Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

GOP Keeps Swinging And Missing When Targeting Biden Admin; Biden Defends Age In TIME Interview, I Can Take You, Too; Biden's New Border Restrictions Take Effect At Midnight; Award Winning Actor Wendell Pierce Speaks On Racism; Sara Fischer Discusses The Dangers Of Artificial Intelligence And Deep Fakes; Father Of Hamas Hostage Speaks Out About Netanyahu's Handling Of The War With Hamas. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 04, 2024 - 22:00   ET



HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Democrats, if Jon Tester does not win re-election, Democrats will not control the United States Senate. So, this is a very key race because we already know that Democrats are very, very likely to lose in West Virginia. If they lose in Montana too, bye-bye to that majority.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Harry Enten, always with the wise advice and the numbers, I know you'll continue watching them tonight. Thank you so much for that. Obviously, we will be tracking all of these primary races very closely, including what's happening in Montana and whether or not Nikki Haley, her vote increase does go up and what that means for Republicans.

Thank you for joining us. CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip starts now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Republicans keep trying to prove that there's fire where they see smoke. That's tonight on NewsNight.

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

Tonight, if at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again. Well, Republicans, okay, they may not have Aaliyah committed to memory, but it definitely seems like they've taken that advice to heart. And they are perpetually in search of evidence to pin crimes on Biden's allies.

Now, there's supposed to be proof in the pudding, but Republicans can't seem to make jello. The GOP struck out on the Mayorkas impeachment. They whiffed again when they tried to impeach Joe Biden. And just yesterday, they tried to turn Anthony Fauci into Dr. Frankenstein. They laid the blame for a monster COVID pandemic at his feet.

And now today, Congress gave us the latest example. Republicans want America to believe that the attorney general, Merrick Garland, is a Biden henchman, and that he is the principal orchestrator of a plot to stop Donald Trump. Now, the problem with that is that it's just not true. Now, you wouldn't know that if you judged today's hearing based on the accusations per minute, like this, from the Republican Judiciary Committee chairman, Jim Jordan.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Did Jack Smith ask --

MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Did not ask me for the job, no.

JORDAN: Did he convey through someone else that he wanted the job?

GARLAND: I would be surprised if that were the case --

JORDAN: But you don't know.

GARLAND: No, I don't know.

JORDAN: So, he may have?

GARLAND: I can only tell you what I know. I chose him because he had a record of impartial career experience as a prosecutor. That's why he was chosen.


PHILLIP: Or there's this from Republican Matt Gaetz.


REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): Colangelo makes this remarkable downstream career journey from the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and then pops up in Alvin Bragg's office to go get Trump. And you're saying that's just a career choice that was made that has nothing to do with the lawfare coordinated by the --

GARLAND: I'm saying it's false. I did not dispatch Mr. Colangelo anywhere.

GAETZ: Well, do you know how he ended up there?

GARLAND: I assume he spoke -- he applied for a job there and got the job.

GAETZ: But, see, you know what --

GARLAND: I can tell you I had nothing to do with it.


PHILLIP: Or there's this from Steve Bannon, he picked up the ball from Gaetz and is running straight into conspiracy land.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER AIDE TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: That's a bald- faced lie. You're telling me the number three guy in the Justice Department, Matthew Colangelo, just kind of ends up in Bragg's office as the architect of this? This is just gaslighting people. This is why people detest you.


PHILLIP: Or Republican Blake Moore of Utah.


MERRICK: I think we all have a responsibility to respect jury verdicts, and the failure to respect jury verdicts --

REP. BLAKE MOORE (R-UT): It's the way that we arrive at the verdict. I think that's the problem. And the American people see it, sir. And under your watch, the system is losing credibility.


PHILLIP: So, if you believe Republicans, Garland manipulated the Justice Department into multiple Trump prosecutions, he enticed a Manhattan jury into convicting the former president. And if you ask for evidence, you'll get nothing, none, only questions.

So, what is the cumulative effect of all of this? Well, here is what Garland had to say about that.


GARLAND: Yes the threats to the judiciary, threats to prosecutors, threats to law enforcement agents have all spiked significantly, and in some cases have accelerated from threats to actual violence.

Our democracy cannot continue if the people who make the democracy run are afraid if they make their decisions based on fear of being threatened or of being assaulted.


