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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

GOP's Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) Says, Black Family Was Together In Jim Crow Era; Trump Racks Up Major Legal Wins Delaying Georgia And Florida Cases; Trump's Two Cases On Hold Until Post-Elections; WSJ Report Reveals Biden Showing Signs Of Slipping; Senate Blocks Bill On Right To Contraception Access. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 05, 2024 - 22:00   ET



MICKEY BERGMAN, AUTHOR, IN THE SHADOWS: And that is really, really tough because even though I'm sitting there, if I were a diplomat and I would hear all this criticism, I would have to protest. I would have to step outside and storm away. But because I'm not, I actually take it in. I actually get a first narrative of how they see the world and that helps me.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: That's so fascinating. I mean, the whole book is fascinating. Everyone should read it. It's In The Shadows. Mickey Bergman, I think we'll probably be having more conversations on this in the future.

BERGMAN: I would love that.

COLLINS: Hopefully about good news. Thank you for coming on tonight.

BERGMAN: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Great to have you.

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

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Race America, and a fiery debate over Jim Crow nostalgia. That's tonight on NewsNight.

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

And I want to get right to it tonight. One of Donald Trump's vice presidential contenders, Congressman Byron Donalds, he made some comments that has a lot of you talking and a lot of Democrats fired up. I'm going to speak with him live in just a couple of minutes.

But here are the original remarks. They were made as a part of a pitch to black voters in Philadelphia. And I want you to hear it in its full context. Listen.


REP. BYRON DONALDS (R-FL): I grew up with my mom, my dad and my mom, things didn't work out. As an adult, I look at my father and I say, bro, I don't know what happened. You're my father and I love you.

I don't know what happened. I wasn't there. But I'm going to tell you this. Coming, growing up, the one thing I knew I wanted to do, and this is not about my father, this is about what I wanted to do, is I wanted to be a father to myself. And so one of the things that's actually happening in our culture, which you're now starting to see in our politics, is the reinvigoration of black families with younger black men and black women. And that is also helping to breed the revival of a black middle class in America.

You see, during Jim Crow, the black family was together. During Jim Crow, more black people were not just conservative, black people have always been conservative-minded, but more black people voted conservatively. And then, HEW., Lyndon Johnson, and then you go down that road, and now we are where we are.

What's happened in America the last ten years, and I say it because it's my contemporaries, it's Wesley's contemporaries, you're starting to see more black people be married in homes raising kids. It's when your home with your wife raising your kids. And then you look at the world, you're saying, now wait a minute, somehow, this does not look right. How can I get something to my kids? It goes back to the conversation of generational wealth. Not just having a job, generational wealth.


PHILLIP: Now, we should note that many Democrats who jumped on Donalds today claimed that he said the blacks were, quote, better off. As you heard there, he didn't use those exact words in the clip, but the congressman joins me now to talk about that. Congressman, thank you for being here.

I want to just focus on really the substance of what you were saying or trying to say in that clip. What did you mean by black families were more together during Jim Crow?

DONALDS: Frankly, what that is, is about the empirical fact that before the Great Society, before Lyndon Johnson's policies there was more black families united. The marriage rate in black America was significantly higher before the Great Society, the period of time that coincides with that obviously is Jim Crow era. And then after the Great Society, the marriage rate in the black community plummeted significantly.

The Great Society is a part of that reason, not completely, but it's definitely a part of that. And what you're seeing right now in America is a reformation of black families in America. That's a good thing, not only for the black community and for black families, but it's also a good thing for the country.

PHILLIP: So, what was the point of tying together the black family and Jim Crow specifically? I mean, Jim Crow, as you know, was a period of racial segregation, of racial terror. Why would you make that connection? DONALDS: All I was doing was referring to the time periods when you talk about the historical timelines in America and coinciding with black families and what the marriage rate in black families are.


