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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Trump Holds Bronx Rally To Court Black, Hispanic Voters; Trump And Allies Push Bogus Conspiracy About Mar-A-Lago Raid; Haley Supporters, Biden Official Meet After She Backs Trump; Pam Hemphill Weighs In On Flag Flying Outside Of Justice Alito's Beach House; New Video Appears To Contradict What Police Statement During The Arrest Of Golfer Scotty Shuffler. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired May 23, 2024 - 22:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: We didn't catch him on the carpet. He obviously must have snuck through. We'll see if there's any photos of him being there.

Jeremy Bernard, though, what a special thing to look at, and thank you all as always for joining us and for giving us the inside source information, including about the White House china. It's great to have you.

JEREMY BERNARD, FORMER SOCIAL SECRETARY, OBAMA WHITE HOUSE: Thank you. And I'm not certain -- I don't believe President Obama is attending the dinner, but I could be wrong.

COLLINS: No, I think you're right. I think he just stopped by briefly, but he's not staying for the dinner. Jerry Bernard, great to have you, thank you for that


COLLINS: And thank you all so much for joining us. CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip starts right now

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Donald Trump's pitch to black voters versus the real story. That's tonight on NewsNight.

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

And tonight, the former president goes home. He was right here in New York rallying a crowd of thousands, promising a New York turnaround.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I've seen New York through good times and bad, through boom times and crime waves, through market crashes and terrorist attacks. But I've never seen it quite like this.

Right now, you don't have public spaces. They're occupied by migrants in tents. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: That happened in the Bronx, what is historically the most Democratic borough in the city. And needless to say, it is an unlikely spot for a Republican to campaign. Obama won by 91 percent of the vote here in 2012. Biden won nearly 84 percent in 2020. But Trump sees an opportunity, an opening, with black and Hispanic voters, even as he makes a sort of post-racial appeal.


TRUMP: It doesn't matter whether you're black or brown or white or whatever the hell color you are, it doesn't matter. We are all Americans and we're going to pull together as Americans.


PHILLIP: Trump painted a picture of American carnage under Biden while telling black voters that they were better off when he was president in nearly every way.


TRUMP: Everyone was better off. We had the greatest economy in history.

We had the best poverty rate in terms of the positive number ever in our history for black Americans and Hispanic-Americans.

Everybody had the best they've ever had. African American jobs were the best in history.


PHILLIP: But, of course, we've got to fact check it because it's simply not true. Here's what the Census Bureau data says about the poverty rate among black Americans. As you can see there in the chart, it hit a historic low in 2022, 17.1 percent. That was when Joe Biden was president, not Donald Trump. And jobs, well, were Black Americans better off under Trump? That's not true either. The data, again, from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows unemployment for Black Americans hitting a record low in 2023. 2023, of course, was when Joe Biden was president as well.

Tonight, we have a NewsNight conversation with Congressman Byron Donalds, a Republican from Florida. He's been rumored to be a potential Trump vice presidential pick, and he's here in the studio with us.

Congressman, why does former President Trump keep repeating those statistics that are very easy to fact check and are not true?

REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): Well, a couple of things, Abby. First, it's good to be with you. Now, let me say this. It is without question, whether you're black, brown, white, doesn't matter, we were all doing better under Donald Trump. You might want to look at raw job numbers, but a lot of those jobs are part-time jobs, not full-time jobs, not career jobs that help people actually change their stars and --

PHILLIP: What about the poverty rate? I mean, those statistics are pretty clear too.

DONALDS: But here's one thing that is critical. When you do wages adjusted for inflation, that is down. And so you might be making more money, but you're paying significantly more for the goods and products that you use every day. That's affecting every Americans. It's hurting black Americans and Hispanic Americans more than any other group. And that's the fundamental problem with Bidenomics, and that's why he is being rejected by a lot of voters.

PHILLIP: I hear what you're saying about inflation, and it's certainly true that inflation is obviously a huge issue, but on the issue of whether or not black unemployment is higher or lower under Biden or Trump, it is just a fact that it is lower under Biden. So, I mean, Trump can make a case to black voters, but he shouldn't be lying about it.

DONALDS: Well, here's the fundamental case. When you're talking about economics, do you have a job? That's an important thing, but are you making enough money to get ahead? Do you have more disposable income? Is there a pathway to building generational wealth? That is not possible under the Joe Biden economy. It's been a disaster for virtually all Americans, except the very rich.

PHILLIP: I do want to ask you about one aspect of that, which is about student loans, because that's an issue that actually matters to quite a lot of black voters. The Biden administration has pursued a policy of trying to find student loan forgiveness basically wherever they can.


