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CNN Live Event/Special

Reports Show Trump Shared Nuke Secrets With Foreign Billionaire; Hillary Clinton Speaks Out On GOP Chaos, Trump, 2024 Race; CNN Reports, Trump Expected To Endorse Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) For Speaker; Trump Pulls Out A Variation Of The Richard Nixon Defense; Illegal Migrant Crossing To The U.S. Surges; Representative George Santos' Former Campaign Treasurer Has Now Pled Guilty To Account Of Conspiracy To Defraud The U.S. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 05, 2023 - 22:00   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us tonight. CNN PRIMETIME with Abby Phillip starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: These days it seems like the epicenter of America's secrets isn't the CIA, the Pentagon or even the White House. It's Mar-a-Lago, where Donald Trump apparently likes to keep and tell those secrets.

Good evening, I'm Abby Phillip. And tonight, ABC and The New York Times both reporting that after leaving the White House, Trump told a club member at Mar-a-Lago sensitive information about U.S. nuclear submarines. That member is not only a foreign national but he's also an Australian billionaire who allegedly spread that information to more than a dozen foreign officials.

Among the allegations that Trump shared the number of nuclear warheads those submarines carry and how close they can get to Russian submarines without being detected.

Now, Trump is, of course, already under investigation for his handling of government secrets and for keeping classified documents at Mar-a- Lago. And this certainly fits into that pattern. But in the early stages of his presidency, Trump reportedly did other things, including using an unsecured phone in 2017 at Mar-a-Lago. The terrace became a situation room, as you can see there, where Trump and the Japanese prime minister openly discussed a North Korean missile test.

Now, later that spring, Trump invited Russian officials into the Oval Office, where he revealed classified information from an ally about ISIS. He also told the Philippine president about two nuclear submarines off the Korean Peninsula. And a couple of years later, he tweeted a classified picture of an Iranian launch pad. And his former aide suggests that it was common for Trump to overshare this kind of information.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) STEPHANIE GRISHAM, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The short answer is yes. I watched him show documents to people at Mar-a- Lago on the dining room patio. So, he has no respect for classified information, never did.


PHILLIP: And it's not just witness testimony. Here is Trump himself in his own words.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: All sorts of stuff, pages long. Wait a minute. Let's see here.


TRUMP: I just found -- isn't that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know? Except it is highly confidential.

I was just thinking, because we were talking about it. And he said, he wanted to attack Iran and what. These are the papers.


TRUMP: This was done by the military given to me. I think we can probably, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. We'll have to see. Yes, we'll have to try to --

TRUMP: Declassify it.


TRUMP: See, as president I could have declassified it. Now I can't, but this is still a secret.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Now, we have a problem.

TRUMP: Isn't that interesting?


TRUMP: It's so cool. I mean, it's so -- look, her and I, you probably almost didn't believe me, but now you believe me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I believed you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's incredible, right?


PHILLIP: That, of course, from Trump at one of his other properties in Bedminster, New Jersey. And tonight, Trump's spokesperson did not deny the submarine reporting but they did slam leaks and said Trump did nothing wrong.

I want to now bring in CNN National Security Analyst James Clapper. He also the former director of National Intelligence. Director Claspper, what was your first reaction to hearing these revelations?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I mean, shock, stunning development, but, unfortunately, not surprising. You know, I'm having trouble coming up with new adjectives to describe how serious and how dangerous this is. And you just presented a very succinct litany of the things that the former president has done that reflects his complete disregard for protection of national security sensitive information, and for that matter, the very national security of the country.

In this latest episode, one aspect of this that I think is worth mentioning is that when this kind of thing happens and this sensitive information is spread out, as ubiquitously and pervasively as it was, and an adversary gets a hold of it, particularly Russia or China, they can use that to confirm or refute their own intelligence holdings.

So, there's no end to the potential consequences here or the endangerment to sources and methods, the endangerment of the crews that man these multibillion dollar submarines.


