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Trump Has Ten Days To Surrender; Meadows Trying To Move Fulton County Case To Federal Court; Trump Charged With 13 Counts In Georgia Election Probe; Abby Phillip Looks Into Trump's Fourth Indictment. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired August 15, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: And thank you so much for joining us tonight. CNN Primetime with Abby Phillip starts right now.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Hey, Kaitlan, thank you so much. And good evening, everyone, I'm Abby Phillip. Welcome to CNN Primetime.
The clock is now ticking. Donald Trump and 18 co-defendants have just ten days now to turn themselves in after being indicted in Georgia on serious criminal charges.
The former president is accused now of being the head of a criminal enterprise to overturn Joe Biden's victory in that state. And tonight, a local sheriff says that he's expected to be booked at a Fulton County jail.
So, what is going on right now in Trump's world with just ten days to go until surrender? We also have news on Mark Meadows making a last ditch attempt to get the case against him in Georgia dismissed. We'll dig into all of that tonight.
Plus, the 45th president of the United States now faces a stunning 91 criminal charges across four separate cases and it will be tied up in multiple courtrooms throughout this presidential cycle, all while he's running for this second term.
So, what should the GOP do if their frontrunner has been now indicted four times over? We will talk to New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, one of the former president's most vocal critics in the Republican Party.
And it was one of the most defining images of the civil rights movement, a 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford, one of the Little Rock Nine, making her way through an angry mob as they integrated with that whites only high school. And now, 66 years later, there is a new battle over black history in the state of Arkansas. We'll talk to a Little Rock school board member tonight about all of that.
But let's begin now with Trump and the world scrambling with just ten days to surrender to the Georgia authorities. Here with me now is CNN Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel, former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, former Federal Prosecutor Elliot Williams and former Trump Attorney Tim Parlatore.
Tim, I want to start with you. You have a special insight into this, of course. We're learning tonight about what could happen in the next ten days or so, a surrender to Fulton County officials. The sheriff says he's going to have to go to a county jail, basically.
What do you expect to happen if you're his attorneys? Is it something you get over with or you wait until the last second here?
TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I think that they're probably going to want to wait until the last second just because what we've seen consistently throughout these cases is the game of inches of trying to delay it out a little bit more. And so if they have ten days and you surrender on the first day, if you're trying to drag the case out past the election, why not take the extra ten days? If it wasn't a case where you had an election, I would take my client in today, but that's a different calculus.
PHILLIP: Yes. And, of course, between today and the very last possible day, which is next Friday, there's a presidential debate.
But another topic just today on the legal front, we have Mark Meadows. He is indicted in Georgia. And now, his attorneys have now filed a motion to have this case remanded to a federal court. What do you make of that legal move, and do you think it will be successful?
PARLATORE: I do. I was expecting this kind of from the beginning that I think Donald Trump and Mark Meadows will both file removals to have it taken to federal court. If you look at the attempt to move the Alvin Bragg case to federal court and you read the decision by Judge Hellerstein there, he lays out the standard. And when you read it, you realize Alvin Bragg's case needs to stay in the state court.
But Fani Willis' case actually does belong in federal court because it really does deal with these two federal officials related to things that they were doing while in office. I mean, he's physically in the Oval Office as he's doing this stuff. So, I expect that that will be successful.
Now, that doesn't remove Fani Willis from the case. It's still the same prosecutor, still the same defendant, same defense attorney, same indictment, just different building, different judge, different jury pool.
PHILLIP: What do you make of that, Andrew?
ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I think former President Trump, Mark Meadows and also Jeffrey Clark could be crazy not to make that motion. I think they probably have a good chance of succeeding, but not a guaranteed shot at succeeding, particularly the former president.
I mean, he has to -- under Supreme Court precedent, he has to be able to show not only that he was an officer of the court but that he has a colorable federal defense.
