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Biden Knowingly Kept And Shared Classified Material, Special Counsel Concludes; Supreme Court Sounds Poised To Side With Trump In Ballot Case; Iraq, U.S. To Restart Talks On Future Of U.S.-Led Coalition This Weekend; Tucker Carlson Interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin; Zelenskyy Fires His Army Chief In Major Shake-Up Of Ukraine's Military; Thousands Shelter In Hospital As fighting Escalates In DRC; Special Counsel Will Not Bring Charges against Biden; U.S. Supreme Court Justices Seem Poised to Side with Trump; Pakistan Vote Count Underway; Earth Just Experienced the Hottest; Potty Mouth Training 12-Month Period on Record. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 09, 2024 - 01:00   ET




MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN NACHOR: Hello and welcome, everyone. I'm Michael Holmes. Appreciate your company. Coming up here on CNN Newsroom. A special prosecutor says U.S. President Joe Biden willfully retained classified documents after serving as Vice President but should not be charged.

Reading between the lines questions from U.S. Supreme Court justices seemed to indicate former President Donald Trump will be on the ballot in Colorado come November.

And some are calling it a propaganda win for Vladimir Putin after Tucker Carlson's interview failed to address serious issues about his invasion of Ukraine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from Atlanta. This is CNN Newsroom with Michael Holmes.

HOLMES: There will be no charges for the U.S. president over his mishandling of classified documents but there will likely be political damage during an abruptly scheduled news conference at the White House.

A fired up Joe Biden praised the Special Counsel for deciding not to pursue charges but also tore into them for including remarks in the report about the President's age and mental acuity. The Special Counsel found that President Biden willfully retain and disclose classified materials after leaving office but said a willful intent couldn't be proven.

The documents were found in his garage officers and basement den of his Wilmington Delaware home. President Biden blamed his staff for putting him there but took responsibility for not paying attention to what they were doing.

The part of the report that really seemed to hit a nerve with him was the Special Counsel basically saying Joe Biden is an elderly man with memory issues who would be difficult to prosecute. The President appeared visibly annoyed by that telling reporters quote, I know what the hell I'm doing.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Their task was to make a decision about whether to move forward with charges in this case. That was their decision to make. That's a counsels decision to make. That's his job. And they decided not to move forward. For any extraneous commentary they don't know what they're talking about. It has no place in this report.

The bottom line is a matter is now closed. And we're going to continue what I've always focused on my job of being President United States of America.


HOLMES: Donald Trump, meanwhile, railing against the special counsel's decision not to press charges against Biden calling it a two-tiered system of justice and selective prosecution. Of course, Trump is facing obstruction charges over his alleged mishandling of classified documents, and the special counsel's report pointed out the many differences in the Biden and Trump cases.

Meanwhile, Trump is another step closer to securing the Republican nomination for the presidency. CNN projecting Trump will win the Nevada caucuses taking all 26 delegates. The vote was organized by the pro Trump state Republican Party and Nikki Haley refused to take part in the caucuses.

Ron Brownstein is CNN senior political analyst and the senior editor for The Atlantic. He joins me now from Los Angeles. Always a pleasure, Ron.

Let's start with the special counsels findings on Joe Biden's handling of those documents. charges aren't appropriate, he said, but what did you make of his raising of Mr. Biden's faculties, and memories something of course, Donald Trump has issues with as well, but it wasn't appropriate for him to raise that.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It seemed pretty gratuitous and extraneous to his argument about President Biden. And I think there's a lot of questions about why he put it in. Having said that, it does underline, Michael, what as you know, is a real political problem for President Biden, where you consistently have a big majority of Americans saying they worry about his physical and mental capacity to do the job in the second term. And this language is inevitably going to show up in Republican ads through the fall.

I guess my big question is whether this is already pretty much baked into the judgments that people are making in the Trump-Biden election, you know, consistently in polling somewhere between three quarters, and 80 percent of Americans say they worry about Biden's capacity to do the job in a second term. Including about 60 percent who say they are very worried about it.


I'm not really sure those numbers can go any higher. And despite them as we know, Biden and Trump are in a competitive race.

HOLMES: Yes, great dissatisfaction with both parties candidates, it would appear. Now Thursday, the indicators seem to be that the Supreme Court might skirt some controversial aspects of the Colorado ballot case.

But the court might soon be considering whether to hear another Trump appeal against that lower court decision to reject his demand for absolute presidential immunity. How concerned is the party about its legal issues with Trump in this election year?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you're right to raise that other shoe because I think that, you know, from the beginning, if you believe that John Roberts is concerned about the court appearing overtly political and in the pocket of one party, and that perception has certainly grown in recent years, as there have been a series of rulings that advance the electoral interests of the of the Republican Party.