The overarching point is obviously talking about what polling shows today that about 20, 25 percent of the black vote, depending on what poll you're looking at, is leaning towards supporting Republicans and supporting President Trump. The corollary to that is, is that when you're in a family unit, husband and wife living together, working together, thriving together, you're raising your kids, your thought process is now talking about building generational wealth. What am I leaving to my children? What kind of communities do I want my children to come up in? What are the educational opportunities? What's going on with the economy? How does -- you know, and then to a broader level, how does foreign policy and all these other public policy issues flow into that?

And so when you compare the terrible agenda of Joe Biden and what that's done to families in America, coinciding with the fact that you are seeing a reformation of black families in America today, which is an absolutely wonderful thing and needs to continue. My view is it also coincides with a more conservative leading and a more conservative mindset politically in those families.

PHILLIP: One thing I really want to just get you to address is there were a lot of people who heard what you had to say and a lot of them are offended by the idea that you would repeat Jim Crow three times in your comments as if to suggest that that was a time period because that black families were, in your words, together, because, in your words, black people were not just more conservative, they voted more conservatively, that's a good thing. I mean, it sounds like nostalgia. Do you regret using that timeframe as a reference?

DONALDS: Nobody ever made nostalgia. That was never the point. It wasn't even about that. So, where now I'm going to get my back up is, I didn't say that. I didn't even insinuate that. That is where the media and, yes, Hakeem Jeffries and a lot of other people are taking it.

PHILLIP: What exactly didn't you insinuate? I'm just trying to understand what you're saying. What didn't you insinuate?

DONALDS: The premise of your question, I did not insinuate. That is what people are trying to weave into what I said. What I said is crystal clear. It's on my social media. Go to @byrondonalds on X. You can see the full clip. Abby, I appreciate you playing the full clip.

What you are dealing with right now is a political environment where not anything I might say or any major surrogate might say is going to be twisted into the lens of race. That was never the point, not the idea, whatsoever.

PHILLIP: Just to clarify my questioning of you, I mean, I understand that, this idea that you said it was better, you didn't use the words better. But when you talk about that time period, you're suggesting that because the black family was together, they were better off than they are now.

DONALDS: See, this is the problem, Abby.

PHILLIP: So, are you saying that that's not the case, that the black family was not better off when they were, in your words, together --

DONALDS: Abby, let me put it to you like this.

PHILLIP: -- in the Jim Crow era?

DONALDS: Let's agree on something. I am, you know, obviously one of the better communicators in the Republican Party. I know how to put words together. I do it very, very often. So, I'm not going to say something that I do not agree with. What America is seeing right now, especially black America, is the gaslighting that unfortunately does happen in politics, where you take my comments and you want to weave your own political viewpoint into what I said. What I said is very clear.

PHILLIP: Congressman, I asked you explain because I wanted to -- what I want to undo is understand what you're saying here. Because if you're making a comparison, you're saying the black family was together then, they're not together now, and you're using that to try to say that, that things are bad now. Well, first of all, let me just, to set the table here, by pretty much every available measure, black families, black individuals in this country are better off today than they were during Jim Crow. Would you agree with that?

DONALDS: Abby, of course, I would. I'm not making that point, and this is the problem. What the Democrats would Hakeem Jeffries did on the house floor, what Jamie Harrison, what the president of the NAACP, what the Biden campaign, because they're the ones who started this, it was really the Biden campaign, they're trying to cherry-pick everything, they're trying to twist my words into saying something. I never said that. What I was talking about was specifically black families. And the point that black families being together is a great thing for the black community.

And you do have to acknowledge the empirical fact that before Lyndon Johnson's policies and the welfare state that was created in the United States, I'm not talking about good, bad, or indifferent. Black families -- hold on. Black marriage rates were significantly higher. They're rising again in America. That's a good thing to celebrate then.

PHILLIP: Well, about other things that may have contributed to the, you know, maybe the decline in marriage rates, which, by the way, is not unique to black families. That's happening actually across racial groups.