This is something that clearly disproportionately benefits black and brown borrowers. They owe an average of $25,000 more in student debt than white borrowers. Is that a policy that -- I mean, shouldn't black voters be looking at that when they're looking at who's going to put forward policies that benefit them?

DONALDS: No, I don't think so. I think the number one policy, especially if you have a college degree is, is the economy thriving? Is it robust enough where I can use that degree to earn more money from my own benefit and from my family's benefit? But number two, and this is the most important thing, Joe Biden doesn't have the authority to do this. The Supreme Court has told him no. Congress has told him no, but he's done it anyway. That is a violation of separation of powers.

You just don't get to pick and choose what money you're going to spend someplace because two-thirds of the American people, which also includes a lot of black people and a lot of Hispanic people, they did not go to college. And so what you're telling those people are, it didn't matter if you need to go to college, but we're going to go ahead and give a bailout to some people who did. That's not right. It's not fair. It is not something that the American people want to see happen.

PHILLIP: The racial wealth gap in terms of who owes what for higher education, do you believe that some of that is due to just longstanding disparities in what black families have, generational wealth that white families were able to build up that black families were not? And do you think that the government should play any role in trying to help black borrowers catch up?

DONALDS: Well, there's a couple of things in that. When you talk about generational wealth gaps, yes, some of it is did my mother or did my grandmother have any wealth to pass on to me? That answer was no. The wealth I'm building now is something that my wife and I are building with our families. There's a lot of black families that are doing that right now, a lot of mixed families, a lot of Hispanic families. That's happening today.

You can't fault people who were able to pass wealth on before what you can do is make sure there are opportunities.

PHILLIP: It's not fault --

DONALDS: But when you talk about the wealth gap amongst races, you are talking about previous examples where other families were able to build wealth and pass it on. So that's why for a lot of black men in particular, but men in general, they're talking about building generational wealth. That's not something the government can help you do except for the government having a proper rules and a proper policies for the economy to grow and thrive.

PHILLIP: I want to play a little bit of what Donald Trump said not so long ago. I'm sure you remember it. Take a listen.


TRUMP: I got indicted a second time and a third time and a fourth time. And a lot of people said that that's why the black people like me, because they have been hurt so badly and discriminated against. And they actually viewed me as I'm being discriminated against.

The mugshot, we've all seen the mugshot. And you know who embraced it more than anybody else? The black population. It's incredible. You see black people walking around with my mugshot.


PHILLIP: Both you and Trump talk about sort of moving past race and politics, but how is that not pandering?

DONALDS: Well, first of all, in that event, the president talked for an hour. He was being glib, having a little bit of fun with the crowd, talking about what's happened. Because, look, if you're being falsely accused of so much junk that is politically motivated, you would try to find some time to have fun with it as well.

But that being said, what the president is focused on is an agenda that's going to put the American people first, and that's why you have voters from all demographic groups are starting to look his way, especially black men, Hispanic men, et cetera, because they have seen the Joe Biden policies. It's been a disaster. That's why I call him the master of disaster because everything has gone wrong. And they want a president who's going to be focused on America first, get the country on track. That's Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: What do you say to black and Hispanic voters who not just are paying attention to the economic stuff, but also about character, Donald Trump's character in particular? When he was running his real estate empire, he was sued by the DOJ for racial discrimination. More recently, when he was president of the United States, he didn't want to denounce the white supremacists and racists in Charlottesville. When people look at that record, what do you say to them when they say we can't trust Donald Trump?

DONALDS: No, Abby, no, Abby, we got to be truthful. If you go back and watch the entire clip, it's a 17-minute clip, still on YouTube, of the president talking about what happened in Charlottesville, he denounced all of the white supremacy that was going on in Charlottesville. I've reviewed that tape. I know you and your producers have reviewed that tape multiple times. Let's not take one statement out of context. Let's be factual now. You got to be -- for 17 minutes, he denounced it. That is the history. People go on YouTube right now, don't listen to my words. Go on YouTube right now and watch it.

PHILLIP: So, what's the point that you're making, Congressman?

DONALDS: The point that I'm making --

PHILLIP: What's the point that you're making about Donald Trump and the history, that's pretty clear, the racial discrimination lawsuit, there's the Central Park Five? I mean, there are a lot of examples.

DONALDS: But we can also talk about Joe Biden's record.

PHILLIP: No, but I'm just wondering, Donald Trump is making a pitch to black voters. So how does he address that to black voters?

DONALDS: It was devastating to black voters. You know this. It was devastating to black men in particular, the '94 crime bill. Joe Biden did that.


Joe Biden didn't want his own kids to be bused to school. Joe Biden did that. That was his record as well. So, let's not just focus on what Donald Trump has said a long time ago. Look at his record as president of the United States.

