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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Biden Family Huddling In Delaware After Son's Conviction; Tale Of Two Verdicts, GOP's Reaction To Biden Starkly Different; U.S. Violent Crime Plunges, U.S. Economy Growing Fast; U.S. Justice Department Takes A Step To Debunk The Central Conspiracy In Trump Land; Co-Author William Barber Talks About New Book. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 11, 2024 - 22:00   ET



DONELL HARVIN, FORMER D.C. CHIEF OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE: Yes, it's always a concern, especially when we call them up the got-a-ways. So, you know, if you look at, you know, if one in every hundred thousand individuals who get away is a known as suspected terrorists, you know, you can have dozens or hundreds of individuals that are potentially threats. And so this is a wakeup call to all.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Yes, it certainly is. Donell Harvin --

HARVIN: On the southern border.

COLLINS: Your connection broke up a little there at the end, but a great point, and we'll keep watching this. Donell Harvin, thank you for that.

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

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Republicans try to eat their cake and have it too. That's tonight on News Night.

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

Tonight, President Biden and his family are huddling together in Delaware after a jury convicted his surviving son on all three federal gun charges. It is the first time in American history that an immediate family member of a sitting U.S. president was convicted of a crime.

Now, the moment, of course, creates the split screen of conservatives, who, just 12 days ago, were slamming the rule of law, slamming the judge, the jury and the verdict in Donald Trump's Manhattan trial. Some even claim the conviction was the end of the Republicans, as we know it. But tonight, they seem to be singing from a completely different tune.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a new era in America, and I think it goes against the ilk of who we are as Americans and our faith in the criminal justice system.

In the end, this juror, jury of ordinary people from Delaware, were not intimidated by that family. And they recognized that this was a clear cut case and that clearly no one's above the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a very political exercise and you have to say that it accomplished what it set out to accomplish.

But I would say this about Judge Noreika. I think she ran a very fair courtroom. She ran a very fair trial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I guess we all need, what, to shop at Banana Republic from now on because that's what it feels like, yes, a banana republic.

For years, the Bidens have been able to escape any legal accountability for their sleazy, corrupt conduct. But today, their luck ran out. At least, Hunter's did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Power is all they love. And they're willing to do anything to cling to it. They're willing to destroy the rule of law. The republic has been wounded by weak lawyers and talentless political bloodhounds.

It gave me a little boost of confidence in the American legal system. Although they still have a lot of work to do to win me back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe that there was a conscious collusion of allies that came together. It's pretty obvious with a private strategy to eliminate a common shared adversary.

Hunter is going to jail so Joe doesn't have to and when he comes out he'll be rewarded for his loyalty like a made man in a Biden crime family. This is a distraction from the influence-peddling and the kickbacks.


PHILLIP: Yes, these are two different trials under very different circumstances. Hunter Biden was federal, Trump's was not, the crimes and the evidence all completely different. But you can't claim the justice system is dead because of a single conviction while also praising it for another. And you can't claim President Biden is weaponizing the Justice Department to go after his enemies when that same department just convicted his own son.

But in a world of MAGA, perhaps you can. Prominent conservatives are trading baseless conspiracies for another. Now, they're claiming that Hunter Biden's trial was a sham to give cover to Biden. Charlie Kirk says the Democrats will use the conviction to claim that the system is fair. Vivek Ramaswamy, he calls it a smokescreen to deflect attention from Biden's other crimes. Republican Senator Tom Cotton says it's a way to insulate Joe Biden, who is guilty of corruption. Trump's campaign calls the case a distraction from the, quote, Biden crime family. Now, remember, this is the same Biden that conservatives claim can't walk, can't talk, or think on his own. But just so we're clear, Biden has no power over a state level prosecution. But the same federal government that he actually runs just prosecuted his own son, and the system we're supposed to believe is rigged? That just makes no sense.

We're going to get to all of that in a moment. But first tonight, joining me now is Reverend Dr. Christopher Bullock. He is a spiritual adviser to the Biden family and the pastor at Canaan Baptist Church in Newcastle, Delaware. Reverend, thank you for being with us.


REV. DR. CHRISTOPHER BULLOCK, BIDEN FAMILY SPIRITUAL ADVISER: It's good to be with you, Abby. God bless you. Thank you for having me.

PHILLIP: Thank you for being here. You spoke last night or before this verdict, I should say, with Hunter Biden. How was he when you last spoke with him?