So, from all perspectives, this is really egregious, assuming, of course, the reporting is accurate.

PHILLIP: That's right. I mean, at the moment, CNN has not confirmed all the details here.

But according to ABC, the Australian businessman, Mr. Pratt, he went onto share this information with a lot of people just within a few minutes. Dozens of people would have heard some version of what Trump told him. When you think about the number of people who could be involved here, what do you think are the consequences of that?

CLAPPER: Well, it's potentially quite serious, because how many people did those people tell. So, there's no knowing, at least at this point, how many people this information was conveyed to, whether accurate or not. And, again, if it falls into the wrong hands, which it potentially could do, since both the Chinese and the Russians certainly look now to the former president as a valuable source of intelligence for them, so they would go to any lengths to gain information, particularly about the holiest of holy for us, which is our nuclear deterrent. That is the very essence of protecting this country. And the recklessness that's apparently been displayed here, I think, is really reprehensible. So, it's potentially quite serious.

PHILLIP: So, I should point out, Joe Hockey, who's a former Australian ambassador to the U.S., he says Australian submariners have been on U.S. subs for years. He's downplaying the significance of at least some of the information being shared with Australian nationals. Does he have a point? CLAPPER: Well, not really. And I have great respect for former Ambassador Hockey, but the fact is this has been exposed to people who have absolutely no obligation to protect it. There is no inhibition legally for them not to share what they heard, what they've learned with many others. So, I suppose it's reassuring that it wasn't a Chinese billionaire, but that's faint reassurance.

PHILLIP: All right. Director Clapper, always good to have you, thank you for joining us tonight.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: And tonight, in a brand new interview, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is telling CNN's Christiane Amanpour that Donald Trump will likely be the Republican nominee. And she's also issuing a stark warning about a potential 2024 rematch with President Biden. Listen.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: So, for those outside this country who may not know, it is not so much a fight between two different parties. It's an internecine warfare within one party, the GOP.


AMANPOUR: So, when you look at how to go forward for the country, you say, is there any area of coalition building that could happen? There are pragmatic Republicans, as you say. Could there be a new -- a whole new way of trying to get legislation going and cross-party governance going by Democrats and certain Republicans forming a coalition?

CLINTON: Well, you saw the number of Republicans who voted along with Democrats to keep the government open. So there's clearly a common sense, sane part of the Republican caucus in the House. But I think they are intimidated. They oftentimes say and do things, which they know better than to say or do. And it will require us defeating those most extreme measures and the people who promote them in order to try to get to some common ground where people can again work together. That's the way it used to be.

I mean, we had very strong partisan in both parties in the past and we had very bitter battles over all kinds of things, gun control and climate change and the economy and taxes. But there wasn't this little tail of extremism wagging the dog of the Republican Party as it is today.

And, sadly, so many of those extremists, those MAGA extremists, take their marching orders from Donald Trump, who has no credibility left by any measure. He's only in it for himself. He's now defending himself in civil actions, criminal actions. And when do they break with him? Because at some point, maybe there needs to be a formal deprogramming of the cult members, but something needs to happen.

[22:10:06] AMANPOUR: And how do you do that? Because you said you have to defeat them by defeating their leader. Their leader is Donald Trump. Even you have said that you expect him to be the Republican nominee. How does this change at all?

CLINTON: At this point, I think, sadly, he will still likely be the nominee and we have to defeat him. And we have to defeat those who are the election deniers, as we did in 2020 and 2022. And we have to just be smarter about how we are trying to empower the right people inside the Republican Party.

Nancy Pelosi had a majority of five votes when she was speaker. Kevin McCarthy had a majority of five votes. Nancy Pelosi passed consequential legislation. And she clearly had members of her caucus, who ranged across a spectrum of political beliefs and ideology, and she kept everybody together and she kept everybody focused on the future. He couldn't do that. And so he paid a price, but more importantly, the country paid a price.