But what about other things? I mean, what about redlining? Do you think that that had an effect on the black family? What about mass incarceration? What about the war on drugs, which was pushed by a Republican president whose adviser said it was specifically to target Black people? What about all of those things?

DONALDS: Look, if you want to talk about redlining and a lot of the other policies that were put forward, quite frankly, by the Democrat Party, if you're going to go back to Jim Crow, because Jim Crow was Democrat policies. That's what that was.

PHILLIP: Well, you know, I know that that you know this, Congressman. Let me just -- I have to correct on a factual point here. I know that you know that the Democratic Party and the Republican Party of today are ideologically not what they were during Jim Crow. You know that, Congressman. So, to suggest that, you know, the Democrats of 1920 are the same ideologically as the Democrats of today is inaccurate. So, just you can continue, but I wanted to --

DONALDS: That's not totally true, Abby. And I think if we want to have that conversation about the policy positions between Republicans and Democrats, we can have that conversation. But, Abby, do you want to have a conversation? I'm trying to understand --

PHILLIP: Well, one of the other things, since you brought it up, because since you brought it up on the conservative thing, the other thing that you said was, black people voted more conservatively. Were you talking about them voting for Republicans?

DONALDS: In part, yes, because that's just an empirical fact. That's what we know that did happen. And the only corollary that I am making is, is that when families are together, and now you're trying to find a way for you to build wealth within your family unit, you're thinking about public policy in a myriad of ways, because at the end of the day, you want your children to be able to stand on your shoulders.

I was very fortunate. My mother was able to build a platform for me to be able to stand on and to be able to achieve, same for my sisters. I'm a very blessed individual because of that. My only point is that when you have a family unit, husband and wife living together, striving together, grinding together, raising children together, you start thinking about public policy in a myriad of ways. And my belief is that dynamic allows people to start thinking about public policy in a much more conservative way as opposed to a much more progressive way. That's my point.

PHILLIP: That might be -- I mean, I think that's a -- you're a Republican, so you're entitled to that opinion. But I think what people are taking issue with is you made a couple of statements of fact. And one of the things about, I was asking you about whether you were talking about black people voting for Republicans, you know, in the time period that you're talking about, the LBJ time period, they started voting for Democrats. And the reason is because of civil rights. Because a Democratic president was passing bills that gave them rights, the Voting Rights Act, the Civil Rights Act of 1965, the Housing Fairness Act.

So, are you -- I mean, do you acknowledge that when Democrats of -- black voters vote for Democrats, it's actually because there's a history there, there's a reason that they voted for Democrats in that time period, not because they were just getting welfare money?

DONALDS: Abby, let me be clear. I don't deny that. I think it's also important for the record to be clear that you had the vast majority of Democrats in the Senate were filibustering the 64 Civil Rights Act led by Robert Byrd, who, by the way, was a mentor to Joe Biden when he went into the United States Senate.

So, if we're going to talk about the history, let's talk about it clearly and completely. Republicans have been the ones who were pushing not just the '64 Civil Rights Act, but the other four civil rights acts that occurred before 1964. That's the history of the country.

I'm not denying that -- Abby, can I finish my point? I'm asking is to finish my point, Abby.

PHILLIP: On the facts here, there were Southern Democrats who opposed these civil rights bills, but a majority of them voted for it. It was also led by a Democratic president. So, you acknowledge that, but Southern Democrats were recruited into the Republican Party in the time period after that. So, when you talk about this, you just have to acknowledge that there's been a switch happening in the two parties. It's not the same today as it was during Jim Crow. And so when you say that black people voted conservatively, that actually doesn't really tell us anything. It just tells us that they voted for the Republican Party, which is a different thing as than it is for today.

DONALDS: Are we also going to acknowledge that the -- how the '64 civil rights act actually got through the U.S. Senate was because of also the leadership of Senator Everett Dirksen, who was the minority Republican leader in the United States Senate at that time. You have to acknowledge that. So, I think if we're going to talk about this, we have to acknowledge all of the history that went along with it. And I think that's a good thing. You should have that historical conversation.


