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Trump Prosecution In Georgia Moves Into Next Phase After Arrest; D.A. Proposes October 23 Trial For Trump, 18 Co-Defendants; Explosion Likely Brought Down Aircraft Purportedly Carrying Wagner Boss, Flight Data And Video Analysis Suggest; Oliver Anthony's Song Taken Out Of Context; Abby Phillip And Panel Discuss How Republican Presidential Candidates Fared In The Debate; Russian Investigators Report 10 Recovered Bodies And Flight Recorders From The Plane Crash Believed To Have Killed Prigozhin; We Now Know What Cuased Bronny James, The Son Of NBA Superstar LeBron James, To Suffer A Cardiac Arrest During Basketball Practice At The University Of California Last Month. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired August 25, 2023 - 22:00   ET




OLIVER ANTHONY, SINGER, RICH MEN NORTH OF RICHMOND: It was funny seeing my song in the -- it was funny seeing at the presidential debate, because it's like I wrote that song about those people.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: The first question at the debate, of course, was about how his song is striking a chord with Americans. Anthony said it is aggravating, his quote, the Republicans are trying to identify with him. But he calls out the left for also, in his words, trying to discredit him. He says the song is not about politics. He said it has nothing to do with Joe Biden. It's a lot bigger than that.

Thank you so much for joining us. CNN PRIMETIME with Abby Phillip starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: That's a fascinating story and we'll have a little more discussion about that this hour. Kaitlan, thank you very much.

And good evening, everyone, I'm Abby Phillip. Welcome to CNN PRIMETIME.

This is just the beginning, on Monday, the very first big hearing in Georgia's election interference case will get started. Mark Meadows, his first stop, he'll try to convince a judge to move his case into federal court, arguing that he was must doing his job as then- President Trump's Chief of Staff. And it could be a preview of what this whole trial might look like. Plus, the country singer who dethroned Taylor Swift on the charts with the boost from conservatives, like Marjorie Taylor Greene, his song, Rich Men North Of Richmond was even playing at this week's debate, as we were just discussing, but there is more to this story than you may think.

And Bronny James, the older son of NBA super star LeBron James, is now expected to make a full recovery after suffering a cardiac arrest last month. That stemmed, we now have learned, from a congenital heart defect.

Now, a family spokesman says he'll return to basketball in the very near future and we'll have much more on his condition tonight.

But, first, I want to begin with the latest moves in that Georgia election case. Here with me in studio, CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider and former January 6th Committee Investigative Counsel Marcus Childress.

Jess, I want to start with you. The Meadows hearing that is expected on Monday could be a big moment for this case that could set the course of what we might see going forward. What are we expecting exactly?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It's going to be a really interesting hearing, Abby. It is going to be quite lengthy. And this really will be the first test of this argument of potentially removing the case for certain individuals, certain defendants to federal court under this argument that they were acting as a federal official and that's why it should be removed to federal court.

You know, we've seen this argument from Mark Meadows. That's what the evidentiary hearing will be on Monday. We're also seeing the argument from Jeffrey Clark from the Justice Department and also most recently today, three of these fake electors who basically said Donald Trump made me do it, I was acting in accordance with what he wanted, therefore, this should be removed as well.

So, this going to be a lengthy hearing. We already know that Fani Willis has issued several subpoenas that includes to two of the people who were on this call, January 2nd, that now infamous call from Donald Trump to Brad Raffensperger. So, the subpoenas are for these two people who were on the call in addition to the former chief investigator at the secretary of state's office.

So there's going to be a lot of people taking the stand in this evidentiary hearing to determine was Mark Meadows acting in an official capacity here. It's a tough climb.

PHILLIP: Yes, so much of this evidence, including that call that you referenced, has been out there and it seems like a lot of the testimony, we kind of know what it's going to say. What do you think is the significance of them actually being called in to sort of give this again?

SCHNEIDER: They really want to get behind the call. They want to see what propelled this call, what Mark Meadows' role in this call was. I mean Brad Raffensperger was also called, will be there to testify on Monday. He will really able to talk about how this call materialized, what happened maybe behind the scenes before and after. They're going to try to get to was this really an official role for Mark Meadows. Again, it's going to be a tough argument to make.

