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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Trump And MAGA Vow Revenge On Invisible And Perceived Enemies; Biden Says He Wouldn't Pardon Son If He's Convicted; President Biden Says In An Interview With ABC He Is Ready For A Debate With Trump; Grandson Of Black Panther Party Founder Clarifies His Grandfather's Comment. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 06, 2024 - 22:00   ET


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Him sitting there in front of all of those young men who did die on that beach that day, holding Christian's hand and reflecting on this moment.


You can see here. President Biden met with him and many of the others from the greatest generation in France today to thank them for their service on that historic day.

Of course, their unwavering commitment to freedom and justice will never be forgotten, certainly not by us.

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

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Donald Trump's Pulp Fiction, that's tonight on NewsNight.

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

Tonight, Donald Trump channels Tarantino. It's almost like he sees himself as Ezekiel, beset on all sides by the tyranny of evil men. But here's the thing about those enemies. They're about as real as the Samuel L. Jackson character, Jules Winfield, meaning not at all.

On the other hand, these biblical-sounding promises of great revenge against their invisible enemies, well, there's a lot to suggest that they could be taken seriously. Trump, just hours ago, ranted about his trial where 12 jurors made him a convicted felon. He called it rigged. And then he made what you can only interpret as a threat to the courts that will decide the validity of his conviction.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to straighten out what's going on in these courts. We got a rigged deal going, this whole country, and we've got to do it, and those appellate courts have to step up and straighten things out, or we're not going to have a country any longer.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: Now, Trump and his disciples, they all have the same complaint, basically, that the system is somehow stacked against them, and that they all have the same cure for that, tearing down the system all together.

Take Steve Bannon, for example, the former Trump fixer who was just ordered to report to jail.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER WHITE HOUSE CHIEF STRATEGIST: They're not going to shut up Trump. They're not going to shut up Navarro. They're not going to shut up Bannon. And they're certainly not going to shut up MAGA.

There's nothing that can shut me up and nothing that will shut me up. There's not a prison built or a jail built that will ever shut me up. All victory to MAGA.


PHILLIP: In an almost too wild to be true twist of irony, no one is trying to shut Bannon up. He was actually sent to jail for contempt of Congress because he was the one who refused to talk by order of a legally authorized congressional subpoena.

So, why might Trump and his MAGA allies do this? Well, perhaps money.


TRUMP: Right after the announcement of this, more campaign funds were given to this campaign than any campaign they think in history, $400 million, 400.


PHILLIP: We should note here, not even his own campaign is making that particular claim. But what's even stranger about this is that Trump's allies are weirdly insisting that the revenge plot isn't happening at all.

Now, you might remember Senator Tim Scott tried to tell me exactly that on this show exactly one week ago.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I'm simply saying that President Trump has said it himself. The best revenge is success.

PHILLIP: Actually, Senator, I have to correct you on that because he's explicitly said --

SCOTT: I went to him in the room -- no, you can't --

PHILLIP: I'm looking at the notes right here. He has explicitly said that they did it -- he said, okay, Senator, he said it publicly. They did it to me, so we have to do it to them.

SCOTT: I'm happy to debate.

PHILLIP: He said they did it to me, so they have to do it to them. Do you support that?

SCOTT: Abby, I know you are -- this is why the ratings on CNN are so low. The bottom line is simply this. Without question, President Trump has looked me in my eyes in a room full of other folks and said, you know what, the best revenge is success.


PHILLIP: Okay. So, you and the senator can read the former president's promises yourself. He promised to prosecute his perceived enemies in plain English, like this post that he made just hours ago on Truth Social. It's pretty short. Indict the unselected J6 committee.

And joining me now, Dr. Phil, whose interview with the former president just aired. Thank you very much for joining us tonight.

You're clearly sympathetic to Trump, but you believe that he should drop this talk of revenge. Did he commit to not pursuing that if he was elected president?


DR. PHIL MCGRAW, T.V. HOST AND AUTHOR: Well, first off, I'm sympathetic to what Trump has gone through in this particular trial, because I think it was not a proper due process for him. I would say the same thing if it was Biden or anyone else in that process. So, I want to be clear on that.

