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CNN Tonight

Fiery Opening Statements As E. Jean Carroll Battery And Defamation Trial Against Donald Trump Gets Underway; Ex-Fox News Producer Says She Has 90 Audio Recordings From Her Time At The Network; President Biden Announces Re-Election Bid, Saying Battle For Nation's Soul Isn't Complete; President Announces Reelection For 2024; Code Of Ethics In The Supreme Court; Comedian Hari Kondabolu Snubbed Then Candidate AOC. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired April 25, 2023 - 22:00   ET



MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: I learned that Frank Sesno last night. It really seems like it's the licensing fees, whatever the connectivity way of collecting the cash is. So, fun stuff, hit me up with more social media tomorrow after the program. I will read them.

I will see you on radio tomorrow morning on SiriusXM back here tomorrow night.

Right now, CNN TONIGHT with Alisyn Camerota starts right now. Hi, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Michael, great to see you. Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to CNN TONIGHT.

Former President Trump accused of rape in court today. What E. Jean Carroll says happened in that department store dressing room in 1996. She plans to testify tomorrow. Why is Donald Trump not expected to?

Plus, Tucker Carlson's former producer reveals that she has many audio recordings from her time at Fox.


ABBY GROSSBERG, FORMER FOX NEWS PRODUCER: I still have -- I have several recordings that I'm still going through that we've recovered from all of the phones. There are 90 that we have.


CAMEROTA: So, we will discuss the vile behavior that Grossberg says is part of daily life at Fox, and why fox management allows their hosts to create that toxic workplace.

All right, the panel is here with me, they're raring to go. We have former Senate Candidate Joe Pinion, Paula Reid, CNN Senior Legal Affairs Correspondent, Natasha Alford, Host of TheGrio Weekly, and Mosheh Oinounou, Host of the Mo News Podcast. But let's begin with the E. Jean Carroll case. The trial started today in New York, where attorneys laid out their case that Donald Trump raped Carroll in a department store dressing room in the spring of 1996. The judge is allowing Carroll to call two other women as witnesses to show Trump's pattern of alleged sexual assault.

Carroll's attorney says in court today, quote, three women, one clear pattern, pounce, kiss, grab, grope, don't wait. When you're a star, you can do anything you want, and when they speak up about what happened, attack, humiliate them, call them liars, and call them too ugly to assault, end quote. Trump's attorney fired back saying, quote, she is abusing the system by advancing a false claim of rape for money, for political reasons, and for status. And in doing so, she is really minimizing the true rape victims.

Okay, let's get to our panel. Paula, great to have you here with us tonight. So, E. Jean Carroll is expected to testify tomorrow. Is Donald Trump expected to testify or be in the courtroom?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: It's unlikely that we're going to see him. Today, his own attorney was asked and he couldn't really give a straight answer to the judge. But, look, I can tell you, talking to his attorneys in other cases, in criminal cases, they do not want to see the former president anywhere near that witness stand. They are extremely concerned about any other issues that could come up in any kind of testimony. So, they do not want him there.

I mean, look, even the former attorney general, Bill Barr, said, look, there is no need for him to testify this case. And so, I, at this point, do not expect to see him testify. And because this is a civil case, he's not required to really be there at all.

CAMEROTA: Joe, one of his defenses that he's repeated over and over, that he seems to think is a defense, is she's not my type. Not I'm not a rapist, she's not my type. He seems to be more interested in letting his followers know that a 70-something-year-old woman now is -- it was not appealing to him rather than defending himself against gross sexual misconduct.

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I'm not going to dignify the comment from the former president. I think at the end of the day, there is that old adage that no press is bad press. I think ask any person who's ever been accused of rape or had to suffer the indignity of sexual assault, I would beg to differ.

So, certainly, he's not going to come out stronger because of this. We've heard here some of the facts. This is going to be adjudicated in the court. It's a civil case. The president is unlikely to show up. But I do think, again, some of the themes that we will hear, that it is -- was it the fall of 1995, was it the spring of 1996, the allegations, they are quite graphic, they are horrifying, they shocked the conscience. And as such, people would wonder the lack of specificity around the dates.

So, I, think again, all being told, it's a sad day for the country in many ways, as it relates to the fact that time and time again, you have so many women, President Trump aside, who feel as if years after the fact they still can't get justice for what they think has, or what they know has happened to them.

CAMEROTA: Yes. In fact, it's the Adult Survivors' Act that's allowing this. So, as you know, New York passed this law, and there's now this window where women who say that their past the statute of limitations in terms of sexual assault or rape, they can now bring these charges.

