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Appeals Court: Trump Has No Presidential Immunity In Jan. 6 Case; Soon: Biden Speaks About Border As Deal On Brink Of Collapse; Pre-Game Festivities & Fun Kickoff In Vegas. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired February 06, 2024 - 11:30   ET



KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Trial back on the calendar. So, they are going to -- we're not sure exactly what their appeal process is going to look like. But they are going to do whatever they can to try and stay this, to try and delay this because that is their tactic moving forward. This is a case that they are particularly concerned about here in Washington, D.C., and one that they really do not want to happen until after the 2024 election.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Kristen Holmes, thank you. The argument being made has been addressed by this appeals court that should be stated over and over and over again.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I will note. Kristen says that the Trump team has conducted in delay, delay, delay. They've also tried to collect, collect, collect. I mean, every chance they get the Trump team tries to raise money off of this. There is a fundraising email they sent out --


BERMAN: Already on this from Donald Trump looking to make some money off this whole thing. With us now. CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart, and CNN opinion contributor and former House Republican Investigative Committee counsel, Sophia Nelson. And, Sophia, we talk about the politics of this and why it matters.

You know, the recent NBC News poll, which is one of the polls that came out over the last week, which shows Donald Trump ahead in a one- on-one matchup against Joe Biden shows him losing. I don't know if we have a graphic at the control room here. Trailing Joe Biden 45 to 43 --


BERMAN: If he is convicted of a felony. So, there are potential political ramifications here, where while he's trying to raise money off, and it might like the cash, it isn't good for him necessarily politically, Sophia.

SOPHIA NELSON, CNN OPINION CONTRIBUTOR: You know, to set the table for the folks at home because all these legal opinions, I think, confuse the public a little bit, let's set the table right now as we're talking. The House of Representatives is thinking about impeaching the Secretary of Homeland Security over the border crisis. There's a bill on the table that they said is dead on arrival. And then Donald Trump is arguing to a federal court that he is immune from criminal prosecution forever because he was president of the United States.

I mean, it's utterly ridiculous. So, the politics of this, as you say, are very fascinating to me because I just don't know where the public is on this. It's kind of all over the place. But I think that the politics are right now in Joe Biden's favor.

And I'm not sure I'm buying into these polls because we're nine months or so out right from the election. And I think that it's going to be a hard sell for the American public to swallow that they're going to accept this president again, a person who the courts is saying -- and this opinion is really rough, by the way, that they're basically saying you committed crimes. You were outside of the scope of your office. And what you did wasn't OK, and we're not going to tell you that it's OK.

SIDNER: Strong words from the court. And from you, Sophia. Alice Stewart, as you look at this and you see this opinion, what are your thoughts on the impact this might have on the Trump campaign besides what John is seeing, as you're seeing some of these ads come down to say witch hunt, donate, give five dollars, give as much as you can, they're coming for him and they're coming for you, which is the argument they make over and over?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, Sara, as you know, the Republican base, which is what he has full control over right now in the GOP primary is in his corner. They believe him when he says that all of these legal entanglements are a product of weaponization of the DOJ, and overzealous prosecution that are simply going after him because he is a main threat to Joe Biden. And he says he is taking this for the American people because they'll come after him, they'll come after the American people next.

While that is not true, that is what his base believed. So, in the GOP primary, this isn't going to have an impact on him. But as we move further out, and you look at the ruling that came out today saying that he isn't immune from prosecution, look, most rational people will see you say you don't need immunity if you haven't violated the law or the Constitution. So, they're realizing, look, if he violated the law or the Constitution, he shouldn't be subjected to the judicial system.

And we're looking at the latest CNN polls on specifically his legal entanglements. Almost half of the people that we polled say that there should be some type of ruling on these cases before an election. And then we see some of them would prefer it. And a smaller number say that this would be -- it would be better if we had some kind of a ruling before the election.

But if you break that down into the politics of this, Democrats, Independents and Republicans, and the -- and the independents are key in the general election as we head into November. We see 72 percent of Democrats that we polled say that it's vital to have a verdict in these cases before the election. 52 percent of independents want to see some type of verdict before November.

Those are the people that could potentially change their minds, either for Donald Trump or against him based on a verdict in these cases. So, we're seeing a lot of people that do want to see some kind of justice served before they cast a ballot.

