Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

CNN International: Supreme Court: Trump Has Limited Immunity From Prosecution; Supreme Court: Trump Entitled To Some Immunity In Jan 6. Case; Trump On Immunity Ruling: "Big Win For Our Constitution And Democracy". Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired July 01, 2024 - 11:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

OMAR JIMENEZ, HOST, "CNN NEWSROOM": Big news today, as we welcome our viewers from around the world. I'm Omar Jimenez in New York.

JIM SCIUTTO, HOST, "CNN NEWSROOM": And I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington, D.C.

Let's go to our breaking news this hour. It is consequential, a monumental decision from the U.S. Supreme Court, one that's not only likely to impact Donald Trump's legal and political future perhaps and this fall's election but affect the power. The very definition outlines the power of U.S. presidents going forward. Justices ruled that Trump and all former presidents are entitled to some immunity for official acts, sending the question of his current indictment by the Special Counsel down to the lower court as to what of that indictment survives this. It all but assures that the January 6 federal case against the former President will not go to trial before the election.

In his written opinion for the conservative majority of this case, like so many others, decided six-three with the six conservative justices ruling one way, the three liberals ruling the other, Roberts rejected Trump's claim of absolute immunity, saying that not everything the President does is official and that presidents enjoy no immunity for unofficial acts.

CNN has a team of lawyers, reporters, and analysts covering all the latest with the Supreme Court decision. I should note that the dissent from the court's liberal wing was, you could say with confidence, blistering, describing this case as, well, the majority invents an atextual, ahistorical, and unjustifiable immunity that puts the President above the law. Those are words of Justice Sotomayor writing in dissent, along with the two other liberal justices.

Our CNN Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz joins me now from Washington. The split in this court bare -- laid bare for the world to see in Roberts writing for the majority and these dissents. I mean, it's stark.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: It is stark, but the decision itself is not an easy one to make it known exactly what happens next. In the case against Donald Trump, that case still exists in criminal court. And what the Supreme Court is saying here is, these are the guidelines. There are certain things that someone serving in the presidency can do that are absolutely protected and immune from any criminal charges ever, period.

That, though, is not everything that Donald Trump is charged with in the case related to the 2020 election and January 6, that riot at the Capitol, him speaking to people, and they say, in the opinion, Justice Roberts writes, joined by the other justices, largely on the conservative side of the court, say that there are a lot of things that Donald Trump did that he is charged with, that may not be protected. It's going to be up to the trial judge at first to make decisions about that, his communications with the Vice President, his communications with state officials, his communications with private parties and with the public, such as what happened in that speech on the Ellipse, they're laying out the test.

But, Jim, the reason that we are saying that it is now unlikely for this to go to trial anytime soon is because the trial court is going to have to figure this out, and then there could be further appeals. The reason that the liberal wing of the court, the three justices, Justice Elena Kagan, Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Justice Jackson, the reason that they are so opposed to this is because they did not want it to be so muddy.


They wanted a clear picture that the President is not above the law, that there isn't this ability to argue for immunity protections. And even Justice Barrett, in a concurrence opinion, she writes that she believes this should have been clear when it got to the court at this point. So, we are still looking at a case where there may be a path forward to trial for the Justice Department. A lot is going to be on what they do in that office, what the prosecutors do next with the indictment that they have against Donald Trump. Do they rewrite it? Do they change it? Do they argue something different to the district court? And then, what does that district court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who had this case moving very fast before it went up on appeals, what does she do next? Jim.

JIMENEZ: And Katelyn, it's Omar here. I just want to jump in really quickly to ask, because obviously, it goes back down in theory for the courts, for the lower courts, to figure out what constitutes an official act and unofficial act. And a big concern is, would this get worked out before the election? It seems less likely now. But, is there a scenario where we could see some sort of decision at the lower court level before the election, whether it's out of an evidentiary hearing or otherwise over what constitutes an official act or otherwise?

POLANTZ: Omar, absolutely. And the one thing that I will say every day is you just can't predict how things will play out in court, especially in a situation like this, where it tests things that have never been tested before, questions about the presidency and the Constitution. This opinion does say, and Justice Roberts even writes, as for these dissenters, saying that they fear for the democracy. They strike a tone of chilling doom that is wholly disproportionate to what the court actually does today, that there is a conclusion that there is immunity on discussions between the President and the Attorney General, but we remand to the lower court to determine in the first instance, this is Justice John Roberts' words, whether and to what extent Trump's remaining alleged conduct is entitled to immunity.