But it's interesting, Natasha, you understand, as we all do, it's hard to do this two decades later, though the judge is allowing her to bring in two witnesses who are friends of hers, who she confided to at the time.

NATASHA ALFORD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. When you hear E. Jean Carroll's story, it does sound like something that could have happened. The idea that she went and she told two friends right away afterwards, that she was discouraged, and she was told you will be outlawyered.


Your name will be dragged through the mud. You do not want this fight. That is something a lot of women can relate to.

So, I think the fact that those two friends are willing to testify is really powerful. Also, her psychologist, the therapist that she spoke to at the time, verified what she said, confirmed that she reported that experience that she went through.

So, I think that the time that has passed, there are people who understand why that time passed, and why it would still hurt all of these years later.

CAMEROTA: Mosheh, and then there is the Access Hollywood tape. And they're going to allow that to be played. There was a question over whether or not the judge would allow that. And so what will that do? I mean, first of all, is there juror in America who hasn't heard it? And, second, what do you think that will tell the jury or inform them of?

MOSHEH OINOUNOU, HOST, MO NEWS PODCAST: Well, what's interesting is they went to the jury pool, right. There were 40 potential jurors. And they asked several questions and a bunch of them raised their hand over the course of the day, and they came up with these nine. These nine will have to make the decision.

What's interesting about the Access Hollywood tape is they're clearly going to try to show a pattern here, right? They're going to try to make up for the lack of specificity in her case, in terms of her memory with a, this is the way the former president conducts himself. And we have several women who can speak to that.

And so it remains to be seen what happens there. And, of course, this is a civil case, so this is preponderance of some of the evidence, right? Is this more likely than not? Is there 50.1 percent chance this could have happen, and that's ultimately what the jury has to decide.

And then there's a little court of public opinion that has to deal with, which is a whole separate conversation.

CAMEROTA: Paula, in addition to her friends who she told, she says, at the time, there are also two other women, not friends with E. Jean Carroll --

REID: Exactly.

CAMEROTA: -- who will testify to similar behavior basically in public. One of them was on a plane and said he groped her.

REID: Exactly. This is part of the pattern that Mosheh just referenced, that this is their whole theory of the case. We don't have any eyewitnesses, right? We don't have any DNA evidence that we're going to use here. So, were trying to establish this pattern, not only through the contemporaneous account of her friends, but also through other women who have experienced the same thing. And when they talk about, you know, grab, grope, kiss, don't stop, then queue the Access Hollywood tape. So, yes, all of this is part of establishing a pattern.

CAMEROTA: Yes. You mean you say there's no DNA evidence, and that would stand to reason, because it was a long time ago. Though, I mean it's possible if E. Jean Carroll was -- you know, as she said, she's very upset about it. I just wonder if there could ever be a surprise in this case, and there could be something.

REID: If there's one thing I've learned from covering former President Trump for nearly a decade, there's always a chance of a surprise. So, nothing can be ruled out.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for that reminder. That is also very good.

So, I sat down with E. Jean Carroll in 2019, when she had just gone public with this. She had not talked about it publicly. And she was still, I think -- my impression was she was still grappling with what had happened to her. But here is that moment.


E. JEAN CARROLL, SUING DONALD TRUMP: He went like this. I proceeded into the dressing room. The minute he closed that door, I was banged up against the wall.

CAMEROTA: He slammed you against the wall?

CARROLL: Yes, it hit my head really hard, boom.

CAMEROTA: You point out he's a tall big person, and he exceed (ph) you in some way?

CARROLL: Well, I'm a tall person too. I was 6'1 in my heels and I was a competitive athlete. So, when somebody shows you a -- the thing is it shocked me. For a moment, I was stunned, right? And then he tried to kiss me.


CAMEROTA: I mean, she went on to talk about what that was like in there. And, basically, she was honest that she was shocked, so shocked, she was still processing out loud what had happened to her. At that point, she did not even want to use the word rape. What you described in that interview with me was a rape. But she did not want to use that word. And what she kept saying is, I wanted to let you know I fought back, I fought, I fought as hard as I could. And I just thought that that was, I don't know, very poignant that she was -- she sort of understood that she had -- that women -- she had other women that she sort of wanted to understand what that moment was like for her.

ALFORD: There was a relatability to this, this idea that I do not want to be seen as a victim. And times have changed, right? The culture has changed. There was a time where you could describe something like that, and, again, a person might dismiss what happened to you or downplay what happened to you.