AMANPOUR: And so when you see another matchup between potentially Trump and President Biden, what goes through your mind? And particularly, how do you process that this person who defeated you back in 2016 is still at it given all that you've said, 91 indictments, civil fraud, sexual transgressions, according to the courts, how is this still happening?

CLINTON: It's a classic tale of an authoritarian populist who really has a grip on the emotional psychological needs and desires of a portion of the population. And the base of the Republican Party, for whatever combination of reasons -- and it is emotional and psychological -- sees in him someone who speaks for them.

And they are determined that they will continue to vote for him, attend his rallies, wear his merchandise, because, for whatever reason, he and his very negative, nasty form of politics resonates with them. Maybe they don't like migrants. Maybe they don't like gay people or black people or the woman who got the promotion at work they didn't get.

Whatever the reason, you know, make America great again was a bid for nostalgia to return to a place where people could be in charge of their lives, feel empowered, say what they want, insult whoever came in their way. And that was really attractive to a significant portion of the Republican base. So, it is like a cult.

And somebody has to break that momentum. That's why I believe Joe Biden will defeat him. And hopefully then that will be the end and the fever will break and then Republicans can try to get back to fighting about issues among themselves and electing people who are at least responsible and accountable.


PHILLIP: And you can see more of Christiane's newsy interview with Secretary Clinton tomorrow morning and on Christiane's Monday show. We also have some breaking news involving the speaker's race in Washington. Donald Trump has floated himself for the position, but now, apparently, that is no longer the case. Hear who he is backing when we return.

Plus, his lawyers are now raising a variation of the Nixon defense in one of his cases. We have two Watergate figures joining me live next to discuss.


PHILLIP: Breaking news tonight, Donald Trump is no longer coming to Capitol Hill next week for the speaker's election and he's no longer floating himself as an option for speaker of the House. Instead, sources tell CNN that he is expected to endorse Congressman Jim Jordan.

Jordan has been making the rounds and calling around to colleagues. And speaking of Jordan, listen to what Liz Cheney, the former congresswoman, said about the prospect of a speaker Jim Jordan.


FMR. REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): Jim Jordan knew more about what Donald Trump had planned for January 6th than any other member of the House of Representatives.

Now, somebody needs to ask Jim Jordan, why didn't you report to the Capitol Police what you knew Donald Trump had planned?

If they were to decide that, there would no longer be any possible way to argue that a group of elected Republicans could be counted onto defend the Constitution.


PHILLIP: Ed Rollins is a Republican political consultant and the former chief political adviser to President Reagan, also with us, Ana Navarro, she's a CNN political commentator.

Ed, let me ask you about this news that we have tonight that Trump, after saying that he would go to the Capitol and maybe put his name in contention to be speaker, isn't doing that, but he's going to endorse Jim Jordan instead. What impact do you think that will have?

ED ROLLINS, REPUBLICAN POLITICAL CONSULTANT: Well, it's beneficial that he's not going to the (INAUDIBLE) circus and the same is going to be enough of a circus. At the end of the day here, we need to get focused. We need to pick a leader who can lead. And I think to a certain extent, the president at this point in time, former president, would be a distraction.

But the thing I worry about, I like Jim Jordan, I like Scalise, I ran a congressional committee, so I know most of these members, I'm not sure they have thought this thing through if Jordan is going to be their candidate. Unless you get every single Republican to vote for you in caucus, in conference, you're not going to win this thing. You need a couple Democrats. And, unfortunately, Jim Jordan, because of his aggressive behavior, from a Republican perspective, certainly is not going to actually attract Democrats and certainly Trump is not going to help attract Democrats.

PHILLIP: Yes, it's a good point, Ana. Look, Jim Jordan is a very polarizing figure. And as Liz Cheney was pointing out, he does have ties to the Stop the Steal movement.


There are videos and pictures of him outside the Capitol with Stop the Steal signs. All of that ties into it.