I think there has been a feeling from the beginning that he might try to balance decisions that would A, allow Trump to appear on the ballot, but then B, provide voters before the election the information on whether in fact, a jury of his peers, has convicted him of trying to subvert the 2020 election results and given the power of that federal appellate court decision this week, striking down Trump's claims of absolute immunity.

The one I think worrisome development today, out of this clear indication that the court is likely to allow Trump to appear on the ballot would be the concern in the Trump camp, that this is really part one of a minuet that will end with the court allowing him to go on trial.

HOLMES: Yes. Yes. Yes. Wanting to not dive into that, really, I guess. Look, let's talk about the campaign. Haley's name, Nikki Haley's name was along the caucus ballot in Nevada, but, you know, she lost in the primary to a category of none of these candidates. Yes, none of the above.

Is that significant outside of being a bit embarrassing, given the primary itself doesn't really matter?

BROWNSTEIN: No, it is significant. And it kind of tells us where we are in the Republican Party right now. Right? I mean, look, Donald Trump controls roughly two-thirds to three-quarters of the Republican Party is perfectly comfortable, or at least comfortable with him being the nominee. And that makes it very hard for her.

I mean, it's not clear what the pathway would be for her beyond her home state of South Carolina and she cannot perform well. The challenge for Trump is that the one-quarter to one-third, maybe 40 percent in the in the most favorable state that is voting for Haley is expressing enormous discontent with him.

I mean, you know, we've seen in the AP vote cast exit poll, something like three-quarters of Haley voters in New Hampshire and two-thirds in Iowa saying they would not vote for Trump in the general election, similar results in the exit polls that CNN is part of not all of those people in the end would vote for Joe Biden.

But there is clearly a slice of the Republican Party that is deeply concerned about Trump. And this kind of takes us back to our very first point. It's hard to imagine by November, there's going to be a majority of Americans who affirmatively say, yeah, I want four more years with Joe Biden, given the concerns about his age and his record, but that doesn't mean there is not a winning plurality or majority that says, I do not want four more years of Donald Trump.


BROWNSTEIN: And the vision of America and America is offering.

HOLMES: Yes, yes, I wanted to have it real quick to ask you too, you know, the Republicans in recent days have taken congressional dysfunction to new heights or lows. You know, two top GOP priorities, impeaching Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, failing to advance a bipartisan bill on border security, that really would have done more than anything Trump did during his presidency on that issue that got torpedoed as well.

Does Trump get hurt by the Congressional chaos and dysfunction in Congress by Republicans?

BROWNSTEIN: I think the Republicans in Congress get hurt more than that he does. But yes, in the sense that one of the great concerns about Trump in the electorate is chaos and dysfunction. And, you know, this putting it on display in this way, I think does reinforce that issue.

As I said, we are probably heading toward another double negative election, where there's probably a majority of Americans that do not want four more years of Biden and a majority of Americans that do not want four more years of Trump and how that overlap in the Venn diagram that may be 15 to 20 percent of voters who are negative him on both of them sort out probably will decide the outcome of this election.


And certainly I think all of this chaos probably just deepens that pops on both your house a sense, although, to be clear, this is Republican driven chaos that we are living through primarily at this point in Washington.

HOLMES: Yes, yes, I can only I don't know about the youth vote but my kids are in their early mid-20s. And they don't want a bar of any of it. I don't know that's an indicator. Ron, good to see my friend. Ron Brownstein in LA. Thank you.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

HOLMES: Lebanese state media reporting that at least three people were killed Thursday in an Israeli drone strike on a car in southern Lebanon. The Israeli Defense Forces telling CNN it was targeting a Hezbollah commander believed to be involved in a number of rocket launchers on Northern Israel earlier in the day.

Hezbollah has not said whether one of its commanders was killed in that Israeli strike. However, the militant group did announce late on Thursday that it had conducted more rocket launchers on an Israeli airbase in response.

Two hospital hospitals in Gaza have reportedly come under deadly attack by Israeli forces. A journalist at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza says that an Israeli airstrike hit a room at the hospital and killed at least five people.

To the south, doctors at the main medical complex in Khan Younis say one of their colleagues was seriously wounded by an Israeli sniper while in the operating room.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society also reporting intense and continuous gunfire as they put it around Al-Amal Hospital. The IDF says it does not target medical facilities but will attack them as fighters wherever they are.

Even further south in the strip, Israeli airstrikes killed at least 14 people including five children in attacks on several residential buildings in Rafah. That's according to a witness and a journalist who spoke with health officials.