PHILLIP: I don't know --

DONALDS: And his record as president is one that actually wanted all Americans to thrive and succeed. He did not pick and choose when he was president.

PHILLIP: Don't you think that Donald Trump ought to address some of those things from his own past?

DONALDS: No, he doesn't need to do that. Everybody knows Donald Trump's entire history. The man has been in the public eye for four decades, if not five decades now in the United States, what Americans are looking for right now is his competency as commander-in-chief.

And that is why when people compare 45 versus 46, I mean, look, the choice is clear, the 45th president was significantly better than the 46. It's without a doubt.

PHILLIP: And that's obviously your opinion because you're a surrogate for him.

I do want to get to a little bit of your own history. You have a really interesting story. And when you were a young man, you encountered the law and when you were 18 years old, you were charged with a marijuana possession, intent to distribute charge, but you didn't go to jail for it. A lot of people probably don't know that about you.

But one of the interesting things that's come up is that you have this bill that you support that addresses crime in D.C. And it actually restricts the district from creating laws that would have leniency potentially in the sentencing for people who are younger people, who are 18 to 25 years old. You benefited from leniency. You benefited from a diversion program that kept you out of jail. Why shouldn't that be available to other teens right now?

DONALDS: Listen, that's a great question First of all when, I was 18 years old, it was possession of marijuana. I had it, make no excuses for it. It was wrong. It's wrong at any other time. I had to deal with it then and I moved on with my life, like every man and woman should. When you mess up, you make up, but you never give up. I never gave up on myself and neither did my family, neither did my friends.

Now, to the bill that you're talking about what's going on in the District of Columbia is that they treat all offenders 25 and younger as minors. No other states in the country does that. No other jurisdiction does that.

So, all we did in the nation's capital is say you're going to treat D.C. offenders 18 and younger as minors, like everybody else does. That's what we did. That's the appropriate application of the law because juvenile crime is up massively in D.C. and D.C. is not safe.

PHILLIP: As a former D.C. resident, I lived there for many, many years. I understand what's going on in the district and the challenges that they're facing with crime. But you were also 18 years old. You were an adult and you benefited from a diversion program that allowed you to not actually serve time for your offense. So, I wonder, I mean, why should that not be available? If you're an 18-year-old or a 19- year-old in the district, why shouldn't it be possible under certain circumstances, I'm not saying in blanket cases, for those individuals to benefit from the same kind of leniency that you did?

DONALDS: Now, are we talking about having a dime bag in your pocket? Are we talking about --

PHILLIP: I'm just talking about -- I'm talking about discretion, which is based on --

DONALDS: But, Abby, let's be consistent.

PHILLIP: You're asking me to clarify, so I just want to clarify what I'm asking.

DONALDS: But I want to be consistent. Are we talking about somebody having a dime bag in their pocket or are we talking about carjacking? Because the crimes in D.C. that are being tried as juveniles for people who are 22, 23, 24, is carjacking, it is burglary, it is -- hold on. Hold on now. Hold on, it's sticking people up. That is wrong.

And because the D.C. City Council does not take crime seriously, then it is incumbent upon Congress to do that. And that's what we're going to do, because do you want the nation's capital to be safe? I know I do.

PHILLIP: Congressman, one of the interesting things about this, though, is that it actually prevents the D.C. officials from making laws that actually are stricter on crime. Why would you want to do that?

DONALDS: The D.C. City Council has proven frankly for the last decade that they are not interested in actually prosecuting crime and keeping people safe in D.C. They went through a series of bills that they wanted to do, which Muriel Bowser herself vetoed and the council overrode her. It took Congress to act to throw that out. My colleague from Georgia, Andrew Clyde, led that effort last year, and basically we had to shame Joe Biden into signing that law to repeal what the D.C. City Council wanted to do because they wanted to make it more progressive and not make public safety number one.

PHILLIP: I think the bottom line that I'm trying to get out here, and I'm trying to understand where you stand, because you are in a unique position. You understand what it means to have a second chance.

DONALDS: Yes, I do.

PHILLIP: And you're supporting a bill that basically takes that off the table in a blanket fashion for a lot of people. Do you believe that there should be second chances for young offenders in certain circumstances?

DONALDS: Abby, of course I do.

PHILLIP: So, then why would you support a bill that would make that not possible in the district?

DONALDS: First of all, that's not what the bill does, let's be clear.


So, number two, I'm a product of second chances. I had an ability to turn my life around and I made the most of it. And I would tell that to anybody that's made a mistake, you have an opportunity to walk away from that mistake and do better going forward. And so my story is indicative of that.

But what we also have to do is make sure that adults are tried as adults. I was not sure -- hold on, Abby --

PHILLIP: If that was applied to you when you were 18 and when you were 21, you would've been facing jail time.

