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CNN Live Event/Special

Some Democrats Concerned Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) To Compromised; Trump Lies That Senate Democrats Stole 2020 Election; Ex- Trump Aide Hutchinson Says, Election Is Make Or Break For GOP; Abby Phillips And Guest Panel Discuss 2024 Presidential Candidates' Popularity To Voters; Trump Suggesting Milley Should Be Executed; Investigation Happens After A Molotov Cocktail Was Thrown At The Cuban Embassy In Washington. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 25, 2023 - 22:00   ET


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: And you got to think about fire resiliency, in Pacific Islands, and a lot of other places we never thought about, for those kinds of disasters before. Adaptation in real-time, on the Mississippi, and in Hawaii.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Yes, it's just devastating for those families.

WEIR: It really is so painful.

COLLINS: But hopefully getting back in helps at least some. Bill Weir, I know you'll be back there soon, so thank you.

WEIR: Yes, you bet.

COLLINS: Keep us updated.

WEIR: You got it.

COLLINS: And thank you so much for joining us tonight. CNN Primetime with Abby Phillip starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Is Senator Bob Menendez a national security threat? And where are the nation's top Democrats on whether remaining in his position should even be tolerated? Two essential questions tonight, as Menendez remains defiant in the face of a damning indictment.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Abby Phillip.

And among the charges the Democrat is accused of using his power to get sensitive information about American diplomats overseas, information that eventually made its way to a foreign government. And while he is temporarily stepping down from being the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he is still privy to classified information.

Now, the governor of his state suggests that those allegations alone make him compromised. And one of Menendez's Democratic colleagues went even further.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Does it sound like espionage from your perspective?

REP. ABIGAIL SPANBERGER (D-VA): As a former intel officer, we collected information and we paid people for that information. So, in the simplest of terms, yes, from a legal standpoint, I'll defer to the DOJ on that.


PHILLIP: We are now starting to see the senator's initial defense, including his explanation for why he had those stacks of cash.


SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ): Now, this may seem old -fashioned, but these were monies drawn from my personal savings account based on the income that I have lawfully derived over those 30 years.


PHILLIP: Now, that is his denial for just the alleged cash bribe, but Menendez did not explain the reasons for the gold bars, the luxury car or the mortgage payment help that was listed in the indictment, nor did he explain why he allegedly sought information on those diplomats or whether he goes throw a letter from the Egyptian government.

And tonight, just 3 out of his 47 Democratic colleagues in the Senate are calling on him to resign. But, remember, when the shoe was on the other foot, Democratic leaders once questioned whether Donald Trump was too compromised by a foreign power as well.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY): What could possibly cause President Trump to put the interests of Russia over those of the United States? Millions of Americans will continue to wonder if the only possible explanation for this dangerous behavior is the possibility that President Putin holds damaging information over President Trump.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): The American people deserve to know whether Donald Trump is either, A, a legitimate president, B, a Russian asset, C, the functional equivalent of an organized crime boss, or, D, just a useful idiot who happens to have been victimized by the greatest collection of coincidences in the history of the republic.


PHILLIP: Now, Trump, of course, has denied that he was compromised, and he was the president of the United States, not a senator, but Democrats, like Schumer, also talked a lot about alleged bribery when impeaching Trump, something that he also denied, and his efforts to garner influence from foreign governments or help himself in elections.


SCHUMER: James Madison offered a specific list of impeachable offenses during the debate in Independence Hall. A president might lose his capacity or embezzle public funds. A despicable soul might succumb to bribes while in office.

When I studied the Constitution and the Federalist Papers in high school admittedly, I was skeptical of George Washington's warning that, quote, foreign influence is one of the most baneful foes of republican government, unquote. It seemed so far-fetched. Who would dare? But the foresight and wisdom of the founders endures.


PHILLIP: Even Menendez himself questioned whether Trump was an agent of a foreign power. Listen to this.


MENENDEZ: The American people deserve to know who they elected to be their president. They deserve to know if he's, in fact, putting America's interests first. And they deserve to know if Donald Trump is wittingly or unwittingly an agent for the Russian Federation. Congress must carry out its constitutional duty to fully and thoroughly investigate where the facts lead.