I think there's some question as to whether or not the defense, if he predicates that on a claim of federal immunity, I think it's questionable as to whether or not federal immunity would cover his actions as described in this indictment. He clearly was not acting under any federal authority and was likely far beyond the scope of his duties as president in meddling with the election in Georgia.
So, it's not a guaranteed win for him, but they'll absolutely make the motion and they could succeed.
PHILLIP: Yes. And perhaps maybe the more surprising thing is that Meadows was the first person to do it and not Trump's attorneys.
Tim, just broadly speaking, the charges that he's facing here in Georgia, putting aside the issue of which venue it is tried in, if you're his attorney, which you're not anymore, for many reasons, but what would you say to mount this defense of this former president?
PARLATORE: This case, more so than some of the others, I think when I read through the indictment, I saw a lot of potential legal attacks before you even get to the merits.
The use of the RICO statute in this instance is unique. And I think know they're going to have some problems, especially if they get it over to federal court because RICO has an element of continuity to it, where you have an organization, an enterprise that is engaging in a series of racketeering acts as part of a continuing course of know, like a mafia family or organized crime, gangs, things like that. But here, it's all focused on a singular event, which is the election.
And so I think that when you do bring it over to federal court and they start to apply some of the federal RICO standards to it, that's going to become problematic.
Also, reading through the pattern of racketeering activity, I think there are ways that you can attack that really on a motion to dismiss on the structural side before you even get to the merits. And so I would want to see how much you can cut away there.
You also have the issue of Fani Willis. She's a county district attorney. A lot of this stuff didn't happen in her know. Coffee County, there's a separate D.A. for that.
PHILLIP: Yes. But, I mean, as she pointed out, I should say, I mean, she pointed out there's stuff in the indictment that happened in other states. And it's not to say that they're charged specifically with all those things, but that they were part of the conspiracy.
I see Elliot writing frantically notes here.
PARLATORE: But she needs the RICO for that.
PHILLIP: I mean, what's your take on that defense that you heard from Tim?
ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think you do have a continuing course of conduct. And I think a court could find that the course of conduct started back in June of 2020 culminated in the election and continued on through certainly to January 6th or even to today. So, there's at least an argument that there was a continuing course of conduct.
Look, I'm with you that it is an aggressive way to charge an individual, but I think we have in our heads that RICO, Racketeering Influence, Corrupt Organizations prosecutions are for mafia families and so on. And the way the Georgia statute is written, it's broader than the federal statute, as we've sort of talked about here. And perhaps all these things can be brought in.
But all of these questions, including that removal of the federal court one, which I'm not totally in agreement with either of you on either, it may actually end up staying in Georgia state court. It's just a complicated legal question that no one has touched yet, and it's going to be litigated.
PHILLIP: Jamie --
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to say for the record, when you listen to that phone call, asking for those 11,780 votes, it sounds an awful lot like a mafia.
WILLIAMS: Well, I'll say something --
PHILLIP: And that is, for a jury, a kind of crystal clear piece of evidence --
PARLATORE: I've represented gangsters. They're a lot more vague than that on the call.
WILLIAM: But even if it's not mafioso talk or whatever, that is not a president of the United States. It is a candidate for office. It is an individual who's running for office.
Now, this question of moving it to federal court requires him to be acting in his capacity as president. Now, where the president ends and the man begins and the candidate begins and the president ends is blurry and a court is going to have to sort that out. But I just don't think it's entirely cut and dry, you can automatically get into trouble with that (ph).
PHILLIP: Jamie, I want to leave a moment here for Rudy Giuliani, who is all over this indictment as well. He is being charged in a RICO statute, which he basically pioneered. And then on top of that, we hear today that he's basically broke. These legal fees are piling up. What has happened to the man once known as America's Mayor?
GANGEL: He also said today that he hasn't changed, that he's still the same man. I interviewed Rudy, as we called him when he was mayor, many times. If Rudy has not changed in all these years, we didn't know him very well back then. Look, I have several close friends who worked with him.
He is a different person today.
