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CNN Tonight

Only Hours Left Of Oxygen For Titanic Sub Crew; New Court Filing Hints At Multiple Recordings Of Trump In Classified Documents Indictment; Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) to GOP, Now's Not The Time For Biden Impeachment; New Jersey Senator Speaks To Chris Wallace On The Hunter Biden Issue; Suspect Who Attacked Michael Fannon Will Face 12 Years In Prison; Media Analysts Weigh In On Conspiracy Theories For 2024 Presidential Candidates. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired June 21, 2023 - 22:00   ET




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

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Kaitlan. And good evening, everyone, I'm Abby Phillip and this is an extremely critical night in the search for the missing Titanic sub. The estimates have grown more dire. There are only seven to eight hours left of breathable air for the five on board. But the U.S. Coast Guard making it clear earlier today this is 100 percent still a search and rescue mission. Every available asset is being put toward finding the vessel and there is still hope.

More mysterious banging type noises have been picked up by sonar today. They were similar to the sounds that were picked up in the search efforts yesterday. But the Coast Guard still can't determine exactly what the source is.


CAPT. JAMIE FREDERICK, U.S. COAST GUARD: I can't tell you what the noises are. But what can I tell you is, and I think this is the most important point, we are searching where the noises are and that is all we can do at this point.


PHILLIP: And that search has grown in the number of vessels, and aircraft on the mission, and in the size of the search area now two times the size of Connecticut. But the focus is on an area 900 miles off the coast of Cape Cod, where this vessel was last believed to be on its search for the wreckage of the Titanic. It is called the Titan. But it is exact -- it is actually a very small vessel, about the size of a minivan.

And just to give you an idea of how close those corners are, according to OceanGate's website, the total dimensions are 22 feet long, 9.2 feet wide, and 8 feet high and it only has the capacity for 5 people, one pilot and four members of the crew. There are not any seats inside. It is the size and the shape of the cylinder. So, passenger sit on the floor with their backs arched against the sides.

You are looking there at a typical seating configuration for the people inside. And this, here is a photo of the actual inside of the sub posted on OceanGate site. So, you can get a sense, a visual of just how much room, or lack thereof, that there is on board.

Now, it is impossible to know what the experience of these passengers what might be like right now. Oxygen is running out, the carbon dioxide levels are likely rising and the threat of hypothermia is also growing. But those conditions are undoubtedly harrowing.

Joining us now is CNN National Correspondent Jason Carroll. He is in Boston. That is where some of the Coast Guard searchers are based. So, Jason, what is the latest on this search?

JASON CAROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, when speaking to the Coast Guard and listening in on their briefing earlier today, Abby, the Coast Guard has made it very clear that they are in close contact with the families. And you can imagine how agonizing at this hour it must be for these families as they are waiting for some sort of word.

A number of folks hanging their hopes on those noises that you talked about, the noises that we first got indication about, and that was yesterday, when this Canadian aircraft flying overhead had dropped these sonar buoys into the water and detected these banging sounds, the same banging sounds heard again today.

So, there is some hope there. But as you also heard, there is no confirmation in terms of exactly what these banging sounds are at this point. And so what they have done is they have taken that acoustic data, they sent it to the U.S. Navy for analysis to get some sort of confirmation. Until that point, this is very much a search and rescue mission, though, time is clearly running out. Abby?

PHILLIP: It very much is. Jason Caroll, thank you very much.

And joining me now is retired U.S. Navy Captain Raymond Scott Chip McCord. He is also a senior lecturer at MIT. So, Captain McCord, first of all, the Canadian Coast Guard, they have said now that they picked up these sounds.


They are coming at intervals that are very heartening to those who are searching for them. How would you use that observation to then locate the submersible?

CAPT. RAYMOND SCOTT CHIP MCCORD (RET.), U.S. NAVY: Well, I think they may have overstated the significance of those sounds, and we are very hopeful that that would be something from someone banging on the inside of a submersible. But I believe they also have said they don't understand what those sounds are.