DONALDS: When I was 18 in Florida, they treated me like I was 18, as an adult who can sign a contract, who can go into the military, who can do so many other things, who could vote. They treated me as an adult. That's all we're saying to do in the District of Columbus.

PHILLIP: And I just want to note that when you were 21, you faced. I did more charges again, also did not go to jail in Florida as well.

DONALDS: But hold on, let's be clear. I did serve two years of probation. I went through that process. I did have to go and have it adjudicated. I went through that process. I also, under Florida law, and had it sealed, I went through that process. And then when all that stuff was done, I did also go get a job, become a standing member up in my community, served in my church, coached kids in basketball and football, built a family, I did all those things as well. It is possible but you cannot be lenient. There has to be laws on the books that hold people accountable.

PHILLIP: Congressman, there's no question there was leniency available to you. That is why you have such an extraordinary story.

DONALDS: There is leniency in the law in so many other places, but what the D.C. is --

PHILLIP: So, I don't say --

DONALDS: Well, hold on, Abby. But you got to be consistent. What D.C. is not about leniency and it's not about second chances. What D.C. is doing is this radical, progressive view of criminal justice, which is making communities less safe. That's what I oppose.

PHILLIP: I want to ask you about another issue. Just recently, there was this issue of the search warrant for the search of former President Trump's Mar-a-Lago property, and it authorized the use of deadly force for the FBI agents, standard boilerplate language. But you and others have described it as an assassination. on the former president. That's just not true. Why would you say something like that?

DONALDS: Well, first of all, my view of it is very simple. You have the FBI going in to do this raid on Mar-a-Lago. This is not like any other raid that they would do. FBI agents who did that raid did not want to do it. They didn't think it was necessary. And this is all politically motivated at the end because Merrick Garland wanted that to happen. Merrick Garland wanted the scenes, which your network did cover, of going into Mar-a-Lago. PHILLIP: Congressman, with all due respect, the language for the search is standard operating procedure for every operation of that kind that the FBI does. They did the same thing when they searched Joe Biden's house.

DONALDS: Yes, but I would say that --

PHILLIP: So how is that weaponizing it?

DONALDS: Well, what I would say, when they searched Joe Biden's house, there weren't all the networks, from my recollection, with helicopters flying over the beach house in Rehoboth Beach going to find the classified documents in his garage that he took when he was the vice president and when he was the United States senator, which, by the way, is a violation of the Espionage Act. They didn't do that.

PHILLIP: I'm talking about this conspiracy theory --

DONALDS: They didn't politicize it.

PHILLIP: Congressman, I'm talking about the conspiracy theory that the FBI was trying to assassinate Trump. Would you acknowledge that that is not true?

DONALDS: Well, let's talk about what's fact. Let's talk about what's fact.

PHILLIP: Is it true or false that the FBI was trying to assassinate Trump?

DONALDS: What's fact is, is that Joe Biden violated the Espionage Act. He did it with impunity. And Robert Hurr is not prosecuting him because he's a senile old man.

PHILLIP: Congressman, I just want to note that you are not responding to a very simple question about a conspiracy theory that you --

DONALDS: What conspiracy theory?

PHILLIP: That the FBI by having on a document that they are authorized to use deadly force was trying to harm or assassinate former President Trump. That is false. Will you acknowledge that?

DONALDS: Can I be very clear with you?


DONALDS: I'm not sure what Merrick Garland is trying to do these days, because it is clear that the Department of Justice that weaponized against the Donald Trump. That is clear.

PHILLIP: That's pretty extraordinary.

DONALDS: That they're weaponized against Donald Trump? That's not extraordinary. That's what's happening right now. PHILLIP: It's pretty extraordinary that when faced with really clear facts, very clear facts, it's pretty much black and white, you won't acknowledge it. I'm trying to understand why.

DONALDS: Abby, we just had this conversation.

PHILLIP: Is it because the former president himself has raised this conspiracy that you feel like you have to support him?

DONALDS: I've not even talked to the president about this. You asked me a question about the FBI raid. I'm telling you, we are witnessing a weaponization of the Department of Justice against a political rival, because. Donald Trump had documents covered under the Presidential Records Act.

PHILLIP: Congressman, I'm not litigating --

DONALDS: Joe Biden had documents and there's no prosecution because he's a senile old man? That's not even equal justice.

PHILLIP: The validity of the charges. It's a simple question of whether the raid was carried out in a way that was standard operating procedure for the FBI. And as you -- I'm sure, you know, the Republican Party calls themselves a party of law and order.

DONALDS: Yes, of course.