And this is -- he was a character. He was mayor and he was a tough guy and he liked to litigate. So, he was always an interesting person, but not the person we're seeing today. And I think this is tragic, actually.
PHILLIP: One of the most unforgettable moments of this saga is that press conference at the RNC with Giuliani with sweat dripping down his face. I mean, it's just such a moment. And actually, interestingly enough, it's in the indictment in Georgia, part of the evidence against him in this case.
Thank you all for being here tonight.
And coming up next for us, what should the GOP do about a frontrunner who is now facing 91 criminal charges across four separate cases? Well, Governor Chris Sununu is here to weigh in, next.
PHILLIP: We're following the latest reaction in the Republican Party to the stunning fourth indictment of former President Trump by a Georgia grand jury.
Now, Trump's biggest critics of the 2024 primary race offered mixed reactions today. I want to bring in one of the former president's most outspoken critics himself, the New Hampshire governor, Chris Sununu.
So, Governor Sununu, thank you for being here. What was your reaction when you looked at -- I don't know if you've read all 98 pages -- this indictment coming out of Georgia's Fulton County?
GOV. CHRIS SUNUNU (R-NH): Well, I'll disagree with you on one thing. I don't think it was stunning. I think we all knew it was coming. Even the former president said a fourth indictment would only help him.
So, from a political standpoint, I don't think many folks on the Republican side are shocked by this. I don't think it moves his numbers anymore. I think he kind of has a lot of that built in sympathy vote there.
But to his point, it helps him because this is all the media is talking about. As long as you guys are -- not you, just CNN, but media, and understandably so from 8:00 P.M. to 11:00 P.M. every night, saying his name 100 times and not really giving any airtime to these other candidates, that's exactly what the former president wants, because he doesn't want to have to talk about issues. He doesn't want to have to talk about going forward and healing America and all these things that the rest of America wants to see. He wants to re-litigate the past, and we're kind of letting him do that, which is unfortunate.
I think that dynamic changes as we hit the debates.
PHILLIP: I hear what you're saying, but I think the question was actually more about the conduct alleged in the indictment. I mean, if you look at the sheer number of people charged in the Georgia case, you're talking about 18 Trump allies, including Trump himself, and they're accused of racketeering at least one and at least one related crime.
I mean, there's a lot of conduct alleged here, including trying to tamper with voting machines and actual voting information. What is your take on the actual information contained in this document?
SUNUNU: So, a couple of things. I'm not a lawyer, but I will say this is incredibly similar to the federal indictment, right, that Jack Smith is doing out of DOJ, other than, as you brought up, there's now 18 people involved, right? That's a much bigger swath of individuals and something that I think Republicans need to take note of.
This is a grand jury in a very conservative state that said this guy needs to be indicted, right? This isn't just the Department of Justice and the idea that it's all politicized. This is a grand jury in Georgia, of all states, which, again, kind of doubles down on the idea that this guy can't win in November.
We might give him the nomination. I hope we don't. But this guy cannot win a state like Georgia. He cannot win a state like Arizona or New Hampshire or these swing states that you absolutely have to have.
And last time I checked, you can't govern if you don't win, right? It's just going to be another sob story for Donald Trump, and he's going to crush the Republican ticket going down.
So, I'm still very hopeful that the Republicans, as a whole, make a smart choice and find that one or two candidates to go against him by the time Iowa and New Hampshire hit.
PHILLIP: If Trump is the nominee, what should Republican voters do, in your opinion? I mean, four indictments in, he'll probably be in at least one of those trials. What should they do? What will you do if he's the nominee?
SUNUNU: Well, look, that reality wouldn't come to bear if it did, and I don't think it will, wouldn't come to bear for about a year from now, right? So, the whole political dynamic is going to change. Is Joe Biden even on the ticket by then? What have the Democrats done by then? What's the alternatives by then? Is there a third party? I mean, there's going to be all these other what ifs, what ifs, what ifs.