For moderates, do you think it will matter? Will he be able to get to 218?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I do think it matters. Kevin McCarthy, who, after 15 rounds, did become speaker, also had some ties, right? Let's remember that just a few days after January 6th, where was he? He was at Mar-a-Lago kissing Donald Trump's ring, among other body parts, and that wasn't enough.

So, the problem with Jim Jordan, I think, is for Republicans in districts, like where I live, Florida 26, which is represented by Maria Elvira Salazar, a Republican, who understands that it's a swing district. In swing districts, the polarizing nature and character of Jim Jordan is going to be very hurtful to Republican congresspeople.

PHILLIP: It will be a question of whether the moderates say enough to potentially stop that. And we have to remember that Steve Scalise is super popular and he's running as well.

Ed, I want to talk to you, though, about some 2024 politics, because earlier today, we heard from Ron DeSantis some pretty strong criticisms of former President Trump. Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): Nobody is entitled to be nominated, nobody, especially anybody that couldn't even stop Joe Biden. You are not entitled to be nominated. You've got to earn the nomination. You've got to show how you're going to be able to get the job done.


PHILLIP: And the reason this is -- I'm interested in what you have to say here, you used to work for the DeSantis super PAC. Do you think that that is enough to really signal to voters that DeSantis is going up against Trump here?

ROLLINS: No, absolutely. No one knows Florida better than Ana. (INAUDIBLE) and she's the next generation. I'm the old generation. DeSantis has not run a good campaign and he cannot connect. He's overspent his budget. He had an enormous sum of money. He has good operatives but he has chaos in his campaign. And it takes a lot to make this happen. And to beat Donald Trump in a primary is going to be very, very tough.

So, my sense today is that the debates, all the rest of us, it is going to go on. We've got to basically settle who our nominee is quickly just as we have to settle on a speaker pretty quickly because we have got a big task to hold the House and the presidency back.

PHILLIP: And, Ana?

NAVARRO: Ed has run so many campaigns and he's got so much experience on this. But I don't think the problem with DeSantis is he hasn't run a good campaign. I think the problem with DeSantis is Ron DeSantis and that he's not a good candidate. He frankly was a paper tiger. I think he looked incredibly strong on paper because he managed to win in Florida. But he was running the second time around by 20 points. He was running against Charlie Crist, who, I said here on election night, was like beating a corpse, and I apologize to corpses.

And so, yes, Ron DeSantis looked very, very strong coming out of November in that election but he wasn't. He is a person that lacks charisma that is not likable, is very awkward. And he based his entire campaign on this notion of being woke and anti-woke and fighting with Disney and fighting with drag queens. Well, guess what? Taking on the largest employer of Florida, which is Disney World, because they expressed an opinion on policy is not a conservative value. And so I don't know how he thought that was going to make him that popular.

PHILLIP: That might be a question for Ed at the end of the day. Ed, I mean, at some point we will need to discuss what happened there with DeSantis, but I want to just raise this to you. The Trump campaign says this about DeSantis. We took out Ron, a far less talented person than people originally believed. Crooked Joe is down to us by 11 points. And now we have to focus on one of the most overrated people I know, this is Trump, Nikki. He's talking about Nikki Haley there.

So, Ed, is this really what the race is right now? Is Trump right that they've already taken Ron DeSantis out of the race and this is about him and Nikki Haley?

ROLLINS: No, I agree totally with Ana on DeSantis. I didn't see a good candidate when I was working with him and I've seen a lot of candidates in my lifetime. I've never met a person in Iowa (INAUDIBLE). And I think, to a certain extent, he didn't define himself.

The critical thing is President Trump has got a lot of legal challenges ahead of him and he doesn't get to define his message all the way, as he's done pretty well in the past. So, I think this thing is still wide open. I would bet on him to win the nomination but politics is about addition. Ana is the new generation. I'm the old generation. And the lessons that I tell everybody to go find more voters, we need more voters.


