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CNN Tonight

Trump Says He "May" Attend Trial; First Trump Co-Defendant Pleads Guilty In GA Election Case; Subways, Roads And Homes Flooded After Historic New York City Rains; U.S. Is On The Brink Of Government Shutdown; Trump Attacks Milley Again. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 29, 2023 - 23:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We just talked at length about shitter being used in a congressional hearing. Well, tonight, the former president of the United States decided to top them all off with the quite the addition to the swear jar tonight. Just a warning, seriously, this is not safe for kids.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If somebody is beating you by 10, 15 or 20 points like we're doing with crooked Joe Biden, let's indict the motherfucker. Let's indict.



PHILLIP: And on that note, I will turn it over to you, Pam Brown, in CNN TONIGHT.


PHILLIP: Sorry, it really happened. I had to do it. Thanks, Pam.

BROWN: Yeah, I understand. You can't sleep it out. He's the leading Republican presidential candidate. Totally get it. Thanks, Abby. Have a great weekend.

PHILLIP: You, too.

BROWN: Good evening, everyone. I'm Pamela Brown. Great to have you with us on this Friday night, this late Friday night. And there's some news happening. Donald Trump telling reporters tonight he may be in court on Monday.


UNKNOWN: Are you going to your trial on Monday?

UNKNOWN: Are you going to go to your trial on Monday?

TRUMP: I may. I may, yeah.


BROWN: That's for the $250 million civil fraud suit the New York attorney general is bringing against the former president and his business empire. While in Georgia, one of Trump's co-defendants pleading guilty today, flipping for the prosecution, agreeing to testify.

Plus, historic flooding in New York City. I mean, these pictures, wow! A month's worth of rain falling in just a short few hours today, surging floodwaters, overwhelming streets, the subway system and basement apartments, even schools.

And the looming question tonight, will there be a shutdown? We are now just 25 hours away from the shutdown of the federal government if there is no deal made, and at this hour, the prospects, well, they are looking grim. We're going to tell you what Leader McCarthy is saying tonight.

But let's begin this hour ahead with CNN legal analyst Michael Moore, the former U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, and Chris Timmons, a former Georgia prosecutor. Great to have you both on.

Michael, let's kick it off with you. So, the first guilty plea in the Georgia election subversion case tonight is from this bail bondsman, Scott Hall. He has flipped. He will testify in any future hearings or trials. What does that mean for Trump or other co-defendants like Sidney Powell? Help us put this into context.

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm glad to be with both of you tonight. You know, it's interesting when you look at this guilty plea. Remember that Mr. Hall was charged with the grandest elections, stealing effort in the history of the world, basically, and now they've come down to five misdemeanor charges and no jail time. He doesn't even lose his right to vote because he won't be a convicted felon.

Um, so, it's curious to me why the government needed him and the state wanted to use him in this way. I mean, I know that part of his plea deal is that he will cooperate. He is to give truthful testimony. It may be important in the Powell case and it may not be. We just don't know yet the depth of what he knows and what he may have told investigators as we go forward.

There are benefits to him, though. Technically, you know, he's a bail bondsman. In Georgia, if you have a felony conviction, you cannot be a bail bondsman. So, he would have lost his ability to make a living in that way. And so that's -- I'm not surprised to see him take this.

But what we'll find out as we move forward is whether or not he has information that directly implicates Ms. Powell or if this is one of those things where the state was just looking to try to get the first (INAUDIBLE) and hope that his plea puts pressure on other people like her to take a plea as they try to work their way up the ladder. There's no question they're trying to move this closer to Trump. They're starting at the bottom and it looks like they've clearly gone to the bottom rung as they're trying to knock the wall down here.

BROWN: Right. So, Michael, on that note, do you expect there to be an avalanche of plea deals now?

MOORE: You know, I don't really think so. You may see a couple of people, sort of the low-hanging fruit drop-off, but I'm not sure that you're going to see that out of the Powell and Chesebro group. These are trial lawyers who are experienced, they're criminal practitioners, and it'll take more than somebody pleading to a couple of misdemeanors to scare them away from the courtroom. So, I'm not sure this is going to do that.

