Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Most GOP Voters See Trump As Strongest Against Biden; Ex-Marine Freed In Swap Is Injured Fighting In Ukraine; Backlash Over Skills Learned In Slavery, Holocaust; Abby Phillip Looks Into The Treatment of U.S. Migrants And Texas Border Policies; The Sports World Reacts To Bronny James' Cardiac Arrest; Hunter Biden's Legal Team Denies Lying To Court Officials. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 25, 2023 - 22:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Ledecky finished with a final time of 15 minutes, 26.27 seconds. She beat the second swimmer, who was behind her by more than 17 seconds.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just really enjoying swimming right now, and especially my distance events have just been feeling great. I feel like I'm getting better each time I swim them. And that's what you love to see. You love to see improvement, and that's been my biggest goal over the last couple of years.


COLLINS: And we love to see it as well. Congrats to Katie Ledecky, and thank you so much for joining me tonight. CNN Primetime starts with Abby Phillip right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: She's so amazing, and it's such a full circle moment to see her tying Michael Phelps, someone who she idolized for a long time. Kaitlan, thank you so much.

COLLINS: Yes, epic moment.

PHILLIP: And good evening, everyone. I'm Abby Phillips. Thank you for joining me tonight.

He is a twice impeached, twice indicted, and now he is facing more charges. Yet the most Republican voters now still think that Donald Trump is the party's best chance to beat President Biden.

So, here are some of the takeaways from a brand new poll from Monmouth. Trump is still far ahead of his rivals. While it's early, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the rest of the field, they're essentially flat. They've been unable to gain any traction in this race.

But here are the most interesting parts of all of these new numbers. Nearly 70 percent of Republican voters believe that Trump is the strongest candidate to beat Biden, and nearly 70 percent aren't concerned at all that the criminal indictments that he faces make him a weaker candidate.

So, it's perhaps no surprise that since many of Trump's rivals spent the last few years building him up, the those numbers aren't likely to change. And they also aren't likely to make Senator Mitt Romney happy. He's doubling down tonight on his calls for lower tier candidates to get out of the race.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): I think Donald Trump is likely to be the Republican nominee, but I'm confident he will assuredly be the Republican nominee if it doesn't become a two-person race.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you concerned there's been no alternative to Trump that has materialized yet?

ROMNEY: Well, you know, the DeSantis campaign has had a hard time and is now downsizing. And I don't know that that's going to catch fire, but I saw Tim Scott's numbers are going up and Chris Christie's going up. And there's plenty of opportunity.


PHILLIP: And joining me now is CNN's Melanie Zanona and Republican Strategist Shernichael Singleton.

Melanie, the red lights are really blinking, it seems for Republicans. They're starting to get worried because Trump's numbers aren't budging and it's indictment after indictment after indictment, but voters in the Republican Party still think he is the strongest candidate to go up against Biden.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, that's absolutely right. And I think by DeSantis' campaign own admission, they have struggled with the message, right? He has focused a lot on what he has done in Florida, focused a lot on his fights with Disney, as opposed to a more national message, which could better resonate with the base. He's also struggled with how he's going to take on Trump or how strongly he's going to take on Trump. That's something he is still wrestling with.

Now, his campaign is promising a reboot and a new campaign, not totally uncommon to see those sorts of resets, especially in the summertime around this time. But in the meantime, Trump has really used these indictments to rally his base of support and has only strengthened his standings in the polls.

Now, that might hurt him in the general election, but at least in the primary, it seems to be helping him.

PHILLIP: I mean, he's laid off now a third of his campaign struggling to conserve money, but also really, I think, fundamentally struggling to capture the imagination of voters. All of that other stuff is really window dressing to the fundamental problem, which is that DeSantis doesn't seem to be grabbing people who really are looking for an alternative.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL STRATEGIST: I mean, look, Abby, he's not an inspiring candidate. He entered the race at the end of May. I've worked on three Republican presidential campaigns. The fact that he has fired a third of his staff, he's almost out of money. What, about two months, in month two, I believe, that really is unprecedented. I mean, you usually don't start to see these types of drastic changes to personnel until after the primary has started in terms of votes being cast. So, that's concerning.

