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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Border Deal is Breaking and Trump is Holding Hammer; Trump Urges Supreme Court to Keep Him on Ballot; "NewsNight" Learns Trump Did Meet With Long-Time RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel At Mar-A-Lago; Putin Expects A Friendly Interview By Tucker Carlson. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 05, 2024 - 22:00   ET




I'm pretty sure everyone who was watching at home did as well.

It was a welcome return to the stage for Chapman, who has largely stayed away from the public eye. It was 35 years ago actually at the 1989 Grammys that she performed that song and took home an award. I should note, Luke Combs was born just a year after that.

Her version of the song though has now rocketed back up to the top of the iTunes chart tonight. It was a great moment. Everyone should go watch it if you haven't seen the whole thing.

I want to thank you so much for joining us on this Monday night. We have a busy week ahead, but CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillips starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: The border deal is breaking and Donald Trump is holding the hammer. That's tonight on NewsNight.

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

Tonight, that sound that you hear is a deal meant to corral the crisis at the border dying on the vine. Republican leadership tells CNN that they don't expect a vote on Wednesday on that long-negotiated national security package. It's a package that Republicans said they wanted so much so that they held up aid for other national security priorities like Ukraine, like Israel, but they didn't want it, or at least they didn't, until Donald Trump said he didn't.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It's a trap for Republicans that would be so stupid, so foolish to sign a bill like this. And it's not only that, it's massive amounts of money going out of town, as we say, going out of town, billions and billions and billions of dollars, one of the dumbest bills I've ever seen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: Now, the math, right, is now obvious, and so are the politics. The lead Republican negotiator on this one is James Lankford of Oklahoma. He is a no doubt ruby red conservative. But daring to do something that the former president just doesn't like is a surefire way to wind up on the business end of a Trump insult.


TRUMP: This bill is impossible to believe that somebody actually negotiated. And he's a very nice guy. James is a very nice guy. But this is not a good thing for him.


PHILLIP: Let's start with CNN's Daniel Dale, who has a fact check, much needed, for us about what's in this bill. Let's start, Daniel, with the claims that this is an amnesty bill. What's the truth here?

DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: Yes. You're seeing this all over social media from a variety of right wing lawmakers and from right wing commentators, like Donald Trump Jr., it just is not true, Abby. This is maybe less a fact check than a plea for words to have meaning. There is no amnesty in this bill. It does not provide legal status to any people -- with any undocumented people or people living illegally in this country now.

You don't take it from me. You can take it from policy experts, like Aaron Reichin-Melnick, who tweeted, there's not one single line of amnesty in here. You can even take it from a Fox News reporter whose tweet you see there. He covers immigration, very critical of President Biden. He says there is no amnesty or legalization in the bill.

Now, I'm sure there will be pushback to some on the right, it seems, any immigration bill that provides any permission for anyone to do anything is an amnesty bill, but, again, I think word should have meaning this is not amnesty legislation.

PHILLIP: Yes, words absolutely should have meaning, and for some, it doesn't.

Look, some Republicans have also argued that there doesn't even need to be a border bill, because the president already has all the power that he needs to close the border entirely. What are the facts on that one?

DALE: See, on this one, Abby, I don't think we should issue a firm, you know, true or false verdict because it's the Supreme Court, which can be unpredictable, that would render the judgment on whether a hypothetical border closure under current law was lawful or not. But there is great reason, I think, for skepticism.

And there's context that former President Trump and Speaker Johnson and others are not mentioning when they claim that President Biden already has the power to close the border. And it's this. President Trump himself essentially tried it under current law in 2018. In 2018, President Trump tried to execute an asylum ban, essentially ban asylum for anyone entering the country over the Mexican border between ports of entry.

And here's the key thing. It was quickly blocked by federal courts. The Ninth Circuit quickly blocked it, and the Supreme Court declined to reverse the Ninth Circuit. The Supreme Court voted 5-4 not to lift the block.

