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CNN Live Event/Special

Arguments Wrap In Trump Ballot Case At Supreme Court; Trump Speaks After Supreme Court Ballot Hearing; Justices' Questions Suggest Support For Trump In Ballot Dispute. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 08, 2024 - 12:30   ET



GEORGE CONWAY, CONSERVATIVE LAWYER: He just wants to talk about what's on his mind in himself.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: But can I -- could I just say someone didn't tell him that this sounded like good news for him today. Clearly, I mean, it wasn't just the rambling sort of campaign speech, but if he had simply listened to the analysis afterwards, he would know that it sounds like --


GANGEL: -- he's in good shape.

TAPPER: Or George's point, which is that he doesn't even care. He just wants to change the subject back to whatever his --

STEVE VLADECK, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: But, Jake, he's going to care when the court acts on the immunity case, right? And I think that's the real question now. The justices are going to go back. They're going to vote in their private conference for how they're going to come out in this case.

And then next week, they're going to get an emergency application from President Trump seeking to further delay the January 6th prosecution here in D.C. and they're going to vote on that request knowing what's happening in the Colorado case.

TAPPER: Right. So --

CONWAY: Absolutely.

TAPPER: -- just -- and to just to translate that because I want to get everybody up to speed who's been watching or maybe who just tuned in. So the U.S. Supreme Court just heard arguments on whether or not Donald Trump can be taken off the ballot in Colorado and potentially in other states and it seems very likely based on the questions asked that Colorado is not going to be victorious.

That's our guess based on what we heard from the justices, including the Democratic appointed justices.

CONWAY: I put money on it.

TAPPER: Yes. So in any case, but at the same time that that case is before the U.S. Supreme Court today, there is this other case, which is the U.S. Court of Appeals, which is under the U.S. Supreme Court has said that Donald Trump is not immune from prosecution in a separate case, the January 6th case.

Then Donald Trump, as Steve just referenced, is going to appeal that to the U.S. Supreme Court. And the guess that the legal minds here are making is that the court will just decide to not even hear that argument.

VLADECK: Or -- I'm sorry, Laura.

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: By the way, that's on Monday, they have a deadline --

TAPPER: Right.

COATES: -- to actually file something on the Trump team. It's not a deadline for the Supreme Court.

VLADECK: That's right.

COATES: They have their own prerogative. But what it's telling them is to figure out it will not --


COATES: -- impact on --

TAPPER: I have to interrupt, I'm sorry. I'm being told Donald Trump is talking about legal matters, so let's listen to him.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's election interference and it's really very sad. I thought the presentation today was a very good one. I think it was well received. I hope it was well received.

You have millions of people that are out there wanting to vote and they happen to want to vote for me or the Republican Party or whatever you want to -- however you want to phrase it, but I'm the one running and we are leading in every poll.

We're leading in the local polls and the state polls, and we're leading in the swing state polls, and we're leading very big in the national polls. So, it's been a very great honor. We love the country.

I think the reason we have such big leads, frankly, is that they loved four years of us compared to the three years plus, the three years that they've gone with Biden. We have open borders. You have crime. Nobody has ever seen crime like this, what's happening.

And now the crime is being committed much of it by the migrants that have come in illegally to our country. I was wondering about that. I said, you know, a lot of these people come out of jails. They come out of mental institutions. They come out of places that you don't want to know about. We don't even know where they come from. We don't know who they are, where they are. They're being dumped in from mental institutions, from prisons and jails.

And many terrorists are coming into our country. We're going to be paying a big price. They have to stop it. They have to close the border.

By the way, the president can do it just by saying, I want the --

TAPPER: OK, let's break away from the former president and talk to Joan Biskupic, who's outside the court right now. Joan, our tea leave readers here in studio have said that they think that this sounds very much like a number of justices.