PHILLIP: I'm suggesting that congressional Republicans necessarily were the stumbling block for any of this legislation. All I'm saying is that when you ask, why do black people vote for Democrats, you have to acknowledge that that is one of the main reasons.

I want to just ask one other thing though, Congressman, it's striking to me that this conversation about the family, about who is the recipient of government benefits, about who was affected by Lyndon B. Johnson's Great Society. Why is it that that conversation only happens to black people? When white people are on welfare, when white people are recipients of these programs, too, when white people have broken families as well, why is this a message that is always directed at black Americans?

DONALDS: I didn't say that at all. I think that's what you're insinuating. But let me --

PHILLIP: I mean, that's what you did. You were trying to (INAUDIBLE) black voters --

DONALDS: Abby, if you're going to -- am I allowed to answer the question? Let me step into that. Okay, a couple of things. Yes, Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, if you look at the empirical data, was destructive in part, and I said even in my comments yesterday in Philadelphia, in part to black families throughout the United States of America. You also had some of the very damaging policies around the criminal justice system, the '94 crime bill, which was authored by Joe Biden brought by Joe Biden. Yes, you had the war on drugs. It was also very damaging to black communities, all those things have contributed to that. And where we are today in America is trying to have the economic policies and the public policies so that all people can thrive.

And if you're actually going to compare economic policies and public policies between the 45th president and the 46th president, it's without question, they were better under the 45th. So, if you're going to examine today -- but, Abby, if you're going to examine today in America --

PHILLIP: Again, I'm going to interrupt you. I'm going to interrupt you on the facts, Congressman --

DONALDS: Where you have to have the right set of economic policies and the right set of public policies.

PHILLIP: Black unemployment rate was the lowest in American --

DONALDS: I mean, Abby, even interrupted me the entire interview. I'm just trying to have a conversation.

PHILLIP: I'm going to interrupt you on the facts, Congressman. The black unemployment rate was the lowest in American history under Joe Biden just last year. The poverty rate for black people is the lowest under Joe Biden. So, you cannot say, empirically, for black people that on a -- from a financial level, things were better under Trump. There are other ways that you can make this case, but you cannot say that.

DONALDS: Actually, let me respond to that because the economic reality is, is that even though unemployment might be lower, wages adjusted for inflation, which is the true measure of getting ahead in America, that has been bad under Joe Biden. It was significantly better under Donald Trump, because we did not have massive inflation and people were making more money, which means you're taking more money home, which means you can begin to prepare for your family, which means you can start to prepare and begin, thinking about ideas of getting assets, accumulating assets and generating wealth.

Joe Biden's economy, Bidenomics, like he likes to call it, I know they don't use the word anymore, that's been destructive of so many families in our country, including black families in our country. That is the empirical economic fact that we have to acknowledge before this election cycle.

PHILLIP: Look, I think, Congressman, inflation, I 100 percent agree with you, is a problem for all families, including maybe even especially black families. But you also cannot ignore that there are a lot of statistics that suggest that black Americans are doing well under Joe Biden better than they were doing under Donald Trump.

I want to ask you one last thing because I know that this is actually happening as we're talking. We've learned that you are on the list, obviously, for V.P. candidates, and that you've received some vetting materials from the Trump campaign to be potentially a V.P. Can you confirm that and is there anything more you can tell us about how that process is going?

DONALDS: Well, I'm not going to confirm that right now. I've not had a conversation with the Trump campaign about that. And I'm going to leave that very private because they're going to go through their deliberations. President Trump is going to make a decision.

I will say prices in America have been up over 20 percent since Joe Biden has taken office. That's hurting everybody. When prices are up 20 percent, trust me, Abby, go into the supermarket, go into the gas station, everybody is struggling. That is a fact. And that is why so many Americans, especially Americans who are minorities in this country, are leaving Joe Biden and the Democrats and looking towards Donald Trump and the Republicans.

PHILLIP: All right. Congressman Byron Donalds, we appreciate you joining us tonight. Thank you.