There is a lot of noise in the ocean. The ship could be making, the Titanic could be making noise. You would think if someone was panning (ph) on the inside on the inside of the hull, they might be sending SOS signals and do that very constant frequency every 30 minutes, every 40 minutes, every hour. And so I don't think they've got that type of information from it.

PHILLIP: So, if they do find the submersible, what, in your mind, is the next step to recover it?

MCCORD: Okay. So, let me just say that it's really deep, and so it is really hard to get to. There's only very few submersibles or machines in the world that can go down to that depth and very few that can actually, if they can get down on that depth, it can actually work.

So, the first thing that we need to do is they need to do is find the submersible. And I know that they're working very hard.

Most likely, this submersible is on the bottom of the ocean. It's not floating on the surface and it's probably not in the word of water column in between the bottom in the surface. It goes on to surface, most likely, it would have been found by the intensive air and surface search that they have had going on covering a very large area.

If it's on the bottom it's probably much closer to the wreck of the Titanic, there's not a lot of current down there. It is dark, it is very cold, it's 2.5 miles deep, so for the Navy's ROV that can go down there to work. It's got 20,000 feet of cable. The ROV is the size of a cargo van. The 20,000 feet of cable that is hooked to it is about inch-and-a-half to two inches in diameter. So, that's on a big drum. Just think of it, that's three to four miles of this cable wrap around a big drum. So, that is a big piece of equipment.

It's got its own crane that it comes with. It's got a tonics (ph) box full of control consoles and other boxes full of spare parts for it. So, it is a really big load out. It takes a while to get on-site. It takes a while to get on the ship. And it's going to be secured to the ship, loaded on the deck. And it takes a while for that ship to transit on there.

Once it's on station, if and when they find the submersible, then they're able to put the ROV down and investigate the submersible, find out what kind of condition it's at, whether it is just lost electrical power, whether it stuck under something or whether it had a catastrophic structural failure.

PHILLIP: Yes, just an extraordinary number of steps there that you are describing, very high wire act in this moment given that time is definitely running low for these individuals. Captain Chip McCord, thank you very much for all of that insight.

MCCORD: Thank you.

PHILLIP: In the meantime, some families of Titanic victims are speaking out against this voyeurism, calling it disgusting. I want to bring in a husband and wife, Angelica Harris and John Locascio. Their uncles died on the Titanic. Angelica is also the author of a book, Titanic, the Brothers Peracchio. Both of you, thank you for joining us.

John, I want to start with you, these where your uncles by blood, they perished on the Titanic. And you have said in the past that you are disgusted by the tourism to this wreck. What is so upsetting to you about that?

JOHN LOCASCIO, UNCLES DIED ON THE TITANIC: I compare it to looking inside a grave. People died there tragically, very tragically. Why make it a place for people to go see? Why do you have to do that? Let the people rest. They're bodies are there or what is left of them, the ship is there, what's left of it. And it's just a peaceful site there right now, as peaceful as can be.

PHILLIP: Do you think that your uncles are being disrespected by this type of, I guess, I can call it tourism?

LOCASCIO: I would say in my opinion, yes. If I were them, if my soul was there, I would want people coming down to take a look at me.


I don't feel that it would be a very comfortable situation to have people just looking and ogling. It makes no sense.

PHILLIP: And, Angelica, these were your uncles, too, and you wrote this book about the Titanic. How do you feel now about people wanting to go down there to see it? I mean, I'm sure there is an understandable level of fascination with it. But what do you think about this type of trip?

ANGELICA HARRIS, UNCLES DIED ON THE TITANIC: I'm a bit different than my husband. Being an educator, I'm more on the cusp of if you are going to go down there, just revere the Titanic as a grave, revere how someone -- as a place where a loved one is. I mean, for us, it is our uncles who are our loved ones. But there are many other loved ones who were there. And it is obvious by the shoes that are being found in and the jewelry and the plates, that the artifacts that have been brought up, I mean. But, I mean, and that is exactly what it is.