Rafah has come under heavy bombardment, as the IDF shifts its operations to that city at a place remember where many, many Palestinians have been forced to flee as a supposedly safe part of the strip.

U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday gave his sharpest public rebuke to date of Israel's military conduct in Gaza.


BIDEN: I'm of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza, in the Gaza Strip has been over the top.


HOLMES: The Biden administration says it would not support an Israeli military offensive into Rafah quote, without serious planning regarding the humanitarian impact on that now grossly overcrowded city where conditions are already dire. More than a million people have fled to Rafah to escape the fighting elsewhere in Gaza. This is a city that in normal times has a population of just over 200,000

The Norwegian Refugee Council warns that if fighting escalates, it could turn Rafah into a quote, zone of bloodshed and destruction. CNN's Jeremy Diamond reports now on the growing concern for the city in Israel's crosshairs.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, after dismissing Hamas's latest counter proposal as delusional, the Israeli prime minister is vowing that Israeli forces will move into Rafah the last bastion of Hamas as he described it.

And of course, moving into Rafah ground operation would have tremendous humanitarian implications that city typically houses about 300,000 residents, but right now, it is home to about 1.3 million Palestinians, more than half of Gaza's entire population as tent cities have sprung up around that city.

There are major concerns being raised right now about the potential for an Israeli ground defensive into that city not only by humanitarian aid officials, U.N. officials, but also by Egypt and the United States.

A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry saying that Israeli ground offensive into that city would represent an enormous danger for the Palestinians displaced Palestinians who are currently living there.

And I'm also told that the Secretary of State Tony Blinken raised serious concerns with Israeli officials during his meetings while he was here in Tel Aviv about the potential for an Israeli ground defense.

Secretary Blinken was actually briefed by the Chief of Staff of the Israeli military General Herzi Halevi on potential Israeli plans to conduct a ground offensive into that city of Rafah in the coming weeks.


And on Thursday, Vedant Patel spokesman for the State Department saying that to conduct such an operation inside of Rafah without sufficient planning to mitigate the harm to civilians would be a quote, disaster, he said, and he said that up until now, the State Department hasn't seen any evidence of serious planning by the Israeli military in order to mitigate that harm to civilians.

So, major questions being raised about that offensive and about the harm that it would cause to civilians. There's also of course, a broader question about whether or not this planned Israeli offensive into Rafah whether or not that may be a negotiating tactic.

These negotiations with Hamas despite the Israeli prime minister, dismissing Hamas his latest counter proposal, they are very much still ongoing. And there is a thought that the Israeli prime minister and other top Israeli officials may be telegraphing an offensive into Rafah in order to pressure Hamas to agree to a deal that is more favorable to Israeli terms, but that of course remains to be seen. And in the meantime, people on the ground in Gaza every day

Palestinians worried confused, uncertain about what the future may hold. Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Tel Aviv.


HOLMES: Iraq will hold a second round of talks with the U.S. on Sunday about the future of America's military presence in the country. Iraqi officials say the talks will focus on next steps as they put it for the anti-ISIS coalition led by the US.

The statement comes amid growing calls for some 2,500 U.S. forces who remain in Iraq in an advisory capacity to leave the country. Those calls getting louder after a U.S. drone strike Wednesday, killed the commander of a pro-Iranian militia in Baghdad.

Iraq's military slamming the strike as a quote, blatant assassination and saying the coalition is threatening to pull Iraq into a cycle of conflict.

Right Wing American conspiracy theorist Tucker Carlson goes one on one with Russia's Vladimir Putin. What did they discuss? Did Tucker get a word in? How much did he learn about Russian history? We'll get into that after the break.

Also, Ukraine's President fires his military chief in the biggest shake up since the start of Russia's invasion. But why was he booted in the middle of the war when much of the country wants him to stay? We'll be right back.


HOLMES: The interview of Russian President Vladimir Putin conducted by right wing media personality Tucker Carlson is out. Now during the one on one the two discussed among other things Russia's detainment of American journalist Evan Gershkovich. The Wall Street Journal reporter was arrested almost a year ago charged with espionage. A Russian court continues to extend his pretrial detention. But Putin says a deal could be made further report is released.



VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We are willing to solve it. But there are certain terms being discussed the via special services channels. I believe in agreement can be reached.


VAUSE: CNN's Sebastian Shukla joins me now live from Berlin. Good to see you Seb. The discussion was at times more historical lecture than interview but tell us about the exchange regarding Evan Gershkovich. And what else it was of note?

SEBASTIAN SHUKLA, CNN PRODUCER: Yes, that's right, Michael. It was almost a two-hour long interview, which was a history lesson. In fact, perhaps Tucker Carlson should think about taking a Russian history exam after it.

