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Biden Delivers First Oval Speech On Economy, Debt Deal; Iowa Evangelical Leader: "Excellent Week" For DeSantis; Ukrainian Tennis Player Refuses Handshake With Russian Opponent Citing Respect For Soldiers On Front Lines. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired June 02, 2023 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Quick programming note.

Don't miss the CNN Republican Presidential Town Hall, with former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley. Jake Tapper hosts the live gathering, from Iowa, Sunday night, 8 PM Eastern, right here on CNN.

That's it for us. Have a great weekend. The news continues. "CNN PRIMETIME" with Abby Phillip starts now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Anderson, thank you very much.

And good evening, everyone. Thank you for joining me tonight.

"Crisis averted." And with those words, President Biden tried to turn the page, on a dangerously close call, for the country, in his address, to the nation, just a short while ago. It kept weeks of turmoil, in Washington, and on Wall Street, over the first ever U.S. default that nearly happened.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Passing this budget agreement was critical. The stakes could not have been higher.

Our economy would've been thrown into recession. Retirement accounts for millions of Americans would've been dec-- been decimated. 8 million Americans would have lost their jobs.

No one got everything they wanted, but the American people got what they needed.

I know bipartisanship is hard, and unity is hard, but we can never stop trying.

And there's nothing -- nothing we can't do when we do it together.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: Believe it or not, this was his first address, delivered from the Oval Office. And the White House says that he chose that particular setting, with all of its history, because of the gravity of the moment.

Now, throughout the speech, Biden kept seizing on the theme of bipartisanship, praising both sides, for working together, and keep the American and global economies, from potential collapse.

And he also specifically mentioned House Speaker, Kevin McCarthy, by name.


BIDEN: I want to commend Senator -- Speaker McCarthy. You know, he and I, we -- and our teams -- we were able to get along and get things done. We were straightforward with one another, completely honest with one another, and respectful with one another. Both sides operated in good faith. Both sides kept their word.


PHILLIP: And in that same vein, the Dow scored its best day of 2023, today, following the passage of this deal, and on the news of that better-than-expected Jobs report, the Labor Department announcing employers added 339,000 jobs, last month, a huge number.

So, is America in a much better place in just a span of 24 hours? Well, let's ask our great minds here.

Sophia Nelson is a former House Republican Investigative Committee Counsel. Sara Fischer is the CNN Media Analyst. Kirsten Powers is a CNN Senior Political Analyst. And Doug Heye is former RNC Communications Director.

And Doug, on the communications front, you know, the Oval Office -- I mean, for those of us, who know, you know, the Oval Office is a place of great significance, or at least White House, is like to think that. Were you surprised to see him use this venue and that moment to give this address?

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I wasn't surprised to see that venue. And I wasn't surprised to see some of the words that he said.

The timing though, did surprise me. So often, if we go back just a couple years ago, if we hear that something's happening, at 7 o'clock, news is happening at 7 o'clock, on a Friday, we think, "Oh, Lord, what did Trump through this time," and it's another Friday news dump.

And so, with the good economic news that Biden had, with the jobs numbers, with the Dow, and obviously the good news for Biden, and for Kevin McCarthy, on this deal, I want to give in this at noon, so that the TV news, all day was talking about this. A lot of Americans didn't see this because it was 7 o'clock.

PHILLIP: But I mean, the reason that they did it at 7 is because the networks will take it, and the ABC, Fox News. I mean, the network's networks, where people are usually watching "Jeopardy!" they were watching President Biden, for 15 minutes.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. I mean, I think the point is that, what Doug's hitting on is this is important news. And there was an economic crisis that was averted. That's a legitimately true story.

And I think that, when he says the Republicans were acting in good faith, I think there's some people, who would say, this isn't really supposed to happen. They're just supposed to raise the debt limit, because the money's already been spent.

And it's turned into this thing, where it's being held hostage, right? Essentially, Biden had no choice but to negotiate with the Republicans, because otherwise the economy would have crashed. And guess who would have gotten blamed? Joe Biden.

So, he's being very gracious. This is very on brand for Biden. He loves to talk about bipartisanship, and unity, and all these things. And so, I think, he is putting a very happy face, on something that was actually pretty ugly, as it was happening.

PHILLIP: How does--

SARA FISCHER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Yes. And to that point about putting on the happy face, this message was so different, from what we heard, from Senator Chuck Schumer, last night, which was railing against Republicans, for the way that they had handled the deal.

To your point, President Biden really wanted to make sure that he sounded authoritative, sounded bipartisan, sounded professional and presidential, which I think Americans needed to hear, after weeks of these parties, just railing against each other.


PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, I also take note. I mean, the bipartisanship is not just happy talk. He ran on that in 2020.


PHILLIP: And he's been accused of abandoning that message, in favor of talking about MAGA Republicans.

