Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Soon, Trump To Clinch GOP Nomination, Biden Clinches For Democrats; Judiciary Chair Speaks Out On Fiery And Chaotic Hur Testimony; Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan Weighs In On Special Counsel Robert Hur's Testimony On Classified Documents; CNN Political Director David Chalian Tallies Up Delegate Math In The Presidential Primaries. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired March 12, 2024 - 22:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Here's what they told Jake Tapper just last week.


RUBY CHEN, FATHER OF ITAY CHEN: I actually had a dream two days ago, two nights ago, where I saw the vision of President Biden referring to us and saying, well, your kid, Itay, he's on a plane back home. And I still hope that that might be able to happen.


COLLINS: Ruby, his father, was raised in New York. And I should note, Itay was the second of three sons. He was a former Boy Scout not that long ago, as Dad said. He was also a fierce basketball player and fan.

His 20th birthday would have been on February 2nd. And our hearts go out to his family and friends tonight.

Thank you so much for joining us. CNN's primary coverage continues right now with Laura Coates and Abby Phillip.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Tonight, two big check marks. One has already happened. And we're expecting the other any minute now. And when it does, you can officially lock in your match-up cards for what might be the most important election of our lifetime.

Welcome to a special edition of NewsNight. I'm Abby Phillip in New York.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: And I'm Laura Coates in Washington, D.C.

Just a short time ago, Joe Biden made official, well, the obvious, that he will be the Democratic nominee come this November. He is celebrating clinching in a new video, asking voters, are you ready to win?

Well, tonight, Biden adding important victories to his win column. Look at all these states. The state of Georgia, one that he won in 2020, put him over the top. It's also a state where Donald Trump tried to deny democracy, a state where Donald Trump is on trial for election interference.

And tonight, the president put the November choice in quite the stark terms. Are we going to stand up and defend our democracy or let others tear it down?

PHILLIP: So, who are the others he's talking about? Well, it's pretty obvious, one person, it's Donald Trump, who sits only a handful of delegates away now from locking up the nomination after romping over every single Republican challenger that stood in his way.

Now, tonight, Trump has already put Georgia and Mississippi in the win column, and soon after polls close in Washington state, he will all but certainly put an exclamation point on this primary and confirm to the country that the Republican Party has all been remade in his image.

COATES: So, let's begin with our coverage tonight, the place that matters most on nights just like tonight at the magic wall with CNN Chief Correspondent John King.

John, we know that he has two more in his win column, we're talking about Donald Trump, Mississippi, and also Georgia. How's it looking?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he needs 31 more delegates. Joe Biden, as you noted, clinched with Georgia. He is now the presumptive nominee. You're not officially the nominee until you get to the convention. They do the gavel, they drop the confetti, but he's the presumptive nominee.

Donald Trump will get there when Washington State comes in later tonight. The polls close there in about an hour.

This is where he is, 1,184 right now. You need 1,215, so 31 more delegates. This is impressive. He's winning 92 percent of the delegates in all the contests so far. So, if you're in the Trump campaign, you're saying, wow, we're winning 92 percent. It's the middle of March, March 12th. You're going to clinch the nomination, that's great, right? And look at this, only Vermont for Nikki Haley.

But even as you see -- and it's the same for Biden. Even as you see great strength in the primary campaign, if you look deeper, you do find some weaknesses and we're seeing them in Georgia tonight.

COATES: Let's go to Georgia because, of course, this was a very controversial discussion. Remember that 12,000 less than that votes in terms of winning. How did he fare?

KING: So, public opinion polling right now shows Donald Trump ahead in Georgia about a month ago, a very reliable poll, shows him ahead right now. But, as you know, there's an election interference trial there, and forget all that for a second.

Just remember how close this was, 11,000 votes last time. This -- look, he's getting 84 percent. So, again, if you're a Republican, you're a Trump fan, you say 84 percent, that's great, it is great. However, she dropped out of the race, remember, number one, for starters.

She's getting -- Nikki Haley, the former governor, former ambassador, getting 14 percent if you round that up. But, Laura, look more closely, Fulton County in Atlanta, she's getting 39 percent.

Now, this is a Democratic area. Fulton County is going to be blue when we're at this map in election, but if you're Trump, you got to cut into the margins, right? You can't let Joe Biden get 70 percent, you can't let him get 75 percent.

How do you stop that from happening? You get independents, and you get moderate Republicans in the suburbs, moderate Republicans in the suburbs, yet again tonight, as they have throughout the primary season, are saying, no thank you, Mr. Trump, even though she's out of the race. That's Fulton.

Come over here, Gwinnett, she's getting 23 percent right there. Again, Atlanta, this used to be a very Republican suburb. These suburbs are becoming more and more Democratic in part because suburban voters are repulsed by Donald Trump. She's getting 23 percent.

Come down here to DeKalb, look at that, look at that. That's 45 percent for a candidate who's gone from the race against the former president of the United States in a state with a Republican governor. But remember the difference. Brian Kemp fought Donald Trump when Donald Trump said the election was stolen. Brian Kemp said, no it was not. We run free and fair elections here in the state of Georgia.