Again, Mr. Hall may have some information that they think is particularly important, that they wanted to get some critical bit of testimony in. We don't know what all -- we know he testified in the grand jury, but we don't know what all is there. But we'll see.

There's no reason for people to rush too much to a plea because they get to watch the whole case in October, in November, and for the next half a year as (INAUDIBLE) was laid out. Before they have to make decision, they get a preview of the evidence that the state has in this case.

BROWN: Right. But, for others, I mean, their trial is coming up, right? Chris, Georgia prosecutor said today that they may offer a plea deal to Sidney Powell or Kenneth Chesebro.


I mean, their trial is slated to begin next month, I believe. So how do you expect this to play out?

CHRIS TIMMONS, FORMER GEORGIA PROSECUTOR: So, I don't expect either one of them to plead. They're both attorneys. And as an attorney and Michael could tell you as an attorney himself, a lot of our identity is wrapped up in being an attorney. If they enter a plea, unless it's a misdemeanor plea like Mr. Hall did, it's going to be a plea that's going to be to a felony, most likely to RICO, and they'll have to stop being attorneys at that point.

So, I don't anticipate either one of them entering a plea unless the state offers them another sweetheart deal like a misdemeanor first offender plea like Mr. Hall got. Mr. Hall won't be convicted of anything if he successfully completes his plea. First Offender Act under the state of Georgia law is that essentially you never got arrested, you were never charged in the first place.

BROWN: Yeah, he can continue to vote and he won't be, you know, a felon.


BROWN: Any of that. Um, Chris, let's talk about Jeffrey Clark. Of course, he is the disgraced former DOJ official accused of trying to interfere in Georgia's election as well as three fake electors. They cannot move their cases to federal court despite their requests. I'm curious. What do you think that means? Does that put more pressure on them to cooperate?

TIMMONS: I think it does in a way that they know that they're going to trial in Georgia. The thought with going to the Northern District by removing your case there was that they'd get a more favorable jury pool. North Georgia is much more conservative than the city of Atlanta itself, even though the city of Atlanta itself is incorporated within the Northern District of Georgia.

So, I think, you know, when you're looking at a worse jury pool and, of course, the most important part of any jury trial is the jury itself. They're the decider. The most important part of any decision is the person who's ultimately going to be making that decision.

So, when you're looking at one jury pool that may be likely to acquit you versus another jury pool that's likely to convict you, you are much more likely to consider a plea. And so, I think that's where they are at this particular point.

BROWN: All right. I want to look ahead now to next week. It's going to be a busy week. CNN is learning tonight that Trump just may attend his New York City fraud trial, which is scheduled to begin on Monday. and that U.S. Secret Service has met with NYPD and court security officials, according to our reporting.

Of course, as you know, Chris, you could also be called to testify, but how do you think his presence will impact this trial, if at all?

TIMMONS: I mean, first of all, everybody is going to be paying attention to it. I mean, a lot of folks around the world are interested in what the former president is up to. You're right in that the state of New York could call him as a witness in the case.

I think based on what the pleadings were that indicated that he had a strategic interest in the case, I don't think necessarily his own attorneys are going to call him. I mean, it's possible. And it's also would be interesting if the state called them themselves.

My concern with calling the former president to the stand is that he's not going to answer my questions if I called him to the stand. So, I might be concerned that I put him up and it's much ado about nothing. I think they'll probably stay away from him. I suspect that his own attorneys will stay away from him as well so as not to create testimony that might hurt him in the other trials that are pending that are in the criminal arena.

BROWN: All right. Thank you so much, gentlemen. Chris Timmons, Michael Moore, appreciate your insights on this Friday night.

MOORE: Thank you.

BROWN: And we have other major news today that we are covering. Torrential rain in New York and New Jersey. A month's worth of rain falling in a matter of hours. Roads, subways and homes flooded with first responders jumping into action. CNN's Polo Sandoval is in Brooklyn. Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Pamela, good evening. Even after a very long day of soaking rains in New York City, you can still see floodwaters that are quite literally flowing out of Brooklyn's Prospect Park. That flood water eventually makes its way onto some of the nearby streets here. It reminds you of just the sheer amount of water that fell today in New York City and some of the surrounding regions.

