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CNN Tonight

Only 30-Plus Hours Left Of Oxygen In Titanic Sub Search; Hunter Biden Strikes Plea Deal To Avoid Jail Time; Donald Trump's Fox News Interview May Be Used As Court Evidence; CNN Poll Shows Trump Supporters Soften After His Second Indictment; CNN Fact Check's Democratic Presidential Camdidate's Claims On Joe Rogan's Podcast. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 20, 2023 - 22:00   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And thank you so much for joining us. The news continues here tonight. CNN Tonight with Abby Phillip starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. I'm Abby Phillip, and thank you for joining me tonight.

Right now, there are five people on board a vessel bound for the wreckage of the Titanic, and they are trapped inside a space that is just the size of a minivan with only 31 hours of air left to breathe. That is the estimate from the U.S. Coast Guard on the missing sub in the North Atlantic right now. As time is running out, oxygen is dwindling on the Titan submersible. And rescuers are racing against time literally around the clock to try to find that vessel before it is too late.

And in just moments, you're going to hear from a reporter who was on that very same submarine just last year, and he interviewed the founder of OceanGate, the company that owns it, who is also among the missing. Just listen to what Stockton Rush told him at the time about the lack of sophistication and the technology that is on board.


STOCKTON RUSH, CEO, OCEANGATE: We can use these off-the-shelf components.

I got these from Camper World.

We run the whole thing with this game controller.



PHILLIP: And you are also about to hear from a friend of a different passenger who received an eerie last text message before setting out on this journey.

The sub lost contact on Sunday, and as of this afternoon, the Coast Guard said search efforts so far have yielded no results. Canada has sent additional vessels to assist in that search, but this is an extremely complex mission. That search area is about 10,000 square miles and more than two miles deep. For context, the deepest human scuba diver ever stands at more than 1,000 feet. At more than 3,000 feet, light is no longer even visible in the ocean. And the Titanic, well, that rests way below that, nearly 13,000ft below sea level.

Weather conditions could also be a complicating factor in all of this, not to mention the condition of that submersible and whether it has working equipment that could even get detected.

And our first guest witnessed the red flags on that vessel firsthand. I want to bring in David Pogue. He's the host of the Unsung Science podcast and CBS Sunday Morning correspondent. David, this video of you showing really the insides and interior workings of this vessel basically went viral. Given what you have seen, the seemingly kind of jerry-rigged components of it all, are you surprised that it is now lost?

DAVID POGUE, HOST, UNSUNG SCIENCE PODCAST: I actually see these as two totally different things because Stockton Rush's answer to that question you haven't seen yet, which is where he said, all of these little things, like the lights and the controller and the thrusters, those can break and you'll be fine. The part we put all our attention and care into is the passenger compartment that contains the air, the carbon fiber cylinder. And that, we worked with NASA, we worked at Boeing, that, he said, is buttoned down and solid.

So, I don't think the fact that some of these things are kind of MacGyvered together is necessarily an indication of a general sloppiness.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, one of the other things that we're learning is that this vessel is really supposed to float back to the surface, especially if something goes wrong. When you were on board and you actually kind of started a mission and had to come back up, did they disclose to you what the contingency plans are if something goes wrong?

POGUE: There aren't very many things that can go wrong that you can do anything about, right? So, fire is something they address extensively. They showed us where the fire extinguisher was. They have a smoke mask for each passenger. We had to practice putting those on. But beyond that, what can you do if the sub gets trapped, if the sub develops a leak, if the sub goes without power, all of the things that can happen beyond that, the answer is the same thing, get to the surface.

And they had so many different ways of getting to the surface. They can drop sandbags. They can drop lead pipes. They can drop the legs off the bottom. They have an air balloon that pulls them up.

[22:05:00] They can use their thrusters. And as you mentioned, one of these seven different methods is a dead man switch. That is, it will send you to the surface even if everyone on board has passed out. It's a time release sandbag system that slowly dissolves the connectors underneath the sub and lets them drop off after a certain number of hours. And you go to the surface even if you're not awake.

PHILLIP: So, you were on this vessel, right? I wonder, first of all, if you were scared to go down there, but also, were you told what to do in the event of something going wrong? Because my understanding on the passenger list are some people, including the CEO, who have a lot of experience with this vessel, and perhaps some people who are more kind of tourists, like you were.

POGUE: Again, the only briefing that I remember getting on the sub is about fire. Beyond that, there just isn't anything we could do. I mean, if a giant octopus wraps its tentacles around, what are you going to do? So, I have to say there wasn't a lot of emergency preparedness, but even the most prepared person in the world could not do anything in this situation, if, A, the sub imploded, B, it got snagged on something underneath, or, C, it's currently floating somewhere on the surface with the power gone and they can't reach anybody. As I see it, those are the only three possibilities right now.