If they're going to go down there, whether they are rich or whomever they are, they should be there to revere her in an educational way, to think about who these people were, why they lived, how they died, because, just by looking at the Titanic, you could see the tragic and the violence. They died by violence. They didn't die peacefully. It wasn't like they fell asleep and woke up the next day in heaven.

I mean, I wrote a poem called Titanic among the crowds, angels guide me home. And I feel that Titanic is in two places right now. She's in the sand and silt in the sea, and she is also in heaven. And we must revere that. We must see that juxtaposition of where she is and cradle her. I mean, I -- because I am a historian, I see that at a historian point of view but I also see how a beautiful ship that once was.

PHILLIP: Yes, it's a fascinating piece of history for the road but also certainly for your family, as well. John and Angelica, thank you both for sharing that very fascinating perspective with us. HARRIS: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And we do have breaking news tonight in the Trump indictment. A new court filing just in that hence that there are multiple recordings of the former president. That is coming up next.

Plus, a brand-new headache for House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Biden impeachment push from the hardliners within his own party.

And Chris Wallace joins me live on what the speaker is warning his caucus of behind closed doors.



PHILLIP: We have some breaking news tonight in the Trump indictment. Discovery is now officially underway. And in a new court filing, Special Counsel Jack Smith and prosecutors hint that they have multiple recordings of the former president in that classified documents case.

Let's bring in CNN's Kaitlan Collins with more on this. Kaitlan, this is a significant first step, the first look of the defense at the evidence that the government has against them. What stands out to you here?

COLLINS: Yes. It is a pretty quick move, of course, by the judge here and that is something that I was just talking to Governor Asa Hutchinson, he views it as a positive development because there have been questions about whether or not there would be significant delays in this trial.

The ball has started rolling at least when it comes to discovery. And, of course, that is where they talk about the evidence that each of the sides going to have here in this case.

And what we are learning tonight from this new court filing, Abby, is that Special Counsel Jack Smith and his team have started turning over their evidence, what they have, to Trump's team, to Trump's legal team.

Now, of course, that we are told here is that this includes the non- classified stuff. That is going to be another entire challenge for them essentially, but this includes things like witness transcripts of witnesses who went before the grand jury.

It could give Trump's legal team an indication of who may be used to potentially testify against him in that jury pool. Of course, we know essentially everyone in Mar-a-Lago has gone in and spoken before this grand jury, ranging from people who were working in the kitchen, to maintenance workers, to his closest aides.

But what is interesting here and what we were noticing, our team, as we were looking at this, is they used the word plural when talking about interviews in recordings that they have of Trump, which they said they were made it his consent. Of course, we know one of those was when he was speaking with people who were ghost writing that book for Mark Meadows, and that is where he was talking about seemingly having a classified document in front of him.

We don't yet know what these other recordings are. We don't know what is on them. We don't know how relevant they are. It does say that they are made with Trump's consent. They could potentially even be public comments that he's made about the classifying, the declassification process, what he knows there. That has obviously been a focus this week. And so it still remains to be seen what those are. But it is significant that now discovery has started in this documents case.

PHILLIP: Yes. That definitely jumps off the page here. Multiple recordings, and we don't know what they say, but the one that we do know about was a fairly significant piece of evidence in that indictment. We have much more to learn on this. Kaitlin, thank you so much for sticking with us for that.

Tonight, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy facing another uprising inside of his own party and behind closed doors. He is trying to talk them off a ledge. Sources tell CNN that McCarthy is calling on House Republicans to vote against a resolution by Colorado Republican Lauren Boebert to impeach President Biden. The speaker telling reporters that it would be premature to move that way while investigations are still playing out.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): And I think to prematurely bring something up like that, to have no background in it, it undercuts what we are doing in Comer's committee.


We are finding something new every single day, what we're doing in Jim Jordan's committee as well.

I think you have to have an investigation. I think that anytime you take something this serious, you don't just whip it and put something on the floor. You follow the investigation wherever it takes you and you follow that all the way through.


PHILLIP: And joining me now on this is CNN Anchor Chris Wallace. He is the Host of, Who's Talking to Chris Wallace. So, Chris, McCarthy there not ruling out impeachment per se, but he is saying basically, not yet. We need more time. We need to do more digging. I was a little bit surprised by how strongly that statement came. Do you think that he is under a lot of pressure to cave on this?