Now, of course, we do have a different court today. It's a 6-3 conservative court rather than a 5-4 court. Again, anything could happen if a hypothetical closure got there. But again, the claim that President Biden could just do this now is, at very best, unproven.

PHILLIP: Yes. Donald Trump is also attacking the key Republican negotiator, Senator James Lankford. We played a little bit of that earlier. He's making a claim about an endorsement specifically.


What is happening here?

DALE: Yes, so this was an interview former President Trump did today with right wing commentator Dan Bongino. Listen to the exchange.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump endorsed Senator Lankford. Yes, you know what, I get asked for endorsements all the time and people let you down.

TRUMP: Just to correct the record, I did not endorse Senator Langford. I didn't do it. He ran and I did not endorse him.


DALE: So, this is a classic genre, Abby, of Donald Trump lie. You know, someone he's affiliated with, associated with, has hung out with, gets in some sort of trouble or is taking political heat. All of a sudden, I don't know him, never met him, barely spoke to him, barely had any contact, in this case, didn't endorse him.

As you can see right there on the screen, Donald Trump endorsed Senator James Lankford. This was September 2022, during the general election in the midterms. He issued what he calls a complete and total endorsement. And here's the key. He not only endorsed him, but said he is strong on the border in that very endorsement statement.

PHILLIP: Well, facts don't lie. Daniel Dale, thank you, I appreciate it.

DALE: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And joining me now is Senator Alex Padilla of California. He is one of the sole two Democrats in the Senate who oppose this bill, at least publicly right now. He's criticized it for failing to address DREAMERs and has called it a failed Trump-era immigration policy.

Senator, thanks for joining us right now on this very busy night, I'm sure for you. I want to know, as things are ongoing right now on Capitol Hill, what are you hearing about the prospects of this bill getting to a floor vote in the next couple of days?

SEN. ALEX PADILLA (D-CA): Well, thanks for having me, Abby. And what I'm hearing around the Capitol is a lot of questions, a lot of concerns, frankly, on both sides of the aisle about this package that after months and months of hearing will might be on the table, hearing rumors about what was under consideration, we finally have language to review.

And as you said, I do have my concerns. And as written, it's not something that I could support, both for reasons of what's in the package, like Trump era policies of regular border closures, lack of due process, those sorts of things, which we know just didn't work, the numbers don't lie, but also for what's not in the bill.

Historically, we've bound some border enforcement proposals with some legal pathways, for example, not a single DREAMER will benefit or receive relief through this measure. Not a single farm worker or other essential worker will have relief in this measure. So, there's not like about what's in it and a lot to be concerned about what's lacking.

PHILLIP: In just the last few hours you were meeting with members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to hear from one of the chief negotiators of this proposal, Senator Chris Murphy, one of your colleagues.

What was the takeaway from that meeting? Was he pitching this to you with any particular selling point in mind?

PADILLA: Yes. Well, as I think the conversation started with really a recognition of if it was a nearly impossible assignment. And so while there was some credit given to Senator Murphy for taking on the challenge of trying to broker a bipartisan deal, I think the political circumstances, really, the political dynamics on the Republican side of the country right now are not amenable to a package that is truly a solution to the challenge, one that will provide not just a more secure border, a more orderly border and a more humane border.

So, he was giving the overview of the deal that was released and answering a lot of questions. I had to leave before it was over. But I think Congressional Hispanic Caucus members have a lot of the same concerns that I've expressed, not just elements of what's in the bill, but what's lacking and questions about process. Not a single member of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus at the table during these negotiations and beyond that, not a single border state Democrat. So, the whole negotiation was lacking the voice of the very representatives whose constituents, whose districts are most impacted by this.

PHILLIP: You know, you, as a senator and as a border state senator at that, you have deep experience in this area, but the timing of this, the political timing of this suggests that this might be the only shot that there is at some kind of bill addressing the immigration problems that I think almost everyone acknowledges are reaching a boiling point right now, not just at the border, but in American cities. Are you concerned that at the end of all of this, nothing will get done this year on this issue?