PHILLIP: And that is the central question. I mean, we've been talking to legal experts all week about this. It's Trump potentially who could make this argument, Meadows, who is making this argument, and then you have someone like John Eastman, who had a role in the government.

But for Mark Meadows in particular, his role was not political, and it certainly wasn't -- the role of the White House chief of staff is not to do illegal things. So, I wonder, how strong do you think this argument ends up being.

MARCUS CHILDRESS, FORMER JANUARY 6 INVESTIGATIVE COUNSEL: Look, first, it's their burden, it's Mark Meadows' burden to prove, right, that he was acting in his official duties and that he has a culpable defense. I think he has an uphill battle here, right? Because he's going to have a harp on he was scheduling a meeting, he was just calling the secretary on behalf of the president, which is part of his job.

And if I'm the prosecutors, I'm arguing that your job is not to overturn the election, right? And that's not part of the chief of staff's job responsibility.

And so I think we're going to see a battle of narratives during this hearing, one where Mark Meadows is focusing on what he was told do as chief of staff and the phone calls, schedule meetings, and then Fulton County D.A. going back to, yes, but you were looking for 11,780 votes.


And I think you're going to see competing narratives throughout the motion's hearing as well as the trial.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, we can never really -- let's just play that sound, because you can never really hear it enough, just the boldness of it. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: So, look, all I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state.


PHILLIP: So, at the end of the day, that is the core, right, of the prosecutor's argument that Trump was trying to ask them to do something that was basically illegal, and then you have all of these other people, several other co-defendants saying, you know, we want to move to federal court also because we were just doing what Trump said. He's the president. He's a federal official. Do you think those arguments will fly?

CHILDRESS: No. I mean, you can't just blindly follow what a principal tells to you do, right? So, I think you're going to see comments and arguments from the prosecutor in that regard.

Also, I think it's important to go back to the point that the legal standard is you cannot do more than what was necessary and proper for to you do it, right, for this cobbled (ph) defense of the (INAUDIBLE) and supreme cause. And I think you're just going to keep saying like what was is it necessary and proper for you to do to try to find those votes. And so, I don't think that this argument is going to prevail. I think it's going to be a difficult, uphill battle.

SCHNEIDER: It's really interesting to even see this all unfolding, though, because this is showing you how difficult this case is going to be. You have 19 defendants, including the former president, White House officials, former Justice Department officials. You're seeing sort of the unraveling and the likelihood that we're actually going to see a trial, even though Sidney Powell and Kenneth Cheseboro want to go to trial soon. It's going to be difficult to actually get there.

PHILLIP: Unraveling is really a perfect word to describe what's happening here. The splintering of this group is going to be really interesting. And as Jess was just saying, Sidney Powell and John Eastman, they say they want a speedy trial. They might get it. What do you think that might look like if they are being tried and perhaps being tried together?

CHILDRESS: Look, it's going to be a benefit for those who go later, right? It's their right to demand a speedy trial, right? They're the defendants who are being charged. So, if they go to trial earlier, I think that's going to be a benefit for the Trump team, for the Meadows team and others to see like what is the evidence the prosecutors are putting forward, what is the theory, what are the weaknesses, what are the weaknesses on cross and then being able to like game plan from actually seeing this evidence put forth.

And so, look, it's your right to demand a speedy trial. And the prosecutor, it's always your biggest fear as a prosecutor to have speedy trial asserted against you.

SCHNEIDER: I was going to say, a little bit calling the prosecutor's bluff here, saying, okay, you ready? Let's go. Let's have this in less than two months.

PHILLIP: And do they check Georgia law before they did that, because there's a mechanism for that to get their date?

SCHNEIDER: Yes, absolutely.

PHILLIP: All right, we'll see how that turns out. Jessica Schneider and Marcus Childress, thank you both very much.

CHILDRESS: Thank you.

PHILLIP: I want to now bring in former Trump National Security Adviser and former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton. Ambassador Bolton, thank you for being here tonight.

Mark Meadows is now claiming that all of these actions that he took after the election, calling folks in Georgia, et cetera, were all part of his official job. I wonder, do you think he is over overreaching here? Does he have a chance of actually succeeding in making that argument and moving this case over to federal court?

JOHN BOLTON, FORMER TRUMP NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think his argument is incorrect because the president, from whom Meadows' authority derives, doesn't have any supervisory power over state elections.