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: I don't know if cave, but he is certainly under pressure. This is happened with the Democrats, too, in 2017, the first year of Donald Trump, representative of Al Green of Texas filed a privileged resolution. When you file a privileged revolution, it means it comes to the floor and there has to be a vote on it, he wanted to impeach Trump.

And, again, there had been no investigation, and, frankly, although, obviously, there are things people don't like, there really hasn't been anything that had risen to the level of a crime and misdemeanor. So, it was sort of like verdict today, trial tomorrow.

And Nancy Pelosi did with Kevin McCarthy is going to do, which is they brought it to the floor and they tabled it, which isn't really a vote for or against it. It just basically says, we are going to put it on the side and it dies a slow death there. And that is what Kevin McCarthy is saying here.

I will say, though, impeachment used to be kind of, yes, it had happened twice in our history, but prior to the Trump administration, it was kind of something that was unimaginable and then it happened very quickly in two years with Donald Trump.

And I think a lot of Republicans, particularly in the ring wing, came in really looking for payback fright from the start. You impeached our president, we are going to impeach your president, even though as Kevin McCarthy said, it hasn't gone through a committee, and, in fact, what is the high crime and misdemeanor? Boebert says it is the failure to enforce the border. But, you know, it's kind of a stretch.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, that sounds like a policy difference, not a real reason to impeach. And to your point, Kevin McCarthy, according to sources, his warning, his own party, that moving to impeach could actually cost them politically. It could cost a narrow majority. What do you think? Does he have a point?

WALLACE: Absolutely. I mean, remember, they've got a five-vote majority. They can lose four votes. But if they lose five votes, they are in the minority. And, you know, what often happens when a party takes over is that they overreach. And the idea that you are going to overreach and actually try to bring impeachment against Joe Biden, it can be a lot of reasons that people don't like Joe Biden, even a lot of Democrats don't like Joe Biden, but the idea that he has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, it is a real overreach. And if they keep pressing this, you can understand where some people on the margins, independent voters would say, these guys aren't growing up enough to govern.

PHILLIP: Yes, especially when, really, the issue at hand for those voters is the quality of life, frankly. But, Chris, to what Kevin McCarthy was saying, he was basically saying, let the investigations play out with James Comer and Jim Jordan, et cetera. And also today on Capitol Hill, the other special counsel, John Durham, he was there to defend his investigations into the origins of the Russia investigation. It was to be expected, deeply partisan hearing. I just want you to take a listen at that.


JOHN DURHAM, SPECIAL COUNSEL: As we said in report, our findings were sobering. And no time and no sense did we act with the purpose to further partisan political ends to the extent that somebody suggests otherwise, that is simply untrue and offensive.

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): How many cases did you bring to trial?


JAYAPAL: Two. And then how many of those two cases did the jury's vote to convict?

DURHAM: Neither one.

REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): I think you let the country down and you are one of the barriers to the true accountability that we need.

DURHAM: Do I get to respond to that or comment on that? Yes. Well, I don't know if you've ever investigated a crime.

GAETZ: I don't know that you have. You didn't investigate these, Mr. Durham.

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): And you agree that Russia interfered in the 2016?

DURHAM: I agreed that there is some substantial evidence to show that.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): So, do you think it's perfectly appropriate or maybe just ill-advised for a presidential campaign to secretly meet with a Russian delegation to get dirt on their opponent? You would you merely say it is inadvisable?

DURHAM: Yes. If you're asking what I'd do, I hope I wouldn't do it.


But it was not illegal. It was stupid, foolish, ill-advised.

REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN): Mr. Trump has called Mr. Barr a gutless pig, a coward and a RINO. Which of those is correct? Which isn't?

DURHAM: In my experience, none of those are correct.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe the Department of Justice should be defuned?

DURHAM: I don't believe the Department of Justice or the FBI should be defunded. I think there maybe ought to be some changes and the like, but defunded, no.

