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CNN Tonight

Trump Could be Charged Soon; Judge Appears Inclined to Delay Documents Trial; Sixteen Fake Electors for Trump were Charged with Crimes; Tom Foreman Reports from the Magic Wall; DeSantis Deflects on Trump's Target Letter; Alisyn Camerota Interviews Geraldo Rivera; Alisyn Camerota Reports New Developments Regarding Gilgo Beach Serial Killing Suspect. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired July 18, 2023 - 23:00   ET



LAURA COATES, CNN HOST AND SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Authorities believe that he was intentionally targeted.

Thanks for joining me tonight. I'm glad you're here. I'm Laura Coates. "CNN Tonight" with Alisyn Camerota starts right now. Hey, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hey, Laura. Thanks so much. Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to "CNN Tonight."

A lot of headlines in the criminal investigations into Donald Trump and his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Now that Trump has been informed that he is a target of Jack Smith's investigation, what happens next?

And what we've learned about those 16 fake electors in Michigan. We're going to bring you "Tomorrow's News Tonight."

Meanwhile, it appears that the judge in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case will not fast track the trial. So, will it happen before the 2024 election?

And the one and only Geraldo Rivera will be here tonight to talk politics, his exit from Fox, and why he says he'll use his energy to keep Donald Trump from becoming president again.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I got the letter on Sunday night. Think of it. I don't think they've ever sent a letter on Sunday night. And they're in a rush because they want to interfere. It's interference with the election. It's election interference. Never been done like this in the history of our country, and it's a disgrace.


CAMEROTA: Okay, let's begin with "Tomorrow's News Tonight. So, Donald Trump announced, as you just heard, that he got this letter from the special prosecutor telling him that he is a target of the criminal investigation into election interference. Does that mean that Trump could be indicted again soon?

Let's ask CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez. We also have with us James Schultz, a former Trump White House lawyer, Andrew McCabe, former FBI deputy director, and John Miller, CNN chief law enforcement and intelligence analyst. Gentlemen, so great to have you here. Okay, Evan, what happens now?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think we can expect an indictment. That's what this letter signifies. This was a warning to the former president that he has until Thursday. He can come to the grand jury on Thursday here in Washington, DC. If he wants to avail himself of that opportunity, he can do that, present evidence. He can bring evidence with him. And if he doesn't, then the clock starts ticking.

And so, we can expect that perhaps as soon as Thursday, the grand jury could vote on an indictment of the former president. We do know, Alisyn, that there at least one other witness. Perhaps a couple of witnesses might also be going to the grand jury probably for very, very short stints. In one case, you know, we know of somebody who has been in there a couple of times, going in for a third time.

So, at this point, everything seems perfunctory. Everything seems like this investigation is pretty much finished. And the special counsel, Jack Smith, is ready to move ahead. And so now we wait.

CAMEROTA: Okay, got it. John Miller, you have come across a lot of target letters in your career in law enforcement. How big of a deal is this? And do the target letters spell out the crimes that the recipient is being investigated for?

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: So, in general, yes. But the target letter is not a legal requirement. It's not a standard procedure. Target letter has a purpose. Sometimes, prosecutors will use it to stir up the case by letting people know their targets and then see what happens next. That's a technique.

But in this case, the target letter is coming at the near the end of the grand jury presentation to give the target notice that, A, they're a target. OK, guess what? We all knew Donald Trump was the target of this investigation.

But to give him the opportunity, having formally been notified, to come in and testify, would he come in and testify? Not likely. Even if it was his desire, I think the lawyers he has right now, including Todd Blanche, would know his history of inconsistent statements under oath that could get him in trouble. So, this is a signal that they're rounding third base.

Do I think we're going to see an indictment on Thursday if he doesn't show up? No. I think, as Evan hinted, the grand jury has a little cleanup work to do towards the end in that presentation, but I think it will be similar to what we saw in the documents case.

CAMEROTA: Meaning it's like a three-week time period between the target letter and an indictment?

MILLER: Most grand juries meet twice a week and, you know, they get done what they can get done in that day. Jack Smith has been very busy and efficient. So, I would say, you know, let's put it in the 10-day arc, longer or shorter.

