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CNN Tonight

Washington Post Reports, Trump Rejected Lawyer Efforts For DOJ Deal; Trump's Rivals In Different Camps On Indictment; Schwarzenegger Says, Trump in Deep Trouble; Southern Baptists Voted To Ban Churches Led By Female Pastors; Modelo Takes Over Bud Light As America's Best- Selling Beer. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 14, 2023 - 22:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening, everyone. I'm Abby Philip. Welcome to a special edition of CNN Tonight.

And we begin with the art of the deal that never was. Tonight, The Washington Post reports that Donald Trump rejected efforts by his lawyers to cut a deal with the Justice Department to avoid his second arrest in just ten weeks. The Post reports that one of his attorneys, Chris Kise, floated the idea of quietly approaching the feds last fall to take the temperature down on the classified documents case and to try to find a way to avoid charging the former president, but that never materialized because Trump listened to other advisers and pundits pushing him to take a much more aggressive approach.

Now, CNN reported last fall that Trump had conservative activist Tom Fitton in his ear, telling him that returning records to the Archives was a mistake. And so now, as a result of all of that, Trump faces 37 criminal counts for allegedly keeping and hiding those documents and, of course, obstructing the investigation.

And behind the scenes, CNN is also learning that Trump and his team are expecting a third indictment involving his efforts to overturn the election results in the state of Georgia.

Joining me now, Donald Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, he's the host of the Mea Culpa Podcast and the author of the book, Revenge.

Michael, you know Donald Trump very, very well. Do you think in your mind he was ever going to opt for an option of taking a settlement instead of battling this out in public?

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: No. So, Donald's position is never to settle ever because he thinks it's a sign of weakness. Unfortunately, he didn't have anybody around him to guide him properly. He's like a petulant child that just keeps sticking their finger into an electric socket, and then you keep saying, don't do it, you don't want to do it, you don't want to do it. But, nevertheless, he's going to do it anyway because, in his mind, he knows better. And then you have somebody, for example, like a Boris Epshteyn, who will turn around and will say to him, yes, you're right, Donald, stick your finger into the socket, it's good, it's good, you can do it, instead of guiding him, like many of us used to in the past, and say to him, no, you can't do that.

All right, think about how many of these matters right now would not even exist had he listened to somebody who's providing him just a scintilla of good advice, just a scintilla.

PHILLIP: And I think we -- a lot of people look at this and wonder was anybody telling him to just give the documents back? And this reporting really confirms that people were. And according to The Washington Post, this was just one of several times that those lawyers tried to move Trump to prevent what basically unfolded in court.

When you hear that, I mean, what do you think got Trump to the point where holding onto documents was more important than staying out of real legal jeopardy here?

COHEN: First of all, I don't buy the nonsense that people were telling him not to hold onto it. Number one, he wouldn't listen. But, number two, nobody really has, you know, the cojones enough to turn around and tell Donald that you need to send it back. In fact, the proof in the pudding is that you had people, like Evan Corcoran, you had people like -- what's the name -- Bobb, the other attorney who signed affidavits to the government, Christina Bobb, right, stating that they had searched the premises, that there were no documents that were left on Mar-a-Lago or in other locations that Donald had control over. So, I don't buy the story that people were telling him to return it.

Now, that doesn't mean that there wasn't one person that was giving him good advice that he was ignoring. That I am sure there was definitely somebody. But for the most part, most people don't have what it takes in order to tell Donald that you're wrong, you've got to do this because Donald doesn't want to hear it. And if you do say it, he just terminates you.

PHILLIP: Well, yesterday, we saw him really projecting this sense of confidence. He went out to Versailles Cafe in Miami. He was surrounded by the crowds. He did another speech later. But his former chief of staff, John Kelly, who, by the way, doesn't really talk that often, right, he told The Washington Post, quote, and this is a direct quote, excuse the profanity, he said, he's scared shitless.


This is the way he compensates for that. He gives people the appearance he doesn't care by doing this.

For the first time in his life, it looks like he's being held accountable. Up until this point in his life, it's like I'm not going to pay you, take me to court. He's never really been held accountable before.

Do you agree, Michael, with John Kelly? Do you think Trump tonight is scared?

COHEN: Yes. Wholeheartedly, John Kelly has nailed it. In fact, today, I was in court over at 60 Center Street on the case where I'm taking Donald Trump, the Trump Organization to trial. My trial starts next month because they refused to pay legal fees that are owed. So, yes, Donald does not pay. He will fight you all the way to the end. And like I said, like a petulant child he will keep sticking his finger into that socket until it really, really hurts.