DONALDS: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And I want to now bring in someone who has written and researched extensively about the Jim Crow era, Professor Peniel Joseph. He's the founding director of the LBJ School Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas, Austin. His new book is entitled, The Third Reconstruction.


Peniel, thank you for joining us, Professor, I should say. I want to just get your reaction to what you just heard.

PENIEL JOSEPH, FOUNDING DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR STUDY OF RACE AND DEMOCRACY: Well, I mean, I think it's astonishing to try to romanticize the Jim Crow era and really to de-contextualize the LBJ years in American history. And I think you pointed out, Abby, very well that the Great Society impacted all Americans around civil rights, voting rights, immigration, education equal opportunity and employment and healthcare. So, it's not just black people.

And to say that somehow it fractured black families is ahistorical and it's really racist, because what the congressman is doing is really this old pathology narrative where instead of talking about systems and structures and racist policies that impinge black citizenship and black dignity, when you talk about black behavior.

And even this idea of a fractured black family, I would vehemently disagree with the notion that unless you have a heterosexually married couple with 2.5 children, it's a fractured black family. For a long time, we've had recombinant families sometimes headed by a single -- I was raised by a single black woman. I don't feel I was in a fractured black family, and me and my older brother have thrived. So, this idea that because you don't look a certain way or make a certain income, you're not thriving, it's part of this idea of pathologizing black people.

PHILLIP: And I've been really struck by the fixation on the LBJ era, as opposed to, you know, perhaps all the other things that came before it, during -- before, during, and after it. It is interesting to me that because the LBJ era was a mixture of these social programs and also these civil rights programs, it has gotten sort of attacked by conservatives as being the source of all of the problems when it comes to racial disparities in this country. I mean, does that line up with what you know happened in that era?

JOSEPH: Well, no, absolutely not. One, when we think about social welfare in the United States, we don't have social welfare until the new deal, FDR 1933. And when we think about social welfare policy, initially, social security and other social welfare policies actually exclude African-Americans. Domestic laborers are excluded, which are mostly black women. Agricultural workers are excluded, which is mostly the entire black family was picking cotton into the 1970s throughout the rural South.

So, when we think about LBJ's Great Society, all the Great Society does is provide access to civil rights, voting rights, immigration reform, educational reform, equal employment opportunity and health care through Medicare and Medicaid and other policies. So, the idea that black people suddenly had a reversal of fortune because of the Democratic Party is asinine.

And when we think about black people voting conservatively, we have to understand black folks have always been historically -- before the parties realigned, black folks were Republicans when the Republican party was the party of Lincoln and the party of abolition and the party of anti-slavery and human rights. That's the foundation of the Republican Party. The Republican Party switched and became politically realigned you because the Democratic Party embraced the civil rights era, right?

And that when we think about those years, those were the years between the New Deal and the Great Society, by 1960, around 70 percent of black people vote for John F. Kennedy. And they vote for Kennedy in part because Kennedy helps Martin Luther King Jr. get out of jail by phoning Coretta Scott King and also having his brother phone the judge in Georgia. Martin Luther King Sr. says, he's got a, a, a bushel full of votes for John F. Kennedy.

By 1964, over 95 percent of black people vote for LBJ. And that's a few months after the Civil Rights Act is passed on July 2nd. In 1965, the Voting Rights Act is passed, August 6th. So, when we think about the Democratic Party, black people helped to transform the Democratic Party. That's how we have heroes like Shirley Chisholm, heroes like Fannie Lou Hamer, heroes like Jesse Jackson and others, Donna Brazile, who really changed the Democratic Party and really paved the way for Barack Obama.

PHILLIP: And it's such an important point. I brought it up with the Congressman. You cannot just throw around, you know, well, Democrats used to be Republican.


There's a reason that a majority of black people don't vote with the Republican Party. And I think it's perfectly within the congressman's rights to want to change that. But you also have to be accurate about the history as well.