BULLOCK: He was upbeat. He was positive. But he understood the gravity of the situation and the nature of the trial. So, he is well aware of what the possibilities were, and certainly disappointed in the verdict. However, things did not go in his favor. It does not mean that the favor of God is not upon him. We believe that his faith is strong. Of course, his family is strong and with him. And I encouraged him to look to the heel from what's come with his help, all of his help coming from the Lord. But he's focused and we know that things are going to work out in the end.

PHILLIP: You know, Hunter Biden has talked about his addiction. He's talked about what that has been like for his life. But I wonder on this particular issue or the set of issues that he was charged and has now been convicted of, has he ever expressed remorse for what led to all of this?

BULLOCK: I believe that he's aware of every step of his journey and remorse is a part of the process. Therefore, he is prepared to move forward knowing that God is a forgiving God. He has said in his own words that he has hurt people along the way. But we know that the power of prayer, the power of family, the power of faith can change him in any situation.

Listen, Abby, this addiction issue is a disease. It's impacted millions of Americans regardless of race, creed, or color, PhD, no D, G.D., M.D., J.D. This disease is real. And we know that it's a journey and it's a season in his life and this season will hopefully end in a way in which weeping and doing for a night but joy will come in the next season.

PHILLIP: CNN spoke earlier today with one of the jurors in this case, Juror Number 10, I want to play for you what he said about the defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JUROR #10 IN HUNTER BIDEN TRIAL: I felt I felt bad that they put Naomi on trial on witness. I think that was probably a strategy that should not have been done. No daughter should ever have to testify against her dad.


PHILLIP: You know this family well. Was it a mistake for the defense to put Hunter's own daughter through that?

BULLOCK: I think they had to make some critical decisions. They had a particular strategy. And they were going for what would work for them. What would give them favor in the face of the jury and all the judge and all who are concerned. It was painful but we understand that the defense had a strategy. They believe it would work. And we know that this family again has gone through, is going through a lot. And at the end of the day, it's all about what's in the best interest of Hunter and the Biden family.

PHILLIP: We saw those emotional images of President Biden hugging his only surviving son. Can you tell us what this has been like for him going through this trial, a different kind of trial, compared to some of the other trials that he's gone through in his life with the loss of his late wife and several of his other children?

BULLOCK: Our president, my friend and brother, is a man of resilience, a man of deep faith, a man who understands the hand of God when God's hand moves in his life. And he has said that let justice play out and whatever the decision was of the jury, he would respect and accept the decision. But when I saw him come home tonight and embrace his son, I saw the power of love.

And let me say this, Abby. Love is greater than politics. The Bible says love is the more excellent way.


Love endureth all things, believes all things. Love is patient, love is kind. And the scripture talks about that nothing can separate us from the love of God. So, the love of God is in that family. Our president and our first lady, they love Hunter and we love him. And we will continue to walk alongside him with the ministry of presence. My role has been the pastor of presence in the courtroom. We prayed three times in the courtroom. We brought the church house to the courthouse. We prayed openly. We prayed, we hugged, and he knows the power of prayer. And God always has the last word.

And I just think something good is going to come out of this in the end. And God will use this moment for his glory on his own time.

PHILLIP: Reverend Dr. Christopher Bullock, thank you very much for sharing all of that with us.

BULLOCK: God bless you and thanks for having me, Abby.

PHILLIP: And for more, let's bring in our panel here, former Clinton White House Aide Keith Boykin, also with us, CNN Political Commentator S.E. Cupp, and Reason Editor-at-Large, Matt Welch.

S. E., at the end there is basically what the message from the Biden world is going to be about this, which is that this is a story of a family, a family like any other where someone has messed up and the father loves the son, nothing more. Do you think that that is going to work in this situation?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think everyone can relate to some parts of this. I don't find Hunter Biden to be a terribly sympathetic figure. Not because of his addiction, but because he's messed up a lot. He's broken the law. And I don't think he's been a great family man. But at the end of the day, this is someone's son that someone happens to be the president. And for the president to say, I'm not putting my finger on the scale for this one, I don't even want to talk about it, I can't imagine how you do that. I can't imagine as a parent, how you disassociate from that. And I think that will look very noble and good to a lot of Democratic voters.

PHILLIP: There's also a possibility that this completely doesn't matter to voters at all.

KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. I'm one of the people who thinks it doesn't really matter to voters. Hunter Biden is not running for president. And I don't know if that's a news flash to anyone, but, you know, Donald Trump was convicted, and he is running for president. Hunter Biden is the son of a candidate for president, and the president himself refused, as S.E. pointed, to put his thumb on the scale of justice. He refused to intervene. He refused to stop the prosecution. He refused to condemn the judge and jury. He refused to promise to pardon Hunter Biden after the conviction.

