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Justices Signal They May Side With Trump In Colorado Ballot Dispute; Special Counsel Notes Key Differences Between Biden & Trump Handling Of Classified Info Probes; Nevada GOP Caucus Underway With 26 Delegates At Stake. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 08, 2024 - 21:00   ET



KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST, THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS: Do you think they kind of have made their decisions?

JAMES TRUSTY, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY, PARTNER, IFRAH LAW, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: No, I mean. And lawyers that try to bank on the Supreme Court are going to go poor, quickly, on those predictions. So, I don't bet any money on it.

But I do think that they -- I think there seem to be a flavor of looking for a procedural/foundational component that they can agree on, to basically end this, without talking about the trial, for insurrection itself.

COLLINS: Jim Trusty, always great to talk to you.

TRUSTY: You too.

COLLINS: We'll wait to see what they decide. Obviously, we have many more legal issues, for the former President that we may talk about going forward.

TRUSTY: Right.

COLLINS: Thanks for joining us here, on set, tonight.

And of course, as we are looking at what has happened, just in the last hour, alone, the entire busy day, oral arguments that we've just been talking about that happened at the Supreme Court.

Also, as we've been discussing, President Biden himself, now weighing in, in those abruptly scheduled remarks, at the White House, after a Special Counsel legally cleared him, for mishandling classified documents, but also doing so in a way that created a political headache.

The President began, by talking about the legal aspect of that case.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Let me say a few things before I take your questions. As you know, the Special Counsel released its findings, today, about

their look into my handling of classified documents. I was pleased to see he reached a firm conclusion that no charges should be brought, against me, in this case.

This was an exhaustive investigation going back more than 40 years, even into the 1970s, when I was still a new United States senator.

And the Special Counsel acknowledged I cooperated completely. I did not throw up any roadblocks. I sought no delays.

In fact, I was so determined to give the Special Counsel what he needed, I went forward with a five-hour in-person -- five-hour in- person interview, over two days, on October the 8th and 9th of last year, even though Israel had just been attacked, by Hamas, on the 7th, and I was very occupied. Was in the middle of handling an international crisis.

I was especially pleased to see Special Counsel make clear, the stark distinction and difference between this case, and Mr. Trump's case.

The Special Counsel wrote, and I quote, "Several material distinctions between Mr. Trump's case and Mr. Biden's are clear," continuing to quote, "Most notably," after given "multiple chances to return classified documents" to "avoid prosecution, Mr. Trump allegedly did the opposite. According to the indictment, he not only refused to return the documents for many months... he also obstructed justice by enlisting others to destroy evidence and then to lie about it."

"In contrast," he went on to say "Mr. Biden turned in classified documents to the National Archives and the Department of Justice, consented to the search of multiple locations including his" home, "sat for a voluntary interview and in other ways cooperated with the investigation." End of quote.


COLLINS: In addition to the legal aspect of this report, you also saw President Biden address the parts of it, talking about his age and his mental acuity. And we'll talk about that shortly here, in this hour.

But first, more on the Supreme Court, taking up the Colorado Supreme Court's decision, that barred Donald Trump from the ballot, citing the 14th Amendment. It got a very skeptical hearing and oral arguments today. We listened to them live.

Justice Elena Kagan, speaking volumes, with this question, to the attorney representing the plaintiffs here, Jason Murray.


ELENA KAGAN, ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: I think that the question that you have to confront is why a single state should decide who gets to be President of the United States.

In other words, you know, this question of whether a former President is disqualified for insurrection to be president again, is, just say it, it sounds awfully national to me. So whatever means there are to enforce it would suggest that they have to be federal, national means.

Why does, you know, if you weren't from Colorado and you were from Wisconsin, or you were from Michigan, and it really, you know, what the Michigan Secretary of State did is going to make the difference between, you know, whether Candidate A is elected or Candidate B is elected. I mean, that seems quite extraordinary, doesn't it?

JASON MURRAY, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING COLORADO VOTERS: No, Your Honor, because ultimately, it's this court that's going to decide that question of federal constitutional eligibility and settle the issue for the nation.


COLLINS: And joining me now, New York Republican congresswoman, Elise Stefanik, the House Republican Conference Chair, and the highest- ranking woman, in House leadership, I should note.

Congresswoman, thanks for being here, on this busy day.