Peniel Joseph, thank you very much for joining us tonight and sharing all of that with us.

JOSEPH: Thank you for having me.

PHILLIP: Now, up next, breaking news, Donald Trump has scored major legal wins tonight as two of his cases are now essentially paused. What this will mean for the election and that timeline, coming up.

Plus, a Democrat who competed against President Biden for the White House will now respond to the controversial report that raises some questions about Biden's mental fitness. Tim Ryan will join me.

And a CNN exclusive, the neighbor who got into that altercation with the Alitos over flags speaks out about those incidents.

This is NewsNight.



PHILLIP: Breaking tonight, it's getting clearer and clearer that two of Donald Trump's cases will not go to trial before this election. In Georgia, an appeals court indefinitely paused his election conspiracy case over the potential disqualification of Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis.

And then, in his classified documents case in Florida, Judge Eileen Cannon again has reshuffled the court schedule, further pushing off decisions around this case, including setting a trial date.

Joining me now is former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor Nick Akerman. Nick, this Georgia election case, to start with, it's now been pushed off pretty much indefinitely until the Fani Willis issue is dealt with. That could be next year.

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASST. SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: That's right. I mean, they have until March 1st of next year to actually decide this.

PHILLIP: First of all, why does it take, I mean, does it make sense to you that it would take that long to do that? AKERMAN: No, absolutely not. And it also doesn't make sense to me that

they have to put the actual trial on hold. There's no reason why they couldn't. If they had to appeal this, they could appeal it and still let everything move forward.

PHILLIP: So why do you think this is happening?

AKERMAN: I have no idea. I think it's a Georgia-centric sort of thing. And it's just they have this policy where they're going to put it on hold to let this issue be resolved. It just seems ridiculous. And the decision that was made initially, it was a good decision. So I don't see how they're going to reverse it anyway.

PHILLIP: So Eileen Cannon, down in Florida, the judge who's dealing with the classified documents case, she's added, she's reshuffled the schedule. She's added more hearings. She hasn't ruled on any of the motions, many of the motions that are before her in order to get this thing started. What do you think is going on here?

AKERMAN: I just think she doesn't know what she's doing. She's a brand new judge. She has no experience with real cases before this. She's taking on issues that make absolutely no sense.

For example, was Jack Smith legitimately appointed by Merrick Garland to be special counsel? I mean, that's already been decided by Judge Chutkan. It's not even a real issue. It's ridiculous. It can be decided in 10 minutes.

The other issue having to do with Mr. Corcoran, who is the attorney for Donald Trump, and the statements that were made that were obviously outside of the attorney-client privilege because they were covered by the fraud exception, crime exception. So she's kind of relitigating things that have already been decided.

PHILLIP: Well, you are, continue to give her the benefit of the doubt. Many other people are questioning if there are other motives here, but we'll see how that case moves on. Nick Akerman, thank you very much for joining us.

And up next for us, Democrats. They are livid over this "Wall Street Journal" report about Biden's mental fitness. I'm going to speak with Tim Ryan, who faced Biden in a primary about all of that.

Plus, Justice Alito's neighbor speaks out for the first time about the altercation over flags.



PHILLIP: Tonight, President Biden is overseas on a high-profile trip. But here at home, a "Wall Street Journal" headline is the political talk of the day. Behind closed doors, President Biden shows signs of slipping. That's the headline.

The reporters spoke with 45 people, including elected officials on both sides of the aisle who participated in or were briefed on meetings over several months. The thing is, only Republicans were ended up quoted in the piece. And so the White House and some Democrats are now livid.

They're saying, in part, congressional Republicans, foreign leaders and nonpartisan national security experts have made it clear in their own words that President Biden is a savvy and effective leader who has a deep record of legislative accomplishment.

Joining me now on all of this is former Democratic Congressman Tim Ryan. Congressman, thanks for joining us. So you have talked about this issue of President Biden's age and whether or not he should step aside for the next generation. What did you think of this piece?

