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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Trump Employee 5 In Classified Documents Case Speaks Out; Trump Floats Cutting Entitlement In Major Campaign News; GOP's Sen. Katie Britt (R-AL) Tells Fabricated Sex Trafficking Story To Nation; Abby Phillip And Guest Panel Talk About Katie Britt Comments On President Biden's State Of The Union Address; Abby Phillip Interviews Moskowitz On Hamas-Israel War; Guests At A County Republican Fundraiser In Kansas Kick And Hit A Dummy Resembling President Joe Biden; Power Pop Action Eric Carmen Dies At 74. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 11, 2024 - 22:00   ET


KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: In court with her again on Thursday, watching the parties and to see exactly what the judge here does for the trial.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Katelyn Polantz, no one else I would rather break some news with and do reporting with. Thank you for this amazing team effort.

POLANTZ: Thank you.

COLLINS: And thank you all so much for joining us for this exclusive interview here tonight on Trump employee number 5. We'll continue to monitor the fallout of that and watch closely to see what Judge Cannon decides if she decides a trial date here.

In the meantime, CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillips starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: A CNN exclusive, a witness for the prosecution shows and tells how Donald Trump operates like a mob boss. That's tonight on NewsNight.

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

And tonight, CNN puts a voice and a face to the key facts that you can read on paper in that case against Donald Trump.

Meet Brian Butler, he's also known as employee number 5 in the criminal indictment from special counsel Jack Smith. Butler is not a random person who Trump can suddenly claim he doesn't know. He knows Trump and has known him for 21 years since he took a job as a seasonal valet at Mar-a-Lago.

He has years of pictures and messages with everyone important in the Trump orbit. He worked hundreds of feet away from Carlos de Oliveira, the other Mar-a-Lago employee who was indicted alongside Trump, and they took nightly walks together. They were friends. But their paths now look very different. De Oliveira is alleged to have lied to investigators. Meanwhile, Butler has cooperated, and he is helping prosecutors to fill in these gaps about how Trump and his co-conspirators mishandled classified materials and how Trump and his employees lied to federal investigators about those documents, about how Trump sought out loyalty from all of his people.

Butler corroborates two important episodes that are told in that indictment. First, how Trump told an Australian billionaire classified submarine secrets, and also how boxes were moved the very same day that attorneys for the former president swore in documents that they had turned them all over, all of the documents that bore classified markings, back to the government.


BRIAN BUTLER, TRUMP EMPLOYEE 5: And then what happened is Walt left before me, and he never goes directly to the plane. He's either in the motorcade when he goes there with the boss, which the former president. And I remember telling him he left the club with -- I didn't know what he had in his vehicle, but he waited for me at a nearby business, and I told him I would tell him when I was leaving Mar-a-Lago.

So, I left Mar-a-Lago, I texted him, hey, I'm on my way. He followed me, he pulled out and got behind me. We got to the airport, I ended up loading all the luggage I had, and he had a bunch of boxes.

COLLINS: You noticed that he had boxes?

BUTLER: Yes, they were the boxes that were in the indictment, the white bankers boxes. That's what I remember loading.

COLLINS: And did you have any time, any idea at the time, that there was potentially U.S. national security secrets in those boxes?

BUTLER: No clue. I had no clue. I mean, we were just taking them out of the Escalade, piling them up. I remember they were all stacked on top of each other, and then we're lifting them up to the pilot.


PHILLIP: But what might be just as revealing is how Butler also fleshes out how Trump works and the real-time efforts by the former president to make sure that the people around him remained loyal in the face of a federal investigation.


COLLINS: You got a call from Walt Nauta after the search happened. What did he say to you?

BUTLER: So, I was on my way to my birthday weekend down at the Hard Rock. And I think I texted him like, hey, you know, we'll talk at like in an hour, I was with people or something. So, I called him back and he's like, hey, someone just wants to make sure Carlos is good.

I'm with Carlos. We're at the Hard Rock by the food court and his phone rings and it's the former president. You know, he takes the call, we're standing in the food court. I think we went to sit down and I can't remember how long the conversation was, but I know at the end of the conversation when they hung up, Carlos said, he's going to get me an attorney.


PHILLIP: And joining me now is Miles Taylor. He's a former Trump Homeland Security official who penned the infamous now anonymous op-ed that warned about Donald Trump. His book, Blowback, a Warning to Save Democracy from Trump's Revenge, is out in Paperback next month.