So, those are the proceedings we're going to see next. It goes back to Judge Chutkan, and she is very likely, in the coming days, as this opinion gets handed back down, sort of like a hot potato, right, the opinions of the Supreme Court, it gets handed back down. When it's with her, she then can set hearings. She can ask for legal briefings to interpret what the Supreme Court said today. She can start discussing with the parties how they want to proceed, how much time they need for a trial. There are so many possibilities here. And Justice Roberts does say it's not as much doom and gloom even if the other justices, his colleagues on the bench say it is for the American presidency.

JIMENEZ: Katelyn Polantz, thank you for that. I mean, it really is difficult to overstate just how consequential this ruling is, not just for Donald Trump's immediate legal peril, but for future presidents as well. And remember, it took more than two months to issue this six- three opinion after justices heard oral arguments. In April, Trump's lawyer argued that presidential immunity is an essential protection against overzealous prosecutors.


VOICE OF JOHN SAUER, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: If a President can be charged, put on trial and imprisoned for his most controversial decisions as soon as he leaves office, that looming threat will distort the President's decision making precisely when bold and fearless action is most needed.


JIMENEZ: And then the Justice Department attorney argued that no President should be above the law.


VOICE OF MICHAEL DREEBEN, ATTORNEY FOR SPECIAL COUNSEL JACK SMITH: His novel theory would immunize former presidents for criminal liability for bribery, treason, sedition, murder and here, conspiring to use fraud to overturn the results of an election and perpetuate himself in power.


JIMENEZ: All right. Let's dig deeper into this. We want to bring in former federal prosecutor David Weinstein. OK. I have -- I want to ask about one part of the dissent in particular, because we're distinguishing between official powers and non-official powers. And the dissent Sotomayor wrote that, OK, based upon this reasoning, if a President orders Navy SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival, that's immune, organizes a military coup to hold on to power, immune. And I'm curious, just from your perspective, do you follow that same legal through-line in what Sotomayor wrote here?

DAVID WEINSTEIN, FORMER U.S. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I can't take it quite to that extreme. I understand why she has done that and why the other three -- two judges agreed with her to do that. But, it's a qualified immunity. So, it's not absolute. And so, it would depend on the context. I think, certainly a coup is not something that they're going to find falls within this qualified immunity.


That's what's going make it so difficult now for Judge Chutkan because this goes back to her. She is going to have to hold evidentiary hearings, burdens on the government to rebut this presumption now. And so, it's going to create a fact-specific analysis, not only for this case, but for any case that comes out of a prosecution of a former President.

SCIUTTO: David Weinstein, Jim Sciutto here. Two lines stuck out to me as relate to the current prosecutions of Trump but also as relate to what threshold you'd have to meet to prosecute a President or a former President for illegal activity. One line is this. Tt says that a court may not inquire into a President's motives nor deem an action unofficial because it allegedly violates a generally applicable law. It also says that testimony or private records of a President or as his advisors may not be admitted at trial. I mean, that seems to set enormous limits around any potential prosecution for any potentially illegal act.

WEINSTEIN: Jim, the bar is high. They set it very high. And I'm wondering whether or not they're going to take that second comment that you just read and try to apply that in the documents case down here in South Florida. Look, they're hamstringing the government in their ability to rebut these presumptions, but they're also relying on what is at the center of our criminal justice process, and that is the burden of proof is always on the government. They always have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a defense. They now have to rebut that presumption. So, to the extent that everybody says, oh, they're changing the rules, no, those are the rules that are in place, and prosecutors have, for decades, if not centuries, embrace those rules and still succeeded in prosecutions.

JIMENEZ: And David, it's Omar here. A question I have is, well, comes down to motive, because obviously, again, we're distinguishing between official acts and unofficial acts. But, as you know, as a former prosecutor, a large part of what actually constitutes a crime or how a trial plays out is the motivation that goes into the particular crime. And it was one of the things that Justice Barrett wrote here, essentially saying that there was no reason to depart from the familiar and time-tested procedure that would allow for such evidence to be included, essentially ruling from mindset in the presidential phase of things.

So, I'm just curious, can you sort of explain the difference between maybe when a motivation is created for the carrying out of a crime versus when a crime is actually committed, and how the relationship between those two makes a difference on how they are prosecuted? WEINSTEIN: I'm going to try, Omar. So --


WEINSTEIN: -- I think what's important for people to remember is there is a difference between the intent of a defendant, the mens rea, the criminal intent. That's something prosecutors always have to prove. There is another issue as regards to motive. Why they committed the crime? I think the best example would be in some sort of a murder case where the issue becomes, well, what was their motive for doing it? Was it to collect money? Was it to make sure they got insurance proceeds? What motivated them to do it? So, that becomes an issue when facts exist, and a defendant says, well, that was not something that showed my motive or my intent, but rather, that was just something I did, and then prosecutors use prior bad acts that are committed. So, that's where it gets a little bit murky there.