PHILLIP: So, how do Republicans respond to that sobering warning? Well, now they're saying they're going to shut the government down.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): I always think that that should be on the table. I think we should constrain dollars to force change.


PHILLIP: Joining me now, Miles Taylor, he's the former chief of staff to the Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen.


Miles, good to see you. I wonder, why do you think Republicans are so eager to go into these conspiratorial cul de sacs as opposed to, say, just winning elections the old fashioned way?

MILES TAYLOR, FORMER TRUMP DHS OFFICIAL: Well, Abby, I think the simple answer is it seems like political convenience, you know, attack the sitting administration, go after the president's key lieutenants. But that political convenience, I think the worry is, could turn into public chaos. And Merrick Garland pointed this out in his opening statement.

And that's what was so remarkable about this hearing is his opening statement was primarily about those threats, those threats to law enforcement and to judges and to civil servants. Those are the nonpolitical appointees in the Justice Department. And he said those threats were coming from conspiracy theories. They were coming from misinformation. They were coming from these politically convenient statements that are being used to paint a picture on the Justice Department that is inaccurate.

And then remarkably in that hearing, as you showed Abby, they then went into more of those conspiracy theories. And I want to just quickly put some numbers to that for you, tenfold increase since 2016 of death threats to members of Congress. There's been a fourfold increase in threats to federal judges over the same period. And nearly four 40 percent of election workers in this country say they've been harassed or threatened in their jobs.

Merrick Garland tonight at the Justice Department is not thinking about protecting Joe Biden or helping Joe Biden win re-election. The Justice Department is focused on those numbers and the extraordinary period of threat we are in to public servants from these conspiracy theories.

PHILLIP: And he even went further in a way, saying that some of those threats have actually become attacks. Now, just because they may or may not be successful doesn't mean that they're not real and that they haven't happened. Do you think that most of the Republican Party actually believes this stuff? I mean, it takes quite a conspiracy to think that the entire, you know, universe, from the federal government all the way down to the Manhattan D.A. is controlled by one man, who is also, according to Republicans, senile.

TAYLOR: Well, Abby, you know, when I was working for Republicans on Capitol Hill up to and including working in the Trump administration, the GOP standard line here was to back the blue. And you remember it. There was a multiyear effort to paint the Republican Party as the party that backed law enforcement at the federal, state and local level. What's so alarming to me as a conservative is that the messaging has swung around 180 degrees and now you've got members of Congress talking about, in their words, detonating the FBI, clearing house, gutting the deep state.

So, it's no longer just one person. It's not just Donald Trump saying these things. His views have been transmuted onto the wider party and on members of Congress that were otherwise previously considered mainstream. But now they're talking about going after law enforcement. It's really spread quite substantially, and what I think that means is Trump's agenda, he'll be able to advance it if he gets a second term as it relates to going after these institutions.

PHILLIP: Trump has continued to float this idea that if he's elected or re-elected president, that he's going to go after Democrats. He did it again tonight in an interview saying that he's going to seek basically vengeful prosecutions. Do you expect that that is going to be on the agenda if he's re-elected?

TAYLOR: Well, I mean, Abby, it feels just banal to say that this is hypocrisy. I mean, you know, we're just talking seconds ago about how, you know, people that I used to work with are concerned that the Biden Justice Department is being weaponized despite any evidence in support of that. And now, their response to this, their remedy, is to weaponize the Justice Department. I mean, that's really extraordinary.

I mean, what you would hope to hear out of a Republican candidate and his allies right now, if they actually had these concerns, is that they'll restore impartiality, integrity and the rule of law to the Justice Department, not go back in and push their fingers on the scales in the other direction. But that's what you're hearing about. And it's certainly what was clear to me at the end of the first term of the Trump administration is there were a lot of plans to go into a prospective second term to go weaponize those institutions to turn them against political adversaries.

The only thing that's gotten worse since then is they've had four years to systematically and methodically plan that. Trump was very unprepared to become President of the United States. He did not accept it, or he did not expect it, and now they've had a lot of time to prepare to go after those institutions and political rivals in the meantime.

PHILLIP: And the warnings that we've heard from former officials like yourself and many others is, they all believe that there will be fewer people to stand in the way, one of the principal reasons why some of this did not work in the first Trump administration.

Miles Taylor, thanks for joining us tonight.


TAYLOR: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: Now, tonight, it's President Biden's turn to have his own TIME Magazine cover. The magazine interviewed Biden just weeks after Trump, talking everything from Israel to why he says he doesn't get enough credit for his record. We're going to get into that in a moment.