Miles, it has always been alleged that Trump basically acts like a mob kingpin. This and that anecdote especially at the end there doesn't exactly dispute that.

MILES TAYLOR, FORMER TRUMP HOMELAND SECURITY OFFICIAL: Not only does it not dispute it, Abby, I think it paints a very vivid picture, one of the more vivid pictures we've seen about how Trump does indeed operate like a mob boss.

And the significance, I think, of Brian Butler's testimony here really can't be overstated. Here is a person that was in Donald Trump's orbit for years and years, decades, in fact, and puts people at the scene, at these critical junctures. This is not someone who's got second-hand or third-hand information. He's there on the ground, and that's what's going to make it really tough for Trump and his allies to disavow Butler.

Now, their typical order of operations here is when someone close to them turns against them, they do everything possible to paint that person as an outsider, someone who wasn't privy to sensitive information and sensitive places, but it's clear that Butler was privy to those things. He was privy to those things for years and, in fact, was literally the man with his hands on the boxes.

When this case first broke open, that was the thing we were saying would be the closest we might get to a smoking gun is someone who saw the boxes moved or security camera footage, and it does seem like Brian Butler really has compelling testimony to that effect.

PHILLIP: And you alluded to this, but there's another side of being one who comes out and turns on Trump, and it's a dark side. What can Mr. Butler now expect now that he's put a face to these accusations, he's put himself out there for Trump and his fans to attack?

TAYLOR: Well, Abby, I do think that his disclosures are brave because it takes a lot to turn against a president of the United States or a former president of the United States, especially when it's one that is as vindictive as Donald Trump is. Not just me, but a lot of other people I know who've done this have lost homes and jobs and life savings and their families have been threatened for doing this. And in this case, a very, very significant case of national security, Brian Butler has turned against his former boss and he can expect those types of repercussions.

And I'm sure that Donald Trump and his allies will try to do the same thing in mob boss-like fashion, as they've done to other people.

So, I would commend him. But I also think there's a bigger lesson here, Abby, and that's for people who are still in the ex-president's orbit that it's never too late to do the right thing and that it's possible to come forward and have a clear conscience instead of a criminal conviction, which is the choice that Brian Butler has made is to try to avoid going down with some of those folks around Donald Trump who appear to have engaged in potentially unlawful behavior and instead come forward with that information. So, I suspect that's not the last of people like Brian Butler.

PHILLIP: Yes, we will see if more people do come out. And there are so many cases now. There are so many opportunities here.

I do, Miles, want to get your take on something else. CNN's Jim Sciutto, he just added some more textures, more detail, to a story about how Donald Trump allegedly praised Hitler.

The reason, according to Trump's former chief of staff, John Kelly, who you know well, was that Trump lamented that Hitler, as Kelly recounted, maintained his senior staff's loyalty, while Trump himself often did not.

Have you ever heard Trump talk about Hitler? Do you ever recall John Kelly relaying these kinds of stories about Trump?

TAYLOR: Well, look, I'd never heard Trump personally mention Hitler, but I don't doubt Jim's reporting for a second. And it certainly strikes me as making a whole lot of sense that my former boss, John Kelly, would have lamented Trump talking about Hitler.

In fact, Kelly had once said to me before in his view, quote, Trump was a very, very evil man. And that was in part because of the types of people he praised, which in particular was autocrats. Trump really had a deep affinity for autocratic leaders, whether it was Vladimir Putin or Xi Jinping in Russia or Kim Jong-un in North Korea. He lauded these individuals who had extraordinary power and the power to enforce their edicts.

This was pretty chilling to John Kelly, to myself, really to anyone who would witness Trump, the leader of the free world, regularly praise despots. That was something that became a pretty consistent that folks witnessed with Donald Trump.


And so, Abby, it doesn't strike me as shocking at all that he would be someone who would look up to Hitler as an idol instead of someone who should be an enemy of history.

PHILLIP: Well, his praise of autocrats didn't just happen behind closed doors, he says it right out in public, including just on Friday meeting with Viktor Orban of Hungary as well in Mar-a-Lago.

Miles Taylor, we appreciate you joining us tonight, thank you.

TAYLOR: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: And tonight, Donald Trump said something really important. It might be the most important run-on sentence of this campaign, and it's a sentence that, trust me, Joe Biden will do his best to make sure voters hear over and over again.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So, first of all, there is a lot you can do in terms of entitlements, in terms of cutting and in terms of also the theft and the bad management of entitlements, tremendous bad management of entitlements. There's tremendous amounts of things, numbers of things you can do.