PHILLIP: Would you mind telling us -- I mean, tell us why you think he didn't get due process. I mean, the proceedings, we had reporters in there. I was there for a lot of it. There was a judge and he adjudicated a lot of these questions. Why do you think he wasn't given a fair process?

MCGRAW: Well, I think it's a number of things. I think there, from a jury standpoint, and, again, let me be clear, I'm not a lawyer, I look at it from, in terms of what the jury was given to solve this puzzle. And I think they heard some things that were very prejudicial that had nothing to do with solving the problem of the case at hand. I think there are some things that are considered black letter law or Hornbook law, that's just really not something that is controversial at all that was violated.

I think you don't have someone that is considered to be an accomplice in a, in a crime that has pled out or made a non-prosecution agreement and allow that information in to the jury's awareness because it's very prejudicial and it's not really probative of anything that they're asked to be problem solving or consider.

PHILLIP: Who are you referring to there? Michael Cohen? I mean, well, Dr. Phil, I don't want to get too deep into the law here, but it is not uncommon at all for people who are accomplices to crimes, people who have taken plea deals, non-prosecute -- that is not uncommon at all for those people to then testify in subsequent trials for their alleged co-conspirators. That's kind of how a lot of these prosecutions work.

MCGRAW: Well, really, give me examples of where that has been considered appropriate.

PHILLIP: I mean, it -- look, prosecutors are prosecuting organized crime all the time. And in a lot of those cases, they are relying on co-conspirators to put people who are at the higher levels of the organization behind bars. I just -- I don't understand how you can say that because someone signed a not -- or, you know, was not prosecuted, signed a non-prosecution agreement, that information or their testimony cannot be presented before the jury if they were a part of the alleged scheme.

MCGRAW: Well, you'll have to give me an example to respond to, because I just simply don't agree with that. I think it's not typical for juries to do this. I've spent most of my career --

PHILLIP: It happens in mob cases all the time. I don't -- look, Dr. Phil, I mean, I don't understand why you would think that Michael Cohen, who is a key person in a lot of the narrative here, should not have been allowed to testify in this case, is that what you're saying?

MCGRAW: No, that's not what I'm saying. I said what I said. I think the fact that he made an agreement to say that he is guilty of the crime that the defendant is being tried for prejudices the jury that, hey, here's someone that's supposedly an accomplice that has said I'm guilty of this. That prejudices a jury about the person that's currently on trial for the same crime.

PHILLIP: I have some quibbles with what you're describing as the same crime. Michael Cohen was not charged with falsifying business records, that he actually did not -- was not prosecuted for that crime.

But I do want to move on because on this issue of what Trump is going to do when he, if he is elected, did you get any clarity from him about whether he would try to pursue the people perhaps who pursued him, D.A.s or his political enemies?

MCGRAW: Well, you know, certainly that's a big issue. And I lean very strongly into the position of saying, look, this is not going to help this country. If you get into a position of power and your agenda is one of revenge, retribution, saying, okay, you came after me so now I'm going to come after you, America picks up the tab for that. That's not anything that's good to do. That's going to take up time. That's just playing tit-for-tat. So, you go after them because they came after you. Then they come after you because they go after them.

In the meantime, what about America? What about the business of America? What about the issues of education? What about the issues of the border? What about the issues of inflation? What about the issues of health care? What about all the things that the people really care about? They're not interested in you playing gotcha with the people that you think got you.


We're not interested in that. Nobody's interested in that and calling on you --

PHILLIP: And you respond to that when you -- you know, I mean, that's your perspective. What do you sense is his inclination? Because just today he said, for example, that he would indict the January 6th committee members, presumptively the members of Congress who were on that committee investigating what happened on January 6th. Are you more or less convinced after sitting down with him that he actually would follow through on those kinds of pledges?

MCGRAW: Well, I actually don't think he will. I think this is a situation that -- you know, it's a process. This is something that I think he's had in his mind that there's only one way to go and that's to get even. And I think I've really made some headway with him that that is not the way to go. I think it's a process. I think he'll turn this over and over in his mind, and I don't think he will do that. And to the extent that I have any opportunity to lean into this with him, I am going to relentlessly try and get him to not do that and to get others to not do that.

