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Police Chief: Law Enforcement Was Never Contacted About Shooter; Pence On January 6 Testimony: "I Obviously Have Nothing To Hide"; Elon Musk, Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Among Tech Leaders Urging Pause For "Out Of Control" AI. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired March 29, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: They say, it's not related to COVID.

It's unclear if the leader of the world's nearly 1.4 billion Roman Catholics will be able to lead the celebration, of this weekend's Palm Sunday mass, and Holy Week ceremonies, at the Vatican, leading up to Easter, on April 9.

The news continues. CNN's PRIMETIME with Kaitlan Collins starts now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tonight, mourning in Nashville, a grieving city, honors the victims of Monday's tragedy.

MAYOR JOHN COOPER, NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE: Just two days ago was our city's worst day.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As new details emerge about the shooter's background?

CHIEF JOHN DRAKE, NASHVILLE POLICE: The suspect was under doctor's care.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can anything explain this senseless act?

Plus, taking a break. The Manhattan grand jury, investigating former President Trump, set to pause, for almost a month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a very unusual development.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But, in Washington, two federal probes steamroll ahead. The former Vice President, is ordered to testify, in the January 6 investigation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, will he comply?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And urgent warning, the biggest names, in tech, call for an immediate halt, in Artificial Intelligence development. ELON MUSK, FOUNDER, CEO AND CHIEF ENGINEER OF SPACEX, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF TWITTER: I think Artificial Intelligence is something we need to be quite concerned about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is technology moving too fast?

CNN PRIMETIME starts now.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST, CNN PRIMETIME: Good evening. I'm Kaitlan Collins, alongside my all-star team, of fellow CNN anchors, here, tonight. Sara Sidner, Michael Smerconish and Laura Coates.

We're going to be breaking down, all of the day's biggest stories, together, tonight.

But we start in Nashville, and an emotional vigil, tonight, for the six victims, of Monday's Covenant school massacre, a city mourning the three children, and three adults, who were lost, on Monday, together.

First lady Jill Biden was at the vigil, laid flowers, at a memorial, earlier.

Sheryl Crow, and other musicians, performing, before a crowd, united in their grief.



SHERYL CROW, MUSICIAN: I know you're onto me.


COLLINS: In the investigation, Police said today that the 28-year-old shooter is believed to have had some sort of weapons training. Law enforcement is still working to determine where and when that training may have taken place, as they are also combing through the killer's writings, looking for a motive.

As for warning signs, Police are saying this today.


DRAKE: The suspect was under doctor's care, for an emotional disorder of some type. The parents felt like she should not own any weapons.

That was it. The law enforcement was never contacted. She was never committed to an institution. So, that's basically that's where we're at right now.


COLLINS: For the very latest on this, I want to bring in CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. Shimon, we're hearing that law enforcement was never contacted. But we are now learning more about some weapons training that the shooter might have done.


COLLINS: What do we know?

PROKUPECZ: Certainly, they're trying to figure out, because when you look at the video, from the shooting, it appears that the shooter has some familiarity, with the weapon, knows how to use it, seems to be not so erratic, with it, more in a targeted way, and the way it's being used. So, that is something that they're certainly are thinking perhaps is why they may have had some training.

The other thing, certainly, digging deeper into this person's history, the background, what exactly did the family members know? I know Police today said - the Chief said, "Look, we believe the parents, when they say that they were - they didn't know the guns were in the house." But I think more needs to be learned, about this person's history. What did friends know? What did others know about this person?

And also, the weapons, when were they purchased?

COLLINS: There's so many of them too.

PROKUPECZ: Seven weapons, seven guns, seven firearms, to be purchased, over what time period? We don't really have that kind of information. I certainly think it's something investigators are still trying to figure out.

But I do think, in terms of the shooter, there's still a lot more to know, because there were warning signs, and there were friends, who knew things. And what did people do with that information?

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really important, because there is a question, about the mental stability of the shooter, in this case.

I do want to ask. You did such great work, deep-diving into every detail of what happened in Uvalde. And there, we had to wait for the videos, to come out.

Here, in Nashville, we got those videos seemingly almost instantaneously.


SIDNER: As soon as they had them, we seemed to get them. First of all, why do you think that is?

And second, can you make any comparisons to between what happened with the Police here, and of course all the mistakes made, in Uvalde?

PROKUPECZ: Yes. So, I think the one thing with Nashville, it's a bigger city. They understand the need for transparency. They understand the need for us to know, for the public to know.

They came out very quickly, indicating they had nothing to hide, that they performed well. They thought they went after the shooter. They took the shooter out, and they just felt like they had nothing to hide.


The comparisons here are disturbing. I mean, I don't know - the first things that I saw, when I saw the video, and how the officers went in? They were organized. They were talking to each other. They said "Go! Go! Go! Let's go! I need three!"

Almost immediately, they formed that team. They went to the door. They went through the school. They looked through doors. They went through the hallway. They found the shooter. And they killed the shooter.



PROKUPECZ: Fearless.

SMERCONISH: They were fearless, in the way, in which they approached their task. And I can't help but think if we hadn't had such an examination of the facts of Uvalde, I'm sure that factored into their training.