And that's how we win races. It's a game of addition. And I don't think either the House or the Senate or the national presidential politics is adding new voters. We need Democrats, we need independents to win in the general.

PHILLIP: And Nikki Haley, Ana, seems to be trying to do just that, pivoting a little bit to the middle, we've seen, in some of these debates.

NAVARRO: She pivots all over the place, right? Nikki Haley, as I look at her, is a human wind sock. She goes whichever way the political winds are blowing and whatever. She will be pro-Trump when she has to be, she will be anti-Trump when she has to be. She'll say anything, she'll do anything.

Look, I -- but I do think it's good news for her in part because she has performed well on those debate stages, but also because everybody around her has been to mediocre or less than mediocre.

The reason that there is room for Nikki Haley to be on an upward trajectory is because Ron DeSantis has failed and flailed like a fish desperately gasping for some oxygen when they're out of water.

PHILLIP: We'll see how that -- well, we'll first of all, if there is another debate and how that one goes for all of those candidates. Ed --

ROLLINS: Let me just one thing. Debates don't win the presidency. Debates are a great exercise and entertainment show, and so far, it's been all given to Fox. What wins campaigns is getting out and meeting people, articulating issues they care about, and I think none of these candidates are connecting, and the two debates that we've had has been disastrous, as far as I'm concerned.

PHILLIP: That's an important point. Ed Rollins and Ana Navarro, thank you both.

ROLLINS: Nice to be on with you, Ana.

NAVARRO: Thank you. You too, Ed.

PHILLIP: And up next, in one of the legal cases that Trump is facing, his lawyers are now raising a variation of the Nixon defense. We will discuss with two Watergate figures who join me live next.

Plus, the Biden administration can't seem to get their story straight on why they are building more border wall.



PHILLIP: In another of Donald Trump's legal predicaments, tonight he is officially pulling out a variation of the Richard Nixon defense. That is, when a president does it, it's not illegal. And that's the basic point that the Trump lawyers are now making in new court documents today for why his federal election case should be tossed out. The argument is essentially presidents and former presidents are immune from criminal prosecutions. Now, before you dismiss it, this argument is not entirely meritless.

This is uncharted, entirely new ground. The law here is murky and unsettled, and the question of presidential immunity is not in the Constitution. It has rarely been tested at the Supreme Court level, and certainly never for a former president who has been indicted.

Now, Richard Nixon did come the closest when he fought to keep the infamous Oval Office tapes secret. His lawyers argued, quote, "An absolute unqualified presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances." Now, the justices dismissed a portion of that argument then. But what about now?

I've got two perfect voices to give us some information here. John Dean, former Nixon White House Counsel and CNN Contributor, and also with us, John Sale, former Assistant Special Watergate Prosecutor. John Dean, I want to start with you. The law here really is not settled on this issue, and some legal experts say you can't dismiss it out of hand. How do you see it?

JOHN DEAN, FORMER NIXON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: It is a gray area. I think this -- reading this motion they have filed to dismiss because of presidential immunity, kind of got my attention. It's not a -- it's not a frivolous brief. It's a well-done brief and they have -- I have not checked all the law on it yet. I haven't had a chance to do that so I'm very anxious to see the government's response.

But if anything might delay this case and put it off after the election, this is the brief that will cause that to happen. While interlocutory appeals are very rare, only when a very significant motion and a motion to dismiss a president because he thinks he has immunity is pretty significant, this could go up on appeal and that would delay everything.

PHILLIP: And delay is incredibly significant in a case like this, when you're talking about somebody who's actually a presidential candidate right now. John -- John Sale, the Trump team is insisting that the president is not above the law here.

In their filing, they write this, importantly, this recognition of absolute immunity, regardless of internal motivation, does not place the president above the law, but instead simply clarifies that the remedy for alleged official misconduct lies as the Constitution requires with Congress through impeachment and through other informal means.

But as we've seen, there have been a couple of impeachments here already for this former president. These remedies could still mean that a former president could, or a current president could skirt the law, right?