PHILLIP: So, do you think that it is still possible to rescue this vessel? And if so, how difficult would that be?

POGUE: My belief is that if it is in the water underwater, I don't understand how it's even conceivable. There are only a handful of submersibles in the world that can go to those depths and none of them are ready to get there within the next 24 hours. And even if they could, first, they have to find it, which is unbelievably difficult on the seafloor, where there's no light.

Secondly, what would you do if you did find it? These are submersibles. These are not submarines. These are low powered things that need a ship to carry them for place to place. They could not tow the thing up to the surface. So, suppose they find it on the seafloor in five minutes, then what? I just don't understand what technology could get them back up.

PHILLIP: And The New York Times is reporting that industry leaders, they've questioned the safety concerns about the submersible. And they were saying that a lot of the components, the approach was experimental. Do you see what they're talking about here?

POGUE: Yes. And this was a big focus of my conversations with Stockton Rush, the CEO and the designer. And it is true that the stuff he did is not how people do it. I mean, nobody has used carbon fiber to make a submersible like this before. Nobody has built a submersible that holds five people. The others all hold two or maybe three, but no one has done five. He uses all kinds of new techniques, and he admits that he has critics. He says all these fuddy-duddies stuck in the 1950s way of doing things, they're crazy. How are you ever going to make progress unless you experiment? He was emphatic that his ways were better, that they represent an improvement and that they were safe.

PHILLIP: Well, it continues to be everyone's hope that there's a miracle here, but it's a really tragic situation. David Pogue, thank you. It's good to have you on this.

POGUE: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And let's get straight to Colonel Terry Virts. He is a retired NASA astronaut and a friend of Hamish Harding, who is one of the missing aboard that submersible. Colonel Virts, thank you for joining us.

You were texting with your friend shortly before he went underwater. What did you all say to each other and what was his mood like before going down there?

COL. TERRY VIRTS, FRIEND OF HAMISH HARDING, WHO'S ON MISSING SUBMERSIBLE: Well, he was very excited. It was just a quick text. We're diving on Titanic today, he was -- exclamation point. He was excited about. It was just a few hours before he went. So, I'm sure the whole crew -- I would be excited if I knew I was going down to Titanic. So, it was definitely a positive mood on early Sunday morning.

PHILLIP: Did he ever discuss with you, do you have the sense that he understood what the risks were? We were just talking to David Pogue just a moment ago about just how experimental so much of this technology was.

VIRTS: Well, I heard what he was saying, and I agree that the most important thing is the pressure vessel. I mean, if they're using an off-the-shelf controller, that's fine. That's probably more reliable and more tested than if you just built one by itself. And so the really important thing is that that pressure vessel holds.


The one thing that I think that I'll say in the good column is that we haven't heard any bad news yet. They haven't found debris floating. The sonars haven't detected a crushing sound or whatever. So, what Mr. Pogue was saying, the options, it seems to me likely, but you can't say for sure. It seems like they must be stuck. And if they're stuck, if one of the ROVs can nudge it, can somehow get it unstuck, you would think it should be able to get to the top, because it has so many different ways. All it has to do is get rid of some weight, and then it's going straight to the top. And even if they're trying to get to the top, if they're snagged on something, they won't be able to.

And an ROV showed up this morning, remote-operated vehicle, one of these underwater sub drones. So, there's been a drone looking for it today, since this morning, and there's another one arriving soon, I think. So, it's not as though there are none of these underwater sub drones available. They are there. They need to get there soon because the clock is ticking, for sure.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, I heard you say just a moment ago that the video game controller is probably more reliable. I think a lot of people would be surprised to hear you say that, especially as an astronaut yourself. I mean, that commercial video game controller would be trusted enough to take someone two miles under the water to these kinds of depths.

VIRTS: Well, no, the pressure vessel was trusted to take the people to two miles of depth, and that's where the pressure vessel is, where they put their engineering stuff. I don't know. I'm not a submarine designer, and I certainly don't want to debate that here, but the argument of using off-the-shelf components, you know, Elon Musk used off-the-shelf computers on his SpaceX Dragon capsules, and they get faults a lot because they're not radiation-hardened. And they realize that those faults just don't ever hurt anybody. So, it's not worth the extra expense of radiation-hardening that.

So, that's a design philosophy that's pretty common, I think, in the world today, to use off-the-shelf where it's not critical. I don't know if they did or didn't do that. I can't vouch for any of their safety, but the pressure vessel is definitely the most important thing.