But on the topic of the concerns about his age, Biden says that he never doubted a second run for the presidency. He told the reporter, quote, I can do it better than anybody you know. You're looking at me. I can take you too.

Now, that kind of bravado from the current president seems to be a long running theme for him.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Well, make my day, pal.

If you want to check my shape, man, let's do pushups together, man. Let's do -- let's run. Let's do whatever you want to do.

I said, come on, Donald. Come on, man. How many pushups you want to do here, pal?

You know, come on, run with me, man.

I said, if we're in high school, I'd take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.


PHILLIP: For more, let's bring in CNN Political Commentator and former senior White House Communications Aide Jamal Simmons. Also here with us, Washington Post National Correspondent Phil Bump.

Jamal, Scranton Joe made an appearance in this TIME Magazine article. Does that work? I mean, does it work for him to be like, okay, come on, let's go out back? And also, is it a joke, or is this -- you've been around him. Is this real?

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, we'll see if it's a joke. I think he kind of means it. It's always better to lean into strength than it is to lean away from it. So, I think the president probably starts from that position, right? So, let's -- he'll start there. I think he also doesn't just mean look at me physically. I think he means look at my record, look at what I've done as president.

And so the strength isn't just that the president might have -- he might be impressed with his own biceps. The president also is impressed with his bipartisan legislative record. And so he's been able to move all this legislation for the last three or four years, from infrastructure to dealing with $35 insulin for seniors, to now getting people -- there's a whole, now he's getting people debt relief for students. So, he's been able to move a lot of very important pieces of legislation and executive actions that have made people's lives better. His argument is, let us finish the job.

PHILLIP: Okay, but look at me when, when people do look at him, they see someone who they think is too old to do the job. I mean, that can easily backfire.

PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, I mean, it can. I mean, I think that we should, at this point, accept that that's picked in, right? Everyone knows how old Joe Biden is. Yes, he's getting older, literally, but I think in the mind of the electorate, he is as old as he's going to be, and people look at him that way. I don't think it's an advantage for him, but I also don't think it's going to suddenly become worse, you know, barring some catastrophe. That said, I also think that part of the reason that he was the choice of the Democratic Party in 2020 was that he was the guy who could speak the language of the working class white people who the Dems were freaked out about losing in 2016, right? He was the guy from Scranton. He was the guy from the Rust Belt. And so part of this is just him projecting that same sort of, you know, I guess we can call it machismo. It's a little odd talking about the president that way. But --

PHILLIP: It's like a cultural simpatico.

BUMP: Exactly, exactly, in the same way that Donald Trump goes and shows up at UFC matches, right? This is sort of Joe Biden's style of that while still appealing to his core base.

PHILLIP: There's also this frustration that you see in the interview that he's not getting enough credit for what he thinks he's done, his achievements. I mean, you went through them, but there are a lot of people who disagree with that being a message in a reelection campaign, especially when voters are telling you they're not happy with that record.

SIMMONS: Right. Remember, campaigns aren't rewards for good behavior. They never have been. They're always about the future, not about the past. The president's argument is we're going to fight for your rights, whether it's abortion or whatever else, and we're going to defend democracy, and we have a job to finish.

Now, should he put some more meat on the bone about what does that mean when you say, finish the job, and talk a little bit more about his plans for the second term? Absolutely, I'd love to see some more of that. He also is going to continue to talk about Donald Trump being convicted felon. And so the two of these things for the president is, well, maybe you think I'm old but I'm not a convicted felon, I'm not surrounded by a bunch of other people who've been convicted too, who've worked for me.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, what else was striking to you, Phil, about this interview? I mean, in a way, it was kind of a litmus test from time -- the way that it was written up from time. It was sort of like he sat with us for a half an hour. There were a lot of references to old stories that Joe Biden has been telling for a long time. Some of those old stories are about substance. Some of them are about other things. But do you feel like in this interview, he conveyed that he understands the challenge of this race and that he actually has the ability to run and actually serve for another four years?

BUMP: Yes. I mean, I don't know if there's any interview you could ever give that could fully convey that impression, right? I think, I think he did a sufficient job, right? That's sort of the bar the Republicans have consistently framed him as being incapable of doing anything, you know, to your point earlier, that he's senile and can't -- you know, if he does okay, that's great for him, right?