JOHN SALE, FORMER ASSISTANT SPECIAL WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: Well, Abby, there is an Office of Legal Counsel opinion, goes back years that says a sitting president cannot be indicted. Now, some people even disagree with that, but that's been the practice. But it does not say or imply that a former president cannot be indicted. Impeachment trial on the Senate, the remedy, if two-thirds of the

senators vote to convict, is removal from office. I mean, even Mitch McConnell said on the floor that he was voting but not to convict the president, but he said the president can be held accountable in a court of law. And I think that argument is, I don't think it's frivolous, but I think it's not going to go anywhere.

And my friend, John Dean, remember that the litigation to the Supreme Court over the tapes went in record speed. And the D.C. Circuit, in an appeal about executive privilege recently, gave the Trump team less than 24 hours to respond.


And this can really be fast-tracked. And I don't think that anybody concerned is going to let this case be put off a year.

PHILLIP: John Dean, I want you to respond to that and just the idea that the Trump lawyers are basically saying there've been two impeachments, two acquittals in the Senate. Does that matter?

DEAN: Well, they appear to be trying to track the Constitution on an area that's very unclear and very muddy. My friend John, who's an excellent lawyer and pointed out that there are opinions in the Department of Justice about this issue for sitting presidents, is right in noting there are no opinions.

And that's why I worry about this having to go through the Court of Appeals process and then to the Supreme Court, because it would be a fairly significant issue. And we have a court that is very definitely leaning right now. They might just slow it down for the president. I hope they would not. I hope it would be like during Watergate when all the courts acted with incredible speed.

I think everyone knows Trump's M.O., so they'll know what he's doing. But if they decide for political reasons to slow it down, this could be the motion they do it on.

SALE: And Abby, the world is watching. The world is watching.


SALE: And I think that the principle that no one's above the law is going to prevail, and that's going to apply to Donald Trump. And when he's in the courtroom, he's not President Trump. He's defendant Donald Trump. And the rules apply to him like they would to anyone else.

PHILLIP: I think you're right about that. The world is, indeed, watching. John Dean and John Sale, thank you both.

DEAN: Thanks, Abby.

SALE: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: President Biden is building more border wall. And the administration cannot get its story straight about why. I'll speak to a Democrat who's not very happy about this. Plus, ominous news tonight for the embattled Congressman George Santos, who is under investigation.




PHILLIP: The border wall. It became one of the most hotly contested issues in the 2020 election. And now tonight, President Biden and his administration are tying themselves into knots to explain why they're going to keep building it.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration. Money was appropriated for the border wall. I tried to get them to reappropriate it, to redirect that money. They didn't, they wouldn't. And in the meantime, there's nothing under the law other than they have to use the money for what is appropriate. I can't stop that.


PHILLIP: The Biden administration announcing that, yes, it will build more border wall as the migrant crisis gets worse. Now, one of his first actions as president was pledging no more taxpayer dollars for the wall. While Biden today insisted that walls don't work, his Secretary of Homeland Security clearly did not get that message.

In a statement, Alejandro Mayorkas said, quote, "There is presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to protect unlawful -- prevent unlawful entries into the United States in that protected area. And the White House Press Secretary also today had trouble explaining the administration's position.


UNKNOWN: If the border wall is ineffective, why is the Homeland Security Secretary saying that it's necessary to prevent unlawful entries into the United States?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have not seen that full statement. I know -- I hear you. I'm just saying I've not seen that full -- his full statement on that. What I can speak to is for the President. The President has been very clear.

PETER ALEXANDER, NBC CORRESPONDENT: Does he have a disagreement with his Department of Homeland Security Secretary?

JEAN-PIERRE: What I can tell you what the President, I want to tell you what the President said and what your colleague asked him. He said, no, he doesn't believe that the border wall is effective.

ALEXANDER: I asked him because he's speaking in direct- contradiction to what his own Home Secretary says.