Now, Donald, I'm not talking, of course, that's metaphorically, for Donald what hurts is when you hit him in the pocketbook very much like what E. Jean Carroll did.

Now, what did he do? Again, you're so right about that, Abby, he does not accept accountability, so he goes out less than 24 hours after being hit with a $5 million verdict. He ends up going out on CNN town hall with Kaitlan Collins and he says the same thing again and again. And now she's going to re-file an additional claim against him.

Unless you hit him hard in the pocket, Donald Trump doesn't understand accountability. He is, for the very first time, right now, seeing accountability on a multitude of different legal matters.

PHILLIP: Yes. But we are talking here about jail time. Do you think he could really face that penalty?

COHEN: Yes. I think he actually knows that jail, in and of itself, is probably unlikely. And to be honest with you, and a lot of people get angry when I say it especially the Trump detractors. I don't want to see Donald Trump behind bars. I do want to see him ultimately held accountable for his alleged crimes. And if that means a sentence, I believe that the right thing to do is to put him on a very significant home confinement.

And I say that because understand Donald Trump, despite the fact that he's dumb, he still spent four years getting classified debriefings. And the information that's in his head, he's willing to sell out for a bag of tuna or for, you know, a book of stamps to anybody that's there. And he would then pose a grave security risk to our country. And I would certainly prefer the safety of Americans to over, you know, Donald Trump behind bars. As much as I'd like to see that, I would rather see America safe than sorry.

PHILLIP: And as you know, the Trump team is now looking for lawyers to represent him in the case in Florida. Do you have words of advice for anyone --

COHEN: Good luck.

PHILLIP: -- considering taking that job? Good luck?

COHEN: Yes, good luck. Because so many people have said it and they've been accurate in their statement, Donald doesn't pay. I mean, I've seen that go on for so many years. He does not pay legal fees whether you're successful for him or not. Now, if you're not, it's an easier reason for him to tell you that he's not paying. But even if you are successful, he just does not like to pay. He has burnt so many of the top white shoe firms, they have no interest -- they have no interest whatsoever in representing him.

On top of that, he is an incredibly difficult client because he believes that his kneejerk reaction, his gut reaction is always right. When, look, we are seeing it right now, his gut reaction to all of this stuff is wrong. And all of this stuff was easily avoidable.

If you take The Washington Post article at face value -- and I take the bulk of it at face value -- this case, all he needed to do to have shut it down was to return the documents day one. All he needed to do after he got caught with the documents, turn it over. Instead, again, like the petulant child scenario, he just needs to hold onto it. He needs to fight, fight, fight. He will fight for stupid things.

Now, that of course -- that negates -- by the way, Abby, what that does is it negates the real reason why he was holding onto those documents.

PHILLIP: Well, Michael, we only have a couple seconds left. I do wonder does it surprise you to not really see really any members of the Trump family, Ivanka Trump, Melania, there with him for all of this that has transpired over the last 24 hours?

COHEN: Well, you know, it's true love. There's nothing else I can say about that, nothing like having your family behind you when the chips are down.


PHILLIP: All right. Michael Cohen, thank you very much for joining us.

COHEN: Good to see you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And coming up next, Arnold Schwarzenegger joins CNN speaking out for the first time about Trump's indictment. Hear his predictions for the former president.

Plus, Chris Wallace joins me on how Trump's rivals are going their separate ways over this as talk of a potential pardon heats up in the 2024 race.


PHILLIP: If your political opponent, the front-runner in your party's race, has been arrested twice in ten weeks, indicted twice, expecting a third indictment and likely to stand trial in multiple cases before voters get to the polls, you'd think that that would make for a target for those who are challenging him for the presidency. But when it comes to Donald Trump, of course, there is no such thing as conventional political wisdom.

Since Trump's indictment and arraignment, his 2024 Republican rivals have fallen into three main camps. There are the ones who shame, the ones who blame and, well, the ones who have simply evolved. So, we will start there.

On Friday, after the indictment, Nikki Haley took on the Justice Department, accusing prosecutors of overreach and vendetta politics. But this week, she and others are noticeably changing their tune.


NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If this indictment is true, if what it says is actually the case, President Trump was incredibly reckless with our national security.


