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CNN Tonight

Source Says, Former Vice President Pence Subpoenaed By Special Counsel Investigating Trump And January 6th; Rep. George Santos (R-NY) Charged In 2017 With Theft Over Bad Checks To Dog Breeders In Pennsylvania Amish Country; New York Times Reports, What Liberals Can Learn From Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL); Ron DeSantis And The Liberals To 2024; Madonna Addresses Hateful Of Her Face During The Grammy's; Monkey In Japan Gets Pregnant Alone Inside Her Enclosure. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired February 09, 2023 - 22:00   ET




ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota, welcome to CNN TONIGHT.

Former Vice President Mike Pence has been subpoenaed by the special counsel investigating Donald Trump to testify about his former boss. The special counsel seeking information from Pence about his interactions with Donald Trump leading up to the election and what happened on January 6th.

Nothing like that or like this has ever happened before, so we're going to talk about that in just a moment.

Plus tonight, the latest installment of the George Santos soap opera. We have new info involving puppies, Amish dog breeders and $15,000 worth of bad checks.

And what liberals can learn from Ron DeSantis. There's a piece in The New York Time, that warns liberals not to underestimate DeSantis, quote, he may resemble Trump but in politics but not in his intellect or resolve.

Right to the news, here with me in studio, we have CNN Political Analyst Natasha Alford, former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor Nick Ackerman and CNN Anchor John Berman. Seamless, people. Seamless.

You walked all the way over here.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You walk all the way over here.

CAMEROTA: Across a bridge. Okay, everyone, how great to have you all of you guys. Nick, obviously, they want the talk to Vice President Pence. He was key in all of this. Specifically, what information can he provide that no one else can?

NICK AKERMAN, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, he had direct one-on-one conversations with Donald Trump. There is absolutely no way the special counsel can decide whether to indict or not to indict Donald Trump until he first puts Vice President Pence under oath in a grand jury and asks him what they said, what Donald Trump said to him and what he said to Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: Well, I'm surprised to hear you say that, because they do have a lot of other information. Let me pull up this full screen, this graphic that we have, of who has testified before the grand jury, okay. So, not the special counsel but they have this information, Pat Cipollone, Patrick Philbin, former deputy White House Counsel, Marc Short, former Pence chief of staff, Greg Jacob, Pence's general counsel, Ken Cuccinelli, former Trump DHS official, Eric Hirschmann, former Trump White House lawyer. Why is Pence so instrumental if they already have information from all of those people?

AKERMAN: Because a lot of that information is hearsay for starters. And what they're really looking for are statements by Trump, what was his state of mind, what was he telling Pence, what did Pence tell him. I mean, there is no way you can have an indictment here unless they get that evidence on a grand jury, in a subpoena, and lock in Mike Pence. They have to know what he was going to say if they should go ahead and indict Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: Okay. One more question, can Pence refuse a subpoena by the special counsel?

AKERMAN: He could try and refuse but he could be held in contempt. He can be forced to go into testify. He could claim executive privilege. But I think that ship has already passed. I think that Pat Cipollone, as you just mentioned, was in before already in the grand jury. That issue about executive privilege has already been litigated in front of Judge Howell in the District of Columbia. So, I don't see that he has got any room here other than to go in, tell the truth and cooperate.

CAMEROTA: Natasha, your thoughts.

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I wonder about the lack of willingness to just cooperate. It seems as if Mike Pence wants to walk this tight rope between still sort of being loyal to Trump, still being seen as a hero in this moment and you just wonder why. Like what is it that he's still holding on to after all this time considering that Donald Trump was more than willing to throw him under the bus?

The memoir that he put out, the fact that he was willing to talk about some of those interactions on that day, if you're willing to put that in the memoir, then you have to be willing to speak when the time comes.


BERMAN: Mike Pence knows exactly what Donald Trump told him to do or didn't tell him to do. He knows whether Donald Trump, the president of the United States, told him, Mike Pence, to use a power he did not have to overturn the election. His testimony on that is key.

But you know who Mike Pence could have told about that conversation if it occurred until now? All of us, anyone.


To Natasha's point, if Mike Pence wanted this information out there in an easy way, he could have done it at any time. But he's been playing a political game because he doesn't want to upset a potential Republican political base that he may need if he runs for president.

CAMEROTA: Here's what he said to CNN about why he wasn't going to testify to the January 6th committee, so, Congress. Here's what he said.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Congress has no right to my testimony.