JEAN-PIERRE: I know I hear you. I hear you. I'm speaking for the President.

PETER DOOCEY, FOX WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He said, "There will not be another foot of wall constructed in my administration." So, something changed. What?

JEAN-PIERRE: You want us to break the law? Is that what you want? You want us to not comply with the law?

DOOCEY: I'm not. I'm asking about it.

JEAN-PIERRE: But you want us to not comply with the law? You want us to not be in administrations that follow the rule of law?


PHILLIP: In an attempt to clean up, Mayorkas would later say that the administration's position has not changed. Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Adriano Espaillat of New York. Congressman, Biden did pledge, not another foot, no more money for border wall. Why is this happening?

ADRIANO ESPAILLAT (D), REPRESENTATIVE, NEW YORK: Well, opinions change, views change, people evolve. I trust the President. I think he's a man of his word.

PHILLIP: Do you think his opinion has changed about the wall itself?

ESPAILLAT: No, I don't think so. You know, I know that there's money that was allocated back in 2019, and perhaps they need to access that money. This crisis is a deep pocket crisis, right, for cities and the federal government, as well. But I tell you, a wall is a Byzantine answer to a current problem. It really doesn't work.

And what we really need to do is take a deep dive into what's happening in Central and South America. And look at what's happening, for example, in Venezuela, many of them are many of the migrants are coming from there. The Maduro regime. But Haiti, being run by the gangs. Cuba, you know, and it's not even a right or left of left-wing crisis. Guatemala, Honduras. So, there is a crisis in Latin America.

PHILLIP: What do you want the President to do at this point as it relates to the wall? You call it a Byzantine solution to the problem, but at this point, should they or should they not go forward with building this wall?


ESPAILLAT: Absolutely not. I think that the money should be spent smart. Ports of entry are a problem. The Cato Institute, a very conservative institute has given us information that shows that only 0.02 percent of the fentanyl that's coming in is being trafficked by migrants. Over 90 percent by U.S. citizens, and it's coming through the ports of entry. PHILLIP: But they're saying -- this is what the Press Secretary was

saying. There's a 2019 law that appropriated this money. If they didn't spend it on the border wall, they would be out of compliance with the law. So, if they shouldn't build the wall, do you think that they should take that risk of not enforcing the law as it was passed by Congress?

ESPAILLAT: Well, I don't think that they necessarily have to use that money to build a wall. They could build roads near the area of the border. They're living in the age of artificial intelligence.

PHILLIP: So, they have other options.

ESPAILLAT: Technology is there, available.

PHILLIP: Based on the law, just to be clear.

ESPAILLAT: I believe that they do, yes. I don't think that the money is strictly for building a wall. So, I think they have options and I think they should resort to those options.

PHILLIP: So, why do you think that Secretary Mayorkas said, I mean, and this was a very stark quote, "There is an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers along the southern border." Why would he say that?

ESPAILLAT: Look, this is a difficult crisis, right? There's a lot of stress out there. Cities are stressful because it's a budget problem. The federal government has to deal with it on a daily basis, so it's very stressful. You know, I'm sure that there is space in the debate for border security.

I support the Dignity Act, which is a bipartisan peace legislation for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. It has border security provisions in it.


ESPAILLAT: So, there's room for that.


ESPAILLAT: But a wall is not the answer.

PHILLIP: But I mean, physical barriers, fences, wall-like things. have been a part of border security policy, even before Trump.

ESPAILLAT: And they never worked.

PHILLIP: But I guess what I'm saying is, isn't there a world in which that is part of a package of border security in the areas where maybe it will be an impediment?

ESPAILLAT: My question is, did the Berlin Wall stop Germans from going to freedom? No. Would a wall stop a mom that's traveling 2000 miles with two of her children because they want to be recruited by a gang and she wants to knock on our door and make a claim? No, it won't stop.