And I think this is an okay interview. There's certainly some verbal slip of the tongue and so on and so forth.

I think this point, though, about his obvious frustration in the interview, about feeling as though he isn't getting credit for the sorts of things he feels he ought to get credit for some, which I think were, frankly, overstated. But that frustration I think is also born from the fact that he is now president. He's served in public office for so long, but since basically 2010, the way America looks at the president has shifted. It's become extremely polarized. The way we get our information has become extremely polarized.

And so there are a lot of people who consume information in the media world that says, here's what Biden has done. And they respond to that positively. The problem isn't that the media isn't necessarily conveying those stories, it's that the people who don't believe those stories aren't consuming the media that are telling the stories, right? And so that, for Joe Biden, who's been doing this for a long time, this isn't an age gap, he just has, that is a different world. And I think part of his frustration stems from the fact that it just simply doesn't work the way it used to, and no one really on the left or even on the right, has figured out how to bridge that divide.

SIMMONS: Abby, you know, we pick a president for judgment at the end of the day. We want somebody who we think is going to sit in the room where nobody's watching and make good decisions for me and my family. I think Joe Biden's argument is I've been making good decisions. I'll keep doing it. Look at the decisions the other guy is making. He keeps getting himself in trouble. I'm not that guy.

PHILLIP: They all -- I mean, it is going to be essential to their message to keep centering Donald Trump and the chaos around him, if they're going to try to make that contrast.

Philip Bump, Jamal Simmons, thank you both very much.

Breaking tonight, President Biden's controversial new border restrictions will go into effect at midnight. I'm going to speak with a Democrat who opposes it.

Plus, actor Wendell Pierce says that he was discriminated against while trying to rent an apartment in New York. He joins me ahead.

And how Russia is using Tom Cruise's deepfakes to disrupt the Paris Olympics. The disturbing new plot ahead.

This is NewsNight.



PHILLIP: At midnight tonight, just a short time from now, President Biden's new executive action takes effect. That gives him immediate power to shut down the southern border. Now, Democrats call it a return to Trump-era draconian immigration policy. Republicans, though, call it an election year ploy that pretends to do far more than it actually does. Now, border mayors say it doesn't do enough, that Congress needs to get its act together, but that the policy redesign gives them some more tools to slow a spiraling crisis.


MAYOR OSCAR LEESER (D-EL PASO, TX): This really puts people in order. One of the things that we were talking, what is this really doing? It's keeping people from dying in the desert, keeping people from jumping over the walls and falling. It's keeping people from being exploited.

MAYOR RAMIRO GARZA, EDINBURG, TEXAS: We applaud him for taking action today, because that's what this is. As mayors of communities, we don't have the luxuries to wait to do standoffs. We have to take action, right? And so we appreciate and applaud the president taking action today.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm grateful for the president for taking this step.

SHERIFF JAVIER SALAZAR, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: I see this as a viable solution. I wholeheartedly support President Biden in this effort.

MAYOR NORMA SEPULVEDA, HARLINGTON, TEXAS: It's necessary to have an order to be able to treat people humanely and to be compassionate about the folks that are trying to come into our community.


PHILLIP: Joining me now is Democratic Senator from California Alex Padilla. Senator, thank you for taking time to be with us tonight.

I want to ask you about what the border mayors were saying there. They're saying this is necessary, that it could help in this moment. Do you think that Biden should just ignore these people who are on the front lines of this crisis?

SEN. ALEX PADILLA (D-CA): Oh, of course not, Abby. I think the President should absolutely hear mayors when they say, we need help. The question is, what type of help to offer? We have to be. We must be. We can't be more thoughtful in how we're responding to the situation. What I've been hearing from mayors for, well, more than a year now is they need the federal government's assistance in, yes, dealing with the volume of migrants that may be coming to the southern border seeking asylum, which is legal based on our federal law and international law.

But when we starve both the departments and the agencies, like Border Patrol and ICE, but others of the resources they need to handle the capacity, that is a problem. Democrats have put forward additional funding only to be shut down by Republicans. And there's programs in place to assist local governments and non-governmental organizations in providing some just temporary emergency shelter food, services to migrants seeking asylum while they're awaiting that process. PHILLIP: Well, what about, Senator, what one of the officials said earlier in the clip that we played, which is deterring people from making this journey in the first place? I mean, he's making the argument, and I think it's a reasonable one that there is actually a humanitarian interest in preventing people from crossing the border in this way, because it's dangerous.