PHILLIP: Did you catch that? Well, the Biden campaign did. They saw it and nearly instantaneously spat out a new digital ad. The Trump campaign counters that the former president plans to be a strong protector of entitlements, not cut it, and that he was a strong protector of both social security and Medicare while in office.

But that's not for lack of trying. Trump's budgets in office did not want to leave Social Security and Medicare alone. In 2020, his budget spelled out in black and white that he wanted to spend trillions of dollars less on both programs.

Now, today was not an aberration. It's a pattern for Trump and his campaign of talking out of both sides of their mouth on this issue. What exactly will happen to these programs that millions of Americans rely on if he becomes president?


TRUMP: Nikki Haley supports the 23 percent national sales tax, and she wants to gut Medicare and Social Security.

If Nikki Haley got away, most seniors would work their entire lives right up until the end and then not live long enough to receive the benefits they earned and paid for.

In addition to wanting to cut Social Security and raise the minimum age to at least 70, and Medicare, he wanted to absolutely destroy it. RINO Ron DeSanctemonius is delivering the biggest insurance company bailout in globalist history.

The socialist Democrats are trying to destroy American health care and trying to destroy your Social Security. That won't happen with me. We're not touching Medicare. We want to keep Medicare. We're not touching Social Security.

We will always protect your Medicare, and we will always protect your Social Security always.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have entitlements ever be on your plate?

TRUMP: At some point they will be. We have tremendous growth. We're going to have tremendous growth this next year. It will be toward the end of the year, the growth is going to be incredible. And at the right time we will take a look at that. You know that's actually the easiest of all things if you look, because it's such a --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were willing to do some of the things that you said you wouldn't do in the past, though, in terms of Medicare, in terms of --

TRUMP: No, we're going to look.

We cannot become a great nation until we become rich again. You know, we can't afford Social Security. We can't afford anything. I'm going to save Social Security.

Save Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security without cuts, have to do it.

I'm not going to cut social security like every other Republican, and I'm not going to cut Medicare or Medicaid.


PHILLIP: And joining me now is former senior advisor to President Obama Dan Pfeiffer.

Dan, how big of a deal are these comments? I mean, look, it might have gone under the radar, but the Biden campaign was paying attention.

DAN PFEIFFER, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENTI OBAMA: I think it's a huge deal. You know, a lot of the things that Trump does, his gaffes, the outrageous things he says are the kind of things that get people, the press active, engaged, Democrats like myself all worked up, but are pretty disconnected from the everyday lives of the working class voters who are going to decide this election. Social Security and Medicare go right to the core of what these voters care the most about.

And Donald Trump has opened a door on an issue in which poll after poll shows he has a very real vulnerability with the exact voters who have helped propel him to his position in this race. So, I think it's a giant deal. I think it's really impressive. The Biden campaign is often running with it and they're going to try to drive this every single day through the election. So, very important moment for the campaign.

PHILLIP: Well, will this even sink in though? I mean, we just played you know a decade of clips from Donald Trump where he's saying two things and then he says the part about touching Social Security and Medicare very quietly. Are voters going to hear that? And, frankly, is the Biden campaign going to be able to make the case that they want to make here?

PFEIFFER: Well, they have eight months to do it. That's the good news, right? They're starting right off the bat.


There's going to be billions of dollars in ads, there's going to be debates, there's going to be opportunities to do it. And, yes, Donald Trump will say he's not going to cut Social Security and Medicare, but he said that in 2016. And then, as you pointed out, he put cuts to Social Security and Medicare in his budget every year he was president.

Here's what we know. Donald Trump wants to cut Social Security and Medicare. He said it to us many times. He put in his budgets. If he gets elected, the most likely scenario is he goes back to the White House with the Republican House, Republican Senate, Republican speaker of the House, longtime supporter of cutting Social Security and Medicare, put a budget out when he was chair of the Freedom Caucus to privatize Medicare, to raise the eligibility age for Social Security, both of the white guys named John running to replace Mitch McConnell, longtime supporters of Social Security cuts.

So, this is a very -- what the important choice here is, if you elect Donald Trump, cuts to Social Security are a very real danger. If you elect Joe Biden, he will protect them. He said so in the State of the Union on Thursday night.

PHILLIP: Just on the reality of all of this, though, I mean, is President Biden's promise to not cut these entitlements, is that serious, considering that the facts are that, in short order, they're not going to be able to make their commitments to American seniors?