PHILLIP: When it comes to Democrats in Congress tonight, could the dam actually be breaking? Listen to former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he should resign?

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): I respect their position that they are taking and the charges are formidable.

It probably would be a good idea if he did resign.


PHILLIP: We should reiterate, of course, that Menendez is innocent until proven guilty, but that is the legal question. Tonight, there are some other questions, ethical ones, and most importantly, perhaps, national security questions that are being asked as well.

Now joining me now is New Jersey Democratic State Committee Chairman LeRoy Jones, Jr. Chairman Jones, thanks for being here. So, Senator Menendez today appeared unmoved by all of these growing calls for him to step down. On Friday, you did say that he should resign to focus on his legal defense. Today, I wonder, is that still your position?

LEROY JONES JR., CHAIRMAN, NEW JERSEY DEMOCRATIC STATE COMMITTEE: Yes, it is, Abby. And thanks for having me. As you run your body (ph) out and your tapes, you can clearly see that there is an admission from many of his colleagues that these charges are very serious. They are very troublesome. And, of course, there is the presumption of innocence. That is by way of our Constitution and the rule of law in this country. And we stand by that.

But as it's become increasingly clear, it becomes very, very difficult for representation of the people of New Jersey to become compromised. And Senator Menendez is in a position that his ability to continue to service the people of New Jersey has been compromised. And we believe, so many of us here in New Jersey, that he should be concentrating heavily on his legal defense.

PHILLIP: Notably, the White House and Senate Democratic leadership, they haven't gone as far as you have, even just to say focus on your legal defense. What do you think of that silence in Washington?

JONES: You know, look, Washington is Washington and New Jersey is New Jersey. I can't comment on why there is seemingly some level of silence. I think it's perhaps to give Senator Menendez some room to let the last couple of days marinate and perhaps another conclusion is in terms of where he stands at this point.

But here in New Jersey, you know, we see it, you know, firsthand and, you know, we've admired him for you know his service over the years, and it's been you know nearly 50 years of service. But when you look at the gravity of these charges, you know, they are going to be clearly a distraction you know in his ability to serve and, you know, with upcoming legislative races that we have right here in New Jersey.

PHILLIP: All right. LeRoy Jones Jr., thank you very much for joining us.

JONES: Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: Let's continue this conversation now with CNN Opinion Writer Sophia Nelson, CNN Political Commentator Ana Navarro, former Obama White House Senior Director Nayyera Haq and former Federal Prosecutor Ankush Khardori.

Ankush, I'm going to start with you. What do you make of this indictment that, the legalities of it? Prosecutors are alleging here bribery, but that is actually perhaps harder to prove than it seems.

ANKUSH KHARDORI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes. So, these sorts of cases have gotten much harder for the government to prove as a result of Supreme Court decisions over the last 15 years or so. And there's a whole string of losses in this area not just the earlier Menendez case, Governor McDonnell in Virginia, the Bridge gate convictions that were overturned recently by the Supreme Court, even last year, the same office that's now charged Menendez had some bribery charges tossed out by a judge in a case that they had brought.

And so if you're Menendez, this is a very, very bad set of facts obviously and the politics of surrounding them, I'm going to set aside. Legally though he's going to want to focus on at least a couple of things. One, are the things that the government has alleged that he did in exchange for this money, quote/unquote, official acts under the law, any formal exercises of government power, and, two, were those things done in exchange for the money?

And just to give you one example you alluded to or talked about the sort of the sharing of confidential information concerning stabbing at the embassy. It's not clear to me that that's going to be an official act under the law.


It doesn't mean it's not very bad and very, very regrettable.

PHILLIP: And just to be clear, I mean, he may have used his position to get that information. But the question is, is it an actual act of a United States senator is of issue here.

Ana, I have to ask you, you've known Bob Menendez for a long, long time. He's incredibly defiant tonight. He's saying that he's going to stick around. He's going to fight it. What do you make of that decision of his to do that?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I have to tell you, I met Bob Menendez almost 30 years ago. I was a snot nose law student trying to pass immigration legislation. And he helped me back then. He was in Congress. And we have worked together on countless issues and causes through the years. So, I know him quite well.