But like you say one of the few newsworthy lines that did come out of it was around the detention and imprisonment of Evan Gershkovich, the 32-year-old Wall Street Journal reporter, but in typical President Putin fashion, he made the situation around the detention and his potential release more about Russia and what Russia has already tried to do and what it feels and he feels is not being reciprocated. Take a listen.


TUCKER CARLSON, FORMER FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Evan Gershkovich, who's the Wall Street Journal reporter. He's 32. And he's been in prison for almost a year. This is a huge story in the United States.

And I just want to ask you directly, without getting into the details of it or your version of what happened if as a sign of your decency, you will be willing to release him to us and we'll bring him back to the United States.

PUTIN (through translator): We have done so many gestures of goodwill out of decency that I think we have run out of them. We have never seen anyone that reciprocate to us in a similar manner. We are willing to solve it.. But there are certain terms being discussed by a special services channels. I believe in agreement can be reached.


SHUKLA: And so President Putin's interview continued like that -- for that entire period of time, where he made some accusations and he used revisionist language in history, to deflect from any questions that Tucker Carlson really wanted to make.

But I want to draw the other piece of main news that came out of it was with regards to President Biden and conversations that take place between the White House and the Kremlin. President Putin actually said that he couldn't remember the last time he spoke to President Biden, but that it certainly was, hasn't been since Russia's invasion of Ukraine back in February 2022.

And I quote here when he said that he warned Biden at the time he'd met make -- the U.S. was making huge mistakes of historical proportions. But whereas everybody needs to remember, of course, Russia was -- Russia invaded Ukraine, not anybody else.

And that has led to the potential thoughts here that a little carrot that was dangled about a potential situation around a negotiated ceasefire an end to the conflict.

HOLMES: Yes, you make the point and it's true to the interview, probably unsurprisingly, very short on push back on Putin propaganda or in any substantive area, right.

SHUKLA: Completely. Michael, you have to go back to even before the interview took place and the histrionics that were going around with Tucker Carlson being in Moscow, were everywhere to see Russian state media were all over him. They were following his every move whether he was at the Bolshoi Ballet, or moving between hotels, and even going to and from the Presidential Administration, the Russian media had him exactly where he wanted where they wanted him.

And that was even more so when he sat down with the president. The president Putin often uses this platform to send a message to people. And the message here was undoubtedly that Russia is strong, and America is weak. And he knew, he knew ahead of his own election and an upcoming presidential election in the U.S. that this was his one moment internationally to send a message. And I think he did just that, Michael.

HOLMES: Yes, yes, indeed. Seb Shukla, thank you so much. Good to see you, my friend there Berlin for us.

Ukraine's top general is out of a job after President Zelenskyy officially fired him on Thursday. The move had reportedly been in the making since at least last week. But General Valerii Zaluzhnyi is a hugely popular anti-sacking (ph) has not been well received by frontline troops who spoke with CNN. Fred Pleitgen and looks into the reasons behind his downfall.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIOANL CORRESPONDENT: For a while there have been differences between Valerii Zaluzhnyi the top general here in Ukraine and the president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, especially over the topic of mobilizations.

Zaluzhnyi saying that he thought that around half a million more soldiers were needed on the front that that those people needed to be drafted.


Volodymyr Zelenskyy never liked that idea, and certainly seem to sour to Valerii Zaluzhnyi as time went on. Now, Zaluzhnyi has been dismissed and Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that he believes that the Ukrainian military needs to go in a different direction in many ways. On the one hand, he did acknowledge that the counter offensive that the Ukrainian started in the summer of last year was in severe trouble and essentially has failed.

But he also said that he believes that in order to push the Russians back, the Ukrainians need to rely more on modern technology, specifically, unmanned systems. Now he did thank Valerii Zaluzhnyi for his service. Here's what he said.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I am grateful to General Zaluzhnyi for two years of defense. I'm grateful for every victory that we have achieved together. And thanks to all Ukrainian soldiers who are heroically enduring this war.

Today we had a frank discussion about what needs to be changed in the army. Urgent changes.

PLEITGEN: Now the new man at the helm of Ukraine's military and now leading Ukraine's war effort against the Russian invasion is Oleksandr Syrskyi, he so far has been the commander of Ukraine's land forces. And he's certainly someone who's very well known here in this country. He was instrumental in the defense of Kyiv in the early stages of the war, pushing the Russians back there, but also in one of Ukraine's major counter offensives in the Kharkiv area where Ukraine won back a lot of territory.

Now, more recently, he's been commanding forces in the east and certainly the Ukrainians have been bogged down there by superior Russian firepower. So now, Syrskyi has a tall task of trying to turn all of this around. Fred Pleitgen, CNN, Kyiv.