BERMAN: Alice there was just talking about Donald Trump's.



BERMAN: That's how Speaker Mike Johnson -- our Manu Raju, new Seeking Missile caught up with the House speaker and asked about this appeals court ruling a short time ago. Listen.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): I believe that they've been after President Trump for partisan political purposes. I think that's obvious. And we call it law fair. And I think there's no other way to describe it.


SIDNER: Strong words. Right?

BERMAN: Those are strong words just what Alice was saying there. And I do want to caution, our Political Director David Chalian, you know, does know that while the polls do show that people might look upon Trump differently, if he is convicted of a felony, who knows what would happen, ultimately, if that took place? Because you see people like Mike Johnson, who no matter what happens seem to stick by the former president, Sophia.

NELSON: John, you know, it is dangerous. I have to use that word. And it's a threat to this republic for the Speaker of the House of Representatives to dismiss and court -- a court of appeals that says in this 57-page document, how serious this is. It's a threat to the separation of powers. It's a threat to our stability as a republic to allow Donald Trump to even argue something like this much less affirming.

So, they're just -- I don't know what to say about the Republicans. I am out of words, to be honest. I just don't have them.

SIDNER: Alice, you do, I think.


SIDNER: As we -- as we look at this. Hearing from the speaker and hearing him use some of the same language that Donald Trump uses and that his campaign uses in a case like this where 57 pages, three judges, and many multiple courts who have said the same exact thing, what do you think about the speaker's response there? STEWART: Look, that is to be expected. He will say that. Any House GOP member, any Senate GOP member will certainly say that publicly. But in conversations privately with rational Republicans, they look at this from the standpoint that each of these legal cases are different. There are different levels of culpability on his part and some they do view as overzealous prosecution.

But we can't look at all of them with the same brush. They're unique and distinct in and of themselves. But Republicans understand anyone serving in public office, if you show any sign that you're not in full support of Donald Trump and his view that this is a weaponization of the DOJ and he is a victim in all of this, then you will face retribution from Donald Trump and many of his supporters.

So, the rule or the wording in D.C. is to follow along with Donald Trump and say that -- and recognize that what he says is that he is a victim. But many realize behind the scenes that there's something to be said for some of these cases. And it's really important to make sure that the justice system plays out here.

And more importantly than anything else, with regard to the integrity of our elections, we need to make sure that the American people understand that we do have free and fair elections. And the integrity of our elections is stellar. And we need to make sure that people have confidence so that they can head to the elections in the ballot booth in November with confidence that things will be conducted fairly.

BERMAN: It is interesting. You know, there were still Republicans running against Donald Trump for president.

SIDNER: Sure, yes.

BERMAN: Nikki Haley. Will Nikki Haley --

SIDNER: Weigh in.

BERMAN: "From this appeals court ruling as she campaigns against Donald Trump on the trail in South Carolina, will she finally weigh in on these you know court rulings in these cases in a more strenuous way?" We will see. Alice Stewart. Sophia Nelson. Thank you both very much.

SIDNER: All right. Just ahead. Of course, we're going to continue to comb through this huge amount of papers here, 57 pages. The ruling from the D.C. appeals court, a panel of judges unanimously rejecting former President Trump's claims of presidential immunity. And in just a few moments, President Biden is going to give remarks from the White House on the Senate's bipartisan border deal. Stay with us.



SIDNER: All right. We told you this was going to happen. It is happening in just a few minutes. President Biden is set to speak on the Senate's bipartisan border deal as the deal is on the brink of completely falling apart. This as House Republicans are poised to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over the very issue at the border.

Let's get right to CNN's Priscilla Alvarez. Priscilla, what are we expecting?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Sara, border politics is taking center stage for a White House that has grappled with immigration as a political vulnerability going into November of 2024. Now, President Biden was here in the state of Nevada yesterday, where he spoke at length about this border deal, which may give us a preview as to what he is going to tell reporters today.

And he said that Republicans need to help him, that he's called for resources at the U.S.-Mexico border and additional authorities and Republicans have stopped him along the way. He also said that House Republicans should follow the Senate. The Senate being the chamber that introduced this legislative package. And he also noted his disappointment that it didn't include legalization for undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children.