MIKE PENCE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: I'd hoped the Department of Justice would see its way clear to resolve these issues with the former president without moving forward with charges, and I'm deeply troubled to see this indictment move forward.

I had the chance to review the indictment over the weekend, and this indictment contains serious charges. And I cannot defend what is alleged.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): Today, what we see is a justice system where the scales are weighted.

This case is a serious case with serious allegations.


PHILLIP: Now, take a listen to other rivals who take a much harder line, saying that Trump should be nowhere near the oval office again.


CHRIS CHRISTIE, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is a very tight, very detailed, evidence-laden indictment and the conduct in there is awful. Did someone remind him he's not the president anymore?

This is vanity run amok.

ASA HUTCHINSON, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a disservice to our servicemen and women who are bound by the rules. One of them was convicted and sent to three years in prison for mishandling classified information.


PHILLIP: And then there are the ones who are speaking more like Trump's defense attorneys than his competitors.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): You can't have one faction of society weaponizing the power of the state against factions that it doesn't like.

And is there a different standard from a Democrat secretary of state versus a former Republican president?

VIVEK RAMASWAMY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is my commitment, on January 20th, 2025, if I'm elected the next U.S. president, to pardon Donald J. Trump.


PHILLIP: Well, whether to pardon Trump is now a very hot topic on the campaign trail today.


HALEY: You know, when you look at a pardon, the issue is less about guilt and more about what's good for the country. And I think it would be terrible for the country to have a former president in prison for years because of a documents case.

So, I would be inclined in favor of a pardon.

HUTCHINSON: It has no place in a political campaign. If you're running for president of the United States, you can't dangle a pardon out there to curry votes.

That's problematic to me.

PENCE: And I take the pardon authority very seriously. It's an enormously important power of someone in an executive position. And I just think it's premature to have any conversation about that right now, guys.


PHILLIP: And for much more on how this indictment is impacting the 2024 race, I'm joined by Chris Wallace, host of Who's Talking to Chris Wallace on CNN and on Max.

So, Chris, this idea of pardoning Trump has now paradoxically become the GOP loyalty pledge, even though all of these people are running against him.

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: Yes. This is really a tough one for those GOP opponents, contenders, again, challengers of Donald Trump. In polls that have been taken since the indictment was announced Trump was up by at least 30 points over Ron DeSantis and all the others are in the single digits. And the CBS poll that has been taken since the indictment, Trump is at 61 percent, DeSantis is at 23 percent. That's a 31-point margin against the second place contender and a lot more against everybody else.

And if you look at the internals of the polls, Abby, it's even tougher for these challengers because while 38 percent of Republicans say that the charges are serious in the indictment, 80 percent, four out of five Republicans are saying they believe the charges are politically motivated. So, to take in any, shape or form the side of the Biden Justice Department against Donald Trump is a very risky strategy at this point. PHILLIP: It seems so. I mean, that's so interesting that Republicans who are running against Trump even in that environment seem to want to disarm themselves on this issue, but we're also seeing now some Republicans maybe having a change of tune in how they talk about it. Some of them are flip-flopping over the indictment. Does that kind of signal to you that they have to basically walk a tightrope here, maybe condemning the conduct, the handling of national security information but not going so far as to condemn Trump personally.

WALLACE: Yes. I think sort of like good parenting, criticize the act not the child. But even more than that, they very much are putting caveats on if true. And, I mean, you take a case like Nikki Haley, who has gradually toughened up, and she said most recently that this is incredibly reckless with our national security but she also said that she'd be inclined to pardon the former president who engaged in what she calls incredibly reckless behavior.

So, look, it's just a tough nut.


And I think, you know, for the feeling of a lot of these people, it's the old adage, if your opponent is digging a hole, don't stop him and don't get in the way. And they're kind of hoping to the degree that this indictment and the charges are going to hurt Donald Trump, that it will be the Justice Department and the facts of the case and they don't have to get their hands dirty and tick off a lot of Trump supporters in the base.

PHILLIP: Well, they seem like maybe they're even taking the shovel out of his hands at this point. But, I mean, politically speaking, I mean, we are now more than 24 hours out from Trump appearing in his arraignment and after his remarks last night, which were full of lies and, you know, misdirection and all of that. But do you think that in this primary, where he is running almost 40 points ahead of the next guy, do these indictments help him consolidate the base politically?