COHEN: You had a good reputation. That is why the two Democrats supported you. But the longer you hold on to Mr. Barr in this report that Mr. Barr he gave you as special counsel, your reputation will be damaged, as everybody's reputation who gets involved with Donald Trump is damaged.

DURHAM: My concern is with the people who I respect, my family, and my Lord. And I am perfectly comfortable with my reputation with them, sir. (END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP: You know what really stands out there to me, Chris, he is taking heat from Republicans and Democrats, which is really not, I think, what anybody expected at the end of this process.

WALLACE: Well, the question I have is why did Jim Jordan, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, called him up. Because if he thought he was going to score points against Democrats, he really didn't. Remember, Durham was appointed by Bill Barr during the Trump administration to investigate the investigators, basically to say, why did they spent all these years, as both the FBI and then the special counsel investigating the idea of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Russia, Russia, Russia, as the former president calls it. It was not.

You know, he spent four years. He brought three cases, one minor fellow and the FBI pleaded guilty. And the two big cases he brought to trial, both men were found not guilty. They were acquitted. So, it was not a terrifically successful enterprise, and, you know, not only heard the Democrats hammering him, but you also saw Matt Gaetz, a far right Republican, hammering as well. I don't think it served any purpose for the Judiciary Committee. It sure didn't help John Durham.

PHILLIP: Although, to his credit, he came, he took the questions, he took the criticism, and sometimes that's really all we can ask of people, just to stand up for whatever they decided to do in the course of their work.

So, Chris, don't go anywhere. You just spoke to Senator Cory Booker about Hunter Biden's plea deal. And we've got to ask you about your interview with Harrison Ford, who is pushing back on the idea that he plays heroes. We will have more on that, next.



ABBY PHILIP, CNN ANCHOR AND SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: The Hunter Biden plea deal is sending political shockwaves this week, and CNN's Chris Wallace got a chance tonight to sit down with Democratic Senator Cory Booker and ask him what he thought about this news.


CHRIS WALLACE, HOST OF WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE: Senator, did Hunter Biden get off easy?

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ): Look, you're talking to a guy who has seen the worst of the criminal justice system in America, where you see a two-tier system. If you're a congressperson, a senator, or a president, you can admit to using marijuana, but we are a nation that has been arresting young, low-income black and brown people.

Literally, thousands in America can't get jobs for doing things that four, at least, or a few at least, former presidents have admitted to doing. So I'm a person that has a lot of suspicion about a justice system that I think is still working its way to be justice for all. So I don't know the particulars of this case. I have not followed the details. I imagine that there were prosecutors, a Trump appointed prosecutor, who, like many prosecutors, are going after it with vigor. And they came to a plea deal. And as far as I'm concerned, the work that I have to do, I think justice has taken its course.

WALLACE: You're talking about a two-tier system of rich and poor. I'm asking you, do you think that there is a two-tier system, a double standard for prosecuting Republicans and Democrats?

BOOKER: Absolutely not, especially the way that I think President Biden has tried to restore legitimacy to the Justice Department. He hired somebody that had a lot of respect on both sides of the aisle and then stayed away from them. You do not see him out there talking. And when Hunter Biden cooperated with authorities, clearly we do not see that in the case of Donald Trump right now.


PHILIP: And Chris is back with me now. So what did you think of the senator's answer there?

WALLACE: Well, it's not going to convince Republicans --


WALLACE: -- who are going to say, Hunter Biden, the president's son, got off easy, that he's not going to serve any jail time, that they found nothing illegal, apparently, in his business dealings, in which he made a lot of money in the Ukraine and China.

But, you know, it's the argument from Democrats, which is the Justice Department, there's every indication that Joe Biden has kept hands off the Justice Department attorney general Merrick Garland, and Merrick Garland kept Donald Trump's U.S. attorney in Wilmington, Delaware, the one who conducted this investigation, kept him in here for over two years as he decided what he was going to do. And so it was Trump's appointed U.S. attorney who decided not to seek jail time and to accept a plea deal from Hunter Biden.

