Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Trump Ordered To Pay $350 Million-Plus In Business Empire Scheme; Navalny's Sudden Death Coincides With Notable Events; Putin Critic Alexey Navalny Dies At 47; CNN's Christiane Amanpour Discusses Impeachment With Homeland Secretary Mayorkas. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 16, 2024 - 22:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: The myth of Donald Trump is busted, that's tonight on NEWSNIGHT.

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

As the Notorious BIG once declared, it was all a dream. For decades, Donald Trump built a brand as a self-made billionaire, king to an empire of excess luxury, brashness. It's the core of his identity and it's why voters said that they were attracted to him in the first place. It got him into the tabloids, onto the silver and the small screens, even the admiration of the hip-hop world.

But tonight, the gold has shattered, a judge in New York ordering Trump to pay more than $350 million for business fraud. The judge says that the offenses shock the conscience, of course, talking about how Trump and his company inflated the value of their assets to get better loans.

The punishment could erase his entire stockpile of cash.


LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Today justice has been served. Today we prove that no one is above the law.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: It is a very sad day for, in my opinion, the country.

JAMES: The scale and the scope of Donald Trump's fraud is staggering.

TRUMP: There was no fraud. The banks all got their money, 100 percent. They loved Trump.

JAMES: I want to be clear. White collar financial fraud is not a victimless crime.

TRUMP: There were no victims because the banks made a lot of money.

JAMES: We are holding him accountable for lying, cheating and a lack of contrition.

TRUMP: And we have a totally corrupt attorney general. She campaigned on the fact that I will get Trump.

JAMES: Donald Trump may have authored the Art of the Deal, but he perfected the Art of the Steal.

TRUMP: You see it in third world countries, banana republics, but you don't see it here.


PHILLIP: It's worth noting Trump is now liable for fraud, sexual abuse, defamation and he could be on the hook for January 6th too. The judge also banning Trump from running his company for three years, which, of course, raises the obvious question for voters. If Trump isn't allowed to run a business for three years, should he be allowed to run the country?


TRUMP: If we could run our country the way I've run my company, we would have a country that you would be so proud of.

Today is a metaphor for what we can accomplish for this country.


PHILLIP: Now, remember, this is just one of the trials that Trump is facing this year. And while this one was civil, the others are criminal and they threaten his physical freedom.

Now, despite all of this, he is the likely Republican presidential nominee and his last remaining opponent still thinks that this legal jeopardy will ultimately hurt him.


NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There is no way that the American people are going to vote for a convicted criminal.


PHILLIP: Except that they are, and they will. The evidence is right there. Trump has gotten nearly 300,000 primary votes in Iowa, New Hampshire, and Nevada. That is far more than Haley or any other candidate.

As you can see in this chart, every time that Trump was indicted or appeared in court, he scored a fundraising boost, which is one reason why he chooses to attend these hearings in the first place instead of being on the campaign trail.

And just to be clear, most of these appearances are a choice, it's not a requirement. And the polls not only show that his dominance in the primary is there, but just 10 percent of Republicans think that his actions after the election in 2020 were Illegal.


So, yes, people will vote for a felon, including Nikki Haley.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would you vote for a convicted felon to be president of the United States?

HALEY: Because I am not comfortable with a President Kamala Harris becoming president. I think we would be in a far worse situation.

A vote for Joe Biden is a vote for Kamala Harris.


PHILLIP: With me now is Kwame Jackson, he's an entrepreneur who was on season one of The Apprentice. Kwame, thanks for being here.

As you look at this document that was produced by the judge, by all the evidence in this case, Trump is portrayed as someone who knowingly committed fraud in all aspects virtually of his business life. Is that consistent with the man that you knew on The Apprentice?

KWAME JACKSON, FORMER APPRENTICE CONTESTANT: Well, Abby, number one, thank you for having me tonight. I am feeling, on this Black History Month moment, vindicated. I am feeling elevated. But at the same time, I'm feeling frustrated.

And the reason I'm feeling frustrated is because of what you just addressed, which is the fact that way back in 2015, 2016, timing myself and a number of other Apprentice leaders, Randall Pinkett, Marshawn, and a few other folks, we did a major press conference on your network, on CNN, and called out the actions that we thought the country should take against Donald Trump. We called out his temperament. We called out his judgment. We called out his knowledge of foreign affairs, and all of those things came true.