And then each voter is going to have to decide. That's actually the beauty of our system. We might completely disagree with voters even sometimes in our own party, but it's their choice to make, and it's America's choice to make. PHILLIP: One of the candidates in the race, Ron DeSantis, is saying that this indictment is helping Trump, and he may be right. If you look at some of the polling, a poll in March found that Trump and DeSantis were just about four points away, and then more recently, a New York Times/Siena poll found that Trump had a massive lead over DeSantis. It's only grown.
But I wonder, do you think that that's true, that the indictments are the reason that he's winning, or is it the failure of candidates like DeSantis and others to -- but is -- or is it the failure of other candidates to launch a strong campaign against him?
SUNUNU: Well, look, I think there's too many candidates in the race. I think most people would agree. I think it's a diluted message, and I think a lot of them have a hard time. Not just they spend times defining themselves on policy. I think they're missing the boat there. They need to show leadership, inspiration, something people can galvanize and get excited about, right? They have our interest now. They got to get us excited as the Republicans in the party.
But there is no doubt that these four indictments have definitely built a lot of sympathy for the former president. He knows how to use the media to his advantage incredibly, incredibly well. I'll give him all the credit in the world on that. He knows how to take something bad, make it good, build sympathy and empathy onto himself. He plays this victim role. I mean, the guy is literally a victim, right, at this point, which is just crazy if you know his background and understand who he really is. But he's been able to play that very well.
And the national -- I mean, it's not so much in New Hampshire and Iowa, because the polls locally here are very different than what you see nationally. But, nationally, the average Republican is just seeing what they see on the news, and they're not seeing any of the other candidates. No one is giving the other candidates airtime. No one is giving the other candidates, maybe to your point --
PHILLIP: I would disagreed with you on that.
SUNUNU: They have to earn that. They have to create their own news.
PHILLIP: The other candidates are getting plenty of airtime. It's the question is, what are they doing with that airtime next Monday?
SUNUNU: No, they don't get any airtime.
PHILLIP: Many of them have been on this very show.
SUNUNU: Every station tonight and the next night and the next night will say Trump's name a hundred times. And then you'll have one candidate on here and one candidate on there. But he's getting 98 percent of the attention.
PHILLIP: Let me ask you this. Look, next week, Trump says that he's going to hold a press conference about the Georgia indictment. He says he's going to prove that there was voter fraud. What should the response of the other candidates in this race be to that? It is 2023. Trump is going to hold a press conference next Monday about the 2020 presidential election.
SUNUNU: So, I honestly don't believe from a purely political standpoint that their response is going to move their numbers one way or the other. I just don't. These candidates have to make their own news. They have to show something about who they are in terms of leadership. And if it's only based on Donald Trump, then, again, they're giving Trump all the airtime.
They're only creating themselves based on his image and his likeness and how they compare to that. So, Trump loves that. You're playing right into his hand if you think every candidate should only be out there taking a side on Trump or not. They got to be themselves. They would show future leadership without him.
PHILLIP: I don't think it's about taking a side on Trump. It's a question of taking a side on whether what he's saying is true or false.
But before you go, Governor, just a final question, I mean, we were getting at this earlier, four indictments in. If Trump is the nominee, will you vote for him?
SUNUNU: Look, again, I don't think he's going to be the nominee. And that's a question from a year from now when a hundred other variables will come to play. And I would say whether I vote for him or another person votes for him, I'm not a candidate. So, that doesn't really matter, if I may. What matters is what happens between now and then, how we narrow the field down amongst Republicans, how we give the majority of Republicans in this country a real, clear choice, as opposed to 11 candidates and Trump, right?
So, that's all that really matters between now and then and how these candidates, to your point, stand on their own, create their own news and create their own inspiring moments that people say, you know what, there's the one. There's the one individual we can narrow this down to. Trump can take his 40 percent of the vote and go home. We'll take 60 percent with this other candidate and actually have something for the future of America.
PHILLIP: You are not a candidate. You're right. But you are a citizen, like so many others watching this program. And I think it is interesting that you won't say that you will rule out voting for Trump even though you are making such an argument against him.