TIM RYAN (D), FORMER OHIO REPRESENTATIVE: I actually, and this may be a little unconventional, I actually think it's good for him because it's going to completely lower expectations. We saw this happen during the State of the Union. He's not going to be able to deliver the speech. And there were weeks of, you know, preliminary criticisms of the speech already. And then he came out and knocked it out of the park. So I think anything he can do to lower these expectations, which this article does, will only increase the performance during the debate. So I think at the end, it's going to end up being good for him.

PHILLIP: So one of the big criticisms of the White House and its surrogates are making are that, OK, only Republicans are quoted on the record in the piece. But does that really surprise you that Democrats wouldn't be eager to have their names behind criticisms of the president?

RYAN: No, of course not. And like this, this is all baked in already. Like, I don't think this is going to shift any voters. I think most people know that, you know, Joe Biden doesn't have the fastball that he had four or five, 10 years ago.

PHILLIP: Well, then why is the White House pushing back so hard as to suggest that that is not the case?

RYAN: I'm not sure. I mean, I think the reality is we have known Joe Biden for a long time.

Is he performing the way he was performing five or 10 years ago? No. But you don't get paid for performance to be president. You don't. The job is not a job of endurance. It's a job of judgment.

And he has shown consistently very, very good judgment. We're reindustrializing the country. We're reshoring jobs. Wages are going up. You know, we got a long way to go, but he's got a lot to campaign.

PHILLIP: And I take the point that you're making about the policies. But just to get back to something that you just said, it's not a job of endurance. I mean, I think everyone in this country, especially people who observe presidents up close, might disagree with you. Presidency is a hard endurance job. It takes long, long, long days, seven days a week, 24/7. So the idea that it doesn't matter whether President Biden has the stamina to do that job, I think a lot of people, including a lot of Americans, would disagree with you.

RYAN: Well, I just, you know, I know, you know, the inner circle of how that operation works. I've never been in it. There's a lot of stress. There's no question. I'm not trying to diminish it. But you also don't have to go run marathons.


I don't see Donald Trump out bike riding like Joe Biden. He's not exactly, you know, showing a good bill of health here for the American people. So I think Biden's in a good spot. This is all baked in. Nothing here is breaking news.

This is going to be at the end of the day, it's going to be about independent voters in a handful of states who are going to say, do we want four more -- do we want four years of chaos where President Trump would turn the government, the attorney general, the justice system on American citizens, defund the FBI, defund law enforcement, fire people in the security forces, or do we want a guy who maybe lost a few miles per hour for his fastball?

PHILLIP: Does the White House need to, instead of telling everybody how, you know, the president has the capacity to do the job, do they need to demonstrate that more? I mean, the president has done fewer interviews, press conferences, even meetings that he was doing just a couple of years ago. Should they change that? Should they ramp up physically what the public can see of Joe Biden?

RYAN: Yeah, I think so. I mean, I think that the Howard Stern interview a few weeks back was phenomenal. I mean, that was a great presentation by a gentleman, a guy well versed in the issues, showed his heart, showed his compassion. I think things like that are great formats for the president. I would personally like to see him do more of that. And I think you will see more of that as the campaign ensues in the coming weeks and months.

PHILLIP: All right. Former Congressman Tim Ryan, thank you very much for joining us here in studio.

And next, the neighbor at the center of the dispute with Justice Alito over flags is speaking out.



PHILLIP: Justice Samuel Alito's neighbor is speaking out on TV for the first time. We learned that this flag was flown upside down outside of the Alito's Virginia home. It's a MAGA Stop the Steal symbol, and Alito blamed it on his wife. Now, a woman who is in the middle of all of this spoke to CNN's Erin Burnett tonight. Erin.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Abby, Emily wanted to speak out to dispute what the justice himself is saying. Justice Alito is saying that her verbal dispute with his wife is the entire reason that Mrs. Alito flew an upside down flag outside their home. But the timeline doesn't add up. Here's what Emily told me.