PHILLIP: The FBI, as law enforcement officers, they go and they serve -- execute search warrants every day under the threat of violence.


And they have to have that language every single time to protect themselves.

In this case, though, they coordinated with the president's lawyers. They coordinated with the Secret Service. Why would you insinuate that that was some kind of attempt at former President Trump's life?

DONALDS: Abby, I'm not making any insinuation.

PHILLIP: I mean, it's very simple to just say that's not true.

DONALDS: The only thing I'm saying is, is that what we have witnessed is an uneven application of the law by the Department of Justice. You had Hillary Clinton who -- hold on, Hillary Clinton violated the Espionage Act.

PHILLIP: You are changing --

DONALDS: There were no charges.

PHILLIP: You're changing the subject.

DONALDS: No, no, because the purpose of the warrant is because of classified material, is it not? But you have an unequal application of the law.

PHILLIP: I'm talking about --

DONALDS: You have a two-tier system of justice that you don't want to actually acknowledge.

PHILLIP: When you tell, when you tell your supporters and the former president's supporters that there was a government attempt on the former president's life, and that is not true, that is a major insinuation, and it deserves to be blocked --

DONALDS: A government attempt? You have --

PHILLIP: It deserves to be walked back, Congressman.

DONALDS: I would argue right now, if you look at the actions of Jack Smith and Merrick Garland, there is an attempt to incarcerate Donald Trump over foolishness because they cannot win a political election. And they have lost their minds collectively and they have decided that whether it's the documents case or this foolish January 6th case, which has no true merit, or what's happening here in Manhattan with Alvin Bragg, that they have chosen to use the justice system for political purposes and interfere an election.

That's not a conspiracy theory, Abby. That's a real situation. We should be talking about that, not about what's written in the FBI document.

PHILLIP: Congressman, you talked about that. You tweeted about the FBI document. You're the one changing the subject. But I do want to make one last note because we have to go. But you've been asked this before. I'm going to ask you again, just for the record. If Donald Trump loses the election in 2024, will you accept the results of that election?

DONALDS: My answer's been very clear on this.

PHILLIP: It's a yes or no question.

DONALDS: If the states and localities actually follow rules and procedures and everybody sees the rules followed, then, of course, you accept what's done. But what you cannot have are judges and municipalities and districts not following law passed by state legislatures. That has led us to the problems we have in our elections. That's where you have, frankly, you have Republicans and Democrats object to elections. And so, again, you just want to have a clear process.

PHILLIP: So, your answer is conditional on, based on?

DONALDS: My answer is always conditional because you want to see the processes of the election process actually go according to law, not according to outside groups and legal cases that come up, and you know they do come up.

PHILLIP: I mean, the legal cases are how they adjudicate whether they are done by law. So, I mean, I think that that is definitely on the --

DONALDS: You should follow the law. That's what the Constitution says.

PHILLIP: Congressman Byron Donalds, we appreciate your time. Thank you very much for joining us.

And up next for us, just hours after Nikki Haley endorsed Donald Trump, a group of her supporters actually met with the Biden team. I will speak with one of them ahead.

Plus, a former January 6th insurrectionist will join me live on what she thinks about the Supreme Court justice flying MAGA symbols outside of his homes.

And new video shows that the police's account of Scottie Scheffler's arrest doesn't quite add up.

This is NewsNight.



PHILLIP: Nikki Haley says that Donald Trump must earn her supporters, but tonight it seems that President Biden is actually the one making the effort. Just hours after Haley endorsed Trump, despite calling him unhinged, unstable and a loser, a Biden campaign official met with a group of Haley supporters from across the country. A source tells CNN that the Zoom meeting lasted about 35 minutes, and it focused mostly on policy issues.

Robert Schwartz is the co-founder and senior advisor to the Haley Voters Working group, which includes the PAC, Haley Voters for Biden. His organization set up that meeting with the Biden campaign and he joins me now. Robert, thanks for joining us.

Before we get to last night's meeting, I just want to get your reaction to Haley saying that she would vote for Trump. I know that that probably didn't come as a huge surprise to you. You called it even before she did it. But do you feel like she misled you and other supporters during her campaign?

ROBERT SCHWARTZ, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HALEY VOTERS WORKING GROUP: No. I mean, in fact for those of us who attended a lot of her campaign rallies in New Hampshire and South Carolina, Michigan, Super Tuesday, she was consistently talking about her concerns about the country, about her strong concerns about President Biden. And then she also mentioned some of the critiques you mentioned about Donald Trump.

So, for any of us kind of following Nikki Haley and her trajectory you know, people loved her. They attended her rallies. She got applause lines when she criticized Joe Biden. And so it's not surprising at all.

PHILLIP: But she also said that Trump would lose.