And so we felt as though we told the country, hey, look, the stove is hot, you don't need to touch it to find out for yourself. But lo and behold, that's exactly what they did. So, I'm still very frustrated with the fact that the country doesn't seem to always listen to that warning and that advice from so many.

Now, New York Attorney General Letitia James, she reacted to today's court ruling shortly after it came down. Listen to what she had to say.


JAMES: The scale and the scope of Donald Trump's fraud is staggering, and so, too, is his ego and his belief that the rules do not apply to him. Today, we are holding Donald Trump accountable.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: And Trump today predictably lashed out at her. He's been doing that pretty consistently throughout this case. You've been pretty outspoken about his rhetoric, specifically toward people of color. What do you make of the way that he attacks her and his inability, frankly, to stop doing it?

JACKSON: Yes. I don't think there's impulse control there. I think that's pretty obvious at this point. The Trump that I knew, kind of the 1.0 version from 2003-2004 in the first season of The Apprentice, is now on Trump version 5.0. And all of those things have come true, all of those negative things that we forecasted. Unfortunately, folks didn't necessarily listen, we put him in office. Now, we're facing an intimate and tragic and existential threat for democracy in this next election.

And I think that what Trump does when he's cornered, when he wants to show that he has some power, when he wants to rally his base, is he does attack people in a very negative and mean way, whether it's calling people names, whether debasing their character, whether it's calling them a flat out liar. And it is always people of color that he seems to have a special kind of penchant for in terms of women of color who come after him, whether it be Fani Willis or the district attorney in New York, whether it be other folks of color, like The Apprentice alum who also spoke out on his behalf, to let folks that know that he wasn't the right leader at the right time.

So, it is a special skill he seems to have to really knock us down in that way, but we keep on fighting.

PHILLIP: Yes. So, the judgment here, $355 million, but that's not all. I mean, it could be close to $100 million in excess of that in interest. That's on top of the $88 million he was just ordered to pay to E. Jean Carroll. Do you think he has the cash?

JACKSON: I don't think many people have $450 million-plus, maybe even half a billion dollars sitting around under their bed or on their pillowcase. And I know from a Trump situation that we're talking about the fact that he's going to be selling off assets. Many of those assets are going to be sold off in a fire sale situation. So, he's not going to get the full value of those. He may just get pennies on the dollar as people take advantage of him the way he's taken advantage of so many people in the past.

And also what I believe is that Trump is going to have a cascading effect on a number of things from this business failure and this fine. One, what's going to be the effect on his future businesses. Two, what's going to be the effect on the electorate as we look out kind of towards November. And then, three, really, how he is going to try to rein this in and have the following or cascading effect on his following criminal trials.


So, those three things are going to be a rolling kind of thunder as we go into the balance of this year, and we'll have to see how those all shake out. PHILLIP: We certainly will. Kwame Jackson, thank you for your perspective.

JACKSON: Thank you for having me tonight.

PHILLIP: And next, Jake Tapper joins me on the Trump verdict and how Trump joins a long list of politicians who show no remorse.

Plus, the news that has shocked the world, Vladimir Putin's biggest nemesis is dead. Alexey Navalny dies in prison and it comes with very suspicious timing.



PHILLIP: More on our breaking news tonight, Donald Trump ordered to pay $350 million in a civil fraud case against his empire. It might be his most expensive legal scandal so far.

And joining us now is the host and executive producer of United States of Scandal, Jake Tapper himself.

So, Jake, I do obviously want to talk about this great series on scandals that you have, which, by the way, could not be more timely.


But speaking of scandals, Trump and this massive ruling today against him, the thing that I think really gets me about this is that Trump was elected based on this myth of being such a great businessman. And it's only after he's left office, when he's running again for the presidency, that that myth gets busted. What's your reaction to what the judge had to say here?

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think the judge just affirmed what a lot of Trump's critics and a lot of journalists who have been covering Trump for decades have been saying that it's a lot of smoke, which is not to say he doesn't have wealth, but just a lot of his wealth has to do with trademark deals. And he used a lot of tricks that a lot of people would find unethical.