He's not defiant tonight. Bob Menendez is defiant, period. That's just his character. He comes from one of the toughest areas in the country, Hudson County, New Jersey.

And I think that if you are Bob Menendez, I've thought about this endlessly this weekend because it's painful for me. It's shocking. It's disturbing. These are very serious allegations. But I've thought about this and I'm thinking to myself, if you are Bob Menendez, you've got to be asking yourself, why should I resign when there's a guy in the House, George Santos, who's indicted, when there's a guy running for the Republican nomination, leading by 40 points, who's indicted in four different cases, why should I resign when I've beaten one of these things before, when the prosecution got it wrong and couldn't get me and charged me with all these things? So, I've got to suspect that all of these things are going through his head.

And I've got to tell you. I think 99 senators could come out and tell Bob Menendez to resign and he wouldn't budge. Bob Menendez is not going to be shown the door. He's not going to be shoved out. When he does it, if he if and when he does it, it's because he feels it. And also, listen, there's primary elections in New Jersey in less than a year, in something like eight months. He's up for election next year. If the people of New Jersey want him out, they got a chance to do it.

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR: And it's within the Democrats, right, because it's a primary coming up. And Andy Kim, who is of a younger generation of Democrats, has already declared that he's going to run and primary Bob Menendez.

That's a very big deal in a place like New Jersey, as Ana alluded, to politically and culturally. How you know people and how you relate to them is how you do business with them. So, the Jersey that I grew up in of the mob bosses and union bosses is similar to the Jersey that Senator Torricelli grew up in. And he had to resign from office because of alleged criminal conduct.

This is also what Bob Menendez in that same vein. It's the connections that have gotten him into trouble, into legal trouble. But the people of New Jersey have not said that this is a challenge or a problem for them and they'll have an opportunity to do that this year.

PHILLIP: We'll find out. But, I mean, let's take a step back here for a second. What we're talking about is an allegation that a foreign government basically tried to work him in the United States Senate --


PHILLIP: -- in exchange for cash, in exchange for gold bars.

NELSON: You said a keyword, defiant. And I think that's the error we're in. Exit three, Jersey girl here, South Jersey, right? So, I agree with everything that's been said. However, I'm more concerned about the erosion of public trust and of ethics.

Ethics are damned now at this point because, just like in my home state of Virginia, when Governor Northam, remember him, gotten a lot of trouble and was like, I'm not resigning, I don't care how many press releases you all sent out, he moon-walked, he did all these other things. And then they threw the lieutenant governor under the bus and the state kind of shifted it to him.

So, we're in this age now of Trump where you say anything, you do anything, you break the law, you get found liable for sexual assault, is it, of E. Jean Carroll, and then you defame her and you get hit with a couple fines, right, and that's the world we're living in.

So, whether or not the foreign government worked him seems to be of little consequence. And that concerns me because these polls recently showing that Donald Trump gets more popular, the worse it gets, the more popular he gets.

HAQ: Well, this is what Democrats have had a challenge with, right? Al Franken, 2017, He stepped aside, he resigned, now says he regrets it because, clearly, at the same time, somebody got elected president with more credible allegations against him. So, Democrats have often been too good for their own political benefit.

PHILLIP: Is that really what this is, being too good by holding people culpable?

NAVARRO: I do think that Democrats are coming out hold themselves to a higher standard than what you're seeing they hold themselves -- Republicans hold themselves to when it comes to George Santos or Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: But you see what Pelosi said, she referenced Santos and she said, she still thinks he should resign.

NAVARRO: I mean, she's not the Republican leader, is she?



What I'm saying, she's not in Democratic leadership, but she's sending a pretty clear signal tonight to the rest of the Democrats.

NAVARRO: Well, listen, if they want members of Congress who are indicted to leave, they could pass rules and regulations. They could pass legislation. If they wanted to be illegal for relatives not to cash in on their last name, they could pass that legislation. But guess what? There's a lot of people cashing in on their name.

PHILLIP: I want to get Ankush in here, because this -- as you pointed out, federal prosecutors have a lot to prove here. And they have a lot to prove when it comes to Menendez because he has beaten this once. How important is it for them to not fail a second time here?

