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Pressure Mounts As Shutdown Looms, GOP Infighting Boils; Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) Tumbles 13 Points In New Hampshire CNN Poll; Ex- Trump Aide Cassidy Hutchinson Says, Giuliani Groped Me; Biden Offers Work Permits To Venezuelan Migrants; AG Garland Defends On The House Judiciary Hearing Over The Trump Indictments; U.S. Senate Confirms New Joint Chiefs Of Staff Chairmanship While It Bypassed The Blockade. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 20, 2023 - 22:00   ET


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Reflecting back, on her triumph, the tennis icon said, quote, "More than a tennis match, it was a catalyst for social change & one of the most important days of my life.


We've come a long way since 1973, but we are not done yet. Let's keep going for it. Powerful words from her there.

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

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Thanks so much, Kaitlin, an important moment for history and for all women. Have a good night.

And good evening, everyone. I'm Abby Phillip.

In just a few moments, I'll speak to Chris Wallace about some of the big developments from the campaign trail, including Donald Trump taking heat on abortion, more bad news for Ron DeSantis, and, of course, questions about whether Democrats are perhaps getting a little too cocky.

But, first, as people fight over hoodies and bikinis on the Senate floor, in just nine days, the American government is scheduled to shut down. That means that agencies and parks will close, the men and women in uniform who serve this nation won't be paid, your flights, they may not take off on time, everything from cancer trials to food inspections will stop, and it could cost the economy billions of dollars. It's because House Republicans right now are in full paralysis over infighting.

Just moments ago, Speaker Kevin McCarthy introduced a pretty vague measure that would extend the deadline, another 30 days, caving to some of the demands by the hardliners in his caucus. But, again, that's only a short-term bill. We will be right back here in a month.

The hardliners, they want more promises on permanent spending cuts and on border restrictions, among other things.

One of those Republicans joins me now, that's Congressman Tim Burchett of Tennessee. Welcome, Congressman, thanks for joining us tonight.

REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): Thank you for having me on, ma'am.

PHILLIP: We have some new reporting tonight that Speaker McCarthy laid out for you and other members in a meeting tonight a plan that would keep the government open for 30 days and would do that at levels of one point $5.47 trillion of spending. It also adds a commission to address the debt and border security in that package. My question to you is, are you on board with this plan?

BURCHETT: No, ma'am, I'm not currently. The package, as you described, I mean, we take in them around $5 trillion a year and conservative estimates say we're probably going to spend $7 trillion a year. We just passed $33 trillion in debt.

And these commissions, they don't have any legislative ability. And if we give them that, are we violating the Constitution by giving somebody authority over ourselves?

We've had these bipartisan blue ribbon committees in the past, ma'am. Elections have consequences. And my folks back home are saying, quit spending this much money. And a continued resolution is just that. It's a 30-day fix.

And how in the world do the 50 states manage they pass a budget. I'm sure your family has a budget. My family has a budget, a church or synagogue has a budget, every charity in the in the country has a budget except the United States government. Ma'am, we haven't passed a budget since the 70s, since the 70s.

Now, Jodey Arrington, God blessing from Texas, chairman of the budget committee, I used to serve on it, I asked to come off of it because they didn't do anything, has now formulated a budget that we can balance our budget within ten years now.

If you do the math within eight years, if we continue down this path, the single largest item in our budget will be interest This is non- sustainable. This country will collapse.

PHILLIP: All right. So --

BURCHETT: And -- go ahead, I'm sorry.

PHILLIP: So, I'm hearing you say you right now are a no on what Speaker McCarthy is proposing that will come to a vote this week.

BURCHETT: Yes, ma'am.

PHILLIP: Would you support any continuing resolution, a short-term continuing resolution, no matter what is in it?

BURCHETT: Well, never say never, ma'am, but the way you get somebody off a heroin is not given a more heroin. And the way you get people this country off these so-called continued resolutions is quit passing these dead gum continued resolutions. Let's be adults. Let's get in the room. Let's figure out what's important and quit with the giveaway programs. You know, we give 114 unchecked billion dollars in Ukraine yet the poor people in Maui are suffering, the people in Pennsylvania with the chemical spill. You know, every time there's a national catastrophe we seem to be able to we've been able to find the money for somebody overseas but yet our own people are suffering.

And we can't -- look at the UAW up there that we gave -- we gave the automakers huge amounts of money to develop these basically non- existent electric vehicles, and yet by doing that, we deflated the economy, we inflated -- we caused inflation.


Now, the auto workers can't survive on the amount of money that they're making.

PHILLIP: So, how many others are there like you who are a no right now in your conference?

BURCHJETT: There are seven locked in concrete. I would say there's probably four others that are pretty close. And there's a couple of other wild cards out there and it only takes three.

