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Alisyn Camerota Interviews Ed Rollins; Fulton County DA: "We are Ready To Go"; Panel Discusses Race For 2024; Trump PAC Spends $40M+ On Legal Fees; Biden Acknowledges Seventh Grandchild; Radio Host Compares Reporter To Barbie. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired July 31, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Good evening, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to "CNN Tonight."
Lots of news on the legal cases against former President Trump. In Georgia, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who's investigating Trump's efforts to overturn Joe Biden's victory, says she is ready to make a charging decision.
And in Florida, the Mar-a-Lago property manager making his first appearance in a Miami courtroom today. This is connected to efforts to conceal hundreds of classified documents. He is charged with conspiracy to obstruct justice and making false statements to the FBI.
As for the rest of the GOP field, tonight, I'll talk to a Republican strategist who says Ron DeSantis's campaign is in trouble because DeSantis is a -- quote -- "very flawed candidate."
And then the latest Biden family news, President Biden acknowledging his seventh grandchild for the first time.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have seven grandkids, five of them old enough to talk on the phone. You know, every day, I either text them or call them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: We will find out if Biden will suffer any political repercussions for the delay in acknowledging Hunter's four-year-old daughter.
And are Donald Trump's legal troubles putting a dent in his support? I'm going to sit down with a group of Republican voters to find out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: If he is in the middle of a trial at the time that the election, the general election, comes up in 2024, or if let's just say, somehow, he has already been convicted, would you still vote for him?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Their answers in a moment. But let's begin with the 2024 race. Donald Trump is crushing his competition in the polls despite his legal problems. The latest "New York Times" Sienna poll of likely Republican voters has Trump at 54%. His closest challenger, Ron DeSantis, is a distant 17%.
So why is Governor DeSantis struggling to make a dent in Trump's lead? In a moment, I'll ask a Republican strategist who was heading up DeSantis's political action committee, but who now blames the governor for the campaign's missteps. This might have something to do with it.
It seems many Republican voters are not fans of Ron DeSantis's so- called war on woke. Only 38% of GOP voters would support a candidate who fights private corporations that promote so-called woke ideology. Fifty-two percent want a candidate to stay out of what businesses do or do not support.
DeSantis, as you know, has gone to battle with multiple companies, including Disney, Bud Light, Norwegian Cruise, U.S. Sugar, and Big Tic (ph).
Joining me now, former Reagan chief political adviser, Ed Rollins, who stepped down from a pro-DeSantis pack after coming to the conclusion that Governor DeSantis is a -- quote -- "very flawed candidate." Ed, great to have you here.
ED ROLLINS, FORMER REAGAN CHIEF POLITICAL ADVISER: Thank you. It's nice to be with you.
CAMEROTA: What makes DeSantis so flawed?
ROLLINS: Well, there's nothing wrong with being a governor. Obviously, he has got some strong opinions. But being a candidate out in particularly Iowa and New Hampshire presidential campaigns are totally different. And it's about going out and talking to people. It's not about preaching to people. You've got to talk to them.
And instead of going out and preaching the culture and value to people in Iowa, you ought to say, tell us about your school system. Are you happy with your school system? What do you want?
You know, culture is just not the key. What's the key thing there is farming, proper cost of weeds, corn, gas, all those kinds of things. And political people, particularly in places like Iowa, New Hampshire, they expect you to come out and listen to them.
CAMEROTA: Did you ever tell him that? Did you share your concerns with him?
ROLLINS: No. I shared it with some of the people on the staff. I was involved in the Super PAC. So, we can't have coordination, can't talk. So -- I'm not sure he listened to what I told him. It didn't make any difference. He's got good, smart people around him.
But I think it's him. And everybody who has told me since I've been involved with him, people say -- you know, I've traveled all the way to Israel. Other members of Congress never said a word. You know, he's just not a natural candidate. And unfortunately -- I have nothing against him as a governor. I think we've got some great, great governors that are running for president.
But I just don't think he's the guy that's going to beat Trump, and Trump at this point in time is stronger than he has ever been.
CAMEROTA: So -- so DeSantis is not, it sounds like you're saying, exactly a people person.
ROLLINS: He's not a people person.
CAMEROTA: Do you think he's open to constructive criticism?
ROLLINS: No. At least everything I hear, he's not. So, yeah -- and he makes dumb moves.
CAMEROTA: Like what?