PADILLA: But here's one of my biggest frustrations with this executive order, same as it was with the Senate bill that was negotiated that this measure is based off of. It doesn't ask the most important question, why are people coming to begin with? If the goal is to reduce the numbers of people coming to the southern border seeking asylum, then let's find out who they are, where they're coming from and why they're coming. Are they fleeing persecution? Are they fleeing for their very lives? Are they fleeing authoritarian government?


PHILLIP: Could it also be, Senator, that they are being told by smugglers and by criminals that this is the way to do it? I mean, could it also be because there's a whole industry that is incentivizing people to do it this way on the false idea that it is legal, that that is the right way to do it?

PADILLA: Look, I'm not going to say that doesn't happen or that doesn't occur, but part of that false hope that is sometimes presented is, well, if you go this way, this is your way to get to the United States, if you're pursuing economic opportunity. A lot of people that come, that's what they claim or when their asylum claim is turned down, it's because they admit they're looking for jobs and economic opportunity for their families.

But listen to this, Abby, every employer, every industry leader that I talked to is desperate for more workers. Thanks to President Biden, we have record low sustained levels of unemployment. Our economy needs more workers to keep growing. Imagine if we brought in the legal pathway opportunities and linked people looking for work with employers needing workers, that would be a more smart, more effective, more thoughtful way to help drive down the numbers.

PHILLIP: Let me ask you this, Senator. I want to play for you what your colleague in the House, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, said about the President's border policy, but also about the political situation that he's facing.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Well, I think it shows that there's concern and that the, the concerns that, that that the right is raising around the border are resonant in a lot of electorates, but our responsibility is to develop solutions that work. And, listen, it's not just on the president. It's also on Congress. And this speaks to Congress' failure in both parties to actually pass immigration reform that expands the path to citizenship.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: What she's talking about, Senator, is, you know, the polling, which a recent Quinnipiac poll shows a majority of independent voters say they would trust Trump more than they would trust Biden on the issue of immigration. Is she right that Biden is being hurt politically by a border situation that some voters believe is out of control?

PADILLA: Look, I agree that Congress bears some responsibility, but more specifically, Republicans in Congress need to step up. I mean, look what happened just a couple of months ago when there was a bipartisan group of senators who negotiated a work product that was ready to be approved by the Senate until Donald Trump said, no, no, no, wait until I get elected in November. It's a political ploy by Republicans. They can't have it both ways. They can't say there's a crisis at the border and then start the departments and agencies responsible for managing the border of the resources that they need.

PHILLIP: Senator, my understanding is that this -- I mean, what Biden is doing is a version of what would have been in that bipartisan proposal and you oppose it. But, I mean, should President Biden do nothing and wait for Congress, which is deeply, and as you know, I mean, you're there deeply divided on this issue? I mean, do you really think that doing nothing for President Biden right now is an option?

PADILLA: Look, I said earlier, I'll say again, I'm not in the do nothing camp. I am for doing something, but that something needs to be more thoughtful, something more effective, not something that's been proven to fail in the past.

And getting back to your previous question, Abby, about the polling, you know, what do the voters think? You know what polls most popular? It's yes, a border that's secure, orderly and humane, but even more so, let's help the long term undocumented residents of our communities. DREAMERs deserve better than to be left out of this whole conversation. Farm workers, those that put fruit fruits and vegetables on our tables, deserve better than to live in constant fear of deportation because we haven't been able to do right by them. We can't forget about them in this conversation.

PHILLIP: Senator Alex Padilla, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.

PADILLA: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: An award winning actor says that he was rejected from an apartment because of his race. Actor Wendell Pierce joins me next to tell us what happened and why he's revealing the story now.

Plus, the father of a Hamas hostage has a message for American Jews tonight. He says it's time to drop what he calls fantasies about the war in Gaza.


[22:33:37] PHILLIP: "The Wire", "Suits", "Malcolm X", "Waiting to Exhale", "Death of a Salesman". You know Wendell Pierce because he's captivated audiences in movies, T.V. shows, and on stage for more than 30 years. But he took to Twitter not to promote his latest on-screen credits, and there may be many of them, of course, but instead to tell his followers that even with proof of employment and all the proper paperwork, his application for an apartment in Harlem was denied.