But, you always have to prove intent. What was the intent behind it? I think they're focusing here on motive, because a lot of the government's argument and certainly will continue to be, he was trying to overturn the election and he was doing that because he was motivated to do that as a candidate. A candidate is not entitled to immunity. Only a President is. And so, that's why they will try to use motive. Well, the majority here has cut that out, and it's going to make it more difficult for the government to rebut this presumption of immunity.

SCIUTTO: Thanks so much, David Weinstein.

To get more legal perspective, I'm joined now by Jeff Swartz, former judge, state of Florida, professor at the Thomas Cooley Law School. Jeff, the more we read this decision with my team here, the more we're seeing just how far the majority went here. We talked about how it remanded to the district court to now delineate which acts are official, unofficial, to see which portion of this current prosecution of Trump can go forward.


But, as my producer was noting here, Roberts does give some direction to that lower court, guidance, as he calls it. That includes, you cannot take into account a President's motives. You can also not use private records or testimony, that cannot be admitted at trial, nor may courts demon action unofficial merely because it allegedly violates a generally applicable law, which, and I'm not a lawyer, by the way, that seems to me to give a President enormous leeway here. The consequences are, well, certainly enormous for this current prosecution. I mean, can this current prosecution survive this?

JEFF SWARTZ, FORMER MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COURT JUDGE: I believe it can. And remember that the basis of the conspiracy count and the obstruction comes down to one of the bases of it. It comes down to the fake elector scheme. And the fact that he participate -- that it's alleged that the former President engaged with, encouraged, and was part of that scheme is really important. Now, we take that and say that scheme is a fraud. He is not protected

against fraud upon the public. And that's not an official act on his part. Now, you take in consideration Jeffrey Clark and the attempt to change the attorney general, and I think you can use, even under this opinion, Rule 404 to show not just his motive, but his knowledge, the fact that he knew what he was doing was criminal in each of those individual states for which these people are being prosecuted. Now, he has been named only one of those states. I believe that they can show that that is a prior criminal act or an ongoing criminal act, and as a result of which I think that this prosecution is still alive.

Is it not -- it's not on life support. Is it in very serious condition? Yes. I think that another indictment is going to be necessary, a superseding indictment, removing all of anything that could be conceived or thought of as being an official act, and remove it as part of the charges. And then, they're going to have to try to bring in what they can under Rule 404 to show that there was a corrupt purpose in what he was doing.

JIMENEZ: And I want to pick up on that last point there, because if you are Jack Smith right now, you're the Special Counsel, you're trying to analyze and process what the Supreme Court has just ruled. You know that this task of deeming what's official and unofficial is coming back into your court here. What is the strategy? It sounds like you would create a new indictment, sort of parsing out maybe more of the difficult questions of what's official versus unofficial --

SWARTZ: Right.

JIMENEZ: -- and sort of keeping it in one that could keep the process moving quickly.

SWARTZ: Yes. It's exactly what I think. And I'm not sure that Jack has not already proceeded with that while this was pending, especially after oral argument, thinking this is where this is going to go. This may have gone farther than anybody, including myself or anybody else, really thought it would go. And it has created more protections than I think would be logically attached to it. But, this is what the Supreme Court has done. And that's what Jack is going to have to live with.

What he needs to do is take out of the court's hands any decision making in regards to official acts, and get the case to trial, and then proceed with whatever evidence he intends to use. And if he meets with objections, he meets with objections. But, he is going to have to move forward. At that point, the case doesn't stop if there is error on the side of the judge in favor of the prosecution, then that's a subject of a direct appeal if there is a conviction. Now, I think that's the way Jack has to proceed, try to get a conviction and fight it out in front of an appellate court after there is one.

SCIUTTO: Well, and there is a big picture issue here, right, is that the Chief Justice, John Roberts, the institutionalist, he wanted a nonpartisan decision or a decision that was not overtly divided between the conservative and liberal wings of the court. What you have here is an extremely divided decision where you have the liberal justices calling this, well, undemocratic. So much to parse. Jeff Swartz, thanks so much. We will have more questions for you.

I do want to go briefly now to the White House, Priscilla Alvarez standing by there. We had a reaction from the campaign. Has the White House itself reacted yet?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The White House has not yet reacted, though we have asked them for comment. The Biden campaign, however, making it clear that the facts of January 6 will -- do not change. In this statement from a senior Biden campaign advisor, they say the following, quote, "Today's ruling doesn't change the facts.