WALLACE: The answer is yes and no, and let me explain. I think on the one hand -- and we saw this with the New York indictment on the hush money, now with the Miami indictment about the documents -- that the initial reaction is to rally around the flag, to support the former president against what is seen as politically motivated actions, weaponization of the Justice Department.

On the other hand, I think one of the arguments that some of the challengers are making, people like Chris Christie particularly, that, really, since 2016 and his surprise victory in that election, Donald Trump led to the loss of the House in 2018, lost the presidency in 2020, lost the Senate and had very disappointing results in the 2022 midterms.

So, you know, one of the arguments that you can make against Trump without taking the side of the Justice Department is rightly or wrongly, he's got a lot of baggage, and is he going to win? And do you want to take the chance on nominating one of the few people who I think Republicans feel of this field could actually lose to Joe Biden? PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, I think that at this point, Republican voters seem to be kind of dismissing those concerns about Trump's electability at least so far. But you've also -- I mean, you've interviewed Trump, you've hosted debates very memorably, I should add. You've covered him for years as well. What do you think is going through his mind right now? Is he actually worried that he's going to serve time for this?

I can't forget memorably today in The Washington Post, John kelly, his former chief of staff, says he's scared to death, basically, and that's the nice version of what he said.

WALLACE: Yes. Well, look, you'd have to be crazy not to be worried. It's -- almost everyone, Republican and Democrat who has any kind of independence has said it's a very strong indictment. Now, an indictment is not proof. And a lot of people who were indicted end up being found not guilty, but there's every reason for him to worry. And as a man who just turned 77, you talk about a jail term, it could be a life sentence if it were to happen.

But on the other hand, you know, Donald Trump has led a very different life than the rest of us. He's been involved in litigation for decades, not this kind, not a criminal case where he could actually face jail time, but, you know, this is a lot more in his wheelhouse than it is for the average person.

And one of the things I've thought about him -- ever since he got to the White House is you think about the kind of things in your life that would paralyze you if something goes wrong, there's a leak in the faucet. It just astonishes me this guy's ability to keep on keeping on despite all of the incoming that he faces all the time.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, that is an interesting point. I mean, you can love him or hate him, but that's true. He has a very high tolerance for this kind of thing almost to a fault. In fact, maybe if his tolerance for this were a little bit lower, he would not have found himself in this situation.

But, Chris, stick around. There's actually a lot more that I want to talk to you about including why you are in California right now. You've had quite the last couple of days interviewing Arnold Schwarzenegger. And we'll tell you, the audience, what the former governor is saying about Trump's indictment, next.



PHILLIP: And the dust is still settling on the political landscape just a day after former President Trump's historic court appearance. The big question now is will his mounting legal troubles get in the way of his 2024 hopes?

I'm back now with Chris Wallace, host of Who's Talking with Chris Wallace. So, Chris, you spoke to former Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger about the charges facing Trump. What did he have to say?

WALLACE: Well, he is no Trump supporter. And, in fact, after January 6th, he compared what had happened, the insurrection at the Capitol, to what's called Kristallnacht, when the Nazi sympathizers went after the Jews in 1938.

And so I asked him about the indictment, about Donald Trump and the fact that so many Republicans are siding with Trump against the Justice Department. Take a look.


WALACE: Mr. Trump has been indicted on federal charges, but most of the top Republican officials are siding with him against the special prosecutor. How do you explain that?

FMR. GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R-CA): If the charges are correct, then he's going to be in deep trouble. But at the same time, I have to say that we're always innocent until proven guilty, so we'll find out what the courts say in the future. But, I mean, if the charges are right, I think that he's going to be in big trouble.


WALLACE: Like jail?

SCHWARZENEGGER: That I don't know what the court decides.

WALLACE: And how worried are you about the fact he could be re-elected president?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I'm not worried about it because I don't think it's going to happen. But I mean that's just my thinking.

WALLACE: Because why do you think he won't?

SCHWARZENEGGER: I just don't think that you get re-elected with 30 percent or 33 percent of the people voting for you in your polls. I think that's a great poll numbers amongst conservatives, but I think if you put it all together, it's not enough. You need the swing voters, you need the independents, you need everybody to jump in there in order to win. You have to drag a lot of people over across that line. And so the question is, can you do that? I believe he can't.


WALLACE: You know Abby, Schwarzenegger -- he talked about being elected twice as governor of California, an overwhelmingly democratic state, and one of the secrets to his success, he said, was the fact that he was able to bring a lot of Democrats and a lot of Independents on board.