Some parts getting a month's worth of rain in only a few hours. So, the result was practically a nightmare for millions of people in America's largest city.

The mass transit system, at least parts of it, practically paralyzed. And tonight, many of those aspects of the transportation system are trying still to get back up and running.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams recommending that folks remain on alerts tonight and into the weekend, though there is some sign of improvement in the forecast. Mayor Adams also recommending that folks living in those basement apartments be extra on alert because that has proven to be deadly in previous storms. Mayor Adams also fighting back criticism that the city was slow to respond and to warn people about the incoming storm.


ERIC ADAMS, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK: Well, every time you have a flood or a major casualty, that is part of the narrative, that's part of the call. I have an amazing team. It did not take me to stand in front of a camera. I have an ex-military expert, Commissioner Zach Iscol (ph) who is in charge of my NISM (ph). I put out clear orders to all of the men and women of my team that you must lead.


If the mayor is the only one that can communicate to the public, we're in trouble. I have to run a city.


SANDOVAL: Also facing some tough questions today, New York City's Department of Education. The chancellor of that school system asked why they did not go with remote learning today. School officials explaining that that is only considered for extreme circumstances and it simply did not apply in this particular situation.

In terms of what the city is saying about rescues, we did see about 15 people have to be rescued from their vehicles here today and no reports of any injuries or fatalities, Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Polo Sandoval, thanks so much. Now to CNN's Chad Myers, who was in the Weather Center for us tonight. Chad, just how much rain fell here and what's ahead? CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST AND SEVERE WEATHER EXPERT: Pamela, it was the amount of rain in inches, but also the rate of rain that made such a difference today, that made all of those pictures here. Everywhere that you see orange, including New York City, the Bronx, all the way across Queens, all four inches of rain or more. And there were many places with more than six inches, and very close to eight here for JFK.

A 7.97 inches of rainfall fell since midnight. That is an all-time high. There has never been a wetter day in JFK history since they've been keeping track. Even places like Brooklyn, over 7 inches of rain from this storm alone.

Now, the rain is gone. It has moved off toward eastern Long Island. And by tomorrow, it's just a bad memory. There'll still be some showers tonight. And overnight, we could see a few spots in yellow of an inch or two, but that's about it. This is just about winding down right now.

BROWN: All right. Chad Myers, thanks so much. Well, we are just over 24 hours away from a government shutdown if a deal is not made. Coming up, I'll speak with a Republican who is calling out members of his own party, and we're going to talk to the people who will actually be affected, losing paychecks and much needed assistance. Stay with us.




BROWN: The government shutdown could be imminent as the House GOP is repeatedly failing to reach a deal. But could a consensus be reached with nearly 24 hours left on the clock? Take a listen to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tonight.


KEVIN MCCARTHY, SPEAKER, UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: I think if we had a clean one without Ukraine on it, we could probably be able to move that through. I think if the Senate puts Ukraine on there and focuses Ukraine over America, I think that could cause real problems


BROWN: Joining us is Republican Congressman Mike Lawler of New York. Thanks for coming on, Congressman. So, tonight, McCarthy is sending a message to the Senate, saying they should drop Ukraine aid from their bill. If they do, there could potentially be a deal. What do you think? Is that even realistic?

REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): I think the most pressing thing right now is to ensure that the American government is funded and that the American people are not impacted by any potential shutdown. So, it's critically important that we pass a continuing resolution that can get 218 votes in the House and get, obviously, 51 votes in the Senate.

So, you know, we are doing everything we can. I'm still here working tonight and through the weekend to avoid a shutdown. And I think putting a CR on the floor in the House tomorrow is important.

BROWN: And so, you would support one without any funding for Ukraine?

LAWLER: Look, as somebody who has been a supporter of Ukraine funding and will continue to be, the most pressing issue right now is keeping the United States government funded and open. And so, whatever it takes to get to 218 votes is important. This is not shirking our commitments to Ukraine long term, but I think the most immediate thing is making sure the United States government is open and the American people won't certainly not understand shutting down the government over funding a foreign country.

