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Dana Nessel is Interviewed about Jennifer Crumbley's Verdict; Trump Won't Attend Supreme Court Arguments; Appeals Court Rejects Immunity Claim; Bill Bradley is Interviewed about His New Documentary. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 07, 2024 - 08:30   ET



DANA NESSEL (D), MICHIGAN ATTORNEY GENERAL: Have to safely secure and store firearms. And it, you know, happens to be the exact same penalty as this involuntary manslaughter. But, in this case, you have to remember, there's a very extreme set of circumstances here, you know? Here the parents -- it was proven during the course of this case, or at least I'll limit this to Jennifer Crumbley, since her husband hasn't yet gone to trial, but -


NESSEL: You know, she knew that her son, you know, had mental health problems. She purchased -- her and her husband purchased her son a - you know, their 15-year-old son a deadly weapon. They failed to store it and to keep it safe and secure. They knew the day of the shooting that, you know, at school he had been called into the principal's office for having drawn these very grotesque and concerning and disturbing pictures of a gun being fired, blood everywhere, the thoughts won't stop, showing, you know, murdered corpses. They didn't take even the, you know, most ordinary, simplest measures to ensure that he didn't have a gun on him at that time. They didn't take him home from school. They didn't try to get him mental health treatment at that point.

And then, after the shooting, they fled the area and they went into hiding.


NESSEL: I mean that's an incredibly extreme set of circumstances that, frankly, we're unlikely to see again. So, I wouldn't - I wouldn't really extrapolate anything from this case to other cases because that very unusual fact pattern.

MATTINGLY: I've interesting you say that because I've been trying to think through, you know, if you're a prosecutor around the country, are you looking backwards, are you looking retroactively at cases now and seeing if there are any analogues, seeing if there are possibilities here? You think that they shouldn't do that?

NESSEL: I'm not saying they shouldn't do that. I'm just saying that I think you're unlikely to find a fact pattern that's extreme as this.


NESSEL: But I think again, you know, talking about what we should be doing, I'm so glad that in Michigan we're going to have new laws that hopefully, you know, there'd be strict liability here because the parents simply failed to secure this weapon from their minor son.


NESSEL: And I think if the lesson we learn is that all parents should be doing that, we won't find ourself in this situation again.

MATTINGLY: I do want to ask you about the New Hampshire robocalls. You have worked on these issues. This is a robocall that sounded like Joe Biden that was very clearly trying to suppress voting ahead of that primary. How big is this threat over the course of the next ten months?

NESSEL: I think it's extraordinary. It's immeasurable. I think we have to crack down on these types of illegal robocalls as quickly as possible. I actually prosecuted, from the 2020 election, a case of illegal robocalls that were meant to deter voters. That case is actually on appeal and is ongoing.


NESSEL: But it was successful in many other cases where the same call occurred. This is even more dangerous though because, of course, it purports to come from the candidate himself.


NESSEL: And, you know, we have to do everything we can to ensure that there are significant penalties for anyone who uses technology to try to deter people from voting this way.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's certainly a -- something everybody has to be keeping an eye on.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, thank you very much for your time.

NESSEL: Thanks for having me.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Well, tomorrow, Donald Trump's lawyers go before the Supreme Court to keep him on the ballot after losing his presidential immunity claim. We've got new reporting on Trump's legal strategy before the historic hearing.

MATTINGLY: And, right now, Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with Israel's president, Isaac Herzog, as negotiations continue for a possible cease-fire. We will continue monitoring these talks all day.



DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You have to leave immunity with a president. If a president is afraid to act because they're worried about being indicted when they leave office, a president of the United States has to have immunity.


MATTINGLY: Former President Trump's immunity argument rejected by a federal court of appeals. The three-judge panel ruling unanimously that Trump can be prosecuted in the federal case alleging he plotted to overturn the 2020 election. Now, Trump and his legal team have until Monday to file an appeal.