And here, we have a judge not only ruling that Donald Trump committed fraud and penalizing him, but also stating in his decision that one of the reasons he's imposing such a harsh penalty is because of all the previous times Trump has been called out for fraud and really only received a slap on the wrist.

PHILLIP: Right, yes. I mean, I think that that's part of the story here, is that there has not been a lot of consequences for Trump and his business dealings over the years.

The judge also cited Trump's, quote, complete lack of contrition and remorse that borders on pathological. He cites that in this ruling, you could probably make that argument about a lot of things that Trump does. Similarly, I mean, in your series, there was a lot of lack of contrition and a lack of remorse from so many of these politicians that you followed.

TAPPER: It's really interesting because there is a real continuum. The first episode, Sunday night at 9:00, is about Rod Blagojevich, who, to this day, is defiant and says he was -- he might have been stupid, but he didn't do anything illegal, and he makes his case. You'll have to tune in to see whether or not I agree with it or whether or not you agree with it. But he does make this case.

But they do run the continuum because there are people that we interviewed who are remorseful, Jim McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey, perhaps foremost among them. But it really is a whole -- it's a varied group of individuals, McGreevey, Edwards, Spitzer, and Blagojevich and on and on, and they all react differently.

But, look, to be candid, a lot of these people have huge egos and have been getting away with a lot of things for a long time.

PHILLIP: Yes. And I think there's an idea that if you just don't say you're sorry and just keep moving, that it kind of gets forgotten to time, which might very well be true in some cases.

I mean, as you noted there, this is just something that keeps happening in politics in American history. How do we keep ending up here? What did you learn?

TAPPER: Well, there are a lot of reasons. One of them is we have a campaign finance system that requires people to be able to raise millions of dollars to even just win a House seat, much less the presidency. So, a lot of people who are elected to these jobs are, to a degree, showmen would be a nice way to put it. Frauds might be another way to put it. Not all of them, but to a degree, there are people that are out there selling a story, selling an image of themselves.

And that's one of the reasons why I think a lot of these scandals hit so hard for some people because they really believed in Mark Sanford, the family man. They really believed in John Edwards, the crusader. They really believed in Eliot Spitzer, who fought for the little guy. And, ultimately, a lot of that was not true. It was built on a foundation of sand.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, fundamental to even running for office at these high levels is a certain degree of narcissism, I imagine that' has a lot to do with it.

TAPPER: Yes. I also think that there's a degree of removing from your orbit people that can tell you when you're messing up. And I find the most effective leaders in any world, business, in politics, news media, are people who have critics around them who can tell them when they're messing up. A lot of people rise to a level where they remove them from their orbit, whether it's John Edwards or Eliot Spitzer or Mark Sanford and on and on. And so they don't have anyone around them to tell them, don't do that, and that's often when they get into trouble.

PHILLIP: Jake Tapper, thank you very much. TAPPER: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: Looking forward to watching this, this Sunday. You can tune in Sunday night for the new CNN original series, the United States of Scandal with Jake Tapper. It premieres with back to back episodes at 9:00 P.M. Eastern only right here on CNN.

The global condemnation tonight against Vladimir Putin after the sudden death of his biggest foe, Alexey Navalny.


Why the timing is suspicious and whether Putin felt empowered after Donald Trump invited him to invade NATO allies, that's next.


PHILLIP: The man who stood up to Vladimir Putin, a tyrant fighter who became the symbol of Russian oppression, is now dead. The world tonight condemning Russia, accusing Moscow of assassinating Alexey Navalny.

Putin's longtime nemesis was his most outspoken critic. He survived a poisoning in 2020, only to choose to return to Russia just months later. That landed him behind bars in one of Russia's toughest and most notorious prisons.

Just 24 hours ago, he was seen, right there, laughing, seemingly healthy. His death now comes during a week of notable events. First, today, world leaders are gathering in Munich for a conference that features the condemnation of Putin's invasion of Ukraine.


KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Whatever story they tell, let us be clear, Russia is responsible.



PHILLIP: Navalny's death also comes as Donald Trump invites Putin to invade NATO allies.