Like Sara, I was thinking about the release of the video as well. But I wasn't thinking about Uvalde. I was thinking about Memphis, and Tyre Nichols, because in that instance, it was a three-week delay.

And maybe Shimon, you're right that if the cops feel like they've got something to be embarrassed about, there'll be a delay. But let's hope that this is the model: You immediately put that videotape out, whatever it might show.

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I mean, the learning curve is now flattening, unfortunately. But it's tragedy after tragedy after tragedy. I mean, the lessons learned are costing people their lives. And we'd hope that the training that takes place, would actually have the opportunity.

I have to say, when we're focusing on obviously, who knew what, when and who facilitated et cetera, it really does speak to the fact that we're no longer looking at our legislators, in the same way.

We're saying, "Who else should have done something about it? Was it the law enforcement? Were the parents?" comparing, of course, with the Ethan Crumbley situation, in Michigan, where his parents are going to be tried, for involuntary manslaughter. That was a minor, though. So it's a little bit different than a 28-year-old person.

But still, I think this shows a lot about, every person for themselves, knowing that when you're looking for a hero, the old Mr. Rogers, "Look for the heroes," Uvalde showed us that sometimes you had to look, for the people, who can get themselves out of trouble, and look for the heroes, occasionally.

But people are also looking at themselves, and trying to get free, trying to have the change that there's no longer, try to find a hiding place. Now, it's try to run.


COATES: I mean, we're seeing, in real-time, as all-changing, because of gun violence.

SMERCONISH: Laura, it was not only the cops. I should also say, the school response? Because when they arrive--


COATES: Yes, absolutely.

PROKUPECZ: I tried to bring that up.

SMERCONISH: --when they arrive, on the scene, right?


SMERCONISH: Somebody is there to have a key to open the door, someone else to provide direction.


SMERCONISH: And they're being fired upon. It was amazing, from a school perspective.


PROKUPECZ: Much different than Uvalde, where there was no school administrator, to be found. And that's why part of why there was so much confusion, and chaos, because--


COLLINS: Down to the key, getting in the door.

PROKUPECZ: Down to the key. They didn't even need a key in Uvalde in the end.

SIDNER: Right.

PROKUPECZ: But the Police officers didn't understand, how the doors worked, in the school. But if there was a school administrator, who would have said something, to them, "No, the door's locked from the outside. The gunman went inside. So, there's no way the door was locked." And so, those are the key things also.

And what we're seeing is drills work, sadly, you know? That's what happened in Nashville. They drilled this. They went through this. "What do you do? You go outside. You wait for the key. You give the key to the officer. Evacuate." The other thing, I think, sadly, and there's a lot of controversy, around this, but how do you make schools safer? In this situation, look, it's something people - there's controversy with it, because no one wants to make a school, like a prison. I get it. I get it. But you know?

COATES: In our cities, of course, they have that - they have magnetometers. They don't have the same issue, though.

SIDNER: Right.


COATES: About the appearances of prisons though.

PROKUPECZ: Right. But--

COATES: But you see it that that's happening.

PROKUPECZ: This is something that Uvalde, they thought about. They went and they built these, erected these huge fences, all around school campuses.

COLLINS: How tall are those fences are?

PROKUPECZ: And they're about 12 feet or so, I think. But they went out. They spent the money. And, I don't know, is it ultimately going to prevent something from happening? Probably not.

SIDNER: They better think about that.

SMERCONISH: 10 years ago, five years ago, I wasn't ready, for armed officers, on every school campus, to the extent it could be afforded. I've totally changed.


SMERCONISH: I think somebody ought to be armed, in every school, in America, if it's possible.


PROKUPECZ: And Nashville didn't have any security. They had no officers, no security--

COLLINS: It's a private school.

PROKUPECZ: They're private school.

COLLINS: So, they didn't have anything.

SIDNER: But it's also a place? You talked about legislation.


SIDNER: You talk about, we no longer start talking about, OK, what can Congress do?


SIDNER: Because that just seems to go nowhere.

They do not have any red flag laws in Tennessee. We don't know if that would have prevented this. But that is one of the things that people put forth, in state legislatures, to try and make sure that people that have mental illness, that are struggling with problems, that might be violent, don't get ahold of guns, never mind seven different kinds of rifles, three of which were brought to the scene. So, I think that's an issue that everyone's talking about. But it's a holistic thing.

And, to your part, Michael, where you talk about, you've changed. And I think a lot of people have changes. What do we do? Because everyone's looking for the answers, because legislators aren't giving the proper answers, to this problem.

COLLINS: And you think "Lock the doors." Well, the door was locked here.

SIDNER: Right.


COLLINS: And they - the shooter shot through it.

SIDNER: They blew through it.

PROKUPECZ: The other thing, just, to bring this back to Uvalde, in a way? I was, in Uvalde, on Monday, when this happened, and was with family members. And so, it was a pretty tough time.

But then a survivor's - one of the kids, who survived, her mother texted me, and she said, "Oh, is there another school shooting?" I said, "Yes." And I said, "This was in Tennessee." She goes, "Yes, and it was a private school, right?" And she's like, "Well, now I'm not sending my kid to private schools."


The parents are looking to places, safe schools, they could send their kids, and they're thinking maybe a private school will be a safer place. Well?