The importance of this is accountability. The fact that Donald Trump, there is a certain indignity of saying, I would never find that woman attractive enough to sleep with her. It is both insulting but it's kind of the way that predators can speak, right, to try to sort of downplay something that they've done, when, in reality, that is not what rape is about. It's not about necessarily being attracted. It is about being power. It is about overtaking. It is about sort of the cruelness of the act.

So, again, I think this is bigger than Donald Trump. I think a lot of women would see justice in this if there is enough evidence against him.

CAMEROTA: Such a great point, and it's also -- I think we need to say, that it's also erroneous that if his defense is she's not attractive enough for me to rape, I mean, which is basically what he is saying, or she's not attractive for me to be attracted to her, we will just say that, she was a former Miss Indiana University. She was a beauty queen, that is actually his type.


ALFORD: And looks like his second wife, by the way.

CAMEROTA: How he actually mistook her for, I think.

REID: Yes, in a photo, in his deposition, they showed a photo of E. Jean Carroll, and he said, who is that, that's my wife, referring to Marla Maples. So, that's definitely going to come up. That was disastrous.

PINION: I think, again, it's going to be a horrid scene listening to this woman recount, in her own words, what is clearly a traumatic experience for her. Certainly, President Trump is entitled to the presumption of innocence. But I do think, again, to Natasha's point, I think those words are troubling. But there is no such thing as, quote/unquote, a perfect victim, anymore than there is a perfect predator, right?

We've seen whether we're talking about murder cases and domestic violence, whether we are talking about people who have been sexually assaulted, we have seen time and time again that the perfect victim turns out to be lying. We've seen that the problematic victim tends to be the one who's telling the truth.

So, in the end, this is going to be heard in the court of law, jurors are going to make a decision. And I think, again, it might come to the president having to testify because if the testimony is so damaging, I think, on a multitude of levels, he may have to go in there and say, I did not do this, here is what happened. And I think, in some ways, if he can stay on message, he would benefit tremendously from that.

CAMEROTA: We'll see what happens tomorrow when she testifies in court. Thank you all very much.

Now to this, a former Fox News producer says she has audio recordings for more time at the network, 90 of them. We're going to discuss that, next.


GROSSBERG: When I go back and listen to some those tapes now that I have, I hear the stress in my voice, and how depleted I was.





GROSSBERG: Tucker, and his executive producer, Justin Wells, who was also fired, really were responsible for breaking me and making my life a living hell.


CAMEROTA: That was Abby Grossberg, a former producer at Fox who worked for Tucker Carlson, speaking out today on what she says was rampant misogyny and anti-Semitic talk behind the scenes of his show. She's also revealed that she has 90 audio recordings from her time at Fox. Fox says that Grossberg's claims are, quote, unmeritorious.

We're back with my panel. And joining us is Writer and Comedian Hari Kondabolu. Hari, great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: Well, it's fascinating to hear everything that she encountered behind the scenes. We don't know yet what's on those 90 tapes. Some of it, is sounds like, are still some recordings of Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani. It's not just all behind the scenes at Tucker, but I don't think they'll ever come out, but it's certainly fascinating. But, regardless, she tells us what she experienced.

So, Mosheh, you've worked at a network, you've worked in newsrooms, as have I. What they did -- I mean, there's a lot of collegial experience at newsrooms. There's funny posters, there's funny things written on the wall. What was going on in Tucker's pot in Tucker's office was in a completely different vein.

OINOUOU: I haven't worked in a newsroom like that, in terms of what she describes.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. No, that's my point. I said this is in a completely different category.

OINOUOU: Yes. No, this is not a newsroom that I've experienced or that I've seen. And, by the way, I was at Fox '05 to '09 in D.C., like back in the day, this is in the pre-Tucker years, et cetera. It's very concerning. And she talks about it being a traumatizing experience for her to the point where she had to take medical leave for the psychological stress that it created.

CAMEROTA: Let me interrupt you to play what she says. She walks in the first day to Tucker's office, and every single computer screen is like a sexualized picture of the House speaker at the time, Nancy Pelosi, there's also posters up. So, let me just play for you on her first day but she -- oh, yes, what she saw on the first day.


GROSSBERG: I show up, first day of work, and I know this is a popular one, it's been widely publicized, there are little pictures, like this big, of Nancy Pelosi in a bathing suit, in Europe, plastered all over. There was even one on my computer screen for the temporary computer I had to use and I had to take it down just to work. Within a few days, I was called into Justin Wells office with Alex McCaskill, who's a senior producer as well, and I asked if Maria was having an affair with Kevin McCarthy. It was just -- I was shocked. I couldn't even believe it. I was flurried (ph).