Congress doesn't report to the White House. The White House doesn't report to the Congress. And I truly do believe in defense in the separation of powers and to avoid what would be a terrible precedent.


CAMEROTA: Is this different, John?

BERMAN: Way different. There is no separation of powers here. This isn't a congressional subpoena. This is a federal subpoena from an investigation that happens to come from the executive branch. The special counsel is part of the executive branch of the Justice Department. So, that argument has no water.

CAMEROTA: Natasha, here's what he said. You were talking about his memoir. Here is what he said in his memoir. He said that he basically got a text, I assume, from Donald Trump. You're too honest, he chided. Hundreds of thousands are going to hate your guts. People are going to think you're stupid.

ALFORD: Right. Again, he includes the quotes that make him seem sort of to have the moral high ground in the moment that matters the most. But you have to wonder. There were probably so many other moments in which that moral high ground was tested, in which there were conversations that were had that indicated that something unjust was going to happen. Where they were trying to overturn the election and Mike Pence, you know, he didn't speak up in those moments.

So, again, I'm not really impressed by the selective quotes that he kind of puts out there to show how he responded in that moment.

CAMEROTA: Nick, I'm still just as surprised to hear you say that Donald Trump cannot be indicted unless the special counsel gets Vice President Pence's testimony, because here again, sure, we don't know exactly what he said, what he told Mike Pence to do. But we know all of this other stuff that happened, from social media to the rally, to the not going basically MIA, as the commander-in-chief and not putting out statement for all of those hours? AKERMAN: Except that the key piece of all of these schemes that Donald Trump was perpetrating, whether it was the fake electors, whether it was trying to get the state legislatures to put in new electors that were Trump electors. All of this items. All hinged on whether or not Mike Pence would send these electors back to the states, back to the legislatures, to have it redone.

His whole point here, with all these items, all these different schemes that Donald Trump had cooked up, were basically geared toward Mike Pence acting outside of his duties as vice president rather than just the formality of voting, just counting up the electoral vote of basically declaring that the vote was no good and it had to go back to the states. That was the whole point of what Donald Trump was trying to do.

And when he couldn't get Mike Pence to do it, that's when the violence started. The whole idea was to stop that vote, to stop the Congress from doing anything, to have them go back home. In fact, I even think there was a plot to get Mike Pence out of the Capitol so that this couldn't go forward.

CAMEROTA: Mike Pence thought that also. I mean that's why Mike Pence refused to get in the car. There is a car waiting right here for you. He was like, no thanks.

AKERMAN: He's the key guy.

BERMAN: What a remarkable sight it would be if it ever came to a criminal case for charges where pressed and a former vice president was put in a courtroom to testify against his running mate, the president of the United States. Could you imagine something like that?

I do want the present one reverse view of this, though. It's not impossible that people in Trump world think that Mike Pence's testimony could help Donald Trump. If Mike Pence were to testify, yes, Trump asked me to do all these awful things, but during the whole time, Donald Trump really believed that the election was stolen is ridiculous, as that concept is.

What Trump could argue is, look, I had no corrupt intent. And corrupt intent could be a key legal component to the charges against him.

AKERMAN: Yes, it could. But the problem is he's involved in too many things. I mean, he was involved in the fake electors. He put John Eastman in touch with Ronna McDaniels to basically get her to cooperate on putting together these fake electors.

He was involved in trying to get the Justice Department to cook up a phony letter that would go to the legislature in Georgia so he had to put in his own puppet attorney general in order to tell the legislature, look, guys, there's fraud in this election. You have got to do something about it.

All of these lies, including just those snippets that the January 6th committee showed, where Donald Trump, on one hand, was told and knew that he had lost the election, and then immediately, within 24 hours, turns around and says the election was stolen.


And even worse, you've got John Eastman with an email on December 31st. He's claiming to be Donald Trump's lawyer. They were concerned about Donald Trump swearing to certain facts about fake election results in Georgia. And John Eastman in that email says that Donald Trump knows that these are all faults so he can't really have him swear to the affidavit. Yet what do they do? They file an affidavit in federal court sworn to by Donald Trump, all one big lie.

So, I don't see how he gets around corrupt intent. Corrupt intent is simply doing something with an improper purpose, and, clearly, the improper purpose was to try and keep himself in power even though he lost the election.