PHILLIP: Yes. So, you've been trained to be in these kinds of confined spaces for long periods of time. Tell us what it's like, what it might be like for the people in that submersible right now.

VIRTS: Well, there're so many things. The first thing is that there's no light, like we just heard. It is pitch black down there. So, hopefully, they have some flashlights, but I don't know how long those batteries are going to last.

The second thing is it's cold. The water is about freezing. So, if the heater works, then that's okay. But other than that, you've got body heat only, and it's going to be cold in there.

And then the third thing is the oxygen is getting low. I assume the carbon dioxide is going to build. And carbon dioxide gives you a headache, it makes you dizzy and it increases your heart rate. We had a situation on the space shuttle where our CO2 levels got really high, and everybody noticed that immediately we all started feeling our CO2 symptoms.

So, all of that's going on in the context of they don't know if they're going to get rescued. So, it's a very psychologically stressful time. And that's why somebody like my friend Hamish, who's a pilot, he's done a lot of different exploration missions, he's going to be able to keep the crew safe or keep the crew calm, help everybody stay calm and hopefully not freak out.

PHILLIP: You've also been in touch with Hamish's family. How are they doing? What are they doing right now?

VIRTS: They're waiting. It's an incredibly stressful time. They're doing well. They're able to be together, and they mostly just want to stay out of the view of the press and them wait and see. But like I said, the good news is that we haven't had the bad news. And as long as that's true, we've got this armada of Coast Guard and Navy and Canadian and private company airplanes and surface vessels and underwater vessels. So, I think that if they can be rescued, they will. But they're in a very tough situation, there's no doubt.

PHILLIP: Absolutely right about that. Colonel Terry Virts, thank you very much for joining us.

VIRTS: Thanks for sharing the story. It's an important story. So, keep it up, please.

PHILLIP: Of course. And we have lots of other big news tonight. President Biden's son, Hunter, strikes a deal with the federal prosecutors after years of investigations. And no surprise, Republicans are pushing back fiercely.

Plus, did Donald Trump just hand the special counsel or the special prosecutor a gift, and that is his own admission that he took classified materials and wouldn't give them back?


BRETT BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Why not just hand them over then?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Because I had boxes. I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out.


PHILLIP: And there is much more from what some are calling an incriminating interview, up ahead.



PHILLIP: President Biden's son has struck a deal and Republicans are furious. Now, tonight, after five years of investigations, Hunter Biden will plead guilty to a few tax misdemeanors and a plea with prosecutors to resolve a felony gun charge.

The Justice Department is recommending probation, but the judge will ultimately decide what that sentence actually is.

Now, President Biden has mostly ignored questions on this today. Instead, this is all he has said.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I'm very proud of my son.


PHILLIP: Many Republicans are now angry with what they are calling a sweetheart deal. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): That continues to show the two-tier system in America. If you are the president's leading political opponents, the DOJ tries to literally put you in jail and give you prison time. If you are the president's son, you get a sweetheart.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): This DOJ continues to hunt Republicans and protect Democrats. I can't think of anything more blatant.


PHILLIP: Let's bring in CNN's Chief Legal Analyst Laura Coates, Bradley Moss, a national security attorney, and Republican Strategist Rina Shah.

So, I noticed there in the comments from Tim Scott and from the speaker that there's not whole lot of specifics because I think some of the details really cut against what they're arguing. I mean, this is a Republican-appointed prosecutor. It's spanned two administrations, a Republican and a Democratic one. And, frankly, it took five years. So, is this a sweetheart deal?


LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: No, it's not. And one of the reasons you don't have a lot of the facts and the specifics is because it would belie the truth.

Now, look, I'm the first to tell you, we do have a system where the haves and the have nots are treated differently in our American justice system. It's often called a legal system for that very reason. But in an instance like this, you've got somebody who was kept over from one administration to the next to avoid even the hint of impropriety, to ensure that no one had the ability to have an actual foundational talking point.

Now, they have it nonetheless. But the fact that this is after a very wide net has been cast, this is what the result is, the tax evasion, very serious crime still, the fact that it's really now president, former vice president, son or child, also monumental. But in the grand scheme of things, this is a probationary related offense and a misdemeanor.

The gun charge, a little bit more perplexing, because the overwhelming of cases involving when somebody cannot have a gun as a, quote/unquote, prohibited person involve somebody who is a felon in possession. This is not that instance. And, nevertheless, he has this charge that will likely go away if he has his pre-diversionary program.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, do you think that the fact that there is a Republican holdover prosecutor in this case should factor into how this is playing out in the political sphere?

BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: You would think so. But here were the goalposts and here's where they've been shifted to. The Republicans had built this up as this big huge scandal that was going to take down Hunter Biden, not just on tax issues and the firearm, but this was going to come after his father. This was going to be bribery, money laundering, all kinds of things. They've been building this up for years and this is what they got out of it.

Their base was expecting something more so they have to make a big deal of it. It has to be that it was a sweetheart deal. It has to be there was some conspiracy to cut him some slack where Donald Trump didn't get any for holding on to classified documents. It's nonsense, but those are the talking points they had to use.

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: But the base got what it wanted. The base wanted some really, really salacious stuff. And when you talk about tax evasion and weapons, man, that's some tabloid fodder.

PHILLIP: I mean, do you really think this is the most -- but, I mean, really, is this the most salacious? It's certainly not what they were hoping for.

SHAH: I think it's just so historic that we have a president's son charged with crimes. It just feels different. And so Republicans are going to move with this. They're going to say, look, we were right for years and right wing conspiracy theory, those circles, they were always saying, #bidencrimefamily, and many of us were saying, hey, hey, that's too far. Today, it kind of feels like Republicans were right.

COATES: I'm sorry. On that point, though, the net was cast widely to include Burisma, right, the subject matter of the very first impeachment proceeding, the entire Biden family. Listen, I'm neutral as it relates to whether there's an actual charge coming down. But on the grand scheme of things, the idea of maybe it's the context, we are now a nation where the historic impeachments and indictments are very different for even former presidents. But to suggest that this is somehow as is humongous, as you're suggesting, seems disingenuous, the idea that this is the result.

SHAH: I think, in the essence, what we're looking at here is a moment in which we're going to start to see parallels drawn where there shouldn't be any. There's going to be talk of what about Trump's children? What about Chelsea Clinton in the Clinton Gold membership (ph)? Excuse me if I can get that out. That urge to draw parallels here is going to be great.

And I agree with you, this isn't that massive. On a personal level, I don't think so. But on the other hand, I see Republicans getting the boon that they wanted, an ability to move forward and cast Biden as somebody that we should have questions about.

PHILLIP: Well, I mean, look, there are questions and then there are facts, right? And right now there are just not the facts to substantiate that. I think it also doesn't help that Hunter Biden paid them tax money back.

I do want to play this from Bill Barr earlier today responding to the charges that came out.


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: These charges, frankly, could have been brought within the first few months after I became attorney general. I don't see why we've waited five years if this is all there is to it.


PHILLIP: This is honestly the thing that it perplexes me the most. This started in 2018 under Trump. They were really looking for significant things, I would assume. Why did it take five years to get to this point?

MOSS: It sounds -- hold on if you've heard this before. It sounds like weaponization. It sounds like they were doing everything they could to try to take down the likely political opponent, just like we ended up seeing with impeachment number one. The goal was you get something on honor and you use that to take down his father. You did that through Ukrainian Burisma.

Everything that has come out of what we've seen with Republican attacks on the Biden crime family, it's all projection. They see what Trump did. They saw the tax crimes his company got convicted on. They said, oh, we'll just project it all onto Joe Biden. So far, it's not landing on the president himself. Hunter Biden is not in the White House. Hunter Biden is not going down for money laundering or anything like that. It's nothing tied to his father, at least for now. This is all Hunter Biden's minor tax issues, which are crimes, but that's all it is right now.


COATES: I see it differently in the sense of the length of time. Maybe I'm giving a benefit of the doubt in terms of the amount of time. Investigations do take a great deal of time. I'm not saying five years is anywhere near the realm of possibility, but we were talking about transition between different teams and administrations, the idea of who to give marching orders, although Attorney General Garland has said he's not going to be in control of this, whatsoever, for that very reason.

But the complexity of the net, if they were simply looking at taxation, I would say, well, this is unbelievably long, but the net was cast for over a decade of business dealings, including an energy tycoon in China, of course, Burisma again, I mentioned, and with the net so wide and so thorough, it seemed to over that period of time, that's why I think people should feel very well in support of and confident of the outcome, that it was comprehensive, and that's why it undermines a talking point.

SHAH: And I hear you on that. In the court of public opinion, what we're going to see is people having mixed minds. On the one hand, this is a good thing. Hunter is being held accountable. Nobody is above the law in this country. It's a beautiful thing. But on the other hand, it's like, man, he did the crime, shouldn't he do the time? And that's in the mind of the average voter leaving the door open about if Hunter did this, if Hunter can do the crime, what did the father know? Even though this is a man we're talking about, adult son and the father shouldn't have responsibility for it, it does draw the question.