Number one, I mean, this guy is expected to potentially become the nominee, and yet he can't appoint the proper individuals to properly manage his campaign. This isn't awe inspiring. If you're a donor and you've given significant amount of money to this DeSantis campaign, you're looking for someone else. If you're a bundler who's going to those wealthy individuals to try to make the case for why he is the better alternative to Donald Trump, you're not able to make that salient point thus far.

And, two, DeSantis has spoken too much about this anti-woke agenda and less about the economy, less about immigration, less about those kitchen table issues that most Republicans want to hear from a Republican candidate.

PHILLIP: So, Melanie, you've got some interesting reporting tonight on what seems like a different topic, but, to me, they're related. This is Kevin McCarthy on Capitol Hill now saying he is considering opening an impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

To me, that sounds like Republicans hitting the emergency button as inflation goes down.


The unemployment rate is down. Border crossings are also down. They are moving to hit the gas on these investigations.

ZANONA: Yes. These comments from Speaker Kevin McCarthy were not an accident. I can tell you from my reporting with my colleague, Manu Raju and Annie Grayer, that in recent weeks, Kevin McCarthy has been hearing from influential Republicans both on and off Capitol Hill that he should be prioritizing a Joe Biden impeachment, especially over an impeachment of a cabinet member.

For example, Republicans have been all over the map, really, with their calls for impeachment, calling for impeaching everyone, from Merrick Garland to Alejandro Mayorkas. But there is a realization starting to set in among Republicans that they're probably only going to have both the time and the political capital to do one impeachment. And if that's the case, that they might as well go after the big guy, as one Republican referred to former president -- to the president, Joe Biden.

SINGLETON: Look, Abby, I understand why they're doing this, and it's in part because of the Republican base, and they want some type of targeting of a Democrat the way they believe Donald Trump was targeted twice. But Mel and I were discussing this before we came on the show, and there should be some concern about potentially galvanizing Democrats in 2024. Joe Biden could use a bit of a boost, if you will.

I think it would also appear to be overpoliticization from Republicans by those swing voters that they're going to need, the Republican nominee, that is, in states like Arizona, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia. And so I think they have to be very, very careful with the calculus here because it could backfire.

PHILLIP: All right, Shermichael Singleton, Melanie Zenona, thank you both very much.

And an unexpected twist night in the story of Trevor Reed. You might recall, he is the U.S. Marine veteran who's at the center of a prisoner swap with Russia last year. Reed had spent three years wrongfully detained by Russia there. Well, we're now learning that he's been injured fighting in Ukraine.

Now, it's not clear how long he's been there or where exactly he was injured, but we're being told that he is now being treated at a U.S. military hospital in Germany. And the Biden administration has been quick to emphasize that Reed was not acting on behalf of the United States government.


VEDANT PATEL, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY SPOKESPERSON: Since the beginning of this war. We have warned that U.S. citizens who travel to Ukraine, especially with the purpose of participating in fighting there, that they face significant risks, including the risk of capture or death or physical harm as well.

And so I want to be explicitly clear about something. Mr. Reed was not engaged in any activities on behalf of the U.S. government.


PHILLIP: And joining me now is the former Trump State Department spokesperson, Morgan Ortagus. Morgan, thanks for joining us.

Look, this Trevor Reed situation is so strange and so unusual. You hear there -- I mean, you've been in that position, basically. You hear there the sensitivity the Biden administration has to distancing itself from what happened here. Why do you think that is?

MORGAN ORTAGUS, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: Well, there's a few things that are going on behind the scenes for the spokesperson. First of all, anytime it comes to cases of U.S. persons, the State Department has to be incredibly careful with the language and what they say because they can't run afoul of laws and regulations related to that person's privacy.

And so that often can be incredibly frustrating for the American people, whenever you want to hear answers to a particular story or when reporters ask the State Department spokesperson X, Y, Z, there's often privacy issues behind. So, that explains some of it.

Also, listen, it doesn't matter what Americans were doing to get themselves into a troubling situation. We don't leave Americans behind. So, we always looked at cases at the State Department, and I've served in multiple administrations, in Barack Obama's administration, I was his attache, treasury attache in Saudi Arabia. And so when you're in these embassies, when you're in the State Department, it doesn't matter the administration, Abby, or what the individual did, we don't leave Americans behind. So, I'm confident that they are trying to do everything they can in this situation to get him the care he needs.