CAMEROTA: Okay, smarty pants, do you want to retract your theory there, John?

BERMAN: I didn't say it was a good argument. I just said it was an argument.

CAMEROTA: Nick shut it down.

BERMAN: An argument. I'm making an argument.

CAMEROTA: And Nick dispelled it.

AKERMAN: We do that in law school all the time.

CAMEROTA: I know. That was a real actual lesson in brilliance. Thank you all very much.

Coming up, he lied about his resume. He lied about his family. He lied about being Jewish. In the latest George Santos saga, now it is about puppies. Why he was charged with theft in 2017 over some checks. We'll explain.



CAMEROTA: Another night, another George Santos scandal. Fresh off his state of the union encounter with Mitt Romney when the senator told Santos, you don't belong here, George Santos is back. This time it's another bad check scandal. Several bad checks in his name went to dog breeders in Amish Country in 2017. They were supposed to be for puppies.

Here with me in the studio, the Republican strategist Joe Pinion, also back with us, we have Natasha Alford and John Berman.

Let me explain. In 2017, George Santos was charged with theft by deception after these bad checks, and I think we can put them up on the screen, six of them for $2,000-plus were made out to -- well, not all of them but that was the high -- made out to dog breeders, in the memo in each one, it says puppies.

Joe, obviously, this isn't the first time. He's also wanted for forging checks in Brazil. He's being investigated for a Ponzi scheme, and now, as you know, he also is being investigated for ripping off a disabled vet who had a dying dog, and now these checks total $15,000 for puppies. I mean, at what point, what is the breaking point for Republicans when they've had enough?

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look, I think, again, we just have to take a step back. I think all the accusations in isolation by themselves are probably horrendous. The compound impact of them should shock the conscience. But, unfortunately, and I say that in a very serious way, we are a nation of laws. That means that you are in this country innocent until proven guilty.

I would not sit back here and say I want to sit back and sign up for defense of George Santos but I will simply say that that still has to mean something. And until he's been indicted, until he's been convicted of a crime, I think the notion that we just start removing members of Congress by virtue of allegation is a slippery slope --

CAMEROTA: Okay. So, the breaking point for Republicans would be conviction, you're saying?

PINION: Well, I think that is just the precedent that already exists in some cases. I think there are many members who have certainly not had the litany of issues that George Santos has had, but I think on both sides of the aisle, we have seen that we have members of Congress that get indicted, but certainly convicted, I think that is when they end up heading off to the proverbial guillotine.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But sometimes, John, they're tossed out because of an ethics investigation before they're convicted.

BERMAN: Yes. Well, Congress can vote to expel people, period. They can. Congress can decide it wants to do that. And there's also the Mitt Romney standard now that exists, which is they can walk the halls, walk by him and tell him every time, you shouldn't be here. Every member in that chamber can walk up to him anytime they see him and say, you shouldn't be here.

So, I mean, flunked the law class in the last segment so this is business school thing. There is in economics where you call the marginal rate of return, right? The marginal rate of outrage on each new George Santos scandal is actually very small because he's already done 12 bonkers things. So, Amish bad checks and puppy dealers, and that only adds very little to the story. But the members of Congress, it should already be enough to do what Mitt Romney did.

PINION: Look, I think there are plenty of members who are doing that, certain members who don't want to be seen in pictures with George Santos, don't want to be seen canoodling with George Santos. That exists. I know this for a fact. And I think most people know this for a fact. I think --

BERMAN: But leadership, but Kevin McCarthy couldn't do it. PINION: I think the reality is that it sets a dangerous precedent when you start saying you are going to throw people out of Congress before they've actually been convicted of a crime.

BERMAN: It's a bad precedent. It's a hard precedent to match that passing bad checks to Amish puppy dealers, if you draw the line there, if you draw that line --

PINION: Well, look, I think the problem is, right, don't mess with the puppies, right? Don't mess with cats. Don't mess with puppies. Don't mess with the babies.

CAMEROTA: Too late. He's also messed with a dying dog, according to a veteran.

PINION: Look, again, I think all of these actions are abysmal, right? I think that there is no place for them in society, much less probably in the halls of Congress. But that being said, again, we could talk about Adam Clayton Powell, we could talk about a lot of people that were unjustly thrown out Congress. The circumstances are wildly different.