SCHWARTZ: Yes. And I don't, she hasn't corrected that. So, I hope she's right.

PHILLIP: So, back to this meeting that you had with the Biden campaign, it was actually scheduled before Haley's announcement yesterday. What did the Biden folks tell you? Did they try to get your vote or your support?

SCHWARTZ: Yes. So, what the Biden campaign did, which I thought they set the right tone, they were not like seeking the vote on the first call. They said, we understand there are a lot of policy differences with Haley voters. We acknowledge those and we're going to work hard to earn your vote.


And we're here to listen. This is just a first conversation. There's going to be many conversations with Haley voters. And so, I think they came from a place of, you know, genuine interest in actually talking to Haley voters, which, you know, I think President Biden said that Haley voters have a place in his campaign.

And Haley voters weren't feeling that. They were just kind of feeling that they had received a couple of ads and stuff like that. But they, you know, they have had 4.4 million voters throughout the country. And they see the kind of 600,000 uncommitted voters on the left. And they see all this attention being given to those voters. And they want the same, you know, ability to engage.

PHILLIP: So, Robert, I mean, does Biden right now, at this point, I mean, you run a PAC called "Haley Voters for Biden". Does Biden have your vote right now?

SCHWARTZ: Yeah, so I typically, I have voted left of center. Now, I encouraged everybody across the political spectrum to vote for Nikki Haley, because I thought that was the correct vote. She would have been -- a Biden-Nikki Haley race would have been by far a better thing for this country.

But when it became a choice between Trump and Biden, it was an easy choice for me, personally. But what -- and it's going to be an easy choice for a lot of the left of center and centrist voters that voted for Nikki Haley.

What we are focused on with this working group is actually the center right and long-time Republican Nikki Haley voters that are very skeptical, you know, of both Trump and Biden, they have a lot of policy differences with Joe Biden. And so, it wasn't about me, it was about providing this group of Haley voters that the Biden campaign could directly hear from and hear their concerns.

PHILLIP: Yeah. All right, Robert Schwartz, thank you very much. Very interesting.

SCHWARTZ: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: And up next, one of the January 6th riders who spent time in prison, she'll join me live on what she thinks of Justice Samuel Alito displaying symbols used by insurrectionists. Stick around.



PHILLIP: Tonight, Republicans have a new defense for Samuel Alito, which is nothing to see here. The Supreme Court justice is under fire yet again after it was discovered that he flew another provocative flag at another one of his homes in recent years. The Revolutionary War era flag displayed at his beach house has been adopted by January 6th insurrectionists, but key senators are now shrugging it off.


JOHN CORNYN (R) TEXAS: Judges on the Supreme Court have personal lives, they have families, and I don't think they're necessarily responsible for everything their families do or say.

CHUCK GRASSLEY (R) IOWA: There's been recent regulations out of the Supreme Court, and I've said when those regulations came out that we would have -- we need to wait for a year or two to see how they're operating.

THOM TILLIS (R) NORTH CAROLINA: I could list out any number of public statements or positions that have been taken by other justices that I think were unwise in their positions. I'm an adult who's lived enough years to know that there's two sides to a story.


PHILLIP: Our next guest, Pam Hemphill, has served time for participating in the January 6th attack, and this is a video that she took herself. She has since blamed Donald Trump for motivating her and others to attack the Capitol. Pam joins me now. Pam, first of all, what did you think of that flag flying outside of Justice Alito's beach house?

PAM HEMPHILL, SERVED 2 MONTHS IN PRISON FOR INVOLVEMENT IN JAN 6 RIOT: Well, to me, there's a historical symbol to it, but today you've got to understand it's also a second meaning to it, because they will have symbols to communicate. And what it is to me, it's aiding comfort to the enemies of our Constitution. They talk a lot about civil war, but it's not a civil war that they're talking about. This is an actual going to be a revolt, and another insurrection is what they're planning.

So, that flag, and when he put that out, was for them, for an example, what I was taught when I was hanging out with the three percenters, they taught us that in case the phones go down or something happens, we have to have symbols and a way to communicate. And the flag is one of them. And he was communicating with these people that way, using that flag.

PHILLIP: That's really interesting. I mean, you talked about the three percenters. You had a flag when you were at the Capitol. I mean, what was that flag, and what were you supposed to do with it? HEMPHILL: Well, in case I was ever on the streets or hassled by any

officers or anybody, they told me to just put it upside down or put it up for them. If they saw me, they would stop. But on a national level, it's another symbol. Look what it's done. It's brought all the national news. You've helped him, in a way, get his message out there.