Listen, he was held captive for three years. So, it makes sense maybe that he wants to fight back to the Russians after what they did to him in that prison cell. But the State Department is always going to say, hey, listen, please don't get yourself entangled in wars overseas.

PHILLIP: I mean, do you think that this will have an impact, I mean, on some of the other Americans who are still detained in Russia? The State Department is involved in some very sensitive negotiations around those other individuals, including the Wall Street Journal reporter, Evan Gershkovich. Do you think this will have an impact on that?

ORTAGUS: Well, unfortunately, what is happening with those cases, and The Wall Street Journal case is one of the most high profile and one of the worst right now. Unfortunately, Putin likes to use these Americans as bargaining chips.


So, he is going to -- it wasn't a surprise to me at all that he took this reporter. Unfortunately, he's going to use it to try and get concessions out of the Biden administration because he's a thug, he's an autocrat and that's what they do in these situations. They have no qualms about wrongfully detaining Americans, wrongfully detaining journalists in order to use them as a bargaining chip.

And this is where I think the administration needs to be really careful. Because whenever you want to do everything you can to get Americans home, especially innocent journalists, but when you allow Putin to get really bad guys, like tough criminals, out of American prisons to do prisoner swaps, that could, in fact, in the long-term, actually endanger more Americans because they incentivize that behavior.

It's one of the reasons why we've never paid terrorist groups to get Americans home, why we won't pay the ransom, because we don't want to incentivize this behavior of terrorist groups and we certainly shouldn't incentivize Putin to continue in this behavior.

PHILLIP: I want to ask you about a different topic over in China. It's been very interesting to see the Chinese foreign minister. He has been missing for about a month now. They have scrubbed all evidence of his appearance from official documents. It's almost as if he was never there. What do you make of that? ORTAGUS: Bizarre, totally bizarre. I'm so glad you're covering this story, Abby. I have been following it. Many people worked on China have been following it. It's very interesting because we have seen the foreign minister, who was reportedly very close to Xi Jinping. He was sort of his mentor, brought him up politically, and now you see him being scrubbed essentially from the internet. I was watching that happen. Reporters were showing that today in China. And they will just try to wipe this guy off the map like he never existed, and he was the foreign minister.

So, what does this show us, especially whenever you see Putin and Prigozhin, when you see Prigozhin in this weird coup attempt or whatever it was, it shows that Putin and Xi Jinping, these autocrat regimes, they appear very thuggish, very strong, very intimidating. But underneath it all, there is a deep insecurity that has to lie in these leaders to engage in this type of behavior, Abby. I see a lot of insecurity in their regimes.

Remember, it wasn't long ago, it was just a couple of months ago that Putin and Xi Jinping stood before the world. And what did Xi Jinping say? And I'm paraphrasing this, Abby. He said that there was a no limits partnership between himself and Putin. And he said that the world was going to see a change in the world order that it had not seen in 100 years.

So, instead of that actually happening, you see these weird attempts by Prigozhin in Russia. You see the foreign minister now just being wiped off like he never existed in China. And so I'm not so sure that Xi Jinping is going to get this change in the world order that he expected. Certainly, we know that there are cracks in both of their regimes tonight.

PHILLIP: Yes. And in addition to Prigozhin, as you mentioned, there are some missing generals in Russia, too. Morgan Ortagus, thank you very much for joining us tonight.

ORTAGUS: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: And coming up next, slavery and the Holocaust now being used for political points recently. Next, a Holocaust survivor will join me live to respond to a Fox News host's comments that the White House is calling obscene.

Plus, as the situation on the border gets more intense, migrants tell CNN that rocks are being thrown at them, and the Biden administration loses a big battle in the courts.

Also, Bob Costas joins me on LeBron James'son suffering cardiac arrest on the court, while Elon Musk tries to use this tragedy to push more conspiracies.



PHILLIP: From slavery to the Holocaust, some of the history's most atrocious and horrific events are being used for political points in today's society. The most recent conversation was sparked by Florida's new black history curriculum that suggested, among other things, that slavery benefited the enslaved and taught them skills. Today, the White House is now condemning a Fox News segment, in which a host said this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obviously, I'm not black, but I'm Jewish. Would someone say about the Holocaust, for instance, that there were some benefits for Jews, right, while they were hanging out in concentration camps, you learned a strong work ethic, right? Maybe you learned a new skill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever read Man's Search for Meaning? Vic Frankel talks about how you had to survive in a concentration camp by having skills. You had to be useful. Utility, utility kept you alive.