You do have -- this is a Trump state, I don't overdo it, he's getting 84 percent of the vote, but there are a lot of traditional establishments, suburban Republicans who believe they're governor, not Donald Trump. And tonight a lot of them are saying no thank you in voting for Nikki Haley, especially here.

And just -- it's stunning to me. If you look at it in this context, come back to the 2020 map, look at the presidential race. This is why, right? Atlanta, Fulton County, and the suburbs around it, how close that was, 11,779 votes.

And so this is the major population center, Atlanta and the big suburbs around it. No issue with any of these communities, they're great communities too, but the people live here, right?

If you're looking at the math of a big election. And so if you look at DeKalb, yes, Donald Trump only got 16 percent last time, right? If he can get 20 percent there, that's the 11,000 votes we're talking about, right? That's the 11,000 votes. So, you come back to tonight and you just look at this. And so where he was weak in 2020, he's showing some weak -- in the general election, he's showing some weakness tonight.

So, it's a big win, but, again, it's the suburbs, it's not like a broken record, but suburban voters still have huge doubts about Donald Trump. He's going to be the Republican nominee. He'll be the presumptive nominee in about an hour when he wins Washington, between now and his convention, and then between then and November, he's got some work to do.

COATES: Fulton County told me one more time, that, of course, where the election subversion trial is. And you're talking about a jury pool as well, interestingly enough.

KING: Right. So, look, so you're talking -- this is the Republican primary electorate, right? So, 58 percent if you round up for Trump, 39 percent for Governor Haley. You're right. Think of Atlanta. This is the African-American base in Georgia. Then you move up to the suburbs. It's by far a Democratic area. But there are a lot of Republicans in the close-in suburbs or at least former Republicans, or a lot of Brian Kemp voters, if you want to put it that way, in Fulton County in the suburbs.

So, you come back to 2020 in the presidential election, again, Donald Trump got 26 percent in the general election, Joe Biden got 73, so it's a Democratic area. So, for people that have something say, oh, it doesn't matter. Of course it matters. If you can make that 28 percent, then you win Georgia. If you lose by 10,000 votes, it's all about the margins. Can you move that up? And so if you're Trump coming in from the last campaign to this campaign, you're saying, I know my problems are right here, right here. You got to make them better. In the prime results tonight, you see a big question mark of whether he indeed has.

COATES: John King making us do math tonight. We'll be checking back in though. Abby?

PHILLIP: Laura, thank you.

Joining me now is Democratic Congresswoman from Minnesota Ilhan Omar. She's a member of the Progressive Caucus in the House, and she very vocally opposes Israel's war in Gaza. Congresswoman, thank you for being here with us tonight.

REP. ILHAN OMAR (D-MN): Thank you for having me, Abby.

PHILLIP: So, President Biden, just a couple hours ago, crossed that delegate threshold to cinch the nomination for your party. Are you personally comfortable with him as your party's standard bearer in November?

OMAR: Well, congratulations to the president. And as we've said for a long time, no sitting first term president has lost the nomination of his party to run for re-election. And I know that every single Democrat in the country is going to make sure that we do everything that we can so that we avoid a Trump presidency.

PHILLIP: The State of the Union Address was just about a week ago, and it's no secret, one of the goals was for President Biden to reset the narrative around his age. Did he do that for you? Did he lay any concerns that you may have had about his age or his ability to do the job? OMAR: I was never really concerned with that. I've spent time with the president, both in the White House, traveled back with him to my district, spent time with him in the district. It always seemed very clear to me that he had the energy and the ability to continue to do this work.

PHILLIP: One of the things happening on Capitol Hill this week, it's become a big point of contention, a ban on TikTok. You have -- this might surprise some people, the same position as Donald Trump when it comes to banning TikTok. Does that feel a little weird to you?

OMAR: I have the same position as the majority of Americans and TikTok users have. And today, we had an intel briefing, and none of the information that was provided to us really was persuasive in the fact that there is anything to be really concerned, that it's not concerning when it comes to Facebook or Twitter.

PHILLIP: So, when -- we just had one of your Democratic colleagues, Congressman Moskowitz, on the show last night. He suggested that, for example, when it comes to the Israel-Hamas War, that China is using TikTok's algorithms to ramp up divisions in this country. And that's one of the concerns that he has in terms of national security. Do you think there's any validity to that?


OMAR: What I do think that people are finding discomfort is the fact that, for the first time in our nation's history, Americans have access to real images of the horrors that are experienced by Palestinians daily. And the onslaught that is taking place, this horrific assault on Gaza really is being streamed to every single person here in this country. So, we no longer have to rely on legacy media to get that information. Every single person has the information directly from the mouths of the people who are being slaughtered.

PHILLIP: It's an important point that we are seeing some really horrific images and we know based on our own reporting at CNN that there is a lot of suffering in Gaza.

I do want you, as you're talking about this war, to listen to what one of the President's top aides on national security, Jake Sullivan, said today at the White House briefing about a ceasefire, which I know that you support. Listen.


JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Those who would like to see a ceasefire in Gaza, a ceasefire is on the table today for six weeks to be built on into something more enduring if Hamas would simply release women, wounded and elderly. And the fact that they will not do so says a lot to me about Hamas's regard for innocent Palestinian civilians.