Trump, as a presidential candidate, certainly has an interest in it and Meadows following his orders would do a lot of things in any presidential campaign as part of it, in this case, allegedly including criminal activity. But there's a distinction between official duties or acting under official authority and doing things that you happen to do just because you're president or chief of staff or anything else.

So, I think it's a weak argument. But it is one that could appeal, and for the particular kind of removal we're talking about, I think it's in Trump's interest and therefore probably some of the other defendants to get the case removed because if Fani Willis, the prosecutor, doesn't like the outcome, my recollection is she's got -- that's an appealable order and she could take it up, or if Trump loses, he could take it up and thereby delaying the start of the case, at least with respect to Trump.

PHILLIP: Yes. One of the things, though, is that his lawyers right now are comparing this to Al Gore and Al Gore's chief of staff back in 2000. They're saying that, as chief of staff, Mark Meadows could take all of these political actions and they're within the realm of what is acceptable for a White House chief of staff. Do you think that that's a reasonable argument to make?


BOLTON They're confusing two separate things. The president has authorities and the president also has First Amendment rights to campaign. What Al Gore did was, as a candidate for president, do what was permissible under Florida law.

The argument here is that Trump, Meadows and others went beyond what was permissible under state law, but none of that -- nothing that Al Gore did in 2000 had anything to do with his vice presidential responsibilities and nothing that Trump and Meadows did here had anything to do with their presidential responsibilities.

It's like if Trump were to have robbed a bank while he was president, that's not part of his presidential responsibilities. And that's what Meadows' papers confuse here, I think.

PHILLIP: Do you think that Meadows is a ring leader in this whole scheme? And if he doesn't face consequences in the state of Georgia or at the federal level, he wasn't charged in that federal case, do you think he should face consequences. BOLTON: Well, I think we need to see more of what the facts are. I wouldn't be at all surprised from the testimony we've seen in the January 6th commission, from media reporting. And from my own experience in several administrations, if the chief of staff weren't heavily involved with the president on this, I don't know what else he would be involved with.

PHILLIP: We're learning today also that Sidney Powell is joining Kenneth Chesebro in looking for a speedy trial. And in the state of Georgia, they may very well get it. The judge has already set an October date for Chesebro. Do you think that they are rightfully trying to gain a tactical advantage here or is this a miscalculation?

BOLTON: Well, look, I think at least in federal RICO cases, they are often split up into smaller trials with individual defendants or groups of defendants, so that doesn't strike me as terribly unusual. If I were in the position of being a defense counsel here, I would be thinking separating myself from the La Brea tar pit of the trial of Trump and Meadows and Giuliani might be to my advantage and to try to indicate differences between my position, my interest, the defense I would like to make and that of Trump and some of the others. They may be right, they may be wrong.

A lot of people speculated that Chesebro's lawyer and now Powell's lawyer are thought that they could bluff the Georgia prosecutors into backing off. If that's what they thought, I think they're making a big mistake. I think this is going to have enormous consequences.

PHILLIP: Yes. But what does it say to you that -- I mean, when you look at the list of defendants here, a lot of them are people who are not publicly known. Some of them can't even afford attorneys. One of them was denied bail. Do you -- what does it say to you, that all of these people could be facing these six or even seven figure legal bills with no help from former President Trump that we know of?

BOLTON: Well, I hope they don't get help from Trump. I mean, one of the things that certainly the federal prosecutors are looking at is whether Trump has used the provision of attorneys' fees to induce witnesses, to testify falsely to grand juries and the rest of it. That explains the superseding indictment in the classified documents case.

All of these people will be entitled to court-appointed attorneys and I think freeing them from the influence of Trump could be significant. And I think that is something that perhaps induced the prosecutors in Georgia to name 18 other co-defendants and 30 other unnamed, unindicted co-conspirators to help flip them around.

PHILLIP: I want to turn now to something separate. This is the situation in Russia that's been unfolding this week as well, a huge story. The Putin ally, Lukashenko of Belarus, says that he can imagine that Vladimir Putin was involved in the death of Yevgeny Prigozhin in that plane crash. What do you think? I mean, do you have any reason to believe that Putin somehow wasn't involved in this?