PHILLIP: In a statement, the White House said in part, quote, what Fox News allowed to be said on air yesterday has so far failed to condemn is an obscenity. The Auschwitz Museum also condemned Gutfeld's comments as a, quote, over simplification of the genocide.

And joining me now is Holocaust Survivor Michael Bornstein and his daughter Debbie Bornstein Hollenstadt. They are authors of the book, Survivors Club. Michael and Debbie, thank you both for joining me.

Michael, as a Holocaust survivor, what do you think about what you just heard being said there in that clip from Fox News?

MICHAEL BORNSTEIN, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: Well, I'm disgusted, basically. My father was an accountant, and he had basically negotiating skills. He and my brother were gassed in Auschwitz. My mother knew how to pack, learned how to pack bullets, bullets that killed Jewish people. There were over 6 million people killed in the Holocaust. Over a million people killed in Auschwitz. And there is no silver lining to killing 6 million people or talking about slaves and the benefits of slaves and learning and what they were doing.

PHILLIP: And, Debbie, you know, what your father is talking about there is survival, not personal benefit. When you hear these things being compared, whether it's slavery or the Holocaust, what goes through your mind?

DEBBIE BORNSTEIN, DAUGHTER OF HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: The reason my dad wrote Survivors Club because he did not want to initially sit down and talk about his past.


He never really wanted to talk about his past. And then 70 years after his liberation, he and I were looking for that video. There's this famous video of my father when he was liberated from Auschwitz. And we knew we could Google it and find it. And we were looking one day we clicked on a site. It took us to a Holocaust denier's website online.

And that it captioned -- these captioned my video of my dad at liberation, pretty healthy children for a, quote, death camp, and wrote that. More people were writing in that Jews -- these shows Jews lied about children being killed on arrival Auschwitz.

There's all kinds of garbage on the internet. That's no surprise to anybody that there are conspiracy theorists, right, on the Internet. And so it fueled my dad to get out there and start talking and writing. But it didn't shock us. What's shocking is when a guy in a blazer who is the host at a major news network gets on the air and spews that same kind of garbage that minimizes the murder of 6 million people. That is what is really shocking and really, really dangerous and upsetting.

M. BORNSTEIN: The Fox News host should apologize. Fox News Network should apologize. There's absolutely no room for fake news like that.

D. BORNSTEIN: And false equivalences.


PHILLIP: Speaking of exactly that, I mean, we are in, it seems, this big national conversation about how we talk about history. And as survivors of the Holocaust know and their families, the mantra is never forget, never forget, so that it can never happen again.

As you think about, Michael, how we talk about history in this country, are you at all concerned that there's a desire to sort of paint the rosiest picture of our history in order to make people feel more comfortable?

M. BORNSTEIN: I think people are looking for notoriety, whatever it takes to get the audience to listen to the news, whether it's fake news or whatever is necessary, and I think it has to stop.

As I said, Fox News should apologize. The host should apologize. And there's no room for this fake news on television.

D. BORNSTEIN: What my dad said was exactly know. I think it is about notoriety, whether it is politicians looking for notoriety in Florida or hosts on T.V. looking for notoriety, right, when they say outlandish things.

The problem is that, just as you said, painting that rosy picture, it's incredibly dangerous. The more we water down history, the point of teaching history, history professors will tell you, the point of teaching history is so that we don't repeat it, right? If we don't learn from history, it's bound to repeat.

So, if you take that away and you water down history, what do you get? We get a repeat. We get a repeat of the bigotry and the hatred. And it's just really upsetting. It's just really, really upsetting.

PHILLIP: Michael Bornstein and Debbie Bornstein, thank you both very much. We're lucky to have you all preserving your story and this history as well. Thank you.

M. BORNSTEIN: Thanks for inviting us, Abby.

PHILLIP: And as migrants accuse the United States of throwing rocks at them, some fear a new surge that the Biden administration is now facing, and also in the courts losing a legal battle.

Plus, Elon Musk uses the scary collapse of LeBron James's son to push anti-vaccine conspiracies. Bob Costas joins me ahead.



PHILLIP: The situation on the border tonight growing more intense. A group of migrants from Venezuela telling CNN that members of the Texas National Guard threw rocks at them as they tried to cross the Rio Grande River.