PADILLA: Look, I am concerned. I've been concerned for the more than three years since I've been a member of the United States Senate. I've been very clear since I first arrived that this was a top priority of mine modernizing our immigration laws and our immigration system because it is significantly outdated.


PHILLIP: But, Senator, if this is the only bill that is going anywhere, even potentially. It's not a choice between your ideal proposals, which I'm sure are more comprehensive, and this, it's a choice between this potentially and nothing. Would you choose nothing over this?

PADILLA: Look, I think the choice is not just this versus nothing. The choice is, really, is this something that's going to help the situation or is this going to make the problem worse? If the Trump administration experience with Title 42 as any indicator, this could create more chaos at the border, make the problem worse, not better.

So, the other question that you asked about timing, it's how Republicans have decided when to get serious about this stuff. They can't have it both ways, Abby. They can't say, for example, this is urgent, we need to act, and then say we need more time, and let's wait until November, because that's what Donald Trump wants them to do. They can't, on the one hand, say we need DHS Secretary Mayorkas in the room to craft a meaningful deal, while the other hand said, let's impeach Secretary Mayorkas.

So, the Republicans have got to figure out if they're serious or if we're truly going to take advantage of this narrow window of time to do something soon.

PHILLIP: So, as you pointed out, Donald Trump is opposed to this, but the House speaker, Mike Johnson, says it's dead on arrival. Another high-ranking Republican senator, John Thune, they're suggesting that they may not support it.

This could end right here, because Republicans wanted to. Would Democrats be giving them what they want by not moving the ball forward in even a small measure on some kind of immigration bill?

PADILLA: Look, Republicans are the reason we're here to begin with. The only reason we are where we are is because Republicans insisted on tying aid to Ukraine to changing what's happening at the border. We should never have been here to begin with. We should have advanced aid to Ukraine a long time ago, but they wanted to engage in a border negotiation, if you will, in after months of participating in it. If they're walking away from it, again, the question is on them.

When are they going to get serious? We know the solutions that will work. Let's not go back to a Trump playbook that was shown to fail. PHILLIP: Yes, it is a question for the folks on the Republican side who oppose it. What would they support that would actually fix what's going on at the border?

Senator Alex Padilla, I know that there's so much more to come on this issue. Thank you for joining us with the latest updates.

PADILLA: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And next, Donald Trump makes his final pitch to the Supreme Court on why he should be kept on the ballot. Someone who just changed his mind on this very issue joins me live.

Plus, a very public breakup is unfolding now in real time as the head of the RNC gets a big push in the back.

And a vague, mysterious cancer diagnosis for King Charles, what this means for his health and also for the future of the royals.



PHILLIP: Tonight, a teaser about what Donald Trump plans to tell the Supreme Court. And at stake is his name, staying on the ballot in November.

The former president's lawyers appear before the Supremes this week. And today they gave us a sneak peek of sorts about how they plan to sway the justices.

Now, it's a pretty unoriginal argument that his lawyers have made over and over again. The people, not the people interested to uphold the law, should ultimately decide this.

Joining me tonight to talk through some of the Supreme Court's eventual decision-making and what it means for voters everywhere is Washington Post Columnist E.J. Dionne and veteran journalist and longtime Fox News Correspondent, Geraldo Rivera.

E.J., we wanted to have you on because you have interestingly here changed your mind about this very question of whether Donald Trump should be taken off the ballot if he is the nominee. Why did that happen?

E.J. DIONNE JR., COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, when the Colorado court ruled him off the ballot last December, I was very skeptical. And my thinking then was the practical thing, and probably the better thing for the long run, I thought then, was let the people decide this. If they vote Donald Trump down again, we will settle a very big issue in public life. And that's the sort of the road to stability.

Then I started looking at the plain language of the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment says that anyone who took an oath to uphold the Constitution and supports, engages in insurrection or rebellion against it, or gives aid and comfort to those who do are ineligible to be president and to hold any office in the government.