So, it seems to me the White House had a real reason to want to reinforce that in Americans' minds.

But I mean, the job numbers alone, from today, 339,000 jobs created, that's a huge number. I mean, almost contradictory in that it might give rise to more fears on inflation. But also look at gas prices. A year ago, $4.72. Today, $3.57. These are also things that the President wanted to tout.

SOPHIA NELSON, CNN OPINION CONTRIBUTOR: Two points. I agree with Doug, that I would have liked to have seen him do it a little bit earlier. But I also agree with Kirsten (ph). You got to get the networks to take what they can.

But I think two things are important. Number one, the President of the United States was saying that this is an Oval Office address, therefore, it's very important. Two, we averted crisis.

And as someone, who filled up her tank, today, in Virginia, for $3.43, so it was even better? The thing that I'm fascinated by Abby is why isn't President Biden getting more credit, for what is actually a really strong economy, with the jobs numbers and everything else we're talking about?

So, I think that he's trying to rein people back in, and say, "I am the guy, who can get things done. I am the guy, who can build consensus. You need to stick with me. We're on the right track."

HEYE: Yes. And that message is consistent with Joe Biden's history.


HEYE: The last time we went through this was 2011, when he negotiated, as a Vice President, with my old boss, Eric Cantor. Before that, he worked very closely with Jesse Helms, at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with Strom Thurmond, probably not names, he wants to emphasize today.

But this is hardwired in Joe Biden's DNA. And this may be the last shot at bipartisanship, for a good year and a half, at least.

PHILLIP: It was so interesting, listening to the week before the deal was struck, right? Progressives, on Capitol Hill, they were so, so nervous. "Why isn't President Biden going out and talking?"

And here was his reaction to that question. Why am I not -- why is he not talking enough about this potential deal?


BIDEN: One of the things that I hear some of you guys saying is, "Why doesn't Biden say what a good deal it is?" Why would Biden say what a good deal it is before the vote? You think that's going to help me get it passed? No.


PHILLIP: Not exactly his first rodeo.


PHILLIP: But it really, it's a stylistic thing. This is how he likes to conduct business. And some people just don't like it, but it's what he wants to do.

POWERS: Yes. I mean, also, we have to be, which remember that the people, on the left side of the party, have an agenda. They don't necessarily love Joe Biden. And they're trying to move him, into a certain direction, and put pressure on him. So, there's always this push and pull that's going on. And so, they're

always going to be criticizing him, because they're always going to be wanting him, to feel like he has to look out, to his left flank, and take care of them. And so, I wouldn't read too much into it.

But it is true that people are constantly criticizing Joe Biden, for the way that he handles things. And yet, he seems to kind of know what he's doing, right?

NELSON: And you know what the big lesson is, though, for me that America is still a center -- center-right country. And Joe Biden understands that going into 2024, as does Kevin McCarthy that he had to come up with a deal here that he couldn't let the Freedom Caucus run the show, as they would have liked to, and that this country is still a centrist country. And I think that puts Joe Biden in a pretty good spot going into 2024.

PHILLIP: How does that stack up against, let's call, a Ron DeSantis, who said this week, he is going to destroy leftism, in America, if he is elected. I mean, we're not talking about the same kind of messaging, even.

FISCHER: Well, for Joe Biden, the most key thing is making sure that the economy is on track, heading into his election. That's going to be his biggest factor, in terms of electability. That was his biggest threat, in terms of the last election, was making sure that people felt economically stable.

So, his message has to be different than somebody like Ron DeSantis, who's entering the presidential campaign, for the first time, needs to make a name for himself, and needs to pull momentum, from Trump.

So, the two of them have very different objectives here, when they're running on the stage, which is why Joe Biden, to your point, can run on a more centrist message. It makes sense for what he needs to accomplish. I guess Ron DeSantis does not feel the same.

PHILLIP: Do Republicans have to recalibrate on kitchen table issues more earlier in this process than maybe they would like to?

HEYE: They should always be doing that. When I worked, in the House of Representatives, for Eric Cantor, we put a series together, the Majority Leader did, what we called "Making Life Work," to talk about kitchen table issues, talk about job training.

And I can hear Congresswoman Virginia Foxx yelling at me, for using those terms right now, where she doesn't like that. It was her bill.

To talk about job skills, to talk about pediatric cancer. Republicans don't talk about these things enough. And so, when they do, they often do in a ham-handed way, which compounds the problem.

PHILLIP: All right, everybody, stand by, for us.

[21:10:00] Coming up next for us, it's apparently a classified document, with a plan to attack Iran. And Donald Trump is on tape, talking about keeping it, after he left office. But tonight, it's missing, and it is nowhere to be found, apparently.

Is national security at risk? We have new CNN reporting on that.


PHILLIP: A classified document, about a potential U.S. military attack, on Iran, is still missing. This would be the same document that Donald Trump was recorded describing, and admitting that he took with him, after he left the White House.