Now, this is the latest allegation of harsh treatment at the border as Texas refuses the Justice Department's demand to remove the floating barrier wall made of buoys and razor wire.

And speaking of the Biden administration, a big loss for them today in court, a federal judge blocking the president's asylum policy. The measure was put in place with the expiration of Title 42, and it considers migrants ineligible for asylum if they passed through another country and they didn't apply online.

Now, the administration argues that these rules led to a 42 percent decrease in crossings in June and it has vowed to fight that ruling.

Joining me now to discuss this is former acting Homeland Security Secretary under former President Trump Chad Wolf. He's also the America First Institute's executive director. Chad, thanks for joining us.

So, the administration now is facing a legal setback that you would be pretty familiar with, because, actually, this judge struck down a very similar policy under the Trump administration. It strikes me that I'm sure you have plenty of critiques of the Biden administration for whatever they are doing, but in a system of checks and balances, they can't go beyond what the courts want them to do.

So, what would you have them do if the courts keep saying, you can't do this?

CHAD WOLF, FORMER DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY ACTING DIRECTOR: Yes. So, this is an unfortunate ruling. As you indicated, this judge also struck down a number of Trump asylum regulations as well.

I think it's important to remember that asylum is a discretionary form of relief, and Congress gave the executive branch, in this case, the Biden administration, the ability to set requirements on asylum. And, unfortunately, what this judge has done in the past and continues today with this ruling, is inserting his opinion over that of Congress in many cases is siding, it sounds like, with the cartels and others who want to see the status quo remain as is.

Now, the Biden administration, as you indicated, I have real concerns with their rule. But they should have the ability to set the requirements of asylum.

And this judge is intervening time and time again and not allowing the executive branch to do their job. They should appeal it very strongly and take it as high as they can, because I think this sets a very dangerous precedent.


PHILLIP: At the end of the day, doesn't this suggest strongly that really, at fault here is Congress for not making it clear what the law is and how it should be applied at the border?

WOLF: Well, Congress is not going to be able to set the full range of asylum. They can give some broad outlines and strokes which they have done in law, in statute, but it's always up to the executive branch and in this case DHS, Department of Justice and others to set out a regulation on how we do that through asylum. The problem here is with the courts. The court is, again, inserting and legislating from that bench. And it really shouldn't be doing that. It shouldn't have been doing that during the Trump administration. It shouldn't be doing that during the Biden administration.

PHILLIP: So, there's talk on Capitol Hill about impeaching the Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. The administration is also saying now that border crossings are down. And the numbers do show that they are down about two years now since February of 2021 when the Biden administration took office. They say that that's a sign that their policies are working. Are they not?

WOLF: I would disagree with that. I think if you look at just border patrol numbers, the numbers are down. Unfortunately, what the administration is doing is pushing all of these individuals to ports of entry using parole, using the CBP One app and others. And so, while border patrol numbers are down, the numbers at ports of entry for illegal entry is up over a thousand percent.

PHILLIP: But isn't --

WOLF: And so, the surge is not diminishing any, it's just moving to different parts of the border.

PHILLIP: I guess -- well, I do want to ask you about that because I mean, it's a process that they are putting into place to know who these immigrants are who are seeking asylum or seeking some other form of relief. They're asking them to go through a process, they're following that process, what's wrong with that?

WOLF: But the CVP One app doesn't even actually ask you any asylum questions. It just allows you to be paroled into the country, much like the 30,000 that they do on a monthly basis from four different countries. Again, and a lot of these parole systems and policies that have been put in place have actually been struck down by lower courts. So, I think the Biden administration from a legality standpoint, I know that's what folks on the Hill are concerned about as well. I think they've got a real issue with how they're using parole categorically across the board. And I think that's going to come back in Biden.

PHILLIP: Well, to your point about the asylum system, there is discretion here. Why can't the Biden administration use discretion to ease the issue of border crossings between ports of entry so that at the very least, the United States government has a sense of who is seeking some kind of relief? Why can't they do that?

WOLF: Well, they've actually tried to do this. This is the rule that, unfortunately, was struck down.

PHILLIP: I know. But why do you have a problem with that, is what I'm asking.