ROLLINS: Controlling the budget is a very important part of a campaign. He raised a lot of money early on. You don't lay off a third of your staff a week before you can announce in Iowa.
You wait a couple weeks, you spread them out, you do something with them, send them home, but you don't basically -- I arrive, I'm going to run in Iowa, I haven't been managing my budget, I've got to lay off a third of my people. People say, well, you know, this is -- the job you're running for is about management and a lot of other things.
So, to me, everything he has kind of done is just -- you know, he's not a bad guy, he's a good guy, we've got lots of good guys running for the presidency, but you're not going to beat Trump.
CAMEROTA: Was that the moment that made you not want to be involved anymore with the PAC, that you laid off this guy?
ROLLINS: No. It was a big part of it. I heard rumblings before that the trash staff was being blamed and all the rest of it. I haven't been a staff person all my life. You know, it's the candidate. And the candidates that have done well in Iowa and New Hampshire, people like Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, you know, it's not about how good of governors they were, it's what -- they can basically relate to people. And he doesn't relate to people well.
CAMEROTA: So, who do you support now?
ROLLINS: I'll support a Republican nominee.
ROLLINS: Well, whoever that could be, we'll go through this process.
CAMEROTA: Even Donald Trump, because you had previously left working with Donald Trump's PAC, right?
ROLLINS: Yes. The tragedy of Donald Trump is that if Donald Trump would have walked away the day after the election and basically said, okay, I'm going to challenge everything, and when I lose the challenges, if I do, I'll run against again, he'd be 30 points ahead. It's the activity since then. He hasn't been able to talk about what he did as president.
Those people that are out there supporting him like what he did as president. And the reality is they don't like what he has done as the next president. And that's the issue here.
And no one ever in the history -- I'm a historian. I've been a presidential scholar at Hofstra for the last 10 years. At the end of the day, I've studied every presidency many, many times and taught the courses, there has never been a presidency like Trump's and there's never going to be a campaign like this one.
CAMEROTA: If not DeSantis, who do you think is strongest to challenge Trump?
ROLLINS: I don't think any of them are going to challenge Trump. I mean, the truth of the matter is the guy that has gone out and beat him up the most is Christie, and Christie got 2% of the vote. You know, he was a big governor of a big state, a major player for a long time, ran for president.
But at the end of the day, I think Trump's base is strong, stays above 50%. Equally as important, his campaign is better than it was four years ago, two years ago. They understand the delegate process.
And what most people don't understand is the delegates are not picked. They picked most of the states in the Republican side as winner take all. So, like if he gets 50% of the vote in California, he gets all the California delegates. That's more than all these delegates in the -- that we're talking about now in New Hampshire, what have you.
So, my sense is they're running a smarter campaign. They got big, big problems with the legal stuff. At the end of the day here, that's going to be a big distraction. How do you break your message through when you get dragged into court?
CAMEROTA: But Ed, just answer me this. Since you've just described that he's basically a sore loser and that he hasn't been a good post- president, why would you support him as the nominee?
ROLLINS: I'm a Republican, and I basically have been a Republican for 50 years. I believe pretty much in philosophies. Not that the Republicans are struggling with their philosophies, but I'm for smaller government, I'm for strong national defense, I'm for supporting cops, the things that we used to do and the things that I think are important to the country.
CAMEROTA: Ed, great to have you here.
ROLLINS: My pleasure. Thank you.
CAMEROTA: Thank you so much for your perspective. Really great to talk to you.
ROLLINS: Great. Thank you very much.
CAMEROTA: Okay, we have a lot to talk about. So, let's bring in CNN political commentator Ana Navarro, Rolling Stone columnist Jay Michaelson, former Senate candidate Joe Pinion, and former assistant special Watergate prosecutor Jon Sale. Great to have all of you here tonight.
Okay, so, Ana, Governor DeSantis has now responded to Ed Rollins's criticisms as well as others. So here is what he just said tonight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): When I hear about, oh, culture war, standing up for the rights of parents, standing up for the well-being of children, that's not some -- quote -- "culture war." That is central to the lives of tens of millions of people throughout this country.
It is the right thing to do to stand with our kids. It is the right thing to impose indoctrination in the schools. And I totally reject, being in Iowa and New Hampshire, that people don't think that those are important. They do think they're important.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Okay. Ana, your thoughts? He's sticking with the culture wars and is sure he's on the right path.
ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Of course, he's got to stick with it because it's basically the only thing he has. He has become a one-hit wonder. And that is his one hit. Woke, woke, woke.
Today, he tried to talk about the economy. Frankly, if he had started with the economy, if he had made the economy his banner issue, he might be in better shape. But, you know, you only get one chance to make a first impression, and he has made it.
And he turned himself into this gladiator for, uh, culture wars, for wokeness, anti-wokeness. He has created an environment in Florida -- you live in Florida, I live in Florida, he has created an environment where one ignorant parent can get a book banned. He has created an environment where Mickey Mouse is now a criminal. He has created an environment where he is constantly defending standards regarding slavery that even Black Republicans are telling him to stop defending.
When you are picking a fight with descendants of slaves like Tim Scott and Byron Donalds, African American congressman from Florida, Republican, maybe, just maybe you're on the wrong path here. CAMEROTA: Joe, as one of our other Republicans on the panel, do you think that Ron DeSantis is losing steam and do you think that there's somebody else who will pick it up?
JOE PINION III, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER SENATE CANDIDATE: Look, I think the issue with Governor DeSantis is always not what you do, it's how you do it. Not what you say, it's how you say it.
Yes, he is correct that there is a large, robust population of Republicans that are concerned about these cultural issues, but I think what Ed is trying to nudge him towards, now that he's no longer with the PAC, is the reality facing most Americans. They don't want Joe Biden to be their president anymore.
And if you're going to make a case to Republican primary voters, you should be talking about the deficiencies of that presidency, the economy. You should be talking about the schools that are not teaching our children. You should be talking about the fact that every single day, we have a migrant crisis that has gone unchecked by this Biden administration.
We should be talking about, is there an actual doctrine from the Biden administration as it relates to Ukraine? And what would your doctrine be, particularly in light of the billions of dollars that are not being spent here at home?
So, there's a whole host of issues that are right for the taking if the governor would simply go down that path. And so, I think, Ed Carley (ph), I think there are a lot of people who are in their own way trying to nudge the governor towards a path that would be better suited if his plan is to try to overtake President Trump.
CAMEROTA: Jay, it's interesting. Slowly, we have heard Donald Trump's opponents, and there are many of them in the GOP field, begin to get more aggressive about criticizing Donald Trump. So, here is what they've recently said this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, FORMER NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR: By the time we get on the debate stage on August 23rd, the front runner will be out on bail in four different jurisdictions.
NIKKI HALEY, FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If these accusations are true, it's incredibly dangerous to our national security.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): When he hits me with the juvenile insults, I think that helps me. I don't think voters like that. It's just a reminder why there are so many millions of voters who will never vote for him going forward.
WILL HURD, PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Donald Trump is not running for president to make America great again. Donald Trump is running to stay out of prison.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: So, what do you see happening here?
JAY MICHAELSON, RABBI, WRITER FOR ROLLING STONE: Well, you know, I was sobered in a way that -- by the "New York Times" study that said there are 37% of Republican voters who are kind of in the base, right, in the MAGA base.
But last I checked the math, you know, 63 is still greater than 37. There is a majority of Republicans who are not necessarily in that space. And maybe there are six months, maybe there's three months for the party to figure out who can really be the alternative.
CAMEROTA: But they're not coalescing around (INAUDIBLE).
MICHAELSON: No, they're not. And, you know, I think it is early in that regard. I think there's also a lot of money that may be entering the race. You know, speaking from the other side of the aisle, you know, part of some -- there are some Democrats who are relishing the opportunity to have Donald Trump be the nominee because he's probably a weak nominee in the general election.
But for me, this is playing with dynamite and it's just terrifying to consider even the campaign, let alone the possibility of him becoming president or whatever he would become as soon as he abolishes, you know, all of the checks and balances of our government.
So, for me, I don't want to say that I'm optimistic, but it is the case that I think for DeSantis to run to the right of Trump from the anti-woke thing, that clearly hasn't worked. There is a large constituency within the Republican Party that wants someone sane.
CAMEROTA: Jon, back to Trump's legal problems in Georgia today, the Fulton County D.A., Fani Willis, says she is -- will be announcing a charging decision by September 1st. But she also said -- quote -- "the work is accomplished" and quote -- "we are ready to go." So, what is she waiting for?
JON SALE, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, what I don't understand about her is, months ago, she said, I'm going to make a charging decision sometime in the summer, clear the decks, clear the courthouse.