He wrote, quote, "Racism and bigots are real. There are those who will do anything to destroy life's journey for black folks. When you deny our personal experiences, you are as vile and despicable."

Wendell Pierce joins me now. Wendell, great to see you and have you on the show. We went through some of the credits of your career, but there are many others. "Elsbeth" and "Raising Kanan", you're currently filming "Superman".

Last year you finished a Broadway run of "Death of a Salesman". Two years ago you were in the "Jack Ryan" series. You're a famous actor. You're an award-winning actor, 30 years of a career behind you. What happened with that Harlem apartment, and what does it say to you about the status of racism in America today?

WENDELL PIERCE, ACTOR: Well, I gave that anecdote about what happened to me because I wanted to make it a very personal story so people could understand what I was really incensed about.


I was motivated to tell the story because of the court case that the 11th Circuit blocked yesterday. It ignited something in me, so I wanted to tell the personal story. A young family member who graduated from Howard University has his first job in New York. I take him apartment shopping, and I wanted to make sure that he got a decent apartment, and I was backing him up.

We found an apartment in Harlem. I gave them all of my bank statements and employment and all, and then I was denied. And I realized that they used the technicality of saying that I did not have steady, consistent employment. Most actors work in three-month periods, you know, three months here, three months there. And because it wasn't a continuum of employment, no matter how much income I showed, I showed them I own properties around the country, I showed them all my bank statements.

I even offered to pay a year in advance, the complete rent, for a year, and I was denied. And I realized that that was by design, that the application was designed that way to be discriminatory. And that was the antidote that I shared, because I wanted to show the damaging effect of when bigotry is memorialized in law.

And when the 11th Circuit Court of Appeal overturned a black firm supporting black women saying that that was discriminatory, I realized that that was the canary in the mine for where we are right now, that we are being attacked and memorializing law that is discriminatory against black folks, their own self-determination. And so I felt as though I should use my platform to put out a clarion call.

PHILLIP: Yeah. What you're talking about here is the Fearless Fund. This is a black-owned venture capitalist firm that awards grants exclusively to black women. It's a fund that exists because of a disparity in access to capital for black female entrepreneurs. But the court ruled that it substantially is likely to violate Title 42 of the U.S. Code that prohibits private parties from discriminating on the basis of race when making or enforcing contracts.

The background here for people who are watching is that this isn't just in a vacuum. I mean, this is a part of a long-time effort by certain individuals and lawyers to try to attack diversity, equity and inclusion programs in America. How concerned are you about the broader implications of taking down this particular fund and what it would mean for any other initiatives that are trying to address the racial disparities that exist in this country today?

PIERCE: First of all, it's just private industry saying that they're going to support a private venture. And they are using the technicality of a Reconstruction Law, Section 1981, from the late 19th century that was protecting black folks who were newly freed out of enslavement to protect them, to turn it around on us.

Now, for many years, the mantra from the right has always been pull yourself up by your bootstraps. So, black women put together their own capital venture and are looking for black women to support. And now they say, no, you can't do that. So it is not only ironic, it is insidious and bigoted.

What is really insidious about it is Edward Blum, who is leading that effort you were talking about, going around the country trying to stop folks from doing it. This isn't public money. This is private money. It's not a DEI, a DEI program. It's actually just some black women saying we're going to support each other and making sure.

Three hundred billion dollars was spent by capital venturists and only one percent of it last year went to black women. So, if you don't want to give us the money and we find it within ourselves so that we can exercise our right of self-determination and you still come after us. And here's the most insidious thing of all.

Not one person is presented as being injured by that. We have to make sure that people understand that this insidious, racist decision is a Pandora's box that will open up more opportunities to memorialize discriminatory law.

PHILLIP: Well, Wendell Pierce, you know, we know you from all of your acting work, but I think everyone tonight watching will see this is obviously something that is so important to you.


Thank you for sharing your story and for bringing this perspective to us tonight. Thanks so much.

PIERCE: Thank you. PHILLIP: And up next, it looks like a real documentary with Tom Cruise

narrating, but it's not. There's a new Russian plot against the Olympics and we'll tell you about it next. Plus, is Israel's Prime Minister prolonging the war for political reasons? I'll speak with the father of an American hostage ahead.


PHILLIP: The Russians appear to be targeting the Olympics and using Tom Cruise to do it. Now, sources tell CNN that pro-Russian propagandists are ramping up disinformation efforts that are designed to undermine Western support for Ukraine.