WOLF: Well, I have a problem with the rule itself. I think the rule is fundamentally flawed. Too many exemptions. I don't think it's effective. But I will argue that the Biden administration should have the ability to set forth the requirements of asylum. And this judge, again, as we saw during the Trump administration, is inserting his own opinion on what he believes asylum should be and therefore taking it out of Congress and out of the executive branch. That should not occur.

PHILLIP: I want to ask you about what we were talking about at the beginning of the segment, which is what's happening in the state of Texas in particular. There is this floating barrier that the state has put in. It's lined with razor wire. It's floating in the Rio Grande where a lot of migrants are crossing. It's causing serious injuries. In some cases, people who own property in that area are complaining about it, as well. Do you think that Governor Abbott should or has even the legal right to have that kind of barrier in those waters?

WOLF: Look, I think Governor Abbott's having to take a number of measures. The maritime buoys are just one because the federal government's not doing its job.

PHILLIP: But is it legal? I mean, you would know because you worked at DHS.

WOLF: Yeah, I think the ability for him to take certain measures, whether it's in the desert or along that river, is absolutely illegal. Now, what the Biden administration should do to say it should be working with the governor to try to address the current situation. The fact that they are going to court to sue the governor right out of the shoot on this, I think is very problematic because what it's saying is we're not interested in protecting American communities. We're more concerned about aliens and illegal aliens coming than we are about Americans and Texans that Governor Abbott cares about. I think that's concerning.

PHILLIP: Look, I think there's definitely a valid concern. You talk about the federal issue. There are valid concerns there. But there are humanitarian standards. This is the United States of America. WOLF: Sure.

PHILLIP: And I think there are some legitimate questions about whether those razor wire barriers are causing serious injuries. There are also those allegations that we mentioned as well about troopers allegedly throwing rocks at migrants.


There were other reports that were made official in writing of troopers pushing people back into the water or not offering them water. Those are real humanitarian concerns. Are you concerned about those things?

WOLF: Look, anything like that should be investigated and we should look into it. We've used razor wire along the -- Constantino wire along the border for years and decades.

PHILLIP: Sure, but I think the question is in water where people -- I think the issue is in water where people, including some children, are crossing. That's the question.

WOLF: But again, if you go back and you're the Biden administration and you're pushing people to ports of entry, that's where the focus should be and stop incentivizing folks and individuals to come across that border illegally. I think what Texas is trying to do here is saying, you're crossing in the Rio Grande in this case illegally. You need to stop making the illegal entry into the United States. And the Biden administration agrees with this, which is why they're doing parole, which is why they're doing with the CBP One app and everything else to try to push these individuals to ports of entry.

And so, I think, again, the Biden administration needs to work with the governor and not sue the governor to stop this type of behavior.

PHILLIP: Yeah, one last thing before you go. Former President Trump recently said that if he was elected, he would restart the zero- tolerance policy, which led to a lot of family separations. You were in DHS when that policy was in place. Do you think that he should do that?

WOLF: Well, I'm going to let President Trump speak for himself. What I can say is there's a number of effective measures that we put in place over those four years. I think that if we went back to those measures, and a lot of them were in place at the end of the Trump administration, you wouldn't see the historic crisis that we have today.

PHILLIP: But does that include zero tolerance?

WOLF: No, I think, but you do need to hold people accountable. You need to hold people accountable across the board for crossing illegally. And there's a number of different ways that we found after that program was in place, which was back in 2018. So, we put effective policies in place in 2019 and 2020 that had the lowest number of apprehensions along that border. I would go back to those policies.

PHILLIP: Yeah, so what I heard you say is no, he should not do that, but do other things.

WOLF: Again, I'm going to let President Trump speak for himself.

PHILLIP: All right, Chad Wolf, thank you very much for joining us on all of that.

WOLF: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And coming up next for us, the latest on the LeBron James, his son who just suffered cardiac arrest on the basketball court. Bob Costas is here to discuss all of that. Plus, are Harvard's legacy admissions policies a form of discrimination? Laura Coates is with me ahead.