But I think at the end of the day, there is a precedent that has to be set that you do not thwart the will of the people. George Santos effectively undermined the will of the people but you don't thwart the will of the people until they've actually been convicted of a crime.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Natasha.

ALFORD: My only thought is like it is the small moments of courage that matter. And what Mitt Romney did, I think that was like a moment of courage. And each individual, if they did it, there would be power in that. But, again, we're in a partisan world where politics matters more than actual character. And so this is what you get when you invite this into your party. This is what you get.

CAMEROTA: It is. I mean, it is distracting. Let's be honest.

PINION: Well, look, we're having this conversation, we're not talking about the inflation that has run amok. We're not talking about the fact that we have --

CAMEROTA: Every night, George Santos takes up some air time because yet another scandal.

PINION: Well, (INAUDIBLE), the question is why, right? The worst thing that --

CAMEROTA: Because it's unheard of and it's so flagrant.


It's brazen. It's flagrant.

PINION: I think the reality is that George Santos has a ton of problems that predate his time in Congress. I think the statements made by the entirety of the Nassau GOP, including two sitting members of Congress, speaks for itself. I think there are plenty of Republicans who are on the record. So, I think this type of notion where we try to cherry-pick the country side to find which Republicans haven't that enough about George Santos, who has already done enough on his own accord, I think, does us a great disservice in light of the fact that, again, there are so many issues we can and should be talking about.

CAMEROTA: Granted, and we will be talking about them. But there is an ethics committee investigation that is supposed to be starting. I don't know why it hasn't yet. Meanwhile, poor Manu Raju has another full-time job that he never asks for because he has to try to get George Santos to answer for some of these things. So, there was a Ponzi scheme that he's accused of being a part of in 2020. So today, Manu Raju tried to get him to talk about that.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Why did you work for a company that was later accused of being in a Ponzi scheme? Were you aware that it was a scheme, sir?

REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): No, Manu, I did not.


CAMEROTA: Every day, John.

BERMAN: Well, the hardest part is you know some senior producer called Manu right after this, and wait a second, you didn't ask about the Amish puppy dealers. And Manu was like, I didn't know about that because that hadn't broke yet, but I was still talking about the last one.

CAMEROTA: That's, every hour.

PINION: I think what we're not talking about are the people of New York's third congressional district that effectively are bereft of representation. Obviously, the Nassau GOP is working in conjunction with Diaz Pacito (ph) in N.Y. 4 to try to deal with the issues happening for those constituents.

CAMEROTA: Yes. First of all, they were misled. I mean, they were misled by who he was and his background. And then also he's not working on legislation. He's running away down the hall.

ALFORD: Looking to shake hands at the state of the union.

PINION: I think, again, you have got Ricky Torres, God bless him, I don't know what he's going to do when George Santos is not around anymore, but the one good thing that came out of this was they did put forth the SANTOS Act. I think that's a step in the right direction. We can talk about what comes next, how do you prevent the next George Santos. But obsession over what is the next boot to drop for him, there will be many more, I will predict it right here, I don't think we'll be shocked by it. I just think, again, there is so much happening in this country, so many families in pain. I think that has to be the priority.

CAMEROTA: Yes, for sure. And we do cover all of that. But George Santos cannot be ignored but it is so peculiar to have a serial liar lie right to your face. That's just -- it needs to be, I think, called out.

Thank you all. Stick around. Here's another topic. President Biden says he doesn't really see a difference between two of his likely 2024 opponents, Trump and DeSantis. But is that a mistake? Do Democrats have something to learn from Governor DeSantis? We're going to talk about that, next.



CAMEROTA: President Biden saying tonight that he's not ready to decide if he'll seek re-election, although he's been dropping hints like crazy, even holding an event today in Florida, a key state, obviously, in the 2024 race. It is also home to two potential Republican rivals, former President Donald Trump and Governor Ron DeSantis.

New York Times Columnist Pamela Paul writes today that liberals can learn a lot from DeSantis. Quote, it would be tempting to write off DeSantis, the bombastic Republican governor of Florida, as another unelectable right-wing lunatic unfit for national office. We've made that mistake before.