PHILLIP: If a ceasefire is on the table today, Hamas could agree to it today. Does he have a point?

OMAR: Well, Hamas showed up to Egypt, is my understanding, for the negotiations. It was Israel that refused to send negotiators to be at the table to carve out. You have to remember that a ceasefire is not something that happens magically. It is a process that is negotiated by different parties that have interests.

PHILLIP: And just to be clear, I just want to make sure I understand --

OMAR: And so I do hope that Jake continues to be an honest broker in this conflict.

PHILLIP: That's actually -- I mean, that's actually what I really want to clarify. Are you suggesting that when he says there's something on the table, a ceasefire that Israel has agreed to, they want those hostages back, Hamas will not agree to that? You don't think that that's where things -- you don't believe that that is where things stand today in these negotiations?

OMAR: Well, there was a current A.P. reporting that said, you know, negotiators from Hamas arrived in Egypt to negotiate for a ceasefire, and Israel decided not to send anyone down there to negotiate. You can certainly have certain demands that you want, and we obviously want the hostages released to return to their families or American hostages that are included. There is an infant that is included in those hostages.

And so it is important that we do everything that we can, but we can't be dishonest to the point where we are saying that everybody is doing everything that they can to be at the table to negotiate a ceasefire that can lead to a permanent solution.

PHILLIP: So, again, to clarify, Congresswoman, you're saying Jake Sullivan is being dishonest when he says Israel is at the table willing to sign a ceasefire?

OMAR: I'm saying he's not sharing the full picture. I don't know if he's being honest or not, but it certainly does not go along with the current reporting that has come out of those negotiation efforts.

PHILLIP: On the president and this election, which is, as you point out, a really important one, you didn't vote for President Biden or for uncommitted in Minnesota's primary, the uncommitted vote, who was a big part of that primary in your home state. I wonder, if the election were held today, would you vote for Joe Biden? Can you confirm that he would have your vote today?

OMAR: Of course, democracy is on the line. We are facing down fascism, and I personally know what my life felt like having Trump as the president of this country, and I know what it felt like for my constituents and for people around this country and around the world. We have to do everything that we can to make sure that does not happen to our country again.

PHILLIP: And do you think your constituents ultimately will come to the same conclusion that you did, you know, the tens of thousands who voted uncommitted as a protest against the president?


Well, the uncommitteds have been very clear. They want a change in policy and we've seen that. Within three days, you had the vice president using the word, ceasefire. We now have the President saying there is a red line if Israel goes into Rafah that he is going to condition aid. So, there has been a significant progress.

I think it is the responsibility of every citizen of this country that cares for the humanity of all to continue to push this administration to do what it can do to end the onslaught that Palestinians are living through every single day.

PHILLIP: All right. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, we appreciate you joining us on the show tonight.

OMAR: Thank you for having me.

PHILLIP: And let's talk about these two milestones tonight. With me now, Scott Jennings, Jamal Simmons, S.E. Cupp and Mark Preston.

What did you make of that, Jamal, that interview there? On a couple of different fronts, on the political front, honestly her reaction saying there's been progress, saying that the president has already moved. It seems like that is actually a little bit of an olive branch more than I've been hearing from many of the progressives who have been supportive of the uncommitted movement.

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's true. The protests and the push on behalf of what's happening in Gaza has moved the president to be more vocal about the policy, I think, that's happening inside the administration. And the administration has always been concerned about the deaths in the Gaza.

The question is how much they're willing talk about that publicly. And I think we are hearing them talk more about that and certainly push.

I was concerned at one point with Congresswoman Omar's point about this ceasefire, because when we started talking about ceasefire and Hamas was on the line, there was a lot of -- she sort of referenced that, well, you know, ceasefire doesn't happen automatically. People have to sort come to the table. But that's not what you hear when you're in a protest, when people say, the president should say ceasefire now, and that would sort in -- that will kind of end the thing.

So, I feel like we have make sure that everybody's being held to this same standard here and we need all the parties to have ceasefire because we do need to Israel to be secure and we also need to have these children and women in Gaza to not be dying and for them to secure.

So, we've got to figure out how is it that we have a situation where we can end the cycle of violence on the ground in the Middle East and not just point fingers at one party or another? PHILLIP: And, Scott, were you surprised to hear her say pretty clearly she would support President Biden in November? Some of her colleagues, I'm not sure they would say that today.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, she's a Democrat. They're going to vote for Biden. I am not surprised about that. I am surprised that in a year of our Lord of 2024, there is a public relations agent for Hamas sitting in United States Congress.

The reason Israel is not at that meeting is because Hamas will not provide a list of the living hostages. I didn't hear a word, a word of concern for the hostages. You know, ceasefire, she said, don't happen magically. Well, you know, there was a ceasefire in place on October the 6th. And who broke it on October the 7th?

I cannot believe, honestly, what I heard out of that interview. What I want are for those hostages to come home and I want somebody, somebody out there to show just a little bit of remorse that Hamas broke the ceasefire, raped and murdered horrifically women, all kinds of people, that's it. How about a bit a concern for those folks? That's what I'm looking for.