KHARDORI: I think this is a very significant case for the Justice Department on a whole bunch of different dimensions, right? One is obviously this is someone who they have shot out before and missed. But also this is coming in the context of a whole discourse about the Trump indictments and alleged weaponization and all that sort of thing and alleged disparate treatment between Republicans and Democrats, which is a narrative that I don't accept.

PHILLIP: I mean, this perhaps disproves that narrative because here you see an indictment.

KHARDORI: Exactly. So, a lot of people are saying that. But at the end of the day, indictment is just the start of a case. A lot of things are going to happen, including Menendez's opportunity to mount a defense. And things can get hairy from there on out. And I think it's going to be very important for the Justice Department to execute this prosecution as flawlessly as possible.

PHILLIP: All right, we'll see how they do. Everyone stick around for us.

Coming up next, the RNC tonight is revealing who qualified for this week's second Republican debate. We will discuss that next. Plus, just in, former President Trump's aide, Cassidy Hutchinson, speaks out about why this election is make or break for the Republican Party.

And our own Daniel Dale joins me with a fact check, including on Trump's claim that wind farms are making whales crazy.



PHILLIP: A fact check tonight on three claims by former President Trump on the campaign trail, including one on Truth Social saying that all Democratic senators should resign in the wake of Bob Menendez's indictment and implying that they were paid to rig the 2020 election.

CNN Senior Correspondent Daniel Dale is here. Daniel that is obviously not true.

DANIEL DALE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: It is obviously not true it's a lie on top of a lie. So, the underlying lie we know, of course, the 2020 election was free and fair, not rigged and stolen. He said this over and over. We've debunked it over and over. And then the lie on top of that is this claim that somehow Democratic senators did the rigging and stealing.

This, Abby, transparently makes zero sense. Democratic senators were not even in charge of the Senate at the time of the election. It was a Republican-controlled Senate. And, second of all, the Senate has very little role in the conduct of presidential elections. All those pandemic policies Trump has complained about were set by states themselves, not by Congress.

The only thing one expert I talked to you could think of that the Senate actually did other than counting correctly the electoral votes was pass a package of pandemic-related election security assistance that was signed into law by President Trump himself.

PHILLIP: Right, an amazing fact that he seems to have forgotten. Daniel, he's also talking about Comcast in this Truth Social post and he's saying that the company should, quote, be investigated for its country threatening treason. What does that even mean?

DALE: Yes. Like this is barely -- I'm a fact checker. This is barely a fact check. It is not treason to do news coverage that Donald Trump does not like.

PHILLIP: He's talking about NBC.

DALE: He's talking about it. Comcast is the parent company that owns NBC and MSNBC. It's not treason. He might as well say like NBC, Comcast are committing grand theft auto. He's throwing out words. It's not a crime to do critical coverage in this country.

PHILLIP: So, this one is my personal favorite. Let me just play this for our audience. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: There has only been, listen to this, one such whale killed off the coast of South Carolina in the last 50 years. But on the other hand, their windmills are causing whales to die in numbers never seen before. Nobody does anything about that. They're washing up and show. I saw it this weekend. Three of them came up. You wouldn't see it once a year. Now, they're coming up on a weekly basis. The windmills are driving them crazy. They're driving the whales, I think, a little baddie.


PHILLIP: I mean, I don't want to laugh because it's kind of, I dare I say, crazy, but the windmill story is almost like his sir story that he brings it up all the time. He hates windmills.

DALE: This man hates windmills, hates wind turbines. So, I looked into this. I'm not an expert on whales or what makes them crazy or not crazy, but I can read and I can tell you there is no evidence that offshore wind installations are killing whales or driving them baddie, as the former president says.

Now, there are some mysterious deaths. We know some are caused by things like them getting entangled in fishing gear, by striking vessels. Some of them remain mysterious, but the former president's insistence, his confidence that the whales are being killed or being driven nuts or whatever by wind turbines is apparently based on nothing.

And I'll remind people that although some of this remains mysterious, we'll get answers later. This is the same man who insisted that wind turbines were causing cancer. So, not an authority on this subject.

PHILLIP: Absolutely not. He thinks he's an authority on windmills, but I can tell you he is not.

DALE: He is not.

PHILLIP: Daniel Dale, thank you very much.