Clearly, a majority potentially even, seven, eight, nine justices looking for an off-ramp to not uphold the Colorado Supreme Court banning Trump from the ballot. What say to you?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Yes. Well, you had -- one of your panelists had a reference to reading the room, and I have to say in the room, this argument ended actually much earlier than 12:15, 12:30.

Jonathan Mitchell standing there defending the Trump position, really did not get a lot of tough questions. You know, we refer to this court as having a hot bench. This was a rather tepid bench today.

I could see John Roberts actually getting unanimity, getting all nine justices to say that the Colorado Supreme Court erred as it ruled. Now, they would probably splinter a bit in their grounds, whether it's that states don't have this kind of authority, or that Congress has to take some -- make some legislation to have it take effect, or go to the officer, point that I'm sure you've already discussed, that the presidency just simply isn't covered by the officer language.

But you could feel it early on that they were not giving him the hard time that they often give an advocate who they're going to challenge. And I think part of it is, you know, Jake, when this first started, so many people thought it was kind of an outlandish case that it was, you know, something that started in academia, that it wasn't going to have legs, but the Colorado Supreme Court, you know, by a single vote, four to three decision said, yes, Donald Trump should be eliminated from the ballot.


TAPPER: Joan, I'm being told that I need to -- Joan, I'm sorry, I need to --

BISKUPIC: What you heard today and what you felt in the courtroom was --

TAPPER: Joan, I need to interrupt you, I'm sorry, because former President Trump is taking questions, and I'm told we should run that. TRUMP: All right, I got the gist.


TRUMP: Yes, I got the gist.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That President Trump is (INAUDIBLE) --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- and will always responsible for provoking the events on the desk (ph).

TRUMP: He doesn't say that anymore. So let me just tell you that I heard and I watched. And the one thing I'll say is they kept saying about what I said right after the insurrection. Because I think it was an insurrection caused by Nancy Pelosi.

This was an insurrection. If it was an insurrection, which there were no guns, there were no anything except for the fact that they shot Ashli Babbitt, somebody from police force shot Ashli Babbitt. So unnecessary, so sad, so horrible.

But there were no guns, there were no anything. But if you take a look at my words, right after, you take a look at my speech from the Rose Garden, which was very shortly after, or you take a look at my -- I'm only on truth now, but at that time, we were tweeting, and I was on Twitter -- if you take a look at those five or six tweets, you will see very beautiful, very heartwarming statements.

Go home, the police are doing their job, et cetera, et cetera. Beautiful statements. If you see my statement made in the Rose Garden, I think you have to watch that, because today they said the words of Trump.

Now, if you take a look at the words of Democrats over the last period of time, look at Schumer's statement about the Supreme Court, on the steps of the Supreme Court, he sounded like a mob boss. Take a look at any of them. Take a look at any -- we put together a tape of vicious, violent statements made by Democrats. Nobody brings that up.

Take a look at Maxine Waters and the vicious statements that she made. I didn't do that. I said, peacefully and patriotically. The speech was called peacefully and patriotically. It's peacefully and patriotically.

He said I said bad statement. It was the exact opposite. So I think you should take a look at the statements that I made before and after and you'll see a whole, a whole different dialogue.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you just mentioned Chinese President Xi. You said that you were going to impose 60 percent tariffs should you be back in office. Can you explain your rational there -- TRUMP: We want to bring business back to the U.S. They're stealing our

business, they're taking our business at levels that nobody's ever seen before. By doing that, we bring business back --

TAPPER: All right, let's turned back into a campaign appearance. Let me go to Kaitlan Collins now outside the Supreme Court. Kaitlan, it appears from the questions asked that Donald Trump's side had a good day at the Supreme Court today.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. It is interesting, though, what he's getting into there is really not even something that his attorney who is arguing before the nine justices taking their questions got into in much of those arguments, which is actually what happened on January 6th and Trump's role that day.