Well, they indicted former President Trump in Miami on four days' notice. Law enforcement was mobilized. The big mobs didn't turn out. Usually, law enforcement does something they call deconfliction. They talk to each other. And I'm just concerned that the feds and Georgia are going to step on each other's toes because there's big overlapping there.
So, I really don't know why she keeps making these announcements. I mean, they ought to either do something, either bring charges or close it, one way or the other. CAMEROTA: One more legal question for you. So, Carlos de Oliveira, who is Trump's co-defendant now in the classified documents case from Mar- a-Lago, he was in court for the first time today. So, now that this new co-defendant has been added, does that push the trial date beyond May, which is what had been set?
SALE: Well, it has to. And Jack Smith actually brought this delay on by bringing the new case. When you have a new defendant, he hasn't even been arraigned, he is in Florida council. But there may be some method to the madness because maybe, just maybe, if the January 6 case is brought tomorrow, like we're all thinking, and if the classified document case is put off, maybe that'll leave a space for a Washington, D.C. judge to set the new case if there is one.
Donald Trump has three things going for him. One, the Constitution that he wanted to suspend, he's always going to be presumed innocent. It's going to protect him. Two is a strategy of delay, which every criminal, almost every criminal defendant uses. And the third thing is the oil and money, the big pack, the $40 million or so, and money makes a big difference because criminal defense lawyers are expensive.
CAMEROTA: Thank you for that segue. Friends, stick around. We're going to be talking about that very thing because Donald Trump's Political Action Committee is spending more than $40 million on his legal fees this year alone. So, next, I sit down with this group of GOP voters to ask what they think of Trump's legal problems.
CAMEROTA: Donald Trump's Political Action Committee has spent millions on his legal fees. CNN's Tom Foreman has been diving into the details for us. So, Tom, what have you found?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, headlines are swirling that the former president's troubled with the law, his many troubles, have his Political Action Committee, the Save America PAC, on a massive, massive spending spree. Forty million dollars so far this year.
That's how much the PAC has reportedly spent on legal fees. So much that "The New York Times" first reported the PAC gave $60 million to a Super PAC supporting Trump, and now wants that money back. By comparison, the Federal Election Commission shows Save America spent much less than half that amount on lawyers for all of 2022.
CAMEROTA: All of those millions just for Donald Trump's defense?
FOREMAN: No, it's not all just for him. With so many cases coming down on Trump, sources tell CNN his team is creating a legal defense fund to help defend some of the people who have worked with him and have also come under legal scrutiny. For example, those two men you mentioned a minute ago, the Department of Justice has accused them along with Trump of trying to delete security camera footage in the classified documents case, aide Walter Nauta and Mar-a-Lago property manager Carlos de Oliveira. Of course, Trump denies those accusations, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Tom, where's the money coming from?
FOREMAN: Most of it is coming from small donors. His campaign has been relentless and very effective into tapping into them. And Team Trump says it's fine to spend their money fighting what Trump calls political persecution.
Look at this statement. In order to combat these heinous actions by Joe Biden's cronies and to protect these innocent people from financial ruin and prevent their lives from being completely destroyed, the leadership PAC contributed to their legal fees to ensure they have representation against unlawful harassment.
Some legal and political analysts, however, are raising ethical eyebrows over Trump's team paying the bills of some who might be wanted as witnesses against the former president. Alisyn?
CAMEROTA: Tom, thank you very much for all of that explanation. So, we wondered how Republican voters feel about Trump's political PAC spending millions for his legal problems rather than on his campaign. So, we gathered a small group together tonight to ask them. None of these voters say Trump is their first choice in the primary, but wait until you hear what they say about the general election. Here's our "Pulse of the People."
CAMEROTA: So, with this news that Donald Trump's Super PAC has spent $40 million at least on his legal bills, show of hands, how many of you are bothered by that? Ryan, tell me your thoughts.
RYAN LOUCKS, REPUBLICAN PRIMARY VOTER FROM MICHIGAN: All right. So, $40 million is a huge sum of money. And his bucket for the campaign has got a giant hole in it. And that's just going to be a problem from a strategic standpoint. I think it's going to hurt a lot.
CAMEROTA: Jack, your thoughts?