And just in, former Trump Aide Cassidy Hutchinson is revealing why she was scared to come forward with her story.

Plus, at least one Republican candidate in this first debate won't be at the second debate this week. Find out who qualified, next.




CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE AIDE: In this next election cycle, it's -- in my opinion, it's the make or break moment for the Republican Party. Now is the time if these politicians, these men and some women that are currently in Congress, want to make the break and want to take the stand, they have to do it now.

We can't wait any longer for them to do it. I don't know why they're so willing to support him. I think it's extremely disappointing and it is not a hard issue to take. It's -- we're talking about a man who, at the very essence of his being, almost destroyed democracy in one day and he wants to do it again.


PHILLIP: That was former White House Aide Cassidy Hutchinson in her first live interview since serving as a key witness in the January 6th hearing. It also comes ahead of the release of her new memoir, Enough, about her time is a top aide to Trump's Former Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows.

And my panel is back with us along with Republican Strategist Shermichael Singleton.

Sophia, make or break, I imagine you agree.

NELSON: I think it's already broken. I've said that before, the Republican Party we're talking about. But I do agree with her that if Trump is re-nominated and, God forbid re-elected, it's bigger than the Republican Party. It's the republic, right?

But I think that I want to say about this young woman, look at this 20-something-year-old young woman who's standing up, who testified. Can you imagine being in your 20s? I worked on the Hill when I was in my 20s and you're testifying against the president of the United States and chief of staff and powerful men who groped you and did all these terrible things.

And I think she deserves a lot of credit and I don't know that a lot of people in their 40s or 50s could do what she's doing in her 20s. And she gets a lot of respect from me for that and I hope she continues to show up and hope she runs for office or something one day.

PHILLIP: A lot of criticism, though, coming her way from Trump world, people saying she's just trying to sell a book, she's taking advantage of the moment, she's taking things out of context. Do you think any of us will have an impact?


NAVARRO: No. I don't. I don't think we'll have an impact because look, if four indictments hasn't had an impact, in fact, every time he gets indicted, it seems that his lead keeps growing. It doesn't seem that there is anything that has an impact on the lead, on the support that Donald Trump has from his core base.

Yes, there are Republicans that are not supporting him, that are supporting some of the other candidates, but the truth of the matter is that his lead has grown and is a very solid lead.

PHILLIP: And I think that's the reason that she's- NAVARRO: And by the way, I wish it had an impact.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean that's the reason she's saying what she said tonight.

NAYERRA HAQ, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR: Well, I think part of it is also a desire for generational change. It's not an accident that she's one of the youngest people and she's coming forward as a junior staffer at the time. It's not an accident that Andy Kim is saying he wants to run against Senator Menendez and primary him.

This younger generation of public servants and voters are demanding that what we have seen as normal, regular style corruption is blown apart. They're demanding better from their government and they're going to be the majority of the vote in 2028. That's not long. That's at 45 and under is going to be the largest voting bloc, the plurals. And that is a group that absolutely terrifies the current GOP.

PHILLIP: I have to be honest, Nayerra. They're not winning in the Republican primary.

HAQ: Yeah.

PHILLIP: Trump is leading by double digits. Shermichael, as we go into this week, we're about to have the next presidential debate. And we just got a look at what that debate stage is going to look like. Trump, of course, is not going to be on it.

And neither will Asa Hutchinson, who has taken a very anti-Trump stance. What do you make of that? And what kind of dynamic do you think we will see unfold there? Some candidates, to Nair's point, will be making this generation.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yeah, I mean, I think Ana sort of alluded to it. I mean, you're seeing these candidates sort of dwindle as time goes on. I mean, I think we could all probably agree for the most part that Donald Trump likely is going to be the nominee. And if you are to believe the polls as they currently stand within the statistical margin of error, there is a likelihood that he could potentially win. And I think people need to be aware of that.

Now, in terms of Cassidy Hutchinson, which I think is interesting, this argument that some Trump supporters are making, that she isn't believable because she's trying to sell a book. Some people may believe that. Some people may ask, well, why did you continue working for these people if they were, indeed, so bad? Others quit.