TRUMP: No, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay. You got to pay your bills.


PHILLIP: His death comes as House Republicans hold Ukraine aid hostage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: History is watching. History is watching. History is watching. Failure to support Ukraine at this critical moment will never be forgotten.


PHILLIP: His death comes as Tucker Carlson fawns over Russian life after his softball interview with Putin.


TUCKER CARLSON, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: We thought it would be interesting to take a look at a contemporary modern day 2024 Russian grocery store.

All right, here we go. So, I guess you put in ten rubles here and you get it back when you put the cart back.

Coming to a Russian grocery store, the heart of evil, and seeing what things cost and how people live, it will radicalize you against our leaders.


PHILLIP: This right here was Carlson's beloved Russia today, mourners for Navalny being rounded up by police.

Carlson today telling The Daily Mail, quote, it's horrifying what happened to Navalny. The whole thing is barbaric and awful. No decent person would defend it, except that he did just a few days ago.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You did not talk about Navalny, about assassinations.

CARLSON: Every leader kills people, including my leader. Every leader kills people. Some kill more than others. Leadership requires killing people. Sorry.


PHILLIP: Another interesting reaction today from former Vice President Mike Pence writing, quote, there is no room in the Republican Party for apologists for Putin, except, of course, that he spent four years next to one as his number two. And speaking of, if you're wondering what Donald Trump's reaction to Navalny's death was, you're looking at it, nothing.

Joining me now is Stanislav Kucher. He knew Navalny personally and was the first journalist to interview him for Russian T.V. Also with us, Max Boot, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Washington Post columnist.

Stanislav, you have known Navalny for quite a long time. His saga with Putin and this last period of time in which he's been imprisoned, it went slowly and then suddenly all at once. What are you thinking in this moment as now we learned he is dead?

STANISLAV KUCHER, JOURNALIST AND FORMER RUSSIAN T.V. PRESENTER: Well, first and foremost, I'm thinking that somebody asked me today if this was surprising or shocking or not surprising, but shocking, not shocking or surprising, definitely, it was not a surprise. I mean, the man has been tortured for three years now. First he was poisoned, and then he was arrested and kept in prison. He's been taken to a solitary confinement at least 27 times now. So, he has been tortured. I mean, this could happen literally any day.

And so when President Biden says that it's Putin who is responsible for his death, well, yes, that's absolutely true, no matter whether there's been a direct order to kill him today or he died of that clot that the medical reports are talking about now.

So, I'm basically thinking of -- honestly, I'm having very sad feelings, of course, not only because I knew him personally, but because this is the darkest day for millions of Russians who've lost hope. Today, I've been receiving many messages from my friends in Russia saying, it's not Navalny who just died, it's the hope that died.

And that's bad news for me because I know Alexey would not love to hear that. He would not like to hear that, because his main message to Russians was don't be afraid. He liked FDR's words, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself. But fear is what is all around there.

PHILLIP: Max, as Stanislav just said, this could have happened at any time. So, why now, in your mind?

MAX BOOT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS SENIOR FELLOW: It's hard to know exactly. It may be related to Putin's, quote/unquote, re-election coming up, his phony election coming up in March. He may be clearing the decks of opponents. There's also, I think, a sense that he feels kind of a sense of impunity right now that he can get away with murder because of what the stuff that you highlighted, Abby, in your intro about how Tucker Carlson is fawning all over him in Moscow.


Donald Trump is saying he doesn't care what the hell Russia does. They could go on and invade their neighbors. It's fine with him.

So and then the tide is turning in Ukraine where the Ukrainians are running out of ammunition because the House of Representatives refuses to pass aid for Ukraine.

And right now it's not -- the tragedy today is not only the death of Alexey Navalny, it's also the fall of Avdiivka, another Ukrainian city which has fallen to this unprovoked Russian invasion where the Ukrainian defenders are simply running out of ammunition to defend themselves.

And so, you can see why Putin feels very powerful. He can do anything and that's very, very dangerous to have a dictator like that with nuclear weapons and the sense of invincibility, the sense of immunity. That is a huge threat not just to Ukraine but also to all these other

European countries and to the United States. But it's not too late for us to still send a message to Putin that he will not get away with this.