So, you'll remember, the former President's attorney, Jim Trusty, was on this show, earlier this week, and he refused to say whether or not it had been returned to the National Archives.

Now, exclusive new reporting, from CNN has shed some light on why. Two sources say that Donald Trump's attorneys have not found that document, even after the Justice Department issued a subpoena, demanding that it and other military documents be returned.

Katelyn Polantz is one of the reporters, on this story. And she joins us at the table. She's also been breaking a lot of news, on this extraordinary story.

Katelyn, do we even know that this document that Trump was describing is something that he had and that it exists?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well that we don't have any reporting to say otherwise. And we haven't heard the audiotape yet. We would love to hear the audiotape. But it has been described, to me, and to my colleagues, Paula Reid and Kaitlan Collins, all of us, from multiple sources.


And in this July 2021 meeting, at Bedminster, it seems very apparent that Donald Trump is referring to the document, in his hand, waving it around. And that we also know from our reporting that this document, it does exist.

And there have been many stories about Donald Trump at the end of his presidency, wanting to launch some sort of attack on Iran. And many people, in his administration, top high-ranking people, including General Milley, saying "No. We need to talk you out of this. You will start a war."

PHILLIP: I mean, there've been so many transfers of documents to, whether via searches or subject to subpoenas, back into federal government custody. Do they know all that they've given back? Do they have a full accounting of what might have been in those 15 boxes, here, 15 boxes, there?

POLANTZ: Well, the Justice Department and the Intelligence Community will, because that's part of the investigation, right?


POLANTZ: They have to figure out what was out of the hands of the government, and what was back.

As far as the Trump lawyers go, and the people around Donald Trump, dealing with this? They very well might not know. And it doesn't appear that they do know exactly what was said back that may have classified markings on it, when they sent 15 boxes back in January of 2021, to the National Archives.

Those lawyers have only gotten access to those boxes, in recent months. And there are markers in the place, where classified documents would be. They've been removed, as part of the investigation. And of course, they don't know at all what was removed in the FBI search of the Trump's property.

So Abby, it's really possible that the Justice Department has this, and just wants to make sure there's nothing else. There's no duplicates. There's no notes or any other information.


POLANTZ: But we just don't know.

PHILLIP: That's a really interesting point.

The big question, I think, hovering over all of this is, where are we, in this process? Where are we in Jack Smith's investigation? It really does start to feel like we might be coming up on the end. How does this fit in?

POLANTZ: There's just been a lot of grand jury activity, and other activity, in this investigation, before we learned about this July 2021 meeting, and did the reporting, about the audiotape.

But one of the things, when you look at this, is none of it is happening in a vacuum. It's a long, ongoing investigation. And it's one, not just about what did Donald Trump do, with documents, he had in his possession, in 2021, or 2022. There's also an obstruction of justice investigation.

And so, the question of did Donald Trump turn over everything he needed to, to the federal government, when they demanded with a subpoena? How difficult was that process after? And up to and including this new subpoena, and the Trump team's inability to find a document that satisfies what they believe they need to turn back over? It's all part of an investigation.

PHILLIP: That obstruction piece is so critical.

I want to just put up, this is what Donald Trump said, today, because Vice President -- former Vice President, Mike Pence, he will not be charged in the case, involving documents that were found in his residence. And Trump says -- they're not going to charge Pence. But he says,

"When am I going to be fully exonerated? I am at least as innocent as he is."

There are some obvious clear differences, between these cases, Sophia.

NELSON: A couple things for the audience. Number one, taking national security documents, I can't believe actually I have to say this, is a real problem.

As someone who's handled those type of documents, as a Committee counsel, and as an attorney, this is a very serious thing when you're talking about issues with Iran, et cetera. And so, I think that the fact that he's still so flippant about it really bothers me.

And I think DOJ needs to speed it up, Abby. I mean, it's been dragged out. And, like you said, are we coming to the end? Are they going to charge him? Or are we going to go into the 2024 campaign, with this hanging out there?

And that's what I think is the real issue here. I mean, will we actually get some type of resolution? Or will this just keep hanging out there? And will he not be exonerated? Or will he be charged? That's the question.

POWERS: He's also the -- what happened with Pence, and what happened with him, are entirely different situations.

NELSON: Absolutely.

POWERS: I mean, Pence proactively handed information over. Look to -- see if he had any information, classified information, and then handed it over.

And I think, now Pence has been exonerated, he's not going to be charged. And this shows that it's not political, because Pence is a Republican, right? So, it's not something that's just they're out to get Republicans. They clearly -- the problem is Donald Trump, that Donald Trump has behaved in the most reckless way imaginable.

PHILLIP: Even -- even--

POWERS: And it's put people in danger.

PHILLIP: Even down to how they talk about it. Listen to just the contrast, here, between Trump and Pence, talking about this issue.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All I know is this. Everything I did was right. We have the Presidential Records Act, which I abided by 100 percent.