JACK HARKIN, REPUBLICAN PRIMARY VOTER FROM NEW YORK: So, if you go to donate to President Trump and his campaign, 10% of that money is going to that Super PAC. It's those small donors that are donating to the campaign, thinking it's going to fund political activity, that is where I have the problem with.
CAMEROTA: Naresh, Governor Chris Christie, one of Trump's competitors, calls it disgraceful because basically his point is that, you know, Donald Trump is a billionaire, and why can't he pay for his own legal fees?
NARESH VISSA, REPUBLICAN PRIMARY VOTER FROM FLORIDA: So, I don't have a problem with Trump using campaign donation for his legal defense fund because his legal issues have everything to do with his reelection bid.
CAMEROTA: Do any of you think that this will hurt him, that his legal entanglements will hurt him in the general election?
LOUCKS: It's going to hurt him because it's going to be a sideshow. It's going to be a constant distraction. It's a distraction that's -- that's purposeful. His legal problems started when he went on the escalator. And it will continue until he gives up political office and any ambitions of that.
CAMEROTA: Is any of this his fault or his responsibility? Has Donald Trump been reckless with the law and with the boundaries?
HARKIN: Well, I think we still have to wait for more information to come out there. So, obviously, everyone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
CAMEROTA: Guys, I'm just curious, show of hands, how many of you would have been upset if Barack Obama had taken boxes of classified documents home with him and when the National Archives realized it, moved them around so he didn't have to give them back?
VISSA: I mean, Joe Biden took documents after he left office. Many --
CAMEROTA: He gave them back.
VISSA: -- former presidents have taken them.
CAMEROTA: And gave them back. Let me just understand this. And gave them back. When the National Archives asked for them, gave them back. Is there no distinction in your mind between giving them back and what the prosecutors say was obstruction of giving them back and for a year and a half refusing to give them back? Is there no distinction between those two?
LOUCKS: So, the FBI, they asked Donald Trump to add a different lock on his safe or whatever, but it wasn't one location. They said on the Hillary Clinton stuff that there was evidence that it was likely hacked by both the Russians and the Chinese. So, it was a lot.
CAMEROTA: That's not true. The FBI decided that her server was not hacked. That's not true.
LOUCKS: It was her personal server. It wasn't even a government server.
CAMEROTA: Which do you think is more secure, the Clinton server that they built in their home or the cardboard box in the public bathroom that was next to the toilet in Mar-a-Lago?
LOUCKS: That's a point. And I don't have an answer. CAMEROTA: Here's my last question for you, guys. If he is in the middle of a trial at the time that the election, the general election, comes up in 2024, or if let's just say somehow, he has already been convicted, would you still vote for him? Yes, show of hands. Okay, so all of you would still vote for him even if he were convicted of a crime.
VISSA: It depends on who his V.P. is. It's on the half hand.
HARKAN: I just happen to believe that America cannot afford another four years of President Biden, of Vice President Harris. You have to pick one of those two options. And I cannot see myself ever voting for Joe Biden.
LOUCKS: The cost is greater than the man. Ultimately, the cost is furthering a conservative governance in the United States. There is probably no one else who can more keenly feel the results of what the deep state has done to our institutions, our once proud institutions like the FBI, the DOJ.
VISSA: I'm not planning to vote for Donald Trump, and I think it is time to move on from him, put all these legal issues aside, go for somebody younger, some fresh new blood. Trump had his chance to drain the swamp. I think it is time to go for another candidate who can actually drain the swamp and unite the country.
CAMEROTA: Okay, I'm back with Ana, Jay, Joe, and Jon. Ana, I'm always fascinated when I talk to folks, you know, outside of Manhattan and hear what -- well, actually, Jack is in New York, but to hear what the rest of the country is thinking. Your thoughts when you hear this?
NAVARRO: I know some of these people, you know, who think the same way. Some of them are in my family. Look, Trump has been very effective in portraying his Christ-like complex and talking about how he's taking this for them. He is suffering for them. It is his sacrifice for them.
And there are people who genuinely believe, despite the fact that there is video, audio, and hard evidence, documents, they don't believe their eyes. They don't believe what they see.
It is cult-like behavior. But we saw this from Republicans already. Let us not forget that a bunch of conservative Christian Republicans voted for Trump after having heard him say in audio that he had sexually assaulted a woman. And they didn't care because they care about the Supreme Court. And he delivered. And they remember that.
CAMEROTA: Jay, what I heard from these guys wasn't that they don't believe what's happening to Trump. It's that they think that Democrats have done the same thing.