He was referencing there are parts of his speech on the ellipse that day where he told people to be peaceful. He ignored how he also told them to fight like hell or they wouldn't have a country anymore that day or how long it took him to urge the rioters to go home that day, despite how he and his top aides were having many conversations about that with his own, you know, children pleading with him to put out statements, and yet he declined to do so for hours, Jake.

Of course, we heard much more from Donald Trump as he was standing outside Mar-a-Lago, preparing to go to Nevada and weighing in on what happened today.

For more on that, I want to bring in CNN's Daniel Dale. Daniel, obviously, there's several fact checks in the former president's comments, including just the one I heard about crime alone, saying that crime is up when actually in 2023, most crime in major categories was actually down.

DANIEL DAVE, CNN REPORTER: Yes, you've done some good fact-checking there yourself. He also said this was an insurrection caused by Nancy Pelosi. That's an insane statement. Like, that's beyond, you know, fact-check false. That is completely deranged.

This was a mob of pro-Trump supporters called to town, urged to be wild by Trump himself. Nancy Pelosi tried to protect the Capitol, tried to summon National Guard troops. Completely just absolute bonkers nonsense. He also said there were no guns, something we've heard again and again from him. There were, in fact, guns.

We may not ever get a complete list of how many guns were there because most of the rioters were permitted to go home without arrest that day. But some people were arrested with guns. I have a list here. Mark Mazza of Indiana, two loaded handguns, arrested, sentenced to prison. Guy Reffitt of Texas. He had a firearm, entered Capitol grounds.


Christopher Alberts of Maryland had a pistol during the riot. Jerod Thomas Bargar of Missouri pleaded guilty to having a gun on Capitol grounds that day. So this idea that's taken hold in parts of the riot fueled by Trump that there were no guns that day, completely not true, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, and also, you know, they used other weapons, including flagpoles and spray to beat up these cops. And then just one more, of course, you know, you talked about the mental institutions and people letting immigrants out and coming into the U.S. We've also asked the Trump campaign for facts on that. They've never been able to provide any evidence.

Daniel Dale, great to have you here to fact check that. Thank you.

I want to go back to Joan Biskupic who was inside the room as the justices were hearing these arguments from the plaintiffs and from Trump's attorney. Joan, you were telling us what it was like to be in the room and what your sense is of, as someone who studies this court, how they are going to take those arguments.

BISKUPIC: Thanks, Kaitlan. Yes. And just a reality check. However they vote here in favor of Donald Trump, and they will, it will not be because they're in, in any way, endorsing the kinds of things he was just talking about there. You know, his role in the insurrection is not central to where they're headed.

Where they're headed is kind of another reality check against the theoretical argument here that one state, as several justices said, one state could eventually keep a candidate off the ballot and it would affect every state. Justice Elena Kagan, a Democratic appointee, was, you know, with the right side of the bench on this. It would be extraordinary, she said. Chief Justice John Roberts stressed how consequential all this could be.

And I have to say, Kaitlan, in terms of kind of the body language and how they operate up there, this is not one of their harder cases. I mean, I could just feel, once the rhythm got going, once Jonathan Mitchell stood up there and they were kind of soft on him compared to where they've been aggressively on any advocate who stands there, you could feel that the tide was already going in a certain direction.

And then Jason Murray on behalf of the Colorado voters got so many questions about how impractical this was and how could it possibly be what the framers of the 14th Amendment wanted. And even Justice Jackson who's the one member of this bench who had some personal experience as a trial court judge handling January 6th defendants, said, she didn't -- she suggested that this provision of the 14th Amendment wouldn't cover Donald Trump.

And as I say, it was kind of a reality check bringing people back to where we all were in the beginning on, you know, this theory that a state could keep a candidate off the ballot. Now, one thing I would say, Kaitlan, as much as I said that this is an easy case for John Roberts to get an easy majority, if not nine zip here, it will be a little bit in the writing.