But is that going to satisfy Republicans? Probably not.

PHILIP: Yeah. I mean, look, it's certainly not. But I do think that his point about the two-tiered system of justice for all the rest of a country Americans is worth a conversation because that is very real and perhaps more real than the political element here, considering there's just no comparison between what Trump is accused of and what Hunter Biden was, you know, eventually charged with and pled to.


But on a lighter note, Chris, you, for your show this week, also spoke to Mr. Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford, and you asked him what it was like to play a hero. What did he say to that? WALLACE: Well, actually, what I asked him was why -- He has made 70

films that have grossed more than $9 billion. He's one of the most popular actors in history. Of course, he's been in the Star Wars movies, he's been now in five Indiana Jones movies. And I said that I had a theory, which was that for all of his swashbuckling and his sense of humor and being a bit of a smartass, which he pleaded guilty to, I said I think the secret sauce for Harrison Ford is that he's vulnerable. And here was his response to that.


HARRISON FORD, ACTOR: I have always been accused of playing heroes. I don't play heroes. I play a CIA man or a doctor or whatever it is. But you cannot play a hero. You have to play your audience. You have to bring your audience into that moment.

And what a -- What a -- And you want them to feel emotionally consistent with the characters because then we're not talking about the story. The audience is immersed in the story. It's a whole different thing.

WALLACE: And if you're playing a hero, who can kind of slough off a terrible --

FORD: I'm not playing a hero.

WALLACE: No, I say, if you were -- Yes, then --

FORD: Then I would have a cape and I would have a lycra suit.

WALLACE: And we wouldn't feel as scared as we're supposed to feel in that thing, because it wouldn't feel as threatening.

FORD: But you might admire me for other reasons, you know, and maybe that's the way the culture has changed a little.


WALLACE: It was such an interesting insight, Abby, into his craft. We played him a clip from "Clear and Present Danger" where he's playing Jack Ryan. We played a clip when he plays the president in "Air Force One" and shows real vulnerability. And I think that's the extraordinary thing that he seems in a lot of these movies to be a real person in living or experiencing unreal situations and feeling as scared and as we think we would be if we were in those situations, but then overcoming them, and yes, in the end, being the hero.

PHILIP: It's such a great observation about the nuances of what makes these superhero movies really great. It's actually the humanity of the character, not the way in which they are larger than life and more powerful than a regular person, but the emotional element of it that makes it great. That's so fascinating. I am really excited to watch the rest of that. He's such a fascinating person and actor, especially at this stage in his life, continuing to do this kind of work. It's pretty remarkable.

So Chris, thank you so much.

And be sure to check out Chris' full interview with Senator Cory Booker and Harrison Ford on "Who's Talking to Chris Wallace" Friday night at 10 pm, see it on CNN and streaming on Max.

And coming up next, an outburst in the courtroom today. Just moments after the January 6th rioter who used a stun gun on Michael Fanon was sentenced to prison. Michael joins me live on what happened inside of that courtroom.




PHILIP: On January 6th, he pushed a stun gun into the neck of D.C. police officer Michael Fanon while wearing a "Make America Great Again" hat. But today, Daniel Rodriguez learned that he is spending the next 12 years behind bars, but not before an outburst in the courtroom.

Rodriguez attacked officer Fanon after the pro-Trump mob dragged him into the crowd. You can see him falling to the ground in this video. He pleaded guilty, Rodriguez did, to four criminal counts back in February and today as he exited the courtroom he shouted Trump won echoing the very lie that was at the root of the Capitol attack.

The judge presiding over this case tore into the insurrectionist calling his attack on Fanon a horrific assault. She added that while Rodriguez was trying to stop the peaceful transfer of power, Fanon was protecting the very foundation of democracy, and Michael Fanon himself joins me right now.

Michael, what was it like to see the lack of repentance there inside of that courtroom today?

MICHAEL FANON, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I mean, I said in my testimony that, or my impact statement that, you know, Daniel Rodriguez really ceased to exist to me as a person a long time ago. And that's how I've just detached myself from all of these assault cases.