BOLTON: Well, some people believe in magic. No, I think it's clear that this is Putin acting and showing people in Russia in particular and internationally that he is still in charge and that openly opposing him carries obviously fatal consequences.

There's been an argument ever since the Prigozhin mutiny two months ago that Putin is badly wounded politically, that he is on his way out, that -- and even today that the killing of Putin -- I'm sorry, the killing of Prigozhin indicates Putin's weakness.

I don't think so. The Russian people have historically looked for strong leaders. He's showing he is strong as they can.


I don't see any other sign among his closest advisers that they broke with him. He surfaced some other opponents as a result of Prigozhin's mutiny. They have been dismissed from the service. I don't think Putin is back to where he was before the invasion in terms of Russian domestic politics but I think having killed Prigozhin, he is certainly stronger.

PHILLIP: Yes. And we'll have much more on this later in the show, but thank you, John Bolton, for being with us tonight.

BOLTON: Well, thanks for having me.

PHILLIP: And up next, so many defendants and so little time, the calendar collision course that is ahead in all of this and who could have the most incentive to flip.


PHILLIP: And tonight, prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, are pushing ahead with their case against former President Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants. District Attorney Fani Willis says that she's ready to begin handing over discovery by mid-September. So, what's this turbo-charged calendar mean for Trump and those co- defendants?

Let's discuss with former January 6th Committee Lawyer Temidayo Aganga-Williams, Chris Timmons, who is a former Georgia prosecutor in DeKalb and Cobb Counties, along with Ron Brownstein, our senior political analyst and senior editor of The Atlantic.

Ron, I want to start with you. Just take a look her eat the calendar of the court dates and the political events in the coming months.


And if you're feeling confused and overwhelmed, that's intentional because there's a lot of stuff on this calendar. And tonight, CNN's Kristen Holmes is reporting that Trump advisers are discussing how to capitalize on it, politically speaking, including using the media coverage of the trials, of the potential trials, to dominating the attention in the race. That is a strategy. What impact do you think it will have on this race?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It's obviously an unprecedented situation to have a candidate literally shuttling between the courthouse and the campaign trail. I think you just have to look at this on two tracks. In the context of the Republican nomination fight, Trump has clearly been successful in convincing most Republican voters to see all of these indictments the way he wants them to see it, as an attack on them through him, and I think, in many ways, he's connected this to his core message from the outset in 2015 to his supporters that he is the real victims of bias in a diversifying America are people like you, whites, Christians and conservatives.

So, within the context of a Republican primary, it's possible all of this activity could eventually grind down his support, but I thought the most important moment by far in that debate was when six of the eight candidates raised their hands and said they would vote for him even if he is convicted. The message they're sending to Republican voters is if this is not disqualifying for us, why should it be disqualifying for you?

But I would say, finally, that while all this is true in the Republican context, there are lots of yellow lights on the dashboard about what this might mean in a general election with majorities of Independents consistently saying, including two-to-one, in one poll this week, that he should not serve as president again if he is convicted of a crime.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, look, there are a lot of flashing lights not just from a political perspective but also from a legal perspective.

Temidayo, when I look at this, I see Trump trying to basically have a 4-0 record on four separate cases, two of them in state jurisdictions. That seems pretty risky to me. I mean, is there a strategy here that would say maybe try to get one of these cases off his plate, settle in some way on something that carries a lesser penalty so that there isn't a huge risk that he might lose on one of them and face real consequences?

TEMIDAYO AGANGA-WILLIAMS, FORMER JAN. 6 COMMITTEE LAWYER: I think that would be too risky, frankly. I think if I'm President Trump here, the goal will be delay, delay, delay. I think that's exactly what he's going to do. He's going to find any way to take these cases out of this next calendar year and to push it after the election. I think that's his strongest angel here.

Frankly, I think the case in New York, I would expect that that's going to get pushed. I think the hush money case, even D.A. Bragg has suggested he's willing to move that later, that case is the most -- I think is the least important of the four.

I think Judge Cannon seems not quite inclined to move these forward and I think that documents case, even though it is the most streamlined case, also may have issues. Because if the judge isn't not ready to push the case, that case is not going to go.

But I do think Jack Smith's case and D.C. is the most likely case and I think we can look forward to Monday and we'll see the judge -- the date that Judge Chutkan sets. And she sets a date which I expect is going to be closer to Jack Smith's date, perhaps on January, but February or March. If she sets that date, I think it's likely we'll see President Trump on trial next year.