BROWN: But are the hardliners who have been standing in the way of anything passing and, of course, averting a government shutdown, do you seem them softening their stance? Do you see an 11th hour, you know, um 11th hour vote to avert a government shutdown? Bring us there on Capitol Hill where you are right now.

LAWLER: Well, look, the speaker put forth a conservative CR, and unfortunately, 21 of my colleagues voted no. So, a conservative CR obviously didn't have 218 votes to pass and get into a place where we are negotiating with the Senate. So, we're in a situation now where you have to pass a bipartisan CR across the floor with less than 24 hours to go to avert a government shutdown.

And so, I think to the speaker's point, you know, a clean CR with disaster relief is probably the fastest and cleanest way to get to 218. If Democrats in the House refuse to keep the government open over Ukraine, I don't think the American people will understand that too well. Even -- and again, as somebody who supports the effort in Ukraine, that doesn't make a lot of sense.

BROWN: How did we get here, though? I mean, you know, at midnight tomorrow, the government will shut down if there are not enough votes. Who do you blame for this mess?

LAWLER: I blame a party of one. I've said that. You know, Matt Gaetz has used this as a vehicle to try and take out the speaker. You know, he has threatened to use the motion to vacate. I have no doubt he's going to try to proceed forward with that, you know. But this is a guy who's a career politician. He presents himself as somebody who's standing up against, you know, leadership. He's fighting back.


But this is a guy whose dad, you know, gave him his seat and basically, you know, pulls the strings here. He's pushing for a government shutdown. And this is a guy who has military bases in his district. He's going to put our active duty military in jeopardy. I think it's wrong. I think it's disgraceful. And I think the way he has tried to allow his personal vendetta against the speaker to hold the American people hostage is wrong. BROWN: If a shutdown does happen, do you think lawmakers should still be paid, people like Matt Gaetz?



Absolutely not. And just tonight, I submitted a letter to House administration declining my pay during any potential shutdown.

I think, obviously, when you have active duty military who may not receive their paychecks, when you have seniors and veterans who, you know, may be impacted in terms of benefits that they are due, when you have government employees who are going to have to show up to work and not be paid because of you know, decision by a few folks, that obviously is unacceptable.

So, no, I don't think anybody who's serving in Congress should receive their pay during any shutdown.

BROWN: Do you support efforts to oust the speaker?

LAWLER: No. I think it's absurd. I think it undermines the House republican majority. We were elected to govern, to serve as a check and balance on Joe Biden. And I think one individual has allowed, you know, petty personal grievances to get in the way of the majority, and it's wrong.

BROWN: Congressman Mike Lawler, thanks for your time tonight. Best of luck to you on Capitol Hill.

LAWLER: Thank you.

BROWN: As lawmakers scramble to find a path out of this problem of their own making, roughly 2.2 million Americans who are federal employees are trying to figure out how long they can go without a paycheck, and that is not even including the 1.3 million active duty troops and their families.

On average, federal workers earn between $55,000 and $65,000 a year. Average pay for an Army staff sergeant with eight years experience is $48,500. And many of these service members cannot miss a paycheck.

But it's not just federal employees who will feel the effects. A shutdown means if you're about to buy a home, getting a mortgage is about to get tougher. If you have travel plans, brace for longer security lines and flight delays. And of the 33 million small businesses in this country, 93% say a shutdown will cost them money.

There are repercussions for housing assistance, food assistance, research, food and water safety. The list is long. For context here, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the government shutdown in late 2018 cost $3 billion in permanent losses.

On all of that note, let's bring in Alexis McDonald, who is a military spouse. Alexis is also a government affairs specialist for Secure Families Initiative which works on behalf of military families. So, Alexis, how many military families do you know that live paycheck to paycheck? And you are right now terrified of not getting a paycheck because of a shutdown.

ALEXIS MCDONALD, MILITARY SPOUSE: Pamela, too many military families are living paycheck to paycheck. And in the event of a shutdown, that is -- those circumstances are going to become even worse.