But they don't need to be unanimous in all their grounds. The key question is, did the Colorado Supreme Court err in some way? And they could say that 9 to 0 and then splinter in their rationale. And it might not be so consequential how they splinter because, inevitably, we are not going to see a case exactly like this, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, fascinating to hear your insights since you were inside the room. Joan Biskupic, thank you. We'll check back in with you.

And Paula Reid, we were listening to this entire argument together, and what she was talking about is great context there with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the newest member of the Supreme Court. Because they never even really got to the question, or they never got to the question of the insurrection itself until right at the end of those first set of arguments with Trump's attorney.

We have that moment. I just want to remind everyone what she was asking the Trump attorney and what Trump's attorney said about that.


JONATHAN MITCHELL, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING DONALD TRUMP: What we said in her opening brief was President Trump did not engage in any act that can plausibly be characterized as an insurrection.

KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, JUSTICE: All right, so why would this not be an -- what is your argument that it's not? Your reply brief says that it wasn't because I think you say it did not involve an organized attempt to overthrow the government. So --

MITCHELL: That's one of many reasons. But for an insurrection, there needs to be an organized, concerted effort to overthrow the government of the United States through violence. And this riot occurred --

JACKSON: So the point is that a chaotic effort to overthrow the government is not an insurrection?

MITCHELL: No, we didn't concede that it's an effort to overthrow the government either, Justice Jackson, right? None of these criteria were met. This was a riot. It was not an insurrection. The events were shameful, criminal, violent, all of those things but it did not qualify as insurrection, as that term is used in Section 3.


PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: That's notable because this is the first time, really the only time we heard this question of whether this was an insurrection come up. And it's not surprising that it was Ketanji Brown Jackson who brought it up because she was actually still on a federal trial judge when that first batch of arrests was made in early 2021 and she oversaw some cases.

And at least one of those hearings, she made it clear how serious she thought this insurrection was, what a threat she believed it was to democracy.


Based on the questions we heard today from the justices, it's unlikely they're going to touch this as a collective, but here, she was at least able to get on the record with this. And it's notable that you heard Trump's lawyer at least concede that this was criminal.

He's not saying his client engaged in criminal conduct, but of course, you know, hundreds of people have been charged. So that was an important moment. You can tell that was an intentional move by her.

COLLINS: Yes. And also, you know, he noted that they're simultaneously making the argument that Trump has presidential immunity. What else stood out to you as we were listening to Trump's attorney as he came back to rebut the arguments that he heard from the plaintiff's attorney and from the Colorado Solicitor General?

REID: What stuck out to me is this is the best hearing that the Trump legal team has had in recent memory. And it's not just because the justices seem sympathetic to their case. It's also just how this was handled. Jonathan Mitchell, again, he's very experienced before the justices. This is the sixth time. But he focused solely on the law.

His client didn't factor into this. You know, we've seen very experienced lawyers, great lawyers, in federal courtrooms sometimes saying things that otherwise they wouldn't if they weren't representing the former president appearing to play to an audience of one. Sometimes getting in contentious exchanges with judges.

Kaitlan, today, we saw none of that. Even when a justice appeared a little skeptical of his argument, he was able to manage up on them on a way that didn't make it contentious at all. It was really interesting to note how he focused on the merits, he focused on the law, and remained respectful.

A complete contrast to what we've seen in the two civil cases recently in New York, and it'll be interesting to see. Going forward, is this going to be the new approach that they take to legal proceedings? Let lawyers go in and do serious, right, a disciplined work inside the courtroom.

And if the former president wants to go outside the steps of Mar-a- Lago and argue about an insurrection and score political points, he can do that. Because today, legally, this is likely going to pay off.

COLLINS: I'll say I'm skeptical that that's going to be the approach that he takes.

REID: I'm very skeptical too, but hope springs to turn off.

COLLINS: Since we've been covering so many different iterations of Trump attorneys during our time. But it was also interesting to see how -- when, you know, Trump was not in that courtroom today, he did -- or in the Supreme Court today, he did have some of his political aides, some of his attorneys who are not arguing this in there.