Look, we need to stop this. This is a time where America needs to come together, not be playing gotcha and going on some kind of revenge tour. We don't need that. We don't have time for that. It's not good for America. We need to unify, not be going after people that we think came after us, whether we think they did so fairly or otherwise.

PHILLIP: Yes. It sounds like --

MCGRAW: we don't need -- the best thing we need is for Trump to be going after people that he thinks have treated him unfairly.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, it sounds like you're personally taking it upon yourself to talk through this with him. But for the voters who are evaluating this very issue, you know, Donald Trump is explicitly saying, I'm going to prosecute my predecessor, Joe Biden, if I'm elected. He's explicitly saying he wants to go after his political enemies. He will go after the members of Congress who were doing their jobs investigating what happened on January 6th. Don't voters need to weigh that, especially since the argument that Trump is making with no evidence is that Biden is going after him?

MCGRAW: Well, I think they absolutely have to weigh that. And if they think that Donald Trump or any other candidate is going to do that, and they think that is not what I'm putting somebody in office for, then they absolutely shouldn't vote for me. I don't think that's what we're putting people in office to do. That's running their agenda instead of America's agenda. And we need people to run America's agenda.

Look, we've got serious problems. And it takes serious people to deal with those problems. I'm not a political animal. It doesn't matter to me whether somebody's Democrat or Republican. I could care less. Don't know enough about politics to talk about it intelligently. But I can tell you this, from a cultural standpoint, we need people working on the problems that are impacting the quality of life in America, impacting the quality of medical care, impacting the quality of education, impacting quality of people's ability to feed and take care of their families.

And that doesn't leave room to be playing gotcha and retribution and revenge. That's not what we need. We need people to get in there and do their jobs. And if not, they shouldn't have the privilege. That's not a legacy privilege and we shouldn't be putting people in office that want to play those kind of games.

PHILLIP: Well, one of the other things about this hush money trial, and as I mentioned, I mean I was in court several days in the trial, a lot of other Trump family members were there, but his wife, Melania, wasn't there. We didn't see Barron Trump, who just graduated and is headed off to college. What did the former president say about his family and how they are taking in all of this and his now 34 felony convictions?

MCGRAW: Well, he admitted that it's very difficult on them, that this is tough on them and has taken a toll. I asked him straight up, have you considered the fact that this is not worth it, that the price that your family has to pay for all the blowback and all the criticism and all of the disruption on them, is there a point at which, you know, it's just not worth it? Have you considered that? And do you think about it? And he says he does think about it. And it's very difficult to watch them go through this sometimes. But he's convinced that they want him to continue on. But he admits that it is absolutely taking a toll on them.

PHILLIP: Do you think Donald Trump, based on where he is right now, do you think that he has the character to be the next president of the United States? I'm talking about character and what you were talking about, which is, you know, is he going to work for the American people or is he going to work for himself?


What do you think?

MCGRAW: Well, I think that's for the voters to decide. And if he continues to talk about retribution, revenge, then they're going to have to make a decision. If that's what he's running on, then I think people would say, I don't think that's where I want to place my vote.

And I hope that's not what he intends to do. I hope it's not what he's going to do. I think he's made a commitment during the interview that I did with him that that's not what he's going to do. And I hope as he moves further along and hears more voices, like mine, voices like yours, that say, that's not what we want, that's not what we need, I think he'll get the message that, look, nobody wants that. That's running your agenda, not our agenda. And that's what we need to say to all of these candidates, including Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: Before you go, in the interview, there was a moment at which you said the argument that President Biden can't stop the Trump prosecution in Georgia because it's a state case, you called that an explanation for stupid people, but it is also true that the president of the United States cannot interfere with a state prosecution. That's not how the legal system works. Why is that a position that you're repeating, even though it's very clear that that's not the case?

MCGRAW: That is not the case in terms of strict law, but I think if anybody believes that parties on either side can't get together and get something done if they want it done, I think, is very naive. That's not the way things work.