PHILLIP: I think, okay, we will see about that. I'm not sure that average American expects that the president would be involved in whether Hunter Biden paid his taxes or not, but stand by, everyone.

Also today, the judge of the Trump's documents indictment just set a surprising trial date for that case as the former president than may have just given prosecutors another tape of evidence. Why his admission on T.V. could cost him, his former lawyer joins me next on that.


TRUMP: It may have been held up or may not, but that was not a document. I didn't have a document per se.



ABBY PHILIP, CNN ANCHOR AND SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump is once again trying to explain why he kept classified documents, and his new excuses are raising some eyebrows. Some say his latest television interview gives prosecutors even more ammunition.

Right now, as a tentative court date is now on the books, Laura Coats is of course back with us to help walk us through all of this. So Laura, let's just start with the possibility here that Trump admitted in this interview with Fox. to obstruction. Can prosecutors use what he said there as part of this case?

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Remember, Abby, whatever you say can and is against you in a court of law, prosecutors are likely salivating at this moment in time, thinking, gosh, how many more conversations would you like to have, former president, because we're cataloging every single thing you're saying, including this statement when he made to Brett Baier just last night.


BRETT BAIER, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Why not just hand them over then?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Because I had boxes. I want to go through the boxes and get all my personal things out. I don't want to hand that over to NARA (ph) yet. And I was very busy, as you've sort of seen.


COATES: Very busy, he's suggesting. But the question, of course, he asked after that is, and why don't you just give them back? His answer actually contemplates that he was, in fact, in possession, knew that he had the documents, and was aware that they were wanted to give them back. And he failed to actually return them. That's essentially admitting that you knew that you were in possession of what they wanted you to return, Abby.

PHILIP: So Laura, we have, up until this point, heard quite a lot of different defenses for why Trump had these documents in the first place. But actually, he may have floated a new one last night.

COATES: He did. And this was kind of surprising. Because remember, we had first heard the reporting about this conversation that was recorded. What was he waving around in reaction to General Mark Milley? What was it he wanted people to hear about? Was there a shaping of a political narrative in response to what he was seeing and hearing about in the news?

And he addressed that audio recording that happened in Bedminster, this time talking about, no no no no, what I was waving around, Abby, wasn't actually a document, like a classified. No, what I was waving around were articles, newspapers, etc. Listen to this.


TRUMP: There was no document. That was a massive amount of papers and everything else talking about Iran and other things. And it may have been held up or may not, but that was not a document. I didn't have a document per se. There was nothing to declassify. These were newspaper stories, magazine stories, and articles.

BAIER: I'm just --


COATES: And of course, you think about that statement in contrast to what he said in a recent Fox News Town Hall, saying he had no idea anything about an audio recording or embedments, or I mean, listen to this contrasting statement.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: There's a special counsel that's appointed and news broke yesterday that there might be a tape recording that quote, "where you acknowledge that you understood --

TRUMP: Yeah.

HANNITY: that these were classified documents." First of all, do you know who this call may be with, do you know anything about it?

TRUMP: No, I don't know anything about it. All I know is this: Everything I did was right. We have the presidential records act, which I abided by a hundred percent


COATES: Well, here's what the prosecutors likely know. The other people who were in the room when it happened, at the time that he was waving whatever he was waving around, it affords an opportunity to add to the witness list. And remember, the court has already said in Miami, I want to have a copy for the defendant of who might be on the witness list. He may have added to that very notion just now, Abby, by saying those statements and saying, well, hold on. Let's either buttress the prosecution's case about what actually he was waving around. or undermine his own credibility at people who might be eyewitnesses to this very point. And now you've got this credibility question before any potential jury. Was he lying then? Was he lying now? And what do the tapes say?

PHILIP: Yeah, and certainly the witnesses in that room would be very key to all of this. So Laura, don't go anywhere, stand by for us.

I do wanna now bring in Trump's former attorney, Tim Parlatore, who's here. So Tim. As Chris Christie said, some of his lawyers might be trying to jump out of a window after this interview. I don't know. As a former attorney, you're one of them. But I wonder, given what you just heard him say, admitting he held onto the boxes in spite of a grand jury subpoena, was he admitting basically obstruction there?


TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: It's difficult to know. This is one of the reasons why we always advise our clients don't talk about the case. And you have the right to remain silent use it, later attorneys talk about it.

You know I look at the answer that he gave their he says you I didn't want to give it back to NARA (ph) yet, yes it was he actually possibly mixing up the question and talking about, you know, the first set of boxes before the subpoena. But here's the problem: Putting that statement out there with that question, yes, the prosecutors can absolutely use that.