But it was clear to me, as it has been in the previous criminal cases that there is no remorse on behalf of the defendants.

PHILIP: What do you think about the sentence twelve years, is that sufficient?

FANON: I thought it was appropriate. I mean, listen I -- I wear two hats in these trials, you know, I've I guess for lack of a better term on the victim, but I'm also a -- a law enforcement officer who has 20 years of experience in dealing with criminal cases and I think that the 12 years was -- was appropriate.

PHILIP: Yeah, and we -- as we just talked about this guy, Rodriguez repeated the -- the very lie at the heart of January 6th, but I want you to listen to this. This was from former President Trump just a couple days ago.



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: First of all, I won in 2020 by a lot, okay? Let's get that straight. I won in 2020. And if you look at all of the tapes, if you look at everything that you want to look at, you take a look at Truth to Vote, where they have people stuffing the ballot boxes on tapes --


PHILIP: It is 2023. He's running for president again. What do you feel and think hearing him repeat that lie again?

FANON: I mean, it's outrageous. It's -- It pisses me off. And at the same time, I recognize the -- the dangerousness and the influence that Donald Trump carries and what people are willing to do on his behalf.

We talked off air just a few minutes ago and discussed about, you know, whether or not I feel that we're in a worse place now than we were on January 6th. And I think that that's abundantly clear.

PHILIP: What do you think ought to happen when it comes to Trump, as you know, he is also facing an investigation into his role in January 6th? What do you think needs to happen there, all these years after what physically happened to you, the brutal assault that you've experienced?

FANON: Well, that's really at the heart of why I spoke up and agreed to testify before the select committee in Congress was that I felt that the Justice Department was not doing enough to investigate the former president's role in January 6th.

And I feel as though, you know, after reading a recent "Washington Post" article which declared exactly that, that there was a reluctance in the Department of Justice and, you know, the FBI under Director Wray, to pursue any type of investigation into Donald Trump and his supporters for January 6th.

And I think that, you know, like I've said many times, the rule of law should mean something. It meant something to me as a police officer. And that's that no one in this country is above the law, regardless of their political persuasion or position, or how much wealth that they have amassed.

PHILIP: All right. Michael Fanon, thank you as always for joining us. And for what you did that day in the service, as the judge said, of American democracy.

FANON: Thank you.

PHILIP: And coming up next on "CNN Tonight," a new report shows that community college graduates can actually make a lot more money than their peers graduating with four-year degrees. Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame joins Alisyn in the next hour.

But first, misinformation coming from both sides of the political aisle. Is the media ignoring RFK Jr.'s baseless conspiracies as he challenges President Biden? We'll discuss that next.




PHILIP: He's been called dangerous. His own siblings say he's, quote, "complicit in sowing distrust of the science behind vaccines." And now Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is asking Americans to let him run the country as president while he spreads those baseless claims. But the question, are some parts of the media going soft when it comes to challenging these conspiracy theories? RFK Jr. is best known for spreading the vaccine misinformation, including this debunked claim that vaccines cause autism.

But it is also worth noting that his baseless conspiracies go far beyond vaccines. And here is just a taste of it. Without evidence, he says that China and the U.S. are developing race-based bio weapons. Without evidence, he claims that COVID-19 was genetically engineered as a bioweapon. Without evidence, he claims that 5G technology is being used to, quote, "harvest our data and control our behavior." Without evidence, he claimed mass shootings are linked to prescription drugs. Without evidence, he claimed the 2004 presidential election was stolen. Without evidence, he says that the U.S. may be plotting to assassinate him. That's a lot.

