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Supreme Court Limits LGBTQ Protections In New Ruling; Biden: Supreme Court "Misinterpreted The Constitution" After Blocking Student Loan Plan; Trump On Legal Troubles: "I Did Nothing Wrong... They Got Me On Nothing." Aired 9-10p ET
Aired June 30, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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The news continues. "CNN PRIMETIME" with Kaitlan Collins, starts now.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Kaitlan Collins.
A seismic shift is being felt, across the nation, again tonight, with the drop of two more crucial opinions, on the final day, of the Supreme Court's term, as a reshaped court continues to reshape American life. How Americans live, pay their debts, and even get into college, three monumental decisions in a row.
Today, it was on student loans, and gay rights, on the heels of yesterday's affirmative action ruling.
President Biden has said that he is angry, and disappointed, after the Supreme Court blocked his student loan forgiveness plan. And he is accusing the court, tonight, of misinterpreting the Constitution.
The President is also blaming Republicans, when he was asked if he gave borrowers false hope.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I didn't give any false hope.
What I did, I thought was appropriate and was able to be done and would get done. I didn't give borrowers false hope. But the Republicans snatched away the hope that it was -- they were given.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Biden himself once cast doubt, on how much authority he had to take, when it came to Executive action, on student debt.
And today, the Chief Justice, John Roberts, wrote that the 6-3 majority opinion, and agreed essentially with what Biden said, in 2021, that this was overreach.
Today, the court also ruled in favor of a Christian web designer, who refused to create websites, to celebrate same-sex weddings, because of her religious objections. It was a blow to LGBTQ protections that could have further ramifications.
My first guest tonight was the lead plaintiff, in the 2015 Supreme Court case that legalized same-sex marriage. Joining us now is Jim Obergefell.
Jim, thank you so much, for being here, tonight.
You were at the center, just one of those consequential decisions that we have ever seen, from the Supreme Court. I wonder what went through your mind, today, when you heard this ruling.
JIM OBERGEFELL, LEAD PLAINTIFF IN OBERGEFELL V. HODGES, CIVIL RIGHTS ACTIVIST: Well, thank you for having me on, Kaitlan.
And when I learned what the Supreme Court did today, I was disgusted. This is an incredible overreach, I believe, and a misinterpretation of religious freedom.
This is giving businesses, businesses, open to the public, the constitutional right, to refuse service, to an entire community of people. That isn't religious freedom. That is using religion as a weapon.
That is not the intent, of religious freedom, in this country. Not everyone believes the same thing. And yet here, people are allowed to take their interpretation, of their particular belief, and use it against others.
And I always thought most religions believed in the Golden Rule. But clearly, I was wrong.
And this decision is simply wrong. And it bodes ill for the LGBTQ-plus community, going forward.
COLLINS: The attorney, for the website designer, was on CNN, earlier, talking about this decision. She said that this isn't about gay marriage, specifically.
This is what she told my colleague, Boris Sanchez.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTEN WAGGONER, ATTORNEY FOR WEB DESIGNER OPPOSED TO SAME-SEX MARRIAGE: It's not about gay marriage, specifically. It's about whether the government can force an American to say something that they don't believe.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: So, what are the other issues that she refuses to design websites about, or the other messages that she refuses to endorse on her website?
WAGGONER: Well, think of all the different websites that a website designer would be asked to create, websites that might denigrate people, websites that would express different political views that she disagrees with, websites that would promote atheism, or some other particular viewpoint that contradicts her faith.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: What's your response to that?
OBERGEFELL: Well, I would love to know when this web designer will say, and post the 10 Commandments. I always thought the 10 Commandments were the big top 10 In the Christian faith. Being gay is not one of those, nor is being in a same-sex marriage, one of those top 10 Commandments.
And I would love to hear from this web designer, when she will refuse to design a website, for someone, who has committed adultery, or any one of those other 10 Commandments.
This is clearly about hatred, towards the LGBTQ-plus community. And the fact that it's coming out that she did not truly have this client, and there are questions, about the legitimacy of this quoted client, makes me even angrier that this case went to the Supreme Court.
And those -- well, those six justices, who are supposed to believe in equal justice under law, who are supposed to understand that one person's religion cannot be used as a weapon against another person? They -- I'm angry.