PFEIFFER: Well, as Biden put out in his budget today and talked on the State of the Union, the difference between Biden and Trump in terms of dealing with our deficit, dealing with getting our fiscal house in order, is that one of Donald Trump's first act in his second term in the White House will be to renew the $2 trillion tax cut that he gave corporations very wealthy.

Biden is going to repeal that tax cut. He's not going to sign it back on its way, keep it for middle and working class people, but he's going to save a bunch of money and he's going to not going to -- he will balance our budget -- sorry, he will get our fiscal House in order and he will do it without cutting Social Security and Medicare. That's the difference because Joe Biden wants to raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations, not cut them.

PHILLIP: All right. Dan Pfeiffer, thanks very much for joining us on all of that.

PFEIFFER: Thank you, Abby. PHILLIP: And next, the sex trafficking victim, who Alabama Senator Katie Britt cited in that State of the Union response, she is now speaking out, why she says that the senator completely distorted her story.

Plus, a President Biden effigy is beaten and kicked at a Republican fundraiser in Kansas. I'll speak with one of the local Republicans who's now condemning this stunt.

And breaking news tonight, on the eve of testifying before Congress, the special counsel who did the report on Biden has left the DOJ and he will testify now as a private citizen, the significance of that ahead on NewsNight.



PHILLIP: It was an alarming story that was aimed at illustrating President Biden's failure at the border. The problem is, the story is not true.

Listen to what Senator Katie Britt told the nation during the Republican response to Biden's State of the Union.


SEN. KATIE BRITT (R-AL): I traveled to the Del Rio sector of Texas. That's where I spoke to a woman who shared her story with me. She had been sex trafficked by the cartels starting at the age of 12.

We wouldn't be okay with this happening in a third world country. This is the United States of America and it is past time, in my opinion, that we start acting like it. President Biden's border policies are a disgrace.


PHILLIP: So, here's what is actually true. Senator Britt, she did visit the southern border in 2013. That's her there in the olive shirt. She met a woman there who described her experience being trafficked. But that woman says that the senator is misrepresenting her experience to make a political point.

Her name is Karla Jacinto and she tells CNN that she wasn't trafficked by cartels at all but instead by a pimp who entrapped her and other vulnerable girls. She was never trafficked into the United States, as Britt suggested. She also was held captive during President Bush's presidency.

So, that was 20 years ago, not during the Biden administration. And she didn't meet the senator one-on-one, as you saw in the pictures there. And listen to what Jacinto told CNN's Rafael Romo.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At one point when I met you years and years ago, you told me that you felt like, at the beginning, Mexican politicians had taken advantage of you by using your story for political purposes. Do you feel like that happened once again here in the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. In fact, I hardly ever cooperate with politicians because it seems to me that they only want an image. They only want a photo. And that, to me, is not fair.


PHILLIP: And joining me now is CNN Political Commentator S.E. Cupp, and also the host of The Right Time with Bomani Jones, that podcast, Bomani Jones himself.

Bomani, what do you make of what Karla just said about just how politicians, Mexico, the United States, they just take the story and they do whatever they want with it?

BOMANI JONES, HOST, THE RIGHT TIME WITH BOMANI JONES: Well, I think in this case, it was so startling because it seemed to be such a blanket misrepresentation. Like there weren't a couple of quirks. It was like, well, it's kind of like what she said, no, no, no, it seemed to be like a full-on page one rewrite of what the story was in the first where the story was in the first place.


And so the sell job for that portion after the State of the Union is the truth doesn't matter because it's about selling the feeling in that moment and you can't unscare people.

So, if you watch what you have there, like it almost sounds like one of those Sally Struthers commercials that's supposed to really hit you in heart and make you send in 35 cents a day to help these people who are starving.

It's going to such an emotional place that after people find out what the truth is, it doesn't matter. You can't unring that emotional bell. So whoever the audience was, the truth of it didn't matter. And then a woman like Jacinto, her story is secondary because it really was only the basis to go sell the scare.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, S.E., let's be honest, politicians lie, Democrats lie, Republicans lie. But there is an asymmetry right now in American politics, with the boldness of the lies, the brashness of it. This is maybe one example of that.