SIDNER: Nowhere is safe.


PROKUPECZ: That's the - yes.

SIDNER: That's the horrible answer, nowhere is safe.

COLLINS: Yes. And the fact that parents have to consider that when deciding where to send their children. SIDNER: Right.

COLLINS: And just remarkable, you were there, in Uvalde, talking to parents, when another school shooting happened.

Shimon, though, really good reporting.

PROKUPECZ: Thank you.

COLLINS: Thank you.

PROKUPECZ: Thanks guys.

SIDNER: Thank you.

PROKUPECZ: Thank you.

COLLINS: All right, also, tensions are running high, on Capitol Hill, tonight, as lawmakers, as we were just noting, once again, are facing the question. When is enough, enough?

A top Democrat, who is fighting for gun reform, in a Republican- controlled House, is here with us, next.


COLLINS: Emotion was running high, in the halls of Congress, today, with lawmakers, arguing over how to address the school shooting epidemic that has now also claimed six more lives, on Monday.

Democrats, unsurprisingly, were calling for more gun laws, tighter restrictions.

Republicans, of course, said, "No way."

That led to this exchange that happened between Republican congressman, Thomas Massie, of Kentucky, and Democrat, Jamaal Bowman, of New York, just off the House floor, a few moments ago.


REP. JAMAAL BOWMAN (D-NY): They have control of the House. The American people need to know that they don't have the courage, to do anything, to save the lives of children.

More guns lead to more death.

REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R-KY): Would you--

BOWMAN: Look at the data. You're not looking at any data.

MASSIE: Doesn't mean--

BOWMAN: You're not - you're carrying water for the gun lobby.

[21:15:00] Are you listening to what I'm saying?

MASSIE: Yes, calm down.

BOWMAN: That's it - well "Calm down?" Children are dying!

MASSIE: I know. I've got the solution for it.

BOWMAN: 9-year-old children!

MASSIE: I've got the solution for it.

BOWMAN: And the solution is that are we teaching? That's going to be learnt in school (ph)--

MASSIE: That's worked in every school.

BOWMAN: I was a teacher.

MASSIE: Every school that allows teachers to carry--

BOWMAN: I was a school counselor. I was a middle-school principal. I was in cafeterias--

MASSIE: Every school that allows teachers to carry--

BOWMAN: --protecting kids, every day of my career.

MASSIE: --there's never been a shooting.


MASSIE: Never been a shooting. It's time. Please. We've got guns here to protect us.


MASSIE: And he doesn't believe that kids should have somebody to protect them.


COLLINS: Joining us now is Congressman Pete Aguilar, of California, who is the Chairman of the House Democratic Caucus. It makes him the number three, in Democratic leadership.

Congressman, thank you for being here.

And, I mean, obviously, there's often been tense moments, in the halls of Capitol Hill. It's no stranger to that. But to see that moment, today, between Thomas Massie, and your colleague, Jamaal Bowman, I wonder what you made of that.

And this idea that if Democrats could not get an assault weapons ban passed, when you had both chambers, how do you get one now passed down, with the Republicans, in control of the House? REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Well, thanks for having me, Kaitlan.

As you mentioned, House Democrats did pass an assault weapons ban, last year. Unfortunately, the Senate didn't take it up. We have to keep trying.

The frustration that you heard, from my colleague, Jamaal Bowman, is the frustration that all of us feel that all of us as parents feel. Jamaal was an educator, in a private life. He spent time in a classroom. He knows these issues incredibly well.

And I think all of us are just deeply frustrated that Republicans have spent more time, in the House, banning books, talking about banning books, rather than making our schools safer.

It's just unconscionable that this continues to happen. We clearly have a gun violence epidemic, in our schools, and in our communities. And it's just continues to be troubling. But what we learned, last year, is we have to keep trying, we have to keep working.

We got the gun violence, the bipartisan bill, out of the Senate, and out of the House, and was signed into the - signed by the President. We did that after parents made their voices heard, after teachers made their voices heard, and after members of the clergy made their voices heard. That's what we need to do here, in these moments.

SIDNER: There's a lot more to be done. I think the polling shows that Americans want to see more done, from a legislative perspective. I want to get your take, in reaction to something that President Biden said, yesterday, about gun laws.

Let's take a listen to that real quick.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I have gone the full extent of my executive authority to do, on my own, anything about guns. And so--

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what can you do?

BIDEN: So I can't do anything except plead with the Congress to act reasonably.


SIDNER: So, Representative Aguilar, you've got Republicans, on the Hill saying, "We've gone as far as we can go with gun control, and we don't need more gun control."

And in another vein, you have President Biden saying, there's nothing more that he can do, as President. Do you agree with him?

AGUILAR: The President has exerted an enormous amount of leadership, here, with the executive order that he has put forward. He has taken some steps. He has signed this bipartisan bill. It is on Congress, to change our laws, and that means Republicans need to step up. That's just clear. Why we can't have a handful of Republicans, in the House, and a handful, in the Senate, join us, to have meaningful change, in conversations, about the assault weapons ban, or universal background checks, or a number of these other ideas? We should do it.

And if Kevin McCarthy isn't prepared, to exert leadership, to do it, then he should step aside, and let someone else do it. It's just ridiculous that we have come to this place, where seemingly, House Republicans, just continue to say that there's nothing to be done here.