And then I read historians, listened to them, to lawyers. And it's very clear that the Section 3 is designed precisely to disqualify from the presidency someone who engaged in exactly the behavior Donald Trump did, that Trump effectively disqualified himself by what he did in the run-up to January 6th and on January 6th itself.

And this isn't a partisan view. In fact, I think the partisan view for Democrats would be keep Trump on the ballot. He is the weakest candidate. For me, this is sort of being true to what the people who passed that amendment back in 1866 intended when they passed it. And so I think he is plainly ineligible under Section 3, and that's what the court should say.

PHILLIP: So, Geraldo, that sounds like originalism to me. If the plain text of the 14th Amendment says what it says, shouldn't conservatives be the one saying, well, we got to follow it?

GERALDO RIVERA, JOURNALIST: I totally disagree, with all due respect. E.J. was right when he first had the opinion that the courts should not have this ability to do the removal, the profoundly damaging to the 1.4 million people who voted for Trump from Colorado in 2020, denying them, you're killing democracy to save it.


By what court has Donald Trump been found guilty of inciting a riot? By what court has he been guilty of inciting an insurrection? There's been no finding. He was tried in the House of Representatives. They sent it to the Senate. The Senate tried him. He was acquitted of exactly what this insurrection incitement is. He was acquitted. There's been no finding.

This is substituting -- this is lawfare. This is substituting legal process for political gains, keeping him off the ballot because you're afraid you can't beat him in a general election.

I do not support Donald Trump. I think what Donald Trump did in the days leading up to January 6th and the riots of January 6th was appalling. That's why I turned my back on him. That does not mean the Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, which was designed for President Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy and the other people who were truly in insurrection against the government of the United States should be banned from running for office.

This does not mean a political candidate in this day and age. I think this is really absurd by a narrow sliver, four to three in the Colorado Supreme Court. This is going to go to the Supreme Court of the United States and I guarantee you, you can rerun this clip when it happens, the Supreme Court of the United States will find Colorado did not have the right to take him off the ballot, for goodness sake, the leading candidate, E.J., he's the leading candidate. By far, he's the only candidate essentially in the long run here. But I just don't understand why. They're so afraid of Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: We'll play the clip back, Geraldo, if we have the opportunity. But E.J., you respond to that.

DIONNE: Well, first of all, if I'm going to make a prediction, I think the Supreme Court is going to punt, too. But we'll see what they do. But it's good that Geraldo mentioned Jefferson Davis, because Jefferson Davis was never convicted of anything. It was assumed that this was self-enforcing, and all the Confederates who were barred from office actually applied for amnesty. So, they accepted that this section applied to them. And I think it's very important also to note that there is -- just to rule him out does not require any action by Congress or another court.

And, by the way, I am not saying that Colorado should be able to do this, and Alabama should be able to do something else. I think the court should take this very seriously and tell us very clearly its view. Does this amendment, does this part of the amendment, bar somebody who did what Donald Trump did from office? Either it does, in which case he shouldn't be on any ballots, or it doesn't, in which case he should be eligible for every ballot.

But this is about protecting the Constitution and democracy. That's the paradox here. I get the argument because I once thought this was true myself, that democracy has put Trump on the ballot. But if you've got somebody who tried to overthrow the constitutional system, the people who wrote the 14th Amendment said, you don't let somebody else do that the next time.

And the last point is eligibility. I can't vote for a brilliant 34- year-old for president because the Constitution wouldn't let me. Go ahead, Geraldo.

RIVERA: Do you, as one of the leading columnists for The Washington Post, compare the actions of President Jefferson Davis of the Confederacy to Donald Trump, the presidential candidate and former president? I cannot believe that. 600,000 people died. It was an insurrection by every measure. It was one of the bloodiest conflicts ever. It tore this country in shreds.