I worked for the Trump administration briefly. And my criticisms did not necessarily change. I didn't wait. I didn't accept offers from other individuals. And so, I do think that there is a somewhat compelling case to make. And that regard now should we applaud individuals for supposedly speaking truth to power at some point?

Sure, I would agree with that. But I think Ana's right. I'm not certain that this is going to have any significant impact on swaying voters' minds. People know who Donald Trump is. And yet, he is still statistically tied with the sitting president despite all of those things.

PHILLIP: Without Trump on that debate stage on Thursday, right? And without one of his staunchest critics, Asa Hutchinson, on that debate stage on Thursday, it's not clear to me how much Republican candidates who are running against him will actually be running against him. Sorry, not Thursday. I keep saying Thursday, but it's Wednesday. It's not clear to me how much they will actually run against him this week.

NAVARRO: I think they're going to run against him more than they have in the past. Certainly.

PHILLIP: -- you think, now?

NAVARRO: I think Ron DeSantis at this point has nothing left to lose, right? Because God knows he's lost practically all his authority and the idea that he was the runner-up and that he was competitive with Donald Trump.

So, at this point, the only thing he has going for him -- he's no longer saying the word woke, so he needs something else to say. And I think he is going to go after Trump, even if Trump is not there, because how else does he go up? Obviously trying to be Trump-like or beat Trump at his own game is not working for him.

SOPHIA NELSON, FORMER HOUSE GOP INVESTIGATIVE COMMITTEE COUNSEL: I think that Nikki Haley is the best person that the Republicans have in the field right now. However, I don't think she's going to be the nominee. She probably will be the VP choice. But she has become more vocal. If you were seeing her in some of the New Hampshire town halls, she's still doing a kabuki dance. But you're absolutely right. At some point, you've got to go after the guy or you're just saying that he's going to win.

NAVARRO: You think after she's been calling him a decrepit old man every other day --

NELSON: oh, you know -- you know, I didn't say I liked her personally. What I'm saying is if you look at the field --

NAVARRO: No. She's been calling him a decrepit old man every other day --

NELSON: Do you mean Nikki?

NAVARRO: -- he's going to make her a VP candidate?

NELSON: I think that he has -- I do. But I think that he has to have a woman VP.


I honestly do. And I think she's going to be the pick.

NAVARRO: You know, Donald Trump. SINGLETON: Well, I would say -- I was saying --

PHILLIP: Would Trump do it or would she do it?

NELSON: Yeah, well, I think she would. I think she would.

NAQ: Everybody on that debate stage but Vice President Pence --


NAQ: -- is running for VP in some shape or another like that's the only thing left for them. Trump is already trying to turn and run a general election, right? He's talking about six weeks before abortion is a terrible idea. That's very much not a primary argument, but this is the tempest in the teapot of the Republican Party is that they are competing for a smaller and smaller share of the actual American people.

NAVARRO: Chris Christie's not competing to be VP.

SINGLETON: I agree with that. No, you're right about it. I agree with that.

PHILLIP: At what point do these folks need to get out of this race? Agent Hudson-Mulson said he's not dropping out yet.

SINGLETON: I think, most of them -- there's no way these folks are going to increase 30, 40 percent. I've worked on three presidential campaigns. It's statistically not possible. Now, I agree with you on Nikki Haley. If I'm advising Donald Trump and I'm looking at all of his weaknesses, you need to be able to pull back those suburban voters. She can do it.

Her position on abortion strikes a proper tone. I mean, you're looking at the data here, Abby, and I'm saying, look, if I'm looking at all of those candidates, Nikki Haley is the best option for Donald Trump. She may not take it but -- she does.

PHILLIP: So, for a -- Ana --

NELSON: She does well and --

SINGLETON: She may not take it.

NELSON: She does well against Biden. I think she's going to see the beats on that.

NAQ: A Republican party that no longer exists. And I'm going to ask you that would have worked.

PHILLIP: Ron DeSantis is going to debate Gavin Newsom. Why?

NAVARRO: Yeah, why? Because he is desperate to change the narrative. He is desperate to make himself relevant. Ron DeSantis at this point is yesterday's news. He is a failed challenger to Donald Trump. He is a failed candidate. At this point, he's got to figure out. how to save some dignity and some face, right? He's got to go back to Florida and be governor, God help us all. I'm from Florida.