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those classified documents should not have been in my personal residence. Mistakes were made. And I take full responsibility. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: OK. So, Pence is going to be running for president--

HEYE: Yes.

PHILLIP: --in just a couple of days. I mean, this is going to be, this is a microcosm of the contrast that exists between these two men who, by the way, used to be on the same ticket.


HEYE: Sure. And what one of the things that makes Mike Pence's potential candidacy really interesting here is he's going to be able to say, with all the firsthand knowledge, he has, of the mistakes that he's made.

Now, he hasn't been critical enough of Trump, for some people. I can tell you being at the Gridiron dinner, where he lashed into Trump, on January 6. He's willing to go to a lot of places, where a lot of other Republicans aren't. But as--

PHILLIP: A Gridiron Washington dinner--

HEYE: Yes.

PHILLIP: --with the Washington Elites.

HEYE: Yes.

PHILLIP: I just want to--


PHILLIP: I want to see him do it on a stage in Iowa.

HEYE: And I hope that--

NELSON: Absolutely right.

HEYE: --I hope that happens too. But this is also part of a permission structure where other Republicans need permission. They shouldn't. But they need permission to go after Donald Trump.

And all of this, whether they criticize Trump's handling or not, at least gives them the ability to say, "There's too much drama, too much crisis. We need somebody focused, on beating Joe Biden. And Donald Trump just can't be focused on that because of all of his self-created drama."

POWERS: Well, what do you mean permission? I mean, who can give the permission to go after Trump? If you go after Trump?

HEYE: Voters.

POWERS: Trump comes after you. HEYE: Sure.

POWERS: Right. But that's the--

HEYE: But voters--

POWERS: But isn't that the point, the voters have kind of shown that when--

NELSON: Absolutely.

POWERS: --I mean, when DeSantis went after him, look what happened to DeSantis, right?

HEYE: Yes. But what I mean is Trump's numbers aren't where Biden's are, for instance.

NELSON: Yes. But he still owns the base, Doug.

HEYE: So, look at the conversation.

Biden's numbers are low, and people are like, "Oh, he's sort of vulnerable."

Trump's numbers are lower, and the thought is, "Well, Trump's a lock- in for this."

These candidates need more information, and more voters, who are willing to say, "We're willing to hear something other than just 'Trump did everything right,' because that's what he always says."

NELSON: I disagree. Trump owns a good one-third, if not more, of that base. And that is the problem.

Now, Pence, to your point, I used to be a Mike Pence fan, no more, because I feel like he should have been much more forthcoming. Dan Quayle shouldn't have had to say to him, "No, don't do this," on January 6. But I think he's trying to make that turn. And it'll be interesting, because he really has nothing to lose, by being critical, right? So, it'll be interesting to see if he does that.

We know Christie's going to go after Trump. So, it'll be interesting to see if that permission comes. But it ain't going to come from the base, because they love the guy.

PHILLIP: As it relates to the documents, well, here's one of the reasons this might be more difficult, for Mike Pence. There's such a divide here, between what Republican voters think, about the documents case.

This is a Quinnipiac poll asking, do they think that taking classified documents was intentional?

71 percent of Republicans say it was intentional that Biden did it. 48 percent say it was intentional that Trump did it. When you look at the rest, the total American population, 48 percent

think it was intentional that Biden did it. 69 percent think it was intentional that Trump did it.

It's just such a cavern, but a cavernous divide, between the Republican primary voter, and the average American electorate that that will be needed to dealt with -- be dealt with, in about a year from now.

POWERS: Yes. But the point is, the only focus is what, a small slice of that group thinks, because they have to get out of the primary. And so, everything is going to be geared towards that.

And that's where I think that most of the candidates are not going to go after Trump. Like you said, Chris Christie probably will, and he's willing to take what -- the blowback that comes towards him. But the other ones don't really want to be on the receiving end of that.

And the other thing is, I just, I mean, I'm with Sophia. I don't think that it makes a difference. I think they're with Trump.

PHILLIP: All right.

HEYE: Most of them are. But you're not going to get this nomination by going around Donald Trump. You got to take it to him.

NELSON: No, I agree. Absolutely.

PHILLIP: And that's--

NELSON: You're right.

PHILLIP: --that's the Chris Christie argument of it all.

Everyone, standby for us.

Speaking of the primary, one of America's most influential evangelicals thinks that Trump should drop out of the presidential race. He is here to explain why. Which Republican does he think should lead the way in 2024?

Plus, we are nearing the end of potentially the great action star. What Arnold Schwarzenegger said about Bruce Willis that is sparking a big debate.




TRUMP: There's no way I can lose Iowa. Let's see what happens. I don't think so. We'd have to -- we'd have to do some really bad things, to lose, at this point.