Donald Trump is a lot of bad things. And I said at the beginning of this, I do not support him because of the bad things. But he has not been found guilty of insurrection in any court. And what you're trying to do is to prevent the voters from choosing who they want to be president.

It is the pundits and it is the politicians who are absolutely trying to undermine the democratic process and say they are trying to save it as they try to kill it. So, I think, Abby, this will be revealed to be a fruitless effort as time goes forward (ph).

PHILLIP: E.J., we got to go, but I want you to just respond to that question that was posed to you by Geraldo there.

DIONNE: Well, no, I think that I'm not trying to deprive him of the right to run for president. He did this to himself.

RIVERA: But is he Jefferson Davis?


PHILLIP: Why are you comparing him to Jefferson Davis? That's the question.

DIONNE: The south started the civil war because they didn't accept the result of a free election in 1860. And the insurrection is to where people did --

RIVERA: He wanted to keep slavery, for goodness sake. Listen to yourself. They started the Civil War because they wanted to keep slaves. That's what the whole thing is. I mean, it's ridiculous.

DIONNE: It was the results of Lincoln's because they knew that slavery was --

RIVERA: This is a bunch liberal intellectuals trying to say they're smarter than everybody else. And, you know, trying to deny the American people or the Republican voters of Colorado the opportunity to vote for a guy that I don't support but they support, 1.4 million of them. And now because of the columnist of The Washington Post or the New York Times or, you know, Lawrence Tribe or any other liberal progressive left pundit, you know, come on guys.

PHILLIP: We will have you both back when this will get resolved by the courts. And we will have you both back. And I'll play your clip, Geraldo, and I'll play your clip, E.J., whichever one is the correct one on this one. We appreciate the discussion and the debate on the air tonight. Thank you both very much.

DIONNE: Thank you.

RIVERA: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And ahead, Buckingham Palace is announcing that King Charles has been diagnosed with a form of cancer. I will speak with a royal watcher and a doctor about what we know and a lot that we don't know about his illness.

Plus, what does loyalty mean to someone like Donald Trump? I'll take a look at what it means for the head of the RNC. That's next.



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump's loyalty is a lonely, one-way street to a dead-end cul-de-sac. He demands it, and he gets it from most Republicans.


RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIR, RNC: I think the President has the most support among the voters of the Republican Party than any president in history. Four years ago, President Trump started a movement unlike any other. The actions of this President show that he is a moral leader. A man who has reverence for the Office of the Presidency. A man with an incredible respect for law enforcement and our military.


PHILLIP: But rarely is it returned in kind. Tonight, we learned that Trump did meet with long-time RNC Chair, Ronna McDaniel at Mar-a-Lago, as he publicly floats throwing her under the bus.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: I think she did okay initially in the RNC. I would say right now, there'll probably be some changes made. Well, McDaniel has been the target of MAGA after a series of election year losses and the worst fundraising year in a decade.

Now, a reminder, McDaniel was deferential and obedient to Trump for years now. She reportedly stopped using the Romney in her name because Trump didn't like that her uncle wasn't a fan. And speaking of, when Senator Mitt Romney wrote an op-ed slamming Trump's leadership, not only did McDaniel choose sides, but she slighted her uncle as a, quote, "incoming Republican freshman who did a disappointing and unproductive thing".

There was also the Alabama Senate race, featuring Roy Moore, who denied accusations by multiple women of sexual misconduct, some of whom were teenagers.


MCDANIEL: The allegations were obviously very concerning and concerning to the degree that we pulled our resources. The Alabama voters are going to have to be the judge and jury on this.

PHILLIP: But just a week later, at the behest of Trump, McDaniel and the RNC totally reversed course, pouring resources back into that race. When it comes to debates, since Trump famously plays chicken with them, the RNC quit the bipartisan commission on presidential debates which had been hosting general election match-ups for more than three decades. And then in 2020, McDaniel followed Trump's lead, questioning the entire election.


MCDANIEL: It's been rigged from the beginning, rigged from the laws that were being passed in the name of COVID to create a porous election, rigged in the sense that they kicked Republicans out of poll watching and observing. Why do you do that if you have nothing to hide?