Now, that includes a fake documentary featuring Tom Cruise disparaging France and the summer games. The audio in this clip that we are about to show you, I want to emphasize was A.I.- generated. Take a listen.


A.I.-GENERATED VOICE: I believe it's my ardent love for sport that makes me so good in action movies. That's why watching how the corrupt officials who seized the sport Olympus are gradually turning one of the greatest passions of my life into an instrument for siphoning off money is beyond bearable.


PHILLIP: Again, this is not a real documentary and that was not Tom Cruise's voice. Joining me now is CNN media analyst and senior media reporter for "Axios", Sara Fischer. Sarah, I mean, talk about the perils of A.I., but I mean, this is just the tip of the iceberg in this effort, apparently, by the Russians to try to influence the Olympic Games, a huge global event.

The French police discovered apparently five coffins with the words French soldiers in Ukraine near the Eiffel Tower. It's more than just this stupid A.I. video. It's also real things that are showing up in Paris.

SARA FISCHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: A strategic effort, if you will. And the thing is, the Russians have always gone after the IOC, the Olympic Committee. This has been a long-standing thing for many years. You remember they were punished for the doping scandal a few years ago. And now, some of their athletes are being restricted because of the on-going war with Ukraine. So, you could see why they would try to undermine the effort.

But the key here is, Abby, they're denying it. You know, we know for a fact that Russia meddled with our elections. We know that they meddle with foreign affairs using A.I. propaganda all the time, but they will never own up to it. And this is all part of their game.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, they're going to deny --

FISCHER: Of course.

PHILLIP: -- that they are part of something like this. But on the A.I. part of this, I mean, that sounds a lot like Tom Cruise. It really does. And it just shows the perils, it seems, of what is coming. This is the tip of the iceberg in terms of what A.I. can do in these kinds of situations.

FISCHER: Totally. This is what disinformation experts have been warning about for years. And the thing to remember, this first went viral on Telegram. And that matters, Abby, because for some of the U.S.-based tech platforms, if you think about Facebook or Instagram, they are so on high alert about disinformation and A.I. and deep fakes or in talks with our government to make sure that we are weeding out propaganda and misinformation.

But for some of these other platforms where things are going viral, they're not taking those measures. And so, by the time this thing goes viral and goes big, nobody has been able to identify until it's too late that it was A.I. and it's doctored and it's fake.

PHILLIP: Yeah. And one of the many reasons why a global response to the prospects of A.I. and what the technology could mean is what's needed to me, honestly, be too late at this point.


PHILLIP: Sara Fischer, thank you, as always, for joining us. And tonight, an explosive suggestion by the President. President Biden says that Israel's Prime Minister may be prolonging the war to stay in power. In that "Time" interview we were talking about earlier, he was asked if Benjamin Netanyahu was, quote, "prolonging the war for his own political self-preservation".

He responded to that by saying, quote, "I'm not going to comment on that. There is every reason for people to draw that conclusion." Now, hours later, a contradiction from the President. Listen.


UNKNOWN: Is Prime Minister Netanyahu playing politics with the war?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't think so. He's trying to work out this serious problem he has.


PHILLIP: Joining me now to weigh in on this, Jonathan Dekel-Chen. His son is a 35-year-old Israeli-American named Sagui Dekel-chen, and he's been held hostage by Hamas since October 7th. Jonathan, thank you for joining the show again. I wonder what you think the answer is to that question that the President was asked multiple times.

Do you think that Netanyahu is prolonging this war for political reasons? And I should note this week marks eight months since that attack on October 7th and those hostages, including your son, were taken. JONATHAN DEKEL-CHEN, ISRAELI-AMERICAN, SON SAGUI STILL BEING HELD BY

HAMAS: Well, thank you for having me, Abby. In full transparency, I've stated publicly, both in Israel and abroad, in the past that, indeed, for reasons of his own, the Prime Minister's judgment has been has been problematic around the conduct of the war, particularly around the issue of the hostages and getting them back as quickly as possible.

That being said, Israel, Netanyahu himself, has put on the table a proposal to end the conflict, to end the suffering of millions of Gazans and to get our people home, those that we hope are still alive and those that we know have already been murdered by Hamas. And in truth, the "Time" article goes on to say in that interview that the onus really for the resolution of the conflict, the ending of conflict, is on Hamas.