Someone suggested that on the -- because people are so used to this happening on the right that it's not taken as seriously even in a situation like that, do you think that there's any truth to that?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's not -- it doesn't register at all to the Republican base, and that is because they are used to this and they admitted, many of them, we don't care that Donald Trump lies. I mean, there you go. Okay, if you don t care that the leader of the free world, right, the former president, president at the time, is a liar, lies regularly, routinely about little stuff and big stuff, why would you care that someone like Katie Britt lied telling an anecdote after the State of the Union or someone, like George Santos lied for a living, it seems, you know, from New York's third congressional district. This does not bother the base because the bases here to be aggrieved and have their grievances reflected back. That is it. That's all they care about. The truth is really incidental.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, and the exaggerations, to your point, the emotional need to just sort of say, this is scary, this is scary. Trump, any attempt to even be -- this is a real person. Like they misrepresented a real person's actually horrific story of being trafficked nowhere near the United States.

JONES: Right. But I also think that like the real person whose story they hijacked, that people who are likely to be offended by that are not the people that they're trying to win over in the first place, like the margins that they try to get from doing this, apparently are not those people.

Like, I mean, we have a larger societal issue that is, of course, we are just inundated with so much information that while we're talking here about the fact that that story wasn't true, I'd be curious to know what percentage of people that watch that in real-time know that it was not true, right?

PHILLIP: Like if you're watching a Fox News, you probably never really hear about this.

JONES: And this is the one time you parachute in to care about what's going on with politics and you just hear that, then do you know that this has been corrected on the backend?

PHILLIP: You know what, let me go ahead and actually play what happened when Katie Britt was confronted by this on Fox this weekend. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To be clear, the story that you relate is not something that's happened under the Biden administration, that particular person?

BRITT: Well, I very, very clearly said I spoke to a woman who told me about when she was trafficked when he was 12. So, I didn't say a teenager, I didn't say a young woman, a grown woman, a woman when she was trafficked when she 12. And so listening to her story, she is a victims right advocate who is telling this is what drug cartels are doing, this how they're profiting off of women and it is disgusting.


PHILLIP: Again, just to be clear, drug cartels were not involved here and she doesn't address the broader falsehood of the story. CUPP: It doesn't matter. And here's the thing. The immigration issue favors Republicans. All the polling suggests that. People were worried about immigration, blame Biden and Democrats. She did not need to tell a made-up story to make a point based on actual facts. She could tell that story. It's not going to appeal to everyone, but the story is real. The issue is really.

And it seems like Republicans are hell-bent on giving Democrats these gifts, Trump going out and using Hitlerian language to describe immigrants and migrants, great way to get moderates and independents, or Republicans saying, no, we don't want to fix the border with this bill that you've offered us full of stuff we've never gotten before because we want Trump to run on it, and then putting Katie Britt up there to tell a false story that she didn't have to have to tell, to actually make a very important point about the border.

PHILLIP: Is this the price that one has to pay if she's on the V.P. shortlist to put herself out there like this?

JONES: Yes. I mean, look, if they offer the opportunity, how many people do you think would pass up the chance of giving to be the person to sit in that seat and give that speech? Now granted given that speech hadn't worked out for anybody --

PHILLIP: I would argue in favor of passing.

JONES: I agree, but most people are not going to pass that level of exposure, right?

CUPP: You know what's funny? So, Newt Gingrich, a friend of mine, I had a show at this network with Newt Gingrich. I know really well Newt Gingrich.

He loves to talk. In fact, he wasn't a great host because he's a much better guest. He doesn't want to ask questions. He wants to answer them. He was asked by a journalist to comment on Katie Britt. He said no comment. I've never heard him say those words in his life.


I think that's how bad she did. And just days earlier, he had been saying she could be on, you know, online for the --

ABBY PHILIP, CNN HOST: Everything you need to know, S.E. and Bomani. Both of you, stick around. We have more for you later on in the show. But next for us, Donald Trump and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez lining up on the same issue. We'll explain. Plus, breaking news tonight as President Biden sets a red line for Israel. U.S. intelligence shows Benjamin Netanyahu's future is in jeopardy. Stand by.



ASHER: In what would truly be an extraordinary move, one of America's most popular apps may be banned by the United States government. The House set to pass a bill banning the use of TikTok unless the app's parent company severs ties with China.

Security officials have been warning that TikTok poses a national security threat. But this legislation is making for some strange bedfellows in Washington. For instance, Donald Trump and some of the so-called squad members, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, are against the ban. Others include Elon Musk and Vivek Ramaswamy.