CAMEROTA: Okay. Jim, it's interesting to hear John say, you know, we all knew that he was a target because our reporting, Kaitlan Collins has the reporting that this did catch the Trump team off guard, this target letter. They were not expecting Jack Smith to bring charges this month or against Trump at all. How is that possible?

JAMES SCHULTZ, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: You know, as you saw folks from the inner circle coming into the grand jury, being reportedly coming into the grand jury, you can see that this thing was coming to close, and you can see that the target was likely Donald Trump.


So, I don't think there's any real surprise here that Donald Trump received the target letter and will likely be indicted in 10 days -- 10 days or two weeks.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So, everybody is in an agreement on that. Andrew, will other people face charges? Is it possible that only Donald Trump is the target?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST, FORMER FBI DEPUTY DIRECTOR: Yeah, Alisyn, I guess it's possible, but I find it to be highly unlikely. When you think about the different charges that Trump may face if he's indicted, almost all of them require the presence of others. You talk about 371 conspiracy to defraud the United States government. By definition, it's a conspiracy. It requires the presence of another offender.

And the rest of the charges have similar -- have similar elements like that. We know from the evidence that we're all very familiar with, from the work of the January 6th Committee up through the appearances of individuals in the grand jury over the last several months, we know that these potential charges involve the -- at least the folks who are closest to Donald Trump in the lead up to January 6th and in the immediate aftermath. So, people like John Eastman and Kenneth Chesebro and Rudy Giuliani and others have been mentioned.

So, the idea that ultimately Trump will be indicted by himself seems highly unlikely to me, although as of today, we haven't heard about target letters landing on anybody else's desks.

I would mention, however, though, the delivery of target letters is not a requirement in the Department of Justice. It's certainly not a legal requirement. So, there's no hard and fast rule that says anyone else has to get one.

CAMEROTA: Evan, do you have any insight into this, why Rudy Giuliani hasn't received a target letter? PEREZ: Yeah. No, we don't -- we don't really have any insight. But as Andy McCabe just pointed out, a couple of people that we know have been at the center of this investigation. People like John Eastman, for instance, right, who was stopped by the FBI, seized -- they seized his telephone. Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department official, again, at the center of all of this, he got his home got raided.

So, you know, I think for some of those folks, this is not necessarily a surprise that they are at the center of this. Rudy Giuliani is a different one. He just went in for a couple of days of testimony. We don't know what he said. And so, that one is certainly one of the ones that everyone is asking questions about at this point.

CAMEROTA: Yeah. Anything to add to that, John?

MILLER: Well, I think what people who were in the room have told me, that the subject of those two days was basically processed. It mirrored his January 6 Committee testimony. Some of it was covered by lawyer-client privilege. I can't tell you that because that was privileged between, you know, my client Donald Trump and me.

But a lot of it was -- so you thought there was election fraud, what did you do? We gathered up allegations and we brought them to different courts and different bodies, and we were rejected in all of those places, dozens of them. And after that, that was our legal effort and, you know, there's no crime in trying to get a body to certify alternate electors, especially when they say no.

CAMEROTA: Jim, another interesting thing about this is that multiple people have testified before the January 6th Select Committee, that they told Donald Trump that there was no election fraud. So, here's a smattering of that.


WILLIAM BARR, FORMER UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: I made it clear I did not agree with the idea of saying the election was stolen and putting out this stuff, which I told the president was bullshit.

JEFFREY ROSEN, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: He wanted to talk about that he thought the election had been stolen or was corrupt and that there was widespread fraud. And I had told him that our reviews had not shown that to be the case.

RICHARD DONOGHUE, FORMER ACTING U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: I said something to the effect of, sir, we've done dozens of investigations, hundreds of interviews. The major allegations are not supported by the evidence developed. We've looked at Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Nevada. We're doing our job. Much of the info you're getting is false.


CAMEROTA: So, Jim, will he be able to really use as his defense, I didn't know?

SCHULTZ: Look, it depends what -- it depends what he said to other people. Right? We are going to learn a lot from the indictment when it hits. I'm sure it's going to be a tight-speaking indictment just like the last one. And we'll learn -- we'll probably see that folks have told him this. We'll probably see that he, you know, said -- they said he didn't -- they said that he believed that he still won.

But there's -- you know, the question is, did he make an admission at some point in time to someone that he believed he lost the election?


