appreciate you mentioning their names and speaking their names, especially on this solemn day, as you pointed out. Congresswoman Madeleine Dean of Pennsylvania, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

DEAN: Thank you.

Phillip: And up next, Congresswoman Nancy Mace dramatically turning on Nikki Haley after relying on her endorsement for re-election. It's all on tape and you'll see it next. Plus, more on the breaking news, the U.S. striking Iranian militias in retaliation for the deaths of those three U.S. soldiers.




PHILLIP: Just like the tides on Myrtle Beach, Nancy Mace's loyalty, it comes and it goes. And a reminder, the South Carolina Congresswoman recruited Nikki Haley to help her get elected in 2022. When Donald Trump was the one who backed Mace's primary opponent, Trump, at the time, called Mace crazy and terrible. Now, fast forward to now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) NANCY MACE (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Nikki Haley is China's favorite governor. And in fact, if she had her way, South Carolina would be manufacturing spy balloons right here in our state. She rolled out the red carpet for Communist China when she was governor. Governor Haley started out as an accountant. She went from doing people's taxes to raising people's taxes.


PHILLIP: What a difference a year and some political wins make. When Mace used to be all over Charleston about Haley's credentials. Listen.


MACE: Nikki, I mean, we love you. The low country loves you. You're our new maroon over here. The only candidate on the stage that talked about how we should protect women and not demonize them was Nikki Haley. She's just done tremendous work on the national stage, but also the global stage, and right now we need leadership in this world.

I also want to thank former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley. She is a rock star. And she's been on the campaign trail with us the last couple of days. She's become a good friend, a good mentor. She's a great leader. She lives right here in the low country. She's been a great leader for the state of South Carolina.

NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDTATE: I'm proud Nancy Mace is our Congresswoman, and I hope you'll join me in voting for her.

MACE: I'm Nancy Mace, and I approve this message.


PHILLIP: Back in a moment.




PHILLIP: Before we go, there was a blockbuster jobs report today. The economy added more than 350,000 jobs in the month of January. It follows good reports on consumer confidence, wages, and of course, there's the stock market.

And even though President Biden and Democrats haven't yet been able to sell the bright spots to Americans, here's an interesting mea culpa from Donald Trump's former Economic Advisor Larry Kudlow.


LARRY KUDLOW, "KUDLOW" HOST: I mean, am I mea culpa? I was wrong about the slowdown in the recession. So was the entire --

UNKNOWN: I don't think you were wrong. It sounds so --

KUDLOW: -- forecasting fraternity. Well, the Fed -- everyone was wrong.


PHILLIP: Now sure, many predicted a recession, but Kudlow, he actually went the extra mile on the doomsday path. Week after week after week.


KUDLOW: It is a big, huge recession warning for 2024. But I'm just looking at the actual facts and I'm suggesting that there's a very high risk, probably 65 percent better, of a recession next year despite what "Wall Street' may or may not think.

UNKNOWN: That's the failure of his frenzied spending policies, his manic regulatory policies, and his war against fossil fuels.

KUDLOW: Right now, what you're seeing, business investment is down, business new orders are down, these are very big warning signs, and once again, I think Main Street America may be a lot smarter than the economics profession.


KUDLOW: So, almost surely the economy is headed for a significant slump. Now, it suffered inflationary recession in the first half of 2022, maybe headed for a deflationary recession next year 2024.

Recent polls show Biden's economy is rating at just 21 percent, with 78 percent saying it's in bad shape. Now, President Biden's blaming the media, ha ha, but he should blame his own policies.



PHILLIP: Let this be a lesson to us all. It's never too late to say you're sorry. Thank you for watching NEWSNIGHT. "LAURA COATES LIVE" starts right now. Hey, Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Abby, ha ha has got to be a meme somewhere in the universe. I don't know what it is and when I'm going to use it, but mark my words, I'll be using it.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I'll be waiting. I'll be waiting. Have a great show.

COATES: Thanks Abby, have a great weekend.