But when he came out just now and was initially speaking about this, he didn't seem to resonate with what you just said there, that this was a more successful day compared to the other days that we've seen with his attorneys.

REID: Yes, he's probably just, you know, ticked off that we're here at all, right? But this is also a campaign speech.

COLLINS: He's fundraising off of these.

REID: Exactly. Because he called it, as you heard, this is election interference. So even though you have a day where a Supreme Court, where he appointed a third of the justices seeming to take his side, perhaps even 9-0, he's arguing that this is somehow election interference. That is an argument that he has made across a civil litigation, criminal cases here at the Supreme Court.

So it really didn't seem to be a reflection of how he thought the argument. Here's probably -- what is probably what he's going to say no matter what.

COLLINS: I think it's also revealing into the inside of how he sees the Supreme court in and of itself --

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: -- because he has been quite wary of how they will treat him and the way that he kind of sees how legal processes play out when it regards him personally. I mean, his attorneys have made clear that he does expect some kind of sense of loyalty. I believe that's the word that Alina Habba used, because they are three justices that he nominated to the Supreme Court.

But he has a bit approaching this from what our reporting is, maybe not this case, but certainly the presidential immunity one, with wariness of how they will rule ultimately if they do take that case up.

REID: Yes, it's wild, I think, right? You've appointed a third of the court. You're going to go up against with immunity. He should be. He should be nervous if the justices will take that appeal and if he would prevail. Here on ballot eligibility, as we saw, they seemed to signal, to suggest that they will likely rule in his favor.

Immunity, even sources in and around his legal team will concede. It's not their strongest argument. The idea that the president has absolute immunity, that is not something that is likely to prevail at the highest court. They lost at the trial court, they lost at the district court, but really it's almost not as much about the merits as it is.

Just the possibility that they might take it up, that's all they really need because the strategy is really about trying to delay that federal case until after the 2024 election. Because as you know, if Trump is reelected, he likely, through his attorney general, could make both of Jack Smith's, federal prosecutions, go away.

So while he should feel really good about what happened today legally, succeeding likely on the merits through this approach, going forward, there is an enormous amount of legal peril that he is facing. And even though he's appointed a third of this court, it's unlikely they're going to be able to help him much.

COLLINS: But they have a new deadline already. REID: Yes.

COLLINS: You just heard the court and they say, we'll see you back February 16th. They have a new deadline already on Monday that immediately his legal team is dealing with. They have to file that emergency appeal to the Supreme Court, which we know they're going to do.


What have you heard about how they're going to approach that? Because all of their arguments that they made in front of the other courthouse just knocked down the --

REID: Yes.

COLLINS: -- far down the road from here were rejected by that federal appeals court, including by Republican appointed judges.

REID: So now this is the question, what are you going to do? Because normally what they would do is they would ask the entire circuit to hear their case. They have that option. Do they think they're going to win? Probably not. But again, if the goal is delayed, that's your next step.

But the way the circuit decided this, they made that a little more difficult for them to do and box them in to tell the Supreme Court by Monday that they intend to appeal. Now, I was asked by the people who are going to work on this to leave them alone about exactly what they're going to do until they finish this argument.

COLLINS: Well, they said the same thing to me.

REID: I've already texted them. We're already texting them to get the scoop. En banc, Supreme Court, what are you going to do? So, going forward, they need to map out. Do they want to fight the fact that the circuit has said, you know, you really can't do en banc? Says who?

Why doesn't the former president have that right? Do they want to litigate that? I'm guessing they might, but I don't think they've thought through the mechanics of how they're going to go forward. But the big question, I think, is going to be, how long does it take either the circuit and or the Supreme Court to get back to him on what they're going to do?

Because every day is a gift for Trump and his legal team. Every day it takes them to decide that's one day closer to the November 2024 election. And one day that it's less likely Jack Smith will get to prosecute him.