If that's the case, he's got real problems on that issue for sure.

CAMEROTA: Hey Jim, do you have any theories right now on the status of Mark Meadows? We haven't seen him for a while.

SCHULTZ: No, we've seen nothing of Mark Meadows. So, I don't have any theories on it. I -- you know, we can -- you know, maybe he has been talking to the people. Maybe he has been part of the grand jury testimony. You know, obviously, he was part of the January 6 interviews. You know, I don't know -- I don't think any of us can know, but I think we'll find out real soon what has been going on with Mark Meadows.

CAMEROTA: Evan, do you have reporting on that?

PEREZ: We don't know. I mean, that's, I think, the center of a lot of the speculation within the Trump circle. They're certainly worried about it because they just have not heard any indication of exactly what he did when he went in. All we know from his attorneys is that he told the truth. That's all that we've heard from his legal team. And so, the guessing game continues.

CAMEROTA: John, do you assume that people are cooperating?

MILLER: So, that is an interesting concept because the assumption here is that people are going in and telling the truth. You know, we consider cooperating if you're in a mob family and there's a code of silence and you break that and you're cooperating. That's an anathema.

These are government officials, public servants who have been called in under oath, and presumably they're telling the truth, which may or may not be good for Donald Trump if they were in meetings in offices where they said, okay, we know we lost, but how do we overturn this, even if it means, you know, having people storm the Capitol or calling the vice president and asking him to conspire with us not to do his job?

CAMEROTA: You're right. I need a new verb, not cooperating. Just telling the truth is what you're saying. It's like considered cooperating.

MILLER: Yeah, it is considered cooperating, but, you know, cooperating is looked at in a criminal conspiracy as going against your criminal code. In this case, if these are people who took an oath to the United States government and they did something with the president of the United States that they need to describe in a grand jury, they should tell the truth. And if that's cooperating, it's cooperating.

CAMEROTA: I got you. I totally get the distinction here. Evan, so there's another story that's going to get a lot of play tomorrow, and that is Michigan's attorney general has charged 16 people with being fake electors because they falsely claimed that Donald Trump won Michigan in 2020. So, what have you learned on this?

PEREZ: Right. So, these are 16 people who were part of this scheme to set up these fake electors and claimed that Donald Trump won their state which, of course, he did not.

In the case of Michigan, they actually tried to go to the state house to try to present themselves as Donald Trump electors. They were turned away by the police. They've finally been charged by the state attorney general today as part of this investigation.

We do not -- you know, we do know that there are other states that are investigating similar schemes in Georgia and Arizona. So, it's possible we'll see this. And, of course, Jack Smith's own investigators have also been looking at this scheme. So, you can expect that this is -- this might be just the beginning of this story.

CAMEROTA: Andrew, we're out of time, but I want to give you one more bite of the apple. Your thoughts on this scheme?

MCCABE: Well, I think the fake electors' scheme has really become the core of this prosecution that we all expect will go forward in the next week or so. It's the absolute center of any sort of charge about defrauding the federal government. It could form the basis of a charge of 1,001 false statements.

There are all kinds of ways that the fake electors' scheme is going to be very relevant to any prosecution. So, I think it's something we need to keep a very close eye on.

CAMEROTA: Gentlemen, thank you very much for all of the expertise.

Okay, next, Tom Foreman is going to head to the magic wall to show us the many ways Donald Trump and his allies tried to stop Joe Biden from taking office in 2020 and how those schemes are coming back to haunt them.



CAMEROTA: Tonight, new criminal charges in Michigan against 16 fake electors who tried to overturn their state's 2020 election results. CNN's Tom Foreman is at the magic wall with this and more for us. Hi, Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi. How are you doing, Alisyn? This is really one of those interesting cases when you look at all of the different ways in which the team supporting Trump wanted to overturn this election. Sixteen charges, false electors in Michigan fit well into the overall accusation that the former president, Donald Trump, and his supporters tried repeatedly to overturn the 2020 election.

Seven states have come under the special counsel scrutiny over allegations of false electors, legislative plans to nullify the voting results, and/or those phone calls from Trump seemingly pressuring election officials to take legal, fair votes away from Joe Biden and give them to Trump.