And not only living paycheck to paycheck, but many military families like my own are a one income family. And when you only have one income and now that income is not guaranteed to come in when you're expecting it, you won't be able to pay your mortgage, your car payment.

Many spouses or even service members themselves might have student loans that they need to pay as well. Child care is going to be an issue going to be impacted because you have to be able to pay for your child care in order to go to work as well.

BROWN: And I understand. So, you have a daughter, your husband is away for training, and he may not be able to return home because of military travel that might be delayed or possibly even canceled if the shutdown happens?

MCDONALD: Yes, that is correct, Pamela. The military travel all falls into that, you know, same pot of money that we're waiting for Congress to appropriate. And if we aren't, you know, if that doesn't happen in time and we have a shutdown, my husband will have to stay where he is at training until he's able to return home, you know, leaving me with just my daughter, who's about 15 months.

BROWN: Oh, wow. Oh, Alexis McDonald, best of luck to you. Thank you so much for coming on and sharing your important perspective.

MCDONALD: Thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: I want to bring in Whitley Hasty now. She is a recipient of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children, commonly known as WIC.


She is also a community advocate who helps connect people to WIC and SNAP. So, Whitley, you have two young children. You have been on WIC since 2015. Some seven million people rely on the nutrition program. How crucial is it for this program to stay running?

WHITLEY HASTY, WIC RECIPIENT AND COMMUNITY ADVOCATE: It's extremely crucial. You know, I'm fortunate that in New York State, you know, that we won't see an immediate impact, but when we think about like the CVB benefit amount being reduced until Congress decides to pass legislation to maintain those higher amounts that have been available since 2021, I mean, those are, you know, funds for fruits and vegetables that have been available.

And I work with a lot of families like myself that are now finding themselves food insecure because of, you know, high inflation rates and food prices. So, it's extremely important. I can't believe we're having this conversation right now.

BROWN: And to be clear, my understanding is with a program like WIC, there is federal grant money that goes to these states. The states run it. So, like you said, in New York, maybe immediately you won't feel the impact, but it depends on how long, you know, this -- if a shutdown happens, how long it would happen in order for you to feel the direct impact.

There are about 42 million people who rely on SNAP benefits to feed themselves and their families. You know, if this shutdown happens, the reality is we could see millions of people struggling to eat or at least experiencing food insecurity, worrying about what's next. What goes through your mind when you hear this? What kind of emotions are you feeling right now?

HASTY: I'm infuriated. I mean, federal nutritional programs like SNAP and WIC save lives. There's science-based evidence, studies after studies have proven how it -- WIC is one of our nation's most effective and successful, cost-effective nutritional programs that improves the health of everyone involved. It reduces infant mortality. I mean, I could go on and on about the reasons why we need to maintain funding for it, and if not increase the funding for it.

So, I have a lot of words when it comes to the thought of us not being able to maintain these programs for families. It's a lifeline. It has been a lifeline and it needs to continue to be funded.

BROWN: Whitley Hasty, thank you so much for coming on.

HASTY: Thank you.

BROWN: Threats, confrontations, and personal attacks. The war inside the Republican Party between just a few members that could lead to a shutdown impacting millions of Americans, that's next.




BROWN: So, here's the deal. We are just about 24 hours away from a possible government shutdown yet again. So, you're probably wondering, how did we even get here?

I'm going to bring in CNN senior political analyst Ron Brownstein and Charlie Dent, a former Republican congressman, to help make sense of this, if that's even possible.

Um, Charlie, let's start with you. I just interviewed Congressman Lawler on the show, as you heard. And he is saying just now that he is actually willing to vote for a short-term CR without money for Ukraine. And if Democrats don't pass it, he says they will be to blame for a shutdown. So clearly trying to reframe this. Is that strategy going to work, you think? CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA REPRESENTATIVE: Well, I certainly appreciate Congressman Lawler's leadership, and he's right that we need to keep the government funded at all costs. Actually, the way I think this thing is going to unfold is that the -- you know, House can't really pass anything. They tried to pass a continuing resolution today. It failed.