So, let's be very clear about what happened on January 6. Donald Trump snapped after he lost the 2020 election and encouraged a mob to overthrow the results of a free and fair election." The statement later goes on to say, quote, "He thinks he is above the law and is willing to do anything to gain and hold on to power for himself." That he there, of course, in reference to former President Donald Trump. Now, January 6 and the preservation of democracy has been the crux of the Biden campaigns -- or the Biden's reelection campaign. And so, that is what they are keeping the focus on here.

But, of course, this does have implications for the White House and the office of the presidency. Presidential historians have said that, over the last several decades, more power has been given to the President and providing more immunity enhances the Oval Office. Now, the White House and President Biden have generally not weighed in on former President Donald Trump's legal troubles, the specific cases. But, last December, the President was asked by reporters if he believes any President is immune from criminal prosecution. And at the time, the President said, quote, "I can't think of one."

So, the President is at Camp David. He will be returning to the White House later this evening. But, we will await the statement from the White House, the Biden campaign, at the very least, using this ruling as yet another data point in their argument meant to preserve democracy. President Biden should be the one that takes office again in November. So, we will stand by, though, for the White House statement.

JIMENEZ: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you for the reporting, as always.

Meanwhile, ahead of the Supreme Court's decision on presidential immunity, Donald Trump spoke on potential ramifications that could come from the ruling. Take a listen.


VOICE OF DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The immunity statement that's coming out, they say on Sunday, on Monday, that is going to be very interesting to see what happens. But I think it has a bigger impact on Joe Biden than it has on me, actually.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCIUTTO: That -- the former President reacting to this case prior. Since then, he has called it a win via social media. He has been claiming something of a winning streak in weeks and days and weeks following Biden's debate performance, now that the Supreme Court ruling as relate not just to private presidential immunity more broadly but to his own continuing criminal prosecution.

In a new article, CNN's Stephen Collinson writes about the presumptive Republican nominee's year of peaks and disasters. Stephen joins us now live. I mean, you could certainly say the last week has been a good one for him.

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: That's certainly right, Jim. Events appear to be conspiring in Trump's favor. You mentioned that debate and President Biden's poor performance. He is certainly going to see this Supreme Court ruling as a massive victory. He has already, as you say, been, on social media, saying this is a victory for the Constitution and democracy, once again characteristically inverting a lot of the criticism of his own behavior that this ruling and his behavior is anti-constitutional and anti-democratic.

So, I think there is a growing sense not just among Trump supporters, but from Democrats I've been speaking to over the weekend, almost a growing sense that Trump is now a much stronger favorite for winning a non-consecutive term in November than he has been at any point in this race.

SCIUTTO: Stephen Collinson, thanks so much.

Julian Zelizer, CNN Political Analyst, historian, and professor at Princeton University, joins us now. Julian, I've been reading the decision and I've been reading as well reactions to the decision, not just politicians, campaigns, etc., but even the way the media is covering this as well. Across the board, you see the significance of this, not just for Trump that the most immediate effect, but for the power of the presidency. Nixon famously said, if the President does it, it's not illegal. That was rejected at the time. Here you have the court opening it up at least or at least expanding what is unprosecutable for presidents. Is that a correct reading of this decision as it relates to presidential power?

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, & HISTORIAN: Yeah, I believe it is. The 1970s was a moment when American politicians reconsidered how strong the presidency had been. That's when the term "The Imperial Presidency" is coined by historian Arthur Schlesinger. But then, we've seen a move back in the imperial direction, starting with 9/11. A lot of conservatives pushed for a very expansive vision of presidential power since Ronald Reagan. And now, I think the court has added to that. It's not total. It's not total immunity.


But, it's more immunity stated than previously was granted, and with a lot of ambiguity and definition that I think will favor presidents who just claimed they were doing something for the purpose of the presidency in the nation. So, yes, this is an important moment in the expansion of the power that the office holder has.

JIMENEZ: And Julian, I have a question on that, the expansion of power, because our previous reporter, Priscilla Alvarez, brought this up. Just over time, talking about the general expanded powers that presidents have been afforded over U.S. history, I wonder if you could you expand on that, and I guess we were talking about the direct tie between the Nixon example versus now, but sort of how we've gotten to this point where presidents do seem to have much more power than it did in years past.