And I refuse to believe that this was not about same-sex marriage or the queer community, in general. This web designer, in my opinion, doesn't like the queer community, and wanted to make a point and wants to be sure that she can say "No, I don't like you. I don't want to serve you, even though I own a business that's open to the public."
COLLINS: I can tell this feels really personal for you.
OBERGEFELL: It does. Marriage is one of the most important things, any two people can do, in their lifetime, committing to that one person that they love, the person, they will care for, the person that they promise to love, honor and protect.
And even with the Obergefell decision, back in 2015, we have not enjoyed marriage equality, because of people like this, who think they have the right, to use their religion, as a weapon. They think they have the constitutional right, which they do now, to say "We don't like you. So, we refuse to do business with you."
That is not what this country is supposed to be about. Equal justice under law, we, the people, a more perfect union. This decision today certainly has not helped this country, take a step toward, a more perfect union. It has taken us backwards in time, just like many of the decisions, coming from this extreme right-wing court.
COLLINS: Jim, does this ruling, make you feel that other LGBTQ rights, when speaking legally, are more vulnerable than they were, before this ruling?
OBERGEFELL: I absolutely believe any rights, the LGBTQ-plus community enjoy, in this country, are at risk.
We have this court now, saying that one person's religious beliefs, or their interpretation of their particular religious book, trumps everything else. Opponents of LGBTQ-plus equality, they are going to use this, in every way that they can, to continue coming after the queer community.
And I will go back to my point earlier. I always was taught and thought that religion believed in the Golden Rule, treat others the way you wish to believe, or the way you wish to be treated. Well, this certainly is not living up to the Golden Rule. This is using religion as a weapon. It's using religion as a tool of hate.
So yes, I am very worried about the LGBTQ-plus community, and our rights, and our ability, to live our life, in this nation.
COLLINS: How far-reaching, do you think the implications could be? Because what Justice Sotomayor wrote, in the dissent, for this, she essentially suggested that this could lead to other kinds of discrimination.
Is it clear to you how far-reaching the implications of this will be?
OBERGEFELL: It's tough for me to answer that to say it's clear. I am just terrified what this means, for our nation.
And I also really want to understand what will happen when a Christian goes to a business, and the owner of that business, asks them "Do you believe in same-sex marriage? Do you believe in anything else?" And if that Christian says, "Well, yes," that's -- or "No, I do not believe in that," and that business owner refuses to serve them, what will happen?
So, I don't know what this could lead to. All I know is it leads to nothing good, for anyone, in this nation. This decision turns its back, on what religious freedom is. People left the old world and escaped to the new world because they were being persecuted, for their religious beliefs. Well, now suddenly, here in 2023, the Supreme Court has made that constitutional. "You don't like gay people? Great. You have the constitutional right, to persecute them, because they are gay." Let's make no mistake. That's what this decision says and allows.
COLLINS: Jim Obergefell, thank you, for joining us, tonight, with your perspective on this, given, of course, just your familiarity, with these decisions, from the Supreme Court. We appreciate your time.
OBERGEFELL: Thanks, Kaitlan. Thanks for inviting me on.
That wasn't the only big decision that we heard, from the court, today. On the other big decision, the court's reach extends directly to the wallets, of some 44 million Americans.
And that has President Biden himself turning to Plan B, as he is trying to salvage one of his signature campaign promises, student loan forgiveness.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you overstep your authority?
BIDEN: I think the Court misinterpreted the Constitution.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: I'm joined now, tonight, by a key champion, of student loan forgiveness, on Capitol Hill, Democratic congressman, Ro Khanna, of California.
Congressman, thank you for joining us.
You heard President Biden. He says that he doesn't believe he gave voters, and borrowers, false hope. But did he? Because, he promised this, on the campaign trail. The White House knew, when they introduced this plan, it was likely going to face significant legal challenges.
REP. RO KHANNA (D-CA): Kaitlan, the blame here isn't with the President. It's with an extremist Supreme Court that is totally out of touch with the facts of modern-day American life.
I mean, this court is taking us backwards, backwards decades. They're taking us to a time, where people on colleges, campuses, were largely the wealthy, where people were largely White.
I mean, in two days, they have taken away diversity. They have taken away the relief, for people, who can't afford these astronomical fees. And as your previous guest has said, they're now taking away basic gay rights. I mean, the decision makes no sense. What if the baker had said, "I don't want to serve someone who's Indian," I mean?