PHILLIP: So, when Matt Gaetz, your colleague, says that there are seven, he said that today, that there are seven who would vote no, no matter what. He's correct in that. And does he speak for you? Are you a part of the seven?

BURCHETT: Well, nobody speaks for me, ma'am, but yes, ma'am, if you were to count the seven, I am one of those and Matt is correct.

PHILLIP: And you are saying that there are at least three more who are also unlikely to agree to this package.

BURCHETT: Yes, ma'am. And there's a couple -- excuse me, ma'am. And there's a couple more that, due to whatever reason, don't want their name out. And I understand that because you end up taking a lot of abuse and name calling.

And it's -- and the reality, ma'am, we've known this day, September 30th. I mean, it comes around every year. Yet what do we do in the month of August? We went home, we work from home. We did the constituent service back home. I probably work harder at home than I do here. But still we spent the whole month of August at home. We come back in, we said, we'll never do this. We're not going to be like the Democrats. And yet here we are.

And here's what will happen. We'll pass a continued resolution. We'll come back in 30 days, pass another continued resolution. And then we'll try to pass what's called an omnibus. And this is what gets us in $33 trillion in debt, ma'am. We pass these huge packages. And like Nancy Pelosi said, we got to pass it so we know what's in it. You read down until you find what's in your district and then you vote for the bill. That's why we're $32 trillion in the hole. PHILLIP: I hear what you're saying. Congress did go away for six weeks and wait until the last second to deal with this issue. But, Congressman, I am wondering about the votes. You're saying this is going to go the way all these other things have gone, you're going to pass a continuing resolution. Where are those votes going to come from? And if Speaker McCarthy has to reach across the aisle to Democrats in order to get the votes, to fund the government, would you try to move to vacate him from the speakership?

BURCHETT: I haven't really put much thought into that, ma'am. I'm more worried about the collapse of our country and our monetary system. But that is a viable option. That is very much a viable option and there's a lot of people talking about it.

PHILLIP: So, would you, at this moment, if you're a no, there could very well be no deal on this proposal? We're getting closer and closer to a government shutdown. Are you willing to allow a government shutdown to get what you're demanding?

BURCHETT: Ma'am, a government shutdown is the worst thing possible. It is a complete -- we have to capitulate on our duties, which we have, which this Congress has, which this government has done ever since. I've been here five years. And every year we've done the same thing, Democrats or Republicans. We're finally just found enough people with backbone to say enough is enough. We're not going to spend this much money. We're going to pass a budget like all the states do.

PHILLIP: So, that's a yes on a government shutdown?

BURCHETT: If it happens, it happens. So, it doesn't have to happen. Leadership can come to us with a conservative budget. We can pass Jodey Arrington's budget, which he's worked very hard to do. But because of egos and other things, they'll pat him on the head and telling me he did a great job and give him his ten minutes in conference to explain it. But it just -- it goes against the status quo. It's about staying in power and that's what both parties do, ma'am. And they sell us -- you know, the Democrats, they spend all this money on these woke programs. And what do we do? We spend all this money on missile defense programs and both parties own stock in it. It just never ends, ma'am.

Eventually, somebody has got to say enough is enough. And we've got to say, let's -- they sent us here to Washington to do a dead gum job. Let's do it. Let's balance this budget. The one thing the one thing we're required to do is to pass a budget. Yet for 30 years, we have we have thrown that duty away. And the American public knows it and they're tired of it.

PHILLIP: On that, I think everyone agrees. It is Congress' responsibility to get this stuff done. Congressman Tim Burchett, some news there that you are one of what you're saying, seven holdouts who are no tonight on this new proposal from Speaker McCarthy, thanks for joining us tonight on all of that.

BURCHETT: Thank you, ma'am. PHILLIP: And from chaos on the Hill to a competition on the campaign trail, a brand new CNN poll shows support in New Hampshire for Governor Ron DeSantis is tumbling as his rivals battle him for second place.

And joining me now to discuss all of this is CNN Anchor and Host of CNN's Who's Talking to Chris Wallace, Chris Wallace himself. Chris, thanks for being here tonight.

It looks like in New Hampshire, they are not all that into Ron DeSantis. It's pretty remarkable. Donald Trump in this new poll is the clear frontrunner.


He's at 39 percent support. But there is a four-way tie now within the margin of error for second place between DeSantis, who's dropped 13 points, and is now at 10 percent. And then there's Chris Christie at 11, Haley at 12. To me, this is one of the first times we've really seen a lot of movement. And it's not the kind of movement that Ron DeSantis, I think, has been hoping for.

CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: No, I agree. That's the lead to this poll. DeSantis has dropped 13 points since July. More than half of his support is gone, and especially among moderates. And he was in a tier. He wasn't up there with Trump. But he was certainly in a tier ahead of those other guys. And now, suddenly, not only is he not second, I guess he's running, what, fifth or sixth or something. And Ramaswamy is actually in the lead of the second tier.

It's good news for Trump. He doesn't have the majority support that you see him nationally and in a number of other states, but still, he's at 39 percent, and his closest contender, Ramaswamy, is at 13. I think he would take that.

I also think it's bad news for Chris Christie. If there's one state where he's got to do well, it's in a more moderate Republican state like New Hampshire. He's down at around 11 percent. If he finishes --

PHILLIP: Do a little bit better than Ron DeSantis, though, I have to say, I mean, if you're Chris Christie.

WALLACE: But if he finishes at that low with less than a third of the support of Trump, I don't know how he would continue. And as you say, the lead, DeSantis in real trouble at least in New Hampshire.

PHILLIP: Yes. I mean, his campaign would say they are focusing on Iowa. But polls like this are really bad for momentum, which is important at this stage.

Chris, I want to turn to the other topic, frankly, here in Washington, which is what's going on on Capitol Hill in terms of a potential impeachment. There were some interesting remarks from a staunch supporter of former President Trump, and that's Republican Senator J.D. Vance. He told Axios quote if we get too far ahead of the evidence, then, yes, I think the American people will penalize us. This is really kind of saying out loud what is known, which is that there is not a ton of evidence yet.

Do you think that there is a risk here that the impeachment inquiry could backfire on Republicans?

WALLACE: Yes, there certainly is a risk. I mean, look at it this way, Abby. If I were to ask you what was the Clinton impeachment about. We'd say Monica Lewinsky's blue dress. If I say, what was the first Trump impeachment about, we'd say it was his phone call was Zelenskyy. when you say what this impeachment inquiry, it's not an actual impeachment yet, is about, you know, Hunter Biden, what Hunter Biden was doing overseas, whether -- but in other words there isn't any, at least at this point, there there. And unless they find it in the course of this inquiry, I think that's a problem for Republicans.

I also think that regardless of whether they find it with an impeachment inquiry, it's going to increase the pressure on Speaker McCarthy to actually go for impeachment.

PHILLIP: And it's a really important point that it may very well be that all of this ends up being a coin toss in terms of how it flies with the American people both in Biden's favor or against Biden. And on that front, I mean, we are seeing these reports that the Biden White House is advising all these anxious Democrats to relax, to chill out. They're hoping and telling them that the issue of abortion and just Donald Trump being in the race could be enough to propel Biden to re-election.

Is that overconfidence in this kind of, you know, Even Steven electorate that we have here between the two parties? It almost seems like it perhaps could go either way, and that's wishful thinking that they just can rely on Trump to win the day.

WALLACE: Well, first of all, it's exactly what you would expect the Biden White House and the Biden campaign to say. They're not going to say, you know, it's time to panic. So, obviously, you know, it's very much of their advantage to say chill out.

I have to say, and I've been around this town a long time, as you know, I don't know that I've ever seen such a disconnect between what the Democratic establishment is saying, what a party structure is saying, and what the mood seems to be among voters, because you keep hearing this sense of, well, you know, Trump is going to be a real down -- a real hindrance for Republicans, abortion is a very strong issue now with the overturning of Roe for Democrats. But the fact is, when you ask the voters in poll after poll, the most recent poll, two- thirds of Democrats say that they would prefer to see somebody else as the Democratic nominee.

PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, I think the White House and the Biden campaign's argument, twofold. One, the last midterm elections, voters were just as unhappy with the choices between the two parties, but it was abortion that made a huge difference for them.


And even back in the last presidential in 2020, between Biden and Trump, I mean, you could argue Democrats didn't think that Biden would get out of the primary, and he did as the nominee after doing really poorly in the first two nominating contests. So, there's that. But, look, past is not always prologue. I think you and I know that as people who watch politics. You can't always bank on what has happened in the past.

One last thing, Chris, before I let you go, in the halls of the Senate, old customs, you know, they die hard, but all but three Republican senators have now published a letter to the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, criticizing his decision there to relax the chamber's dress code. That move was seen, at least, in response to Senator John Fetterman's preference for wearing shorts and a hoodie, and there he is on the screen, looking as comfortable as ever.

You've covered Capitol Hill for a long time. I've been in those halls. I remember, you know, having to wear a jacket, even when it's 100 degrees outside in D.C. What do you make about the squabble over the dress code on Capitol Hill?

WALLACE: Well, you're asking the wrong guy, because, as you know, seeing me in the halls, I wear a tie and jacket --

PHILLIP: You are always dressed to (INAUDIBLE), Chris Wallace.