And you know, it's a theory that you hear advanced a lot by Republican strategists, which is you can only win your own base so many times. You've got to, politics is about addition, not subtraction. And, you know, there's nothing that Donald Trump is doing right at this moment that is adding Independents or Democrats to his fold of supporters.

ABBY PHILIP, CNN ANCHOR AND SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, I mean, and this is something that I think we've been increasingly hearing from Trump's Republican rivals, which is that the math doesn't add up. He can't get to the numbers that he would need to get.

The thing about that, though, is that's such a hard argument to make to a Republican base that's been hearing for the last two-plus years that Trump really technically won and that it was a super close election, when the numbers really, they don't really bear that out.

That coming from Arnold Schwarzenegger is really interesting. And, Chris, I do wonder, he can't run for president because he wasn't born in the United States, but he was a very popular politician. And as you pointed out, coming from this almost like Reagan-like wing of the Republican Party, what are his political aspirations now?

WALLACE: Well, he's not going to run for office again, but it was so interesting because I said to him, you know, this is a man who came from Austria, became the world's greatest bodybuilder, went to the world's biggest action star, the two-time governor of California. And I said, but the one thing he couldn't beat was the provision you mentioned in the Constitution.

Would you have run if you could have? He said, absolutely. In 2016, I would have run. And he said in 2024, it would be even -- it called it a no-brainer. He said against Joe Biden and so many people having concerns about his age, against Donald Trump, such a divisive figure, he said, I absolutely, if I could, I would run for president in 2024. And he kind of indicated he thought he'd win.

PHILIP: I'm sure he has a little bit of FOMO here because the other celebrity candidate did run in 2016 and won. And I mean, there is something to be said for celebrity in American politics, right, Chris?

WALLACE: There is indeed something to be said. And I think there's a little bit of ill feeling between the two men, Trump and Schwarzenegger, because after Trump left Apprentice, Arnold Schwarzenegger replaced him. Apparently, the ratings weren't as good. And Trump never missed an opportunity to point out how much bigger his ratings were than Arnold's. That's not the kind of thing that Arnold Schwarzenegger would forget.

PHILIP: It's always about the ratings at the end of the day. Chris Wallace, thank you so much. And you can check out that full interview with Arnold Schwarzenegger on "Who's Talking with Chris Wallace?" That's Friday at 10pm and streaming on Max as well.

And believe it or not, another Republican from Florida jumping into the 2024 race. Tonight we will game out that candidacy, plus the largest Protestant denomination in the United States votes to expel churches with female pastors, including Rick Warren's church. We'll take that on there next, right after the break.




PHILIP: The Southern Baptist Convention announced today that it will formally expel two churches from the nation's largest Protestant denomination, all because they have female pastors.

Now the vote wasn't even close and it sealed the exit of two congregations, one in California and the other in Kentucky. The decision paves the way to ban women from most leadership roles in the denomination. And my next guest is calling foul on this move, Meredith Stone. She's the executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, and she penned an op-ed today entitled "The Southern Baptist Convention is Wrong." Meredith, welcome to the program.


PHILIP: Now, this is all being pushed by a ultra-conservative wing of the Southern Baptist Church. It really does seem as if they are trying to take the church back to an earlier time. Why is this happening in the year 2023?

STONE: The Southern Baptist Convention made their position on women in ministry clear a long time ago with the Baptist faith and message that they adopted in 2000 saying that the office of pastor is limited to men. But this move this year and what's happened with both Saddleback and Fern Creek Baptist Church as well as the first vote to pass an amendment which would disfellowship churches which have women serving as pastors of any kind. This is a further diminishment and devaluing of women across the convention.


And it's a part of, as you say, a battle of denominational politics. as people who are in power are trying to stay in power and to use women as the site of their battle.

PHILIP: So this convention or this constitutional amendment that you were just talking about to only allow men to serve as pastors, they actually will need to vote again next year for it to go into effect. Is there any path forward? What are you gonna do?

STONE: I think many of the churches that have women serving as pastors, and that includes children's pastors, youth pastors, women's pastors, they've got a lot of decisions to make during this year.

There are other Baptist conventions that do affirm the ordination of women that they can consider joining instead, but there's a piece of their identity that's connected to the Southern Baptist Convention.