MICHAELSON: So, I had a slightly different take on those three voters. And again, I find myself -- I'm a pessimist. I think the glass is half empty and the water is evaporating. So, let me just put that out there.
NAVARRO: By the way, the water is evaporating. It's 100 degrees in Florida.
MICHAELSON: That's right. Having said that -- so I -- you know, these are pretty reflective comments. And I think some of the stuff that Trump has said he would do when made president will really give some of these truly conservative voters pause. So, ignoring congressional mandates. You know, wiping out administrative agencies, not just the DOJ but a number of administrative agencies, centralizing power in the White House. These are authoritarian moves.
Democrats aren't talking about it just yet because we're not yet in the general election. But I actually took a slight note of hope from what those voters said because they weren't in the kind of, I totally agree, you know, the 37%.
This is like a cult-like behavior and we have to -- everybody should read Steven Hassan's "The Cult of Donald Trump" and understand, you know, what's really going on, that this is about that. However, it felt to me like these weren't the true believers. And these are people who support the issues more.
CAMEROTA: They prefer other people in the primary, by the way.
MICHAELSON: And look, if the situation reversed -- I mean, I'm not -- Joe Biden might not be my candidate of choice, but I'm certainly going to vote for him because I believe in basically the values that he stands for. And that's what I heard from these voters.
And I think when it becomes more clear, forgetting the legal -- not forgetting, but setting aside the legal issues, when we see what the plan for Donald Trump is for America, reasonable conservatives are going to be horrified.
CAMEROTA: Joe, quickly.
PINION: Look, I think to your point, there are a lot of Republicans who recognize that there is no conservative case for Joe Biden. That there are a lot of Republicans who do believe that if you're looking at what Donald Trump is proposing from 30,000-foot policy standpoint versus what the Biden administration has put forth, that there is no comparison, that we should be disabused of any notion that Joe Biden is going to govern from the center.
So, I think that is what a lot of Republicans are dealing with. Yeah, it's very difficult to say, put the legal issues aside because in some ways they are unprecedented. It's very difficult to put the money aside because in some ways it is unprecedented.
But there are people who simply recognize that. To the panel's point, that the legal is inextricably linked --
CAMEROTA: Yeah. PINION: -- with the politics irrespective of whether you think some of it might have been brought on by the president.
CAMEROTA: Yes. And Jon, very quickly, is there any federal election commission problem with Donald Trump's PAC paying for all of his legal?
SALE: There is not. It's not illegal. But there's an ethical challenge. If an ethical lawyer says, hey, the third party is paying, but my obligation is to you, Mr. and Ms. Client, not to the person paying, it's fine. But if you're buying silence, it's not only unethical. It could be obstruction.
CAMEROTA: Thank you all very much. Okay, a first for President Biden, publicly acknowledging Hunter Biden's four-year-old daughter. What took so long? That's next.
CAMEROTA: President Biden and the first lady publicly acknowledging their seventh grandchild for the first time. The four-year-old girl named Navy is the daughter of Hunter Biden. In a statement put out Friday, Biden said -- quote -- "Our son Hunter and Navy's mother, Lunden, are working together to foster a relationship that is in the best interests of their daughter, preserving her privacy as much as possible going forward. This is not a political issue, it is a family matter. Jill and I only want what is best for all of our grandchildren, including Navy.
Biden also included Navy when discussing his grandchildren in a podcast released earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I have seven grandkids, five of them old enough to talk on the phone. You know, every day, I either text them or call them. I just think being there is important. It makes such a difference, I think, knowing that someone is going to be there for you just to listen, just to -- just to hold you, just to hug you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: My panel is back. Jay, as our resident rabbi, man of the cloth, is it a problem that it took Joe Biden four years to acknowledge Navy?
MICHAELSON: I take a sort of different view. I think the real problem is the -- speaking as a rabbi, maybe I shouldn't say this, the highly unchristian reaction of many so-called religious conservatives to this entire constellation of issues around Hunter Biden.
This is clearly a man who has suffered a lot and is broken, has struggled with addiction, has struggled with loss that I've never experienced, on a magnitude that I can't understand. And the fact that this person is being --
CAMEROTA: Meaning his mother, his sister, his brother.
CAMEROTA: You know, early original loss.