That's a stark and dramatic contrast from everything that Donald Trump has done since Donald Trump has been on trial attacking everybody involved in his trial.

PHILLIP: Okay, let me play this from the speaker of the House, Mike Johnson. He was asked by our own Manu Raju about the way that Republicans are responding to Hunter Biden versus how they dealt with Donald Trump. Listen.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Speaker, you have been saying two-tier system of justice for some time. Here's the president's son being convicted on three counts. Doesn't that undercut your claim?

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): It doesn't. Every case is different. And, clearly, the evidence is overwhelming here. I don't think that's the case in the Trump trials. And all the charges that have been brought against him have been obviously brought for political purposes. Hunter Biden is a separate instance.


PHILLIP: That's a separate instance. But the other thing about the Hunter Biden is that this is not the only Hunter Biden trial that we will see. There will be another one come this fall. So, are we going to go through the motions again of saying everything that happens to Hunter is above board, anything that happens to Trump is not?

MATT WELCH, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, REASON: I think that the way that we should think about this is to try to get ourselves as individual consumers out of the nonstop political consideration. Let's look for the Republicans. There's at least one. Thomas Massie, I saw him do this in Congress today, say this is ridiculous. We shouldn't be convicting someone and sentencing him to up to 25 years in prison for doing one thing. He lied on an application. There's no victim in this crime. There's no victim in Trump's crime either, right?

So, we have a sickness in the criminal justice system in this country. We have so many people in jail. We have so many victimless crimes. You know, Harvey Silverglate, the great civil libertarian writer, has had a book called Three Felonies a Day. That's the average that us very law abiding citizens on this panel commit every day because there's so much in the criminal code, right? So, that puts everything up to the discretion of prosecutors. And we're sitting around, and if we're Republican, we'd cheer Hunter Biden getting locked up or convicted, for Democrat we cheer Donald Trump. I say as Americans, let's work back. Is there a victim? If there's not, let's stop cheering.

PHILLIP: You know, I'm glad that for once -- listen, I'm glad that for once we are talking about the ways in which perhaps this country overcriminalizes people, puts too many people in prison.


I just never thought that it would come up because of Donald Trump and Hunter Biden.

CUPP: But let me just say, as a gun owner, okay, it's a crime to lie on a gun application for a reason, and there could have been a victim to this crime. That's why you don't lie on a form to purchase a firearm.

WELCH: But there wasn't.

CUPP: There wasn't. That's lucky. But it's bad for every law abiding gun owner when people break the law in an attempt to buy guns. So, I mean, I think that should have been --

BOYKIN: I understand both of your points, but I thought the point Matt was making, I'm surprised I agree with you on this, is that even if we think that Hunter Biden did something wrong, he broke the law, which the jury found that he did, maybe we shouldn't be putting him in jail for that. I'm not sure if that's the point you're making or not. Maybe you're making --

WELCH: Definitely a point.

BOYKIN: Maybe you're making whether we shouldn't even be prosecuting him. I think we should prosecute people when they violate the law, but maybe we shouldn't put everybody in jail and incarcerate everybody when they are found guilty.

WELCH: How many people do we think have committed unlawful drug use while filling out a gun application? Probably 20 million, if you look at the number of gun owners and the number of people who smoke pot, 20 million people. And very few get prosecuted, almost all of whom who do have less material advantages than Hunter Biden does. Are we thinking about that? Joe Biden --

CUPP: He might not go to jail. I mean, he might not serve jail time.

WELCH: Right. But I'm saying we shouldn't be prosecuting people who smoke pot --

CUPP: Who break the law?

WELCH: We should -- I say, this is me, and granted this is a weird libertarian thing to say, but I think that if you --

CUPP: I would expect nothing less.

WELCH: if the victim is the government, and you smoke pot and you filled out an application, you can get punished, but not go to jail --

CUPP: The part where I understand, the gun part, I take very seriously.

PHILLIP: Do you think that this is an example? Look, I mean, if we're talking about -- okay, maybe the argument is Donald Trump would not have been prosecuted were he not president. Hunter Biden, would he have been prosecuted were he not the president's son?