And again, they're willing to talk about legislation that would affect our schools, and taking the rights of parents away. But they're not willing to make our students safer. We have continually said, we want to put people over politics. They can't even put kids over gums.

COATES: Congressman, it's Laura Coates. But, of course, to my children, it's just "Mommy." And I have to tell you, as a parent, we are really losing faith, in Congress, and the ability, to protect our kids, through legislation.

And I'm wondering, for those of us, including that's everyone, who really can't afford to wait for bureaucracy, to complete, are there some non-legislative solutions that could be more effective? Is it a matter of using that power of the purse, or wielding more funding, towards school security, or investing in mental health treatment?

What can parents look to, outside of waiting for the halls of Congress, to stop fighting?


AGUILAR: Well, as you cited, previously, first of all, I appreciate the question. As a parent, of two public school-aged kids, I hear you. I understand, these are conversations that happen, in our communities, and in my households, and in my neighborhood. And it's something that continues to trouble me.

But there are steps parents can take, to talk with your kids, about this issue. Demand action, both from Congress, but also from your state legislature. As was mentioned previously, Tennessee doesn't have red flag laws in place. There are a number of things that we can do, to keep guns, out of the hands of people, who shouldn't have guns.

SMERCONISH: Congressman?

AGUILAR: That's fundamentally what we should do. Expanded background checks, all of those issues should be on the table.

SMERCONISH: Congressman, it's Michael Smerconish.

I have a poll question, right now, on my website. And it asks people to agree or disagree with the following statement. "America may as well learn to live with gun violence, because it's never going to change."

And when I last looked, a couple of minutes ago, about 25,000 people had voted, and it was running neck-and-neck.

What do you say to the half, who believe we're just going to have to learn to live with gun violence?

AGUILAR: I'd say that we can do better than that. We owe it to our kids. We're one of the only countries where this actually happens, where we need, we just fundamentally need to do better.

And, as policymakers, we need to pass laws that protect our kids. But we should look at why this doesn't happen in other countries. It's only because of the historic presence of the gun lobby, and because these weapons of war we tolerate. And it shouldn't be that way.

But there are steps we can take. The House Democrats stand willing to work, on this issue. We want to use every available tool we can, to lift up these stories, and find these solutions. But it's going to take investments in mental health. It's going to take laws at the local level, and at the state level.

But fundamentally, there are things we can and should be leading on here in the House. And we just aren't, under Republican leadership.

COLLINS: Yes. Major questions about what that looks like going forward.

Congressman Pete Aguilar, thank you for joining us. Thank you for your time, tonight.

AGUILAR: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Ahead, there's news, in the Trump hush money probe that is happening here, in the indictment watch, underway, in New York. This could be a very long Easter, for former President Trump. We'll tell you why.

And later, a man, who just seems he can't seem to get enough of the MAGA mania. You can often spot him, at Trump rallies, amid the sea of red hats. The comedian, and "Daily Show" vet, Jordan Klepper is here. A prophecy, you don't want to miss it.



COLLINS: There's big news, in the Trump hush money probe, tonight. Maybe that there is no big news. The grand jury, investigating the payments that were made, to Stormy Daniels, is taking a long break, is going to be pressing the pause button, next Wednesday, and is expected to be on hiatus, for most of next month.

Meanwhile, former Vice President Mike Pence, tonight, is on the ground, in Iowa, where he's facing several questions, about that judge's new ruling that he actually has to go and testify, before a grand jury, investigating January 6, about the conversations he had, with former President Trump, leading up to that day.


PENCE: We'll be speaking, with our attorneys, in Washington, before the end of the week, and sorting out what our next steps are.

I obviously have nothing to hide.

Let me say again. I'm very pleased that the federal judge recognized and agreed with our argument that the Constitution Speech and Debate Clause does apply, to my role, as Vice President, and as President of the Senate.


COLLINS: CNN's Kara Scannell joins our conversation.

Kara, I think I speak for everyone, when I ask, what is going on here, with the Manhattan probe. Because, last week, everyone was bracing for this to happen. Now, we're told we may not see anything till the end of April.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, I think one thing everyone has to remember is that this grand jury, is a six-month grand jury, and they've been seated since January. But that doesn't mean we're going to go to June. But it also means that there's not an immediate deadline for this.

What we have seen is that they have brought in, you know, this is the hush money investigation. There are just a handful of people that really touched the facts, in this case. We've seen them all come in, over the past several weeks.

This grand jury meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, for just three hours, each of those days, when they're sitting. And this isn't the only case that they hear. So, we have seen a number of witnesses come in.

There all these indications we're getting toward the end of this investigation. There was the requirement under New York law, to invite the former President, as the potential defendant in. He declined. They brought in a witness on his behalf.

And then, just on Monday, they brought in David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, in, as a rebuttal witness. But there is not, again, an immediate deadline. So, the D.A., Alvin Bragg, his office can discuss this, again, debate this.

This would be the first time a former President was indicted. So, it certainly is a weighty decision, a historic decision. And at least as best, there are questions about the strength of this case. And so, it certainly is something that they are debating, not taking lightly. This is definitely a decision they don't take lightly. And they don't have an immediate deadline.