CAMEROTA: Right. So, sexual talks, sexual images, this is all out in the open. They're not hiding it. And it's just a question of why did Fox management allow this kind of behavior? They know it gets them into trouble. They know they have to do payouts. And yet they're allowing this kind of toxic behavior.

OINOUOU: What's so interesting about this is like it's not that long ago that they dealt with having to fire Roger Ailes, the president of the network, for sexual misconduct, Bill O'Reilly, for sexual misconduct. They had a whole investigation, et cetera, and it appears there was not a wholesale culture change there, at least based on what she is saying.

CAMEROTA: Natasha, your thoughts? ALFORD: Yes. I mean, I think culture starts at the top with any organization, right, and we all know that the truth comes out one way or another. So, people are going to talk about what they're seeing, they're going to talk about what they're experiencing, and culture is not what you write down as the legal letter of the law, it is the jokes, it is the things that we find mutually funny.

So, somebody at Fox made it so the culture was comfortable with sort of entertaining that level of disrespect. And I'm not surprised based on the way that Fox anchors behave, Alisyn, I know that you were great when you are there, but the most popular ones are the most offensive, the most outrageous. And so if you can behave that way and call yourself a journalist, then I think that the culture behind the scenes, I'm not surprised that it matches in terms of outrageousness.

CAMEROTA: Hari, your thoughts?

KONDABOLU: I have a two-and-a-half-year-old child. And for the last two-and-a-half years, I let him throw things on the wall yogurt, jam, mix them and do whatever you want, in fact, here's some more substances, because it's amusing, and I want you to do it. And then two-and-a-half years in, I'm like, I want you to stop. I think it's enough. He's not going to listen to me. He's not going to respect me. And so I think that's where Fox News is at. They created a monster. They wanted to stop. They can't make it stop and so they put him up for adoption.


ALFORD: I have a toddler.

KONDABOLU: So, you know exactly.

CAMEROTA: I think the toddler analogy is fitting somehow. But I think that what you're basically alluding to is the drunk with power nature that these uber powerful, highly paid people develop. And, in fact, Abby talks about how the power that she says Tucker Carlson was really interested, that was his motivation. Here's what she said.


GROSSBERG: When I got to tucker, it was different. And as the texts that came out revealed my suspicions, he was looking for ratings bait, purely, and was also looking for power. It was a combination of ratings and power and manipulating the audience, and manipulating also the political system. There was an aspect of I can pick who the House speaker is. I can pick who the president of the United States is or who the Republican candidate is going to be. And I thought that was really dangerous and didn't want that kind of power.


CAMEROTA: Your thoughts, Joe?

PINION: Look, I think the foreign to say that Fox says these allegations are without merit. There is a trial that is going to occur unless they reach a settlement, the facts are going to be fully disclosed.

CAMEROTA: But do you find this hard to believe, or implausible, given what we now know from what came out in the Dominion lawsuit of what Tucker was saying behind the scenes? Like, are you finding it hard to believe her allegations?

PINION: I think I'm less intrigued by the court, but intrigued. I'm more concerned with the fact that it appears now every single major news network in the country has had some level of sexual harassment leveled against them, from CEOs of CNBC, as recent as yesterday, to pretty much across the board, you name it.

So, I think we should have a frank conversation about why it is that women are unsafe in the workplace, and this is whether we're talking about teachers, whether we're talking about nurses, or whether we're talking people who show up to produce the evening news. So, yes.

CAMEROTA: I think that's fair, Joe. I do think that's fair. Nobody is immune, obviously, from sexual harassment. But this is in a different league. And let me just give you some examples, the open use of the C word for women, which is what she says, Tucker's staff did, that you have to look pretty hard for something like that in the office.

PINION: I think, to be clear, everything that she is describing, the most extreme elements of what she's describing are horrifying. They should not occur in any news place, much less any business place, much less a news organization. But at the end of the day, this has not been presented in a court of law. There is a legal proceeding that is ongoing.

I think, again, we should be reserving of our judgment as these facts come out. She says she has 90 recordings that she herself has not even gone through. We don't even know if perhaps some of what's on those recordings might actually contravene her own story.

So, I think at the end of the day, we just take a step back, allow this play out. But, again, what she is describing, make no mistake about it, is horrifying, no woman should ever have to experience it.

KONDABOLU : We should not jump to anything. We should let things play out. We should kind of respect people before we -- okay. That's not what Tucker Carlson will do, though.