WELCH: I don't think he would. He might have been prosecuted, but probably not, and he certainly wouldn't have had this thing here where we discovered new felonies only after the plea agreement fell down. Think about this. Like, months ago, we were like cool with him walking free. And now we're like, maybe he should go to jail for up to 25 years. This is also a trial penalty, right? There's a reason why 98 percent of all criminal cases never go to trial because they're always stacking up charges to scare the bejeebus out of you so that you'll plead guilty and then you'll walk or maybe you'll go to jail for a brief period of time.

PHILLIP: Can I just ask though, Keith? I mean, I think that's a very good faith argument that we're hearing here from Matt. Would you even consider applying that same argument to Donald Trump in terms of the crime that he was convicted of in New York?

BOYKIN: Absolutely. I don't believe in, I don't believe in incarcerating everybody, including Donald Trump. You know, I've never wanted to lock him up people. I've said that as a joke on my internet feeds. But for the most part, I don't think we should be locking anybody up for non-violent white collar crimes or non-violent offenses in general. I think we should find other forms of ways to deal with the situation of crime without incarcerating people. And we don't do that in our country, whether it's Donald Trump or Hunter Biden. Let's be fair. So, I agree with you on that. PHILLIP: All right. Well, we have a lot of agreement at the table here. I appreciate that.

Everyone stick around. Breaking news tonight from the primaries, (INAUDIBLE) Kevin McCarthy's revenge tour against Republicans who ousted him.

Plus, the Justice Department takes the extraordinary step of debunking one of Trump's most common conspiracies.

And as conservatives plot a second Trump term, Democrats are now making moves of their own for 2025.

This is NewsNight.



PHILLIP: I've said it before and I'll say it again. What this presidential race looks like right now will be completely different from what it looks like in October. But we're starting to get a preview of what Democrats may be hanging their political hopes on.

Just take a look at these headlines from the last 24 hours. The World Bank says that the U.S. economy is growing faster than expected and is helping the entire world. The FBI reporting that violent crime in America has shown historic declines with the murder rate showing the sharpest drop. They also come as a group of House Democrats are now launching a counter to the infamous Project 2025 put forward by conservatives. That's the Heritage Foundation's plan for a second Trump term, which proposes eliminating, for example, the Justice Department, the Homeland Security Department, and the FBI.

Now, even though it's only June, if Democrats, for example, are dealt a good hand politically, the question is, are they capable of actually playing it?

I mean, this is the big question. If you got an economy that is actually humming along, you've got crime that is going down, that is a reversal of fortunes for Democrats, and yet Americans are still sour. Can they reverse that? Is it messaging? Is it something else?

CUPP: They're not feeling it yet. Americans are not feeling this American economic largesse. They don't care that we're helping the world. Most Americans feel like, help my own, you know, bank account, help my wallet, help me at the pump. They're not feeling -- they're feeling more unsafe, they're not feeling like crime is going down. So, the numbers are important, but you can't tell voters that what they're feeling is wrong.

And so the messaging is very complicated for Joe Biden and Democrats to say, look how great the world is, but I know you're still hurting.

PHILLIP: Speaking on this stuff is like a lagging indicator in a way sometimes. [22:25:02]

BOYKIN: And I actually don't know if that characterization is right, S.E., because according to the polls I've seen, the public, actually, they do feel that their personal economic situation is better.

CUPP: Who are you talking to?

BOYKIN: Well, according to the polls, it's just they don't feel like the country as a whole or everyone else is doing as well, but they individually feel better about their economic situation, according to the polls I've seen. Maybe I'm incorrect, but that's what I've seen.

CUPP: I think if you ask a Trump voter, I mean, one of the major reasons is they feel like this economy is terrible and inflation has been bad for them personally.

BOYKIN: Well, I think the reality is that because people's wages have increased faster than actual inflation has increased, people are in a stronger economic position than they would be otherwise. We also know that more people have jobs, 15.6 million people have jobs now for the African-American community. We've had the lowest black unemployment rate in history. We also know that --

CUPP: But they're not complaining about that.

BOYKIN: No, we're not. I know, I know. But I think also, and I don't want to be the person to make this argument, but I'm going to make it anyway, the media, we have a responsibility for doing this too.

CUPP: We're doing it.

BOYKIN: We continue to say, instead of just reporting the facts, the economy is doing well, or crime is going down, we say, the economy is going well, and the crime is going down, but this isn't really playing for the American people. Why isn't it playing for the American people? Because we keep asking this question in a way that makes it a question instead of a fact. It is a fact that the crime is going down. It's a fact the economy is improving.