SUNUNU: I don't know. Are you going to vote for Joe Biden? Are you going to vote for Joe Biden if he's indicted on bribery? Like so much could change between now and the next year. I mean, who knows, right?
PHILLIP: Well, that's one way of looking at it. Governor Chris Sununu, thank you very much for joining us. I appreciate it.
SUNUNU: There you go. PHILLIP: And it's the tale of two indictments, two different approaches to prosecuting the former president. The state charges over Georgia -- over in Georgia over Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. And then over there, the federal charges also for Trump's election subversion efforts.
We'll discuss the differences between them, next.
PHILLIP: A Georgia grand jury indicting former President Trump over his alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election there. This latest indictment is quite different from what Special Counsel Jack Smith brought down in the January 6th case earlier this month.
Let's take a closer look at why, first, there are just the sheer number of people implicated here in this January 6th case, only Trump is named as a defendant at the federal level, while in the Georgia cases, in Georgia case, Trump and other 18 other defendants, including allies like Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani, and also John Eastman, are named as well.
And next, there is the difference in the charges being brought. The January 6th case only lists four, compared to Georgia, which has a whopping 41.
And then, finally, there's the conversation around potential pardons.
Now, if Donald Trump wins the presidency in 2024, there is a chance that he could try to pardon himself if he is convicted in the January 6th case. But those pardoning powers, they don't extend to state crimes, meaning he couldn't pardon himself if he's convicted in Georgia, and the state's governor couldn't pardon him either.
For more on this, I want to bring in Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin. He, of course, served on the January 6th select committee. Congressman Raskin, thank you for joining us tonight.
Look, these indictments are so different, 45 pages versus 98 pages, a veritable tome in Georgia. Willis really is alleging this broad conspiracy, over 100 different acts that are allegedly in furtherance of that conspiracy. Jack Smith basically took a very narrow path. He focused on Trump himself.
I wonder, do you have any concerns that the Georgia indictment just may be a little too broad?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, it's broad in terms of the number of charges when you're talking about 41 charges, but it's really identified the crimes down at the molecular level of false statements to the government, false documentary submissions, forgeries, solicitation of public officials to violate their oath of office, conspiracy to defraud the people of Georgia of their election, and so on. It's very specific and dense in terms of what the charges are and linking those to specific acts.
There were more than, I think, 150 specific actions that were already alleged as part of the indictment. Whereas in the federal case, of course, you had the more general statement, the conspiracy to defraud the American people and cheat us out of our election, the conspiracy to interfere with the federal proceeding and the conspiracy to violate everybody's civil rights, specifically the right to vote and to choose our own leaders.
So, I view it more as the federal indictment being much more of a macro statement of what was going on with the conspiracy and then the RICO charges relating to the conspiracy in Georgia being a far more dense and molecular reconstruction of exactly what happened and how it violated the state laws of the people of Georgia.
PHILLIP: While you were on the January 6th Committee, you all had some run-ins with the former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows. He initially cooperated and then stopped basically cooperating. Why do you think it ended up that Fani Willis was able to charge Mark Meadows in her indictment, but Special Counsel Jack Smith didn't? Either he chose not to or believed, perhaps, he could not for some reason?
RASKIN: Well, I don't know the answer to your question, but I'm assuming that they just have a lot more factual information and testimony about what his role actually was. Interestingly, a few hours ago, I believe that Mr. Meadows petitioned for removal of his case under a statute which allows federal officials in certain circumstances to remove cases from state court to federal court if they were acting under the color of federal law in execution of their federal duties.
So, what's curious to me about that is he has to be essentially alleging and arguing that he was acting on presidential orders to do everything he did within the confines of his job. In other words, he was not acting as a campaign volunteer after hours and on weekends, but rather was executing the orders of Donald Trump. So, we'll see what happens with that.