PINION: Well, look, I'm not Tucker Carlson's attorney. Tucker Carlson certainly doesn't need me to defend him. But I think, again, let's dispense with the notion that we don't actually try to figure out what people are going to watch, how we get through a block without people going to watch the cooking channel. We can have disagreements about corporate culture.

But I think at the end of the day, I'm not here to talk about Tucker Carlson or the network. I just think it's an opportunity for us to focus on the fact that we just finished having one conversation about sexual assault, we're into another story about women in the workplace. So, these issues are pervasive in our society and I think that we should take more time talking about that in the kind of aggregate. CAMEROTA: And I think, though, I had read that Fox's statement was that all of her claims were unmeritorious. We shall see, because there is a lawsuit that is going to start. Thank you very much.

President Biden officially announcing his bid for re-election. So, are Democratic voters worried about his chances? What are they thinking tonight? My next guest, Frank Luntz, did a focus group, and they're concerned about just one key witness, he says. Frank is here and he's going to give us the headlines. We'll be with you in a minute, Frank.



CAMEROTA: President Biden officially launched his re-election campaign today four years to the day since he announced his 2020 campaign.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I ran for president four years ago. I said we're going to a battle for the soul of America, and we still are. The question we're facing is whether the years ahead we have more freedom or less freedom, more rights or fewer. I know what I want the answer to be, and I think you do too. This is not a time to be complacent. That's why I'm running for re-election.


CAMEROTA: So, what do Democratic voters most want? Well, Frank Luntz just sat down with a focus group of Democrats to find out and he joins us now. Frank, great to see. What's the headline? What do they want?

FRANK LUNTZ, POLLSTER AND COMMUNICATIONS STRATEGIST: They want to beat Donald Trump. Yes, they want to elect Joe Biden. And, yes, they approve of the last two years, two-and-a-half years of the administration. But what unites them and unifies them is the desire, the fear of Republicans returning to office.

Now, remember they did the same kind of session three weeks ago asking Republicans what they wanted. Republicans are more in favor of electing their candidate. Democrats are more nervous about what happens if Republicans come back into power.

Now, make no mistake, there is no negative about Joe Biden's record. They would like to go further to protect abortion rights. They would like to go further to address the gun issue. But they are absolutely satisfied with what President Biden has done up to this point.

CAMEROTA: And yet --

LUNTZ: What concerns them deeply is his age. And they're quite nervous that at some point between now and Election Day, something could happen, and that Joe Biden is not the nominee, or that he could lose, because of that age issue.


CAMEROTA: And you know, that's quite a pickle, Frank, because he is not getting any younger. I mean, that's just -- it's just a truism. He is how old he is. I wish I were taller, but I'm 5'3. And so, what are they to do about that? I mean, do they hope somebody runs against him? Primaries him?

LUNTZ: No, they don't, but they would have -- if -- the most enjoyable segment that I have, and this is what makes my job so cool, is that we get a chance to ask voters if the president was sitting here, behind this camera, behind this computer, and you can say anything to him, the most common comment was Mr. President, thank you for saving the country. Thank you for bringing us back, but sir, give someone else the chance to take it forward. Let the next generation come up now. Obviously, he did not listen or wouldn't have listened, but that's what they would say to him if they could.

CAMEROTA: Did they say who that person would be and how they feel about say the vice president?

LUNTZ: She would not be happy with their evaluations. She's still unknown. People aren't sure of where she stands. They don't think that she's as impressive. She has let people down over the first two years. They were remarkably favorable towards Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey.

We show them some video of the vice president, some video of the governor of California. We talked about Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan, Pete Buttigieg, the candidate that they like the best is Cory Booker, because they like his appeal to something bigger, to something better.

They like his focus on the future and what America could be. What they would like is to have Joe Biden's record with Cory Booker's age and inspirational conversation.

CAMEROTA: Well, unless they plan to go into a laboratory, I'm not sure how they're going to get that. But Frank, tell us about this focus group. Who are they? I mean are they die hard Democrats?

LUNTZ: These are Biden voters from 2020. Most of them voted for Biden in 2016. They call themselves core Democrats, moderate, progressive, and everything in between, and they're nationwide, which is the value of Zoom, of what we're doing right here right now, that you and I can talk to each other even though we're 200 miles apart.

We had the entire country represented, from New York to California, from Iowa to Oklahoma, from Florida to Oregon. And by doing that, we get a real feel for the American people. I want to make one point Alisyn, I urge CNN and the other news network, don't just put the pundits on because you know exactly what they're going to say.

You and I have known each other for a while, you did not know what this conversation is going to lead. Listen to the voice of the people and you won't be surprised. Ignore them, and only listen to the pundits, and all you're going to get is that extreme partisan political rhetoric and that's not where the American people are right now.