CHRIS WALLACE, "WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE": Wait, wait a minute. Are you saying as the Chair of the Republican Party that you still have questions as to whether or not Joe Biden was the duly-elected President in 2020?

MCDANIEL: Joe Biden's the President.

WALLACE: No, I didn't ask you whether he's the President. MCDANIEL: No, I don't think that -- I think there were lots of


WALLACE: Do you think he won the election?

MCDANIEL: I think there were lots of problems with 2020.

WALLACE: Do you think he won the election?

MCDANIEL: Ultimately, he won the election.

WALLACE: Pardon?

MCDANIEL: Ultimately, he won the election, but there were lots of problems with the 2020 election. A hundred percent.

WALLACE: And that's fair.

MCDANIEL: But I don't think he won it fair.


PHILLIP: It's not just the TV hits. McDaniel joined Trump on a call to Michigan election workers urging them not to certify the results in Wayne County. Now, actions like that are at the heart of these indictments against Trump.

And when it comes to January 6th, the RNC censured the two Republicans working on the Congressional Committee investigating it, Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney. The language of that censure also refers to the insurrectionists as, quote, ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse.

And more recently, even though Trump had only won two contests, the first, and only two, by the way, the RNC drafted a resolution that would declare him the presumptive nominee in the first month of voting. Publicly, at least, Trump asked them to strap it.

And joining me now is former Chief Strategist for the Obama campaigns, David Axelrod. David, what do you make of all of that? Do you think that McDaniel is out of a job effectively at the RNC? I mean, is it a tell that she had to go down to Mar-a-Lago in the first place?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, absolutely. And I don't think the President said what he said idly on TV. And listen. I mean, there are certain grounds on which you'd say, yeah, maybe they do need a new chair.


They did have a miserable mid-term election. But the reason they had a miserable mid-term election is because Donald Trump saddled them with a bunch of candidates who couldn't win a general election. So, he at least has to share some of the responsibility for that.

But clearly, you know, she's been the target of some of Trump's outside cheerleaders, the Bannons of the world for some time. And I think that she is, and he's clearly irritated that this primary season has gone on longer than he hoped. So, I think that is something that he's holding against her, as well.

PHILLIP: But the thing is, I mean, it's kind of hard to argue that McDaniel, I mean, we played all the clips, it's hard to argue that she hasn't been loyal. So what exactly is he so upset about? It's not the idea that suddenly the Republicans have been losing because they did what he wants them to do.

AXELROD: No, no, listen, as I said, I think that, you know, she is, she was loyal to a fault, more loyal to Donald Trump than she was to the Republican Party. And the Republican Party has suffered under Trump's leadership, the midterm elections being an example of that.

But you know, listen, Abby, the landscape is littered with former allies of Trump who were cast aside when he displeased them. He is not a guy who -- who places loyalty high on his list of concerns.

And so, if she's outlived his usefulness, as he apparently thinks she has, she's in jeopardy. It's an odd thing just months before the election that they would make such a change, but nothing's particularly odd in Trump world, you know.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and you can't really rule anything out because of any, you know, quirks of the calendar, frankly, when it comes to Trump.

AXELROD: Right. Stand by for us because I want to ask you whether you think it's smart for President Biden to skip that Super Bowl interview. Plus, why is a fired Fox News Host Tucker Carlson suddenly in Russia -- when we get back.




PHILLIP: And we're back now with David Axelrod. David, I want you to listen to what Donald Trump told Newsmax earlier tonight about Joe Biden.


ROB SCHMITT, NEWSMAX HOST: He gives up a free opportunity to speak to every American at the Super Bowl.


SCHMITT: Every person watches. How do you give that up?

TRUMP: Well, I don't know, but I accepted it. I said, I'll take -- I'll take your place.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: We should note here that Trump himself skipped his traditional Super Bowl interview in 2018 because he didn't like the network that it was on. But putting that aside, what do you think about the decision of the Biden camp now to give up this Super Bowl interview on this election year? Was it the right one?