COLLINS: Paula Reid, thank you.

And Jake, obviously just fundamental in seeing what a role the Supreme Court is going to have in this election.

TAPPER: Right. This is just one case. They're going to weigh in on another one probably, well, starting next week, we'll see what they do.

Let me go now to Kristen Holmes who is covering President Trump's campaign, his reelection campaign, former President Trump in -- at Mar-a-Lago. Kristen, interesting, not uncharacteristic, I suppose, that Donald Trump had a pretty good day in court, but seemed more focused on grievances when he talked about what happened today.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Jake, all of this was turning it into a campaign speech. I mean, almost moments into the speech, he started talking about Iraq. He started talking about the war and Israel and Hamas. He started saying that Joe Biden was a bad president, really trying to turn every single sentence back into the campaign speech.

But he did say one thing that I want to point out. I know that we went deep into the January 6 revisionism, but the other part of this that he said, so when he was talking about the 2020 election. Donald Trump, still privately and publicly, is often calling that election rigged, saying he won, but he did not do that today.

He said, had the election results been different, I wish they'd been different. Clearly trying to moderate his language there on topic, that he still, again, publicly and privately, almost always doubles down on saying that there was election interference that the election was rigged. So that was really interesting to me to stand out.

Now, I do want to be very clear because obviously we've said this many times since 2016, I do not in any way think this is Donald Trump pivoting or changing his rhetoric. I just think that today, this day, after the Supreme Court arguments, he did clearly soften the language that he has used in the past about a rigged election.

TAPPER: Interesting. Kristen Holmes, thank you so much.

My panel is back with me now. And Kasie, as I said, Donald Trump could have come out and said, what a great Supreme Court. Even the liberal justices seem to understand the logic of my argument, and what -- how -- what Colorado is doing doesn't make any sense legally. But instead, you know, he likes to talk about how unfair the world is.


TAPPER: And grievance, and he focused on that.

HUNT: Well, that's basically his campaign strategy, right? Especially in the context of the still ongoing, although he wanted to ignore it, Republican primary, where this has animated a lot of Republican voters. But, one thing, too, that stood out to me is that he usually is pretty freed in his criticism of often the institutions, the judges themselves.

I mean, the gag order in the New York case was because he was literally trashing staffers for the court. He's not doing that here, right? He didn't show up in the courtroom. He could have in theory, but clearly someone talked him out of that. And you don't hear personal criticism right now of the court. And, you know, honestly, I'd be dying to know what you think about this, Steve. It seems like someone has gotten to him and said, that would be a really bad idea. It would be a really bad idea for you to take your traditional way of attacking these institutions and point it at the Supreme Court, considering the role that they are going to play in the election.

TAPPER: Yes, and it's not as if he doesn't have grievances against them because of their refusal to hear cases in the 2020 election.

Jamie Gangel, there was an interesting moment when Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson had the floor. I want to play a little clip of that and get your reaction to it.


JACKSON: If we think that the states can't enforce this provision for whatever reason in this context, in the presidential context, what happens next in this case? I mean, is it done?

JASON MURRAY, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING COLORADO VOTERS: If this court concludes that Colorado did not have the authority to exclude President Trump from the presidential ballot on procedural grounds, I think, this case would be done, but I think it could come back with a vengeance because ultimately members of Congress may have to make the determination after a presidential election if President Trump wins about whether or not he's disqualified from office.



GANGEL: So that struck me for two reasons. One, Steve Vladeck was going, but it really did seem to put a point on everything we've been saying about where the court appears to be heading. But the other reason is, what happens next? And the chaos.

So if they rule that Colorado can't do this, and then what's the next step? Let's have a hypothetical, even though Justice Gorsuch doesn't like them, and say that Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, Donald Trump wins the election. Then what happens?

Does this come back? Who enforces it? Who says he's removed. I mean, can you imagine Republican voters, Trump supporters at that point?