PHILLIP: Yes. So, Chris, Sidney Powell down in Georgia, she joined Kenneth Chesebro in saying she wants a speedy trial. She may very well get it. But listen to what a former Trump lawyer, Ty Cobb, just said a little while ago on CNN.


TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE LAWYER: Now, I'm not sure I agree with that but, you know, it is a strategic move and I admire those. But now, he's in a situation where he may have to go to trial with Sidney Powell, which I have to say of all the defendants in this entire case, is the last person I would want to be alone in a courtroom with, if I was another defendant.

Because, you know, everything -- the problem she has is everything that she did was a lie.


PHILLIP: And to be fair, I think a lot of them have that problem about the lies. But, I mean, yes, what do you think? I mean, going together in a trial with Sidney Powell, does that help or does that hurt Cheseboro?

CHRIS TIMMONS, FORMER GEORGIA PROSECUTOR IN DEKALB AND COBB COUNTIES: I don't really think it matters, Abby. In a RICO case, you are basically charged with all of the acts in furtherance of the conspiracy. And so even if Cheseboro -- even if Powell goes with him, we're going to see all of the entire acts in this conspiracy tried in a Fulton County court. So, even if Donald Trump is not physically present, all of the acts that he committed in furtherance of this conspiracy, allegedly, we're going to see evidence of that when this case goes to trial regardless if he's sitting at that counsel table and regardless of how many defendants are with him.


PHILLIP: Yes. So, Ron, on the political side, I mean, there's obvious fundraising benefits for Trump in touting all of these cases but do you see any way that these legal cases and maybe the trials, maybe the pre-trial motions, maybe the evidence that comes out of other people's trials helps add to his vote total from 2020, which is basically what he would need to do in order to win or is he relying on just depressed support for President Biden?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, that really is the key point. As we said, in the Republican context, so far, this is benefiting him, in part because the other candidates have failed to try to use what should be a pretty powerful cudgel against him and have an effect given voters a permission slip to discount it after raising their hands and saying that they would discount it themselves and vote for him even if he was convicted, a really kind of extraordinary moment.

But when you look out it the general election, there's a lot of hesitation among voters for giving Joe Biden four more years, there's a lot of discontent about the economy and there are a lot of voters who think that he is too old to do this job into his mid-80s. So, all of that, Abby, is keeping the horse race polls quite close, most of them, between Trump and Biden.

But underneath those numbers, the general election reaction to Trump, I think, should be worrying the Republicans in that we consistently see a majority of Independents saying he did commit a crime, a majority saying his actions after the election threatened American democracy, the majority saying he should not be president again if he is convicted of a crime.

And, you know, as you point out, he is the one who finished 7 million votes short. And several things have happened since then. January 6th has happened. The Supreme Court has overturned Roe. And now we have the four unprecedented indictments. And whether any of that allows him to expand his coalition, particularly in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Georgia, the states that will decide the winner in all likelihood in 2024, that is highly questionable.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, we will find out, but it certainly does not seem that there is anything additive there at all. Temidayo, Chris and Ron, thank you all very much.

BROWNSTEIN: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And up next for us, he sings the instant hit song, Rich Men North of Richmond and he has a message for conservatives who were trying to make this song their own.



PHILLIP: Oliver Anthony's "Rich Men North of Richmond" is now a huge hit. The song has topped the Billboard Top 100 just weeks after it was released on YouTube and some of its biggest fans are conservative listeners. The song even got a mention at this week's presidential debate.


UNKNOWN: His lyrics speak of alienation, of deep frustration with the state of government and of this country. Washington, D.C. is about a hundred miles north of Richmond.


PHILLIP: But in a new video statement, Anthony made it clear that he was not a fan of his song being used in a political context.

UNKNOWN: So, Governor DeSantis?

OLIVER ANTHONY: It was funny seeing it at the presidential debate because it's like I wrote that song about those people, you know? So, for them to have to sit there and listen to that, that cracks me up. It was funny kind of seeing the response to it. Like that song has nothing to do with Joe Biden, you know? It's a lot bigger than Joe Biden. It's aggravating seeing people on conservative news try to identify with me like I'm one of them.