PHILLIP: But that's exactly the kind of coordination that, frankly, Dr. Phil, there is no evidence of. But you're also saying if that coordination happened, for example, in the hush money case, you would have called that a scandal. So, why would President Biden do that in Georgia, interfere with a state case that he has nothing to do with?

MCGRAW: I didn't say that about Georgia. Actually, I said that about the case in New York. So, you're wrong about that.

PHILLIP: My apologies, but in the case in New York specifically. I mean, if Biden weighed in to make that prosecution happen, you would consider that a scandal. If he weighed in to make it not happen, why would that not be a scandal?

MCGRAW: I'm not saying it wouldn't be a scandal, but I'm saying if you really think that party politics don't cross state lines, federal versus state lines, that they're aren't meetings and people talk about this and make decisions about what's best for the party, and sometimes that probably works to the good of the people, sometimes maybe it doesn't. But if you think that there aren't politics that goes into some of these decisions, I think that would be a naive position.

PHILLIP: Well, look, all I'm saying is that there's no evidence that that happened one way or another.


PHILLIP: Well, we agree on that point. Dr. Phil, thank you very much. Thanks for joining us on that interview tonight.

MCGRAW: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And up next, President Biden says whether he would pardon his son if he is convicted.

Plus, on this 80th anniversary of D-Day, Tom Hanks speaks out on what he thinks of a potential second Trump term.

And did a founding member of the Black Panther Party endorse Donald Trump? Conservative outlets are running with this story, but his grandson wants to respond and he'll join me live.

This is NewsNight.


PHILLIP: As Donald Trump teases revenge for his perceived enemies, in a new interview, President Biden was asked whether he would pardon his own son if he's convicted in his current gun trial.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me ask you, will you accept the jury's outcome, their verdict, no matter what it is?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And have you ruled out a pardon for your son?



PHILLIP: Joining me now, CNN Political Commentator and former senior White House Communications Aide Jamal Simmons, former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey and CNN Political Commentator Errol Lewis.

Well, is it case closed? I mean, or should it be?

FMR. LT. GOV. BETSY MCCAUGHEY (R-NY): I don't believe him. Let me say why. He's betting the odds. The fact is, it's highly unlikely that Hunter Biden will be convicted. It's probably going to be a hung jury.

Think of it. This is a jury in Wilmington, Delaware. In the last election, 26,000 people in Wilmington voted for Joe Biden. 3,500 voted for Trump. The Bidens are adored in Wilmington. So, it's very easy for Biden to say this.

I can guarantee you, he will not say this about the trial in September on which Hunter is charged with tax evasion.

PHILLIP: So, you're saying Trump -- Biden is going -- you think that Biden would actually pardon Hunter Biden, despite him saying pretty --

MCCAUGHEY: Yes, as a father, he would. But he knows that he's not going to be convicted. He did not say that about the trial in September because there, the stakes are much higher. He's accused of tax evasion and the money on which he failed to pay taxes came from foreign sources and is linked to influence-buying, in other words, to buy the influence of his father. They can actually track the payments to various Biden members, including payments for Joe Biden's mortgage payments.

PHILLIP: Just to be clear, there's actually not any evidence linking any of Hunter Biden's wrongdoings to Joe Biden's.

MCCAUGHEY: You are incorrect.

[22:25:00] You are incorrect. We have the bank statements. They've been presented in the House of Representatives.

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You mean because he paid back a loan to help buy a car from his dad?

MCCAUGHEY: No, because he paid, routinely paid Joe Biden's household bills.

PHILLIP: This has been -- look, if Republicans had that evidence that you are suggesting --


PHILLIP: -- they would have impeached him by now, and they haven't.

MCCAUGHEY: No. I want the audience to know that they do have it.

SIMMONS: Well, then they should use it. If they've got it, they should smoke it.

Listen --

MCCAUGHEY: That's a good one. I like that.

SIMMONS: Here's the thing, is there a world where we imagine that Donald Trump would let a prosecutor who has worked for President Obama come in and investigate one of his children, indict one of his children, let that child go to trial and then say he would not pardon him? Donald Trump would turn the tables over instead of let any of his kids go through this. Joe Biden has already proven he's willing to stand up for the rule of law in a way that we could all never imagine Donald Trump to do --

MCCAUGHEY: Look, I think the idea of a truce is great. But let's say this. To have a lawfare --

PHILLIP: I'm sorry. What do you mean a truce?