What else was tried? Team Trump launched at least 62 efforts to have election results invalidated in the courts. All but one ended in defeat. When even the Supreme Court rejected a claim, Trump tweeted, the Supreme Court really let us down. No wisdom. No courage.

You know, the special counsel has also been looking at a December 2020 Oval Office meeting in which the president and his team reportedly discussed seizing voting machines and declaring martial law to stop his defeat from becoming official.

We know then Vice President Pence was under enormous pressure from Trump to block certification of the vote even though Pence had no legal power to do that. And, of course, we all saw the violent attack that came after Trump urged his followers to converge on the Capitol and told them to fight like hell as lawmakers were certifying the vote.

For all of that, for all of those efforts, Trump's assessment about this latest news, he put it on social media. I have the right to protest an election that I am fully convinced was rigged and stolen.


But, but there's clearly a lot here that legal analysts think may have gone well beyond simply a protest. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Tom, thank you for reminding us of all of those threads. Okay, joining us now, CNN political commentator Ana Navarro. We also have former lieutenant governor of Georgia, Geoff Duncan, and former special advisor to President Obama and CNN political commentator Van Jones. Great to have all of you, guys, here.

Okay, lieutenant governor, everything that Tom just laid out there, okay, all evidence of a possible crime, at least grossly inappropriate behavior, how do you explain why so many Republicans are still supporting Donald Trump at this point?

GEOFF DUNCAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I explained it as Stockholm Syndrome a couple of days ago, right? I mean, he kidnapped the Republican Party, abused us for years, and then all of a sudden, his biggest victims are now coming to court to protect him. That's all I can explain it with.

Look, at the end of the day, Donald Trump has done almost irreparable damage to the current Republican Party and its time for GOP 2.0 to see these electorates which we're going to watch the same story play out in Georgia in a few weeks with Fani Willis in the Fulton County investigation I'm not certain of but I feel likely. Look, these are great people probably in their communities and upstanding people that the president of United States told them something and they believed them. And now, it's going to train wreck their finances. It's going to train wreck some of their lives. Some of them may end up going to jail because of it.

CAMEROTA: And yet, your former boss, the governor, Brian Kemp, he was just on CNN last night, and he was asked by Kaitlin Collins if he would still support Donald Trump and work to get him elected if he were the nominee, and he says he will. Why would he do that after everything you've just laid out?

DUNCAN: Brian Kemp and I agree on a lot, but not that. I will never support Donald Trump. I cannot look my kids, my wife, my friends, my supporters in the eyes and explain to them why I would ever think Donald Trump would make sense to lead anything. I wouldn't put Donald Trump in charge of a lemonade stand.

CAMEROTA: And do you understand why Brian -- why Governor Kemp would?

DUNCAN: Well, certainly, Brian has been a great leader. And I think using Brian as an example, we should see these presidential candidates that are out there trying to flail around and mince words and split hairs about Donald Trump.

They ought to take Brian Kemp's advice and they ought to go take the weekend off and go look at what he did to beat David Perdue in a primary by 52%. Remember, David Perdue was Donald Trump's best friend. He won by 52 points. And then he beats Stacey Abrams in a very wide- open race.

CAMEROTA: Ana, speaking of the other candidates who are running for the republican nomination, Jake Tapper sat down with the GOP governor, Ron DeSantis, this afternoon, and he was claiming basically that the DOJ has been weaponized against Donald Trump. So, here is that moment.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Jack Smith has prosecuted Democrats, too. I mean, he prosecuted or at least was part of the prosecution of Senator Menendez, Senator John Edwards. Are you saying that if he finds evidence of criminality, he should not charge Donald Trump anyway?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): What I'm saying is when you're going after somebody on the other side of the political spectrum, if you're stretching statutes to try to criminalize maybe political disagreements, that is wrong.

Now, look, this is all speculation. But I think we've gone down the road in this country of trying to criminalize differences in politics rather than saying, okay, you don't like somebody, then defeat them in the election rather than trying to use the justice system.


CAMEROTA: Ana, do you understand why Trump's GOP opponents are not seizing on his possible crimes?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I remember that I'm watching this as an American voter, but also as a Floridian. And so, when I hear him talk about criminalizing agencies and how wrong it is, I can only think about my friends who own the R House, the drag brunch in Wynwood, Florida that are getting dragged to court and that are being criminalized. They are trying to get -- take their liquor license away.