EMILY BADEN, FORMER ALITO NEIGHBOR WHO HAD A DISPUTE WITH HIS WIFE: My first yard sign that I put up was an anti-Trump sign. It said F-- Trump in glitter cursive letters.

And, you know, it was just as like a message to the world that I see Trump as a danger to our democracy. I just want to emphasize that the interaction that happened on February 15th is the one that they're using as an excuse for why they flew the flag. And I really want to hammer home the fact that that happened on February 15th.

And their flag went up two or three weeks before that. So even if it were a valid excuse that they were having a dispute with a neighbor and that made them put the flag up, the that timeline just disproves it. It just doesn't make sense.


BURNETT: Well, Abby, Justice Alito did send a letter to Congress and you're not allowed to lie to Congress. So there could be serious questions about what he alleges happened now that Emily is speaking out. But I asked her why she thinks it's worth it to speak out. And she told me that she believes American democracy is fragile and that there's just no excuse at this point for not standing up. And that is why she's choosing to speak out now. Abby.

PHILLIP: Erin, thank you very much for that. And you can see more of Erin's interview on Up next for us, breaking news on Capitol Hill. Senate Republicans have blocked a bill to protect contraception. We'll talk about the real world impact of all that.



PHILLIP: Breaking tonight, by a 51 to 39 margin, Senate Republicans have voted to block the Right to Contraception Act that would have ensured access to birth control pills, the Plan B pill and condoms. Republicans instead are pushing for an alternative measure that narrowed the scope of that access.

Senator Tammy Duckworth from Illinois introduced that bill and she joins me now. Senator, thank you for being here.

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D-IL): Thanks for having me on. It's such an important issue.

PHILLIP: It certainly is. Look, I mean, this just happened. Some of your Republican colleagues, they called it a show vote. What's your response to that? What does it say in your view that they are unwilling to say simply contraceptive access should be a right in this country?

DUCKWORTH: Exactly. What tells me that they don't believe that it should be a right and they believe that states should have the ability to restrict access to contraception. And I don't think Americans should have their right to contraception to be limited by their zip codes and the state that they happen to live in. But that, unfortunately, is what my Republicans colleague believe.

PHILLIP: Nearly a dozen of those Republican colleagues are up for reelection this year and they voted against this piece of legislation. How do you think that those votes will impact their reelection chances?

DUCKWORTH: Well, I think it's going to be very negative for them because over 90 percent of Americans believe in access to contraception. And, you know, we're talking about things that people have had access to for decades now. And I think my Republican colleagues want to take us back to the -- to the 40s and 50s when women had to ask permission from their husbands to get access to contraception.

And we simply cannot have that anymore. And they had a chance today to say that, yep, there should be a statutory right and they blocked it. And so I hope that their voters keep that in mind when they go to the polls in November.

PHILLIP: You also have introduced a legislative package that would protect access to in vitro fertilization, IVF. A vote on that bill could happen as soon as next week. I just want people to understand. I mean, this is personal for you. You talked about how two of your children are in the world because of this important technology to so many families. I wonder if you think on this issue, there's a chance of getting Republican support for this proposal and perhaps that they might be willing to allow this one to pass.


DUCKWORTH: Well, I hope that they will. It's a very simple bill that I've put forward. You know, you're right. Both of my daughters were conceived via IVF. I struggled with infertility for over a decade, like so many of our military veterans do. There are much higher infertility rates among those who served in the military.

And it was a real heartbreak for over a decade. My husband and I tried to conceive and we ended up, thank goodness, through the miracle of IVF. All my bill does, again, is creates a statutory right for folks to be able to access IVF. My Republican colleagues can simply vote yes on it and be on the right side of history. So we'll see what happens next week when this comes to the floor for a vote.

PHILLIP: Senator Tammy Duckworth, we appreciate you spending some time with us tonight. Thanks.

DUCKWORTH: Thanks for having me on.

PHILLIP: And thank you for watching "NewsNight". "Laura Coates Live" starts after this.