MCCAUGHEY: Well, because Dr. Phil was talking about, he used that word before, a truce in the lawfare, in this battle in court between members of the Biden administration and Trump. The fact is, for that to happen, Biden has to call Governor Kathy Hochul and ask her to pardon Trump. Otherwise, it's like asking for a truce now after the 34th count verdict --

PHILLIP: I'm going to let Errol in. But I just have to be clear --

MCCAUGHEY: It's just like asking Israel to lay down its arms the day after Hamas violated Israel in October.

PHILLIP: A truce might be necessary if there were actually any evidence of Biden seeking to influence the prosecution.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYS: Dr. Phil is a charming man, but there is a reason we don't let psychologists practice law. What he describes, this need for a truce, for example, assumes things that just simply don't exist. I mean, it is convenient for Donald Trump to say that my political enemy convinced a grand jury of citizens in Manhattan, and a trial jury in Manhattan, and an independently elected local prosecutor, and an independently elected judge to all conspire against me, and therefore, this is Biden's fault, but that's just not sensible. It's just not true. It's just not the way the system works.

MCCAUGHEY: Let me point out --

PHILLIP: (INAUDIBLE) two Trump cases yesterday that were effectively put on hold indefinitely. That happened too. That is the legal system working in Trump's favor.

MCCAUGHEY: Right. But back to this one.

SIMMONS: No, you don't want to talk about that.

MCCAUGHEY: Well, I do want to talk about it for this reason, because every day now, the Biden administration is labeling Trump a convicted felon. Very interesting -- no. Very interesting --

PHILLIP: That is a fact.

MCCAUGHEY: -- that the prosecution has requested that the gag order against Trump be maintained through the sentencing, way beyond the debate. This is very interesting. If the gag order's intent were to protect the jury and to protect the integrity of the trial, it would be lifted. But, no, they don't want Donald Trump to be able to criticize the government even after the verdict. And that shows that the real purpose of this gag order is to influence the election.

Usually when there's a gag order, it applies to both parties, the prosecution and the defense, and the jury is sequestered. This time, the judge didn't sequester the jury and only gagged the defendant, so every night the jury could go home and hear Michael Cohen and others on television accusing Trump of wrongdoing.

PHILLIP: They could also go home and hear Donald Trump speaking outside of the courthouse, as he did every day.

MCCAUGHEY: He wasn't permitted to say anything about the witnesses.

PHILLIP: Look, he violated the gag order, what was it, nine times? So, he said it. He said those things that were actual violations. So, look, I do want to --

SIMMONS: Whether it's unfair or not, it does seem when judges on a defendant, the defendant has to stand by the judge's order.

MCCAUGHEY: This was a violation --

SIMMONS: Hold on one second, ma'am. I can't imagine that there's a situation where any other young person, maybe, I don't know, the Central Park Five, let's say, I can't imagine where they would be in a courtroom and they would be able to walk out of a courtroom, young men of color, and say, hey, I don't agree with the judge. I think the judge's daughter is a somebody who's going against me. I think they would not be able to appeal the integrity of a judge and then go back in that courtroom and not be sanctioned or thrown in jail for what it is they've done.

MCCAUGHEY: Untrue. The Supreme Court has ruled again and again that the Sixth Amendment guarantees the defendant, after all, the Bill of Rights --

SIMMONS: You live in a different world than I do.

MCCAUGHEY: The Bill of Rights was -- it was written to protect not the government, the reputation of the government, the reputation of a judge. It was written to protect the accused, the defendant. And we're losing sight of that. It doesn't matter whether it's Trump or not. We should always protect the rights of the defendant, the accused, not the government.


PHILLIP: That's a very fair point. I want to move on, but I also want to make the point that the judge carved out a pretty narrow gag order that was intended to protect the jury. Now, what he does about the gag order now is still up for, you know, adjudication. So, we'll see what he does there. I want to play one more thing from President Biden's interview with ABC. He's talking about this debate that is coming up this month between Trump and Biden and whether or not he's ready for it.