HARLOW: Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments about whether Trump is ineligible for the 2024 ballot under the 14th Amendment's ban on insurrectionists holding public office. Trump's lawyers will be there at the Supreme Court. Trump will not be there. A source tells CNN that after treating court appearances like campaign stops, Trump realizes just how, quote, "serious" this case is.

Let's bring in Katelyn Polantz, who joins us with a lot more.

Interesting, let's start there, what more you've learned about Trump's plans as he waits for the Supreme Court to consider this 14th Amendment argument.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Phil and Poppy, he's not going to be there. He has shown up unusually really for someone in his position where his lawyers are arguing legal issues, to an appeals court hearing on a different case recently, but he's not going to be at the Supreme Court tomorrow. That's because in a lot of ways he has bigger fish to fry. There are bigger legal risks out there for him in the future, including related to his criminal case that could very likely be before the Supreme Court. There's not a lot of upside for him being a force in the room that could be disruptive or pull focus from what the justices of the Supreme Court are there to do tomorrow, ask the legal questions about having someone eligible for the ballot in various states and state's power to remove someone like Donald Trump for -- from the ballot. And, also, it's the Nevada caucuses on Thursday, and so he does plan to travel to Nevada.

But it is still going to be a very significant, legal argument before the Supreme Court tomorrow, on Thursday.

MATTINGLY: Katelyn, can you explain the kind of power behind the appeals court decision on Trump's immunity, what it brings to the table now?

POLANTZ: Yes. This was the decision yesterday from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Three judges writing in unison 57 pages, very thoroughly saying that the president is not above the law. There is not an immunity that protects someone serving in that office if they choose to break the law. And the things that Donald Trump was doing after the 2020 election to disrupt voters' selection of the president, the things he's accused of, those are certainly things that the Justice Department can choose to charge as crimes and that the court system can address. So, that was a very powerful decision from the three judges. Now, potentially, up to the Supreme Court.


Trump is very likely to appeal there.

HARLOW: We'll watch.

Katelyn, thank you very much.

With us to discuss, former federal prosecutor Kristy Greenberg and CNN Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic.

Thank you both for being here.

Joan, let me just start with you on how strong, as Katelyn just said, the wording of the unanimous decision by this appellate court was and is about whether a president has immunity for crimes?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: It was very strong. These three judges -- I can say - I think it was really distinctive that all -- they were unanimous.


BISKUPIC: And these are judges who cross the ideological spectrum. One of the judges was appointed by George H.W. Bush back in 1990. And all three agreed fully with those 57 pages that -- to reject every single ground that President Trump -- former President Trump had asserted about why he should have immunity. They really took it apart saying that, look, he will be like any ordinary citizen who -- and have defenses when he stands trial, but he cannot claim immunity. And they relied heavily on precedents that are in this area of the law.

As we know, the Supreme Court itself has never taken on the direct question of whether a former president would have absolute immunity from criminal prosecution. But there are other cases that inform this decision. And the justices - the judges hewed very closely to that.

And it was forceful in another way, Poppy and Phil. Not only did it dissect the legal arguments, but it really took a strong hand toward Trump saying, you know, if the accusations against a former president are true, it would amount to an unprecedented assault on the structure of government.

And one last thing, as it brushed aside his claim that this would open up future presidents to being, you know, prosecuted after they leave office, they said, it's never happened before and it probably will never happen again. There are so many checks on the process and this is a unique situation to Donald Trump, and they rejected every one of his arguments. Poppy.

MATTINGLY: Kristy, the unanimous nature of it, the actual language and I think the firm nature of that language throughout the course of the opinion, Trump has until Monday to appeal. Is this something the Supreme Court's even going to take? I think we all assumed that it was inevitably going to be -- end up at the Supreme Court. They don't have to take this.

KRISTY GREENBERG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: They don't. So, on Monday, he has -- he needs five votes to basically stay this appeals decision, otherwise it goes back to Judge Chutkan. And four votes in the Supreme Court to -- just to hear it on a writ of certiorary (ph).