But all of that said, they are meeting three more days, before they go on this break. They are not currently scheduled, to hear testimony, about the Trump investigation. But this is all D.A. Bragg's prerogative. He, at any point, can decide that if he wants to move forward, he can ask them to take a vote.

COATES: That's the beauty of discretion, right? It's his prerogative to do this. And, of course, the timeline that was imposed on him, was from somebody, who obviously had an incentive--


COATES: --to try to create a timeline, in the former President.

But talk about the timeline. Do we know anything about if Vice President Mike Pence is actually going to appeal a very consequential decision that says he's going to have to testify? And we're all kind of color-coding, every investigation here, not respect to that, but with respect to the idea of what happened around January 6?


SCANNELL: Right. I mean, so Pence, today, I mean, he kind of said he's going to discuss this, with the lawyers, come - make a decision. I mean, it remains to be seen, if he's going to do that.

But certainly, what we see, with from politicians, and in other industries, people sometimes want to be forced to go in and do it, because then they have the cover for it, right? So, we'll see what Pence is going to do here.

Trump has lost a number of these executive privilege battles, with his White House Counsels, Pat Cipollone--


SCANNELL: --Pat Philbin, and also with--

COATES: On attorney-client privilege, right?

SCANNELL: Exactly.


SCANNELL: I mean, so he's--

SMERCONISH: Can I go back to Trump, for just a moment?

It's possible that Alvin Bragg has been backed down by Donald Trump. That's a possibility. It's possible that Alvin Bragg is now slow- walking, so that Jack Smith, the Special Counsel, who's in a sprint, can catch up. That's a possibility.

Is it not also possible that there's been a vote, and there was a vote, taken, to indict Donald Trump, but it's under seal, and we just don't know it?

SCANNELL: I mean, from what we get from our reporting, there's not an indication that has happened.

But you're totally right. I mean, there is definitely this is all in secrecy. There's a lot that we don't know. We just learn things, from pounding the floors, and walking the halls, and trying to figure out everything that we can.

That is always a possibility.

COATES: Or the possibility, of course, that they took a vote, it wasn't favorable, and they're going back to the--

SMERCONISH: Come on? The ham sandwich?

COATES: Look, the ham - I know. Look?

COLLINS: This is going to--

SMERCONISH: The ham sandwich. Is this the ham sandwich?


COATES: It's supposed to be an easy part.

COLLINS: That's what stands out.

COATES: But remember, the grand jury is supposed to be secret. And the reason you can indict a ham sandwich is because you got many bites at the proverbial sandwich, right?

You can go back to your grand jury, and say, "You know what? Your vote was this. And so, what did you need to hear from me, in order to get it over there?" And so, you can invite them, to ask more and more questions. And that's part of what you can do. I'm giving away some secrets here, in the grand jury.

But the idea that it's secretive is actually a good thing that you don't know all the answers, because it's how it's supposed to be.


SCANNELL: And though - in this void is what you see former President Trump kind of attacking Bragg, raising questions, putting into the conversation, that he's got cold feet. We don't have any indication outwardly that that's happened. I mean, they had David Pecker in.

SMERCONISH: But when Costello testifies that lets you know, they're at the stage, where they're yielding the floor, to Trump. "Is there something you want to tell us?" OK, they got to that point. It's as if closing arguments have taken place, in a conventional trial. Something's up here. This is really strange. That's what I want to say.

SCANNELL: Well, I think what's interesting is they have Costello in. And everyone's thinking, "Are they going to bring back Michael Cohen? What are they going to do?" And, for those of us, who have covered this closely, we thought it's going to be David Pecker, because he is where this began. He's the one that can say, "I was contacted by Stormy Daniels. I contacted Michael Cohen. There was a deadline to get this done." So, he is a strong witness, for prosecutors, to set the timeline, of saying, this didn't happen right before the election, there was pressure on them to try to wrap it up.

So, I think they wanted to land with their witness. But it's the big question of are there more witnesses, or what's going to happen next?


SIDNER: I just want to quickly say that this came up in 2018. Just reminding everybody, when the story first broke--


SIDNER: --and what - where are we now? It was January 2018.



COLLINS: It's remarkable.


COLLINS: Few more weeks, we've been - it's been going on for so long.

All this talk about a ham sandwich is making me hungry.

Kara Scannell, great reporting, as always, thank you.

And make sure you tune in, tomorrow, because here, at 9 PM, Wolf Blitzer is actually going to sit down, with former Vice President Pence, maybe ask him some questions, about that ruling, we're waiting to see, if he'll appeal. It's an exclusive one-on-one interview, tomorrow night.

And don't go anywhere, because our next guest is going to help us laugh, at the very crazy world of politics. His videos often go viral, on social media. Jordan Klepper, who is the chronicler of Trump rallies, for "The Daily Show," is here to talk about all the things that he has seen there, MAGA, 2024, and more. That's next.



COLLINS: Donald Trump may have been a declared candidate, since November. But he actually didn't hold his first official campaign rally, until last weekend.

Tonight, we are lucky enough to have with us, at our one of the table - at our table, one of the consummate chroniclers, of Trump rallies, Jordan Klepper, who is a "Daily Show" contributor, on Comedy Central. He's actually going to be guest hosting the nightly broadcast, the week of April 17.