We're back with Natasha Alford, Joe Pinion and John Berman. So, Natasha, basically, what Pamela Paul is saying is that DeSantis is not Trump. People who think that he's the new-fangled Trump, he's not Trump. He's stolen a page from Trump. But her argument is we shouldn't underestimate DeSantis. He may resemble Trump and his politics but not in his intellect or resolve. Compare their respective background, think, whereas Trump's acceptance into the University of Pennsylvania after an academic record known notable only for its mediocrity. It was an egregious example of leveraging personal connections. DeSantis, the son of a T.V. ratings box installer and a nurse actually earned his way into the Ivy League. DeSantis is demonstrably intelligent and industrious. He worked his way through Yale while playing baseball and graduated magna cum laude.

ALFORD: It sounds like she's really impressed by his resume.

CAMEROTA: I think she's saying, we shouldn't -- no one should underestimate him.

ALFORD: I think that was a lesson learned with Donald Trump, though. I think when Donald Trump won, that changed our standard for everything. And I think that Ron DeSantis shouldn't be underestimated, but I do think that he's just using a playbook that we've seen before, right? I don't necessarily think that it is new. He has more governing experience than Donald Trump did when he came into office. He has been able to play the culture wars really well in Florida, right, and play to the base. But I don't think people are underestimating him. If Donald Trump could win, Ron DeSantis definitely could win. I think people are actually more afraid of what would happen if Ron DeSantis wins because he's actually implementing things that are terrifying.


BERMAN: I thought this article was interesting, the column. But it's a weird strawman that's being set up here because I don't know who is underestimating Ron DeSantis. I think they're very cognizant of the challenges, the unique challenges that he poses.

I think there are two really interesting things. Number one, there's the Trump-DeSantis dynamic. There's, does DeSantis even get through a primary and they're going to go after each other. But if Democrats do face him, I do think that they are going to be posed with a challenge based on what they said about Donald Trump for four to six years, which was that Donald Trump is a unique threat to democracy, that our concerns about Donald Trump are something different.

Barack Obama used to say so much in his speeches. He said, well, look, I mean, it's one thing about arguing with George w. Bush. I had an issue with his policies, but I wasn't terrified for the nation or shaking in my boots over what he might do to the foundations of our system. That's what they said about Trump. I don't think they can go and put that mantle on every Republican, necessarily. So, I'm very curious to see if they try to do that because I don't know that it will resonate quite the same way.


ALFORD: I don't think it's Republican. I think there is something uniquely painful about this root that DeSantis is tapping into, right. We're talking about really personal things. Black history. The pain and trauma that African-Americans have faced in this country to attack that head on, or the teachers and students who are in the front lines in classrooms to say what they cannot learn. To have your administration ask for a list of staff and programs and activities around diversity and inclusion.

America, I believe we envision ourselves as being beyond that. Like, we've decided that diversity matters. That we believe in those principles. I think that the mainstream is there. And so, when he does that, I actually think he's setting himself up to create more of a fight.

CAMEROTA: Although, I mean, obviously his approval ratings are high in Florida. And what do you think of him?

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think there's a lot to unpack here. First and foremost, I would agree, you can't underestimate Ron DeSantis. I think underestimate is the wrong word. I think it's dismissed. I think when you look at the extremeness of George Santos, who set a new bar for over the top or whether you're talking about just your everyday Republican.

The reason that news day missed what happened with George Santos, the reason so many people dismissed the reality that Ron DeSantis became the first Republican since 2002 to win Miami-Dade is because of the fact that so many people in the media and so many people on the left have decided that by virtue of simply being a Republican, you are extreme and all Republicans are extreme.

CAMEROTA: I don't know that that is true.

PINION: I disagree.

CAMEROTA: But hold on. Let me just argue that because Ron DeSantis is doing things that are noteworthy for the culture warrior in him. I mean, he's doing things that are not just sort of standard Republican. I mean --

PINION: What is standard Republican? I mean, literally, I think there's one person that writes all the tweets for Senator Schumer and leader or the minority leader, and Hakeem Jeffries. I mean, every single tweet is MAGA extremist this, MAGA extremist that.

If you have decided writ-large that every single Republican is a MAGA extremist except for those Republicans who have effectively disavowed their own party and agree with your ideologies, then on some base level, there is no distinction.

And I think that is what this author was trying to tap into. There is no -- so many Democrats have decided there was nothing redeemable about being a Republican. That Joe Biden can get on stage and quote the words of Abe Lincoln, but all the times in between the quoting of Lincoln, he is effectively calling half the people that call this country home people that do not deserve to take the actual mantle of being an American.

CAMEROTA: Well, I don't know about that. I don't think that Joe Biden plays that card often.