HOLMES: Dozens of Ukrainian troops who fought in the brutal battle for the city of Mariupol finally returning home. Moscow says Ukraine and Russia conducted a prisoner swap on Thursday, exchanging about 100 troops from each side.

Kyiv says most of its returning troops held out at the besieged Azovstal Steel Plant for weeks before surrendering in May 2022. President Zelenskyy saying Ukraine is working to get every Captain soldier back home.

Now the wave of violence in Haiti continues to escalate. Five agents of a paramilitary group were killed in a shootout with police on Wednesday. The group opposes the government acting Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry, and wants him to step down. This comes as Henry addressed the country saying elections wouldn't be held until the security situation improved. The country has been plagued by violence.

In the last quarter of 2023 more than 2,300 people were killed, injured or kidnap on retook office shortly after the assassination of the country's last Jovenel Moise in 2021.

As fighting escalates between the army of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the M23 rebel group, Doctors Without Borders warned on Thursday that thousands of people are seeking shelter inside a hospital already overwhelmed with patients wounded in the war.

The road to the provincial capital of Goma in the Northeast is clogged with people and vehicles. And according to Save the Children, at least 150,000 people including 78,000 children have fled their homes in the past week.


BAHATI KITO, DISPLACED BY WAR (through translator): People are dying like flies, some are getting crushed on the road as they flee. Look at the number of people arriving here and Mukunda.

PATRICK MANGA, DISPLACED BY WAR (through translator): We woke up this morning to the sound of bangs and explosions. We realized that we were all going to die and decided to flee as best we could and have just arrived here on foot.


HOLMES: On Thursday, the French Foreign Ministry said it is concerned about the intense fighting around Goma and what it called the serious humanitarian consequences for civilians.

Still to come here on the program, two high stakes legal cases involving the U.S. President's mishandling of classified documents and his predecessor's Supreme Court appeal. We'll be right back.



HOLMES: The special counsel has decided not to pursue charges against Joe Biden for mishandling classified documents. But the report included concerns about his age and mental sharpness that did not go over well with the U.S. president. He condemned the remarks, particularly one involving his son.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. In addition, I know there's some attention paid to some language and report about my recollection of events. There's even reference that I don't remember when my son died.

How in the hell dare he raise that?

Frankly, when I was asked a question, I though talked to myself, it wasn't any of their damn business.


CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez, with more on the report and the president's response.


EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Special counsel Robert Hur released a 345-page report detailing evidence that President Joe Biden willfully retained and disclosed classified information but he also found that there wasn't enough evidence to bring criminal charges against the president.

The 15-month long investigation found that Biden knew about classified documents in his home as far back as 2017 when he was a private citizen and no longer vice president.

And Robert Hur found that he shared some of that information with a ghost writer for his memoir that was published that year. The report says, quote, "These materials included marked classified documents about military and foreign policy in Afghanistan. And notebooks containing Mr. Biden's handwritten entries about issues of national security and foreign policy implicating sensitive intelligence sources and methods."

President Biden responded to the report, noting that he cooperated with the investigation.

BIDEN: The special counsel acknowledged I cooperating completely. I went forward with a five-hour in-person interview over the two days of October 9th -- 8th and 9th last year, even though Israel had just been attacked. I was especially pleased to see the special counsel make clear the stark differences between this case and Donald Trump.

This special counsel in my case, decided against moving forward with any charges. This matter is now closed.

PEREZ: And we've long expected no criminal charges from this investigation, but the report poses major political problems for the president's reelection campaign.

The Hur report points out a number of reasons to not recommend charges against the president. Among those that Joe Biden believed he was entitled to keep these notes with classified information. And that if prosecutors tried to bring charges, Biden would be able to present himself to a jury as quote, "a sympathetic, well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory."

The report notes that in an interview last October with investigators, the president couldn't remember key things such as when his vice presidency ended and when his son Beau died.

The special counsel noted key differences between how President Biden dealt with this investigation and how Donald Trump handled the investigation of classified documents that were found at his Florida home. Biden cooperated with investigators and he invited the FBI to come and search his homes and office.


PEREZ: Trump, not only refused to comply with a subpoena to return documents, but he also allegedly obstructed the investigation by trying to hide documents from the FBI and telling witnesses to lie.

Evan Perez, CNN -- Washington.


HOLMES: The U.S. Supreme Court appears inclined to rule in favor of Donald Trump as he fights to keep the state of Colorado from disqualifying him from the presidential race. One of the key issues, his role in the January 6th insurrection, didn't get much attention from the justices.