MICHAELSON: Exactly. And you know, the fact that this is being made into political hay and is leading the news in some quarters, that this is like the biggest scandal, you know, is way out of proportion. There clearly were misdeeds. Obviously, he's taking -- well, trying to take a plea deal around some of them. But this is, I would just say, again, we might want to look at John chapter 8 verse 7, you know, let he who is well at sin cast the first stone.
CAMEROTA: Is it a problem, Ana, politically for him? For Biden, Joe Biden?
NAVARRO: I don't think so. I don't think it's a problem politically. Look, I think people understand, most people understand, that there was a legal case going on that took years to resolve. It was resolved just a few weeks ago. And now that that's over, I think they're going to quickly move towards this new stage.
Look, it is -- you can't argue with the fact that Joe Biden has been there for his kids and his grandkids. This is a man that a senator took a train back and forth between Washington and Delaware every single day.
CAMEROTA: But not this grandchild. I mean, this grandchild was in a different country.
NAVARRO: Because they were in a custody battle, because they were fighting over money, because it was a legal issue. And, you know, I hate that this has become -- that this has become a political issue because that child is going to read that when she gets older.
But, you know, I do know Joe Biden, and I trust that his love of family will supersede the legal and the political. And that he really does want the best for his children because that's what he wanted for the other ones. He has been there for the grandchildren that lost their father, Beau's children. He has been there for Hunter's children when Hunter was, you know, was having all those issues.
And Hunter is having to be and being held accountable, rightly so, for the very bad decisions and actions that he did and took while he was in the throes of addiction.
CAMEROTA: How do you see it, Joe?
PINION: In a world where we weren't perpetually talking about all things President Trump, this would be a character issue for Joe Biden. It would certainly be a character issue, I think, for his presidency.
If you're talking about somebody whose entire essence as a political figure is imbued with this nature of compassion, I think that if I can speak of my family or many families who've said, we don't know if Hunter is the father, but we are here to do everything humanly possible to make sure that in this period of uncertainty, this person, this child does not feel as if they're ostracized.
And clearly, the nature of how this proceeding unraveled was because of the fact that they felt as if they had been isolated, unacknowledged, pushed to the side, treated as less than.
So, yes, it should be a character issue. If you're going to talk about Joe Biden and what he has been through and everything the Hunter has been through, then certainly, if anything, that should speak to them having a greater level of compassion than less than.
So, yes. Will it be a deciding issue? No, because I think, unfortunately, when it comes to American politics, the moral high ground has been kind of obliterated and it becomes a winner-takes-all issue here. But we should care about it.
And if we're going back to this whole my word as a Biden thing, where all of a sudden that has become the unimpeachable word of this president, not only for here, but also for the legal issues that Hunter is dealing with, the stuff with China that we don't have to talk about today, all of it comes back to integrity. He's supposed to be the integrity candidate. This certainly should impugn that.
CAMEROTA: Friends, thank you very much for all the perspectives.
All right, as you all know, Barbie is experiencing a renaissance. So, if a male radio host calls a sports reporter Barbie, is that grounds for losing his job? Up next, Rachel Nichols is here to share her thoughts and tell us what it's like to be called sidelined Barbie. Look forward to it. See you in a minute.
CAMEROTA: A radio host is out of a job after calling a sports reporter Barbie. Here is WBIG's host Don Geronimo talking about WUSA-TV sports anchor Sharla McBride.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DON GERONIMO, WBIG HOST (voice-over): Hi, Barbie girl. Hi there. I'm guessing she's a cheerleader. There's that chick that you thought said was tight.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah, I screamed tight when --
GERONIMO (voice-over): I think she's -- I think she's a sportscaster at Channel 9.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah.
GERONIMO (voice-over): Or Channel 7.
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Yeah, she's familiar.
GERONIMO (voice-over): I thought she was a cheerleader.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: Well, in a statement responding to Geronimo's comments, WUSA tells CNN -- quote -- "Objectifying women is harmful and disrespectful. We've heard from the Washington Commanders that they are addressing this situation directly with iHeartRadio."
iHeartRadio sending CNN a statement confirming Geronimo's firing, saying -- quote -- "We take matters of this nature very seriously and this behavior does not align with our core values."
A commander spokesperson added, we were confident that iHeartRadio would address this swiftly and are pleased that they did. Don Geronimo tweeting yesterday that he won't be commenting right now.