Now, it's worth noting that Trump has actually flip-flopped on this issue since he was the one who initially tried to ban the app when he was President through an executive order that would later be struck down. Now, on the other side of it is Mike Johnson, the Speaker of the House, the bipartisan group of lawmakers who introduced the bill and several conservative groups who are all for the ban.

So, stuck in the middle? Some senators who want to water down the legislation and what about President Biden? Well, he says that he's going to sign the bill if Congress ends up passing it. That contradicts his own campaign, which just recently launched a TikTok channel last month.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Jared Moskowitz of Florida. Congressman, thanks for being here. You've had an interesting evolution on the issue of TikTok. You are now in favor of a ban, but previously you were not. Why the change of opinion?

REP. JARED MOSKOWITZ (D-FL): No, thanks, Abby. Thanks for having me. Yeah, I mean, look, I think the evidence has come out that it's -- and we're going to be briefed on it. And you saw the vote come out of Committee in a bipartisan fashion last week, 50 to zero. I can tell you 50 to zero votes that on a bipartisan basis out of Committee happened so far and few between.

And then all of Congress is going to get a briefing from intelligence officials next week. And so, you know, look, this bill is not a ban of TikTok. But what it will do is it will force the sale to a U.S. company to get Chinese influence out from underneath of TikTok. One of the things that convinced me is, you know, talking to parents of kids that are on this like digital fentanyl.

And another thing that convinced me was after the October 7th war to see all of the misinformation that was being spread on TikTok intentionally meant to divide the American public and cause more dissension here at home.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, look, I understand you probably are going to get some briefings that have more detail. But I do wonder, I mean, how-how you know the difference between what is intentionally meant to divide and what divides because it is divisive. And secondly, the precedent here, does that worry you at all forcing a company to sell itself to a domestic entity? Couldn't that just be weaponized against American companies overseas?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, first of all, I think this is really a first step. I don't think this is the only thing. And I -- like you said, I don't think it can just be only TikTok. I think we need to look at data transfers from companies over here to China. There's a number of those done by a number of companies.

Also, I think you bring up a good point. I think if the United States does do this, we should expect China could retaliate with U.S. companies doing business in China. But look, I look forward to the briefing.

I am leaning towards voting for the bill. I do think it's come time to start putting our foot down with how these algorithms are feeding, whether it's information or misinformation, but with an intent, I think, to cause problems here at home, to try to divide the American people, to try to get us fighting amongst ourselves so that we have less time to deal with adversaries. I think that's something China and Russia both want to see happen.

PHILLIP: Should the Biden campaign get off TikTok then?

MOSKOWITZ: Yeah, look, if the President is going to sign the bill, I think he should get off of it until the sale happens.

PHILLIP: So, I want to switch gears because we just learned that Robert Hur, he's a special counsel who was looking into President Biden's handling of classified documents. He's scheduled now to testify before the Judiciary Committee. We are now learning that he actually has left his official post at the Justice Department.


He will testify tomorrow as a private citizen. The key thing here is that Hur was criticized for how he characterized President Biden's mental acuity. Does that fact that he is going to testify tomorrow as a private citizen, not as a Department of Justice employee, tell you anything about what his testimony might be before this Committee?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, look, I don't know if the C.B. has anything to surprise the Committee with in store. I mean, look, he ultimately concluded President Biden did not do anything wrong with the classified documents, instead decided to put the President on a couch and become America's psychologist.

And so, I imagine what Republicans are going to do tomorrow and they are going to use Robert Hur and you know what? He may go along with it. He may want to be used of this idea of trying to show that President Biden is too old or at times has had, you know, gas that they're going to try to exploit.

I think the State of the Union, you know, put a pump to pick the big hole in in that theory that Republicans want to kind of continue to push out there that the President's not with it or he's too old. I mean, every day we see President Trump have the same sort of gaffe, whether he calls his wife Mercedes or he says President Biden is going to start World War Two, which happened in the 40s, or he misses up, you know, the leaders of Hungary and Turkey.

So look, both of these gentlemen are old. Both of these guys have made gaffes before verbally. And so, you know, but that's what Republicans are going to try to do here with Robert Hur. He's not going to give them anything on these classified documents.

And in fact, we just heard that employee number five, you know, in the Trump classified documents issue, has just come out and talked about how they intentionally tried to keep those documents away from the Justice Department.

And so, the evidence on Trump is overwhelming. But my guess is tomorrow Herr is just going to try to tell the American people the same thing that Republicans are trying to do is say that President Biden doesn't have the mental acuity. But the State of the Union proved that completely wrong.