So, will he get four, five votes? Unclear. This was such a strong opinion. You know, it was unanimous. I'm not sure what the issue is that they are going to really take up here. That said, the Supreme Court likes to have the last word on issues that deal with presidential immunity. These -- this is a case of first impression. It's never been dealt with before. And so they may want to have the last word here.

HARLOW: Let's move to tomorrow. Joan, you'll be part our special coverage, obviously, from the Supreme Court where - where the American people are going to hear in real time the argument over the 14th Amendment. Explain to people what's going to play out in the courtroom and what's at stake.

BISKUPIC: Sure. I'm so glad you mentioned, you know, our special coverage tomorrow because I think it will be really exciting and I'll be there in the courtroom.

As opposed to the ruling we got yesterday that really evoked what happened at the Capitol on January 6th and, you know, Trump's alleged assault on democracy, arguments tomorrow could be very centered on the text of a particular provision, Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, that bars anyone from holding future office who had taken an oath to uphold the Constitution and was, quote, "an officer of the United States" who then engaged in an insurrection. And, you know, that's a -- that's a provision - post-Civil War provision that was aimed at former confederate leaders to stop them from holding future office. And, you know, it's never really been interpreted in modern times. You know, obviously, not by the Supreme Court. We've had some lower court judges look at this. And the Colorado Supreme Court indeed said that it would cover Donald Trump.

But I think what you'll hear, Poppy and Phil, is just a lot of parsing of language. What constitutes an officer of the United States? Trump's team says that he - he would not qualify -- he would not be in the list of officers there because the presidency is treated different as a term in the Constitution. So, it could end up sounding quite technical. But I can tell you that the lawyers for the Colorado voters who are bringing this challenge will try as much as they can to keep the justices focused on the insurrection itself.

[08:45:03] And they will try to talk a lot about January 6th. Will the justices? We'll have to see.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And, Kristy, lawyers parsing language, breaking news from - from Joan. But to that point, for people who aren't familiar with these types of arguments before the Supreme Court, if you're listening, you, as a former prosecutor, what are you listening to here? What do you think is critical?

GREENBERG: Well, I do think that they will be looking to the text of the Constitution. They're going to look at the history to inform what the text means. And at least as to that question about whether or not Donald Trump, under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment was an officer of the United States, there are arguments on both sides. And you have the lower court in Colorado who agreed with Donald Trump that, hey, the presidency isn't listed. And if it's not specifically listed, they must have meant to exclude it. In a prior draft it was actually in there and then it was taken out. That must have been intentional.

Then you have the Colorado Supreme Court, on the other side, saying, well, in many other ways office was always considered to be office of the presidency and common sense tells you that that's what it should be. And so you're going to have a lot of this parsing, not only of the text but of the history.

I actually don't think the Supreme Court justices are going to wade into the political waters too much of whether or not Donald Trump engaged in insurrection. Both the Colorado Supreme Court and lower court found that he did. If anything, I think they'll quibble more with the process that was afforded or not afforded to him.

MATTINGLY: It will be a big day.

Kristy Greenberg, Joan Biskupic, thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

Well, he's been a senator. He's been a Knicks legend. So, Bill Bradley knows a little bit about bridging divides.

HARLOW: He's going to join us next in studio with a revealing look at a new document about his life and what he thinks about the state of politics today.




BILL BRADLEY, FORMER U.S. SENATOR (August 16, 1995): We live in a time when on a basic level politics is broken. In growing numbers, people have lost faith in the political process and on whether it can help their threatened economic circumstance. The political debate has settled into two familiar ruts.

(END VIDEO CLIP) MATTINGLY: That's a speech that sounds like it could happen today. That was former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley lamenting the state of U.S. politics back in 1995. Thirty years after leaving the Senate, Bradley is sharing his life story in a new documentary aimed at bringing people together around shared humanity. It details Bradley's journey from a childhood basketball star in Missouri, to NBA champion, to three-term senator and candidate for the Democratic nomination for president. "Rolling Along: An American Story" is now available on Max, which is owned by CNN's parent company, Warner Brothers Discovery.