He may have a plausible case for getting it removed. It's interesting that he wants to get out of state court and you know, fly back to the safety of the Federalist Society-Packed Federal Courts. In any event, I believe it's in the 11th Circuit where the court is considering another RICO action, which was Donald Trump's RICO lawsuit against Hillary Clinton, which was thrown out at the district court level, which is now being considered by the 11th court.
But we're getting so much Donald Trump litigation and prosecution, where he's either the defendant or the plaintiff, that he might end up having to argue different sides on the same legal issue in different cases that are appearing in various circuits. I mean, he's a one-man crime wave, and he is going to be his own law school seminar one day.
PHILLIP: Well, one of the other things I want to ask you about, I know that you all dealt with this, as well. This is Trump's speech on the ellipse on January 6th. Fani Willis called that speech an overt act of that conspiracy, that RICO conspiracy. Is it a risk to go there when it comes to criminal charges? Does it veer into free speech territory if she raises what he said on that ellipse that day?
RASKIN: Well, if that's all she was hanging her hat on, and that was the only action being alleged, then it would obviously invite the First Amendment struggle. Of course, under the Brandenburg decision, incitement to imminent lawless action is not protected under the First Amendment. But in any case, that's not the only action by a long shot. I mean, they've got, I think, 161 different specific actions that are alleged, and of course, speech makes up the course of conduct constituting a lot of crimes.
For example, if you think about an antitrust collusion conspiracy where businesses get together to set prices, that can't take place without speech. When you think about insider trading and people conspiring to give secrets about, you know, what's taking place inside a company, that can't take place without speech. So, you don't zero in microscopically and just look at the speech.
You see if that's part of a pattern of conduct that adds up to violation of the law. And he's alleging a lot of different criminal actions way beyond his speech at the ellipse, which, as I said before, is not necessarily itself protected under the First Amendment, because to my mind, it did incite imminent lawless action. And the proof of that is the fact that 150 of our police officers were bloodied and wounded by the mob that he sent down to the Capitol.
PHILLIP: All right, Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you very much for joining us tonight.
RASKIN: Thanks for having me.
PHILLIP: And 2024 candidates are reacting to this latest indictment of former President Trump. What they're saying, next.
PHILLIP: Donald Trump's closest 2024 rival, Ron DeSantis, is once again refusing to go after him for his ongoing legal troubles. When he was asked about this on a New England radio station, DeSantis called it an example of, quote, "the criminalization of politics". And a lot of Trump's other 2024 rivals are singing basically the same tune. Let's bring in now CNN's Senior Political Commentator and former Republican Congressman Adam Kinzinger.
And also with us is former White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield. So, Kate, I want to ask you about what presidential candidate Chris Christie also said this week. Basically, Christie has been one of the people most strongly criticizing Trump, but here's what he said about this latest Georgia indictment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm uncomfortable with what I read last night. I think that this conduct is essentially covered by the federal indictment. Election interference is election interference. It's been charged by Jack Smith. I would have less of a problem with this if she decided, okay, I'm not going to charge Donald Trump here because he's been charged for essentially this conduct by Jack Smith.
But Giuliani and Meadows and others have not been charged at the federal level. That would be a more defensible indictment, I think.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Did that surprise you to see Christie taking that stance?
KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it did a little bit because, you know, these comments and obviously the comments of Governor DeSantis and many of the other candidates who are running, Republican candidates who are running for the nomination, sound like people who are resigned to Donald Trump being the nominee. I mean, I think this is really -- it underscores how much this is Donald Trump's party.
I mean, we have evidence, you know, over the course of the last, you know, couple of years that show just appalling behavior by a former president. And you have a handful of elected officials who say they want to be the standard bearer for their party in 2024 who are unwilling to take that on. I think -- I mean, there's certainly a moral component to that, but also from a political standpoint, from a strategic standpoint.
The dynamic of the race is not going to change unless somebody takes it to Donald Trump in a really meaningful way. And this was an opportunity to do that and to see Governor Christie sort of back off from some of the tougher things that he said about Donald Trump over the last few weeks, few months, I think shows you where the Republican Party, where these candidates believe the race is going.