And in fact, Democrats said that they want a better messenger. They want a better message for their own party. And Republicans would agree with that for their situation as well.

CAMEROTA: Totally agree, which is why I too love doing voter panels. I do my "Pulse of the People," and luckily, the country is big enough for the both of us, Frank, you and me, to listen to them. So, it's always great to have you, Frank. Thanks so much for the insight. We really appreciate you sharing all that. All right, my --

LUNTZ: Thank you. It's my pleasure.

CAMEROTA: Good. My panel is back with me. So, Hari, what are Democrats to do about the age issue that they keep bumping up against with Joe Biden?

KONDABOLU: I mean there is nothing to do, unless they find another candidate. I mean, the one thing that gives me hope is that like Obama wasn't the establishment candidate when he ran the first time around. Everybody was aiming towards Hillary Clinton. He was this young charismatic leader that put himself in this position.

CAMEROTA: But there was no incumbent?

KONDABOLU: That is also true. Look, they are not in a good spot. To me, my frustration is they had years to develop younger, more viable candidates, and they didn't. And part of that is like what I was saying, like it's a -- the establishment does not want to change. Like with Obama, that wasn't their guy and he kind of was this transcendent figure.

And we have this figures in the Democratic left, whether it's AOC or all these justice Democrats. You might think maybe they're not electable, but there isn't even an attempt to cultivate them at a higher level. The fact that they won their seats to begin with means they defied the odds. So, he's not worth investing in.

CAMEROTA: Natasha?

ALFORD: My dad's favorite saying is, it is what it is. And that's kind of how I feel about the situation that Democratic voters are in. They recognize that it is what it is, right. At this point, the bench is but so deep. They have had these significant legislative accomplishments.


So, you have to think about, you know, the Infrastructure Bill that passed, the CHIPS Act, it's not as sexy as maybe people would hope, but these are really substantive things. And the video, right? Joe Biden's ad, it's entitled freedom. The first shots you see are January 6th, reminding you that there was someone who at one point wanted to challenge the freedom and the meaning of your vote.

Roe versus Wade, I mean, all of these things really resonate. So, I think it is what it is. And to Hari's point, they have to actually plan ahead. That's all you've got.

CAMEROTA: Joe, what did you think about the president's message reminding people unless they forget, what he was fighting for four years ago?

PINION: Well, look, I think, you know, to Natasha's point, she's talking about two of my favorite quotes, one from Dion Sanders, keep the main thing the main thing. The other one from that man, that Ragin Cajun James Carville, that it's the economy, stupid. The main thing was the main thing for Joe Biden.

That January 6th happened, that anyone who is opposed to our agenda is opposed to your freedom, that they're going to talk about abortion, they're going to talk effectively about that kind of bellwether red meat stuff, for not just Democrats, but also those independents who lean left, particularly in light of President Trump.

So, that is clearly what they were going to talk about. I think what's striking and what Republicans probably should be harping on is what was not in that video. We weren't talking about the claim that we have the greatest jobs president in the history of this country, which I think is because they recognize that that message is ringing hollow for a lot of Americans who are struggling on a day-to-day basis.

The half million Americans who are at least 60 days behind on their car payments, those types of undeniable realities that what are the politicians, and to Frank's, point the pundits, on to acknowledge it or not. There is still real pain and suffering in the aftermath of a once in a generational pandemic that no matter your political persuasion, left real people with real trouble. So, I think that is my perspective. And I think we're going to look at what's going to happen moving forward here.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. I mean, Mosh?

OINOUNOU: That video spoke to what Frank just said, which is it spoke to Democrats' greatest fear, right? It begins with January 6th. It's a look back. There are more images of Marjorie Taylor Greene and MAGA than there are about talk about the economy and talk about accomplishments and talk -- because we don't talk about inflation right now or the White House, right?

And so, even though there is pressure coming down, and so ultimately, this is a core base message. If you're, you know, trying to eventually get independents and trying to get those people motivated in the middle, you're going to need a different message, because you'll need to speak to their concerns and their fears.

Because their greatest fear is not a repeat of January 6th at least. And so, it's interesting that they've gone with that messaging. And the question is, what record will he have to run on more than a year from now, in the fall of 23?

PINION: I also think, again, people are waiting to see what President Biden is going to say. And I think in many ways, this was trying to circle the wagons, right? Get behind Joe again because to your point, right, God forbid something does happen in the president between now and then, there is only one Democrat in the country with the infrastructure to run a national campaign, is Gavin Newsom who's going red state to red state, effectively building a synthetic operation as a break glass in case of emergency for the Democratic Party, whether the Democratic Party wants him or not.