WELCH: But that's a direction as opposed to like an overall real world thing. We had an incredible, insane spike in the year 2020 in everything. 2020, we lost our marbles. And, yes, things trend better since 2020, but a lot of people remember 2019 and that's not like a Trump nostalgia but they just remember when prices were different, with the interest rates, which is a huge thing that almost never gets discussed about home prices. It is really -- you can feel that and see that. Prices are just higher than they were in 2020 or 2021. And it's not going to be good messaging to say, you're just not understanding how great the economy is.

PHILLIP: I do want to get to Project 2025 for a second here, because this is something that I have noticed. I don't know if you've noticed this. I see a lot of more liberals talking about this. It's kind of wonky, but it's become real fodder for Democrats to say, here are the extremist plans for a second Trump administration. Is this, you know, a wound that Republicans have opened up for themselves?

WELCH: No. It is a an election year Democratic Party branding exercise, and it's not actually very serious if your project is to stop bad people from exercising government power. If you are actually interested in saying, oh no, Trump might be in power, we should do something, maybe you would have spent a minute, I don't know, over the last four years, or eight years, or fill in whatever timeline you want, actually reducing the power in the presidency, actually reducing power in government.

I don't think Elizabeth Warren has been like, how can I reduce power in government? Joe Biden signed an asylum executive order last week that he knows is probably illegal that Trump used that was thrown out by the courts because it was probably illegal.

BOYKIN: It's not about the use of the power. It's about the abuse of power. And Democrats don't have the power and have never had the power to be able to unilaterally make these decisions because of the way you have a complicated system of government with the Senate and the House and the filibusters and all that.

I think that the problem is that what Project 2025 does is it takes us back in time. It reverses basically the 20th century. It takes us back to a time when the civil service rules don't apply, where protections for LGBTQIA people don't exist, protections for women don't exist, protections for minorities and immigrants and African-Americans don't exist, where voting rights are decimated, where we become a Christian nationalist country.

And this is all weaponized because Donald Trump has no policy issues that he talks about. He just talks about his personal grievances. So, the only thing we have to go on is Project 2025 and the Heritage Foundation of the conservative scholars who are putting this out there are letting us know that this is the plan that they will implement if Trump is elected.

CUPP: Well, I'm just glad that Democrats are taking this seriously, because I hear a lot of denialism from the left, people who say the polls aren't wrong, Joe Biden is going to win, don't worry about this. I am glad there are Democrats in the house who are very seriously considering what will happen when Trump wins.

PHILLIP: Yes. We'll see what kind of a turn up mechanism this Project 2025 turns out to be for Democrats. Keith, S. E., and Matt, thank you all very much.

And an extraordinary step for the DOJ, now disproving a conspiracy theory. I'll explain what the attorney general, Merrick Garland, said about that, next.

Plus Liberal T.V. Host Rachel Maddow says that she is afraid that Trump would jail her and other Americans. Brian Stelter joins me.

Plus, results are rolling in now in key states across the country tonight. We'll have the latest on tonight's primary elections, just ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


PHILLIP: Desperate conspiracies call for desperate measures. The United States Justice Department tonight taking an extraordinary step to debunk perhaps the central conspiracy in Trump land right now about this conviction. More on that in just a moment. But first, it comes as the Attorney General writes an op-ed demanding that the lies against the Justice Department stop immediately.

Mayor Garland is keeping -- keep in mind, is running the Department that not only is prosecuting Donald Trump, but also President Biden's son, along with a Democratic senator and a Democratic congressman. Garland called out the bullying and the rhetoric and the conspiracies that are being peddled by Trump and his media and right-wing allies, including this one, that the Biden administration coordinated with the Manhattan D.A.'s office by sending an official there to target Trump.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: And now, Joe Biden has weaponized law enforcement to interfere in our elections.

STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP ALLY: Matthew Colangelo should know he faces years in prison. This was planned from the Biden White House.

TRUMP: His top person, Colangelo and some others, have been placed into the D.A.'s office to make sure they do a good job of election interference.

MOLLIE HEMMINGWAY, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE FEDERALIST AND FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: The number three under Merrick Garland at the Department of Justice, he left that cushy job at the Department of Justice to go be a line prosecutor in a city office. That shows how coordinated this is.

TRUMP: These are all Biden trials because Colangelo worked for Biden. Can you imagine they take a guy out of DOJ and they put him into the Attorney General's office and then into the Manhattan D.A.'s office to go after Trump?