ZELIZER: Well, two big things were at work. One was, as the responsibilities of government became more complex, as the federal government grew, there was an argument that presidents needed more leeway. They needed to be able to act more decisively. They couldn't wait for Congress to do things. Congress is slow. And then also, as we became more involved in world affairs and were involved in two World Wars and many other military battles, and this is part of the 9/11 story, many people think again, the President needs more power to act decisively.

This is yet another layer. This is about making the President immune from wrongdoing, rather than empowering the President to take action when the nation needs it. And I think that's why this layer in many ways will be the most controversial and it is going to be born out of a six-three Supreme Court decision with a six person block being conservative and appointed by Republicans.

SCIUTTO: Julian, the SEAL Team Six scenario was laughed at when it was argued before the Supreme Court by Trump's lawyers when pressed by Justice Sotomayor if a President were to do such and order SEAL Team Six to take out a political opponent, everyone left and right said, well, of course, that's crazy. Of course, that would clearly be without -- outside the bounds of presidential power. And I'm not saying this court wrote in so many words a President can assassinate his opponent, his or her opponent, by ordering SEAL Team Six to do so.

But, it seems to have set up a quite high threshold for prosecution and a quite broad definition of how a President might justify such actions and set limits on even questioning the President's motives for certain actions in office. I mean, in the extreme sense, has the SEAL Team Six scenario become conceivable as opposed to inconceivable?

ZELIZER: I think it's a fair question. Look, the idea that a President who lost the election would kind of be involved in an effort to overturn the election seemed at once -- it seemed in late -- before the election in 2020, many people said, come on, that's hysterical. And then, it happened. And the defense is exactly what we're hearing. The defense says he was actually, President Trump, trying to stop fraud, trying to look for fraud, trying to maintain the integrity of the election by trying to overturn it.

So, this is an argument I think that can be used quite easily. And we've seen in the history of national security, by the way, that presidents are kind of very broad in how they conceive of what the government can do in the name of defending the nation. SCIUTTO: I'm quoting Justice Sotomayor on that scenario, orders envisioning a President, ordering a Navy SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival, she ask, immune, organizes as a military coup to hold on to power, immune, takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon, immune, immune, immune, immune. Is that hyperbole on her part?

ZELIZER: Well, I mean, it does sound there is room for the courts to challenge presidents making this claim. So, it's not total immunity. And we should remember that the question is, how do you determine? How do you make this test and who is going to make that determination, especially in areas that are complicated? And I think maybe that's too much. But, I don't think she is so far from the kind of discretion in power the court has just offered the President and future presidents.

SCIUTTO: Julian Zelizer, thanks so much. And Omar, you and I have quite a morning of news to cover here, given these developments we're seeing from the U.S. Supreme Court.

We are tracking another consequential ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court. That relating to former Trump strategist Steve Bannon. He is reporting to a federal prison today in Danbury, Connecticut. Bannon just getting started with his four-month sentence for defying a congressional subpoena.


On Friday, the Supreme Court rejected Bannon's effort to avoid prison, while he appeals his contempt of Congress conviction. Omar, the decisions just keep on coming.

JIMENEZ: Lots of decisions, lots of news today, and we're going to bring you some more, because still ahead, much more on the Supreme Court's ruling on presidential immunity and how it might affect Donald Trump's criminal trials, all of them that we're continuing to monitor and the race for the White House. Stay with us.


SCIUTTO: Back now to our breaking news, a truly consequential decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, the Chief Justice Roberts writing for the majority, saying "The President is not above the law." It rejects Donald Trump's claim of absolute immunity against criminal charges. However, it did rule that Trump and any President can be immune from prosecution for official acts during his tenure as President. That could delay Trump's federal trial and election subversion charges until after the presidential election this November. But, it also gives enormous powers to the President and it seems enormous protections against prosecutions for a whole range of acts. Justice Sotomayor writing for the dissent, said, quote "The President is now a king above the law", blistering criticism from the left on this.

Our Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz joins me now from Washington. So much to discuss here, but let's discuss just specifically for a moment what this ruling means for Jack Smith's prosecution. What happens now? POLANTZ: A lot of question marks, honestly, Jim. There is more proceedings that can happen in this case. The Supreme Court is sending this case back down to the trial court, essentially Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington, D.C., to make the first round of calls on what in this case can go forward against Donald Trump.

And the Supreme Court does say there are some things that are already alleged as part of Donald Trump's crimes that may not be protected with immunity around the presidency, things like his discussions with the Vice President related to -- the Vice President's service overseeing the Senate on January 6 for securing the next President, his discussions with state officials after the 2020 election, where he was calling people like Brad Raffensperger in Georgia, pressuring for votes, his work with private parties, people like Rudy Giuliani, Sidney Powell, private attorneys, trying to challenge the vote. But, what the Supreme Court is also doing here is they are saying the district court, the trial court, is going to look at this, but there may be routes for Donald Trump to continue appealing.