And even if he meant that he was talking about the narrow requests as opposed to the subpoena requests, it's going to be very difficult to trial. How are you going to overcome that? Are you going to cross- examine Brett Baier on, you know, what do you think he meant? Or are you going to put Donald Trump on the stand to say, would you like to clarify it? It's a difficult situation.

PHILIP: Because he would be in a position to clarify his own statements, but then he would have to testify. But I mean, you raise a very important question. When you were on his legal team, what was the advice about speaking publicly? I mean, this is Donald Trump. He likes to be his own spokesperson.

PARLATORE: Well, ethically, I can't talk about the specific advice that we gave to this client. What I can tell you is that as a general practice, I always tell all of my clients, don't talk about the case.

PHILIP: Does this work with Trump?

PARLATORE: I've had two clients that have talked about the case anyway. He's one of them. I used to, he was the other.

PHILIP: I see what you're saying. Okay.

PARLATORE: We'll work that to his benefit though. PHILIP: All right. So he also suggested that the FBI was stuffing the

boxes with classified documents. Have you seen any evidence that would have supported that?

PARLATORE: I haven't seen any evidence of that. You know, I've obviously gone through all the boxes that were sent back to NARA (ph) way back in the beginning, the first 15 boxes. And so I saw how the classified documents or the, you know, the marked documents were mixed in on those.

We never got to see what the boxes look like that were taken during the raid. We never got to, you know, get an inventory of that to be able to kind of compare and contrast that. So whether they did or they didn't, I'm not going to opine because I didn't see anything either way.

PHILIP: So Judge Cannon today set a trial date for mid-August. That was a surprise to a lot of people. Do you expect that pre-trial motions will inevitably push that back?

PARLATORE: Absolutely. That's kind of a standard thing. So some judges, they do like to set trial dates. Some don't bother because they know that it's a fake date anyway, to use an overused term of fake.

What they do is they'll set a trial date. based on the speedy trial clock, but that clock stops for any number of reasons. And so as soon as they file motions, the clock's going to stop.

PHILIP: So given how complicated this case could be, the government, you know, a lot of times with these national security cases, they don't have an interest in wanting it to be dragged out in public. But in this case, you have a candidate, a defendant who is a candidate who may also not want to have that happen. Is it in Trump's best interest right now to consider a plea?

PARLATORE: Right now before having the benefit of the discovery I don't think so I think that he needs to see what the actual discovery is that you can make a better informed decision. Yeah I know that yet this particular client is not interested in any plea, however as a general proposition unless the client comes to me and says they look at this is what I did, you know, it gave me the best possible deal.

You really do have to see what the government has yet to be able to make a better determination of it yet for example if you look at this uh... Bedminster here the milly document, reading the indictment it appears that no document was ever found and so it's the kind of thing where you would want to go through discovery and see it was a document found. Where any of the other people in the room claiming that he had a document with him.

PHILIP: But it -- but I mean that's not the only piece of evidence they have. I mean you read the indictment as well.

PARLATORE: I'm just using that as an example. PHILIP: Sure, sure, absolutely. I just wonder though, given the volume

of potential evidence that they might have. If Donald Trump were the type to consider a plea deal, would you advise him to at least consider that as a possibility?

PARLATORE: I always advise every single one of my clients, you know, to at least consider it. I mean, it'd be unethical for me not to at least raise the possibility. Ultimately, you know. especially with a client who believes in their innocence, that's not a likely scenario.

However, at the end of the day, The decision of whether to play is a very personal decision to the client because it's all about their personal appetite for risk.


PARLATORE: Whatever I recommend to them, at the end of the trial, I'm going home.


PHILIP: Are his lawyers now bound by some of the things that he said to Brett Baier yesterday?

PARLATORE: I don't know that I would say bound by it so much as they have to deal with it. So, you know, it is something that is admissible in court. It is something that they will, you know, have to, you know, listen to, play it in front of the jury. And so whether they're going to be bound to that as their theory or whether they're going to have to find some way to explain it away, that's a tactical decision they're going to have to make.

PHILIP: All right. Tim Parlatore, thank you so much. Good to have you as always.

And coming up next, a provocative question. Does Trump stand a better chance at a plea deal given that so much of this evidence is classified? We'll get into some of those technicalities next.

Plus, we will fact check some of the wild claims that RFK Jr. made on Joe Rogan's podcast





PHILIP: In the classified documents case against Donald Trump, prosecutors and defense lawyers appear to be gearing up for a major fight before this trial even makes it to a courtroom.