So let's bring in senior media reporter at CNN here, Oliver Darcy. And Eric Deggans, he's the author of "Race Bader" and a TV critic for NPR. So, Oliver, you raised this very wisely in your newsletter this week that everyone should read, of course. One of the reasons that this is an important topic is because of where RFK Jr. is in this presidential process. Look at this poll from CNN. Biden is at 60 percent, and Kennedy is at 20 percent. I mean, maybe a lot of this is name recognition, but how should we be covering him?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SR. MEDIA REPORTER: Well, Abby, I think when you're thinking about covering a conspiracy theorist, someone like him, you need to first evaluate whether they're worth the coverage, because often conspiracy theories or theorists thrive when they're getting a lot of media attention. And if you do determine they are worth the coverage, I think it's important to be direct, to be clear with audiences about their beliefs. A lot of people in the media class, they follow RFK Jr., they know how delusional some of his ideas are, but to everyday Americans he might just be a Kennedy. And so if the news, the press is not relaying some of the things that you just went through to audiences, I don't think they're getting a clear picture of who he is and how unhinged from reality some of his ideas are.

[22:55:21] PHILIP: Yeah, I mean, I think that it is not sufficient to call him, frankly, a vaccine skeptic. Eric, how do you think this balance should be struck in the media and how these lies and misinformation are covered?

ERIC DEGGANS, TV CRITIC, NPR: Well, I think this is a difficult situation because I think the audience assumes that if there was absolutely no merit to what he was saying, then the media wouldn't be covering it. And so even when, you know, media outlets cover him and try to explain how, you know, out of line his views are and how, you know, unmoored in data or reality of facts they are.

The fact that they're paying attention to him, gives him an imprimatur that I think is hard to overcome. And this is something that all kinds of media outlets have experienced with other people, for example, Donald Trump. It's hard to handle Donald Trump's misinformation when you're training a camera on him and talking about him for hours and hours in a day. And so, you know, my question is, why is he being covered at all?

And if he's being covered, why aren't we asking the tough question, why are so many people willing to admit that this guy might be a good candidate for president? Maybe that's the question we should be asking. But if you bring him on television and you explore his views and try to debunk them, what you find is that just giving him that interview gives him more exposure than perhaps he should have.

PHILIP: And Oliver, you've used actually Alex Jones, another very well-known and popular conspiracy theorist as an example of where the media gets this right in some ways. How so?

DARCY: Yeah, the media is very clear-eyed with audiences about who Alex Jones is. I mean, there won't be a story that's published or an interview that runs that does not call him a right-wing conspiracy theorist, someone who has trafficked in insane delusions. But when it comes to people like RFK Jr., a Kennedy or other prominent officials in government who do traffic in a lot of conspiracy theories and outright lies, I think there's this hesitation to call them out and to call them for what they are, even though they are really peddling a lot of the same delusions that someone like Alex Jones is. It's just, I think, much more difficult for the press, and frankly uncomfortable for them, to call a prominent government official or a Kennedy a conspiracy theorist, someone who is peddling lies to the American public. But frankly, because of their respected prominent positions in society, it really warrants that kind of coverage so people understand exactly who these people are. And the press is direct with them about this instead of really just beating around the bush with watered down language.

PHILIP: Yeah, And Eric --

DEGGANS: You know, one thing I would say about covering someone like Alex Jones is that a lot of the covers that he's gotten recently has been about controversies connected to negative allegations about him.

The media isn't going to Alex Jones and asking him what he thinks about vaccines or asking him what he thinks about politics. They're doing stories about him getting sued for what he said about the Sandy Hook Massacre, which is a different thing. It's easier to cover someone who's mired in controversy where the story is about all the negative things that are being said about that person. It's harder to interview someone who is running for office but is saying a lot of things that are unhinged and not more in reality or facts.

PHILIP: Yeah. Oliver and Eric, thank you for that. I'm sure we'll be talking quite a lot about this as we go into this next cycle. Thank you both.

DEGGANS: Thank you.

PHILIP: And before we go, two of the most controversial Republicans in Congress had a profane exchange on the House floor today. The feud was between Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert.

It was caught on camera. You can see them chatting there. And it led to a lot of questions. There was reporting that the word, and pardon my language here, or the phrase, little bitch, was thrown around. When asked about it by reporters earlier today, Greene said this.


REPORTER: Is the Daily Beast story about you calling her an expletive accurate?

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I will not confirm or deny


PHILIP: And Lauren Boebert said this.


REP. LAUREN BOBERT (R-CO): Yeah, I'm not in middle school