PHILLIP: The sports world reacting tonight to the sudden collapse of LeBron James' son, Bronny, the star freshman who just turned 18 years old, suffering cardiac arrest during a workout at USC. Now, his family says that he is stable tonight and no longer in the ICU. Joining me now to discuss this is CNN Contributor and broadcasting legend Bob Costas. Bob, this is incredibly frightening and also incredibly rare. What do you think this compares to in terms of other athletes, young ones of this age who have collapsed while at practice or in games?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, every situation is different. We think back to Hank Gathers, who began his collegiate career at USC, ironically, but then wound up with Loyola Marimount, and he was destined for NBA stardom. He collapsed in a game about two months before a second collapse led to his death on the court. Then you had Reggie Lewis of the Celtics in the midst of a fine NBA career, who collapsed and died during an off-season practice and he was only 27. Hank Gathers was 23. But as it turns out, both had pre-existing conditions that contributed to it. We don't know yet what the case is with Bronny.

And even though it's fresh in people's minds, Damar Hamlin's situation in the football game between the Bills and the Bengals several months ago was an entirely different thing. That's Commotio Cordis, which is caused by a collision, some kind of contact to the chest at the exact wrong millisecond, and it disrupts the heart's electrical cycle. So, these are entirely different situations.

But earlier tonight, I heard Dr. Reinhardt, and certainly his expertise exceeds mine thousands of times over, tell Anderson Cooper that it's probably not a good idea for somebody, if they have a pre- existing condition like this, that would predispose them to these sorts of episodes to play basketball at the NBA level with all of its physical demands. Now, that's speculation, but it's speculation that comes from a very credible source.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and we don't know exactly what the cause is or it was pre-existing or perhaps something that might have been caused by what he was doing in the practice. But to that point, I mean, there was another USC player who just last year suffered cardiac arrest during a practice. He went on to play in the following season 14 games. But I wonder, when you hear LeBron James say he wants to stay in the NBA to play with his son --


PHILLIP: Do you think reasonably that they might have to re-evaluate whether or not the professional level of basketball play is something that is in Bronny's future?

COSTAS: Well, they might, but I'm in no position to offer that advice one way or the other, and neither is anyone else until the dust settles here and we get a better handle on exactly what Bronny's circumstances are. When LeBron James came out of high school, not college, right into the NBA, he was a sure fire star player. Bronny James, only a couple of years ago, was not anything near that. Now, out of the top 100 college prospects, in terms of their NBA prospects, he's ranked around 20th right know prior to what happened today. So, he has a very good chance or had a very good chance prior to this episode, we'll see what happens subsequently, to play in the NBA.


This was his freshman year at USC. It's not uncommon for players if they think they have NBA potential to come out after their freshman year. LeBron is in the final year of his contract with the Lakers. There's an option at his discretion for another year with the Lakers. But if he wanted to, if Bronny was able to play, then LeBron could be free to hook up with him and we've seen in the NBA this kind of maneuvers where players kind of make their own.

It's almost like choosing up sides in the schoolyard. So, if Bronny and LeBron want to play together, it can probably happen somewhere, if not Los Angeles, somewhere else in the NBA, provided Bronny is able to play. And that's just guesswork right now.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean it would have to happen relatively soon. Look, Bob, I want to ask you about one other thing. Just shortly after this announcement about Bronny, Elon Musk also weighed in on this collapse and he was pushing some anti-vaccine conspiracies. He says, we can't ascribe everything to the vaccine, but by the same token, we can't ascribe nothing. He says myocarditis is a known side effect. The only question is whether it's rare or common. What do you make of that?

COSTAS: Well, again, I don't have enough expertise to say that's flatly wrong or that there's something to it. However, we do know that generally speaking, there are people who are inclined toward believing that the vaccine is some sort of devil's potion and ascribing everybody who has a health episode subsequent to vaccination, ascribing all of that to vaccines just in the sports world. The great Hank Aaron died about two weeks shy of his 87th birthday,

and he had other medical conditions. He had been vaccinated. And I remember all the talk from certain precincts. Well, if he hadn't been vaccinated, he'd still be with us.

You know, we live in a world now where anything you don't want to be true doesn't have to be true with a mountain of evidence and a choir of angels attesting to it. And anything you do want to be true, well, you don't need all that much evidence. Or you can say, I did my own research, which often means, not always, but often means you discounted everything that didn't match what you wanted to believe in the first place until you found something, supported it and there it is. That's the world we live in and that certainly has an effect on those inclined toward conspiracy theories.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean the reality is we don't know and neither does Elon Musk, so, hopefully people just give the doctors a chance to figure this out and also Bronny a chance to get better soon. Bob Costas, thank you very much as always.