PHILLIP: We should note that the debate moderator, Bret Baier, told "Politico" that they did track Anthony down ahead of the debate, and they got his permission to use the song. They got that permission about two days before the debate. And for more of this, I want to bring in Senior Advisor to Hillary Clinton, former State Department official Philippe Reines, along with Republican Strategist Rina Shah. Rina, it is really a fascinating turnaround here. That song has just been taken over by, frankly, just partisans. But the guy who wrote it says it's not that simple.

RINA SHAH, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, it's unsurprising that it would catch fire like this because we're in the era of grievance politics. It just completely lines up with a lot of what we saw performatively on stage in Milwaukee. This talk of how Washington doesn't serve anyone, and it's a lot of politicians and fat cats not doing the work of the people. Well, that seemed to come likely mostly from Vivek Ramaswamy. And he was calling out the people around him. And so that song, calling out people here in this city, saying they don't belong here they're unlike you and me, I could see that resonating with a great chunk of people out there.

PHILLIP: Okay, so you bring up Ramaswamy, so we'll get to that because this is really --

PHILIPPE REINES, HILLARY CLINTON SENIOR ADVISER: I don't get to comment on country music. I grew up in the Bronx in New York.

PHILLIP: I mean you're we're not moving totally off the topic because I do think that I mean as Rina is saying that the kind of synergy here between what Anthony Oliver is saying in the song and what Vivek Ramaswamy is trying to tap into, which is people who are somewhere in that mushy middle and they don't want to fit into either political category.

And it seems to be working really well for him. If you look at Republican voters, they who were asked in a Washington Post poll, they say that Ramaswamy was right up there with Ron DeSantis as one of the winners of this debate. Why do you think that he is really kind of tapping into something in Republican politics right now?

REINES: Well, you know, it's a little hard to say but I would start here. Mike Tyson had a saying that, when he was asked if he was worried about his opponent's plan, that everyone has a plan until they're punched in the face.


Meaning, once you actually, your strategy, the rubber hits the road, it might not stick.

PHILLIP: Am I getting that right? REINES: I'm saying it fast, okay. His strategy seems to have been to

punch everyone else in the face, which is strange because he's trying to be a disruptor. He's trying to be the outsider. He's trying to get in everyone's face, as if the Republican Party doesn't have that anymore. But they've got Donald Trump. So, unlike other gadflies in the past who were looking at the top, the people ahead of them in the polls or the president and saying they wouldn't be good, listen to what he said himself. He said that Donald Trump was the best president of the 21st century. So exactly why is he running?

PHILLIP: Maybe he's counting -- I mean maybe he's counting on one of these cases taking Trump out of the race. I mean, who knows? But one of the other things that strikes me, I mean, I've interviewed Ramaswamy on this program before, he has a lot of ideas and some of them are very outlandish. And here's what one Republican policy analyst told "The Washington Post". He doesn't seem to have done his homework on any policy issue. He comes up with these half-baked ideas that sound great to conservative audiences, but shows no thought, research or feasibility behind it."

PHILLIP: I mean, some of the ideas, one of them is basically disenfranchising anyone under the age of 24 unless they pass a test.

SHAH: Yeah. On their face, some of the ideas are very palatable. In fact, they seem really fresh and they get people thinking. They're intriguing. But I think what he wants most is Donald Trump to drop out so that he can come in and clinch this thing in a way that DeSantis hasn't been able to. DeSantis has been given this, what seems like a finite period of time, to say, I can do this. I can step up and be Trump. Well, Ramaswamy to me is trying to be Trump 2.0 in a way that he could never achieve.

Now, a few of these comments he's made I think are extremely disqualifying and show everybody, Nikki Haley most of all, who I think gave this performance that really appealed to the general population saying, we all have one thing in common. We want Joe Biden and Kamala Harris out of the White House. And Vivek Ramaswamy is missing the mark on that. He's going straight in to get MAGA. And then he's going to say, I'm going to come to the center and grab those moderates, too. Oh, and then, hey, everything else I'm saying is going to be palatable to you by then. No, nobody. 9-11, Putin, and climate change, those three areas, he's in trouble, he's in hot water.