Ron DeSantis has weaponized his agencies against that little drag brunch in Wynwood, Florida. He has weaponized his agencies and passed legislation against Disney, the largest employer in Florida.

So, for him to sit there talking about how wrong it is to criminalize and weaponize government agencies against people who disagree with you is the height of hypocrisy to such a level that I just hope somebody, somebody confronts him with that in the debate.

And I think it is part of the reason why he has lost some points, because Republicans realize that weaponizing government, passing legislation against the likes of Mickey Mouse is wrong, even Republicans like Mickey Mouse.


CAMEROTA: Van, your thoughts on all of this?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think what's weird is that people act like we're going so hard on Trump. Can you imagine if a bunch of Muslims had attacked a joint session of Congress? If Ilhan Omar had said this is wrong and gave a big speech in 10,000 Muslims, she would be in jail right now. She wouldn't be walking around, running for president, giving interviews.


So, yeah, there is a two-tiered system of justice, and Donald Trump is benefiting from it, the fact that he's a free man right now. So, I just think it's the whole thing, this kind of pity party that he's throwing for himself. You know, the ultimate snowflake candidate when he's actually being treated with kids' gloves. This thing has taken way too long.

If Black Lives Matter had attacked a joint session of Congress, the all would be under jail right now. If Obama had called for some mob, he would be under Guantanamo right now. So, I just don't know what he's talking about.

CAMEROTA: And what do you think then will happen if none of these things, as Tom Foreman just laid out, come to fruition, no trial happens before the 2024 election?

JONES: Well, that's Donald Trump's plan the whole time. That's why he threw his hat in the ring as soon as he possibly could, because he has no defense except to pretend he's being persecuted. He has no defense at all, because it's clear as day that what he did was wrong. CAMEROTA: What do you think happens?

DUNCAN: If something doesn't structurally change with the focus of the Republican Party, here's what happens. Donald Trump wins the primary and loses the general, and we're back to having four more years of Joe Biden. Right now, statistically, every stat you look at is the most beatable sitting president in the history of this country. We're going to squander another opportunity to put conservative policies forward.

You can't be Donald Trump-like. You shouldn't be Donald Trump-like. I think every candidate running for president as a Republican ought to say the most presidential thing Donald Trump can do is walk away from this race. Right? Doesn't seem likely, but it's the right thing to do.

But he doesn't care about being an American. He doesn't care about being a Republican. He cares about his pride and his ego. And it has eaten him up and it's going to eat up our party.

CAMEROTA: Ana, how about these fake electors? These 16 people, they were apparently RNC members. They were willing to masquerade or go along with -- I mean, this is -- of course, this is what they're accused of, but there does seem to be some evidence against how this scheme was going to unfold. What are we to make of this?

NAVARRO: I continue feeling like I'm watching a scandal, the show, on a loop. And the things you -- the plots are just the kind of things that not even Shonda Rhimes could come up with because it's just so -- it's such insanity, but it was happening in so many different places. And what's sad is that none of it is going to matter. He's now --


NAVARRO: Because -- because it's baked into the cake. Because they think that Donald Trump is being victimized. Because, frankly, Ron DeSantis is not making the sale because it turns out he's a big paper tiger. And so, there's no alternative to Donald Trump. Right?

Chris Christie is not an alternative to Donald Trump when it comes to conservative voters. I mean, most of the -- you know, the people on that stage are just not breaking through with the exception of Tim Scott who has got a glimmer of hope.

But Ron DeSantis has been a failure. And he's not failing because the corporate media, as he calls it, is attacking him. No. He's failing because he has been a bad candidate. He's failing because he is not articulating the positive vision for America that he discussed, that he was going to do in that interview. Instead, all he does is a verb, a noun, and woke.


And that becomes very exhausting. And that becomes very lacking creativity. And it bores the electorate. And he's just coming across as a vindictive, thin-skinned, awkward, bobblehead of a bad candidate who Republicans are not willing to let go of Trump for to hold on to that other rope. CAMEROTA: On that note, friends, thank you very much for your perspectives. Great to talk to you tonight.

All right, and coming up next, the man who has covered every big story around the globe for more than 50 years. My old friend Geraldo Rivera is here to talk about all of today's news and life after Fox. Stick around for all those, next.