And now, what's going to happen is the Senate is going to tee up their bill, which will fund Ukraine, which will fund disaster assistance and the government and extend the FAA and a few other cats and dogs that are agreed to, and they're going to send it to the House.

And I suspect that bill will pass with over 70 votes in the Senate and that same bill would enjoy a very strong bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives.

So, this thing could end quickly if the speaker were to allow such a bill to hit the floor. I think that's the way out of this thing. It's really quite simple.

The Problem Solvers Caucus also has a very thoughtful, responsible bill, too, that could be brought up. But these bills will get strong bipartisan support. I would guess around 300 votes. Republicans in the House are trying to pass this on a Republican-only basis, and that's where they're running into all this difficulty.

BROWN: McCarthy tonight is expressing his opposition to the Senate stopgap bill. So, I think that's important context. But, you know, Ron, President Biden said tonight that he believes Speaker McCarthy made a terrible bargain to retain power. Is that how we got here? How do you see it?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Largely. I mean, this day has felt almost inevitable from the tortured beginning of the McCarthy speakership, which has been, I think, in these few months -- Charlie has raised his opinion -- one of the weakest, if not the weakest, we have seen a speaker perform at least since World War II.

Look, his strategy from the beginning has been essentially to appease his critics on the right, to give them almost or all of what they want and assume that his members in more competitive districts in the end would fall into line.


And that strategy, I think, has encouraged, you know, his tormentors to believe that he will in the end concede what they want, an impeachment inquiry, rejecting -- all of this -- let's go back. He made a deal on appropriations in the debt ceiling fight, and all of this began because he had to walk away from the deal to satisfy those critics on the right.

So, you know, I mean, it's kind of a Neville Chamberlain strategy as speaker and it has led him into a position where now nothing -- they -- his critics keep moving the goalpost --

BROWN: Yeah.

BROWNSTEIN: -- keep demanding more. And he needs Democrats. There's an obvious solution, as Charlie notes. I mean, they can pass -- they can keep the government open by passing a bill that would have bipartisan support. But it would alienate those members on the right.

And McCarthy really has a choice to make. You know, is he willing to do that and take the risk of them trying to depose him as speaker or is he going to shut down the government to keep them in the tent as much as possible?

BROWN: But, I mean, they're even -- they're still like threatening to oust him.

BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. Either way. Either way.

BROWN: He's trying to appease them and they're still dangling that out there no matter what, right?

BROWNSTEIN: I mean, part of the problem he's got is, and Charlie was there in 2013, is that there is a portion of the republican conference who wants to be seen as imposing the maximum disruption. It almost doesn't matter --

BROWN: Yeah.

BROWNSTEIN: I mean, some people on the Hill, you know, we saw that. We call this the Seinfeld shutdown because it doesn't really seem to be about anything except doing it. And look, in 2013, you know, Republicans shut down the government, tried to repeal Obamacare. They didn't -- they didn't repeal Obamacare.

It's hard to believe that there's going to be major policy concessions from Biden or Senate Democrats to kind of bail them out of their own. Eventually, they're going to have to make a bipartisan deal to reopen the government.

BROWN: Exactly. That's exactly what I was about to go to Charlie with because, you know, I mean, as Ron eloquently pointed out, I mean, this really is all for nothing because at the end of the day, the Republicans need to get the Democrats on board for any spending bill to pass the Senate, right, for the government to function.

DENT: Of course, they do. And we all know how this is going to end. It's going to end in a bipartisan agreement, probably the Senate bill or something very close to it. Everybody knows it. The only question is, can this be done before or after a shutdown?


DENT: Sadly, regrettably, it'll be done after the government has been shut down. The same thing happened in 2013. I set myself on fire over this in 2013, saying just vote for a clean bill, and that's what we did 17 days later.

(LAUGHTER) They're going to do something very similar this time. Everybody knows it. I think the problem for the speaker is by appeasing his critics, he has also empowered them. They are emboldened now and they are never going to support anything reasonable or responsible, anyway.

I think the speaker was correct to throw down the gauntlet last week and tell those guys, you want to move the vacate? Well, go for it and have the fight, but I would have that fight after they fund the government responsibly. That's how you get out of this thing.