COSTAS: Right. Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: The children of the rich and the powerful and the alumni of Harvard -- do they really deserve an advantage when they're applying to college? Laura Coates joins me next on the investigation that is now underway.




PHILLIP: Are legacy admissions a form of discrimination? That's the question that is under federal investigation tonight. Harvard's preferential treatment to children of the wealthy and of donors and alumni are at the center of a new civil rights lawsuit that argues that students of color are at a disadvantage. Now, this comes just weeks after the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions.

I want to bring in CNN's Chief Legal Analyst, Laura Coates. So, Laura, this lawsuit alleges that the students who receive this kind of preferential treatment are overwhelmingly white. They make up as much as 15 percent of Harvard's admitted students. And that's actually almost the same percentage of African-American students that Harvard admits. Are you surprised that it's even taken this long for us to get to this point?

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I'm not. But in the fact that legacy admissions has been under the microscope for quite some time for a variety of reasons, mostly for the reasons you state, that there is a disproportionate amount of students who will benefit from legacy admissions who do not fall in the traditional racial minority groups. And so, many believe this to be a kind of a proxy for discrimination, as an advantage given to those who have had parents who have attended the university or otherwise, or grandparents and beyond.

And it can trace back just maybe one generation to know how our society has been with discrimination. And so, this came up, of course, in consideration of the latest Supreme Court rulings about why it was that race-based or race-conscious admissions was under the gun, but not legacy, which had perhaps an even more greater impact on what was happening in admissions.

PHILLIP: Yeah. I mean, look, I think the counterargument that some folks would make is that the courts have a different level of scrutiny that gets applied to issues of race. You can make that argument, but there was actually a study just yesterday that found that children in the top 1 percent, their household income, top 1 percent, they're twice as likely to get into these elite schools as children, especially in the middle of the income distribution. Do you think that the courts should be as sensitive to that socioeconomic issue as they have been to this idea that affirmative action in the case of some of the conservative justices needs to be rolled back?

COATES: Well, clearly there is a correlation in America between race and socioeconomic status and also about the admissions process and beyond. But I think to your earlier point and then to the latter, in the first instance, it is part of what the Supreme Court has looked at in terms of figuring out whether you can have a so-called backdoor way of violating what are suspect classifications, meaning race or gender or religion and beyond. They really are about whether the court will look at a very narrow test to figure out under strict scrutiny is what you're trying to accomplish. Is the government's purpose in trying to use any of these suspect classifications, is it narrowly tied to a compelling state interest?


And so, they looked at that in instances like this, but because legacy admissions really can be a corollary to conversations around race to economic status and beyond, the court would actually be in its jurisdiction to look at these things if it relates to that. Now, of course, this is the next horizon, as you know, Abby, in terms of what the court will look to, the court was quite decisive this final time around.

But whether it is still work in progress is anyone's guess, given the fact that race-based admissions had been really the ring to actually achieve on this particular legal carousel. We're talking about legacy admissions. It has been treated very differently because it does not have a direct notion about race and perhaps a more tangential one. But nonetheless, they are cousins.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, as you pointed out, it could be basically operating as a back door. I mean, some people have said legacy admissions basically functions as affirmative action for wealthy white people who are, in many cases, donors of these elite schools. Laura Coates, thank you so much, as always, for joining us tonight.

COATES: Nice to see you, even if you are a Harvard girl.

PHILLIP: That's true, full disclosure.

COATES: Go, Princeton, there you go.

PHILLIP: Thank you, Laura.


PHILLIP: And just in, some drama just hours before Hunter Biden's plea hearing tomorrow. As a judge now accuses his lawyers of lying. We'll have that next.


PHILLIP: And new tonight, Hunter Biden's legal team is denying that they lied to court officials in order to get materials from a senior Republican lawmaker removed from the public docket. The lawmakers called it an unfortunate miscommunication -- the lawyers, I should say. Their defense comes in response to the district judge who threatened them with sanctions and accused one of their staff of lying to court officials and misrepresenting who she worked for.

Now, this, of course, comes just hours before Hunter Biden is expected to appear in court and to plead guilty to two tax misdemeanors and a judge felony charge. And thank you for joining me. Sara Sidner is up now. Sara, how are you doing tonight?

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, I'm good. Happy to see you. And you know, just trying to have a good show. Yours was great.

PHILLIP: Yeah, have a great show.

SIDNER: All right.