WALLACE: Maybe not Saturdays, but almost all the time.

Look, maybe there's some bending. I know that business casual has become the fashion, or whatever, but, really, in the United States Senate, a hoodie and shorts and sneakers? You know, I'm not easily offended. And, I mean, if they're going to go on this way, it's not the end of the republic.

But, gee, it does seem to me that saying that Fetterman can dress like that and then you had Susan Collins, a very proper Republican senator from Maine, saying maybe she'll wear a bikini. I actually think that, you know, if there was a question of signing on the line about we need to have some kind of dress code that's a little better than the Fetterman standard, I probably would have signed.

PHILLIP: I mean, well, look, to be fair, there have been some Republicans who have dressed down in the Senate too. There's Ted Cruz. He sometimes likes to wear his workout clothes on the Hill. Former Senator Richard Burr was sometimes in a polo shirt and shorts and flip-flops.

And let's be honest, I mean, when it comes to decorum, I don't think the dress code is the problem over on Capitol Hill. This has been a pretty rowdy Congress, if you ask me. I mean, is this just kind of making, you know, hay out of something that doesn't really matter all that much?

WALLACE: Abby, when you stop, when you start with a tie, it's a slippery slope. I don't know where it goes from here.

PHILLIP: Who knows what could happen if, God forbid, you wear shorts, God forbid, women wear sleeveless dresses. Capitol Hill, stay the same always. Chris Wallace, you stay the same too. Thanks for joining us tonight.

WALLACE: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: And coming up next, former Trump aide Cassidy Hutchinson is accusing Rudy Giuliani of sexual assault. Her former colleague, Alyssa Farah Griffin, joins me next.

Plus, the usually calm Merrick Garland getting into it with the Republicans on Capitol Hill in a fiery hearing today as he faces questions about the indictments of Trump and Hunter Biden.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The idea that someone with my family background would discriminate against any religion is so outrageous. It's so absurd.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Attorney General, it was your FBI that --



PHILLIP: An explosive allegation from Cassidy Hutchinson. She is, remember, the former Trump White House aide who gave that bombshell testimony to the House January 6th committee.

But in a new book that is coming out next week, Hutchinson claims that Rudy Giuliani groped her backstage at Trump's January 6th rally on The Ellipse that preceded the attack on the Capitol.

Joining me now to discuss this allegation is CNN Political Commentator Alyssa Farah Griffin. She's the former Trump White House communications director and someone who knows Cassidy personally.

But these allegations are very serious and very damning. She said Giuliani put his hand under her skirt, or under her blazer, then her skirt while they were backstage during Trump's speech. She told you about this?

ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I trust her implicitly. I remember about two years ago, her alluding to something, and I don't want to misrepresent the words, either he was creepy or handsy with me.

But to put it into bigger context, those of us who were working the West Wing at that time knew that Rudy Giuliani was a wild card. He was something who was unpredictable. Being careful on how I say this, there were concerns, I don't know if they're true, that he would come to the White House campus inebriated.

So, that was something that even up to the former president's level, there would be concerns, don't let him do television hits from the White House lawn, be cautious about what meetings he's in. And, frankly, the pattern of behavior makes sense to me. It doesn't surprise me. It's horrifying. It does not make it acceptable. And just big picture, this is such a historic, horrifying, bad moment for our country, this rally that's happening on The Ellipse, the attempt to overthrow the election. And in that moment, this is also happening. I don't think you can really fully process how significant that is, but I believe her implicitly.

PHILLIP: It's layers upon layers here. And just so people understand, I mean, this idea that Rudy Giuliani was inebriated has come up before on the night of the election, for example, that's been reported. But had you ever witnessed Giuliani doing inappropriate things, other women being concerned about being around him yourself perhaps?

GRIFFIN: My sense with Giuliani was I didn't witness so much probably the sexual harassment. It was just there was a sense that he was not in control of himself, that he was somebody who was liable to say anything, to do anything. And there was a sense among women in the White House that you didn't want to be around him. So, I think there may have been sort of that almost unspoken idea of like there's something off here, you don't want to be near him.

And, by the way, the former president knew it. Even though they've been friends for many years and there're these times that they're close, he obviously called him when his White House counsel gave him the counsel he did not want, he recognized that Rudy Giuliani was not the man he was 20, 30 years ago.


He recognized and openly talked about the fact that he had really kind of had been come debilitated from who he previously was.

PHILLIP: The Giuliani spokesperson and political adviser gave the statement about the allegations saying it's fair to ask Cassidy Hutchinson why she is just now coming out with these allegations from two and a half years ago as part of the marketing campaign for her upcoming book release. This is a disgusting lie against Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a man whose distinguished career in public service includes taking down the Mafia, cleaning up New York City and comforting the nation following September 11th.