I think we have a crisis of legitimacy of this court.
COLLINS: But when it's this decision, specifically, on student loans, critics, and what we've seen, conservatives, pointing to, all day, since this ruling came down, were comments made by President Biden, before he became President, and Nancy Pelosi themselves, when they said they believed the President lacked the authority, the legal authority, to forgive the student loan debt.
They made these comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): People think that the President of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not.
BIDEN: I don't think I have the authority to do it by signing the pen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Is that not what the Supreme Court was arguing today that it was a vast overreach?
KHANNA: Well, when you look at the actual statute, the HEROES Act, the HEROES Act was very, very clear. It said, under emergency conditions, the Secretary has the authority, the President, has the authority, to take these kinds of actions.
Now, if Congress had wanted to limit the HEROES Act, they could have. Congress didn't act. This is the Supreme Court engaging in activism.
I believe that the President may have been deliberating, whether it was good policy. But legal scholar after legal scholar has interpreted the HEROES Act as saying, "You had that authority."
I mean, the President -- we've forgiven other student loans. We've forgiven student loans for public forgiveness. We've forgiven student loans, when people have had bad universities. Why is it that in this case, they wouldn't have that authority?
COLLINS: Yes. And what you're referencing, of course, is tied to -- what happens when there's a national emergency.
But in the aftermath of this ruling, President Biden came out. He made clear he is going back at this, trying to get student loan forgiveness. But how confident are you that this next plan, Plan B, which we're not even totally sure, tonight, what it's going to look like, as they're coming up with this rule-making, how confident are you that it'll hold up, though?
KHANNA: Well, I'm confident. And I think we have to call out this court. I mean, you have justices, there, who misled the American people, who said that they were never going to overturn Roe versus Wade, that that was settled precedent. And they said that on national television, to Senator Feinstein, and to Chair, Grassley. And they lied.
And now, they're taking away the rights of not just women, but the rights of gay Americans. They're moving us backwards on racial equality. They're hurting students, and making our universities far less accessible. They're rolling back progress, for the last 30 years.
This is not President Biden's fault. This is a extremist Supreme Court. And we need to start calling out this court. And by the way, they've lied, during these confirmation hearings.
COLLINS: I understand you're frustrated with the court, overall. We certainly have heard that from many members of your party.
But on student loans, I mean, do you agree that Biden did not have the authority to grant this much student loan relief, with the way that the Administration put this plan into place?
KHANNA: I think he had the authority, under the HEROES Act. I believe the Supreme Court engaged in judicial activism, not textualism. Congress had given him the authority.
Congress has also given him the authority, under the Higher Education Act. And the President said today that he's going to invoke that to be able to forgive the loans. And I hope that they will forgive those loans, and also make sure that the pause continues. He has that authority, under the Higher Education Act.
And Justice Roberts, in his decision says nothing in this decision applies to the Higher Education Act. It only applies to the HEROES Act. So, the President is perfectly within his right, to go, under the Higher Education Act, even under this incorrect Supreme Court decision.
COLLINS: But isn't it Congress that really has the authority here to do this? Shouldn't it be Congress that is taking action?
KHANNA: It was Congress that took action. Congress passed the HEROES Act. Congress passed the Higher Education Act. In those acts, we explicitly gave the Secretary, the authority, under the Higher Education Act, to waive or cancel student loans. That was a congressional act.
If Congress has a problem, with the Higher Education Act, they could try to repeal it. If Congress had a problem with the broad power we gave, under the HEROES Act, they could try to repeal it.
But what this Court has done is assert the role of the Legislature. They've engaged in judicial activism. They're interpreting statutes in ways that Congress never intended. And I think it's important for people to understand how out of the mainstream this Court has become.
COLLINS: Congressman Ro Khanna, thank you, for your time, tonight. Thanks for joining us.
KHANNA: Thank you.
COLLINS: And, of course, questions, on this decision, about the major political fallout. Is it expected? Will angry Democrats be energized by what the Supreme Court decided? Or will progressives blame the President? We'll talk about that next.
COLLINS: Conservatives are celebrating this week's Supreme Court rulings as wins. But tonight, some top Republicans are also bracing, for voter backlash, especially when it comes to the student loan ruling.