That's why we're saying this is very unlikely to go to trial this year. There will very likely, though, be many proceedings about this, even times where people may be called into court as witnesses to put on essentially many trials about this case against Donald Trump. But, how that plays out, is going to be in the hands of the trial court Judge Tanya Chutkan, as well as the Special Counsel's Office, what they want to do next. They are hamstrung in a lot of ways here. They are not going to be able to take parts of this case forward against Donald Trump, specifically his interactions with the Justice Department, Jeffrey Clark, one of the officials there who he wanted to appoint as the attorney general to help him in those proceedings. That can't go forward. That is going to be immune. The Supreme Court is quite clear on that.

But, these other things, big question marks that are going to hang over this case, and everyone involved in the weeks ahead, there is a long road here to go still legally, and there is much that the Supreme Court may still have to look at again in the future.

JIMENEZ: Katelyn Polantz, thank you so much, as always.

I want to expand the conversation now and bring in Margaret Talev. She is a senior contributor for Axios, and Director of the Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship at Syracuse University, and rejoining us is former Miami-Dade County Court judge Jeff Swartz.

Margaret, I want to start with you outside of the legal scope of things for a minute, because we're already seeing the Trump campaign, Trump himself, declaring this a victory. And of course, we're in the middle of a campaign year and this was a major, I don't know if litmus test is the word, but to see how this would affect all of the trial proceedings against them, and in the next respect, how voters interpreted who they may be voting for. But, I'm curious within that space, the way you see it, how does this ruling affect Donald Trump's standing politically, and among the American people, especially if this is in a position where it doesn't go to trial before the election?

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS, & INSTITUTE FOR DEMOCRACY, JOURNALISM & CITIZENSHIP INSTITUTE/ SYRACUSE UNIV.: Yeah. Well, Omar, clearly, if it does not go to trial before the election, and it certainly looks like that's a -- the trajectory at this point, that will help Donald Trump, obviously. But, will the Biden campaign attempt to take this verdict and use it to say, these are the stakes and to try to change the narrative that has emerged from his debate performance a few days ago? Yes, certainly, they will try to do that. But, if you're Donald Trump, the last week has been definitively good for you. He emerged stronger from that debate. He is emerging stronger from this ruling.

And while this ruling does look like sort of a mixed verdict, like if you would have asked conventional wisdom, most people probably would have said, yes, the court is probably going to say there is different immunity protection from the President doing official acts versus unofficial acts. The reality is that it's very unclear how this will actually shake out now. It could impact not just the Jack Smith case, but literally every prosecution that Trump faces right now, including the conviction that just happened in New York. And it is just one more sort of chaos factor in a race in an election year that is already very confusing for voters. The Biden campaign, meanwhile, has its own major problems to deal with and now the implications of this as well.

So, when you look at Sotomayor's ruling, you might say, is it overblown, or does she go too far? But, when you have a Supreme Court justice saying they now fear for American democracy, you got to take note of that.

SCIUTTO: No question. Former judge Jeff Swartz with us as well. I want to zero in, if I can, Jeff, on the effects of this ruling on the case against Trump, but also any case against a President, given the guardrails that Justice Roberts seems to have injected into any case going forward, protected conduct and what's protected conduct, because he writes, the testimony of private records of presidents or advisors may not be admitted at trial. So, if you were to prosecute a President for unofficial acts here, that would seem to bar some very consequential evidence in the current prosecution here, testimony of advisors, etc., notes they might have taken, but then I think Nixon tapes, right? I mean, I think you couldn't then -- would that be protected and you couldn't use those to prosecute a President?


SWARTZ: It would seem that way, but it even goes further. The thought process that Haldeman and Ehrlichman, for those who don't -- didn't weren't around at the time, were the main advisors to Richard Nixon, when they were charged with crimes, they went in and claimed that they were immune from prosecution because of presidential immunity, because of, what was it, the fact that because of working executive immunity, that type of thing, they clearly made that argument and it was rejected.

So, what we're seeing here is almost a reversal of those convictions that in fact Haldeman and Ehrlichman could not have been held liable because they were involved and engaged in conversations with the President of the United States. And since, the President is supposedly involved in doing his job, they're involved in doing their job or assisting or advising the President, and therefore they cannot be charged either.