What's your response? But just to play devil's advocate here, this is coming out when she's writing a book.

GRIFFIN: So, keep in mind the context of this. Because Cassidy Hutchinson stayed after January 6th for several months kind of was trying to figure out where her footing was going to be and what she wanted to do next, being horrified by the events that happened. And it was only once kind of the legal ramifications caught up with Donald Trump that she felt empowered to tell what she had seen with regard to trying to overthrow the election, the president's actions, what was happening in the West Wing.

She's dealing with things that are so much bigger than herself. I don't want to speak for her, but I think this was probably almost something you put in the back of your mind because she's there testifying an open Congress against the former president of the United States. She's sitting down with the Department of Justice and the Fulton County district attorney.

So, I can't speak to that, but I would say this. That statement reads like it was written 25 years ago when Rudy Giuliani was a respected former mayor. This is a person who has diminished himself in every single way, has proven himself completely unfit to be advising anyone who's in office and I completely stand by what Cassidy said.

PHILLIP: So, much has changed for Giuliani in that time. But to your point about all the things that Cassidy is going through both publicly and privately, she writes this in her book. Trump continues to hurl insults in my direction. I learn how it feels to be on the other side, but I know enough not to react.

That's what he wants me to do. He wants me to be defensive. He wants to know when he's hurt someone or gotten a rise out of them. He wants to project his hurt onto the source of it. Trump doesn't care if you dispute him or call him a liar. Only silence bothers him. Being ignored drives him mad.

Do you agree?

GRIFFIN: Spot on in that. And I have seen so many people take the bait and get goaded into fights with him. The best thing that someone who's being attacked by him can do is ignore it. And, by the way, he takes it particularly harshly when women criticize him and when women speak out against him. We've seen it on this network, when he's come after Kaitlan Collins and others.

PHILLIP: Both of us known this personally.

GRIFFIN: We've both been on the receiving end. She is spot on in her analysis.

PHILLIP: Well, I think attention is the greatest currency to Donald Trump. And I think she understands that pretty well. Alyssa Farah Griffin, thank you so much.

And breaking news tonight, the Biden administration will now offer work permits to nearly half a million migrants as pressure mounts from blue states. New York's Governor Kathy Hochul just met with President Biden right here in New York City and she joins me live next.



PHILLIP: The breaking news tonight as migrant crossings at the border surge again. The Biden administration moments ago, announcing it will offer work permits and temporary legal status to nearly half a million Venezuelan migrants. Now this comes as President Biden faced pressure from blue states including the state of New York.

Let's discuss this with New York's own Governor Kathy Hochul who met with President Biden just this week. When you met with President Biden was this one of the things did you get a commitment from him in that meeting to dop something like this? GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D-NY): We have been talking to the president, the

White House, the secretary of Homeland Security for many months, in fact well over a year, about our desire to have federal support for money, locations, but also work authorization because you have people here who are in shelters supported by the city and Mayor Adams is doing an extraordinary job, but they can't work.

So, top of my list has been temporary protective status for Venezuelans. Yes, we spoke about it yesterday. The president tipped me off and said, we've been heard. He understands that the announcement would come today.

PHILLIP: Why did it take so long?

HOCHUL: Well, obviously, there's a lot of competing interests. You have to be certain that you're not going to take a supportive policy that's going to draw more people. Because places like New York really are at capacity. We have large hearts. You want to be generous and supportive to people who are experiencing a humanitarian crisis.

But there is a limit to what we can do. So the fear would probably be, and I don't want to speak for them, but you have to ensure that we can also have controls at the borders and not welcome even more people to come who think they're going to come for the job. So this is a good approach, and I thank the president for having a limit. This is for people who came before July 31st, so it's not an enticement for more to come after. I think that was an important consideration.

But also, it really does have to slow down at the border because the volume keeps growing and growing.

PHILLIP: It only applies to Venezuelans, and this is a huge chunk of people, it's almost half a million people, but do you think that this will actually have a measurable effect on the problems that New York specifically is facing?

HOCHUL: It certainly will because about 41 percent of the people in our shelters today are from Venezuela. They're literally from around the world. West Africa, South and Central America, they're coming from all over, but we have to let the word out that when you come to New York, you're not going to have more hotel rooms. We don't have capacity. So we have to also message properly that we're at our limit.

If you're going to leave your country, go somewhere else. But the smarter thing is to apply for asylum before you leave your country. And then you'll have a different experience when you arrive. But we're just trying to deal with the crisis we have right now. We need to get people out of the shelters and into jobs. And we have a shortage of workers.

PHILLIP: Some people have said that New York's right, its mandate for shelter. is a draw for people to come here and they've called on it to either be paused or rescinded. Would you support anything like that?