Several Senate Republicans, who opposed President Biden's plans, have been working on bills that would lower the cost, of a college education, which could also allow Biden, to temporarily suspend loan payments, for certain low-income and middle-income borrowers.
Let's discuss now, the outcome of this, with Maria Cardona, CNN's Political Commentator, and a Democratic strategist; and Rina Shah, a Republican strategist, who are both joining me here, tonight.
I think, when we look at the decisions of the student loan ruling, today, it's clear like it was a final ruling. Some of the other rulings we got this week were open to interpretation.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Yes.
COLLINS: But, on this one, specifically, what do you predict the reaction is going to be, among Democratic voters?
CARDONA: Oh, Democratic voters are already letting their voices heard, especially the young people.
Kaitlan, what I have heard, from so many people, across the board, young voters, Latino voters, Black voters, they're saying that this is completely unfair, that this is something that is going to mobilize them, in the upcoming election.
This decision, if it had gone through, Kaitlan would have given 40 -- 43 million people, as you know, the ability to get rid of their student loans. 50 percent of Latino students would have been under that. 40 percent of Black students would have been under that.
In Black and Latino families, that would have been game-changer, not just for their families, but for their generation. That's the kind of thing that you look at this country, and you say, "This is the difference between me, and my family, and my kids being able to live the American Dream," or having to essentially live paycheck by paycheck for generations.
And so, that is the -- it's going to be a huge contrast, going into the 2024 elections. I can already see the ads being written. And I think it's something that Democrats are definitely going to be underscoring.
COLLINS: But it's not like Republicans were shying away from this. They were touting this, as a win, today. The question, though, I think, is we saw with Roe versus Wade, that was a similar reaction, but it actually ended up mobilizing a lot of voters, and hurting Republicans, in the midterm elections, potentially in 2024, I mean?
RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, this one's a bit different.
It is true Gen Z delivered the White House, for Joe Biden.
But what does this mean, for Republicans, when we talk about forgiving the loans, of over 40 million Americans that took out loans and should be paying them back willfully?
And the reality is this. There was a good thing, during the pandemic, for pausing, and then the case was made that these people shouldn't be compelled to pay them back, so quickly. I get that.
But what the court decided is that the Biden administration didn't have this power, this unilateral power, the Executive branch didn't have it.
So, what a lot of Republicans do say, moderates, like myself, is "Kick it to Congress. Let Congress craft a plan. Let Biden do that work with Congress," because Republicans are not set to lose out as hard, on this, as they did with Roe.
Because, you've got a lot of Americans, out there, who are not college-educated. And they see this as the elites, white-collar -- propping up white-collar Americans, for what they did, going to universities. So, you've got blue-collar folks, saying "This is my money, paying for white-collar folks, who are already earning money. Let them pay their loans back."
COLLINS: It's interesting, well, and I wonder what you think --
CARDONA: Yes, yes.
COLLINS: -- of Ritchie Torres, a Democrat from New York. He was talking about the Supreme Court, today, and these decisions, and he thinks it's actually going to backfire on Republicans.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): The excesses of the Supreme Court is going to backfire. The Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe versus Wade reduced what was supposed to be a red wave, in the 2022 election cycle, to nothing more than a red trickle. So not only is the Supreme Court's decision, bad law, it's also bad politics, and it's going to come back to haunt the Republican Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Is he right?
CARDONA: I absolutely think he is right, Kaitlan. Because, it's not just Gen Z. And there is a lot of young people. You know, the GOP is already in dire trouble, with younger voters. This is going to alienate them that much more.
But if you look at not just the student loans, but if you look at what happened, with the LGBTQ decision, what happened with affirmative action? You are taking huge swathes of Americans, what this Supreme Court did, with the support of Republicans, is saying to huge swaths of Americans, "You are second-class citizens. You all do not have the same freedoms as others. You all do not have the same rights as others." And they are taking it personally, as they should.
Because this is a country, where the idea, and the ideals, and the values of America, being able to reach the American Dream, being able to be valued, as someone, who is equal to somebody else, regardless of your skin color? That is now going away, in so many parts of our society. And we're going to make Republicans pay for it.
SHAH: I disagree. I don't see the court as having taken away the rights, of any Americans, by saying that the Biden administration was wrong, to overreach, with this plan. I simply think that they're kicking it, and saying that we're checking one branch.