JOHN RATCLIFFE, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE UNDER TRUMP: Alvin Bragg, who not only met with Joe Biden, Joe Biden's lawyers in the White House, he took one of Joe Biden's lawyers from the Department of Justice to have him bring this case.

UNKNOWN: Matt Colangelo was obsessed with Trump before. Matt Colangelo worked for Letitia James. Matt Colangelo knows a Democratic operative. He seems obsessed with Trump. So, now he comes back there to revitalize this case.

TRUMP: Colangelo is a radical left from the DOJ who was put into the state working with Letitia James and then was put into the district attorney's office to run the trial against Trump.

JIM JORDAN (R) JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIR: Give us the communications if they exist. If they don't, tell us. But he won't say, which leads anyone with common sense to believe there was communication going on.


PHILLIP: All right, well, let's talk about those communications. According to the Justice Department, they don't exist. In a letter to the Judiciary Committee, the DOJ says that they looked and there was zero, zero email communication with the Manhattan D.A.'s office, nor any communications between Colangelo and the D.A.'s office. The DOJ calls their effort to dispel these conspiracies as extraordinary, which seems now like the new normal.

Joining me is Brian Stelter. He's the author of "Network of Lies". He's also a special correspondent for "Vanity Fair". Brian, is there any amount of facts given right to Congressman Jim Jordan that would change this web of conspiracies, web of lies?

BRIAN STELTER, AUTHOR: Web of lies. And there are not. There are not. It's because of what Cass Sutton Seay wrote 15 years ago for the Harvard Law Review. He said this self-serving, the self-sealing quality of conspiracy theories is what, quote, "makes them so dangerous for government, right? Direct attempts to puncture the conspiracy theory causes the people who believe it to just fold all of that debunking into the theory itself. Self-sealing.


STELTER: That's the problem with these theories.

PHILLIP: I want to play what we had Dr. Phil on the show.


PHILLIP: And this came up, but just listen to this exchange.


PHIL MCGRAW, TELEVISION PERSONALITY: If you really think that party politics don't cross state lines, federal versus state lines, that there aren't meetings and people talk about this and make decisions about what's best for the party -- 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.

MCGRAW: I'm not saying, either.


PHILLIP: He doesn't have any proof. He said it right there. I mean, the deep sigh that you saw me take there -- STELTER: Yes, yes.

PHILLIP: I feel like I have to take another one now.

STELTER: I felt it when I was watching, yes.

PHILLIP: It is very difficult to rationalize when the people you're talking to acknowledge there's no - there's no there-there.

STELTER: And it's interesting to think about what is Dr. Phil doing? Why is he motivated in that way? What is Jim Jordan thinking? I think they're trying to make sense of a complex world. Conspiracy theories help simplify complexity.


STELTER: But they do so by taking shortcuts. And in real world, in real life, with real world thinking, there are no shortcuts. These guys are trying to take shortcuts, trying to use code words and buzzwords and propaganda in order to satisfy an audience by taking shortcuts. And there are no shortcuts in this real complex world.

PHILLIP: And just as a point on civics --


PHILLIP: -- the complexity is the point.


PHILLIP: That is how the system is designed to work so that it doesn't get rigged.

STELTER: Absolutely.

PHILLIP: I do want to move on to what MSNBC Host Rachel Maddow has said. She said in an email to CNN's "Reliable Sources", "I am worried about the country broadly if we put someone in power who is openly avowing that he plans to build camps to hold millions of people and to root out what he's described in subhuman terms as his enemy from within. For that matter, what convinces you that these massive camps he's planning are only for migrants? So, yes, I'm worried about me, but only as much as I am worried about all of us."

She makes a point that this is not just about migrants if he's willing to do it for them. Why not you or me or the enemy of the people or Joe Schmo walking down the street?

STELTER: This has been shorthanded as Maddow's afraid she's going to be thrown in jail.


And unfortunately, her comments were nuanced and thoughtful to CNN. A lot of the dialogue, I think, ever since has been anything but nuanced and thoughtful. She's raising something important, I think, which is, it's valuable to think ahead to what may happen in a second Trump term. This is, frankly, speculative non-fiction, because we use the words that Trump and his allies have said, and we use them to talk about the future.

Jail, of course, is an extreme part of the spectrum. Imprisonment is an extreme part. But think about IRS audits. Think about government pressure on media companies. Think about other forms of government interference. There are a lot of pressure points. And frankly, Rachel Maddow is not the only member of the media thinking about this.