CNN's Jessica Schneider with our report.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Stiff resistance from conservative and liberal justices on the Supreme Court, pushing back against arguments for taking Donald Trump off the 2024 ballots.

CHIEF JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will come down to just a handful of states that are going to decide the presidential election. Thats a pretty daunting consequence.

SCHNEIDER: Chief Justice John Roberts led the sharp questioning, asking whether individual states should be able to decide for themselves which candidates are ineligible for office based on the Constitutions insurrection clause. The 14th Amendment says certain elected officials, including an officer of the United States, are prohibited from holding office if they have engaged in insurrection against the United States.

Several of the conservative justices warned that allowing states to decide could create chaos.

JUSTICE SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be conflicts and decisions among the states that different states will disqualify different candidates but I'm not getting a whole lot of help from you about how this would not be unmanageable situation,

SCHNEIDER: Even liberal Justice Elena Kagan expressed concern.

JUSTICE ELENA KAGAN, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: why should a single state have the ability to make this determination not only for their own citizens, but for the rest of the nation.

SCHNEIDER: The Colorado Supreme Court has ruled Trump engaged in insurrection on January 6, and that he should be removed from the state's ballot. But there was little discussion during arguments before the high court about Trump's role on January 6 and his ultimate responsibility.

His lawyer only arguing that it wasn't even insurrection.

JUSTICE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: You say it did not involve an organized attempt to overthrow the government.

JONATHAN MITCHELL, ATTENTION FOR TRUMP: For an insurrection there needs to be an organized, concerted effort.

JACKSON: So my point is that a chaotic effort to overthrow the government is not an insurrection.

MITCHELL: We didn't concede that it's an effort to overthrow the government either.

SCHNEIDER: Justices also debated whether courts even have a role to play in this decision. Justice Brett Kavanaugh asked whether Congress should be enforcing the insurrectionist ban instead of courts.

It's one of the off-ramps the Supreme Court could choose to take with a narrow ruling that avoids confronting weightier issues.

JUSTICE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are difficult questions and you look right at Section 5 of the 14th Amendment as the chief justice said, and that tells you Congress has the primary role here.

SCNEIDER: And the court doesn't even need to decide the core issues in this case being whether Trump engaged in insurrection and if that would disqualify him from the ballot.

Instead, the court really could decide on a more narrow issue, like whether it's up to Congress to enforce this insurrectionist ban instead of the courts, maybe whether this ban even applies to the presidency, or if it only applies to office holders and not office seekers.

But all signs do point to a win for Trump. And this court could decide fairly quickly. In fact, case in point back in 2000, the Supreme Court decided Bush v Gore, were they halted the recount in Florida, essentially handing that win to George W. Bush. They decided that case one day after they heard oral arguments.

Jessica Schneider, CNN -- Washington.


HOLMES: Joining me now, Jessica Levinson, professor of law at Loyola School and host of the "Passing Judgment" podcast.

Great to see you as always, professor. Now, leading up to oral arguments it was, you know, there was all this speculation the court would look for, quote, unquote, "off ramp" as a way to allow Trump to be on the ballot, not forced to rule whether he's an officer or talk about insurrection.

Was it your sense from what you heard that the justices or most of them are indeed working their way towards that off-ramp.

JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: absolutely. I do not see any possibility that the court is going to uphold what the Colorado Supreme Court did, which is to find that Trump is not eligible for the ballot.

The only question after more than two hours of arguments is which, as you said, off-ramp, are they going to take. and what was fascinating is I really did see relatively broad agreement across the ideological spectrum. when you and I talk about big Supreme Court cases, often we say over and over again, six to three decision, five to four decision. This is a conservative court.

In this case It didn't have the usual breakdown. I think we should potentially be looking for a nine to zero decision. Again, the only question is which route does the Supreme Court decided to take?

HOLMES: Now, if we look at the flipside, I mean, there's as we say, it was about Colorado's ballot but both sides acknowledged that the case had nationwide implications. That was part of the argument that was put forward.


HOLMES: What -- just for argument's sake, what might those potential implications be if the court doesn't take that off ramp as unlikely as that seems to be.

LEVINSON: So if they don't, if they say that the Colorado Supreme Court made an appropriate decision under section three of the 14th Amendment, which is that constitutional provision that we are analyzing in this case, then that leaves it open depending on how the court rules and how broadly or narrowly its opinion reads, that leaves other states open to do the same thing.

We know Maine for instance, has already said -- the Maine secretary of state has already said, I'm looking at Section three and I don't think Trump is qualified. I believe there are 11 other states right now with pending litigation. It leaves it open for those states as well to say Trump will not appear on the ballot.