DAVID MUIR, ABC ANCHOR: We are three weeks from this debate. What do you think you need to accomplish on that debate stage?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Say what I think. Let him say what he thinks. The things he said are off the wall. I want to be a dictator on day one.

I want to move in a direction where he talks about, you know, suspending the Constitution. All I have to do is hear what he says, remind people what he says and what I believe, what he believes. He's about him. I'm about the country.

MUIR: Are you ready for this debate?



PHILLIP: All right, Errol, do you believe him?

LOUIS: Yeah, I do believe him. Every state of the union speech, we see a President who has been described as feeble and unable to put two sentences together rise to the occasion. You have to remember, this is somebody who's been at the highest levels of politics for literally a half a century on pure muscle memory. We've watched him again and again, again in the State of the Union

speech, you know, off the cuff, kind of engaging, debating people right there on the floor. So, I think he'll be fine. And he just laid out his strategy. It's really no secret. And it's going to be the strategy of the larger campaign, which is to talk about the problems in the country that Dr. Phil says he wants to hear more people about.

If Donald Trump can somehow pull himself out of the revenge fantasies and talking about how everything is unfair, you know, the media is unfair and the courts are unfair. And if he can actually talk about some issues, we've got a country that has a housing crisis. This is somebody who allegedly knows something about housing. We'd love to hear him talk about that instead of about his legal problems.

PHILLIP: We'll see if Biden can get a word in edgewise, because one of the things Trump does is really try to steamroll over people. He did that, literally, the last time they met on a debate stage. Everyone, thank you very much for this conversation.

And up next for us on this 80th anniversary of D-Day. Is the world that those heroes fought and died for now vanishing? We're going to discuss that and hear from Tom Hanks. Plus, it's a video that went viral, an original member of the Black Panther Party supposedly endorsing Trump. But his grandson says this isn't accurate. I'm going to speak with him, next.



PHILLIP: In a victory paid for in blood 80 years ago today, America and its allies staked the fate of the modern world on one operation. Failure would have given Hitler's Nazis the upper hand at a pivotal moment in World War Two. But on D-Day, more than 150,000 allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, the crucial moment that ultimately led to the defeat of the Nazis in Germany and the liberation of Europe.

Now, just ahead of the invasion, General Dwight Eisenhower wrote this letter to the troops that read in part, "The eyes of the world are upon you. The hope and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you." He added, "I have full confidence in your courage, devotion, and duty and skill in this battle. We will accept nothing less than full victory."

And it was victory that they ultimately had. But there was a cost. Forty-four hundred didn't survive that day. Twenty-five hundred of them were U.S. forces. More than 400,000 Americans were killed in that war. And there is no question that the world, as we know it, is immeasurably better because of their courage and their sacrifice. But it is that world those brave men fought for. Is it vanishing slowly? President Biden spent today in Normandy and he issued a warning.


BIDEN: The fact that they were heroes here that day does not absolve us from what we have to do today. Democracy is never guaranteed. Every generation must preserve it, defend it, and fight for it.


PHILLIP: The actor Tom Hanks is also in France. And for the "Saving Private Ryan" actor, who spent so much of his career working with veterans and telling their stories, he shares that concern.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Do you worry about the United States in case there -- in terms of its commitment to democracy and freedom and everything, these people died for, if there's another Trump presidency?

TOM HANKS, "SAVING PRIVATE RYAN" ACTOR: I think there's always reason to be worried about the short term, but I look at the longer term of what is -- what will happen. I think there's an ongoing -- look. Our constitution says, we, the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, that journey to a more perfect union has missteps in it. We know. I can catalog them as much as you can. And you're a professional journalist. And I'm just a guy that makes movies and reads books.

AMANPOUR: And a historian.

HANKS: And okay. And a lay historian. I'll take that, too. Over the long term, however, we inevitably made progress towards, I think, that more perfect union. That's what it was. And how does it come about? It comes about not because of somebody's narrative of who is right or who is a victim or not.