PHILLIP: And Adam, I mean, do you think that there is a path here for Republicans to address this directly head on, as Kate said, while also getting votes that they need to become potentially the nominee?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if they all did it and actually, you know, led, like the word leadership means, to lead and told the base voter that Donald Trump is corrupt, which we all know. And they all know, they know he's corrupt. They know he broke the law. If everybody would kind of jump off the cliff and tell the voters the truth, yeah, there would be a path because people would listen to them.
But instead, I mean, it's amazing to me when people are sitting around reading this stuff about Donald Trump and they're probably open to maybe this was wrong, maybe this was corrupt. And then they see Ron DeSantis stand up and say, this is a weaponization of the DOJ. Of course, they're going to believe it's a weaponization of the DOJ because they trust Ron DeSantis, they trust Tim Scott, they trust these people. These people that are running for president are failing their voters. They are not leading their voters.
I am -- every day that goes by, when I watch people like DeSantis and Tim and everything say, oh, this is just weaponization. I just -- it blows my mind. I'm like, why are you even running? Just endorse Donald Trump, work for him, and try to get in the cabinet because you know this is corrupt. The people that vote Republican, I think in their hearts, obviously very good people, but they have been so misled that, you know, I guess, like, yes, everybody's responsible for what they believe, but to an extent, I'm like, well, if all your leaders are telling you what the DOJ has been weaponized, I guess it's fair to believe it.
PHILLIP: One of the things about this grand jury indictment in Georgia is that it actually lists the names of the jurors, the grand jurors who were a part of it. It's not meant to be secret in that state and predictably on Truth social. There's all this chatter about these individuals.
Adam, you know, quickly I mean, what do you make of that? I mean you can -- I'm sure you can imagine what is being said about these individuals online.
KINZINGER: Oh, look, I look at this stuff online. I see what's said about me. I can see what's said about them. This is really dangerous. And I get it that it's the Georgia law, but these people need to be very careful and they should have security around them because it doesn't mean that everybody that loves Donald Trump is going to go out and be violent. But if just a half a percent or even a percent of that half a percent think that violence is the answer, they're going to go after these folks. This is very scary if you -- if you see what's being said on social media.
PHILLIP: Yeah, Kate. As we look at the calendar here, the first Republican debate is just about a week away now. And, you know, Trump has to turn himself in by Friday, earlier in the program. Tim Parlatore, one of his former attorneys, said he's probably going to wait until the very last second, which would be after that debate. I wonder, if you're the Biden campaign, what's the strategy here? Is it just to let this all play out? Is it to weaponize this in some way?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, I think that what the Biden campaign will do is just continue to demonstrate the contrast. I mean, I will tell you what we saw on the campaign in 2019 and 2020 consistently in polling and focus groups in our internal data on the campaign was that people were really put off by the sense of chaos around Donald Trump. And, you know, particularly independent voters, swing voters, to the extent that there even really are swing voters left in this moment in our politics.
But people were really put off. And so, the best thing the Biden campaign can do and what I imagine they will do is let it play out because, you know, whether Donald Trump is physically at that debate or not, he will be at that debate. The specter of Donald Trump will be hanging over that debate. And when you're preparing for a presidential primary debate, you're thinking about what are the one or two narratives that I could possibly grasp moving out of the debate, coming out of the debate. There are only a limited number of headlines available, is sort of the way this works.
And so, every candidate is trying to think through how they can land their moment. And so, Donald Trump is guaranteed to be one of those storylines coming out of that debate, whether he's on the stage or not. And so, the rest of the candidates are gonna have to work through how they can steal a moment for themselves. But for the Biden campaign, the best thing they can do and what I expect they will do is to stand back, let it happen and let people see what the Republican party stands for right now.
PHILLIP: Yeah, and of course that's part of the calculus with Trump saying that maybe he'll be there. Maybe he won't. Kate Bedingfield and Adam Kinzinger, thank you both very much.