SIMMONS: And I just want to be clear when I said a second ago about not pointing fingers. We all know that Hamas is the one that started this and Hamas has come to the table. The question is now how do we get to a ceasefire, and that means that all the parties in the region are going to have to be present to make that happen.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But Ilhan Omar there took this opportunity and your very important platform to say that Hamas was the good actor here, Hamas was ready for this meeting. And based on some conspiracy theory, our -- you know, Jake Sullivan, an American representative, is maybe lying about what Israel wants to do and Israel's involvement.

Look, I would not go to someone who is a supporter of the BDS movement for their advice on what Israel should do or what the U.S. should when it comes to Israel. She's trafficked in anti-Semitic tropes that seek to strip Israel and the Jewish people of their sovereignty, their identity. I don't trust her opinion on this issue at all.

And, listen, there are important voices for the Palestinian people. She is not one of them.

PHILLIP: To Jamal's point, she did seem to acknowledge this isn't just Joe Biden waves a magic wand and suddenly there's a ceasefire. There's lot of other stuff that needs to happen. The problem is that, on the left, there are maybe millions of Democrats who believe that this is all 100 percent in Joe Biden's hands.


That's what he's dealing with politically.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, a couple things, not to continue the piling on of the congresswoman, but she did go on to say another thing that was not factual. She said that the discomfort -- you would ask her questions, said the discomfort. You know, for the first time in our nation's history that they're seeing these images come back and they're streaming back to them.

Now, I wasn't necessarily alive or remember too much of this, but if I recall, the Vietnam War ended because that really was the first television war of horrific images streaming back that ended a war. She is right that Joe Biden isn't the only person who can get something fixed, but I will tell you, politically, that doesn't do Democrats any good that interview tonight that she did. It just -- it does her no good because she's not necessarily offering a solution. She's just kind of throwing it out there and saying, well, maybe Israel needs to come to the table. It's a lot more complicated than that.

PHILLIP: It certainly is. Everyone stick around for us. Laura?

COATES: Thanks, Abby. Next, House Judiciary Chairman Jim Jordan is going to join me live on those fiery and contentious moments in the testimony of Robert Hur, the special counsel who investigated President Biden.

Plus, we are awaiting results in key states. Results are expected to put Donald Trump over the top for his party's nomination. Everyone, stand by.




ROBERT HURR, SPECIAL COUNSE: My team and I conducted a thorough, independent investigation. We identified evidence that the president willfully retained classified materials after the end of his vice presidency when he was a private citizen.

We did not, however, identify evidence that rose to the level of proof beyond a reasonable doubt. Because the evidence fell short of that standard, I declined to recommend criminal charges against Mr. Biden.


COATES: Former Special Counsel Robert Hur testifying before the House Judiciary Committee today on his final report into President Biden's handling of classified documents. Both parties, frankly, took their shots. Republicans upset that Biden wasn't charged. Democrats mad about him raising questions about Biden's mental acuity.

I want to bring in Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jim Jordan. Thank you for joining us today. What a day, Congressman, because we were watching for hours waiting to see what he would say about that report.

A really key moment, he said that he did not exonerate Biden, Congressman, but he did decline to bring any charges because he didn't believe he could actually secure a conviction based on what he saw. He couldn't prove the intent, not just because it was age or his memory, but you took issue with that. Why?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Well, I think what the special counsel said was that he willfully retained classified information and then disclosed classified information to people who weren't allowed to get it. And, I mean, this is a guy who's been in office for close to 50 years, five decades, chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. When he was vice president, he gets a daily intelligence brief. This is a guy who knows the law and knows the rules, and yet he violated those.

And so for me, the key question, I raised this in my question, is why would he do that? What would motivate a guy to do that? And Robert Hur told us that. He said he had strong motivations to ignore, and this is Robert Hur's words, not mine, to ignore the procedures around classified documents because he was writing a book. And he wanted that information readily available to give to the ghostwriter who wasn't clear to get it. And why would he want to do all that? $8 million dollars, 8 million reasons he had.

So, that's the point I think was the most telling, because I always want to know what's the motive for someone who knows the rules to then violate the rules, which is exactly what President Biden did. But, of course, Robert Herr said --

COATES: Well, Congressman, on that point, I want to stop you for one second. Excuse me, I want to point out one thing, though, and I remember that moment, because I think your phrase was, he has 8 million reasons to do so, alluding to his book advance. But if you go down to that part of the report, he continues on that he did not feel that he had the evidence that jurors might have been convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that that was enough to prove that it was willful, that the intent was there, and there could have been some innocent explanations.

JORDAN: Well, I'll tell you, I mean, one of the I think big pieces of evidence is what the ghostwriter who had the audio recording of that interview with President Biden, what he did with that information once he found out Robert Hur was named special counsel. What did this guy do? He deleted that information. He tried to destroy evidence. If that's not obstruction, I don't know what is. And I think that goes to motive as well. This ghostwriter knew that there was something -- you know, something wrong here. So, I think that's a contributing factor in this whole scenario as well.