CAMEROTA: Friends, thank you. I have to go on to this next one, but I know you guys will be fired up about this as well because we're talking about the Supreme Court. Are the justices living up to the standards that they're supposed to be setting in the Supreme Court? Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch Are in the spotlight over financial disclosure issues. And now, Chief Justice John Roberts is refusing to testify before Congress about ethics. We'll discuss all of it, next.



CAMEROTA: Chief Justice John Roberts releasing a new ethics statement tonight, signed by all nine justices amid reports of some questionable business dealings. Let's start with Justice Neil Gorsuch.

In 2017, he sold a 40-acre property in Colorado. Gorsuch held a 20 percent stake in that property and reportedly made between $250,000 to $500,000 on that sale. That property was sold to Brian Duffy, the CEO of prominent law firm Greenberg Traurig. But Gorsuch did not disclose the buyer.

CNN found that lawyers for that firm have appeared in numerous cases before the Supreme Court while Gorsuch was on the bench. Then there's Justice Clarence Thomas. He's under fire again because records show that Thomas failed to recuse himself from a 2004 appeal that was tied to the family of that mega donor, that Republican mega donor, his good friend Harlan Crow.

Of course, that's the same GOP mega donor that Thomas sold his childhood home to. He also accepted lavish gifts and very fancy vacations for more than 20 years without disclosing them.

We have a lot to discuss here and my panel is back. Mosheh, that just doesn't feel right what they're doing, the fact that they are having these business deals. And in fact, Clarence Thomas has said I didn't have to disclose it because there is never any business that Harlan Crow did in front of the Supreme Court. Not true. That's not true. His company -- there was an architecture firm that Harlan Crow was, I believe, the CEO of and they did do business in 2004.

OINOUNOU: It's definitely a major optics issue because it's not clear whether anybody broke the law here, and we should separate out the Gorsuch case from the Thomas case. The Gorsuch case, people will look at this and say, you know, it does not appear that even ethically it's ambiguous.

The Clarence Thomas situation is he went through those bullet points there, there's a lot there. The larger issue is from the founding of this country, the Supreme Court has not had a code of ethics, a written code of ethics. Every other part of the federal judiciary does. And this is something the Senate has brought up and is asking Roberts about.


They attached this written statement today, Dick Durbin saying, the senate judiciary chairman, this is not enough. But the standard that we hold Congress to, every other judge in the federal system to, we do not hold the nine lifetime appointees as the Supreme Court do.

CAMEROTA: Right. And so, now, Chief Justice Roberts says he's not going to testify about ethics. I guess Dick Durbin has asked him to do so, and he says he's not going to. And let me just read why he says that. He says, "Testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee by the Chief Justice of the United States is exceedingly rare, as one might expect in light of separations of powers concerns and the importance of preserving judicial independence."

So, that makes sense. I mean, that makes sense to me. But is this a kind of different situation where he should do so? Go ahead.

KONDABOLU: No, I'm just kind of just floored by -- I mean, we should not have lifelong appointments. There's accountability in every single stage of government. I don't think that the Supreme Court itself should somehow not have that accountability. I mean, we treat the Supreme Court like it's the jedi council, like this is just, I don't know if that's an accurate analogy. I'm sure people will tweet at me later.

But like the idea that you can do anything you want and like, when you were talking about this idea of bad optics. Is it that optics if there's no accountability? Like they're seeing them do it --

OINOUNOU: It comes at a time, where if you look at polling --


OINOUNOU: -- the popularity, the trust in the Supreme Court is at a record low, if you look at Gallup over the last 50 years. So, if I'm Chief Justice Roberts and I'm seeing how the country feels about us, and we are deciding all these major cases, I might huddle the troops --

KONDABOLU: But why do they care? Why do they care what people think about them since they have lifelong positions, they're not elected. Like, at that point, it's just about integrity and dignity. But from what we've just heard, there isn't that much of it. So, then what's the worry?

ALFORD: I guess that's why you're seeing sort of this resistance, right. If you don't have to answer to somebody, you won't. And in the case of Clarence Thomas, I found it really interesting that at one point he did report a flight with this Republican billionaire friend. He reported it once, and then he just never reported it again, while other judges reported flights. So, if you can choose to opt in or out in terms of transparency, and as you said, no one is watching, why opt in?


PINION: Look, I think we are in a modern age where the rules of decorum, with nothing written on paper, have broken down. That we now know for a fact that insider trading in Congress is rampant and pervasive, and we have literally done nothing about it, having passed laws to do anything about it.