[22:35:09] HOCHUL: Yes, I would because the original premise behind the Right to Shelter was for, started as for homeless men on the streets, people who are experiencing AIDS, then it was expanded to families. That is the right thing to do.

But never was it envisioned that this would be an unlimited universal right or obligation on the city to have to house literally the entire world.

PHILLIP: Would you like to see it go away entirely or at a temporary basis?

HOCHUL: No, this is one of the reasons we don't have an enormous homelessness problem. We have about 4,500 people on the streets of New York tonight. That is far too many. Other states, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, they have tens of thousands, I mean 90,000 people. So we want to make sure that no families end up on the streets. We don't want anything to happen to our children.

But we also have to let the world know that there have to be limits to this. There is a limit to what we can handle as a state, and it's financially going to start ensuring that there are cuts in services. The mayor has said this. The state of New York has already committed $1.7 billion this year alone, and we're just starting to head into our planning for next year. It's a huge strain, but it's also an opportunity to take care of the people who have arrived from Venezuela because their conditions in their home country makes us realize they don't have anything to go back to.

PHILLIP: Yeah. Mayor Adams did not meet with President Biden this week while you did, and he's been very vocal. He has a certain, as he says, he has a certain style. But it seems like that relationship has become strained. Has that made it harder for New York to get what it needs to solve this problem?

HOCHUL: No, and I'm working closely with the mayor, and he has his style and I have mine. I went to the White House, spent 2.5 hours there a couple of weeks ago. I was very persistent that something has to change right now. So I'm not going to speak to that, you know. We're allies in this together.

The White House understands they're not trying to hurt the mayor. They're not trying to hurt the city. And this is an important first step for the mayor and I to be able to manage the scale of people that are in shelters, get them jobs. And I've deployed already state government as of an hour ago. I have 16 agencies sending volunteers identifying the individuals who can benefit, and let's get them into the jobs we have.

PHILLIP: Just real quick before we go, does this make you understand better what border cities have been going through for years?

HOCHUL: Of course we do. We need a strong federal immigration policy, full stop. And that's why instead of talking about shutting down the government, I'm calling on the nine Republican members of Congress from New York and the rest of our Republican leadership in Washington to do the right thing and meet with President Biden and come up with a comprehensive immigration plan that deals with the border but also takes care of the people who are here. That's what we need.

PHILLIP: Governor Kathy Hochul, thank you so much for joining us tonight on short notice on this breaking news.

And coming up next, Attorney General Merrick Garland is probably still cooling off after a fiery hearing before the House Judiciary Committee during which House Republicans grilled him on the indictments of Donald Trump and on Hunter Biden.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY-GENERAL: I am not the president's lawyer. I will add I am not Congress' prosecutor. The Justice Department works for the American people.

REP. JAMES MICHAEL JOHNSON (R-LA): You don't recollect whether you've talked with anybody at FBI headquarters about an investigation of the president's son?

GARLAND: I don't believe that I did.

REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R-KY): Aren't you in fact in contempt of Congress when you refused to answer?

REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D-CA): My colleague just said that you should be held in contempt of Congress and that is quite rich because the guy who's leaving the hearing room right now, Mr. Jordan, is about 500 days into evading his subpoena.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): Was the president telling the truth or was he lying when he said that President Biden told you to indict him?

GARLAND: No one has told me to indict, and in this case, the decision to indict was made by the special counsel.

REP. DAN BISHOP (R-NC): Every lawyer who's ever practiced understands the implications of allowing statutes or limitations to expire.

GARLAND: Prosecutors--

BISHOP: Do you not even know as you sit here whether that occurred or not?

GARLAND: I left it to Mr. Weiss whether to bring charges or not.

BISHOP: I'm not asking for the excuses. I'm asking whether you're aware of that fact, sir.

GARLAND: I'm going to say again. I'm going to say again and again if necessary. I did not interfere with, did not investigate, did not make determinations.

BISHOP: See, those are statements in --


PHILLIP: Joining me now is Congressman Steve Cohen. He's a member of the House Judiciary Committee. Congressman, quite the chaotic hearing today on Capitol Hill. Were you satisfied with how the Attorney General answered your questions and also those of your Republican counterparts?


REP. STEVE COHEN (D-TN), HOUSE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE MEMBER: I think General Garland answered sufficiently and correctly and honestly. Everything he has done has been to promote justice and the rule of law. They don't see that because they are supporting Donald Trump and everything he does in this whole hearing was to try to help Donald Trump show some type of how-boutism that, oh, they did this to them, they're doing this to us, the Justice Department's been weaponized.