And that needs to be stated, as well. You can't just cherry pick the part of the statement that works in a given moment for a headline. And that remains true right now, given what the President put out there, which is, again, an Israeli proposal.

The onus is on Hamas to get to yes and thereby not just release my son and another 124 Israeli hostages ripped from their homes as civilians on October 7th, but to fulfill what it says it wants to do, which is to end this conflict and to end the immense suffering of the people of Gaza. So, Hamas has talked a lot about that. It is time right now for them to come to the table and to end this.


DEKEL-CHEN: And only they can make that decision.

PHILLIP: And as you point out, I mean, this has always this has been the case since the beginning. I mean, they could release the hostages at any moment. I wonder, you know, President Netanyahu has --Prime Minister Netanyahu has talked about this deal that is on the table, but he kind of throws cold water on it publicly. Do you have hope that he really is behind it, that that if Hamas does say yes, that he's willing to say yes to a path that actually would end the war?

DEKEL-CHEN: Well, I think two things are important here. First is he has to have the political backbone and to put aside any personal interests he might have in retaining his coalition for the good of the country, which would mean ending the war on Israel's terms and most importantly, healing this enormous wound in the country that can only heal by the return of the hostages.

That -- that's -- you know, that's something that he must do. And luckily for him in the last 24 hours, the ultra-religious parties that are part of his coalition have said very clearly that they are willing to support any hostage deal. And really, the only obstacle appears to be the messianic, very small parties in his coalition who seem to be determined to prolong the war no matter what. Again, for their sort of zealous messianic reasons. But again, at the end of the day, the hard, the nut to crack here is not Netanyahu because Israeli public opinion is solidly behind ending the conflict again with Hamas, not as a governing or military authority. That's the important part here. But to end this, to stop the suffering on both sides.

PHILLIP: I want to take a minute just to note that obviously 124 hostages remain in captivity, including your son. Sagui was the father of, is the father of two girls. His wife was pregnant during the attack. So, now, you have a seven month old granddaughter that your son has never met. I wonder how are you holding up with all of this that's going on? How is the rest of your family doing, as well?

DEKEL-CHEN: Well, it's a daily challenge to sort of get out of bed and to do the work that needs to be done to keep the family together. Keeping in mind that we're from kibbutz near Oz, a small community that was utterly destroyed on October 7th by Hamas terrorists and looters from Gaza.

So, we have been dislocated like many, many other Israelis from the southern border by the events of October 7th. Little Shachar, she is our joy. She's our little ray of light amidst an enormous amount of darkness. And the darkness only grows. Over the past few days, our kibbutz community was notified that four additional people who were considered were hostages were declared dead, murdered by the IDF. And so the pain is enormous.

The people on your screen now, four of four of those five are from my kibbutz. Dolev was one of Sagui's best friends growing up. And the three older gentlemen, and I lived with them and among them and for them for over 40 years. And they -- they were alive and they appeared in hostage videos and they were allowed to die. They were allowed to be murdered by Hamas, both by our own government's inaction, but mostly the savagery of Hamas.

PHILLIP: Jonathan Dekel-Chen, last time you joined us, I said this and I'll repeat it again. We do hope and pray with you that your son is returned to you alive. Thank you very much for joining us.

DEKEL-CHEN: Thank you so much for having me.

PHILLIP: We'll be back in a moment.



PHILLIP: For years, in several elections, Donald Trump has told Americans that mail-in voting is rigged. But tonight he's making like Nirvana and saying, never mind. The President and his campaign have announced a new program, and it's aimed at promoting mail-in absentee voting, along with early in-person voting. Now, that is quite the contrast to what Trump has been peddling for the better part of a decade.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT (R) AND CURRENT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (R): Everyone knows mail-in ballots are a disaster. We must eliminate the absurdity of mass mail-in voting.


Universal mail-in voting is going to be catastrophic. You look at some of the corruption having to do with universal mail-in voting. They know it's -- it's going to be fraudulent. This is the greatest scam in the history of politics. It's going to make our country a laughingstock all over the world.

We must return to the historical norm of voting in person on Election Day. We should eliminate the insanity of mass and very corrupt mail-in voting. Mail-in universal is very, very bad. You automatically have fraud. It's a disgrace.


PHILLIP: Surprise. That's a disgrace that he's now counting on. And thank you for watching "NewsNight". "Laura Coates Live" will start right now.