We clearly need a code of ethics for the Supreme Court. The interests of Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas notwithstanding, certainly I would agree you have to separate the two. One is in like league of its own. But I do think, again, the reason why you won't hear more Republicans talking about this in a forceful term is because of the fact that with everything, we have injected politics into what should be the last bastion of our democracy.

And as a result, people feel as if, rightfully or wrongfully, that this is just a partisan attempt to try to steal a Supreme Court seat in the 11th hour. Do I agree with that? No. I think ethics have to be in place irrespective of what the consequences are.

But I do think, again, the nature of our politics today has led to this place where we can't have a real common-sense conversation about this just being --

CAMEROTA: Well, I guess, except that everybody agrees that there needs to be a code of ethics. So, tomorrow or tonight, they need to work on a code of ethics and enshrined that. And that can't make up for what's happened over the past two decades, but it could help start a precedent --

PINION: And to the years, if the -- if the Chief Justice doesn't want to testify, which I agree, it's impossible to have the conversation without politics, perhaps he should submit a code of ethics to Congress that they're going to have to abide by and have that codify.

CAMEROTA: That's a great suggestion, Joe. Thank you very much. Thank you, friends. Coming up, we've got a wild story from Hari about how you completely snubbed Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez before she was elected. And I assume you are going to pour out your soul to us and tell us how your regrets or how you feel about it. Hold it.


CAMEROTA: We'll be right back, okay?



CAMEROTA: Okay, so Hari Kondabolu it's still with me here because he's got some explaining to do about Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez. Here's a clip from his YouTube special "Vacation Baby" where Hari talks about snubbing AOC when she was running for Congress.


KONDABOLU: The worst thing I've ever done because of my ego happened in 2017, all right. I'm on twitter, I get a direct message from someone I've never met before. Again, 2017, all right? This is how it goes. Hey there, my name is Alexandria and I'm running an insurgent grassroots campaign for Congress in Queens and the Bronx. The race itself is very exciting. We represent a progressive movement that would lead to the first person of color to represent the district. Your standup comedy is amazing and I know it must resonate with a lot of people. If you would ever like to collaborate, let me know, my door is open. And I replied, "I'm pretty busy right now."


Why don't you get back to me next year? She said definitely, and I said, thanks for doing what you do, Alexis.


Three months later, I'm watching CNN, the Democratic primary returns come in. I'm reading a scroll on the bottom of the screen, it says Alexandria Ocasio, oh, (BLEEP)! Was that the lady? Oh no, I think that was the lady? So, I write back, (BLEEP), I never wrote back.


Shamelessly, the night she won; I finally wrote back.


Oh, my god, you did it! I knew you'd win! Hey, if you would ever like to collaborate sometime --


CAMEROTA: Wow! That is awesome.

KONDABOLU: Right. I wish I didn't --

CAMEROTA: Did she respond the night she won?

KONDABOLU: No, no. Apparently, I was insignificant at that point. She responded after my special came out. She responded on twitter, saying that it made for a great story and she forgave me. And then I think "The Hill" covered it as a story. So, it's all worked out. I still feel a great deal of shame.

CAMEROTA: You should.


CAMEROTA: You should -- just the part about I'm all -- I'm kind of busy right now. How about in a year?

KONDABOLU: I was making America laugh.


CAMEROTA: And have you two met?

KONDABOLU: No, we have never met. Is she coming out?

CAMEROTA: Here she is!

KONDABOLU: Oh, my god.

CAMEROTA: No, I'm just kidding. Okay, we'll make that happen.

KONDABOLU: Oh, my god, I -- I -- there are so many people who were disappointed in me, friends, family, my partner.

CAMEROTA: Now, millions more.

KONDABOLU: Yeah. I have a shockingly big ego for someone who's only moderately notable in coastal cities or wherever public radio is popular so.

CAMEROTA: It's working for you. All right, but I really think that we're going to try and plan a meeting. I think that will be great.


CAMEROTA: Hari, great to have you on the panel.

KONDABOLU: My pleasure. Thank you, guys.

CAMEROTA: Really fun. Come back soon.

KONDABOLU: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Okay, so, coming up, some of our favorite reporters are here to talk about the stories that they're working on for tomorrow. So, they are going to share their scoops with us, next. Come on in, guys. Hello, welcome back. Great to see you guys.

UNKNOWN: Did you miss me?

CAMEROTA: Yes, very much.

UNKNOWN: I'm back.

CAMEROTA: Hari, that was great. Thanks.