AXELROD: I was bewildered by it, honestly. You know, there are 20 million people who watched that Super Bowl pre-game show. I mean, the State of the Union last year only drew 27 million. Yes, you're going to get challenging questions about polls and age and so on, but you're going to get those questions along the way.

This is an opportunity. You know, you're going to get them, to handle them and turn them. And this week in particular, it would have been good to be on that show because this was the week that Donald Trump pulled the Republicans in Congress away from a bipartisan agreement on immigration that was the toughest immigration reform we've seen in decades, including by the way, the four years of Donald Trump.

So, Biden had something to talk about there. I really don't know why they didn't accept it, but it plays into Trump's hands because his case is that somehow Biden is, you know, over-matched that he is not in command. And this just lends to the narrative. I'm surprised he's passing on the opportunity.

AXELROD: Yeah. So, before you go, David, I've got an easy assignment for you.


PHILLIP: Please unpack the Russian nesting doll that is Tucker Carlson possibly interviewing Vladimir Putin.

AXELROD: Yeah. Yeah, well, when I first heard that he was there, I just assumed he was there to get an award because there probably isn't an American who has done more for Vladimir Putin in the last couple of years than Tucker Carlson. He's been -- he sided with Russia on the invasion. He was consistently berating Volodymyr Zelenskyy and lifting up Putin.

So, that's how he got the interview. And I think Putin's expecting a friendly interview. You know, Putin actually ordered, the Kremlin did -- state TV to cover Tucker and to carry some of Tucker's comments because they viewed them as so helpful to Putin in this war effort. So, I'm sure they'll have a warm -- a warm session whether it's an award or a -- or a -- I guess the interview would be his award.

PHILLIP: The meeting of the mutual admiration society over in Moscow there. David Axelrod, thank you, as always.

AXELROD: You bet.

PHILLIP: And next for us, King Charles, diagnosed with cancer. Our experts will explain what's next for the Royal family.



PHILLIP: Alarming news today out of Britain. King Charles diagnosed with cancer. Buckingham Palace is issuing this statement saying, quote, "During the King's recent hospital procedure for a benign prostate enlargement, a separate issue of concern was noted. Subsequent diagnostic tests have identified a form of cancer."

The palace going on to say that the 75-year-old King will step back from public-facing duties while he undergoes treatment. For more on this, I want to bring in "Vanity Fair" staff writer, Erin Vanderhoof, along with Dr. Anna Komorowski, the Regional Director of the Northwell Health Center and Institute at Westchester.

Dr. Komorowski, this fact that we've learned, not a whole lot in that statement, but some clues there. He went in for an actual procedure and in the course of that, they discovered something else. What kinds of diagnostic tests or procedures could they have been doing that might have caused them to find another form of -- a form of cancer?


ANNA KOMOROWSKI, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, NORTHWELL HEALTH CENTER INSTITUTE AT WESTCHESTER: So, the usual pre-surgical testing with this kind of diagnosis of benign prostate hypertrophy, so overgrowth of prostate gland, may include blood work, may include chest X-ray, and may include the imaging of the pelvic area with MRI that will define better the size of the prostate gland.

PHILLIP: And in the course of those things, they might have visually seen something or in the blood work, seen it in the test.

KOMOROWSKI: Yes, so they may find something in the blood work. He might have been anemic or they may find something on the chest x-ray like lung nodule, or there may be something on the imaging of the pelvis, enlargement of the lymph nodes, or some finding on the bone, like bone metastasis, or there may be something happening in the bladder.

In addition, when he had the test done, remember when he underwent the procedure, part of his prostate gland was basically removed and analyzed under the microscope, and this may yield additional diagnosis.

PHILLIP: That's very interesting. Erin, they're saying that King Charles is stepping back from his duties. How significant is that for the Royal family?