Joining me right now is Rachel Nichols, host of "Headliners with Rachel Nichols" on Showtime. Rachel, it's always great to see you. So, when I first read this headline, okay, I was really hopeful that given Barbie's global dominance right now, that this was some kind of compliment. And then I heard the audio.
RACHEL NICHOLS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: So, you heard the audio?
NICHOLS: Not so much.
CAMEROTA: That's right. So, I mean, what was your reaction and particularly to how fast the radio station responded?
NICHOLS: Yeah, I mean, look, I was really bummed, man, to hear it. Aren't we past this? Aren't we done with this? Of course, we're not. And that is always so disappointing.
And you heard the way he talked about her, right? This wasn't just some offhanded comment. This was very extensively demeaning her, talking about how she looked, that she's tight, that she's a chick, I thought she was a cheerleader. This is a working journalist. This is a person who came to work that day. And this is what happened to her.
And it's just so frustrating when you hear this kind of stuff because we ask women in TV, all of us, and specifically in sports TV, look attractive, right? You tell people, you want to be TV-ready, you want to be presentable, and then you criticize her for looking attractive. That is a tough position to put a woman in.
And the irony is that the "Barbie" movie that you refer to addresses this, right? There's this great moment in the "Barbie" movie where America Ferrera is saying that women are supposed to be -- they're supposed to look like this, but then are criticized if they do look like that. That is exactly what happened here.
And it's just frustrating if you are working hard to have respectability, to show that you know your stuff, to have someone who's a voice of the team, that's what he was, he was a team broadcaster, say these things about you, and then you were expected to be in on the joke, which is also really frustrating because then you have to be a partner to someone demeaning you, and that's worse.
So, I'm really happy to see that everybody involved saw this for what it was.
CAMEROTA: I knew you would have an interesting perspective on this because having been in sports television for so long, as you have, I am guessing you have some personal experience with comments like this.
NICHOLS: Yes. I've been called sideline Barbie, which was really fun. I have -- you know, look, I grew up in the Washington, D.C. area, and I have listened to this radio host, Don Geronimo, since before I was a teenager. He has a history of lewd comments about women. And I think that's part of the context that might be missing from some of the national stories here.
This wasn't done in a vacuum. He wasn't let go of his job in a vacuum. Not only does he have a personal history, but more importantly, Alisyn, the team has a history that they're battling with here.
The Washington football team just changed hands a couple weeks ago. Before that, it was owned for 24 years by Dan Snyder who had so many problems with women, misogyny, sexual harassment, that Congress opened an investigation into his behavior and the team.
That's the level it reached. He was found to have a propagated environment in the office where women were groped. They were told that, you know, well, just don't sit near him if he's going to grope you, if he's going to manhandle you. Women were told that they had to wear something cute and tight to meetings so that the men would have something to look at.
And most sort of upsetting was a video that was put together for the team by one of the lead broadcasters. Again -- so that's where this comes into play for dance night amusement. That was a behind-the- scenes video shoot of -- a cheerleader calendar shoot, except the behind-the-scenes video shoot caught some of the women changing or some of the things they did.
And apparently, the team broadcaster had the outtakes, just as he put it, the good bits of the women changing and things like that, and put them together in a 10-minute edited video for his amusement and the team owners' amusement.
This is what the history that they are dealing with at the bottom of this comment. So, once this happened, the team, especially with new ownership, felt it had to take an action. And you can see why they did.
CAMEROTA: Rachel, it is so helpful to have all that context. I mean, particularly for people who dismiss it as just sort of, you know, a flippant comment or a joke.
CAMEROTA: It's really helpful to know all of that, and always great to see you. Thanks so much for being on the program.
NICHOLS: Thanks, Alisyn See you soon.
CAMEROTA: Up next, another loss for Elon Musk. We're going to tell you what happened to the giant flashing X sign that he put up on his headquarters.
CAMEROTA: Elon Musk sure knows how to court controversy. You're looking at what was formerly the Twitter headquarters in San Francisco. Well, now that building is the new headquarters for his newly named company, "X," as you can see there. That new logo was installed over the weekend, and some San Franciscans were not pleased.
According to the Department of Building Inspections, they received more than two dozen complaints about that flashing "X" logo that you're seeing there, and that was just in 48 hours. So, they looked into it and found the sign was put up without any permitting. Fast forward to today and somehow, the flashing "X" sign is gone.
Thanks for watching "CNN Tonight." Our coverage continues now.