And the way we do that is A, by sending $300 billion in frozen Russian assets in the West, send that money to Ukraine and B, the House has to pass that $60 billion aid package. Otherwise Ukraine will not be able to defend itself.

And the best way to make Russia a freer and better country right now is to aid Ukraine in defeating this Russian invasion.

PHILLIP: And Stanislav, you talked about the loss of hope for so many Russians. There is an election of sorts that will be happening in Russia in the next month. Is there any opposition left now that Navalny is gone?

KUCHER: No. That's the only honest answer. And just to give you an idea of what's happening in Moscow, in Russia today is, I posted a story on Facebook today about Navalny and I received messages via Facebook Messenger from a friend of mine who wrote, you know, Stas, I really loved your post.

I want you to know that but I'm not going to like it in public because I'm really afraid I have a family. And then she writes that she -- she writes that she'd been crying all day and then she had this meeting she had to go to so she walks down the street and sees another woman with also -- who had obviously been crying.

And they kind of look at each other and nod their heads and that's how people express their solidarity with each other. People cry in their kitchens, people cry in their homes, but they cannot express their feelings in public.

Also, you know what happened to -- you said that in your intro, what happened to the mourners? Today, people brought flowers to an improvised memorial to Navalny near a monument to Gulag victims in Moscow. And later all the flowers were taken away by the police.

And a few hours before then, a similar memorial to Boris Nemtsov, another Russian opposition leader who was assassinated in front of the Kremlin on February 27th, 2015. So, that memorial was too taken apart today. So, that probably gives you an idea of the atmosphere in Moscow today.

PHILLIP: Yeah, an atmosphere definitely of repression and fear. Max Boot, Stanislav Kutcher, thank you both very much for that. And you can be sure to catch a special encore of the Oscar-winning CNN film that follows Navalny's life. It'll air tomorrow night at 9 o'clock Eastern right here on CNN.

And the Republican impeachment case against President Biden has imploded after the FBI charges a key informant. Congressman James Clyburn joins me live, next. Plus, why conservative viewers didn't hear the news about that. We'll explain, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)



PHILLIP: In the 1970s, there was a company called Television News Incorporated or TVN. It was essentially a news service that provided conservative-leaning segments to stations and one of its employees was named Roger Ailes. TVN was a prototype of Fox News, both anchored on the same basic principle.


GABRIEL SHERMAN, "NPR": Another technique was called, quote, repetition and it's described in one memo as the oldest and most effective propaganda technique. And so, at TVN, they were writing about how if they repeated the same story over and over again on their news reports, it would become a national issue.


PHILLIP: And to this day on Fox TV, that technique is used to manipulate and megaphone stories until they basically become ingrained in the minds of vulnerable audiences like this one.


SEAN HANNITY, "HANNITY" HOST: The walls, as we have been telling you, are closing in on President Joe Biden.

JAMES COMER (R-KY) CHAIRMAN OF THE HOUSUE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Every day this bribery scandal becomes more credible.

HANNITY: There are now real and growing concerns that your President, the President of our country, is compromised.

COMER: The FBI had an unclassified record that details an extortion and bribery scheme involving then Vice President Biden.

JESSE WATERS; "JESSE WATERS PRIMEIME": Even the FBI informant that said the Bidens shook down Ukraine for a $10 million bribe, that was vetted and found not to be foreign disinformation.

HANNITY: There is a mountain of evidence.

UNKNOWN: This is a blockbuster scandal that could doom Biden's presidency.

UNKNOWN: I think it's a bombshell. This is really big stuff.

HANNITY: From a trusted FBI, confidential human source has now finally been released. Thanks to Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa. Now, its contents are devastating.

KEVIN MCCARTHY, FORMER U.S. HOUSE SPEAKER: Even a trusted FBI informant has alleged a bribe to the Biden family.


That's why today, I am directing our House Committee to open a formal impeachment inquiry.

COMER: The actual crimes the Bidens have committed, which range from money laundering to bribery.

UNKNOWN: The mainstream media likes to pretend there is no evidence Joe Biden did anything wrong when it comes to Hunter's business deals. But now legal experts are warning that Biden could be in serious trouble.