At issue here is how to show this sensitive material to a jury and to the public. The former president's lawyers have already started this process of obtaining security clearances so they can get started in this case. And this latest indictment is already having an impact on voter sentiment.

A new CNN poll shows that 47 percent of Republicans voters say that Trump remains their first choice for the party's nomination, but that is actually down from the 53% that it was in May. Also of note, the share of GOP voters who say they would not support Trump under any circumstances has jumped from 16 percent now to 23 percent in just the last month.

Back with me, Laura Coats, Bradley Moss, and Rina Shah. And Bradley, I want to talk to you about the complications with the classified documents at issues here -- at issue here. Normally the DOJ and the government they don't like to take these cases to court because they're very, very sensitive.

So do you think that they still may want to at some point get to a plea here to avoid having to show off classified documents or get in fights with agencies about what they can show and what they can't.

BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: I'm sure the Justice Department would happily have a discussion about a plea deal with Mr. Trump and as your former guest said I have no reason to believe Mr. Trump is in any way interested in a plea deal.

What will be interesting to see as they go through the classified discovery and we get a sense of where the trial would go and what -- how they would present this evidence and how they would handle you know presenting to the jury if there would be issues of providing substitutions or summaries instead of the actual documents is how much Jack Smith coordinated in advance with the other elements of the government particularly the intelligence community saying there's all these documents we got, I need a select group I can actually present a trial and you guys won't lose it.

PHILIP: Yeah, and actually, there's some indications that maybe that kind of already happened because they only charged 38 of the document, not all of the possible

MOSS: 31

PHILIP: 31, I'm sorry, not all of the possible documents in the universe.

COATES: Of course. And the reason you want to do that is because you have the speedy trial rights, right? You know that you have to call ready. The indictment process is already lengthy. Then you've got the moment to go for a judge and say, listen, I know the talking point's going to be we're going to involve in election interference. This is a candidate. We're asking for 21 days of that person, likely being off the campaign trail for the presentation of our evidence alone.

They've contemplated already the idea that DOJ has a rule not to obviously interfere with an election. Now, we are in a good window for that right now, knowing there's an August trial date, which likely will get continued. That's not going to happen in August, so don't cancel your summer plans. It's going to be a trip for everyone.

But -- the question is what the juries can see? And the jury does not have to actually have a national security clearance to actually see these documents. Now, the double-edged sword here, Abby, is on the one hand, if I show the jury as a prosecutor the documents, I run the risk of the jury saying, well, if you can show me, what big deal could this possibly have been in the long run? On the other hand, if I don't, I leave more than a seed of reasonable doubt able to be planted as to whether I actually can make my case.

PHILIP: Well, Laura brought up Rina, an interesting point. I was talking to Tim Parlatory about this too. Obviously, according to "The Washington Post," Trump rebuffed efforts by his lawyers to accommodate DOJ early in this process. But as a candidate, I mean, is it really in his best interest to get to an actual trial here?

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: You know, if I read that report correctly, they also suggested he settle. But for Trump, settling would be seen as losing. And I don't know if former President Trump was a Frank Sinatra fan, but I think he's always living up to the words of I did it my way, because that's just Trump for you.

COATES: It was an inauguration song.

MOSS: You danced to it.

COATES: That was a distant memory for me.

SHAH: He will put his spin on everything and he understands that is going to win him the hearts and minds of Republicans.

PHILIP: Look at those poll numbers that we just talked about.

SHAH: Sure.

PHILIP: I mean, does that say anything to you?

SHAH: You know, I am hesitant to look at those polls right now because I see the wind shifting and I see the playbook has constantly won out for Trump. It's a tired one, but it's the one that's worked for seven years where he will spin it. He said, I did nothing wrong here. And somehow that seeps down into the consciousness of your average voter and the average Republican voter is more likely to believe that line nowadays.

PHILIP: And we should note, he may be going down a little bit, but no one else is really actually gaining on him. So that's kind of where the race stands right now.

But we're going to talk about something a little bit different now. RFK Jr., he's running for president on the Democratic side. He's also an anti-vaxxer and he's under fire again for spreading even more misinformation on a controversial podcast.



ROBERT F. KENNEDY JR., DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The Spanish flu was vaccine induced flu. The deaths were vaccine induced, but then originally they said it was a flu.


PHILIP: And that was not the only wild claim in our in-house fact checker has a list and he'll come with it next.


PHILIP: You may have seen in recent days a debate about an appearance by Democratic presidential candidate RFK Jr. on Joe Rogan's podcast. But as expected, he made a lot of wild and frankly dangerous claims, so much so that YouTube actually removed the video from its platform.

So CNN's Daniel Dale watched to fact-check some of that interview. Daniel, we are always glad to have you on things like this. What did you find exactly?