But tonight, he is here with us, at the table.

For those, in our audience, who might be a little unfamiliar with your work, I want to show them some of what you do, when you go to these Trump rallies.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is our first rockstar superhero president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. Thousands, maybe a million people gathered, so quiet, it was a peaceful rally.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not who votes. It's how many people are counting the votes. We need to get the right people, counting the votes, because that's why Donald Trump got screwed over the last year.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump is President, right now.

KLEPPER: He's currently the president?


KLEPPER: It doesn't matter what he says?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to love it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're going to love being here. We're going to love hearing what he has to say.

KLEPPER: But this isn't a cult?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I don't think so.


COLLINS: OK. So, you go to these rallies. You talk to those - I mean, I've been doing a million of these myself. People line up for hours. They wait, when it's 12 degrees outside, when it's raining. They don't care. They wait. And Trump does pull a lot of people.

Have you noticed anything different, in events, Trump events, last week, you were out here, in New York, in Manhattan?

KLEPPER: Yes, I mean, Manhattan was very different.

COLLINS: The day that Trump said he was going to be arrested--


KLEPPER: Donald Trump said "Come take our country back. I'm going to be arrested on Tuesday," and it was in New York, and only five people showed up. So, that was different, for a Trump event.

Again, it was New York. New Yorkers got better things to do than wait around, for a Trump event. Even the super-MAGA folks have to pay rent, so perhaps that has something to do with it.

But even the DNA of the Trump excitement is still within those three folks. They dress up. They're going to deny that Donald Trump isn't currently the president. And they're going to fight for him.

So, it's hard to tell, for me, this early on, like what the size of that fervor is, in the Trump base. But the talking points are there, if not farther along.


COATES: I'm fascinated the fact that - I mean, sort of the man on the street, people know who you are, by now, right?

They know that you're going to likely talk about it, and they might be made fun of. I mean "Might" is in quotation marks, by the world about it. They don't care. They want to talk to you. They want to get their words. And they have no embarrassment. They will say what they have to say.

Are you surprised, after all this time, people are still doubling down, right now?

KLEPPER: I mean, it's America. People want to be on television. They want to engage.

And oftentimes, people see me? Sometimes they yell, they scream, they want to interrupt. Sometimes, they turn around and run away. More often than not, they want to engage. If they recognize me? They want to beat me in some battle of wits. Or they don't recognize me, and there's a camera there, and they want their point of view heard.

Old-school "Daily Show" pieces, we talk about that. You catch them in an irony. They're being hypocritical. Nowadays, that doesn't exist anymore. There's not an hypocrisy, when you're living in different realities.

SIDNER: Can I ask you, do you prepare? Because you don't know what they're going to say, but you do know this script? You know, it's going to be something along the lines of what you've heard, at every single rally. Do you prepare your follow-up? Because you're very deadpan. I mean, it's as if you're me, just a regular reporter, asking a question. You're not judgmental. Is all of that sort of planned in advance?

KLEPPER: Well, I do know somewhat what they might say. Because if you're watching Fox News, or OAN, or Newsmax--


KLEPPER: --or reading the papers, a lot of these folks are reading, that's where the talking points come from.

And so, what we do is we go on out there, usually with a game plan, of topics we want to talk about, and we essentially debate prep. We discuss ways, in which we'd ask follow-ups, and directions, we want to take conversations.

And when you're out there, you realize a lot of these people aren't having these conversations. Donald Trump rarely got those follow-ups, so they rarely get the debate prep, on their own follow-ups. And so, I think the most compelling moments that I'm a part of are the ones where you're watching people, in real-time, develop answers that they haven't thought through yet.

SMERCONISH: Can I say that he got 75 million votes. The fringe characters tend to be the ones who get the most attention, on television.

The 75 million don't look like what I'm accustomed to seeing on TV. I've got a lot of them, who are a butter knife away from me, in my life. And I think there's a tendency, to take a look at the rallies, and think that that speaks to all those, who went out and cast a ballot for Donald Trump. It's just not the case.

KLEPPER: Right. Well, I mean, I think you have to take that context, of course. But these are the people Donald Trump's playing to. That's where the conversation is happening. And so, he's trying to rile them up. I think it's not reflective of the people that I said - well that was - that was a good turn of phrase.

SMERCONISH: Butter knife.

COLLINS: Butter knife away?

KLEPPER: A butter knife away about it, I mean that's?


COATES: I've never heard the butter knife phrase.

SMERCONISH: I'm thinking of Jordan.

KLEPPER: I mean that's?

COATES: Fancy!

SMERCONISH: I want you to think Thanksgiving.

KLEPPER: Thanksgiving?


KLEPPER: Wow! Wow! OK, that is - that is the old--

COLLINS: We're all going to Michael's house, next year.

KLEPPER: --middle-of-America stuff right there, yes! So, I don't know if they're are a butter knife away, or a whole dining set away. I don't exactly know.

But when I'm next to some people, yes, there's a much more moderate swath of people, who don't believe, or even look like the folks at a Trump rally.