COATES: I did think it was, when you mentioned the idea of the ghostwriter sliding things into, I think a recycling bin is what he mentioned, but on that point, if I go back to the report, and that seemed to be where Hur was really focused on, not wanting to go beyond the scope of it, he recognized that there was evidence that some jurors might have deemed as willfully retaining documents, maybe even the motivations you described, but the idea of the burden of proof was really the biggest part of all of this, but there was a fixation, it seemed, on the idea of Biden's mental acuity or his memory.

I found that striking because you saw some of your colleagues on the other side of the aisle pointing out that Trump also shares some memory lapses. He also does make mistakes. Do you concede that both have a similar issue?

JORDAN: Oh, come on. Come on. I mean, everyone makes mistakes in life. And we're human beings, for goodness sake. But there is no way you can say President Trump -- he's as sharp as they come, his memory is as strong. I was just with him over the weekend. I know -- and the American people can see it for themselves. They've seen these examples of President Biden forgetting things, I mean, all kinds of examples of that.

We actually played the press conference that President Biden gave in response to when Mr. Hur's report came out and showed that where it, you know, again, I think it was maybe one of the worst press conference I've ever seen.

So, to say there's a comparison there made no sense.


I thought that what the Democrats did was actually strange. They were taking snippets here and there, much different than what the American people see on a daily basis from our president.

And look, I take no satisfaction in saying that. President Biden's the President of our country. You want our President to have his full faculties, but he obviously doesn't, and the country knows it. And it doesn't matter how many times Democrats say something different, the country can see for themselves and they understand it.

And that is something that Mr. Hur pointed out. He said, Joe Biden is a forgetful old man, and that is one of the reasons, key reasons, that I didn't bring charges. And it's why we've asked for the actual audio tapes, not just of Joe Biden's interviews, but all the witnesses Mr. Hur talked to, and we'll see if the Biden administration and the Justice Department turn those over to us.

I think they should, so we can evaluate that, the United States Congress, and more importantly, the American people.

COATES: Well, I am eager to see how far you're willing to ask for those requests, the audio transcripts, as well. But back to this point, because as you have offered that Biden has made mistakes, and certainly, objectively, there are mistakes made, and there have been statements that are known as the gaffes and beyond, but there was also a montage played of Donald Trump doing something, talking about not knowing the dates of his marriage, confusing the names of world leaders.

I wonder why, if the notion is that there is a double standard being placed on Donald Trump, isn't it true that there's also a double standard then for President Biden with respect to his mistakes? Why should the American people credit one versus the other if both make similar mistakes that have been played in that actual hearing?

JORDAN: Laura, come on, come on. I mean, there are three people who've run for president the last three cycles, Secretary Clinton, President Biden, and President Trump. All three have been accused of mishandling classified information. Only one is getting prosecuted. Hillary Clinton took a hammer to cell phones, took bleach bit to laptops and computers.

I mean, you got to be kidding me. The idea that there's not a double standard and the Justice Department isn't going after President Trump, I think is laughable to disagree with that. Anybody can see it. First, it was -- first, it was they spied on his campaign. Then it was the special counsel, $30 million, 19 lawyers, 40 FBI agents, Mueller's special counsel, they found nothing.

Then it was impeachment. Then it was raid his home. Then it was Jack Smith's special counsel. Then it was the 14th Amendment, which was bogus. If you don't believe me, just look what the Supreme Court said, nine to zero. I mean, and now it's this latest.

I mean, come on, of course, there's a double standard and anybody with common sense can see it. And I think that's one of the key reasons why President Trump is ahead in every single poll. And Joe Biden's approval numbers are at, what, 35 percent.

COATES: I certainly think if you look broadly at the system of justice in this country, there are issues with a two-tier justice system, obviously for the wealthy and those who do not have the means.

But I want to narrow your focus, Congressman, away from the broad and to what Hur was focused on instead, because he did respond to this idea that there was a distinction and huge distinctions between the behavior of Trump in the handling of documents and that of Biden, specifically in what happened after the request to return those documents.

And frankly, the distinctions, he believes, is maybe what led to the prosecution of Trump and not Biden. I mean, why -- do you really think that if Trump had returned the documents, had not doubled down, had cooperated, had not had this year and a half expanse between the first request and then, of course, the appointment of special counsel, that he would also still be charged?

JORDAN: I don't think it would have mattered what President Trump did. I think Jack Smith was going to go after him. I think the fact that Merrick Garland picked Jack Smith, the same guy who was looking for ways to go after the very people that Lois Lerner and the IRS targeted 15 years ago, conservative Tea Party people around the country, I think the fact that he picked Jack Smith just changed everything. He was going to go after President Trump, no matter what he did.

I mean, I just think that's and then, of course, I just think that's the case. And because we've seen it time and time again, that whole litany of examples where they've used this lawfare, this weaponization of government to go after President Trump. But Laura, today wasn't about President Trump. Today, was about Robert Hur's examination of Joe Biden. And we laid out the facts there. And Robert Hur laid out the facts.

That's what we -- when Jack Smith completes this, when that's all over, I'll come over and talk about that. But I know Jack Smith's been out to get President Trump from the get-go. And I actually think that's why the Justice Department, Merrick Garland selected him.

COATES: But you brought up that former President Donald Trump as part of the double standard. And there's also great explanation and pains from this report.