ERIN VANDERHOOF, STAFF WRITER, "VANITY FAIR": So, he's stepping up from his public duties, but one of the main duties of being a King is that he actually gets this delivery of government papers in a red box every single day. And so, he'll be taking -- he's going to be continuing to get his red paper -- I mean, his red box of government papers. A lot of the things he has to do in college, like signing bills and

various government ordinances, he's going to keep on meeting with Rishi Sunak every single week, and he's going to keep on chairing meetings of the Privy Council.

But in terms of the kind of things like going around and shaking hands, opening things, the more, you know, what the Queen Elizabeth used to say, you have to be seen to be believed, we're going to be seeing a lot less of him, even if he is still kind of doing some of the main parts of the job.

PHILLIP: Doctor, I mean, we are really left sort of looking for crumbs here. The statement was very intentionally vague. I mean, I wonder as you hear what Aaron is saying, are there any things that strike you about what we might be learning about how severe this condition is or anything like that based on the fact that they believe that he can't conduct his public facing duties during this time?

KOMOROWSKI: Well, we don't really want to speculate because there's such a broad diagnosis, possibility of diagnosis with all the work up that he had done. And you know, I think that giving the fact that he's a 75 year old gentleman, and he'll be undergoing some form of therapy, either surgery or chemotherapy or radiation therapy, this is probably a time for him to have more time to rest and not be exposed to potential risk of infection.

PHILLIP: That's an important point, as well. So, Erin, the Royal family is in the middle of this very public familial dispute. At the center of it is Prince Harry. We're also learning that he plans to travel to the U.K. as a result of this diagnosis. How surprising is that and are you hearing anything about what that signals for Harry?

VANDERHOOF: So, Harry was one of five people that the King told, you know, his siblings and then Prince William and, you know, I think that it -- like we noted like we saw last year, you know, when he was back in the U.K. for the coronation, he did not stay for long. He didn't he didn't hang out. He didn't have fun.

But, you know, they have been, though they've been -- Harry's not been in a lot of contact with his family since the release of his memoir, but, you know, for birthdays and that type of thing, they have been in contact. And so, I think that it's -- Harry's kind of telegraphing that, you know, he still wants to be a part of the family, even if he's not no longer a working Royal in that sense.

PHILLIP: This is not the only health concern facing the Royal family. The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, was hospitalized very recently for a pretty lengthy period of time. Any more insights from across the pond about how she's doing and what's next for her with this condition?

VANDERHOOF: Well, you know, one of the things that has been reported in British papers is that she is, you know, working from her computer and that, you know, that she -- that William was going to wait until she was settled before he could go back to his -- to his duties and he's actually starting. His first engagement is going to be an investiture on Wednesday.

And I think it's significant that they've announced that William is going back because, you know, there are certain things that only he -- only Prince William and only Princess Anne can do in King Charles' stead. And so, I think by William coming out and saying, I'm ready to kind of go back, we're hearing both that that's like probably the most we're going to really get about Kate's health for a while.

She's not expected to come back until Easter. But that, you know, at least it works down to so few working royals. Now, Prince William is the only one under 50 who is a full-time working royal since Kate is out to Leicester.

And that -- you can tell that at least that there's been some progress made because he's willing to do that. He said that he wanted to be a hundred percent on his family just a couple of weeks ago. And so, you know, clearly, this is his way of doing that in a certain, in a different way.

PHILLIP: That is such an interesting point. All of these health problems really just emphasizing that the Royal family is down to just a few people who are working royals and a few who are younger in age here.


Well, we hope for the best for King Charles and for all of the rest of them. Aaron Vanderhoof and Dr. Anna Komorowski, thank you both very much for joining us tonight. And thank you for watching "NewsNight". Laura Coates starts next.


LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: The dirty, little secret about immigration. Well, for me, that's not so secret anymore. Tonight, on "Laura Coates Live". So, if there was any doubt in anybody's mind, Republicans on the Hill have made it, well, crystal clear tonight.