He's saying okay to Michael Flynn. Don't call him General Michael Flynn because he's dishonored our country. But Michael Flynn and Ivan Reiklin have been going around the nation on that tour with his movie, and he's talking to everybody in every state. They're planning. They're open about it, this revolt. It's open and you can go on Twitter and hear they have a plan to arrest the representatives and tie you up and shoot you. I mean, he's saying that outright.


PHILLIP: Wow. You talked about how this flag is really a symbol, a broader, kind of almost like a bat symbol to the rest of the sympathizers for this insurrection. But when you hear Republicans on Capitol Hill defending it being flown, either the American flag upside down or this other flag that was outside of the beach house, what do you make of government officials defending this?

HEMPHILL: Well, yeah, they're all into wanting more power. No, they're all in the same boat, believing this Christian nationalist that the DOJ is weaponized against the J6ers and Trump. It's all a lie. You know, this is something you would think I was reading a fiction book. But everything they're sharing about the country and the DOJ and they're trying to destroy the country from within to make you believe that we've lost our DOJ and we've lost our system. And it's not true.

They're doing a lot of projection. What they're doing, they're saying we're doing. This deep state, there's no deep state. If there's a deep state, it's Project 2025 and the people that are involved in that. They have the deep state. We don't have a deep state, the Democrats. But yeah, they're trying to convince everybody with their propaganda and they're spitting everything and lying about everything.

But they have built it up so big that most people today, the MAGAs especially, believe that the Democrats want to destroy this country and they've got to stand up for God. I know all this sounds crazy and it is. And unfortunately, they have some real serious mental illness going on to believe that God would want them to --

PHILLIP: You know it well, Pam --


PHILLIP: -- because you were a part of it for some time. You served your time. You got out and have had a change of view. It's very interesting to hear your perspective. As always, Pam Hemphill, thank you very much for your time.

HEMPHILL: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And Donald Trump is vowing to get an American out of Russian prison after he is elected. But why the wait? The father of U.S. Marine Trevor Reed, who was freed after nearly three years behind bars, is here to react to that.



PHILLIP: Donald Trump is playing up his ties with Vladimir Putin yet again. This time he's claiming that his relationship with Putin could secure the release of wrongfully detained "Wall Street Journal" reporter Evan Gershkovich. He's facing espionage charges, and Gershkovich has been detained in Russia since last March.

Now, Trump insists that Gershkovich and his release would happen immediately after the election, saying that Putin would do it for him. The Kremlin denies that, for whatever that's worth. And as my next guest will show, Putin didn't do it in the past. American Marine Trevor Reed was detained in Russia for nearly three years. Half of that time was during Trump's presidency. Trevor was released in a prisoner swap in April of 2022 through efforts by the Biden administration. His father, Joey Reed, joins me now.

Joey, thank you for being here. I wonder, what went through your mind when you hear that Trump is essentially tying his own election win to the release of someone else who is wrongfully detained in Russia?

JOEY REED, FATHER OF TREVOR REED WHO WAS DETAINED IN RUSSIAN PRISON FOR NEARLY THREE YEARS: Hi, Abby. There's many things run through my mind and our family's minds when we hear these things, because we have a little experience and we've done a little history about how our government negotiates with foreign countries that are holding Americans wrongfully.

Before I go on any further, I'd like to mention this isn't just about Evan Gershkovich. This is about Paul Whelan, who's been in Russia in prison wrongfully for five and a half years. It's about Marc Fogel, David Barnes, Ksenia Kavana, Alsu Kurmasheva, Staff Sergeant Gordon Black, Travis Leake, Jimmy Wilgus, and probably many others. And of all those names, only two of them are considered wrongfully detained by the State Department.

So, one of the first things that we think when we hear what President Trump said today was, why is he making these statements now? Obviously, it's an election year. This is similar to what President Reagan did with the Iranian hostages back when I joined the Marine Corps.

And we found out later that his staff had been working with other Middle Eastern countries to keep those prisoners imprisoned in Iran until the election. And it's discouraging to have a leader of our country use Americans that are suffering and their families suffering as a political campaign speech. The second thing is, like you mentioned, is why, if he has the ability and that friendship with Putin, then why doesn't he just use it now and use that for political purposes? PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, it is the question. And of course, you have

experience with Trump and his attention to these issues. Do you think that there's seriousness behind this kind of claim? I mean, as you noted, he doesn't mention any of the other Americans detained in Russia or elsewhere in the world. Do you think that this is something that is top of the agenda for him?


REED: Well, let me just say this. He, during his administration, he said that bringing home Americans was a top priority, and he brought home several Americans. He didn't bring any home that I know of from North Korea, China, or Russia. But he did bring home several people that, in many of those cases, people didn't really hear about.