And joining us now is NBA Hall of Famer, former New Jersey senator, Bill Bradley.

Senator, thanks so much for being here.

The creation of this and how you got it to this point is fascinating to me. Can you briefly walk through how you went from one man show idea to now an HBO Max documentary.

BILL BRADLEY, FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Sure. Sure. Well, one of the reason I did it, looking at a divided country, and I wanted to have healing. I wanted to try to promote healing. And by being candidate about myself, I thought that I'd have credibility with people. And then they could tell their stories and all of our stories would be the American story.

Well, yes, I had this idea to do it as a - well, I didn't have the idea, actually, I had a -- I gave my papers to Princeton and had a reception for all the people who participated in oral history project. And one of the guys happened to be a Broadway producer of 72 plays, Manny Azenberg, came up to me afterwards and said, sounds -- I told stories about each one of the 40 people who showed up. And Manny said, that sounds a little bit like Hal Holbrook doing Mark Twain. You ought to work something up.

So, for the next year I wrote it. And then I took it to 20 cities to workshop it around the country. And then Covid hit and it allowed me to actually go deeper. And then coming out of Covid I realized I was not going around to 20 cities and do this in theaters. So, I rented a theater in New York for four nights, five cameras. And the result is "Rolling Along," the film.

MATTINGLY: You had some help on this from a fairly prominent Knicks fan who I think has dabbled in movies. His name is Spike Lee. But the reason I bring it up is because you can -- the thread together between your time on the Knicks and on issues of race, on issues of cultural kind of division and how that -- the teams that you were on kind of defined the ability to get over and through that. Talk about those teams.

BRADLEY: Well, I think we have very special people on the teams that I played on. And I learned a lot more from my black teammates than they learned from me for sure. I learned about the America that they saw and experienced. For example, Dick Barnett told me after his Tennessee State team won the small college national championship, he -- the team flew back to Nashville and went straight to a lunch counter sit-in downtown to protest segregated restaurants and had to have the discipline not to respond when white people spit on them for protesting their restaurant.

Then the African American rookie from Mississippi who said he'd always vote because for 150 years his family didn't have a right to vote. Then one night - one day Cazzie Russell, one of the stars of the team, was late to a practice and -- in Detroit one day and -- and was fined by the coach because you're always fined when you're late. And then five minutes into the practice, he was in a fight with a white rookie and Willis stepped in, Willis Reed, stepped in to break it up. And Cazzie snapped "Uncle Tom." Only later did I discover that Cazzie's lateness and foul mood came from being stopped by Michigan State Police on the drive down, forced to lay spread eagle on the hood of the car as his trunk and backseats were searched.


So, stories that I heard and then the camaraderie and the - and the sharing that we had as human beings really made it a very special time.

MATTINGLY: Yes. You served in the Senate with President Biden. It's -- he talks like you talk in terms of how people are supposed to get along and work together and be pragmatic. He oversees a country that is anything but. How do you think he's done?

BRADLEY: I think President Biden has got an admirable record. He really has achieved quite a lot in terms of bills that employ people, getting the economy moving forward, dealing with prescription drugs, a whole series of things he can run on and be proud of.


BRADLEY: And he's smart enough to know he had to get these done in the first two years in order to run on them in four years. And he's done that.

MATTINGLY: Senator Bill Bradley, the documentary is "Rolling Along." It's fascinating. I highly recommend it. I really appreciate you coming in. And I told you, I was at a Knicks game over the weekend and heard a lot about Bill Bradley. I said, well, I'm going to talk to him. So, I appreciate it. Thanks so much. And --

BRADLEY: Well, good. See you on HBO Max.

MATTINGLY: Definitely. You can watch "Rolling Along: An American Story" right now on Max.

HARLOW: What a great conversation. Thank you again for coming in.

Thanks for being with us. See you here tomorrow morning.