We're going to see those motions in Atlanta. We're going to see those motions in Washington. I think the effect on the documents case is minuscule because all of the acts for which Donald Trump is charged, all occurred after he left office. He is not charged with taking the documents. He is charged with keeping them when he was ordered to return them. So, that case, which is now being protected by Judge Cannon on, another judicial rulings that are protecting him from prosecution is there. This decision also talks about facts of this case in such a manner that one could read this and say that this is an attempt to protect Donald Trump from prosecution, as much as it is a constitutional rule.

SCIUTTO: But, Jeff, are you saying that, with this court under this ruling, Nixon would not been under threat of prosecution based on the outlines and rules and standards that it set here?

SWARTZ: It's possible because he will say that he considered the Democratic Party and people that were there to be communists or serving communist needs or being subversive. And therefore, it's necessary to know what they were doing in order to protect national security. And the people under him would say, that's what he told us to do and this is why he told us to do it, and we were doing what the President told us to do. So, if he is immune, we're immune. And that's the same thing that's going to happen to any officials like Jeffrey Clark and other people who were officials of the government will claim we're immune because he is immune.

JIMENEZ: And Margaret, I want to widen the scope here just a little bit, because -- to play off one of your titles, you are Director of the Institute for Democracy, Journalism and Citizenship at Syracuse, and literally, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote as part of her dissent, "With fear for our democracy, I dissent." And so, I want to frame the question in the sense of, if you were sitting across from some students or lecturing or standing in front of a body, trying to describe sort of the weight of this decision within our democracy, where would you start? What would you say?

TALEV: It increases the importance of voters and what voters do. Voters are not just choosing a candidate. Voters are choosing candidates who have implications for democracy or the rule of law. And the truth is that rulings like this and the entire U.S. Constitution rely to a degree on good faith by the people who run for office, regardless of their partisanship or which party they align with or their ideology, all of these ideas from the First Amendment to executive power, all rely to some degree on good faith.

And when you have a ruling that seems to loosen the bounds of kind of power checking the executive, then it makes it more important that the people you're electing, again, whatever their views are on tax policy or abortion rights or the environment, that they approach their elected office with a profound respect for democracy and rule of law, because if this ruling is probably going to make it much more difficult to constrain a President at least as long as the current makeup of the Supreme Court persists.

So, it's still very fresh. I think everybody is trying to understand, OK, official acts, unofficial acts, where does the line blur, who decides what is an official act. Isn't every kid (ph) you argue that every other official act springs from an official act? So, again, these are the complexities of the law. But, I think if I were talking to a group of individuals, the public students, and they were saying, what can I do with this ruling, regardless of which candidate I like? I would say, well, your vote probably matters more now than it did an hour and a half ago.

JIMENEZ: All right. Margaret Talev, really appreciate it.


And Jim, I mean, we -- as we've been talking about with Jeff and Margaret, I mean, the implications here are absolutely enormous, as we continue to go through this decision here.

SCIUTTO: No question. We're going to continue to dive into the implications of this. Please do stay with us. We'll be back after a short break.


JIMENEZ: All right. Welcome back, everyone. We're continuing to go through the Supreme Court decision on presidential immunity right now. A lot of details to get to. So, we'll bring you some of those as we continue to analyze.

But, I also want to get you up to speed on some of the other major stories that are happening right now, including Hurricane Beryl slamming into the Caribbean this hour after strengthening into a powerful Category 4 storm once again. It's now bearing down on the Windward Islands, bringing life-threatening winds, storm surge and flooding. St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada are especially at risk. Beryl's arrival and intensity is unprecedented for this time of year, marking an exceptionally early start to the Atlantic hurricane season.

Also, a week of campaigning and political bargaining begins in France ahead of a second round of parliamentary voting. Sunday's first round dealt a major blow to President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance, which slumped to a dismal third in the polls, with just more than 20 percent of the vote. The far-right party of Marine Le Pen is leading after the first round. It got more than 33 percent of the vote. The left-wing coalition known as the New Popular Front came second. Now, thousands of protesters gathered in Paris to show their opposition to the far-right. The second round of voting takes place Sunday. Now, at just 28-years-old, National Rally leader Jordan Bardella could be the next French Prime Minister.

CNN Producer Saskya Vandoorne has more on who he is and what he wants.


SASKYA VANDOORNE, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER (voice-over): He is being called the TikTok King, and young people love him. But, who is the slick 28- year-old French far-right leader on the brink of power? Jordan Bardella has transformed the National Rally, taking it from the fringes into the mainstream, solidifying its rural base.