PHILLIP: Florida resident right here.

NAVARRO: For the next three years. And he's hoping to maybe take on Rick Scott for the Senate, figure out what his political career is, and he has flamed out so badly with all of the money, with all of the press, with all of the structure, with all of the -- you know, staff. He's flamed out so badly that he's got to figure out. How to change it? How to save some things?

PHILLIP: It's an interesting signal to send to the vote to the vote. It is. I mean, I would say, Ana, I think DeSantis has ruined any opportunity he could have had to run in 2028.

NELSON: From your mouth to God's ears, because what he has done in Florida should frankly not make him eligible.

SINGLETON: I would have waited. I think there are some significant weaknesses with Ron DeSantis and his ability or his inability to connect with voters. They have tried, I know, for a fact, to work on those things and improve by working with different experts in that regard. It hasn't worked. It just hasn't worked at me. Some of the positions aren't very --

NAVARRO: Mickey Mouse and my drag queen friends persevered and his candidacy is dead on the rise.

PHILLIP: We're going to end it on Mickey Mouse and the drag queen friends. We have to end it there, everyone.

NELSON: They survived.

PHILLIP: Thank you very much. Be sure to check out the lead tomorrow on CNN. Jay Tapper will sit down with Cassidy Hutchinson. That is at 4 P.M. Eastern Time. Don't miss that. And coming up next, a new poll shows that Donald Trump has a 10-point edge over President Biden, but its own pollster is downplaying it. Harry Enten is of course here to explain why. Plus, former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper joins me on Donald Trump suggesting that Mark Milley should be executed.



PHILLIP: Backlash tonight against "The Washington Post" and ABC News after the paper and the news organization admitted that its poll showing Donald Trump beating President Biden by 10 points is basically an outlier. I want to bring in Harry Enten, CNN's Senior Data Reporter.

So, Harry, how does this happen? How do two reputable organizations, a reputable poll I should say, how do they produce a poll that is an outlier in this way showing a double-digit lead at this stage in the campaign? HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeah, I mean, look, first off,

we should point out they are right. It looks nothing like anything else. The average of polls at this particular point, at least the polls that meet CNN standards for publication, have on average Joe Biden trailing the former president by two points.

But in answer to your question of how does this happen, well, first off, let's point out this, which is one, there are margins of errors with polls, right? There are margins of errors. And occasionally, one out of 20 times, you're going to get a result that's outside the margin of error. We've had how many polls that have been conducted over the course of this campaign, so we've reached that one out of 20 times. So, not surprising you get an outlier, right?

But here's the other thing I'll point out. You know, I spoke with a pollster, not CNN pollster, another pollster outside the organization. And basically, what they said was the question ordering of this poll was such that the question about the horse race was asked rather late in the survey and perhaps the questions before that might have tilted this particular result.

So, I think it's one of two of it. Of course, the other thing I'll point out is, you know, we're still over 13 months until the election, though I do like talking about horse race polls even this early.

PHILLIP: That's really interesting because one of the things that have been said about this poll is that it really shows Biden with terrible numbers on the economy. His approval on handling the economy dropped to 30 percent, that's the lowest of his presidency. Obviously, we know that this is a weak spot for him, but it almost seems like what you're saying is that by pressing voters about the state of the economy, about the cost of food, it might have influenced their views about the horse race?

ENTEN: Well, the way that they asked the questions was they asked the number of questions before the horse race that I was just looking at it, which to me might have in fact tilted certain things, you know, they asked about the shutdown, for example, that may in fact occur.


So, these questions might have tilted it. But as you pointed out, Abby, putting aside the horse race for a second here, the underlying problems that Joe Biden faces that this poll said he faces, whether it be the economy or other issues, that is true across a number of polls. And while, you know, it may be that Joe Biden isn't trailing the former president by 10 points, the mere fact that he's been trailing in a number of polls more times than I can count is historically important because if you look back at the 2020 campaign, Joe Biden trailed Donald Trump by exactly zero polls that met CNN's standards for publication. So, it is very clear, no matter what poll you look at that Joe Biden is worse shaped today than he was at any point during the 2020 campaign.