PHILLIP: He actually walked back one of his, you know, the things that he got into trouble on the debate stage for this proposal to sort of defund Israel to some extent. He walked that back at a campaign stop today so I mean I think we're going to increasingly see that but this is not the first time that we've seen candidates like Ramaswamy outsiders who are coming up with you know, outlandish ideas -- was it 999, you remember that?

I mean so, we pull the numbers and looking back at some previous cycles here. Back in 2007, Mike Huckabee hit 21 percent. He was in the lead. Herman Cain in November of 2011 hit 18 percent in the lead. Ben Carson hit 21 percent in 2015 near -- very near in the lead at that point in the race. This happens especially in Republican politics, but it happens.

REINES: Well, you can ask President Howard Dean or President Rudy Giuliani how enduring those numbers are early in the primaries. What he's doing though is actually helpful to the primary field because what he did the other night was basically, again, by throwing punches everywhere, you could see who was able to take them and who was not.

I was very surprised to see that Christie, Chris Christie had a glass jaw when it came to him, but former Governor Haley, very surprising. Nikki Haley really just actually demolished him. So, in a way, he took them all out for a spin in a way that had they just been standing there without him or Donald Trump.

SHAH: Well, I agree because I was expecting Chris Christie land his punches and he wasn't able to land any of them. Meanwhile, Nikki Haley brought out the person she was 10 years ago. That was the Nikki Haley I loved a decade ago.

REINES: And I think Vivek was the one who did both.

PHILLIP: Yeah, and I think this is why debates matter. They matter for the people who quote, unquote "win", but also for the people who are getting that batting practice.

SHAH: But also Abby, we're in grievance politics, but we're also in the era of won't back down politics. And Vivek Ramaswamy knows that, and he's not going to change his tune or his stick anytime soon. Also, when you're Vivek and you, whatever it is he does now, you can say whatever you want. There are no consequences to it. No, seriously. I mean, it makes it a lot easier to debate.

PHILLIP: At this stage in the race, there really are not any consequences.

REINES: I can say whatever I want right now, it'd be a lot easier sitting here.

PHILLIP: I mean.

SHAH: As could I.

PHILLIP: All right, Philippe and Rina, thank you both very much. Have a good weekend, guys.

REINES: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And up ahead for us, NBA superstar LeBron James says that he knows now what caused his 18-year-old son, Bronny, to suffer cardiac arrest during basketball practice at USC last month. So, we'll explain what happened there and talk about Bronny's chances of a full recovery.




ASHER: We now know what caused Bronny James, the son of NBA superstar LeBron James, to suffer a cardiac arrest during basketball practice at the University of California last month. In a statement, his family says that it stems from a congenital heart defect which can and will be treated. And they say that they're confident that he'll make a full recovery and will return to basketball in the near future.

So, let's talk about it with Rachel Nichols, host of Headliners with Rachel Nichols on Showtime. And also CNN Medical Analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner, the Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Program at George Washington University Hospital. Dr. Reiner, I wanna start with you on this, I think, very significant revelation here. What does this diagnosis of a congenital heart defect mean?


JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Well, it's a pretty-broad category. In Bronny's age group, 18 years old, the overwhelmingly most likely diagnosis remains something called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which is a congenital thickening of the heart muscle with also sort of an abnormal architecture of the heart muscle that predisposes the heart to a potentially devastating heart rhythm, which apparently Bronny had last month when he collapsed during the game.

Other possibilities include anomalies of the coronary arteries. Years ago, a famous ball player named Pistol Pete Maravich died a few years after retiring from the NBA. And it turns out he had a single coronary artery, an unusual abnormality. And these kinds of things can be found in young athletes who have these kinds of arrests. We don't know which particular disorder he has, but it's encouraging that the family believes that there is a treatment that... not only will help him return to a basketball, but which will prevent a subsequent event from occurring.

PHILLIP: Yeah. It is interesting that they said that they feel pretty confident about that. I mean, Rachel, how is the sports world reacting to this tonight? I mean, there are pretty high hopes for Bronny from his father, perhaps most of all.