Overall, nationwide, in Iowa, no matter where I go, it's the best polls, because they love the four years that we had.


PHILLIP: Fresh off of his campaign swing, in the Hawkeye State, it appears that former President Trump remains incredibly confident about his support there, so much so that he is expected to skip Senator Joni Ernst's annual Roast and Ride event on Saturday.

It is an important stop, for presidential hopefuls, who often ride motorcycles, they flip pork, they meet with hundreds of potential caucusgoers, in a very small state, mind you.

And eight GOP candidates will be there, in attendance, this weekend, including Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, and former Vice President, Mike Pence, who is also set to announce his candidacy, next week.

And all of them, no doubt, will be looking to make inroads with the critical voting bloc, evangelical voters. They have typically been very faithful, to Donald Trump. But the question is, can they make the case yet again?

Joining me now is Bob Vander Plaats, a top evangelical leader, in Iowa, and the CEO of The Family Leader. He's also a prominent Christian conservative, there, and he runs that group.

So Bob, thank you for having us.

First of all, the last couple of days have been very significant, in this race, with Ron DeSantis, and Donald Trump, really finally going head-to-head, basically for the first time. What did you make of that and the tone that this campaign has taken?

BOB VANDER PLAATS, CEO, THE FAMILY LEADER: Well, Abby, first of all, thanks for having me on.

But we always take a look at how do the front-runners come out of the gate.

So, this is the first time, where Donald Trump's really making a pitch, to Iowa. He's doing small events, not big rallies. The last big rally he had planned, he canceled. Some say was due to the weather, others say was due to the crowd size, just not being there for him. But he canceled that.

And then, Ron DeSantis has come, and made a few different stops, in the State of Iowa as well. And I'd sum up this week has been an excellent week for Ron DeSantis. The crowds were large. The enthusiasm was there.


And I think you sense in Iowa, a willingness, to turn the page, and primarily on not because of what President Trump has done, as President, in those four years. But today's 2024. It's not 2016. They want somebody who can win. They want a new generational leader that has a vision for the future, just not to complaint about the past.

PHILLIP: Do you -- so are you saying that you don't think that Trump can win in 2024?

VANDER PLAATS: I think Iowa is wide open. I mean, in regards to the caucus. And in the general election, that is the former President's highest hurdle, is can he win against Joe Biden, or Kamala Harris, or Michelle Obama, or whoever put -- the Democrats put up?

PHILLIP: Well, do you think he can?

VANDER PLAATS: Because we believe too much of America has made up their mind.

I believe it's going to be very difficult. I think too much of America has made up their mind on the former President. And again, it's not because of all the good things, he did, in his administration. It's really a lot of the peripheral things, more about his style than his substance.

And that's why I think Iowans and Americans are saying, "Hey, we're willing to take a look at this field." Whether it'd be Ron DeSantis, or Mike Pence, or Nikki Haley, or Vivek Ramaswamy, or Asa Hutchinson, or Tim Scott, they're willing to size up this field, to see who's, the best one, to carry the torch, in 2024.

PHILLIP: So, here are the numbers.

The Des Moines Register poll, from early March, says 58 percent of evangelical voters have a favorable view of Donald Trump.

And then beyond that, a CNN poll, just more broadly, in the race, puts Trump at 53 percent to DeSantis' 26 percent.

So, if you're Ron DeSantis, for example, the next closest competitor, what does he have to do, to win over evangelical voters, in this race?

VANDER PLAATS: I think he needs to do what he's doing. And that is highlight his record of accomplishment, as Governor of Florida.

And believe me, the national polls, we've seen those national polls before. In 2008, it would have been Rudolph Giuliani. In 2012, it would have been Rick Perry. In 2016, it would have been Scott Walker, or Jeb Bush. None of those made it. So, it's not the national polls.

But Iowa becomes crucial. And I think if Ron DeSantis, or one of those other candidates emerges, and they're able, they upend the former President? I think it's game on to the nomination. If the former President is able to steamroll Iowa, I don't know if you're going to be able to beat it.

PHILLIP: Can I talk to you about abortion here? Is it a problem that neither Donald Trump nor Ron DeSantis have endorsed a national abortion ban?

VANDER PLAATS: I believe what the pro-life community wants to see is clarity on this issue, not nuance.

I think Ron DeSantis, by signing the Heartbeat bill, in Florida, offers a lot of clarity in him saying, he will champion a culture of life, which basically is saying is that "If you bring me pro-life legislation, to my desk, most likely I'm going to sign it."

PHILLIP: So, you don't need to hear them say--

VANDER PLAATS: The President -- the former President though he's been--

PHILLIP: You don't need to hear him say, "I am for a national abortion ban?"

VANDER PLAATS: Well, right now, we're in a different world, after the defeat of Roe v. Wade, or the overturn of Roe v. Wade. And it's turned back to the states, and the elected representatives. So, there's a lot of us wrestling with that issues.