I don't believe it's a priority for him, or he would have brought home my son and Paul Whelan. The Detroit Press had an Insider article in 2022 that said that it was an offer for Paul Whelan back during his administration, and Trump turned down that deal.

We know that there was offers to trade Paul Whelan and my son, Trevor Reed, for Victor Boot and possibly for Yaroshenko. And that was turned down by the Biden administration and possibly by the Trump administration also. And then, of course, later, Victor Boot was traded in a sole trade for Brittney Griner.

And at that point, the Russians had decided not to trade for Paul Whelan because they understand our politics, which is what's driving most of these deals, is our internal politics, Republicans against Democrats and vice versa. And it's not so much about the international part of it. They're using us, are infighting to make their moves with using Americans as pawns.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head there, and you know very well because you've lived through this, unfortunately, when your son was detained there in Russia. Joey Reed, thank you very much for joining us. I hope you, Trevor, and all the rest of your family are doing well tonight.

REED: Abby, thank you, Abby. Can I say one other thing? It's -- we ask that Congress join together like they did for our son, encourage to bring all of Americans home. And that we're glad that Trump has said something about Evan, even if it was for personal reasons, because it's brought these hostages and detainees back into the media instead of just covering his trials, which those are the things that we went through when our son was detained. We couldn't get any media coverage. And we need you to cover these stories so that the President will move on it.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and we will. We will. Thank you so much, Joey.

REED: Thank you. Thank you.

PHILLIP: New video of the moments Golfer Scotty Scheffler got arrested in Louisville. Does the initial police report, though, line up with what is actually on the video? Well, we'll show you next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


PHILLIP: Tonight, we got some new video in that seems to contradict what police said happened during the arrest of Golfer Scotty Shuffler. The Louisville Police Department released this video from a fixed pole camera that's across the street from where the incident occurred. And it shows some of last Friday's interaction between Scheffler and police.

While the original police reports claim that the golfer, quote, "dragged the arresting officer to the ground with his car," it's not clear in this video that that actually happened. That arresting officer is also now in trouble for not recording the incident on his body camera. Scheffler faces a felony and lesser charges for allegedly ignoring police instructions in the wake of an earlier incident, Scheffler says he didn't know about.

Joining me now is senior media reporter at "Axios" Sara Fischer. Sara, I didn't have on my bingo card that golf would be the place where we would be talking about whether police narratives as they are given are actually true. But that's actually what's been happening here is that people are like, did this actually happen the way that it was purported to have gone down?

SARA FISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes. And the Free Scotty movement is going crazy online because it looks like these videos go against what the cop had said, right? It doesn't look like Scotty dragged him. He said his $80 pants were ruined. It does not appear to be the case.

PHILLIP: And the car was moving very slowly, it appeared in this video.

FISCHER: Microscopically slowly. I think this makes that whole internet come together around a fun story as opposed to all the chaos in the news cycle right now. And it also is fun because Scotty is a relatively boring figure in golf. Suddenly, he might now be someone who actually gets ratings on T.V.

PHILLIP: Which would be, I guess, good for the T.V. companies. But where do you think this goes next? I mean, what happens to this? Do you think they probably will be reconsidering these charges?

FISCHER: I think so. And look, Scotty's lawyers have said, we feel so confident in the innocence of Scotty that we are going to either fight this in court or see if this gets dropped. And so, if it goes to court, this story lives on. But it looks like it could possibly get dropped.

PHILLIP: The nice guy in golf getting a felony charge is pretty stunning.

FISCHER: The mugshot of him versus Tiger Woods. This has been the most perfect viral internet story ever, Abby.

PHILLIP: All right, Sara Fischer. Thank you very much for all of that. It looks like we have a little bit more time. Yeah.

FISCHER: Oh, we could always use some more time. I know. That's right.

PHILLIP: So, well, I mean, what, look, so, he's now facing these charges. You think it's probably going to be dropped. What do you think is going to happen for him personally? I mean, has this actually enhanced his brand as a golf player?

FISCHER: So much. You have the biggest figures on the internet who are suddenly selling free Scotty merch, who are trying to get Scotty-all interviews, trying to get him all over their pages. This has catapulted him from being just like the nice guy in golf to being the most viral figure in sports right now. It's huge for his career.


PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, it would be huge for anyone, except that that's not really a great image to have out there. I mean, it's a -- it's a crazy -- it's a crazy photo. But I guess whatever you -- all press is good press, right?

FISCHER: Right. And it's not like he did anything so catastrophically terrible that any kind of press could impact his career so negatively. He's golfing just fine.

PHILLIP: Yeah. All right. Sara Fischer, thank you.

FISCHER: Thank you.

PHILLIP: We appreciate you. And thank you for watching "NewsNight". "Laura Coates Live" starts right now.