A Trump rally is a place you go. You put your cape on, and you scream as loud as you can. I think what is most compelling to me though, is that's where policy is being discussed, and Donald Trump is taking his cues from the most fervent.


KLEPPER: And so, they might not be a butter knife away. But the person wearing a cape? He's paying attention.

COATES: We will all use that phrase 10 more times in that.

COLLINS: And Mike--

COATES: I want you to be looking for it.


COLLINS: We're going to credit--


COLLINS: And Alabama, mine's more like a paper plate away, which I love. I am going to use that.

But to the point of this, people go to these rallies, they listen to Trump. They internalize what he says.

We were watching his rally, in Waco, Texas. That's where it was on Saturday. And we were struck by how he started the rally playing this song, from the January 6 choir. It's people, who've been in prison, because of what they did on January 6. And now, they've got this choir.

Trump was asked about that. And this is what he said.



What so proudly we hailed

SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Are you really beating Taylor Swift, by the way?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I did. The J6 is beating Taylor Swift. It's Donald Trump and the J6 prisoners!

HANNITY: You're doing the--

TRUMP: And--

HANNITY: --the Pledge of Allegiance.

TRUMP: --on iTunes, and on Amazon.


TRUMP: And on Billboard, which is the big deal! Number one, Donald Trump, so, now I feel like Elvis.


COLLINS: But he's making that comment, as he is being investigated, for what happened on January 6.

KLEPPER: Yes. Yes. He's clearly very musically savvy. The iTunes! The billboards!

I mean, I'm done being surprised by Donald Trump. The fact that he's going to play the J6 choir, at his rally, is par for the course. If you went there, 20 minutes earlier, Ted Nugent is saying horrific things.

That's what these rallies bring out in people. And when you're an internet troll, and you put up a rally, to just feed the internet troll-isms, you're going to get plenty of that stuff.

COLLINS: Yes. Important to see what we're seeing. We're going to see many more of those rallies to come. I know you'll be at a lot of them.

KLEPPER: Drive away!

COLLINS: But thanks for joining us. Don't worry. We're going to keep you around, for some other subjects.

We've got a new warning, from some of the biggest names, in tech. This is one you want to pay attention to. Elon Musk, other experts say they believe humanity is at risk, if Artificial Intelligence is not reined in. Why they're so worried? We'll tell you next.



COLLINS: All right, it's the equivalent of a four-alarm fire.

In an open letter that was published today, Elon Musk, and other Artificial Intelligence experts, are now calling for an immediate pause, in the training of the most powerful AI systems, citing, quote, "Profound risk to society and humanity."

Among the dire questions that this new letter asks are, should we let machines flood our information channels, with propaganda and untruth? Should we automate away all the jobs, including the fulfilling ones? And should we risk loss of control of our civilization? All of these concerns, tonight, in this letter.

These revolutions are being discussed, as, shortly here on CNN, we've been talking about all of this, and what this actually looks like, Michael. When you read a letter like this, that's coming from people, who were actually part of developing this, does it concern you?


"I think that balancing AI innovation, and regulation, is crucial, for societal benefit."

That's what ChatGPT-4 told me, I should say, as a centrist radio, if I want to look smart and piffy.

COLLINS: What did you ask it?

SMERCONISH: I said "What should I say, so it appears, if I understand this issue?"


Now, let me tell you what I really think. What I really think is it's too late. Because yes, that's - I had to write it down, and read from it.

COLLINS: That's amazing. You actually wrote it down!



China, Russia, are they going to play ball with whatever the regulation might be that Elon Musk and company want to establish? I think it's too late, right? We've already shown our hand, in terms of, of where this is all headed. And they'll never cooperate with what we have in mind.


COATES: But that gives (ph) from these messengers, though, in particular.


COATES: I mean, these are people who, theoretically are the ones, who would have the most information, and insight, into what could go possibly wrong. And that they are scared?


COATES: And thinking about as innovators themselves, who think about always being in the forefront, always trying to push the needle, and push it forward? For them to say, "Everyone, you've got to stop?" That's scary to me!

KLEPPER: Yes. I mean--

SIDNER: Yes, but--

KLEPPER: Elon Musk pushed, like, "We have to be careful promoting untruths."


COATES: Right, right.

KLEPPER: Because that's my gig, right now, everybody. Slow down!

It frustrates me that I have to agree with the sentiment of an Elon Musk, and an Andrew Yang, on TV. But it does feel like the horses are out of the gate.

SIDNER: But Elon Musk is one of the co-founders of OpenAI, which is one of the most popular ones that has GPT Chat, right?


SIDNER: And so, I did something similar to you. I looked up what you would sound like, if you were reading about AI? And I'm just going to read the first sentence.

It says, "Here's what Kaitlan Collins would sound like, if she was reading a script on AI. Good evening, and welcome to "CNN TONIGHT." We are covering one of the most transformative technologies, of our time, Artificial Intelligence. From self-driving cars to digital voice assistants, AI is becoming more commonplace."

I mean?

COLLINS: Sounds just like me!

SIDNER: I mean? But, I mean, it's close!

SMERCONISH: But what AI can do is--

SIDNER: Yes, right.

SMERCONISH: --do it in her image, and in her voice.

SIDNER: Correct.