JONATHAN TURLEY, GWU LAW: This source reportedly said that this was money to be paid to Hunter for the protection from his dad. I mean, you can't get more serious than that.

COMER: Not only are his policies a disaster, but the American people think he's a crook.


PHILLIP: It's no wonder why many would think that since for the last eight months, viewers, many of whom are Republican voters, they've watched this drumbeat on Fox News day in and day out.

And yet last night, when the news broke that the claims by the informant are allegedly false, those same viewers weren't even aware. That's because from the hours of 7 P.M. to 11, when most of the programming centers around the quote, unquote, Biden crime family, there were zero mentions of it. Zero.

It's like the past eight months never happened. Repeat, repeat, then rinse. And for more on this, I want to bring in Democratic South Carolina Congressman and National Co-Chair of the Biden campaign, Congressman James Clyburn.

Congressman, we appreciate you being here. With these FBI charges, will Biden be able to put these accusations behind him? Or are you concerned that the damage has already been done?

JAMES CLYBURN (D) SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, first of all, thank you very much for having me. No, there's been a lot of damage, and I think that's one of the reasons we've been seeing these lagging polls on behalf of Joe Biden.

But the damage is has not gotten to the point of being irreparable. I am going to do everything I possibly can to reach into those communities where I know some of those have taken hold. And I'm restarting that come this Sunday, going up to New York.

I'll be going into Pennsylvania, down to Georgia and really trying to do my part to make sure that we get the truth out there. Cuomo, some time ago, talked about this guy who was going to be this tremendous witness. And it turned out to be an armed dealer that they cannot find.

Brashly came out with this guy, and now he's been indicted for having lied to the FBI. All of us are aware that this repetition that has been going on for years now must be confronted. We cannot let it just hang out there.

And that's one reason several weeks ago I started raising my voice pretty loudly and regularly to combat this. We saw what happened to Hillary Clinton. We must not allow that to happen to Joe Biden.

PHILLIP: So, we are not only what you're talking about, but we're expecting to see more coverage of Trump in the coming weeks as he faces all of these criminal trials, including one that could be kicking off next month.

You've expressed concerns in the past about President Biden's message breaking through what you called a MAGA wall. Does the campaign, the Biden campaign, need to actually be more visible in this moment to counter what's going to be pretty much an avalanche of Trump legal news in the coming months?

CLYBURN: You know, one of the things I learned early in this business, I started out with the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee as a 19-year-old college student, walking alongside John Lewis and others.

And one of the things we learned early, you must fight fire with fire. We cannot allow these things to take hold. I know what happened when we passed the Affordable Care Act. We thought we had done the right thing and went on doing something else.

And before we knew it, we were defined by the other side. And in spite of having passed that landmark piece of legislation, we lost 63 seats because somebody else defined what we were doing. We came right back eight years later, ran on the Affordable Care Act, took the House back and kept it for the next four years. That's what we've got to do here.


PHILLIP: So, Congressman, I have to ask you, I mean, it sounds like there's a real fire in your belly and you're not -- you're stepping aside from leadership so that you can spend more time on the campaign. Are you basically saying up until this point, you don't think that the Biden campaign has been aggressive enough?

CLYBURN: I don't think enough of us have been out here. I think that Biden has done everything that he knows how to do, and that is to get this country back on its feet. And he did that. He has passed legislation to get children back in school, to get businesses re- opened.

He has provided a job -- unprecedented jobs, closed the wealth gap, put people's health care at an affordable rate, doing the things that are necessary. But enough of us have got to get out there explaining to people what has been done because social media is a great thing. But social media have in many instances been that thing that has caused us the most problems. So, we've got to use social media and we've got to have validators out here. Tucker Carlson over in Russia, what was he doing over there but undergirding Donald Trump?

We see every night on Fox News and other places, Marjorie Taylor- Greene, all of these people saying things that just aren't true. We've got to combat that. We've got to confront that. We just cannot say, well, nobody's going to believe that. Because believe me, some people do believe that stuff.

And so, that's why I think it's very important for us to step up our game, become more active, get more people out here on the street. And be sure that we connect in ways that we have never connected before because this campaign this year will be the most consequential election since 1876.