RACHEL NICHOLS, HOST, "HEADLINERS" WITH RACHEL NICHOLS ON SHOWTIME: Yeah, I mean look, the good thing is they've identified this, they clearly know how to treat it, and people who have been around sports for a long time know congenital heart defects do not stop athletes from playing sports. In fact, there's some very famous instances of it. Snowboarder Sean White has a congenital heart defect. U.S. soccer player, world champion Lauren Holliday had a congenital heart defect. There's a lot of players who have overcome this, so it's perfectly reasonable for LeBron, for Bronny, for the entire family to expect that he will get back to the court.

I have to mention also Tedy Brusci who has won three super bowls with the New England Patriots, also a congenital heart defect and that's a much more physical sport than basketball even. So we have seen time after time example of this. The thing also that he can do is look to his own teammate. This is bizarre but exactly almost a year to the day that Bronny James collapsed, a year earlier, one of his teammates at USC had collapsed from a cardiac arrest and in fact came back to play in the middle of last season.

I do want to tell you this, tough. I think because Bronny has been thinking about basketball, and I can tell you he personally loves basketball, I think it is great news for him and his family that he is able to come back and play. But I will say that this is not a kid who needs to play basketball. Obviously, he will have a terrific life if he never steps on the court again. And he has a family that feels very strongly about the fact that if he was in any kind of serious danger, they would never let him pick up a basketball again. So, you can be confident this is the right decision.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, for sure, he doesn't have, he doesn't certainly, doesn't have to do this. But Dr. Reiner, I mean, as Rachel just laid out, I mean, there are so many examples of this, but as a doctor, how do you determine how quickly someone can recover, perhaps get back on the court, and what will factor into the like, the probability that this will happen for Bronny?

REINER: So, I think, Abby, what's going to dictate how quickly he can get back on the court is really two things. How effectively the treatment can prevent this from happening again. And the morbidity, how enervating is the treatment. If a non-invasive therapy or a series of drugs can prevent this, then he might get back on the court very quickly. If he requires open heart surgery, then it might be, you know, much later in the season or next season.

So, the devil isn't in the details. I think the positive message is that they understand what happened to Bronny. And that's key. You can't treat something that you haven't identified. And they feel they have a good treatment plan going forward. They've discussed who they've met with, and they met with some of the best people in the country. So, I'm confident that the diagnosis that they have arrived at has been done with a very thorough and careful analysis.

PHILLIP: Yeah. Rachel, we have about a minute left. Bronny was projected to be a first-round pick in next summer's NBA draft. What do you think happens next?

NICHOLS: Well, look, what I hope is this has ripples throughout the sports, without, throughout the sports world, these kinds of cardiac arrests are the leading cause of death in young athletes. It's very significant that this has happened in front of the world stage, first to Damar Hamlin and then with Bronny James, in getting people to pay attention to this. And in fact, we've seen some legislative action on the heels of all of this. Less than half of the states in the U.S. require defibrillators to be at high school sporting events, despite the fact that it's young athletes who are affected by this the most of any athlete.


So, the idea that we could see that legislation change in Pennsylvania, there's been a law introduced by a state senator earlier this year that quickly became known as Damar's Law because he was literally watching television, saw Damar Hamlin collapse and decided, well, why don't we have these protections for our student athletes in Pennsylvania? So, I think we're going to only see more of that. And if this very scary incident can lead to greater protections for greater young men and women, I think that's an amazing, amazing future.

PHILLIP: And it could save a lot of lives. Rachel Nichols and Dr. Jonathan Reiner, lucky to have you both tonight. Thank you.

NICHOLS: Thanks.

REINER: Thank you. And up next for us, did a catastrophic in-flight incident take down that Russian plane reportedly carrying mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin? CNN has now reviewed flight data and videos, and will explain what our analysis suggests.




ASHER: Russian investigators say that they've now recovered 10 bodies and flight recorders from the plane crash that was believed to have killed the Wagner boss, Yevgeny Prigozhin. An analysis by CNN and aviation experts suggests that the plane had at least one catastrophic in-flight incident before falling out of the sky. And now U.S. officials tell CNN that they believe that whatever happened was deliberate and that one possibility being explored was an onboard explosion.

Now, the Kremlin is saying today that it had nothing to do with the crash. It happened two months to the day after Prigozhin and Wagner staged their failed insurrection, the biggest challenge yet to Putin's authority during his rule. And coming up, former USC star Reggie Bush wants his Heisman Trophy back and he's filing a defamation suit against the NCAA to get it. Laura Coates breaks down that case, next.