JORDAN BARDELLA, PRESIDENT NATIONAL RALLY PARTY (Interpreted): We want just to take agriculture completely out of the free trade agreements so that we can protect our domestic markets.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): And using social media to reach a new generation of voters.

BARDELLA (Interpreted): Go and vote to stop the migration surge that threatens our security, identity and values.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): The populist rhetoric isn't new. But, because of this gifted communicator, it's resonating in France now more than ever.

KEVIN ARCENEAUX, POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSOR, SCIENCES PO: The sorts of young voters who are attracted to Jordan Bardella, they tend to have less optimism about their future, and I think Jordan Bardella shows them, look, look at me. I don't have a college education. I come from a place in France that's -- that the elite looks down upon. If young people also find themselves in those circumstances, see that is actually inspiring.


VANDOORNE: Jordan Bardella grew up here in Seine-Saint-Denis, a suburb northeast of Paris. He attended this private school, and at 16, he joined the National Rally.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): Around here, people know his name, but they remain divided.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Interpreted): I'm rather proud of the fact that he is aware of our problems here, that he knows our reality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Interpreted): If you're not white, if you don't have a typical French name, we're not considered French.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (Interpreted): I know the struggles that students face here, and I don't feel that he is representing young people.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): Bardella was handpicked by Marine Le Pen to be her successor, in an effort to detoxify and normalize the party that was founded by former French members of Hitler's SS. Though he lacks experience, he and Le Pen form a powerful duo.

BARDELLA (Interpreted): She is the political leader and I'm the army general. We work together in harmony.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): First, a strong standing in the European elections, now a real shot at the parliament, and finally, another go at the presidency by Le Pen, all with one man firmly in their sights.

BARDELLA (Interpreted): The first person who erased France has a name. It's Emmanuel Macron.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): Saskya Vandoorne, CNN, Paris.


JIMENEZ: All right. Still ahead, the Trump campaign reacts to today's ruling by the Supreme Court. We're going to have a live report from Washington. Stay with us.


SCIUTTO: We continue to follow the breaking news this morning from the U.S. Supreme Court, consequential decision on not just Donald Trump's immunity, but presidential immunity in general.

CNN's Alayna Treene, she is live in Washington with the latest from the Trump campaign. Alayna, they are certainly treating this as a victory, it seems.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: They are, Jim, and this is exactly what they were hoping that would happen today. I can tell you from my conversations with both of Trump's legal advisors as well as his political campaign team, they had acknowledged going into today that they weren't expecting blanket immunity for all of his acts. What they were really hoping was for was some sort of limited immunity, and that's exactly what they got from the courts.

Now, I think a big question that they are still to trying to figure out is, what does his actions in the indictment from Special Counsel Jack Smith? Are those official or unofficial? And of course, we have to see what the lower court, the district court, says about that. But, we did see Donald Trump himself respond on Truth Social shortly after this decision was released. He called it a big win for our Constitution and democracy, and that he is proud to be an American. And Jim, I can tell you from my conversations with Donald Trump's team just behind the scenes, in the aftermath of this, they are, of course, very happy. They were really hoping for some sort of, again, limited immunity decision, not only that can call into question the indictment itself, but also that of his other cases, as well as delay this potential trial until after the election.

Now, there is a lot of questions of, would Donald Trump dismiss this case outright? That's what people are questioning. I think it's a certainty. When I talked to Trump's team, it's a certainty that if Donald Trump were to be elected in November and these cases were still pending, that he would dismiss them. And so, this is really what his team has been building toward, which is a full delay in his trials at a minimum, if not, having some of these cases dismissed because of this massive decision.


And so, of course, his team is still behind the scenes, trying to figure out how they can best leverage this. I will also argue that we're already seeing his political team, the campaign side, fundraise on this aggressively, I know, going into the dead (ph) today, I was talking to many of Donald Trump's campaign advisors, and they said, look, regardless of what happens on Monday, we see this as a great fundraising opportunity for him, and we're already seeing them send out those alerts. Jim.

JIMENEZ: Alayna Treene, Omar here. I'm going to jump in, as we thank you for your reporting. Really appreciate it. And Jim didn't mean to step on your toes there, but obviously, a pretty consequential day that we've been talking about over the course of this hour.

SCIUTTO: No question, consequences for this President, consequences for the Special Counsel, consequences for this election, and consequences for U.S. presidential power going forward. It's quite a day.

JIMENEZ: What a day.

And thank you all for spending your day, at least part of it with us. I'm Omar Jimenez in New York.

SCIUTTO: I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington, D.C. Please do stick with CNN. One World is up next.