It comes out of the slow melding of the truth to the actual practical life that we end up living. It comes down to the good deed that is - that is practiced with your neighbor, with your local merchants. And I will always have faith that the United States of America and the Western societies that have adopted more or less the same sort of democracy cannot help but turn towards what is right.


PHILLIP: Joining me now is CNN Presidential Historian Tim Naftali. You heard there Tom Hanks. He's optimistic. But I think the question on everybody's minds is, what happens if there are no safeguards? What happens if there are no, you know, circuit breakers that prevent the catastrophic from happening? Are you as confident as he is?

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, we just saw a group of Americans find a former President guilty in a criminal trial. The very fact that someone who was once our head of state could be found guilty in a court of law shows the strength of our judicial institutions. It shows the circuit breakers, if you will, that do exist.

Whether or not former President Trump will have an opportunity to try to dismantle those institutions depends on the American people in November. But he's already told us he wants to do. So, in a sense, he is challenging the American people. And they have to respond.

PHILLIP: Can I just add on to what you just said? Because the other person who's challenging the American people is former Secretary of State, former First Lady Hillary Clinton. She wrote this, "Eighty years ago today, thousands of brave Americans fought to protect democracy on the shores of Normandy. This November, all we have to do is vote." For that, she's actually getting a lot of blowback, a lot of criticism. Do you think that's warranted?

NAFTALI: Well, think of it this way, Abby. D-Day is the worst case scenario when everything else falls apart and nations have to come together to overthrow militarily a dictatorship that is controlling a continent. I think the argument that we're seeing, not just in the United States, but throughout Europe and other parts of the world, is that there are people using rhetoric right now that is authoritarian dictatorial rhetoric. And if we take those people at their word, then we have to be very, very worried.

When people start describing opponents as vermin, which the former President did. When people talk about the importance of being a dictator from day one. When people criticize the fact -- a trial and describe it as a Soros trial, which is frankly a dog whistle to anti- Semites, then you have to begin to wonder, what kind of world do they want?

And that is the kind of world that in the 1930s changed the nature of European security, which led to 1944. That doesn't mean 1944 is inevitable, but it means that we have to take the language, the rhetoric, seriously, of those who want to be dictators, whether here or abroad.

PHILLIP: You know, it's been really stunning to see so many people saying, let's move on. Why do we keep talking about this? But obviously, as you just pointed out, the lessons of that time period echo, you know, for generations and they still echo today. Tim Naftali, we appreciate you as always bringing that perspective.

NAFTALI: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: A video goes viral showing a founding member of the Black Panther Party endorsing Donald Trump. Well, tonight, his family says that he was conned. That man's grandson joins me live next. You're watching "NewsNight".



PHILLIP: Tonight, the grandson of a founding member of the Black Panther Party says that his grandfather does not -- does not endorse Donald Trump. They're being forced to speak out because of this video of David Hilliard that was posted on social media.


DAVID HILLIARD, BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOUNDER: I think that Trump is qualified in a very decent approach to having somebody representing America.

UNKNOWN: Yeah, I agree with you.

HILLIARD: And Trump's a friend of African-Americans. He's always been a friend of black people.


PHILLIP: Now, that was recorded by a woman named Carol Denise Mitchell, who did take the video down at the family's request. But Hilliard's family is alleging that he was being tricked and taken advantage of. His grandson, Eric Jones, joins me now.

Eric, thank you for being here. I want to just ask you, though, to start off, your grandfather explains in this video that was posted originally that he had a relationship with Donald Trump in the 1960s because of real estate in New York. Has he ever told you stories about his time with the Black Panthers and Donald Trump at the same time?

ERIC JONES, JR., GRANDSON OF BLACK PANTHER PARTY FOUNDER DAVID HILLIARD: Hey, Abby, I just wanted to thank you for the opportunity to do this on behalf of my family. First, I would like to say that my grandfather doesn't endorse either candidate or any candidate.

He doesn't know the state of politics currently. As to if he had spoken about Trump in the past, he may say things out of confusion, you know. He wouldn't -- there's nothing to-- there's no real linear basis to it. So he may just speak. It's just because of a name that he knows.