But I do believe the federal government definitely has a role, on limiting, say, the Governor Newsoms, and the other Blue state governors, who want to have abortion on-demand, which is completely out of step, with this country. That's why I think Lindsey Graham, and his Pain-Capable proposal is a very viable proposal. So, we'll see how that works out.

But what the Pro-Life community is not interested in Abby, is nuanced, "Let's make a deal. We're not sure what we're going to land," blaming pro-lifers for the midterm losses, versus the midterm wins. We want a presidential candidate that offers clarity on the sanctity of new life.


VANDER PLAATS: And I think we have several in this field that will do that.

PHILLIP: What you're -- what you're describing there, the "Let's Make a Deal" language, he -- former President Trump used that language in the CNN Town Hall. Is that what you're referring to there?

VANDER PLAATS: It is. I watched Kaitlan Collins. And I saw the President's answer. And I thought it was very nuanced.

We're thrilled that he gave us the three Supreme Court justices that overturned Roe v. Wade.

But also, we have a cause for pause, when he throws the pro-life community under the bus, for the midterm election results, and then saying that the Heartbeat bill was too harsh, which we happen to have in Iowa. South Carolina happens to have it, and many other early states happen to have it. And then saying, "We're willing to make a deal."

I don't think the pro-life community wants to hear that. We don't want it nuanced. We want clarity. PHILLIP: All right, Bob Vander Plaats, thank you very much, for joining us, tonight.

VANDER PLAATS: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And a programming reminder, for you, at home.

This Sunday, Nikki Haley will join CNN, for a Presidential Town Hall, live, from Iowa, at 8 PM Eastern Time.


And former Vice President, Mike Pence, will also be in Iowa, next Wednesday, for a Town Hall of his own. You can catch that at 9 PM Eastern Time, right here, on CNN.

And coming up next, YouTube is making some waves, tonight, announcing that it will allow election lies, back onto its platform.

Plus, another Ukrainian tennis star refusing to shake her opponent's hand, after a French Open match. Hear why, and see what happened next.


PHILLIP: It's about to get a lot harder, to discern fact from fiction, on YouTube, especially when it comes to U.S. elections.

The video giant says that it has reversed its policy, on removing content that features false claims, about the 2020 election, and other past presidential elections. It is a remarkable change, given how many people, including major party leaders, like former President, Donald Trump, who continue to push election lies.

YouTube says that over the last two years, it has taken down tens of thousands of videos, related to misinformation.


And it's defending its new policy by saying this. "In the current environment, we find that while removing this content does curb some misinformation, it could also have the unintended effect of curtailing political speech without meaningfully reducing the risk of violence or other real-world harm."

I want to bring in Sara Fischer of Axios. She -- or bring her back in. She broke this story today, major, major story, in the lead up to 2024.

In some ways, I'm sympathetic to what YouTube is saying there, because I don't think this really is even the tip of the iceberg, in terms of misinformation. But it seems to be geared, pretty directly, at the fact that Donald Trump is running again, and he's going to be repeating these lies, over and over again.

FISCHER: Yes. And I think it's also not just Donald Trump. But it's a lot of elected officials. I think YouTube thinks that this is part of the 2024 Republican

platform. And so, what the concern is, is if you don't allow that kind of speech, you're essentially not going to be allowing a pretty big plethora, of the Republican Party, from uploading video, and speech, to the platform.

Now, the challenge the pushback would be, "Look, this is really harmful misinformation. Don't you want to protect your community?"

And what YouTube is essentially saying with the update today is that, "Yes, we want to protect our community. But we don't believe now in this political climate, two years after the 2020 election, that this is going to cause real-world harm," meaning they don't think that allowing this type of content is going to incite violence, and riots, and all that.

PHILLIP: I mean, it already did.

POWERS: I mean, give me a minute (ph).

PHILLIP: I mean, it literally -- it literally--

POWERS: But, I mean, really, and I--

PHILLIP: --it already did.

POWERS: Yes. Like why wouldn't it? It did, right, like it demonstrably did.

NELSON: Right.

POWERS: We all watched it happen.

NELSON: But those were--

HEYE: About six blocks from here.

NELSON: --Supreme Court just did, right?


NELSON: The Supreme Court upheld that unless there's this, you got to prove this intentions, malice, that you were trying to collude with them to do something, otherwise, the content is not on you, if it's false, or if it's bad, right?


NELSON: So, that's a problem.

FISCHER: So, the Supreme Court did absolve tech platforms of responsibility--


FISCHER: --in terms of third-party content being uploaded. But that was in response to a terrorism case.

NELSON: Understood.

FISCHER: In response to what you're saying, about the real-world violence, et cetera, like, the way I would think about it is this.

If they do see that there is going to be a problem with violence, I think YouTube is leaving enough flexibility that they'll revert back. And I've seen them do it a million times. When it comes to political ad policies, they put them up, they extend them. They pull them back.