PHILLIP: Also, Harry, my rule of thumb is take the average of the polls. ENTEN: Yes.

PHILLIP: Would you not agree?

ENTEN: Of course. Always take the average.


ENTEN: You ever look sometimes on my slides, I have like Enton's aggregate or Harry's average. And if you take the average of polls, look, they point out that Joe Biden is in trouble, but he's not anywhere near as in trouble as say the 10 points that the ABC News Washington Post Bowl found.

PHILLIP: All right. Something for folks to take away with them. Harry, thanks so much for joining us today.

ENTEN: Thank you. And former President Trump is suggesting that the Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, General Mark Milley, deserves execution. And another former official who endured Trump's attacks. James Clapper will join me to respond to that. Plus, an investigation is now underway after at least one Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Cuban embassy in Washington. We'll discuss after this.



PHILLIP: Tonight, the former president of the United States, who is currently a candidate for office again, is suggesting that the ongoing, outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff should be executed. Donald Trump referring to reports that General Mark Milley was going to war in China if Trump decided to launch an attack, posting on social media that this is an act so egregious that in times gone by, the punishment would have been death.

Let's discuss this with CNN National Security Analyst James Clapper. He's the former Director of National Intelligence. Director Clapper, Trump saying that he will would execute or that we should execute the nation's top general. Have we become numb to all of this?

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, yeah, I mean, since we have, you know, this is shocking, stunning, despicable, egregious, et cetera, but not surprising. It's really reprehensible for that to have been said. Joe Milley served this country with a long and with great distinction, 43 years. Like all of us, he took the oath, and it bears repeating.

I solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same. Not to the President, not to a king, dictator, not to any individual, but to the Constitution.

Now, there'll be all kinds of postmortems and critiques and coulda, woulda, shouldas about General Milley's service. But as Chairman of the JCS, and he will go down in history as one of the most consequential and also one of the most controversial Chairman we've ever had. I'm quite sure that many of his peers are just as glad that they weren't in the position he was. I think he navigated some very difficult shows very well, and the country is in his debt, in my view. Y

PHILLIP: You make an interesting point that you, as a member of the National Security Intelligence Community, perhaps were used to Trump attacking the intelligence community, but to attack the military, do you think that is a shift here? Are you surprised to see Trump going there?

CLAPPER: No, I'm not. You know, his definition of treason is anyone who criticizes him or whom he perceives as disloyal. That is really not the legal definition of treason at all. So, he'll lash out at anyone, attack anyone whom he views as not loyal, not sufficiently loyal to him. Certainly, we took hits in the intelligence community, and now, of course, he's directed us toward the military as an institution and towards General Milley, personally.

PHILLIP: Yeah. Can I ask you -- he, in a recent profile, General Milley raised the possibility that he thought if Trump was re-elected, he would throw his opponents in jail. He said that he would be at the top of the list. Do you think that that's a real concern, and are you concerned that you could be on Trump's enemies list?

CLAPPER: Well, sure. I think there are probably a lot of people that are potentially on such a list. And again, that's reprehensible. I think General Milley's comment was he didn't think President Trump would be re-elected. Well, I'm not so sure about that. So yeah, that's a... That's a real concern for many of us.

PHILLIP: That's a sobering thought. James Clapper, thank you very much for joining us tonight.


And coming up next --

CLAPPER: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: The Cuban embassy in Washington, the alleged target of a terrorist attack after it was hit by at least one Molotov cocktail. And now, the Secret Service is investigating what happened. That's next.


PHILLIP: Tonight, an investigation is underway to find out who threw a Molotov cocktail at the Cuban embassy in Washington. That incident happened last night and the incendiary device hit a front window of the building. U.S. officials say that no one was hurt and there were no signs of significant damage. The investigation is being conducted by the U.S. Secret Service, which provides policing and protection functions for embassies and for foreign missions in Washington.

And that is it for me in CNN Primetime. CNN Tonight, of course, with Laura Coates starts right now. Hi, Laura.


LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Abby, nice to see you. Happy Monday to you.

PHILLIP: You, too.

COATES: Good evening, everyone. I'm Laura Coates, and tonight there are now even more calls. You guessed it. Senator Bob Menendez to step down.