GANGEL: If we are in that --

TAPPER: I can.

GANGEL: -- moment, that is not going to work.

VLADECK: And, you know --

TAPPER: Steve, let me -- who said -- just to spell this out for viewers a little bit. The question is the Supreme Court decides Colorado, you got out ahead of your skis, you can't do this. And then hypothetically Donald Trump wins. A Democratic Congress wins, a Democratic House and Senate win.

Are they then able, since the Supreme Court has said, U.S. Supreme Court has said, it's not for the states to do this. Does a democratic House say, oh, well then it's for us. And Donald Trump is a violator of the insurrection clause.

VLADECK: Right, I mean, I think that's exactly the concern that Jamie's raising. I mean, we could have January 6th, 2025, right, turn into a very different type of joint session. Where you have objections to electoral votes in states where President Trump -- former President Trump wins the state.

And you have Democratic members of the House and the Senate coming together to say, no, no, no, we object to counting these votes on the ground that we believe President Trump is disqualified because of Section 3. You know, at that point, we have a serious problem.

Because if you have democratic control of both chambers, presumably at least some of those objections could be sustained and then, of course --

HUNT: That's just brought up that that's unlikely, but --

VLADECK: Well, but so, this is -- I mean, but this is -- so from this --

TAPPER: No idea. I would have thought that January 6, 2021 was unlikely.

VLADECK: You know, but Kasie's point is right. I mean, so if you're john Roberts, if you're the chief justice of the United States, are you worried about this possibility? Sure. But you're also hoping against hope, that it's not going to come to pass and that you'd rather stay out for now. And maybe, just maybe, you actually increase the odds of that not happening.


VLADECK: By letting the January 6th prosecution go forward, right? By staying out of the -- by denying whatever President Trump files on Monday in the January 6th case, by letting Jack Smith bring that case to trial. Maybe there's a conviction before the election.

Maybe that conviction moves enough voters who might otherwise have supported former President Trump. And then maybe that spares the Supreme Court from having to do anything else about the election.

TAPPER: So, Elie, what about the idea that the -- that whatever the majority decision is, assuming it goes the way that we anticipate it will, which is in favor of Donald Trump, that they then prescribe, well, this is what we think the way to do this would be. They're not going to do that, right? That's too difficult. ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: No, they're not going to do that. The Supreme Court's job is not to give us a perfect roadmap. Almost any Supreme Court decision leaves some unanswered questions. And there's almost always the possibility for someone to take some other provision of the law to the extreme to create a wild scenario.

To Steve's point, this case appears to be over. Donald Trump will be on the ballot in Colorado and Maine and elsewhere, it seems. But there is a bigger battle ahead. This immunity question. And let me just be clear about the stakes. If the Supreme Court does not take this case, if they tell us sometime in the next few weeks, we're not taking this case, we are almost certainly going to see a trial here in Washington, D.C. for January 6 this summer or so, with a verdict coming down late summer.

And if the Supreme Court does take this case, and it only takes four justices, the chances that we have a trial before the election are very, very small.

TAPPER: Very, very small. And do you think that ultimately, a Supreme Court that rules in favor of Trump, that there will not be four justices, because as Elie notes, you only need four to take up a case, there -- do you think that there will be therefore six justices, theoretically, who will say, we're not going to hear the case?

COATES: Well, I would predict the Supreme Court not wanting to venture into the political would split the baby here.


COATES: They could be -- it could have their hands quite clean by simply saying no on this issue of Colorado and ballot disqualification. And then he can, like, in turn then say, well hold on a second, the lower court ruling, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, is suggesting that we might have the same conclusion. And so why should we put our own spin on it if it's going to be the equivalent of what's called a concurring opinion?

HUNT: I would just say that is a political calculation.


HUNT: I get it's two legal things that seem clean, but you put them together and it's like --


TAPPER: Hold on, hold on.