But you're right. This could be a huge mea culpa.

NELSON: But they kept -- yes.

FISCHER: If there is some sort of huge riot, then the first platform that's going to move, which is YouTube, is the one that we're going to look at and say, "What did we do here?"

POWERS: Yes. But they can't put the genie back in the bottle.


POWERS: Once it's out, it's out there. And so, if the problem is that, "Oh, people aren't going to be able to upload things that Republicans are saying," maybe Republicans should stop saying it, right? Is that not the solution to the problem?

So, I think that -- look, I support free speech, and I don't think we want to silence political speech. But this company does have responsibility. And that's not a violation of free speech to say, "We're not going to allow you to upload information that is demonstrably false."

HEYE: Yes. My concern isn't these are just -- aren't just lies. These are conspiracy theories.

And when you get riddled with conspiracy theories, we see two things that happen very quickly, anti-Semitism in some form, and violence, and those things usually combined. And that's where there are going to be some serious, potentially, some serious unintended consequences here.

NELSON: Back to her point, though, I hope that the Supreme Court will look at this, again, outside of the context of terrorism.

And I agree with you. That was a very narrow window. But I think it's going to come up again, and again, what's the responsibility of Facebook, YouTube, Google, et cetera, with information? And I think they have one.

FISCHER: Well, I think with the direction that we're moving, as a country, is that we need to hold these platforms accountable, for the way that they amplify information. And I think this is where there's going to be nuance. So, in the past, like with the 2020 election, and then January 6, the

platforms weren't thinking as much about "OK, if misinformation, or conspiracies, are on our platform, what do we do to make sure that no one sees them?"

I think now, we have a lot more at stake, in terms of algorithmic transparency. And that's the type of thing that Congress is actually taking a look at. That's the type of thing that if it were ever to go back to the Supreme Court, I think, it would be taking a look at. But saying you can't put it on our platform at all?


FISCHER: That's where I think the platform's feel stuck.

HEYE: And Twitter has been dealing with that just this week. But I just heard, in the previous interview, we want -- "We don't want nuance. We want clarity." And I think that's where a lot of voters are right now with this as well.


PHILLIP: Well, look, I mean, you bring up a point, about Twitter.

But I mean, look at these stats. I mean, only 26 percent of Americans get their news from YouTube. That's a quarter of Americans. It's a sizable chunk. But they're not the only player, maybe not even the biggest player. TikTok is getting up there.

And we were -- as you were talking about algorithmic transparency, YouTube is getting a lot of heat, thanks to your scoop. But what about all these other platforms? How are they going to deal with election lies?

FISCHER: YouTube is never the first-mover. Meta is the first-mover. In all of my coverage, Meta typically rolls out things first. So, I was surprised to see this from YouTube. But what I think is going to happen is they are going to be the ones that are going to set the tone for the rest of the tech platforms.


So, if YouTube is coming out? Remember it was Meta that first let Trump back on the platform. YouTube did it, and followed. So, if YouTube's going to come out, I think that the rest of the tech platforms might follow.

One clarification about TikTok, though. There's a difference. TikTok intentionally wants to avoid politics. They don't accept political advertising. That is not Google and Facebook and Meta. Meta owns Facebook.


FISCHER: They accept political ads. It's part of their platform, et cetera. PHILLIP: Yes, very interesting, Sara, great scoop.

And Sophia, Sara, Kirsten, and Doug, thank you all very much.

Coming up next, some touching words from one legendary action hero, to another; Arnold Schwarzenegger's sweet tribute to ailing actor, Bruce Willis. They are two of the biggest stars of their generation. And it got many of us wondering, has the era of the big action hero come to an end? We'll talk about it next.


PHILLIP: Tensions stemming from Russia's war on Ukraine, casting another shadow, over the French Open, tonight. For the second time, in the tournament, a Ukrainian player refused to shake hands, with her Russian or Belarusian opponent, after their match.

CNN's Kylie Atwood has the latest.


KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, after Elina Svitolina, that Ukrainian tennis player, beat her Russian opponent, Anna Blinkova, in the third round, of the French Open, she chose not to shake hands, with her Russian opponent. Of course, this happens as Russia's invasion of Ukraine rages on.

And here's how Svitolina described her decision, not to go to the middle of the court, to shake hands, with her counterpart.


ELINA SVITOLINA, UKRAINIAN TENNIS PLAYER: I am standing for my country. I am doing everything possible, in the way to support, to give a good spirit, for the men, for the women, who are right now in the front line support, fighting for our land, for our country.


ATWOOD: Now, this was not an isolated incident. Just in recent days, there was another Ukrainian tennis player, who refused to shake hands, at the end of her match, with a Belarusian opponent.

And Svitolina said that Ukrainian tennis players, like herself, from Odessa, they want to see the Russian players, speak out, against the war.