This is like being kicked out of your family. And so even though there are other places that will accept them, it's never easy to be kicked out by your family.

So during this year, I think these congregations will have to make decisions about will they change women's titles? Will women continue to be employed? Will they leave the convention or will they wait and see if the convention disfellowships them?

PHILIP: And one of the churches that we were referring to earlier, the Saddleback Church, it was founded by Rick Warren and he's spoken out in reaction to the vote, which was very lopsided. Listen to this.


RICK WARREN, AUTHOR: I wanted to encourage the next generation of pastors. Number one, first, it wasn't unanimous. It wasn't unanimous. There were 1,200 people who, in New Orleans, of all places, to think that all Southern Baptists are now going to bow down to a single vote at an annual meeting that's some fiat for women. They don't understand Southern Baptists.


PHILIP: I mean, that's very optimistic. And the vote was not unanimous. He's totally right about that. But it was very lopsided. Almost 10,000 votes were cast in favor of this decision, only 1,200 against it. Were you surprised by how lopsided that vote was ultimately?

STONE: I had wondered if Rick Warren's influence might bring those numbers up, but ultimately I'm not surprised. Again, the Southern Baptist Convention has made their position known.

I did notice that there were less people who voted in favor of Fern Creek Baptist Church, where Linda Poppinsards, a senior pastor, than those who voted in favor of Saddleback's appeal. And I think that goes to show that there's an issue of figuring out where to draw the line. for women in the convention, and that women have become this ultimate battle for the men who are leading the convention.

PHILIP: Yeah, I mean, this is so fascinating. I mean, that Saddleback Church is a large and very popular church. Rick Warren has a huge following, even outside of Southern Baptist Christians. So it'll be interesting to see where this goes. Thank you so much, Meredith, for joining us.

STONE: Thank you.

PHILIP: And coming up next, another Republican, he just joined the crowded presidential race, and his entry may raise a few eyebrows, including those in Florida.

Plus, why the top selling beer in the United States is no longer actually American.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILIP: It really does feel like there's a lot of chaos and anger in Congress these days, from the battle over the House Speaker to the debt ceiling negotiations.

And today, that chaos took yet another turn with Republicans trying to censure Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff, an effort that ultimately failed. But one of the GOP voices calling for his censure may surprise you, or maybe it won't.

GOP Congressman George Santos, who is himself facing 13 federal charges, including wire fraud, money laundering, and lying to the House said this ahead of that vote.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): To not carry out a censure would be a miscarriage of justice and a dereliction of our sworn duty as members of the House of Representatives. We must preserve the integrity of the U.S. House of Representatives, and censure Adam Schiff today.


PHILIP: And joining me now is Republican political strategist, Shermichael Singleton, who's already chuckling before I even ask a question.

OK, by my count, he's facing 13 federal charges.


PHILIP: And just the cherry on top here is that Santos voted present in the ethics committee on this.

SINGLETON: After all of that, throwing his hands back in the air. I mean, look, I agree with Republican Congressman Thomas Maasie out of Kentucky on the constitutionality of this particular vote.

Article 1, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution prohibits bills of attainment. And so for the audience's sake, that essentially allows the government to essentially find a party guilty without due process. Well, we have due process in the United States. There's an ethics committee in the House of Representatives. If there are some concerns about congressman's shift, then prohibit or allow, rather, the ethics committee to investigate. And whatever they find, then you take the next steps after that.

PHILIP: What about the shamelessness of it all?

SINGLETON: I mean, look, look, look, I mean, George Santos is the last person, in my opinion, Abby, to talk about integrity. Here's a guy who built his entire political career on lies, so many lies. I wrote them down. I couldn't articulate all of them in less than 60 seconds.

[22:50:00] He's an embarrassment to the House. I think he's a distraction for the caucus. And even the third congressional district that he represents, the local party there, they want him gone. The voters there, they want him gone. So he should focus on the 13 accounts that he's facing.

PHILIP: Yeah. I mean, I guess a lot of people are doing things for social media these days. I want to switch gears to the Miami mayor, Francis Suarez. He is expected to jump into the race formally tomorrow. He filed the paperwork today. I mean, I think it's fair to consider this a fairly long shot candidate. But, what do you make of that decision? And you know, I mean, Florida is starting to be a very crowded state for folks down there.