So, in essence, what we see here is a larger problem that nobody is addressing, the cost of college. What does it mean, moving forward, for so many young people, coming from communities of color, to not be able to even afford, or not even think to apply, to certain universities? I'm not hearing that holistic conversation, anywhere, on either side.
But I don't see rights stripped away, by this court, with this decision, on the student loan forgiveness plan.
CARDONA: No. I agree that that's a conversation that absolutely should be had.
CARDONA: But this Congress is not going to go there, because you know, it is way too MAGA-oriented, to be able to do that.
SHAH: But Biden's got to do the work.
CARDONA: But here's the thing.
SHAH: Bring them together on this.
CARDONA: The hypocrisy, of that argument, Rina, in terms of Republicans not wanting to give this kind of student loan, the ability to forgive it, when you have people, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, taking PPP loans, at over $200,000?
SHAH: I get it. There's a lot of hypocrisy.
CARDONA: And no one has a problem with that? That is something that students are going to say, "What the hell is wrong? And we're going to go to the ballot box, and say what we believe."
COLLINS: And President Biden himself made that point, earlier today.
COLLINS: Thank you both, for joining me, on this Friday night.
SHAH: Thank you, Kaitlan.
CARDONA: Thank you.
COLLINS: As you heard Jim Obergefell, at the top of the hour, say, there was a really notable detail, that is part of today's Supreme Court case, not the student loans ruling, but the other one, on that Colorado web designer, who said that she had a First Amendment right, to refuse, to design wedding websites, for same-sex couples.
At the heart of the case, was a man, they said, who asked for this web designer, to make his wedding website. In the court filings, he's identified as "Stewart."
But CNN tracked down Stewart, who asked that his last name not be used, and he claims he never requested that the web designer make anything, for any wedding. He says he doesn't have a fiance, named Mike, and that he's already married, to a woman, and has been for 15 years.
Stewart, who I should note, used to work for CNN, is also a web designer, and said no one connected with the case, has ever reached out to him, until the other day. He was actually even unaware of his information being part of this, until he was contacted, by the media outlet, New Republic.
A lawyer, for the other side that this is all irrelevant to the case, and the ruling that happened today.
But it certainly is interesting. And for what it's worth, Stewart said he thinks the Supreme Court's decision, today, is disgraceful.
Of course, it is rare to hear Supreme Court justices argue, with one another, so openly, as we have, in recent days. The tension in this court is palpable.
We're going to be joined by someone, who knows the court better than anyone, and can take us behind-the-scenes, ahead.
COLLINS: This week, Supreme Court divisions spilled out, into the public view, in ways that we hardly ever see, or hear, or read.
Justices that are usually pretty buttoned up had pretty raw and emotional opinions, when it came to the big decisions that they were making. And it was clear that some of them disagreed, vehemently, with one another, on the ultimate outcome.
We want to go behind-the-scenes, tonight, the scenes at the High Court, with our CNN Senior Supreme Court Analyst, Joan Biskupic, who literally wrote the book, on the Supreme Court, and knows it better than anyone.
Joan, you are actually in the room, as a lot of these opinions and dissents were being read. What stood out to you about these last few days, and the interactions that we saw, between these justices, who come from very different ends, of the spectrum, here?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST, AUTHOR, "NINE BLACK ROBES": And you're exactly right, Kaitlan, that they're a buttoned-up group, and they try to keep it in check. But by the time we get to the last week, in June, they just can't anymore.
They have kind of a -- they operate under a fiction, of a fairly useful fiction, for a group of nine, that is appointed for life, and have to deal with each other, every day. And that fiction is "Everything's OK here."
But let's just use, for an example, the student loans case. Chief Justice, John Roberts, he won that one big. You've already talked about it. But in the -- at the end of his decision, he says, he admonishes critics, to say, we don't -- "We're not disparaging each other, in this case. We actually get along in any disagreement that we have, should not at all be interpreted in a way that would cast doubt, on the integrity of the court."
And Justice Kagan, who read part of her dissent, from the bench, had a bit of a "Get Real" attitude. Her dissent was dripping with ridicule, at many turns. And she said of the Chief, from the first page to the last, his opinion departs from judicial restraint.
But here was her bottom line. "The Court acts as though it is the arbiter of political and policy disputes, rather than of cases and controversies... The result here is that the Court substitutes itself for Congress and the Executive Branch in making national policy about student-loan forgiveness... With all" due "respect, I dissent."