If the Justice Department was weaponized, they would not have prosecuted Michael Cohen. Of course, that was Bill Barr when Donald Trump should have been prosecuted as individual one. Merrick Garland didn't go after individual one, even though I asked him to on several occasions. It was obvious he was the person who was involved with Michael Cohen, who didn't go to jail, and he didn't go after Donald Trump on an easy case.

PHILLIP: Obviously, a big topic of the hearing today was about to what extent, if any, there was any involvement from higher levels of the DOJ in the decisions, the charging decisions as it relates to Hunter Biden and the attorney general. He pretty flatly rejected allegations that this Hunter Biden investigation was tainted by politics.

He said he didn't interfere with the probe in any way, but how can he know if there was no interference, if he wasn't involved?

COHEN: Well, he wasn't involved, and that's the interference that would have taken place. I don't know that anybody underneath him, there was no reason to suspect anybody else did. The suggestion was that he's the only person that would be above Mr. Weiss and the only person that could have interfered in that direction.

PHILLIP: Why didn't Garland appoint a special prosecutor, David Weiss, sooner. I think that's one of the other key questions here, if that was one of the key ways to sort of project to the public that this was an investigation that was going to be done without any sort of appearance of political pressure.

COHEN: I think Merrick Garland is a man of such rectitude that he doesn't even conjure up the thoughts that have been expressed by Republicans that there could have been interference. He gave Mr. Weiss, without giving him a special prosecutor status, the full authorities to conduct the investigation and to go forward with the facts that he found and how they needed to be meted with the law to make indictments as necessary. He allowed that to happen.

PHILLIP: Don't you think, though, that it would have been helpful if Attorney General Garland were able to say why he decided on a special counsel his decision-making process to go there. Wouldn't that go a little bit of a ways to help alleviate some of the concerns that some Americans might have about how this investigation is being handled?

COHEN: Not really. I think most of the concerns are simply, again, Donald Trump through Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz and others, all, just about all those people on the Judiciary Committee, many of whom were involved in January 6th and asked for pardons trying to do political things just to raise issues in the public's minds which have no merit whatsoever.

The impeachment of Joe Biden with no facts whatsoever is just anathema to our Constitution. You're supposed to have the facts before you do anything in the way of an investigation. There's no scintilla of any evidence that Joe Biden benefited from any of Hunter Biden's activities.

PHILLIP: Republicans today also questioned the attorney general about former -- Hunter Biden's former business partner Devin Archer's testimony to the Oversight Committee where Archer said that Hunter was selling quote "the illusion of access to his father." Would you say that selling the illusion of access by a family member of a vice president or a president is appropriate or ethical?

COHEN: I don't think it's appropriate and I don't necessarily think it's ethical. But I don't think the way Hunter Biden thinks. And there's nothing even Devin Archer said that. And apparently, it's true.

He also said that Joe Biden didn't do anything wrong. And he said it many times because Hunter Biden tried to make it the appearance that Mr. Big or whoever was involved or listening, that doesn't mean that he got anything out of it or he did anything to further any of Hunter Biden's escapades. So I think Hunter Biden is a whole different issue from the president of the United States.

PHILLIP: All right, Congressman Steve Cohen, busy week right now on Capitol Hill. Thank you for joining us tonight.

COHEN: You're very welcome.

PHILLIP: And just in, Donald Trump just threw a curveball into the already contentious talks to avoid a government shutdown. What he's now demanding Republicans do next.



PHILLIP: So at the top of the show, you heard my interview with one of the seven Republican hardliners who are threatening now to shut down the government. And just moments ago, Kevin McCarthy's headache just got a little bit worse. Donald Trump has now come out against that short-term spending bill, demanding that Republicans defund the investigations into him as part of the negotiations.

Joining me now is former chief of staff to Vice President Mike Pence, Marc Short. So Marc, that's quite a demand from the former president. What's your take?

MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT PENCE: It is. It's kind of hard to know what the requests are at this point. I mean, Abby, the reality is that we're now at $33 trillion in debt. For members who want to say enough is enough, we need to begin addressing this, roughly 74 percent of our spending is on entitlements, and that's not even on the table. What we're talking about is really a small fraction of our deficit that we're talking about shutting the government down, and now we're throwing in new objections to it as well.


It seems that we're headed toward a shutdown at this point.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, you heard Tim Burgett. He says he's one of seven. That's more than enough to stop this. He says there are three more who are considering noes. And when I asked him about whether he'd be willing to shut down the government, he basically said, whatever happens, happens.

SHORT: Well, I think practically the reality is that if a bill is not passed in the House, then it weakens Kevin's hands as far as negotiations. So they're going to get left with the Senate bill that is even more spending than what the House would be able to negotiate. So their inability to actually pass something is an ultimately lead to a shutdown and a solution to which will be passing a Senate bill that actually has more spending.

PHILLIP: So is this just, you know, brinksmanship for the sake of brinksmanship?