JORDAN: No, you brought it, you brought up the fact that Democrats brought up President Trump. And that's why I gave that -- three people ran for president, Secretary Clinton, President Biden, President Trump. Only one's been -- they've all been accused of mishandling classified documents, but only one of them is getting prosecuted. And the American people see that.

COATES: I hear -- I do hear you. Let's not do the chicken and the egg dance for a second, of which came first. Trump was raised today as part of the conversation.

JORDAN: Well, you raised it, Laura. I didn't.

COATES: Noted. Trump was raised today in front of the hearing, as was some comparisons were made from others.


Hillary Clinton is a favorite, as well. Of course, the documents that she was reported to have, James Comey, as we know, addressed those as carelessly maintained, but chose not to pursue prosecution with the U.S. Attorney and, of course, the Attorney General for various reasons.

But I want to focus again on this double standard, Congressman, because there is a distinction between the behavior post-recognition of the possession of documents. And so, the behavior of Biden to speak with the investigators, to hand over documents and beyond, is very different than what the former President Donald Trump did. Does that not factor in at all for you that there are key distinctions in how one doubled down and the other cooperated? That doesn't matter at all?

JORDAN: The double standard is -- you said it. Careless behavior. That's how you said former FBI Director Comey characterized Secretary Clinton. Careless behavior. I'm not going to prosecute. With Joe Biden it was, oh, he's a forgetful old man who might appear sympathetic to a jury. I'm not going to prosecute. Even though he retained information and disclosed it to someone who wasn't allowed to get it, I'm not going to prosecute.

But with President Trump, we're going to go after him because we don't think he cooperated enough. That's the allegation. That hasn't been proven. We got the final report from Robert Hur, and we know what took place there. There is definitely a double standard, and it goes against -- and here's the other thing.

This is the Justice Department prosecuting the President's political opponent. Joe Biden's Justice Department is going after the guy he's running against for President of the United States. That to me is also critically important, and I think the American people evaluate it that way, as well.

COATES: Why does the fact that you've got a special counsel assigned to oversee it, and he himself in response to questions today, Mr. Hur said that he did not feel restricted. He did not feel interfered with. He didn't think there was any undue influence, and he had the resources he needed to fully investigate this.

He was previously a Trump appointee, and he has made statements that colleagues like Adam Schiff had called gratuitous about his memory. I do wonder, though. These are his statements. These are his statements, Congressman.

JORDAN: He was appointed -- he was appointed by Merrick Garland. I mean, Merrick Garland.

COATES: No, no.

JORDAN: The Biden --

COATES: Congressman, excuse me, he was appointed for this by Merrick Garland in the past.

JORDAN: That's what matters.

COATES: He had no part of the Trump appointment.

JORDAN: Of course.


JORDAN: But that's what matters. The Attorney General for Joe Biden, Merrick Garland, appointed him as the special counsel. That's what matters. So, okay, the Democrats, they're going to get mad at Robert Hur and say all the things they said in the hearing today. He was appointed by the Democrat Attorney General, for goodness sake, and he found what he found, and he didn't prosecute, for goodness sake. Again, highlighting this double standard.

COATES: Well, I do wonder one more point about this, because in the past, and I remember this came out after the Mueller report, you wanted the public, when it came to having read the special counsel report, and of course I'm paraphrasing you here when I bring this up, that you believed it was appropriate to move on and get back to the business of legislating and now it seemed that you want to pursue the audio and beyond.

Why do you -- why are you not satisfied by the conclusion of the special counsel? Is it because the result is not what you'd like? Because you seem to be -- I want to finish my question. I just want to finish my question so I can be very clear for the audience, they can get the benefit of both of our conversations.


COATES: You were in line with the finding that -- in the belief that his memory was an issue, but then the conclusion of the report seems to be the only thing that's problematic. So, can you really have it both ways?

JORDAN: I think -- I think, Robert Hur to some extent, is having it both ways. Joe Biden met the elements of the crime, but because he's a sympathetic guy who, you know, a forgetful older man, we're not going to prosecute. Okay, that's the thing. Well, let us see for ourselves.

Give us the audiotapes, not just of Joe Biden, but all the witnesses you talked to. We got the transcripts this morning from just Joe Biden. We'd like all the transcripts and, frankly, we'd like the audiotapes. As I said, for every witness, 147 witnesses he talked to, we'd like that information.

And, oh, by the way, the White House did try to influence this. There were five letters sent to -- about the special counsel over the course of his one-year investigation. The first three all went to -- over that time frame, all went to Robert Hur.

The last two, they tried to jump over him when they went to the Associate Deputy Attorney General and to Merrick Garland himself saying, we think the report should be changed. And they were trying to change the very section we were just talking about where Robert Hur referenced Joe Biden's mental state and the fact that he's a forgetful older man.

So they did try to influence that. The special counsel for the President of the White House, his lawyer and also his personal lawyer sent letters to the Attorney General and the Associate Deputy Attorney General. After the report was given to the White House first, they tried to get it changed before we, the people in the Congress, got the actual report.


COATES: I know we have to go and I do thank you for your time --


COATES: -- but if I could ask one more question of you, Congressman.

JORDAN: Sure. Of course, you can.