But Kaitlan, I have to add, sometimes, the justices, even drop that reference, too, "With all due respect."
COLLINS: Which is so funny, because to regular people, who have interactions, that doesn't seem so offensive, or so out there. But for the Supreme Court justices, to drop that is actually pretty significant. And yesterday, Joan, as we were we were looking at the affirmative action ruling? And, of course, there was a major racial divide, on that one. But we were looking at the comments on it, the opinion and the dissent, from the two Black justices on the court, and they were talking about this.
What was it like to be in the room, as you were hearing that?
BISKUPIC: Well, first of all, Kaitlan, Justice Clarence Thomas, who's only the second Black, African American, African American male justice in history, has always been opposed, to any race-conscious remedies, but he's also not said much from the bench.
And when he started to reveal his concurring statement, he didn't -- he said, "I rarely do this." And he not only talked about the stigmatizing effect of racial remedies, and affirmative action.
He had some few choice words, for his colleague, Justice Jackson, who is the first woman, African American, on the court, and he referred to her as labeling all Blacks, as victims, "Trapped in a fundamentally racist society."
And she returned, not in the courtroom, Kaitlan. I have to say that Justice Sotomayor spoke for the liberal dissenters.
But here's what she said, on paper, what Justice Jackson said on paper. "The best that can be said" for "the majority's perspective is that it proceeds (ostrich-like) from the hope that preventing consideration of race will end racism... With let-them-eat-cake obliviousness, today, the majority pulls the ripcord and announces" that "'colorblindness for all' by legal fiat."
She just -- she had so many biting lines, toward the majority, that said, "We don't talk about race here." But both she and Justice Sotomayor, in their comments, on paper, and from the bench, said "Race still matters. And the Constitution itself would allow these kinds of programs, because the ideal of equal protection, under the law, necessarily requires the country to consider race."
COLLINS: Yes, "Let-them-eat-cake obliviousness" is one that sticks in the mind.
Joan Biskupic, as always, thank you, for being such a great Supreme Court watcher, for us.
BISKUPIC: Thank you, Kaitlan. Have a great evening.
COLLINS: Tonight, about 44 million of us are circling October 1, on our calendars, because that is when the first payments, for federal student loans, are going to be due, after today's Supreme Court ruling.
Millions of people, in the United States, have not made a student loan payment, since March of 2020, when they were frozen, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Catherine Rampell is here, to talk about the impact, for so many, who may have thought they were potentially done with student loans.
Catherine, I mean, I think, when people look at this, and if they have -- are in that category, of people, who haven't made a payment, in those three years, are they even ready for this, do you think?
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, WASHINGTON POST OPINION COLUMNIST: I think a lot of people are not.
Look, these payments were going to restart -- restart, I should say, in the fall, for at least some Americans, whether or not the Supreme Court ruled, as it did today.
However, there is a large contingent, some, millions of Americans, who thought they would never have to deal with this system, again, right? They thought that the entirety of their balance had been forgiven. And it turns out, it hasn't been.
And the Administration has done relatively little outreach, to date, to get in touch, with those people, to say, "Hey, how we told you that your debt was going to be wiped out? That may not happen."
And when I've talked with the Administration about that, why haven't they been in greater communication, with people, about the potential risks, of such a Supreme Court outcome? They've basically said some combination of they didn't want to get in the way of their own court case.
They didn't want to undermine the argument that the U.S. government, the Biden administration was making, to try to pursue student debt forgiveness. And also, they were worried about sending conflicting messages, to the general public, to borrowers.
But the end result is that there are a lot of people who, I think, are going to get hit with a surprise bill, because they haven't been following this quite as closely, as those of us, in the media, and in the administration, have been doing.
COLLINS: And so, when President Biden comes out, today, and he says, "I'm not done fighting for this," he's going to pursue these other routes, which he was calling an on-ramp, for payments, but also, trying to pursue, essentially, what's going to have to be a rulemaking process? And that, officials I spoke with earlier acknowledged, "Yes, this is going to take time?" What do people, who have to start paying in October take away from that?
Do they wait to see if something actually comes to fruition? Or do they just begin making their payments, on October 1?
RAMPELL: I think the message, to borrowers, should be do not count on a Plan B here.