That was a notable exclusion, given that Democrats have often include that in immigration reform packages. So, clearly, the president is upset that the Republicans are pushing back against what is a very tough border deal that his team along with Senate negotiators work to hammer out. And of, course, Sara, this also comes as here in Nevada, voters are submitting their ballots in the primary, a test of where President Biden stands with Latinos.


BERMAN: Again, Priscilla Alvarez, thank you very much. We're waiting to hear from President Biden who will address this issue, address the bipartisan border deal that may not even get a vote in the U.S. Senate. We'll see what happens there. So, wait for President Biden. Stick around.


BERMAN: All right, the breaking news. An appeals court has unanimously rejected Donald Trump's claim that he is immune from criminal prosecution for his actions surrounding January 6. The Trump team now has six days to appeal that ruling to the Supreme Court.


CNN Anchor Kaitlan Collins with a special guest appearance before noon. Kaitlan, you're hearing from the Trump team on whether they think the Supreme Court will take this up.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And they do. And there seems to be a lot of debate among -- I mean, I've been texting other judges, other lawyers here who are not sure on what the Supreme Court is going to do here. And the reason they're not sure is because of this being a unanimous ruling and just how lengthy and well-crafted it is that they believe this is a tough argument that -- for the Supreme Court to reverse if it were to be that.

So, what we are hearing from the Trump team, they are going to take this to the Supreme Court. They have until next Monday to do so. It's not clear if they're -- they'll use all their time and wait until actual February 12 to do so. But they will go to the Supreme Court.

That is where it's still an open question. And it's not convincing to them that they will win it if it goes to the Supreme Court. We don't even know if the Supreme Court would take it up.

BERMAN: Right.

COLLINS: They still have to make that decision, as well. So, there are a lot of steps here. But I think what's most alarming for the Trump team when they look at this is that February 12 date because it seems to be this effort to kind of undercut the efforts by the Trump team to use all of these appeals to delay, delay, delay by saying no, no, you have until next Monday to go to the Supreme Court. And only if you do that, will you then get a stay of our rejection of your claim here.

SIDNER: I just want to remind people that they have already said they're going to appeal this. And they came out with a statement, Kristen Holmes got it, says if immunity is not granted to the president, every future president who leaves office will be immediately indicted by the opposing party. Without complete immunity, the President of the United States would not be able to properly function. And then they go on with the deranged Jack Smith's prosecution. They use the same language that Donald Trump does.

Do you think they have already been preparing for this? Because this is not a surprise. Court after court has ruled against them. Now, you're at the DC Court of Appeals. They again, ruled against them. Had they already started dealing with this thinking about the appeal in this case?

COLLINS: This is exactly what they thought were coming. Because remember, the arguments did not go well for them.

SIDNER: Right.

COLLINS: I mean, when Trump's attorney was in there, and in front of these three judges, it was a brutal day for his team, even Trump- friendly attorneys will acknowledge that. But when you read through this, they're rejecting every argument that Trump is making on the ideal -- on the idea that he has this immunity, on the idea that it would have a chilling effect. They say that's ridiculous that there's already impeachment and the threat of removal from office that is creating that kind of you know, thinking on a president.

They say, essentially, that this idea that it would you know, allow future presidents to them just be charged frivolously, which is what he's warning there. They say that that's not the case here. There's not that threat here that the Trump team claims there is.

And this is really scathing. I think when you're reading through this, and this is what Trump's team is paying close attention to because if it goes to the Supreme Court, they'll be looking at this decision.

SIDNER: Right.

COLLINS: But they say that he lacked any lawful discretionary authority to defy federal criminal law, that he is answerable in court for his conduct. And they say that this idea that he would have this immunity would mean that to the president, Congress could not legislate, the executive branch could -- branch could not prosecute, and the judiciary could not review. Basically, the entire basis of American democracies.

BERMAN: So, the Trump team, when you talk to them, I mean, they like -- there's a fair amount of chest-thumping, which is a legal term when it comes to these court cases. They'd like to present oh, they're not worried about them if they get before a court. Is that true? I mean, how worried are they about this case going before a jury?

COLLINS: They're incredibly worried about it happening before the election and going before -- I mean, not just the case itself happening, but they're worried about it happening before the election. Their tactic, and they will be very brazen about it is to delay, delay, delay. That is why they have sought this so much.