DANIEL DALE, CNN REPORTER: I found a whole lot of nonsense frankly from Mr. Kennedy. He repeated his completely baseless claims about vaccines supposedly causing autism. He added a bunch of more obscure wrongness about everything from Ebola to Wi-Fi, stuff that is frankly so bizarre and out there, Abby, it is not even worth explaining it just to debunk it. Something that stood out to me, though, was how badly he distorted the findings of actual experts.

Like, he mentioned academic study after academic study, but if you go read those studies yourself, as I did, you'll find he was not accurately describing what the studies actually said.

PHILIP: That's not shocking at all, I think, if you're familiar with RFK Jr., but I do want to ask you also about this dramatic claim that he made that Dr. Anthony Fauci says that the Spanish flu epidemic of the early 20th century was not caused by a flu virus at all. Listen.


KENNEDY JR.: The Spanish flu was not a virus. Even Fauci now acknowledges that. And there's good evidence that the Spanish flu, there's, you know, not a definitive, but very, very strong evidence. The Spanish flu was vaccine-induced flu. The deaths were vaccine- induced, but originally they said it was a flu. But when they've gone back, and actually they have all the samples from thousands of people, they died from bacteriological pneumonia.


PHILIP: So Daniel, is any of that true?

DALE: It's not. None of this is true, Abby. And Dr. Fauci absolutely didn't say what Kennedy claims he said. Here is the reality. The Spanish flu pandemic was caused by an H1N1 flu virus, not a

vaccine. Dr. Fauci never disputed that. What Fauci and his colleagues wrote in a paper in 2008 was that most of the deaths during this pandemic were not caused by the Spanish flu virus alone, but rather from a secondary bacterial infection, pneumonia, that people got after being weakened by that flu virus.

The key part there, Abby, is after weakened by the flu virus. Fauci wasn't denying the flu existed. Here's what Fauci said at the time this paper came out in 2008. He said, The weight of the evidence we examined from both historical and modern analyses of the 1918 influenza pandemic favors a scenario in which viral damage followed by bacterial pneumonia led to the vast majority of deaths. In essence, the virus landed the first blow while bacteria delivered the knockout punch.

This one-two punch sequence is super common with flu viruses. I spoke to Vanderbilt infectious disease specialist, Dr. William Schaffner today. He told me that Kennedy's claim that there's no flu at all. He said there's either just misunderstanding because he doesn't understand the science or there's willful misunderstanding here.

And honestly, Abby, this Spanish flu wasn't a flu virus claim is not the only wildly inaccurate thing Mr. Kennedy said in this part of the interview alone. He went on to say that he doesn't know for sure, but some people say maybe the Spanish flu era bacterial infections were caused by, wait for it, people wearing masks.

This is like chain email level nonsense that is spread on anti-vax and anti-mask social media and web forums. And it's just frankly completely imaginary.

PHILIP: All right. Well, I want to look at one claim that RFK Jr. made about the cost of the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. Listen to this one.


KENNEDY JR.: So we got lots of money for the military industrial complex, lots of money for the bankers, you know, the banksters.

But we're starving Americans to death. Starving them. And here's because of all the inflation, we spent 16 trillion on the lockdown. We wasted, got nothing for it.


PHILIP: All right, so what are the facts on that one?

DALE: So, Mr. Kennedy did not say where he got this absurd claim that we spent $16 trillion on pandemic lockdowns, but there is a COVID- related paper by two prominent Harvard professors that used a 16 trillion figure. Except here's the key thing, Abby. That paper is not about so-called lockdowns whatsoever. It doesn't even mention lockdowns. So, what is that 16 trillion figure, actually? Well, it's the author's very rough estimate. This was in late 2020 for the cost to the U.S. of COVID itself, more than half of that estimated 16 trillion cost was from people dying prematurely of COVID, suffering long-term health issues, having mental health issues. The rest was estimated lost economic output over a decade. So you can argue that maybe some of this lost output would be because of restrictions, you can call them lockdowns, but certainly not all of it. And again, more than half is about the health impacts of the virus.

I reached out to the paper's author, Abby, about this claim that We spent 16 trillion on lockdowns in particular. And one of them, Harvard economics professor David Cutler responded, quote, "he's entirely incorrect. That was the cost of COVID, not the cost of lockdowns. We were very clear about that in the analysis," end quote. Apparently, not clear enough.

PHILIP: Yeah. I mean, apparently, it's not clear enough. But it's so good to have you on this, Daniel Dale, to kind of give folks the facts as they evaluate the candidates out there. Thank you very much.