It looks like the Administration is going to try to pursue some other regulatory means, for wiping out, or for at least reducing people's debt, beyond the kinds of expansion, of the income-driven repayment program, for example, that they have already put in place.
But if that had been the solution to this problem, that had the firmest legal footing, I think it would have been their Plan A. And so, it may very well work. I don't know. I'm not a lawyer. But it will at the very least take some time, to go through that regulatory process.
And if indeed, it does stand up in court? And presumably that will be challenged as well. And I think the message to borrowers should be, do not bet on your debt being forgiven. Assume you will have to make those payments in the fall, and budget accordingly.
RAMPELL: I do worry that there are a lot of Americans who, in anticipation of their debt being forgiven, may have already spent some of that money, as they were reasonably inclined to do, right? Buying a house, buying a, you know, paying for a car, et cetera. But they cannot assume that going forward.
COLLINS: Yes, major questions of what that looks like, and also the effect that it has on the economy.
Catherine Rampell, thank you, for joining us, tonight.
RAMPELL: Thank you.
COLLINS: In other legal news, Congressman George Santos, known for fabricating key parts of his life story, was in court, today, here's his court sketch, after pleading not guilty to multiple felonies. And there was something that he seemed particularly concerned with, inside that courtroom. We'll tell you what it was, next.
Plus, two co-defendants and two cheesesteaks to go. Donald Trump and his aide, Walt Nauta, were spotted together, in Philadelphia, as both are awaiting their next steps, in the classified documents case.
COLLINS: Former President Trump is on the campaign trail, today, with his co-defendant, and a potential witness.
Trump was seen, earlier, with his body man, and personal aide, Walt Nauta, at the famous Pat's King of Steaks, in Philadelphia, getting what it looked like to be two cheesesteaks to go.
Of course, Nauta, who you can see there, pictured to the former President's right, was also indicted, in the classified documents case, and has not yet been arraigned, because he hasn't gotten a Florida attorney. But he is expected to be arraigned, this coming week, after two delays.
[21:45:00] This all comes as CNN is also told that Trump's campaign advisor, Susie Wiles, was also, in Philadelphia, traveling with the former President, and Walt Nauta. She's the political aide, who, yesterday, CNN reported, was allegedly shown a classified map, by Trump, during a meeting, at his New Jersey Golf Club, in the fall of 2021.
That is one of two instances that is cited in the Special Counsel's indictment, of the former President, where he was talking, about classified information, to people, who did not have security clearances.
Earlier today, Trump talked about his legal issues, while addressing an influential group of Republican activists, Moms for Liberty.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: It turns out, with me, I did nothing wrong.
They got me on nothing. Got me nothing. And all of the things that they do have, it's like, the pundits are saying, "Wow, that's nothing."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: With me now is, CNN Political Commentator, Spectrum News Political Anchor, and the Host of "You Decide" podcast, Errol Louis.
Are all the political pundits saying, "Wow, that's nothing?" I don't think they are.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, HOST, "YOU DECIDE" PODCAST, POLITICAL ANCHOR, SPECTRUM NEWS: I think I'm a political pundit. And I would say it is not nothing. It is very much something. He's in a lot of legal trouble.
COLLINS: Yes, I mean, because we just learned, yesterday, that the grand jury that indicted him, in Miami, is actually still investigating the documents case. We don't know what it means, or if anyone else is going to be charged. But they're very much still looking into this.
LOUIS: That's right. They could either be looking for evidence, of new charges, in which case, you could see a superseding indictment, in which case, he'll be facing more charges. Or they could just be trying to button up the case, by getting more testimony, more evidence, more witnesses. And that's not good for Donald Trump either.
So, one way or another? He can say whatever he wants. He's free, as a defendant, to sort of say, "There's nothing to this. It's all political hoax," and so forth.
But the actions of this prosecutor do not suggest that they're done. It doesn't suggest that there's nothing there. And in fact, it suggests that he's going to have to really sort of coordinate this, with his campaign, because there may be some really bad news, coming for him, down the road.
COLLINS: And you're talking about how he can say whatever he wants. One thing he's not supposed to be saying is talking to the other witnesses, in this case, about the case itself.
And we saw that photo of Trump, and Walt Nauta, at, Pat's. But we also were told Susie Wiles is on the campaign trail. Margo Martin is another person who often travels with the former President. They are all witnesses in here.