BROWNSTEIN: Worth noting, really quick, Nancy Pelosi's majority was no bigger in 21-22 than Kevin McCarthy's majority is now.

BROWN: That's an important note. Yes, important context. All right, Charlie Dent, Ron Brownstein, thanks for staying up late on this Friday. Great to see you both.

Up next, Trump calling the nation's top general treasonous and lazy tonight. That's after he already said that Milley deserved to be executed. Remember that post on social media? Well, how is that playing with the military? We're going to talk about that up next.




BROWN: Tonight, General Mark Milley stepping down as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to rousing applause by admirers. But his term as the highest-ranking military officer in the government was often marked by conflict with former President Trump. General Milley had this to say about the former president earlier today.


GEN. MARK MILLEY, CHAIRMAN, U.S. JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: We are unique among the world's armies. We are unique among the world's militaries. We don't take an oath to a country. We don't take an oath to a tribe. We don't take an oath to a religion. We don't take an oath to a king or a queen or to a tyrant or a dictator. And we don't take an oath to a wannabe dictator.


BROWN: Certainly seems at least like he was talking about the former president there, former President Trump. And just tonight, Trump suggesting a second time that Milley should be executed for treason.


TRUMP: General Milley, what he did is really treasonous. If you look at what he said to China, he's either stupid or it's treason. But what he said to China should never be allowed. That can never be allowed in our country.

UNKNOWN (voice-over): Did you suggest attacking China?

TRUMP: General Milley, General Milley, who I know, he's a lazy guy. He left billions and billions of dollars' worth of equipment for the Taliban. General Milley is a lazy guy who's not very smart.


BROWN: Let's dive into this and much more with Army veteran Paul Rieckhoff. He is also the founder of Iraq and Afghanistan Vets of America. Hey Paul, thanks for coming on. So, once again, Trump is attacking Milley. This is a distinguished general who has four bronze stars and more than half a dozen service medals. His threats are so serious.

Special Counsel Jack Smith is citing them and asking for a gag order and the election interference case as part of his court violence. How is all of this rusting with military members?

PAUL RIECKHOFF, PRESIDENT OF RIGHTEOUS MEDIA, PODCAST HOST, FOUNDER OF IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: Not well at all, Pamela. I mean, it has been a chaotic couple of months for our military on the backs of Tommy Tuberville blocking military promotions for over 300 senior flag-grade officers. Now, they're facing a potential shutdown that could stop their pay from coming in.


And now, you've got the former commander-in-chief threatening death to our chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Look, General Mark Milley, you can hear it. He is a leader. He is a patriot. He's a man of integrity. He's a man of honor. He's a man who served his country for his entire life. And for the former commander in chief to attack him and threaten his life is ridiculous, it's reckless, and it's radical. It's bad for our national security.

Right now, Vladimir Putin is watching this and he's celebrating. Our enemies are celebrating. To see a former commander in chief attacking the senior leader of our military and by default the entire military is unprecedented, it's unconscionable.

And I think Jack Smith is right to try to gag him because this is bad for our national security. This is treasonous. What Trump is doing is treasonous, and I think they should find ways to stop him from doing it and lock up if necessary. If you did this or if I did this or the average American did this, we'd be getting a knock at the door from the FBI.

BROWN: But the bottom line is part of a pattern, right? I mean, Trump has not only directed ire against Mark Milley, it's also just members of the military in general. He has criticized soldiers who have died in war, right? And yet he had the majority of support among U.S. Military veterans in 2020 versus Biden. Do you think that is still the case?

RIECKHOFF: No, I don't. I think that the military is a pretty diverse community. And I think ultimately, this is about a really critical group of people, Pamela. About 50% of this country is independent. They're not Republican. They're not Democrat. And 49% of veterans are independent. I myself am a political independent. We're a jump ball.

And when you hear a radical wing of the GOP and it's not just Trump, it's people like Ron DeSantis who had been bombing away on the military, it's Coach Tommy Tuberville who has never served a day in his life, it's radicals who want to defund the troops right now, it really rubs everyone the wrong way, but it also drives independence away from the GOP.