SMERCONISH: So, imagine, if in 2016, with the attempted election interference, I think, the successful efforts, at election interference, by the Russians, if they had that skillset, then? Holy crap! We would never be able to determine fact, from fiction, in an election capacity.

COATES: What if, right now - even to be the most, I mean, ominous here? What if you have it successfully, completely mime someone, like a world leader?

SIDNER: Yes. Yes.

COATES: And they are able to get them to say something that then causes us to go into a kind of World War III, or its equivalent, not just in terms of election interference, but even more than that?

In what way do we do the - as opposed to saying, Jordan, think about this, people say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I got hacked." It wasn't popular to say that.

SMERCONISH: Yes. Deniability.

COATES: "Oh, I got hacked there." That's not the thing you can do with this ChatGPT or AI.


SIDNER: By the way, it can also write code. And that's where it gets really scary.


SIDNER: Because it's gotten very good at it.


SIDNER: And when you look at the fact that it can write code, you want to talk about disruption? Imagine what it could do to hack into things. It's scary!

KLEPPER: I think the next 10 contracts I sign will be written by ChatGPT! I mean, it will take over accounts, I think, all of the things you already--

SIDNER: All the jobs.

KLEPPER: --skim, and don't read, I think like those are going to be created outside of your purview, and they're based on the laws of the internet.

And last time I checked, the internet's not the best college education, anybody can get. It's a messy place. If that's teaching my accountant how to do any kind of math, if it's teaching my lawyers, how to create contracts? We're in for a world of hurt.

COLLINS: But the thing is there are perks to it. There are ways it could help.

I was listening to this podcast, earlier, where it was talking about people who aren't natural English speakers, how it can help them, if they've moved, and they're doing a new job? People assembling grocery lists for kids with allergies, things like that.

I mean, I also think, lawmakers, we saw them talking about TikTok, this week, not total competence, on how they would handle Artificial Intelligence. But we will see because obviously, this is something that is being discussed.

We're going to keep talking about all of this, and the developments, in AI, shortly on "CNN TONIGHT," right after this. Alisyn Camerota is going to take the pulse of the people. She's going to talk to Americans, how did they view the future of the country?

We'll be right back with one more controversy that Jordan himself has been keeping a close eye on. You want to hear this one.



COLLINS: All right, closing out our evening, tonight, there is one more story that has captivated Jordan Klepper.

What did your eyes see in Wisconsin really?

KLEPPER: Oh, it broke my heart. In Wisconsin, there's a school, where a young girl wanted to perform a Miley Cyrus and Dolly Parton song. And the school said "No, it was too controversial."

And the fact that we're at a point in America, where we're now not allowing Dolly Parton into schools broke my heart. I feel like she's the last saint that Americans can rally around. It doesn't matter if you're the left, or you're the right. Dolly Parton is a universal beloved figure. But even that, apparently in Wisconsin, is just too far. A song that's simply about acceptance was too controversial for this town!

COLLINS: It was at a talent show, and the Superintendent said that they could not play that song, which is what was the grounds it was based on?

KLEPPER: Well, the song was called "Rainbowland," I believe.


KLEPPER: And if you read the lyrics, there, it's a pop song. There's not a whole lot of double meanings to it. Predominantly, it talks about accepting others, who are different from you.


KLEPPER: But that I think was seen as something that is perhaps too in line with the LGBTQ cause, and therefore controversial, and shouldn't be played.

COLLINS: Even though it's a song that's supposed to be about inclusion. You can see there. It's talking about basically making sure everyone's included, and then everyone's involved and whatnot.

KLEPPER: Yes. Yes. What are we doing?

SIDNER: And the color of the rainbow.


COATES: Every color, every hue was--

SIDNER: Right.

COATES: --highly highlighted (ph).

SMERCONISH: The Superintendent cited Policy 2240. I read it. Do you know what it says? "Controversial issues are OK, if they encourage open mindedness." It could seem like that's this song.

SIDNER: It absolutely is. And she's a national treasure. And it's - I'm the same. I'm with you. It hurts my heart that--


SIDNER: --Dolly Parton cannot be sung in a school.

KLEPPER: Yes, she shouldn't be on the news. She should be on the $20 bill.

COATES: But what lessons--

KLEPPER: Or the $5 or the $1.


KLEPPER: I don't want to start something out. I don't want to replace it. Let's create a new denomination of the Dolly, on the $7.

SIDNER: The $25.

COLLINS: The $7.

COATES: $20 was Harriet Tubman. Let's not go there, today, OK?

KLEPPER: Right, I know.

COATES: Everyone, just we're very clear about this.

SIDNER: Ask Kaitlan.

COATES: But I mean, what do you tell our kids? Like you can't talk about rainbows, like that's all gone?


COATES: Everything's gone?


SIDNER: It's the adults that have the problem, by the way, not the kids.

COLLINS: I listened to it. It's actually a pretty catchy song too.

SIDNER: Beautiful!

COLLINS: All right, Jordan Klepper, thank you so much. We'll watch your show, when you are hosting. Thanks for joining us here, at the table, tonight.

Thank you all, for joining, all of us, tonight.

"CNN TONIGHT" with Alisyn Camerota is next.

We're going to leave you though, with Dolly and Miley.


I know if we try, we could really make a difference in this world