But I don't think that that would be the decision in every state. So you'd have some states where he appears on the ballot, other states where he does not.

HOLMES: Yes, big implications. As you said, that's part of what the off-ramp might be, those implications.

Now of course, the Supreme Court might also soon be considering whether to hear another Trump appeal against a lower court decision to reject his demand for absolute presidential immunity over, of course, 2020. Do you think the court will want to wade into that issue?

LEVINSON: I actually don't in part because I don't think they want to wade into the previous case that we just talked about, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment and eligibility for office. I don't think they wanted that case. They had to take that case because as we talked about, there could be a patchwork if they don't make a decision and give us guidance.

And so when it comes to another Trump case with big implications, do they want to take that case that will decide whether or not the federal election interference case against him can continue.

I think the answer is probably not. The D.C. circuit wrote a per curiam opinion, meaning they all joined, no dissents, no concurrences, 57 pages. Very strong opinion basically saying no, no, no to all of Trumps arguments.

I think that the Supreme Court might just say, we don't even need to look at that one.

HOLMES: You know, that's interesting. Yes we talk about the legal arguments, but these days, particularly with the Supreme Court, there's political arguments. I mean Donald Trump even suggested that, you know, the failure of the three justices that he nominated to do what he wants is somehow a symptom of disloyalty.

The very fact that Trump appointed three of the justices, of course, should not be a factor, but even the optics of it potentially being a factor isn't a good sign for what is meant, at least in theory, to be a bastion of impartiality isn't it?

I mean, what's at stake in that context, the political aspect when it comes to the Supreme Court more broadly?

LEVINSON: So I think that's part of the reason why I was so certain before oral arguments, before we had heard one question from the justices that they were not going to uphold the Colorado Supreme Court decision because they know their legitimacy is at stake.

Let's remember almost exactly 23 years ago, the Bush v Gore decision that essentially hands the presidency to George W. Bush. That was a 5- 4 decision. It made it look like there were only five votes in America that really mattered when it came to the presidential election. And that caused a crisis of legitimacy for the court.

They don't want to go back there. They know about the optics and how that can harm the respect for the institution.

And let's remember, the Supreme Court only exists because we respect what they do. They don't have an army to send in. They write something and we adhere to it. Thats how it works.

So I think that's part of why we will not see them take up this allegation that Trump has absolute immunity from criminal prosecution. They don't want to get involved in each of these cases.

HOLMES: Professor Jessica Levinson, always great to get your analysis. Thank you so much.

LEVINSON: Thank you.

HOLMES: Coming up next on the program, vote counting underway in Pakistan, where the much anticipated and controversial general election has been marred by violence and months' long delays.



HOLMES: Pakistan seems no closer to declaring a winner in its controversial general election as vote counting in the much- anticipated election, which had already been delayed for months, continued many hours after the polls closed.

CNN's Anna Coren with the latest.


ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As the vote-counting continues across Pakistan, the country's caretaker prime minister congratulated the country's 128 million voters for their successful conduct and high turnout in the general elections claiming that it signals public commitment to the shaping of the future of the nation. There were reports of violence and multiple terror attacks in a number

of provinces across southwestern Pakistan. Polling stations and security personnel were targeted. Several people were killed and dozens injured.

The threats of terrorism was the reason authorities gave for shutting down Internet and mobile services across the country that had several parties crying foul.

Pakistan's human rights commission and Amnesty International criticized the decision as a quote, "blunt attack" on rights to freedom of expression.

It's been a tumultuous two years for Pakistan since the ousting of former prime minister Imran Khan, who as the country's most popular politician, remains behind bars, disqualified from running.

In the past few weeks, he's been convicted in three cases and handed lengthy sentences, which his supporters believe is part of a state crackdown on Khan and his party.

Many analysts believe Khan's predecessor Nawaz Sharif will be elected prime minister. This would be a historic fourth term for Sharif, who's never completed a full term. His most recent stint in 2017 saw him fall out with the all-powerful military accused of corruption, disqualified from holding office, and forced into exile.

Sharif is seen as a pragmatist and a businessman, and he will need to apply this with Pakistan going through the worst economic crisis in recent history. Inflation soared to a record high of nearly 40 percent.

Well, Sharif wants to strengthen relations with the U.S. and China. He's even made overtures to mending bridges with arch rival India.

And while there's anger over Khan, disillusionment in the political system and the overarching power of the military, there is a sense of exhaustion and resignation among the population that wants stability restored.

However, critics say these elections are one of the least credible in Pakistan's 76-year history and that will undermine any political or economic stability required to govern this nuclear arms nation of 240 million people.

Anna Coren, CNN -- Hong Kong.