CAMEROTA: You've watched his reporting and his talk shows for more than 50 years, though he doesn't look a day over 40.


Joining me now is award-winning journalist and former talk show host Geraldo Rivera. He just quit Fox after two decades and this is his first interview on CNN in 15 years.


CAMEROTA: Hi, friend.

RIVERA: It seems so short a time.



RIVERA: It's great to see you.

CAMEROTA: It's great to see you too. I've been really important.

RIVERA: One of my favorites when you were at Fox, and I've been watching you here and you're doing a great job.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, and likewise to you.

RIVERA: Your voice and intelligence, so cool.

CAMEROTA: Oh, thanks.

GERALDO: It feels great to be here.

CAMEROTA: It feels great to see you. And so, we'll get into all things Fox in a minute, but the news gods have been busy tonight.

RIVERA: Yes, they certainly are.

CAMEROTA: So, I want to start with the news. So, Donald Trump has received a target letter from the special counsel, Jack Smith, as you know, who is investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 election, January 6th, the attack of the Capitol. How do you think all of this will play against the backdrop of a presidential election? RIVERA: I think that every charge, every news conference by the Justice Department, every move to prosecute him will be more votes in the Republican primary. I think that they strengthen his hand. They make his nomination ever more certain.

Even were he to be convicted and go to jail, he would be elect -- he would be -- win the primary, the Republican primary, even as a federal prisoner. And I think that one of the reasons he wants to be president is so he can pardon himself because his conviction will be certain.

CAMEROTA: And why is that? Why would he win the Republican nominee as a federal prisoner?

RIVERA: Because there -- because you can be president even though you are in prison. As long as you are 35 years old and you've been a resident of the United States for 14 years, a natural born citizen, he can be president. You know --

CAMEROTA: In other words, why does that make him a good candidate for Republican voters?


RIVERA: Why Republican voters want Donald Trump to be president, I think, is a good -- he had a pretty good presidency. I mean, in fairness, he had a pretty good presidency vis-a-vis China, vis-a-vis Eastern Europe. The -- China, in terms of the -- the -- the tax, the taxes on Chinese goods coming into this country --

CAMEROTA: Tariffs, yeah.

RIVERA: Tariffs. So, I think that he's --

CAMEROTA: Sure, but there were some issues.

RIVERA: But Russia, Russia was phony.

CAMEROTA: No, no, I mean, COVID, I don't think that he got high marks for how he handled COVID.

RIVERA: I think that he did --

CAMEROTA: He separated families at the border.

RIVERA: Well --

CAMEROTA: He did lots of things that people really soured on. And not to mention all of the toxicity in terms of enemy of the state of journalists and mocking handicapped reporters. I mean, things like that people did tire of.

RIVERA: Toxicity is a different issue than electability. And many Republican primary voters are so pissed off at everything that they want the guy that represents disgruntlement. They want the guy who represents their grievances or their perceived grievances. They want the guy -- he's a billionaire who they relate to. And I believe that he is a very, very potent candidate. And, you know, I don't think he's fit to be president, personally. I think that he stabbed the Constitution of the United States in the back. I think he put the -- his personal ambitions above the fate of the nation. I think he's a terrible, selfish person.

Even though for decades, he was a friend of mine and I watched a lot of this stuff happening, I watched also, on the other hand, Russia, Russia, Russia when they went after him for something that did not exist. And he seems to have been really scapegoated, and that is certainly the perception of Republican voters.

CAMEROTA: And so, correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe you've said that though you were friends for decades, January 6th was your breaking point.


CAMEROTA: And so, you will use your voice to try to prevent him from ever becoming president again.

RIVERA: Right.

CAMEROTA: But he is, as you know, at 56 in the polls --

RIVERA: Right.

CAMEROTA: -- against all the other Republican candidates. So, what's your plan?


RIVERA: Well, that's an excellent -- I'm -- when I said I would use all my energy and all my brain power to deny him the presidency, I didn't say I would be effective. I didn't say that I could sway anybody. I don't know that anybody, you know, listens or heeds my advice.

I'm just saying I know him pretty well and what he did post-election was so outrageous. It was so unpatriotic. It was so anti-American in many ways. So selfish, so narcissistic that I believe that he has forfeited the right to be president. He is not fit, character wise, to be president of the United States.