PINION: Well, it depends on the day.

CAMEROTA: I don't know about that. He calls, I mean, he says MAGA Republicans very specifically and what he --

PINION: But again, who is MAGA Republicans? It's becoming this -- it's become this thing where it's just this. It's whatever you need it to be in the moment.

ALFORD: No. That's what wokeness is. That's what the right does with wokeness.

PINION: I would agree with you. I would tend to agree with you.

ALFORD: They need wokeness to be anything that has to do with progression, and you know, inclusion, diversity. That goes under woke and it's -- there is an actual act, Stop WOKE Act that is in place because of Ron DeSantis. So, he is actually picking these fights. Do you understand what I'm saying?

CAMEROTA: But wouldn't you say, to Joe's point, would you say that Ron DeSantis is a MAGA Republican? ALFORD: Oh, absolutely.

CAMEROTA: So, he's in that -- so he's in that category.

PINION: Who are the non-MAGA Republicans at this point? And this all I'm saying. I think that we have gotten to the point where 25 percent of Republicans may hold views that are prescribed to all Republicans. And when there is effectively 25 percent of Democrats to prescribe to a view, somehow, it's their view and their view alone.

So, whatever that standard is that we are going to set to say, hey, we're going to have cogent public discourse. We have to be consistent and simply say here are the parameters, here are the guardrails because the inability to do that actually prevents Republicans from engaging in good faith when they know that you are literally going to find that most extreme iteration of anything any person with that letter next to a name has done and prescribe it to them.

ALFORD: Okay. There is no discourse in Florida. It's literally being shut down and legislated into law. So, we can't even have a conversation about discourse when you have a governor who is telling teachers what --

CAMEROTA: He is legislating a lot (inaudible) --

ALFORD: -- they can talk about.

PINION: Well, I mean, to be clear, I think, again, there are things that Ron DeSantis has done that I agree with, things that he has done that I disagree with. I think the most important conversation we should be having is, what is the root cause of him feeling the need to take these issues on. I think there are a lot of parents who, whether we're talking, I mean --

CAMEROTA: There was political expediency.

PINION: -- woke has -- well, I think it -- of course it is. I mean, we live in a world of political expediency right now. I think for better or for worse, we live in the ends justify the means society.

CAMEROTA: Just out of curiosity, what do you disagree with what he's done?

PINION: Look, I think anytime you're explaining you're losing. And so, I think that when he's talking about what happened with the ATF, African-American history course and then has to go back and explain that it was because of these particular things that were included. By that time, it's the don't say black bill on twitter, right.

So, I think on some basic level, yes, there are things that we should be able to have a conversation about. Is it misguided? Is it appropriate?


CAMEROTA: Yeah. PINION: But think there are things that American people are concerned about (inaudible) point, that Democrats are too quick to dismiss, whether it's simply saying I do -- you don't have to be someone who has hatred in your heart for gay people to simple say, perhaps we should have the conversation about whether drag shows are appropriate for elementary school kids.

CAMERORA: Ten seconds left. Natasha, do you want to respond?

ALFORD: It's hard to know where to start because there is so much that you said. All I can say is that the idea that we are controlling thoughts, right, it undermines the claim that liberals are the ones who -- who are the most extreme. Liberals are the ones who are trying to control conversations and tell you what you think.

PINION: (Inaudible).

ALFORD: Oh, absolutely. When you say that we can't talk about intersectionality, right.

PINION: And I think that -- I disagree.

ALFORD: Or you say that queer theory doesn't matter to black history when, you know, Bayard Ruston planned the 1963 March on Washington. Let's just focus on the facts. I don't needle to you agree with everything that I believe, but we can allow for facts. And that's how america grows by facing the truth about (inaudible).

PINION: I think that --

CAMEROTA: We do have to leave it, our history there.

PINION: (Inaudible).

CAMEROTA: One second.

PINION: I do think that again, the facts remain the same. The context of the facts matters and the presentation and the age-appropriateness of when we choose to matter, does matter to parents. And I think that too many people on the left ignore that, I think, so importantly (ph).

CAMEROTA: Okay, thank you both very much, and John.

Okay. A lot of people are talking about Madonna's appearance at the Grammy's. But as "Washington Post" columnist Monica Hesse says, quote, "Do you think that Madonna Louise Ciccone doesn't know what she's doing?" Stay with us.