PHILLIP: Can you just tell us a little bit about what you think is going on? I mean, my understanding is that your grandfather is suffering from some mental decline. Is that right?


JONES, JR.: Yeah, what's going on is just this lady who we've never heard of or never seen and just showed up and put a camera in my grandfather's face and broadcasted it online. It's completely unacceptable. This is -- it's unconscionable, really, actually, that I have to continue to talk about the status of my grandfather's health care to the world. This is not anyone's business, and it shouldn't be broadcast at all. This is very --

PHILLIP: I totally understand that. I mean, it really isn't anyone's business but your own and your family's. I just want to point out Carol Denise Mitchell. She lives at the same retirement home as your grandfather. We did reach out to her and spoke with her today.

And here's she said in part, quote, "I would like to deny any reference to my misleading of Mr. David Hilliard, and the family is just going to have to get used to the fact that he supported Donald Trump, and they can't unring the bell. He said what he said, and he meant what he said, and I stand behind my interview 1000 percent." What's your reaction to that? JONES, JR.: I have no reaction. That's a joke. Slade doesn't have any

basis for what he meant. She just acted like she didn't know who he was before she -- how could she know what he meant? How could she know what he stands for? This is a joke.

PHILLIP: What do you think is behind this, whatever she's doing here? I mean, why would she want the world to believe that your father endorsed Donald Trump or anyone else?

JONES, JR.: Because she's looking to garner followers for whatever type of party or candidate or cult or whatever she imagines herself doing. I have no true understanding of her goal or what she's trying to attain. But we are trying to figure that out.

PHILLIP: Do you think that she tricked him into making those statements?

JONES, JR.: I have no clue of how the conversation with him have gotten -- have gone went, but I think that she misled him and led him to saying things that were favorable to whatever she wanted to accomplish.

PHILLIP: And our understanding was that she took the video down at the family's request. Is that how you believe things went down?

JONES, JR.: Yeah, I looked at her and told her to take the video down, please. And she said, oh, yes, I'll take the video down. I'm sorry. And then we parted ways.

PHILLIP: You saw her in person?

JONES, JR.: Yes.

PHILLIP: Okay, I understand. All right. Eric Jones, thanks for clarifying that. And honestly, I mean, I know it's difficult to have an elderly family member in that situation. I'm sorry that you have to kind of put that out there for the world to see when your family is just trying to live your life. We appreciate you joining us, though. Thank you.

JONES, JR.: Thank you.

PHILLIP: Now, do you have two weeks? Well, Donald Trump has some plans to share for you then. That's next.




PHILLIP: Taylor Swift may be responsible for putting Fortnite back into the American lexicon, but it is Donald Trump who has been watering it down for the better part of a decade.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: Back in April, Trump promised to announce his plans for access to abortion medication. He said it'll come in the next week or two. Well, surprise, it is June and there is still no plan. And according to sources, those plans don't exist. The promise of plans in two weeks is not rare for Trump. In fact, it's pretty common.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PREDIDENT (R) and CURRENT PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (R): We're signing a health care plan within two weeks. Over the next two weeks, I'll be pursuing a major executive order. We're going to be announcing something, I would say, over the next two or three weeks. I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.

We've got the plan largely completed and we'll be filing it over the next two or three weeks, maybe soon. I'll be making a big decision on the Paris Accord over the next two weeks. Then we're going to be having a news conference in about two weeks to let everybody know how well we're doing. We're putting in a resolution sometime in the next week or a week and a half, two weeks. I gave it two weeks.


PHILLIP: It's been 10 years and we are still waiting on a health care plan, by the way. Well, thank you for watching "NewsNight". "Laura Coates Live" starts right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Steve Bannon is now the latest Trump ally ordered to go to prison. He's got just to report 10 days before Trump learns whether he might go, too. Neither of them intend to go quietly.

Plus, an alleged serial killer who wrote a manual on how to torture and kill. The new disturbing document in the Gilgo Beach murders. The local prosecutor who leads that case will be my guest tonight.

And bad boys, bad boys, what are moviegoers going to do? Does the fate of the summer box office ride or die on the new "Bad Boys" movie? What Hollywood might be thinking, tonight on "Laura Coates Live".