CAMEROTA: Why do you think the other GOP hopefuls aren't getting as much traction?

RIVERA: I don't know. Ron DeSantis, you know, who would want to hang out with him? I was just thinking that when I was watching him with Jake Tapper's interview, a great interview. You're watching DeSantis and he's like the bully guy in school, you know, going after every Disneyland and trans people. And you know, come on, shut up. You know, woke, woke. I'm so sick of, you know, DeSantis saying woke. I don't even know what woke means anymore.

And, you know, the ones I like, like Chris Christie, he's getting what, 1%, 2% in the polls? I like him. He's robust. He's told Donald Trump, let's go out in the backyard and let's have it out. You know, he's a flamboyant guy. He was a great governor of New Jersey. He was a pro-life governor in a very, very blue state, showing his electability. If it wasn't for that damn bridge gate, I think that he would have already been the presidential candidate at least, maybe president of the United States already. But I like him.

But, you know, the conversation, Asa Hutchinson, he is the only other one who says that this, you know, Trump's machinations with, you know, January 6 and so forth are disqualifying. But Asa Hutchinson, former governor of Arkansas, is not going to go anywhere. No one is going to say, OK, I'm going to vote for that guy because he's got a drawl. You know, it's not going to happen.

CAMEROTA: We have so much more to talk about. I do want to hear all about your exit from Fox as well as how you think Fox will handle Donald Trump this time around and if anything is changing. Hold that thought.


CAMEROTA: Hold that thought. We're going to take a very quick break and we're going to hear more from Geraldo when we come right back.



CAMEROTA: And we are back with Geraldo Rivera. So, Geraldo, hi, great to have you. So, you exited two weeks ago from Fox?

RIVERA: It is -- is it been that long?


CAMEROTA: I think so. But was it July 4th?

RIVERA: Seems like just yesterday.

CAMEROTA: Was that your last day, July 4th?

RIVERA: June 30th.

CAMEROTA: Okay. So, maybe a little bit more.

RIVERA: Yeah, pretty close, pretty close.

CAMEROTA: How are you feeling?

RIVERA: I feel liberated. I feel free, free at last.

CAMEROTA: And why? Why did you feel hamstrung there or muzzled or something?

RIVERA: Well, you know, you are muzzled. Corporate discipline muzzles people even if -- you know, self (INAUDIBLE), if that's a word. I felt -- you know, first of all, they denied me permission to go on many shows over the course of my long career there. They have a very rigid, very controlled kind of discipline.

CAMEROTA: But what were they afraid of? I mean, what were they afraid of?

RIVERA: Well, my flamboyance and, you know, saying things like I said about the president, former President Trump. You know, that he knifed the Constitution in the back.


When you have that as your attitude, that's your position, and you're in a conservative milieu, you know, it's pretty noxious to folks who believe a certain way.

I mean, it's not my belief. I am nominally a Republican person, but I'm pro-choice, pro-immigration reform, pro-gun control. I hope to devote a lot of my post-career life to working with the developmentally disabled. You know, I have lots of charity work that we do. We are dating back, you know, half a century to my exposes.

So, you know, there are a lot of things going on, but it was -- it was a very -- it's a very rigid, very controlled atmosphere where everyone answers to management and management doesn't allow freewheeling. They have a message. They send the talent out to do an interview. If it's a big story in "The New York Times" or this or that, they pick their spot and they're very strategic in that regard, very disciplined.

Conservatives are much more disciplined than liberals. Liberals are all over the place. You know, like here, I can say anything you want.

CAMEROTA: You're free. But, basically, what I have heard is that you started to feel that they didn't have your back. They didn't have your back. They sided with the people who are not fact-based at Fox or sort of the out -- more of the outrage machine. Is that fair?

RIVERA: I -- I don't make judgment calls like that about other people's careers and where they put themselves. There are just some people there that I liked and some people that I didn't like. Some of the people I didn't like, a handful of them, there's only a handful, they had more sway than I did. I was, you know, the black sheep of the family.

And when I stepped out of line, you know, I was suspended three times on "The Five" in several months.

CAMEROTA: What did you do that was so bad?