What was going on January 6th of 2021 is exactly what took place in this country after the presidential election between Samuel Tilden and Rutherford B. Hayes. That election brought an end to Reconstruction. That election also ended Jim Crow, and they were trying to repeat the same thing.

So, I'm going out here every place I possibly can, and I'm going to tell the story. And remember, those two events, the end of Jim Crow came about because of one vote. The end, I'm sorry, the end of Reconstruction came about because of one vote. And the vote to start Jim Crow was a vote of eight to seven. And one vote.

PHILLIP: -- warning there from you, Congressman. We appreciate you joining us on this show as always. Congressman James Clyburn, thank you.

CLYBURN: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And impeached by the House one week, meetings abroad the following week, possibly defending himself in the Senate next. We'll hear from the Homeland Security Secretary Alexander -- Alejandro Mayorkas in his very first interview since the impeachment vote. That's next.




PHILLIP: Tonight, a CNN Exclusive, the Homeland Security Secretary is now reacting to being impeached by the House in a sit down with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You have just been impeached by the House. It's the first time in 150 years that this has happened to a Cabinet Secretary. The White House has obviously, you know, called it a political disgrace and it was all about politics.

The MAGA Republicans who wanted to do this say it was the right thing to do because they say you did not perform your duty as the Secretary over immigration. What is your response?

ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: It's what I've said previously. Baseless allegations. No basis in fact. No basis in law. And I continue my work and my work brings me to the Munich Security Conference to meet with public officials from different countries to meet with private sector leaders to address the challenges that we in the United States are facing and that are global in nature.

AMANPOUR: And do you think people over here understand when you have these incredibly important discussions on policy and immigration is something that the whole world, you know, goes through and is having this crisis? Do they understand or do you feel that your position is being compromised?

MAYORKAS: Oh, not at all. Not at all. They very, very well understand the politics of the moment, not only in the United States, but in their respective countries as well. And the leaders with whom I am meeting, the great majority of which I have met before, they know me. They know the seriousness of my purpose and the fact that I am focused on mission. The politics are on a side.

AMANPOUR: One final on the politics. Will you defend yourself in person in the Senate?

MAYORKAS: We'll see what the process brings.

AMANPOUR: What about immigration? Because the Republicans, the very same Republicans that impeached you, they had insisted that the administration of which you are Cabinet Secretary, add a tough immigration bill to any foreign aid bill for Ukraine and the other countries. And then they sabotage that. What's your analysis of that? How, you know, how much does that set back the cause of proper immigration reform?


MAYORKAS: So, it is a matter of unanimity that our system in the United States, our immigration system is broken. I was very privileged and honored to sit with a bipartisan group of senators to fashion legislative fixes that are overdue now for decades.

It is, in fact, what the Republicans insisted upon. The bipartisan group of senators delivered. The question that everyone is asking is, was a solution actually desired or do people want the problem as a tool for politics? And regrettably, what we are seeing now is that the latter seems to carry the day more than the former.

AMANPOUR: Do you have a personal reaction to what happened in Congress last week being impeached?

MAYORKAS: I will -- I will say this, Christiane, I don't let it distract me from the work. Would I have preferred that correctness had prevailed? Of course, so. The fact that it did not does not slow me down in doing the work that I'm tasked to do by the President of the United States.

AMANPOUR: I don't know whether you want to or can answer this, but, you know, a huge amount of focus on President Biden's age. And I just want to know what you think about that, given what's at stake, essentially.

And are you sure and confident that, let's say, I know Congress hauls in the special prosecutor and you know, he is able to sort of talk more in detail about his questioning of President Biden?

MAYORKAS: Two responses. One, the attention is misplaced. I've interacted with the President countless times. I've said publicly the most difficult part about a meeting with President Biden is preparing for it because he is probing, exacting and quite detail-oriented and focused -- number one.

Number two, I was a federal prosecutor for 12 years. And so, the responsibility of a prosecutor, including a special counsel, is to learn the facts, determine the facts and apply the law to those facts. That was done. And the conclusion is that no case was there and therefore the case is closed.

To make gratuitous personal remarks is inappropriate and is a deviation from the Department of Justice norms. To add the fact that those gratuitous personal remarks were terribly inaccurate only makes it more inappropriate.