PHILLIP: Before you go, I want to get your take on an issue of real importance in the Middle East. President Biden made some comments today when it comes to Israel and the war in Gaza. He says that there are no plans for that, quote, "Come to Jesus meeting with Netanyahu." He actually referenced that during a hot mic moment while he was leaving the State of the Union last week.

Is that something that you think needs to happen, a come to Jesus moment with this government in Israel about how this war is being conducted?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, look, I think that's happening. I think the United States and the State Department and the White House are having those conversations privately. In fact, we know, you know, not just Israel, but its Arab neighbors are having conversations publicly and conversations privately.

And those -- those conversations get said to us different ways. But- but behind the scenes, things I think are very, very different. And so, I think the White House is having those conversations. I think the President was clear that he's not going to abandon Israel. But that doesn't mean that the President isn't going to push really hard for humanitarian aid and is doing something about humanitarian aid.

PHILLIP: What about

MOSKOWITZ: I have said from the very beginning that you can be for prosecuting the war against Hamas and be for humanitarian aid.

PHILLIP: And what about --

MOSKOWITZ: I have said from the very beginning that you can be for prosecuting the war against Hamas and the -- for humanitarian aid.

PHILLIP: And what about --

MOSKOWITZ: And I think that needs to be the United States' position.

PHILLIP: What about Rafah? I mean, the President says that invading Rafah would be a red line. Is that the right position?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, look, I'm concerned about Rafah. Obviously, Israel needs to do everything it can to make sure that civilians are protected. But we know at this juncture, the United States has proposed, along with other Arab neighbors, has proposed a temporary ceasefire.

We know that Hamas continues to reject it. So, if Hamas continues to reject it, then Israel has the right to continue to prosecute the war against Hamas. So, Abby, what I would like to see happen is I would like to see --

PHILLIP: Even if it means invading a part of Gaza where there are over a million civilians and really nowhere for them to go? Well, look, Israel needs to do everything it can to protect them. But unfortunately, yeah, because otherwise you're giving Hamas all the leverage.

If Hamas can decline a ceasefire and the war isn't going to move forward, then win for Hamas. And so the only thing that's going to get Hamas to the table, unfortunately, at this moment, is more military pressure because the diplomatic pressure on Hamas, whether that's from Qatar or other nations in the area, is not working.


They've rejected two of these temporary ceasefires.


MOSKOWITZ: I am for the temporary ceasefire. I am for the release of the hostages in exchange. And to get more Palestinian prisoners out is also part of the deal. I think that's acceptable to the majority of people in Congress. What's not acceptable is to let Hamas continue to reject a ceasefire, but then say Israel can't do anything about that.

PHILLIP: All right. Congressman Jared Moskowitz, thank you very much for giving us your take on all of that. Appreciate it.

MOSKOWITZ: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: Next, a Biden effigy punched and beaten during a Republican fundraiser. Plus, more on our breaking news tonight. Trump employee number five in that classified documents case, revealing his identity to CNN. The legal implications of all of his claims ahead.



PHILLIP: Tonight, outrage in Kansas after guests at a county Republican fundraiser on Friday were captured on camera kicking and hitting a dummy that was set up with a mask resembling President Joe Biden.

The effigy also donned a "Let's Go Brandon" shirt, which has become a slogan among conservatives for insulting the President. Now, the Kansas GOP told CNN in a statement that, "After the event took place, it was brought to their attention that an outside exhibitor in the karate self-defense space rented a booth at the event," but they stressed that "No one from the Kansas GOP leadership or staff attended that event or had input on exhibitors." Johnson County GOP's Chairwoman also calling the mask regrettable and says it was removed. No one collected or solicited any funds or donations in exchange for hitting the training device, she added.

The Kansas Republican Party in a statement tonight called the events unfortunate. The video has been making the rounds on social media and it has infuriated some state Republicans who are also condemning it.

Selection Sunday is right around the corner, but March Madness is already in full effect. South Carolina's win over LSU in the SEC championship overshadowed by this brawl with just two minutes left in the game. These are two of the top teams in the country, the last two national champions. After the game, both coaches had wildly different responses to that fight.


DAWN STALEY, HEAD COACH, SOUTH CAROLINA: Their emotions got so far ahead of them that sometimes these things happen. So, I want to apologize for us playing a part in that, because that's not who we are and that's not what we're about.