CAMEROTA: What's going on with Madonna? Many people have strong feelings about how she looked at the Grammy's the other night. There's no denying she looks different from the "Material Girl" that we've all known for decades. But Madonna is talking back to her critics. Let's bring in the "Washington Post" Monica Hesse. 0Her column is

titled, "The Unacceptable Look On Madonna's Face." Also back with us, Natasha Alford, Joe Pinion and John Berman.

Monica, thank you so much for being here. Why do you think that Madonna's appearance, meaning her physical appearance at the Grammy's, has inspired such strong thoughts from people?

MONICA HESSE, COLUMNIST, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think that women as they age are really in a double bind. If Madonna had looked old, we would be saying she looks older, she looks tired. What's going on there? And instead, she showed up having a very different face than people were used to seeing her wear. And people aren't liking that either. So, I think that it is really a double bind and a tough situation for female celebrities to be in as they age.

CAMEROTA: Natasha, I see it a little differently. I see it a little bit, the way I see anorexia, which is, it's like sort of body dysmorphia or face dysmorphia. When you see somebody like that, you think, oh, is she not seeing what we're seeing? When she looks in the mirror, what does she see?

That's why I found it a little jarring because she didn't look recognizable and I think we're all used to cosmetic surgery. We all know people get cosmetic surgery. She's had it in the past, she's looked beautiful. I remember the 2012 -- what's that football game called? The Super Bowl. The Super Bowl, she did the halftime show. And I remember thinking, oh, she has had plastic surgery. Here she is. And she looks stunning. But this time, it was an -- there was an unrecognizable quality that I found jarring.

ALFORD: Well, I just want to say first and foremost as a woman who in a business where we are judged, you know, and it's not kind as you get older. Whatever do you to your face and your body. That's your right to do it, okay. I think women are held to an unfair standard to look the same or to always be attractive.

So, that is a reality. But I do think that there is an extreme in the culture where people are doing so much that being natural, right? Just aging gracefully, so to speak or not making alterations to your body gets you criticism.

And having the plastic surgery and whatever alterations is a little bit more normal. So, I think people were reacting to this idea that, you know, why do we have to do the extreme? Why does she have to do anything to her face? We would love to see Madonna aging gracefully so to speak. So, you just kind don't win either way.

CAMEROTA: Monica, what about my theory that it's that -- it's that it looked so different that it was jarring to us.

HESSE: I think that the cardinal infraction that Madonna committed, if indeed you believe she committed an infraction, is that the work was obvious. And I think that that's what you're saying. We are accustomed to people making tweaks, making tucks, showing up and saying, oh, I've just been sleeping a lot. I look so rested. What Madonna did was not subtle and it was not something that you

could ignore. And I think that that prompted discomfort in an audience that is accustomed to this being an open secret or to this being something that you don't really talk about in polite company. She looked in a way that sort of asked people to remark on it and were not used to being put in that position.

CAMEROTA: John, do you have thoughts?

BERMAN: Look. I'm on team Natasha here. I've co-authored a lot of shows with women before. And one of the things I have noticed is that I would get roughly zero comments ever about how I look. And I look bad a lot of the time.

CAMEROTA: Stop. Impossible.


BERMAN: But, okay. But my point is, is that the people I was sitting next to, the things that were said to them were shocking. For some reason people feel entitled in our society to pass judgment whenever they want. Whether it's justified or not on how a woman looks, what she wears, what her hair is doing. And that creates, I think, a perceived need by some people, by some women to do certain things to themselves.

CAMEROTA: But is that what you think Madonna was doing? She was yearning to a need.

BERMAN: Madonna was doing what Madonna wanted to do, which I think she's done for a long time.

CAMEROTA: I agree with that. Joe?

PINION: I think we do terrible things to women, forcing them to effectively feel as if they have to perform for other people at all times. And I think to Natasha's point, we should be asking the question why is it that so many people feel as if they have to be something other than who they are. But irrespective of that, again, it's her choice. She's Madonna. She's an icon. And she's going to be an icon no matter what she decides to do.

CAMEROTA: True point. Monica, I mean, Madonna can do it (inaudible). Monica, thank you very much for article. Thanks for being here. Guys, thank you for all of that. All right. There is another mystery at the zoo. This time a gibbon in Japan got pregnant except that she lives alone with no male visitors. What happened?

BERMAN: I know what happened.