I've talked to the heads of news organizations, CEOs of media companies that are thinking through, not in dramatic fashion, not because they're afraid of going to jail, but because they want to know what could Trump do to use his power in a second term to punish the media?

PHILLIP: And it's also now a real question whether the voters actually take that information and believe it. I also want to note that a great interview with Maddow was conducted by our own Oliver Darcy over at Reliable Sources, your old stomping grounds. Brian Stelter --

STELTER: And I'm glad that she's bringing it up, because we need to think through these issues, even though it can sound a little bit out there, talk about it.

PHILLIP: Yeah, absolutely. Brian Stelter, thank you very much.

STELTER: Good to see you. And polls have just closed in Nevada, where a key Senate race is now up for grabs. We're going to have the latest results coming up. And also coming up next hour, new audio from Justice Samuel Alito. Liberal activist Lauren Windsor shares new excerpts from her secret recordings, live tonight, 11 P.M. Eastern, right here on CNN.



PHILLIP: Tonight is election night in America for five key states, and polls have just closed in Nevada, where a Senate seat could be up for grabs. CNN's Harry Enten is at the magic wall with the latest. Harry, what do we know, so far?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah, I mean, in Nevada, there's --

PHILLIP: Looks like nothing.

ENTEN: There's nothing in there.

PHILLIP: Not in Nevada.

ENTEN: You know, Trump endorsed Sam Brown. He's the favorite going into this evening. Obviously, this is one of the key Senate races that we're looking forward to. Of course, Republicans need one to get the 50, two to guarantee net control. So, we'll see. This could be one of those races, along with West Virginia, which is definitely leaning Republican at this particular point for them to get control.

But I want to also take a look at some other key primaries. Let's go to the Palmetto State, South Carolina, where Trump made a bunch of endorsements, as well. We'll go down to Charleston. And what do we see here? Nancy Mace, who, of course, has kind of gone back and forth with Trump, right?


ENTEN: But he endorsed her this time around. Of course, Kevin McCarthy was on the other side of this particular battle. But Nancy Mace, with a very wide margin, 57 percent of the vote, way more than needed to avoid a runoff. She is going to win that Republican primary there, a much stronger performance than she had four years ago.

Let's go up to Greenville in the northwest part of South Carolina. This is a very interesting race, where William Timmons, the incumbent, has been sort of angered some Freedom Caucus folks. Donald Trump, though, endorsed him. Right now, we have not called this race, to my knowledge. But William Timmons does, in fact, have an advantage right now of a little bit less than 10 percentage points.

So, this could be Trump two for two on the evening. And of course, Trump so far has not lost a single race in which he's endorsed either the congressional side or the gubernatorial side. One other interesting House race that I'm going to take you to. And we're going to go away from the south. And we're going to go to the north. We're going to go to Ohio.

And we're going to go to the Youngstown area. And what do we see here? This is a very interesting race, right? We see the Republican. He has won there 55 percent to about 45 percent for the Democratic candidate. But what's the key thing that's going on here?


ENTEN: This is a very Republican district. Trump won this district by 28 points. And of course, this margin right here is a little bit less than 10 percentage points. This is another example of these special elections where Democrats are outperforming their 2020 baseline. I think Democrats are hoping when actual people vote come the fall that you'll continue to see that type of movement.

PHILLIP: And this is not a presidential battleground. But an important Senate race will play out here in Ohio which will test exactly this neighborhood of Ohio, Youngstown.

ENTEN: That's exactly the area.

PHILLIP: Harry Enten, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

PHILLIP: A Trump veep contender is doubling down on blaming Democrats for creating social programs that he says are hurting black people. Reverend William Barber joins me next to weigh in. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


PHILLIP: My next guest has spent his entire life trying to lift up the poor in this country. And he's co-authored a new book called "White Poverty: How Exposing Myths About Race and Class Can Reconstruct American Democracy". Reverend William Barber is a professor and founding director of the Center for Public Theology and Public Policy at Yale Divinity School. He is also a spokesperson for the Poor People's Campaign. Reverend Barber, thank you for joining us tonight.

WILLIAM BARBER, CO-AUTHOR "WHITE POVERTY": Thank you so much for having me.

PHILLIP: In this book, you focus on the depiction of poverty in this country, how we talk about poverty, how we show poverty. And you say that black people on the edge of poverty, they're called poor, while white people in the same low income situation are called working class. And getting rid of those stereotypes, you argue, would help people of all colors and races. How would you say that that would actually happen?