But we have heard from some of the Belarusian and Russian players, who have said that they oppose the war, but they don't think it would be very valuable for them to be speaking out against it. They have said that the war, the results of what is happening, right now, are not in their hands.

We should also note that coming this weekend, Svitolina is going to face another Russian opponent, in the fourth round of the Open.


PHILLIP: All right, Kylie Atwood, thank you for that.

And, on another story, Hollywood may be coming to the end of an era, the age of the action hero.

Earlier this week, actor and former California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger talked to reporters, about his friendship, with fellow action star, Bruce Willis, calling him a huge star, who will be remembered as a great man.

Bruce Willis, you remember, has stepped away, from acting, because of his health. He was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia. It's a brain disorder.

And according to Schwarzenegger, well, action heroes, they don't retire. They just reload. And he would know.

But another action icon may prove him right. Harrison Ford is starring in a new Indiana Jones movie that's set to release in a few weeks. The 80-year-old says that this next chapter will be the last time that he puts on Indy's hat.

And that all got us thinking about the other action heroes that many of us grew up with, whether the action stars -- and whether the action stars of the 21st Century, are measuring up to the stars of the 80s and the 90s.

So, is the age of the action hero over? Are the stars of today's Marvel movies and DC Comic films, stepping up to the challenge?

Well, joining me now to discuss this is Media Analyst, Paul Dergarabedian.

Thank you so much, Paul, for joining us.

This is such an interesting -- first of all, it's great to see actors saying nice things, about each other, and recognizing their accomplishments.


PHILLIP: The days of those big box office stars are really kind of the golden age of the action hero. Then you have the Tom Cruises and the Will Smiths of the world. When you look at the field now, I mean, are you seeing actors today, who have the kind of success, on opening night, as some of these names?

DERGARABEDIAN: Yes, that's a great question. And I think this whole idea of are there any more action heroes left? Or maybe it's just different.

Because if you think about Stallone and Willis and Schwarzenegger, they're on the Mount Rushmore of action heroes, and will forever be. And I think where they built their reputation was on the big screen, and movie theaters, before social media. Think about that. Like, it was people around the world seeing them, on the big screen, bigger than life.

And Bruce Willis, we just got to give it up for Bruce Willis. Not only is he an amazing action star, he'd be at great range as an actor. If you think about "The Sixth Sense," where he played Dr. Malcolm Crowe, or Butch Coolidge, in "Pulp Fiction," and of course, John McClane, 1988 huge hit, coming after he was such a huge star, on TV and "Moonlighting," that really put him on the map.

But it's a different era now. We certainly do have action heroes today. But like you said, many of them are part of ensemble cast, in Marvel movies, or Fast X, or other films like that. But it's a different era now. That doesn't mean we still can't have them. It's just a different time--


DERGARABEDIAN: --and place.

PHILLIP: I'm glad you gave a--


PHILLIP: Yes. I'm glad you give a shout-out to acting, because I mean, I think that just kind of gets overlooked sometimes, in all, the focus on the--


PHILLIP: --on the "Action" part of it.

DERGARABEDIAN: That's right.

PHILLIP: I remembered seeing Steven Spielberg, as we were coming out of the COVID pandemic, talking about Tom Cruise, and "Top Gun," and saying that he basically saved Hollywood's ass. I guess I could say that on a Friday night.

Some of this is about the movie industry too. I mean, you mentioned social media, but there's also streaming. I mean, people's habits are changing.

DERGARABEDIAN: Yes, they are changing. But what we've seen, over the past year, in our comScore numbers, and throughout the pandemic is that people want to go to the movie theater.


And we're up some 30 percent over the box office year-to-date over last year. We're going to have about 32 or 33 more wide release films, in 2023, than we did in 2022. So, the movie theater has its place. It's irreplaceable.

And if you go see "John Wick: Chapter 4," for instance, with Keanu Reeves, or if you look back to "No Time To Die," Ana de Armas, she can be the next big action hero. She really made her mark, in that movie. Everyone remembers her performance. She wasn't in there that long, but a great performance.


DERGARABEDIAN: But certainly, audiences love seeing movies, like "John Wick," on your -- on the screen, right now, in a theater. There's just nothing like it. It's very visceral.

And I just love that Schwarzenegger really gave the love to his buddy, Bruce Willis.


DERGARABEDIAN: Again, they have that bond of being the classic action heroes, along with Stallone.



PHILLIP: And when you come back, Paul, we'll talk about the women.


PHILLIP: And the women action star.


PHILLIP: There's a lot to talk about there. But you gave Ana de Armas a good shout-out there too.


PHILLIP: Paul Dergarabedian, thank you so much for joining us, tonight.

DERGARABEDIAN: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And thank you for joining us. I'm Abby Phillip.

"WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?" is coming up next, right here on CNN.