And it just kind of underscores the complicated aspect of this case, that these are witnesses, who could be, in this trial, but are also working with him, still, on a daily basis, on his reelection efforts.
LOUIS: That's exactly right.
Now, from Trump's point of view, he's calling this election interference that they're going after, or they're sort of trying to put political or legal pressure, on his top political aides, for political reasons. That is something he's entitled to say, once again.
On the other hand, if they're in the room with him, when he's waving around a map, when he's allegedly exposing classified information to people, who are not entitled to see it, it turns them into witnesses.
And you don't get a pass, on a trip, to the grand jury, you don't get a pass, on possibly having to show up as a witness, if something wrong has happened, just because you happen to be working for a politician.
So, they'll have to work that out, at some point. But there's a chance where their legal interests may diverge, in which case he's going to need a new campaign manager.
COLLINS: Yes, well, and right now, we know he's paying the legal fees for Walt Nauta. So, we'll see what that looks like.
And also, Susie Wiles, and we talked about, she's the Political Action Representative, noted in the indictment that saw the map. He told her not to get too close, because it was classified information.
But speaking of another defendant, today, we saw George Santos, in court, making an appearance, here.
But I think, as he was pleading, not guilty, to the 13 counts, in that criminal fraud case, one thing that stood out was, as you could see, the court sketch here, with Santos there, front, his attorneys seem to be more concerned with the timing, of the next hearing, conflicting with when Congress is back in session, than the charges themselves.
LOUIS: Well, look, clearly his client must have told him, "We have a political schedule that I'm going to have to meet. And I can't be tied up with this, when I'm supposed to be showing up for votes, and otherwise, doing my job, in Washington."
And so, that plus the fact that Kaitlan, conveniently enough, if you've been given 80,000 documents, to look through, and the attorney is going to have to look at every single one of them, or at least know what's in them? It is going to take him some time. And so, probably, the best time to do that, and also have access to his client, as he goes through this arduous task, is while he's on his August break.
COLLINS: What did you make of that, that it was the 80,000 pages that they turned over to Santos' defense team?
LOUIS: Well, I'm guessing, just from the nature of the indictment that a lot of that is, bank records, right?
And so, if you get a bank statement? I don't know about yours. But mine can run like eight or 10 pages, because there's just a lot of transactions, of doing a lot of transactions on them. So that can really run up the page count.
I'm hoping that it's something like that for the sake of his poor attorney, who's got to make sense of all of this stuff.
COLLINS: Good luck to him.
Errol Louis, thank you, for joining us, tonight.
COLLINS: A former President, who lost his last election, spread false claims, about rigged voting systems, and created a nationwide movement, to overturn the results, has now just been barred, from holding office, for the next eight years.
No, we're not talking about Donald Trump. We'll tell you who, next.
COLLINS: A former President, who abused his power, spread misinformation, about his country's election system, and tried to launch an insurrection, is now barred, from running for re-election, for the next eight years.
I'm talking, tonight, about Brazil's former President, Jair Bolsonaro.
The country's highest Electoral Court formed a majority, today, to block their former leader, from running for office again, until 2030.
The tactics used between the Brazilian leader, and former President Trump, were very similar, including their shared claim of election fraud, due to rigged voting machines, when they both decidedly lost their elections.
Also today, on a Friday afternoon, before holiday weekend, with little notice, the State Department dropped its long-awaited report, on America's withdrawal, from Afghanistan, in the summer of 2021. The damning review lays the blame, at the both the feet of former President Trump, and President Biden, claiming that both administrations are at fault, for the chaotic drawdown. The report found, and I'm quoting now, "There was insufficient senior-level consideration of worst-case scenarios and how quickly those might follow."
The White House's frenzy withdrawal garnered intense scrutiny, from the right, while Democrats, including some, inside the White House, have pointed the finger instead, at former President Trump, and the deal that was brokered by his administration, with the Taliban, that they say initially set the drawdown in motion.
Of course, tonight, during that operation, 13 U.S. troops, and more than 150 Afghans died, in a suicide bombing. We're thinking of their families, tonight.
Thank you so much, for joining us.
"WHO'S TALKING TO CHRIS WALLACE?" with special guests, Cory Booker, and Harrison Ford, is right after this quick break.