SINGLETON: It is. And Donald Trump currently is leading in the polls in Florida. I mean, I guess some folks may say the more the merrier, but these vanity projects, in my opinion, are a bit asinine. I mean, we've gone through this in 2016.

You had a plethora of candidates running, essentially sort of canceling each other out. Although Donald Trump couldn't get beyond 45 percent, it was enough for him to continue throughout the Republican primary, ultimately becoming a nominee, ultimately becoming president.

And I'm finding that we're sort of replicating the same thing all over again. And I was involved on a campaign in 2016. So you would think we would have learned from history, Abby, apparently we have not.

PHILIP: Well, I'm personally interested to see, I mean, if he makes it to the debates, he meets the requirements. He is Hispanic-American. That brings another dimension to the Republican race.

I also want to ask you about this. Bud Light is no longer officially the top selling beer in America but this comes after a social media promotion with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney and the backlash that came as a result of that now taking the top spot I guess ironically, the Mex --

SINGLETON: Miller Lite?


SINGLETON: Oh it's not. The Mexican lager Modelo. But I mean from Bud Light's perspective, does this prove their critics right, that they made that move in a way that really did not jive with their audience, with their customers?

SINGLETON: I mean look from a business perspective here and some of the audience may disagree with me, taking the politics aside I think it was a terrible business decision.

You need to know who your consumer base is. There was some studies that came out in 2019 that was published by "Bloomberg BusinessWeek," and there was sort of an interesting aggregate of the types of drinks that liberals typically favor and the type of drinks that conservatives typically favor. On the conservative side it was bourbon and it was light beers, Coors,

Miller Lite and Bud Light, close to 50 percent of their consumers. Now most of those folks are conservative, they're blue-collar workers. So we, for the most part, sort of know as we debate these culture wars where that particular demo group rests as it pertains to gender and sexuality.

So it's no surprise that conservatives have sort of come together and said, well, we're going to use our pockets, our dollars rather, and showcase our displeasure with Bud Light and now go somewhere else. And that's exactly what they've done.

PHILIP: I mean, and the numbers bear it out there. Sales were down 24 percent in the week that ended in June 3rd compared with the same week last year.

SINGLETON: And Miller Lite is now having greater sales than Bud Light.

PHILIP: Well, the other interesting part on the business front, I think the argument that they were making was that this was about the future audience, not the present audience, maybe a younger audience, maybe a more tolerant audience.

SINGLETON: As a strategist, Abby, I look at data, and the data is pretty clear on what groups favor certain types of drinks and spirits. I'm not a beer guy, but I know a lot of conservative voters are beer people. It's inexpensive to buy. Know your audience, Bud Light. I'm all for being open-minded and accepting everybody. We should be that way.

But a business should be about making money, primarily not losing money. And I don't know if by the third or fourth quarter, whether or not Bud Light will be able to see some financial gains.

PHILIP: Yeah, maybe in the next couple of quarters some of this backlash will fade away. Shermichael, thank you so much for joining us.

SINGLETON: Thanks Abby.

PHILIP: And coming up next in our next hour on "CNN Tonight," Alisyn speaks with the High School students who helped break and report on the news of Trump's indictment and arraignment despite the courtroom ban on electronic, some of them learning how to use a pay phone.

But first the former mayor of New York speaking out about one of the most infamous moments of his tenure, using a few F bombs along the way.

We will tell you what he said next.



(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PHILIP: Before we go tonight, you may remember this fateful day when the mayor of New York City mishandled an innocent groundhog. And you can see why.

The little one tried running back into the house like most groundhogs. She -- She was obviously skilled at foreshadowing that forecaster, was Charlotte, the star of the 2014 event at the Staten Island Zoo.

I'm using the past tense because weeks after that incident, Charlotte died. And while it's unclear whether de Blasio was responsible for her demise, the public certainly held him accountable. And in a new interview, de Blasio reflected on the tragedy using some colorful language.

He was asked if he has any regrets and said, quote, "Yeah, 100 percent. I'm like, don't make me hold a bleeping groundhog. I mean, What the hell?" He goes on to say, "I put these gloves on and they're like, there's a groundhog. I'm like, what the bleep? You don't have a little more coaching to go with this? It was idiocy. There's an original sin here. Don't hand somebody a groundhog, right?"

I don't know if that's the original sin, but there you go. That's what he said. Rest in peace, Charlotte. We miss you.

And thank you for joining us. "CNN Tonight" with Alisyn Camerota starts right now. Alisyn.