This is not the party of John McCain and Colin Powell anymore. This is something very, very different. And ultimately, it's undermining our national security. There's the political part of this where they're driving away independence, and I think it ultimately could cost them the election, especially with veterans, especially in swing states.

But ultimately, it's weakening our national security. To see our political leaders fighting with our military leaders and to have someone like Mark Milley focused on this instead of defending our shores and looking after our troops is what Osama bin Laden would love to see. It's what Putin loves to see.

And that's why I think it's so dangerous. The stakes are incredibly high. I don't think most Americans are paying attention to it enough, frankly.

BROWN: I want to talk a little bit more about what you referenced, Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville, what he's doing, holding up these promotions for hundreds of people serving in the military. You know, you talk about how all of this could impact national security. But what about just morale in general? You know, these politicians, as you point out, many of whom never served a day in the military, taking actions like this.

RIECKHOFF: It's crushing. I mean, our troops have become a political football. And even worse, they become a political target. I mean, General Mark Milley has to worry about his personal safety. This is the commander -- this is -- the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the United States Military has to worry about threats from within. I mean, that is demoralizing for everyone.

To see the former president attacking the senior most general in our military is demoralizing. It hurts recruiting. Hundreds of military families have been frozen. They can't move. They don't know where their kids are going to start school. And I think it is part of a coordinated attack by an extreme part of the GOP that continues to undermine our national security.

They're like political suicide bombers. They don't care what they blow up. They don't care who they hurt as long as they can push their radical ideology. And they've decided now that the military, of all things, is going to be their number one target. It's not just Tuberville. It's not just Trump. It has been a coordinated attack that's bad for our national security, it's bad for our troops, and it hurts morale profoundly. BROWN: And now, as you pointed out, active duty service members have to worry about the looming shutdown, right? I mean, more than two million will be forced to report for duty without pay. You're familiar with the worries military families have. Tell us about that quickly.

RIECKHOFF: Just think about it right now. I know that there are family members watching. There are service members watching and some of them are in harm's way. They have to worry about whether they're going to get paid or not because some politicians are holding their pay hostage over a radical agenda.

I mean, this is really, really the bottom. I mean, this is the worst of politics, when you're using our troops as a political bullseye to push your agenda. I mean, the stakes are very, very high.

And just think about that young man or woman who's right now far from home, they want to get back to their families, they want to serve their country, and they don't know if their paycheck is coming next week. It's absolutely ridiculous, it's radical, and it's just so bad for America that everyone, no matter what your party affiliation is, should be outraged.

BROWN: And also, we were just talking to one military spouse who said her husband can't even travel home from training potentially if the shutdown happens. I mean, there's all sorts of implications. Paul Rieckhoff, thank you so much. Really important to hear your perspective.


RIECKHOFF: Thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: We'll be right back.


BROWN: In 2016, Jeison Aristizabal became the first CNN hero of the year from Latin America. He has dedicated his life to helping young people with disabilities like himself in one of the poorest areas of Cali, Colombia, and showing them that they can do anything they set their minds to.


JEISON ARISTIZABAL, CNN HERO (ON SCREEN TRANSLATION): Today, we have the first university in Latin America for young people with disabilities. Right now, the university has started its first year with 300 students.


It has all the equipment so that people with disabilities can study in an accessible way. We have ocular technology, for example.

UNKNOWN (ON SCREEN TRANSLATION): I want to be a data engineer and help the community through artificial intelligence. ARISTIZABAL: The foundation is changing the concept of the word "disability," understanding that they can, that they're capable.


BROWN: For the full story and to see all the way Jason is transforming lives, go to

Thank you so much for watching. Before we go tonight, we remember Senator Dianne Feinstein, known as a pioneer in politics. Feinstein served in the Senate for 30 years, the longest serving woman there. An outspoken advocate for gun control, she was crucial in the passing of the 1994 federal ban on assault weapons.

And she was the first female member of the Judiciary Committee and the first woman to lead the Senate Intelligence Committee. Her dedication to public service and uncommon resilience will not be forgotten. Our thoughts are with her family tonight.