They kind of had this idea last week when the immunity -- this was -- this answer was taking so long, that they were really in the clear. That only the Alvin Bragg case, which is scheduled to happen at the end of March here in Manhattan was going to happen. They're also going to try to delay that from starting March 24, by the way.

And so, they kind of had this idea that they had succeeded in this tactic. Right now, I think it's an open question, given how quickly this came back and the deadline that they have now set up saying you've got until next Monday to file your appeal to the Supreme Court.

SIDNER: Yes. And if they do end up trying to push the Bragg case, which is the lesser of the two cases when you look at the country as a whole, that could open the door for this case to go forward, almost in its place in the next few months. We will see what happens.

COLLINS: Yes. And just the idea that he would be on trial for this case, which is one of the biggest threats I think is a very scary prospect for them.


BERMAN: Democracy.


BERMAN: All right.

SIDNER: Kaitlan Collins, thank you so much.

BERMAN: Special guest star Kaitlan Collins, thank you very much.

COLLINS: Good to see you, guys. SIDNER: Happy to see you. And we'll see you tonight.

BERMAN: So, what happens in Vegas right now is being seen by millions as the pregame party for Super Bowl 58 kicks off.



CHRIS JONES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS DEFENSIVE TACKLE: My favorite Vegas moment is winning, winning at the Wynn Hotel. Oh, roulette.

DONOVAN SMITH, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS TACKLE: Am I allowed to talk about winning money?




SIDNER: All right. This year's Super Bowl, John, is really dancing right now. I wish you could see this. Has more star power than usual last night at the big games opening night in Las Vegas.

CNN's Coy Wire asked some of the Chiefs and 49ers about one woman that you may or may not have heard of, Taylor Swift.



BRUCE BUFFER, ANNOUNCER: In Las Vegas for Super Bowl 58, America.

COY WIRE, CNN ANCHOR (voiceover): Extra hype being the first ever Super Bowl in Vegas, baby, a place known for putting on a show in making memories.

KELCE: There's nobody that has a better show than Las Vegas, right? It's like the mecca of the world for entertainment.

WIRE (voiceover): Less than a decade ago, the NFL would have scoffed at the idea of holding a Super Bowl in Sin City. Oh, how the craps tables have turned.

D. SMITH: Am I allowed to talk about winning money?

BOSA: I've kind of had a bad track record in Las Vegas.

JONES: My favorite Vegas moments winning, winning at the Wynn Hotel. Oh, roulette.

JAKE BRENDEL, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS CENTER: We'd come out here for Labor Day weekend and just get ridiculous. That was -- I mean, the people that were involved in that know who they are.

TREY SMITH, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS GUARD: There's this great restaurant called Toca Madera, and just the food there was absolutely phenomenal.

WIRE (voiceover): The Chiefs look into double down and become the first repeat champs in nearly 20 years. The 49ers are looking to parlay a win into an NFL record-tying six Super Bowl title. But there is that one aspect of the game that the players just can't seem to --

KELCE: She's a part of the cheese kingdom right now. It's fun seeing her enjoy the game of football knowing that it's kind of new to her life.

BROCK PURDY, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS QUARTERBACK: We're not trying to get wrapped up in us against Taylor Swift or anything like that.

WIRE: Which Taylor Swift album title resonates with your character or persona most?


WIRE: Why?

BERNEL: Because I get sunburned a lot.

D. SMITH: Fearless lover.

WIRE: fearless lover, you're combining the two.

D. SMITH: The fearless lover.

PATRICK MAHOMES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QUARTERBACK: I mean, the anti-hero song. I mean, that one's pretty sweet. So, I would say that, but I do love "Love Story." I mean, it gets me every single time.

CHARVARIUS WARD, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS CORNERBACK: It might run NFL money. I'm pretty sure to do it. They saw it on TV as much as they do. They saw her more than the players sometimes.



WIRE (on camera): Yes. Players are fully aware the Taylor Swift effect in the added hype around this year's Super Bowl. 97 of the top 100 most-watched TV programs in 2023 were football. And now, Sara, John, we're just five days away from what will be this year's biggest show of them all.

BERMAN: Getting ready, Coy Wire. Great to have you there. Thank you so much. This has been a jam-packed CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SIDNER: It has today.