BEDINGFIELD: Thanks, Abby.
PHILLIP: And up next in Arkansas Public Schools, they are now being told by the State Department of Education that this new AP African American Studies class may not meet the graduation requirements in the state. Up next, I'll speak with a Little Rocks board -- school board member who opposes that abrupt change.
PHILLIP: It's the latest conflict over the teaching of black history in America. The Arkansas Department of Education told school districts that the AP African-American studies course may not meet graduation requirements. The state tells us it's because it's a pilot course and is still undergoing revisions. But according to "The New York Times", the Education Department is suggesting that this course may violate state law after legislation known as the LEARNS Act was passed back in March. That expanse of law encompassed a wide-range of provisions. It prohibits, quote, "teaching that would indoctrinate students with ideologies such as Critical Race Theory". Now, the state's governor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, has been a vocal critic of what she calls indoctrination in schools.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS (R), ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: We have to make sure that we are not indoctrinating our kids and that these policies and these ideas never see the light of day. We should never teach our kids to hate America or that America is a racist and evil country.
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PHILLIP: And joining me now is attorney and school board member for the Little Rock School District, Ali Noland. She is representing two plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the LEARNS Act. Ali, thank you for joining us. I wonder, do you believe that this AP African-American Studies Courts does violate the text of that new state law, the LEARNS Act?
ALI NOLAND, LITTLE ROCK SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER: Absolutely not. This course is an essential and important part of American history, but what it does is provide students with original documents so that they can learn the critical thinking skills to be able to interpret and make their own decisions about these topics. So, it is the opposite of indoctrination.
PHILLIP: Now, CNN spoke with the communications director for Governor Huckabee Sanders, and she pointed out that this is a pilot class, that AP or that African-American history, a separate class, is already offered in Arkansas schools. She tweeted something to that effect yesterday, as well. Do you think that is the real reason that this course is not basically being endorsed by the state for students to get, you know, credit toward graduation for?
NOLAND: No, I do not. We have seen this course piloted in Arkansas last year successfully. The students who took it last year were able to use it for graduation credit. This change came abruptly this weekend. The -- you know, the weekend before school started in Arkansas and in fact in a statement yesterday, the Arkansas Department of Education specifically said there are prohibited topics that can't be taught under Arkansas law and cited that language. And so, I believe that is actually what this is about is the fact that this is an African American studies course.
PHILLIP: This is obviously unfolding in Arkansas, and Little Rock is the home of the Central High School. That's the scene of this major battle over school desegregation. Hopefully students across the country are learning about the Little Rock Nine. I wonder, what has been the reaction in the state to black history becoming the subject of this kind of controversy?
NOLAND: The people I have spoken to are extremely frustrated and angry. This course, we had almost a hundred students enrolled and ready to take this course at Little Rock Central High School this school year. And we have, you know, we want to provide our students with every opportunity. Other students in other states are able to take AP courses and gain all the benefits. Things like obtaining college credit and having weighted GPAs. And here in Arkansas now, because of this decision, the only students who might be able to take this course are students who can afford to forgo a graduation credit for a year-long course like this.
And so, especially here, I cannot think of anywhere that it is more important to study this history than in a classroom in Little Rock Central High School, a national historic site based on its role in American history and the Civil Rights Movement.
PHILLIP: All right, Ali Noland, thank you very much for joining us tonight and sharing that perspective. And coming up ahead on CNN. CNN Tonight with Laura Coates. She sits down with Hollywood legend Morgan Freeman. They're going to discuss his latest project on the original "Black Panthers". That's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
PHILLIP: And that's it for me on CNN Primetime. CNN Tonight with Laura Coates starts right now. Take it away, Laura.
LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: So nice to see you, Abby Phillip. Always a great show. And good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates. And tonight, the explosive fourth indictment of Donald Trump and 18 of his allies in Georgia. It's moving pretty fast and they just have days to turn themselves in, and it's coming up next Friday.