RIVERA: Well, for instance, complaining about Tucker Carlson when he had the outlandish theory that January 6th was staged, it was government operatives, and it was -- you know, the whole thing was a theatrical performance. It was total bullshit. And I said it, I said it in those words, it was published, and I got suspended right there.

When I said of one of the cast members that he was an insulting punk, I was suspended again. What about the provocation that led up to it? I don't want to complain about it. Fox, I took their money for 23 years. They were -- you know, they did everything that they had to do in terms of the business relationship.

I went to Fox because of 9/11. I went to Fox because a lot of people that I knew got killed on 9/11. I wanted to be a war correspondent. Roger Ailes, our former boss, said I could be a war correspondent.

CAMEROTA: I remember -- I remember -- I remember the day you started. I remember how excited Roger was and he said, I hired Geraldo Rivera because when Geraldo's on screen, I stop what I'm doing and I turn up the volume. I'll never forget that Roger said that.

And it's true. I mean, obviously you are a compelling reporter. And so that's why I'm asking you this, because I think it says something larger about Fox. And here's my question. Did the $787 million penalty that they had to pay to Dominion, will that change how they do business? Will that change their relationship with Fox?

RIVERA: Well, I think that the $787 thousand --

CAMEROTA: Million.

RIVERA: Million, thousand, thousand, is a big I'm sorry. They really understood that what they did was really so far off the norm that they had to apologize in a way that only corporations apologize with money.

CAMEROTA: So, will they do something different? Will they handle facts differently now?

RIVERA: I don't -- first of all, I don't necessarily accept the premise because I think there's a lot of good reporters at Fox.

CAMEROTA: I do too. But obviously --

RIVERA: And you were one of them.

CAMEROTA: Thank you. But there are certainly reporters there, but there are also people who play loose and fast with the facts.

RIVERA: I just think that the embarrassment from what happened on their January 6th -- post-January 6th coverage, the embarrassment that they suffered as a corporation, will and already has affected the way they present it.

Yes, they're still heavily opinionated in the evenings, that is true, but I think that they would never, I would hope, now say something just to get an audience. I don't think it's that raw, their ambition anymore, now that they've been, you know really scolded in a way that corporations -- they still have stockholder lawsuits. They have, you know, the other -- the Smartmatic.


RIVERA: And, you know, whoever -- and the other guy that was wandering around on January 6th that they said was the ringleader. CAMEROTA: Yeah. And how do you think they'll cover Donald Trump this time around? Do you think that they -- I mean --

RIVERA: That's the problem and that's the litmus test. I mean, at times, they seem to have soured on him, but it seems like maybe that time is over.

RIVERA: Well, they're Republicans generally. The Republicans in power, we're watching it as people flock to Trump's banner now, are ruthlessly pragmatic. All they care about is beating Joe Biden. All establishment Republicans care about.


All Republicans generally care about is making sure that a Democrat, a liberal Democrat, a taxing liberal Democrat, is not in the White House, you know, come November of 24. It is -- I think the penalty, the scolding that they got from the public really woke them up. I hope that they go forward.

You know, conservatives deserve their own scene, their own network. That's fine. They just have to be more, as you say, fact-based. They have to be more professional. They have to be less partisan. But who knows? We'll see.

CAMEROTA: Geraldo, great to have you here.

RIVERA: Oh, Alisyn, I love this. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Great to see you.

RIVERA: Thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for coming in.

RIVERA: My pleasure. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right, next the investigation into the Gilgo Beach serial killer is now reaching across the country where investigators are looking next.




CAMEROTA: New developments tonight in the investigation of the Gilgo Beach serial killings. Suspect Rex Heuermann bought two Las Vegas timeshare condos, according to property records obtained by CNN. Now, Las Vegas Police say they are reviewing unsolved cases in their area for any possible connections.

And authorities in South Carolina are talking to neighbors of Heuermann's brother. Investigators towed away a vehicle belonging to the brother last week. According to tax records, Rex Heuermann owns two -- owns property, I should say, in South Carolina.

The suspect is on suicide watch in a Long Island jail. He's charged with three counts of first-degree murder for the killings of Melissa Barthelemy, Megan Waterman, and Amber Costello. Stay with CNN for the latest on this story.

And thanks so much for watching "CNN Tonight." I'll see you here tomorrow night. Our coverage continues now.