COATES: It seems pretty clear that you believe -- well, thank you, but it's our conversation. It's very clear that you believe that President Biden broke the law. If he is the baseline, is Donald Trump the next level of the law breaking such that he should also be prosecuted?

JORDAN: You're missing the point, Laura. It's about the same standard, equal application of the law, no double standard.

COATES: So, he should also be prosecuted?

JORDAN: No, we have seen this double standard time. I didn't say Joe Biden should be prosecuted and certainly President Trump shouldn't be. What I'm saying is apply the law across the board equally. That is a hallmark of our system and a bunch of the people in this great country. Millions of Americans think government has been weaponized against we, the people.

We see a time of whether it's censoring certain thoughts and big government weighing in with big tech, on and on it goes. So, that is the concern and particularly, this Justice Department that said parents who go to school board meetings are terrorists, pro-life Catholics are extremists and the unequal application of the law. That is my concern and that's what has to change because that is a hallmark of this country, the greatest country ever.

COATES: Well, we will have to conclude for the day. Thank you for your time.

JORDAN: You bet.

COATES: I'm sure you are very exhausted. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us this evening.

JORDAN: My pleasure, Laura. Take care.

COATES: Thank you. Let's talk about this now in the testimony. We've got Republican Strategist Shermichael Singleton, former Biden 2020 Campaign Advisor Ashley Allison, CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez and former Federal Prosecutor Elliot Williams.

Evan, you heard the conversation as you all did because our audio is clear. Let me ask you, when you were hearing the conversation, there were some moments in terms of the dismissal of the points that really were in the Robert Hur document, particularly what couldn't be proven.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, and I mean, look. The Congressman is known for how he talks very, very quickly. That was rapid fire and there was a lot there that I think it just needs to be, you know, perhaps corrected, right? Because there's a lot of things that that he said that if you read the report and if you look at what the investigation found, they just don't align with what he's saying.

So, you know, a couple of things. One of the things that he is talking about is the idea that -- that Joe Biden was talking to his to his ghostwriter. One of the things -- at the end of today's hearing, Ken Buck was the last guy was the guy who was playing batting clean-up.

At the end of the hearing, he asked one of the most one of the most illuminating questions, which is to get Robert Hur to address why it was that, you know, when -- when he was talking to the ghostwriter and said, you know, was alleged to have been sharing classified information.

Why wasn't that enough? You know, what was missing? And Hur explained it. He said that the House that -- that Biden was living in was a rented house in -- in Virginia, that it is possible the documents were never there.

And, you know, you read the transcript of this interview. They spent a lot of time in that interview trying to talk to Joe Biden and ask him about that. They were trying to get into his head of what was he thinking when he said, I just found classified documents downstairs. And what they concluded, what Hur concluded is that they couldn't stand that up. They couldn't prove that A, the documents were ever there or that he even knew what he was talking about. They might have been confused, right?

COATES: Or that the nature of the documents included evidence that was classified as opposed to notebooks and the like.

PEREZ: Right. And by the way, that's what that's one of the key things is that the ideas of these notebooks, whether they were classified or whether they are diaries and should be treated the way Ronald Reagan treated his diaries. That's part of this -- this larger story, right?

There's another thing that he gets into, which is this idea that there's a two tiered system of justice is something we've heard a lot from Republicans over the last few months. And it really doesn't hold up because if you look at the -- at the Trump case, you can see clearly what happened there, right?

If he had simply returned the documents, if he had simply responded to a subpoena, a lawful subpoena from a judge to return documents, he would never have been charged. And so, you know, there would have been exactly the same thing, right?

Joe Biden sat for five hours of interviews when President Trump was under investigation by the Mueller investigation, he had a take home test and -- and responded in written form. So, there's so many things that that, you know, he's right. There's different systems. I mean, there's different ways, but it's not the way he, I think, perceives it.

COATES: I am always curious about the way in which people talk about the two tiered system of justice only as it relates to Donald Trump and nothing as relates to the average defendant in this country.

PEREZ: Right.



ALLISON: I mean, I am so confused on what Republicans actually want in this moment.


So, what was the point of today's hearing for a gotcha moment that they never got, right? So they say Hillary Clinton wasn't taking the trial. Well, she wasn't president. She ran for president. A lot of people ran for president, but she never actually became president. Mike Pence was vice president. He found classified documents. Where is his special counsel? It's not the case because he did what Joe Biden did.

In this instance, the Justice Department decided not to have a two- tier justice system. They said we have a special counsel for Donald Trump and you know what? We're going to have one for Joe Biden and they're going to independently without Merrick Garland getting into the case, go over and the outcomes will be the outcomes. Merrick Garland didn't interfere. Hur testified that today with the outcomes of it.

But then when they read to your question that you asked him, it's like, well, what part of the report are you okay with, saying is real and others that are not grounded on real substance? So you're okay with saying that you think he's a forgetful old man because that plays to your benefit.

But you're not okay with her saying I'm not -- there's no grounds because he didn't break the law or didn't -- he wouldn't say exonerate, but he shouldn't go to trial because they wouldn't be able to get a conviction. So, I find it weird that like some of it they are satisfied with because it plays to their advantage and some of it they don't.