KIM MULKEY, HEAD COUCH, LSU: No one wants to see that ugliness, but I can tell you this. I wish she would have pushed Angel Reese. Don't push a kid that you, six-eight, don't push somebody that little. That was uncalled for, in my opinion. Let those two girls that were jawing, let them go at it.


PHILLIP: All right, well, sports commentator in front of the show, Jemele Hill, reacted to all of this and to LSU's coaches, Kim Mulkey's comments, writing on X, "Now, if Don Staley would have said this --" Back with me now is S.E. Cupp and Bomani Jones. What about that?

JONES: I mean --

PHILLIP: If Don Staley had said that, what would have happened?

JONES: It probably wouldn't have gone over the same way. But as if it was the fifth, we'd all be drunk, right? Like the way that I look at that is that Don Staley immediately recognized that she couldn't get away with what Kim Mulkey could get away with. And Kim Mulkey was simply advocating for the fair one. I advocate for the fair one. Let these two people shoot the fair one. Everybody else stay away from it.

That's not a big controversial opinion. But yeah, there's different things that different people can get away with saying. It's a bit problematic that it goes that way. But I didn't think that Kim Mulkey said anything wrong. We just got a state of affairs that ain't necessarily the fairest.

PHILLIP: It's just more like Don Staley decided to go the other way, probably because she understood, well, maybe a double standard.

JONES: Well, also, her player threw somebody down to the ground, right? Like once that happens, I don't know if Kim Mulkey recognized at that point that one of her player's brothers had hopped over the joint and then recognized that jumping on the court was probably a bad idea. Like, I enjoy watching people fight in sports. I hate the fact that it turns into serious conversation with nobody.

PHILLIP: Okay, so this is exactly the point, right? People watch sports, men's sports, to see the players fight sometimes. Why do we care when women do it?

CUPP: That's a great question. And it's the question I had. I don't I don't watch college basketball, but I'm a big baseball fan. There are brawls all the time. The dugouts get cleared out. People charge the mound. Are we upset because it's women? Are we upset because they're students? I'm not really sure. But this is not a weird thing to see when you're watching sports. This happens.

JONES: Now, to be fair, in men's basketball, fighting is treated very similarly to the way that it happened right now. The variable tends to be race as much as anything else, though. I do think as women's sports become more high profile, the gender element comes in. And this gets to be interesting.


JONES: And we're going to learn a lot about the way that we viscerally react to things, right? Like that's the part that we're going to get.


JONES: But I'm telling you, sports fans want to know more than anything else that people care and whether you like it or not. People shooting a fair one implies caring.

PHILLIP: It's a proxy -- it's a proxy.

JONES: It is.

PHILLIP: -- or the energy that you're going to bring to the game. But also just for a moment, what a great thing for women's sports that we care.

CUPP: I mean, women's sports is getting its moment and that's across multiple sports. And look, you're on a big platform. And this is the NCAA tournament is as big as it gets for women's college basketball, right? Big spotlight. And everyone's tuning in. We're talking about it tonight on CNN because people are caring.


And ultimately, that is good. I'm not sure this is how you want women or people to care about your sport. But we care.

JONES: Oh, no, this is exactly how you want to do it. This is exactly the way that you want to get it. Like this. This sells it. This does it. These are names that people recognize, like the women's game.

PHILLIP: The freedom to fight.

JONES: Yes. But also I think it's important. I think last year was an inflection point where the popularity of the women's tournament, the Caitlin Clark experience, and as that built in, then the final with LSU in and everything that came around that.


JONES: That was a point at which the interest in women's college basketball to the casual observer, I think, passed that of the men's. I know far more about the women in college basketball than I know about the men in college basketball at this point. Like this is big. And now having stories around it that go beyond just any one small thing. That's where this gets to be big. And that's where it gets to be.

CUPP: That's how you become a sports fan. Getting to know personalities. And you've got to show your personality to get to know it.

PHILLIP: Exactly right. Exactly right. S.E Cupp and Bomani Jones, great conversation. Thank you both.




PHILLIP: Tonight, goodbye to a power pop action Eric Carmen who rose to fame as the front man of the Raspberries and chartered multiple hits including that one, "All By Myself" and so many others, he has died.

His wife posted the news on the singer's website borrowing from his songs in a message to his fans, quote, "Love is all that matters, faithful and forever." Carmen was 74 years old. And thank you for watching "NewsNight". "Laura Coates Live" starts right now.