BARBER: Well, first of all, what we hope to do in this book, and I hope to do, is to say to America, the way we measure poverty and the government's official poverty measurement is a lie. It's a distortion. It does not count all of the poor. I want to see America deal with all of the poor. We're talking about 135 million people. We're talking about 41 percent of our adults and over 50 percent of our children.

And the fact of the matter is there are 26 million poor and low wage black people. There's 60 some percent of black population, but there's 30 percent of white, poor and low wealth people. And that's over 66 million. When you frame it as being poor people are black, other folk are working, what you're doing is dismissing millions of poor and low wage white people.

And it has been down through history, a form of mythology designed to keep black and white people from working together who really are allies and unified when it comes to the experience of poverty in this country.

PHILLIP: You know, Reverend Barber, I want to ask you about something that I'm sure you've seen. This is Representative Byron Donalds.


He's been making some pretty stunning claims about black people during the time of Jim Crow. And even just today, he doubled down on it when it comes to the social welfare programs that he says are hurting black people in particular.


BYRON DONALDS (R) FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: They don't want to acknowledge that Jim Crow was an era ushered in by Democrat politicians in the South who still wanted to segregate and subjugate black people in this country. And they also don't want to acknowledge that it's Lyndon Johnson's Great Society, also heavy Democrat policy, that actually led to fathers not being at home.


PHILLIP: I wonder what your response is to that.

BARBER: Well, he's doubling down on ignorance. First of all, the Democrats of that day were not the Democrats of today. And Republicans of that day were Lincoln Republicans. They were not the kind of Trump and other Republicans today. So, let's get rid of that.

But more so, what he's dismissing is the same mythology to suggest that the war on poverty was just about black people, when in fact, the war on poverty cut poverty in a major way. And most of the measures, in terms of raw numbers, helped white people, particularly white people in the South.

And Dr. King said in 1965 that the greatest fear of racist oligarchs or their puppets, like this young man, is the fear of a mass number of poor Negroes and poor white folk coming together, reframing the voting electorate in order to change the economic architecture of the country. Right now in this country, 295,000 poor and low-wage people die every year, 800 a day. We cannot dismiss that. We cannot say that is all right.

The fact that we can have presidential election after presidential election, debate after debate, and not even talk about 135 million poor and low-wage people who, by the way, make up 30 percent of the electorate in non-battleground states and over 40 percent in so-called battleground states. Poverty is an American crisis.

I'm arguing in this book, let's talk about all of the poor, how it is contrary to our fundamentals of our democracy, like establishing justice and promoting the general welfare. Let's talk about the 55 million people who make less than a living wage in this country, and let's start fixing policies to abolish this unnecessary scourge of poverty and low wage that does not have to exist in the wealthiest country in the world.

PHILLIP: Yeah, you know, the idea of, you know, building a coalition based on class as opposed to race has been around for a long time. I mean, going back to Reverend Jackson's Rainbow Coalition famously tried to do that.

But one of the interesting things about this era is that you see this unique dynamic happening in the election where the white Christian right has, you know, really attached itself to Donald Trump, and that has been the frame by which they look at American politics. I want you to listen to what Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene said just a couple days ago in Las Vegas.


MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R), HOUSE REPUBLICAN: The Democrats and the fake news media want to constantly talk about, oh, President Trump is a convicted felon. Well, you want to know something? The man that I worship is also a convicted felon.


PHILLIP: You know, as a pastor, as someone who is a student of history, what do you make of this worship of the former president among the evangelical Christian right, mostly the white Christian right?

BARBER: Well, first of all, I don't call it Christian. It's religious nationalism. That's the first thing, because you wouldn't be applying it as white is the operative word. Secondly, you can't talk about Christianity and not be concerned about the poor.

The first sermon that Jesus preached, he said, you must preach good news to the poor. And Jesus was crucified for standing with the poor. He was crucified for lifting those who are on the margin. That is not in any way comparison to what Trump is doing.

But more importantly, most of those folk that she's talking about are not the poor. Poor and low-wage folk. This is a moment in history that we say we can no longer allow an American crisis to be marginalized or treated like an anomaly. And that's what this book is about. And it's about the stories of folk from Appalachia and folk from East Kentucky that cannot be denied or dismissed.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and that often don't get told. That's fascinating what you're saying there. Again, the book is called "White Poverty: How Exposing Myths About Race and Class Can Reconstruct American Democracy". Reverend Dr. William Barber, thank you very much for joining us.

BARBER: Thank you.

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