BERMAN: See, there was (inaudible).

CAMEROTA: I look forward to you explaining to us. How then, how then? Her enclosure doesn't allow for any visitors, John. BERMAN: So, they say.

CAMEROTA: Well, I'm going to ask Jeff Corwin about this mystery, next. And next hour, Congress roasts themselves.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): Georgia gave us both Raphael Warnock and Marjorie Taylor Greene. She's here tonight -- where is she? Wave your hand, baby. She's here somewhere. Some say that's bipartisan. It's not. It's bipolar.




CAMEROTA: Two zoo mysteries tonight. On the heels of animal tampering cases at the Dallas Zoo, what may be a copycat crime at the Houston Zoo. Officials there investigating possible vandalism to the brown pelican habitat. But there's an even bigger mystery at a zoo in Japan. How did an ape, that lives alone in her enclosure, without any male visitors, get pregnant?

Let's get some answers from wildlife biologist, Jeff Corwin, host of "Wildlife Nation." We'll get to the pregnant ape in a second, Jeff, but first let's start with what's going on at the Houston Zoo because just last night you were on the program and you were saying you are concerned about copycat crimes. And so, what was happening at the Dallas Zoo maybe has now bled over into the Houston Zoo in the case of this brown pelican?

JEFF CORWIN, WILDLIFE BIOLIGIST: Yes, good evening, Alisyn. We're seeing this in a number of zoological institutions throughout the country. And it's really shocking because these are institutions that are altruistic. Their mission is to share wildlife, nature, and conservation with the world.

You know, they are not a state penitentiary. It's not about super security, although the Houston Zoo has incredible security. Alisyn, the Houston Zoo is a world-class zoo. It's probably one of my most favorite zoos in the country, certainly the greatest zoo in Texas. So, they do --

CAMEROTA: And so how did it happen? I mean, so what do you think went wrong?

CORWIN: Well, I think we're getting these delinquents, sociopathic, narcissistic, kleptomaniacs. And they are copycat crimes and they're going to these institutions in places that are designed to share nature with the world with adequate amount of security, but they're not designed to deal was intent of focused criminal actions like this.

And that's what the challenge is today. This is something new. Historically, we've not had problems with people stealing wildlife from zoos, but now we are seeing this across the country from New York, to Philadelphia, and even in Texas.

CAMEROTA: All right. We'll talk about what to do later because, unfortunately, I assume we will have you back on since this seems to be a trend. But we have to talk about the mystery at this Japanese zoo of this pregnant gibbon, a female, who lives alone, has not had any male visitors.

When I read this Jeff, I was afraid this story was going to end in a very dark and twisted way, but it turns out that they are solving the mystery here. When you heard this, did you have any sense of how she could have possibly have gotten pregnant?

CORWIN: You have this incredible story arc of lifeline earth as it's been happening for millions of years. And you have a little pencil hole sized hole in the fence and that's how it happens.

CAMEROTA: Was it really a hole -- stop. Hold on a second. Was it really a pencil hole-sized hole?

CORWIN: Well, I mean, maybe I'm being too judgmental about this. But this has happened before where they think a female is isolated and she is protected, but she is feeling a little amorous. The fellow primate next door gets a sense of that and he is a way to get from point A to point B.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Except he has a way to get only one body part from point A to point B because what I feel is --

CORWIN: That's all that he needs.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Apparently, it is. You're right. I mean, I feel like --

CORWIN: Basically, I'm thinking of a gibbon, I'm thinking of a number two pencil eraser, and that's about all you need to pull this off.

CAMEROTA: Wow. That is really visual, thank you for that.


So, we should just let everybody know that after two years of investigating, the zoo did a paternity test because she got pregnant and had the chimp. And they did a paternity test on the baby and the mom, and they found out, as you say, that the guy next door there was a small hole between the enclosures and, like you said, I mean, it's a story of ingenuity, I would say, and determination and romance. And that's how (inaudible).

CORWIN: And also, Alisyn, isn't it always the guy next door?

CAMEROTA: You don't. We all know that, yes, it is. Yes, it is, Jeff. Well, thank you for that tale as old as time.

CORWIN: My fault. We think.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Thank you. That was awesome. Okay. (Inaudible). Okay, and new tonight, former Vice President Pence subpoenaed by the

special counsel investigating Donald Trump. What exactly do they want to know from him? Stay with us.