HOLMES: Well, NASA's new mission designed to observe the earth's oceans and skies is now underway.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Five, four, three, two, one -- booster ignition.


HOLMES: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket there lifting off early Thursday morning from Cape Canaveral in Florida. It carried a cutting-edge satellite that's going to look back down and zero in on what NASA calls the invisible universe of microscopic marine life and tiny atmospheric particles.


HOLMES: The mission is set to last three years and is designed to help provide more insights into how our planets climate is changing.

And the concern -- concerning development for the planet we all call home for the first time on record. New data shows global warming surpassed 1.5 degrees Celsius over the past 12 months. This coming as a new study reveals disturbing data about a historic ice melt that could mean trouble in the present day.

CNN's Bill Weir explains.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Unfortunately, a lot of folks don't need a data to support what they're going through in their lives, whether its stifling heat or drought or flooding. The crazy weather you've seen in 2023, part of the hottest calendar year ever recorded.

Now Copernicus telling us we have as a species passed 1.52 degrees of global warming over the last 12 months, the last eight months, the hottest ever recorded, January extremely hot. And that pushed this new record over.

I'd just spent an age of broken record-breaking one is set, another one goes on and that is both on land and sea. As we look at the sea surface temperatures, that's the most alarming when you consider that heat out at sea is the engine of hurricanes.

We also got word that the El Nino that is present and at a super strength in the Pacific could be switching over to a La Nina pattern within the next six months or so, which sets up the recipe for stronger hurricanes, especially in Atlantic and Gulf Coast areas there as well.

And just to add another sort of punctuation to a day of climate news, a new study looked at the ice sheets in Antarctica through history and found that at the end of the last ice age, about 8,000 years ago, when the planet wobbled in a way that warmed up the planet, a massive amount of South Pole ice disappeared over a relatively short period of time.

An amount of ice taller than the Empire State Building disappeared in about two centuries. That seems like a long time, but in our human scales that is just terrifying when it comes to coastal cities around the world that could barely deal with six inches, a foot, you know, half a meter of sea level rise would be major upheaval around the world.

So a lot of flashing red warning signs from clients -- climate scientists around the world these days.

Bill Weir, CNN -- New York.


HOLMES: Still to come on the program --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'll let you say bad words but only in the bathroom.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So get them out now.


HOLMES: How a hit pop song jumpstarted one mother to potty-mouth train her foul-mouthed toddler. We'll have that when we come back


HOLMES: Well, we're getting a firsthand look at the medals that athletes will compete for at the Summer Olympic Games in Paris. And they literally contain a bit of history in them.

The medals unveiled on Thursday were inspired by the iconic Eiffel Tower and they actually include a piece of the original 19th century landmark in each and every one.

Organizers say ironworks pulled from the tower during its recent renovation was cleaned to become part of the sought-after prize.


HOLMES: Well, potty training is a rite of passage for toddlers, but what's a parent to do when their child has a potty mouth?

Our Jeanne Moos spoke with one mother and her two-year-old with a proclivity for profanity.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the new number one reason for a toddler to go to the bathroom.

MORGAN IVORY, MOTHER: I'll let you say bad words, but only in the bathroom.


IVORY: So get them out now. MOOS: And the second the door closed Gianna Amber's (ph) mom knew she

had a problem when her two-year-old spouted the words to Olivia Rodrigo's song, "Vampire".

Actually, we can't play the bad words, but little Gianna --

IVORY: She took a big liking to that song. And one day we were driving in the car and she just said, the whole thing.

MOOS: So mom tried the bathroom technique she'd seen online.

IVORY: Are you saying them? Get them out.

MOOS: "Stinking" was her favorite. She said it three times.

IVORY: Did you get them all out?

MOOS: She softly mouthed them every day, barnyard profanity. And finally --

IVORY: Say all the bad words you want.

MOOS: She dropped a nearly inaudible f bomb. You're a two-year-old kid. Where do you hear bad words?


MOOS: Her mom says she's trying to take the seductive, forbidden, exciting feel out of swearing and it sort of feels like it's working.

IVORY: She's asked to go back in the bathroom twice since that. She treated her first time cussing in the bathroom like a video blog.

GIANNA: Hi guys. Today we're saying bad words in here.

MOOS: As for her favorite word --

It turns out Gianna, picked that up from her mom's fiance, saying it to their cat when he bites. When it comes to stinking, Gianna swears by it.

Jeanne Moos,

GIANNA: You're a princess.


You're a stinking princess --

New York.


HOLMES: Fair enough. No comment.

Thanks for watching. I'm Michael Holmes. CNN NEWSROOM continues with my friend and colleague and very clean-

mouthed, Kim Brunhuber, up next.