PHILLIP: And don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to make a case for the wall. I'm just asking as a part of a compromise to get to more comprehensive solutions, would you be willing to accept some money for just physical barriers in order to get there? I

ESPAILLAT: I'd be willing to accept a robust discussion for border security, and we can discuss the details of that. Not a wall, but, you know, there's plenty of technology available now that will probably be best suited for the border and will be more effective than a Byzantine wall.

And so, I would be willing to discuss that and to see how we provide work permits. And the Dignity Act provides those provisions. It is a bipartisan piece of legislation that's supported by me, who represents one of the most progressive districts in the country, and by some Republicans, as well. Border Democrats support it. So, it's a comprehensive piece of legislation that I think stands a shot, right? If given the day and time.

PHILLIP: If it's taken up in the House, which so far, nothing is being taken up in the House right now, Congressman Adriano Espaillat, thank you very much for joining us today.

ESPAILLAT: Thank you for having me. Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And up next for us, as George Santos faces an investigation into his actions, one of his former aides just struck a plea deal. Laura Coates joins me live on what this means for the Congressman.




PHILLIP: Tonight, some more troubling news for George Santos, the embattled congressman's former campaign treasurer has now pled guilty to account of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. Nancy Marks oversaw Santos' campaign finances before being dismissed after a series of filing abnormalities. And those led to accusations of wrongdoing against both her and Santos. She now faces a maximum of five years in prison.

Now, this could all signal even more trouble for the scandal tar Republican congressman. Marks' case has the same court docket number as the one listed for Santos' federal fraud case. He is facing 13 charges including wire fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds. Santos has not pled -- has pled not guilty to those charges, I should say.

Laura Coates joins me now to talk about all of this. So, Laura, one of the interesting things here is that the accusations that she pled guilty involve working with now a sitting congressman on a fraud against the United States government. So, what does this mean for George Santos? LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: It's not good news for him, Abby, and

here's really why. Not only in her allocation, which is a fancy way of saying the things you're going to tell a judge you did wrong when you plead guilty.

Here are the facts, here's what we agreed upon, here's what I'm admitting to. It's all under the umbrella of allocation. She acts -- talks about a conspirator or somebody that she's working with specifically also happens to be a sitting member of Congress.

And his lawyer, I understand, was actually in the courtroom overhearing all of this and did not move to object in any way, which signals to you that his knees may be shaking a little bit. If she has direct knowledge of his behavior as alleged, then she may very well end up being a witness against him.


There's not currently a cooperation agreement, we're told. But the fact that she would have insider knowledge and be able to testify specifically with actual first-hand eyewitness accounts, that could be very damaging for a defendant, but the prosecution still has to make their case.

PHILLIP: Yeah, this is going to be one to watch. It's incredible to see a sitting congressman facing this kind of cloud around him while he is in office, although we have a United States Senator -- a United States Senator in basically the same position.

Laura Coates, thank you. And everyone, be sure to stick around, because in a few minutes, Laura is going to be digging much more into these allegations and those about Donald Trump, that he shared nuclear secrets with a foreign businessman.

Plus, up next for us, just in, the police are contradicting Vivek Ramaswamy after an incident during a protest in Iowa today. Just stand by for that.




PHILLIP: And just in, police are contradicting Vivek Ramaswamy and his campaign after an incident involving protesters and his car. In Iowa today, Ramaswamy claimed that protesters rammed into his car at an event. But police now say that the driver accidentally backed into his car in a parking lot. That driver was not there to protest.

And that's all for me. Thanks for watching. Laura Coates is back and her hour starts right now.

COATES: That was a quick turnaround. It's like I was just here. It's like a deja vu of some kind.

PHILLIP: It's almost like you never left.

COATES: I feel like it's the case. Okay, our earrings almost match. Look at this. Okay.

PHILLIP: That's called alignment.


PHILLIP: A smooth hand-over is what we're doing right now.

COATES: I love the hand. It was very like air traffic control. Thank you so much, Abby Phillip.