SHORT: It appears so. I think that there was a time when there was a lot of these fights I think were grounded frankly in principle. It seems that today much of these fights are grounded in performance artists who just wanna get more clicks and more interviews. And it seems like it's harder and harder to track exactly what they're fighting. Again, if the argument was to say spending, then where the members stand up and say, you know what? Let's address what is the driver of our spending our deficits, and that is the entitlement spending. But no one's even trying to do that.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, they are also being egged on by the former president on this particular fight. I do want to get to some of these political headlines because Trump earlier this week really tried to walk back a lot of stuff on abortion that criticized Republicans for going too far on a six-week abortion ban.

The thing is, though, Marc, it does seem that he's responding to where whole say the American public is. So is he really all that wrong?

SHORT: Well, Abby, I think that the president deserves an enormous amount of credit for having appointed judges that overturned Roe v. Wade. But I think the reality is he also was always very uncomfortable on this topic. And it's not something that he really wants to talk about. And I think it's something that he's walked away from as far as that legacy.

And I think that where he is today is basically saying, I'm going to negotiate. What does that mean? Which -- which unborn lives you're negotiating away as far as his future conversations. I think for much of the conversations, it's also saying, you know what, the unborn children in California or Illinois or New York somehow deserve less of a right to life than those in red states.

And so I think the position is confusing. I think for those in the conservative movement who are pro-life, it's pretty consistent about life.

PHILLIP: Is it a betrayal? I mean, he ran on a hard abortion message.

SHORT: He did, and I think that he deserves, as I said, history, he deserves credit for delivering on that, but I do think he's walking away from that legacy.

PHILLIP: So I've got to talk to you about this new CNN poll in New Hampshire. The headline here is really a drop off the cliff for Ron DeSantis, but your former boss, Mike Pence, is at 2 percent in this poll. Why?

SHORT: I probably have a different headline on this, Abby, and that is I think that the narrative has been that this is destined to be a Trump versus Biden re-election. And basically you have more or less an incumbent president and a former president running as more or less an incumbent, and you're saying that 61 percent of the electorate is looking for an alternative. I think that basically says --

PHILLIP: Yeah, but no one else is getting more than 15 percent in this poll.

SHORT: Fair enough, but it says that there's room for a lot of growth for a lot of candidates in the field to say there's 61 percent that's up for grabs. And I think a lot of this does always break late, Abby. I think you've seen candidates who have spent a lot of money early who then run out of resources. I think, you know, for somebody who spent $100 million to drop 20 points nationally in the polls, it's not a good standing.

PHILLIP: What's the Pence plan to get above the single digits? He in the last debate really went after Vivek Ramaswamy, who has surged. It seems like that didn't work.

SHORT: Oh, I don't know. I think that since that poll, since the last debate, I think you've seen Vivek get called out from both the right and the left for being a fraud. And I think that for the vice president, he's going to continue to make an argument about where our party should be going as far as consistent conservative principles and draw that contrast.

PHILLIP: If he doesn't do well in New Hampshire, what's the plan? Would he stay in the race or would he drop out?

SHORT: I think that that's a long way off. I think there's a lot to happen between now and New Hampshire. And I think that hopefully in these debates, the American people continue to get to see him present his case as the true conservative in this race.

PHILLIP: All right. We'll see another debate in just a few days. Marc Short, thanks again for joining us tonight.

SHORT: Abby, thanks for having me.

PHILLIP: And coming up next, new tonight, the Senate confirming a new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as Tommy Tuberville continues his blockade.



PHILLIP: Tonight the Senate voting to confirm General Charles Q. Brown to be the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Brown previously served as the chief of the Air Force and takes over from retiring General Mark Milley. He's only the second black man to serve as chairman following General Colin Powell.

Now his confirmation along with more than 300 other military promotions was held up by Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville. But Majority leader Chuck Schumer moved to get Brown's nomination approved.

And that's it for me in "CNN Primetime." "CNN Tonight" with my friend Laura Coates starts right now. Hey Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Hey, so good to see you tonight as always. Great show, Abby.

And good evening, everyone. I am Laura Coates. Welcome to "CNN Tonight."

There are bombshell new accusations against Rudy Giuliani. Cassidy Hutchinson, the star witness you recall in last year's January 6 committee hearings, claims in a brand-new book that Rudy Giuliani groped her backstage at the rally that preceded the insurrection at the Capitol. We've got a lot more to come on that issue.

Plus, there are fireworks on the Hill. The Attorney General of the United States was in the hot seat on this very day in what can be called a quite combative House Judiciary Committee hearing. Merrick Garland pushing back on GOP accusations of politicizing the DOJ, insisting he's not the president's lawyer nor Congress's prosecutor.