COATES: That's politics.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I mean, it is politics. Look, I think Hur came off as someone who is not a partisan political actor. I think a lot of Republicans, to the point that Ashley just made, they were hoping her was going to buy more into the idea that Biden is this old, feeble person because politically, a lot of people look at the President and they do believe he's too old.

Republicans, Democrats alike, for the most part, do agree on that disadvantage Biden compared to Trump. However, politically speaking, I'm not certain that this moves the needle. But what it does do it and you heard the Congressman talk about this at the very end of your discussion. He talked about the weaponization of government. Why are they going after the individual who's running against the President? They went after the moms and school boards.

He went down this litany of things, this grievance that a lot of Republican voters do have about the justice system, about the current political bureaucracy, generally speaking, and about President Biden. And I think ultimately that's what this is more about, mobilizing those Republican MAGA supporters than it really is about finding a smoking gun. Because I think most people who saw this probably walked away saying, I didn't really learn anything new.

COATES: But Elliot, that question is not only rhetorical as to why they're going after certain people, particularly the former President, there's an answer to it. And Hur describes it.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. Well, and look, and I think Ashley Allison described it perfectly with two words, Mike Pence. And I think so much of this has become a binary between why are they charging Donald Trump, but not Joe Biden and so on. Forget Trump and Biden. Look at the case of Pence.

It's another instance of an individual who behaved, as you can even say, Joe Biden did irresponsibly with respect to classified documents, as virtually every president and vice president in American history has in some way. Now, the question is, could you criminally prove that this person violated a statute?

The simple fact is, with respect to Joe Biden, you could not. The simple fact is, with respect to Mike Pence, you could not, based on the evidence that is in the record with respect to President Trump, you can. It's there. And then on top of the misbehavior with respect to the documents, there's the added crime of obstruction of justice, which you do not have by any stretch of the imagination with Joe Biden or Mike Pence.

And so, all of this rush to make it a binary double standard between we're treating one president different than another, you're forgetting the sort of control sample in this test, which is you had a Vice President of the United States who engaged in largely the same conduct and also wasn't charged because neither of them committed crimes.

COATES: But guess what --

SINGLETON: But for Republican voters, it is a binary choice. I want to be clear on that.

WILLIAMS: Sure, that's fine. That's symmetrical. That's absolutely fine.

SINGLETON: It really is.

COATES: Now, listen, guess what you can't get a conviction off of? Narratives.

WILIAMS: And you can't get a conviction off of your feelings.

COATES: Only evidence. Only evidence. If you can get a conviction off of feelings, man. Plenty more to discuss. Everyone stick around.

PHILLIP: Please do stick around. There's more to come. Donald Trump -- he is inching closer to that magic number. We will go straight to David Chalian at the delegate desk as the former president is now minutes away from ending, officially, this Republican nominating contest. More special CNN live coverage. Stand by.



PHILLIP: Tonight, two numbers, two candidates, two thresholds. We're talking about delegate math here and the two contests for the major party nominations that will end tonight. CNN's David Chalian is tallying up all of that math. David, Joe Biden, he's already there. Donald Trump will be shortly. What's the update that you've got out of Georgia about where he stands?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, who doesn't love a little delegate math, Abby? Take a look here. There are 59 delegates at stake in Georgia. We're now able to allocate all 59 delegates to Donald Trump, who we projected earlier this evening will win the state of Georgia in this primary. But Nikki Haley is not going to get a high enough statewide percentage

to win any delegates here, even though she's dropped out of the race. All 59 delegates to Donald Trump. That means add that to his total. He's at 1188.

Now, notice up there it says 1215. He needs 1215 delegates to secure the Republican nomination. He is 27 delegates away. We are waiting for the polls to close in Washington state in just six minutes or so, and we will see if we're able to get him over the top with the initial vote returns from Washington state, Abby.

PHILLIP: All right. We will be standing by for that, David. Thank you. And we have much more of our continuing coverage of the primaries tonight. Polls close, as David just said, in Washington state in just a few minutes. Stand by for that.



COATES: Tonight, a big and important vibe shift. The 2024 campaign puts the primaries now in the rearview mirror, and steam rolls towards a bruising general election between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Welcome to a special hour of "Laura Coates Live". I'm Laura Coates in Washington, D.C.

PHILLIP: And I'm Abby Philip in New York. In just a few seconds, polls in Washington state will close, and in any moment, CNN may be able to make a major projection tonight that Donald Trump will break that delegate barrier, 1215 delegates, to complete a swift and a stunning campaign to prove that MAGA reigns supreme once again in the Republican Party.

On the Democratic side, Joe Biden just finished off his march to the Democratic nomination just a few hours ago, officially crossing his delegate threshold, thanks to Georgia. The symmetry there sets up a 2020 rematch and turns the temperature all the way up at an already contentious, fever-pitched battle fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars.

COATES: CNN POLITICAL Director David Chalian joins us now with a look at that delegate count, the critical number that will say if Joe Biden and Donald Trump will end up locking in their nominations.


David, CNN predicted that President Biden clinched the Democratic nomination early in the evening, but we're still actually waiting on Trump. So, where does that stand?