I'm just curious, what it says to you about the U.S. that the Supreme Court is even hearing an argument like this, about a former President, and whether or not he violated the insurrectionist clause.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): Well, it shows that the left, and the Democrat Party, and Joe Biden's campaign, they know they're going to lose at the ballot box, which is why you're seeing lawfare, you're seeing witch-hunt after witch-hunt, court case after court case, going after Joe Biden's top political opponent, which is Donald Trump.

COLLINS: But even--

STEFANIK: And today was a very bad day for Joe Biden. It was a very bad day, in court, for the left. It was a very bad day for the Colorado bogus court case.


It was a very good day for President Trump. And it was a good day for the Constitution, and the American people.

The American people are going to make this decision in November. Not radical bureaucrats, from the State of Colorado, not radical judges, or far-left prosecutors.

COLLINS: But even though it's Republican and Independent voters, who brought this lawsuit, in Colorado, I mean, I think that's an important part of this as well.

STEFANIK: This is a witch-hunt against President Trump.

And it is not a coincidence that it is while President Trump is skyrocketing in the polls. Meanwhile, we saw a disastrous day for Joe Biden. Joe Biden started this week, plummeting in the polls, the weakest

polling for a modern-day President, an incumbent president. And yet you saw a feeble, mental acuity lacking in the President of the United States, just today. So, this is a horrible day. It's a disastrous day for Joe Biden.

It's a winning day for Donald Trump.

COLLINS: Let's talk about that report in a moment.

STEFANIK: And the Supreme Court case is likely to have multiple liberal justices that side with the conservative justices, in this case, siding for the Constitution.

COLLINS: So, you think that the court here is going to rule and overturn the Supreme Court in Colorado's decision?

STEFANIK: Absolutely. And you heard questions whether it was from Justice Elena Kagan, you heard multiple questions, from the liberal justices, who are likely, I believe, this could be a 9-0, an 8-1, or a 7-2 case.

COLLINS: So, the next thing that the Supreme Court could potentially take up is the question of Donald Trump's argument, his assertion of presidential immunity. If you trust the Supreme Court's decision, on the 14th Amendment, will you accept what they decide, on presidential immunity as well?

STEFANIK: Well, certainly. I will have something to say when the court makes that decision. But I already have put out a public statement.

Of course, the President has presidential immunity. You can't handcuff a sitting President of the United States, for future presidents to go after them. It would not allow them, to do their job, in their official capacity. So, that was a wrongheaded decision. I expect the Supreme Court will overturn that as well.

COLLINS: The appeals court decision?


COLLINS: Does that extend to President Biden? Do you think that he can do whatever and not get prosecuted as well?

STEFANIK: Well, that's what the Trump campaign put out. They said this is a very slippery slope, because it means that if you're of an opposing party, that you could go after your predecessor, based upon policy disagreements or official acts. So, that's why this is so egregious.

And the reality is Kaitlan, the issues that the American people are concerned about? They're concerned about the border. They're concerned about the inflation crisis. They're concerned about the lack of leadership from the sitting President of the United States, Joe Biden. That's why they're going to make the decision, to vote for President Trump, at the polls. And that's why you're seeing despite lawsuit after lawsuit, President

Trump's numbers continue to go up, because this is not a fair justice system, right now. You see the justice system being weaponized, against Joe Biden's top political opponent. And that's Donald Trump.

COLLINS: I think the scathing report, though, that came out today, that you referenced, on President Biden's handling of documents, would suggest that it's not weaponized, because it was -- it was quite brutal, in its assessment.

But if he had been charged?

STEFANIK: It's selective prosecution, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: If he had been charged, would you -- would you make the argument that he shouldn't have been charged, because he has presidential immunity?

STEFANIK: Well, first of all, if you look at what the Special Counsel said, it was a willful -- willfully not abiding by rules, when it comes to classified information, willfully breaking the law. And the only reason they're not pursuing prosecution is because of the lack of mental acuity of the President of the United States.

And this disastrous press conference--

COLLINS: But it's also because he cooperated.

STEFANIK: No. No. It's specifically because--

COLLINS: So, do you agree to have--

STEFANIK: It's specifically because--

COLLINS: --having classified documents is bad?

STEFANIK: --of the mental acuity. That was pointed out in the document. That's why you saw a panicked White House, forced out a doddering, unfit President of the United States, for a disastrous press conference, to trying to clean it up. And it only did more damage.

The reality, Kaitlan, is Donald Trump is going to win this November. And Democrats are spiraling out of control, because they see that Joe Biden continues to plummet. His polls are going to go down much further tomorrow, based upon that horrific press conference today.

And it's selective prosecution. The fact that it's not even a slap on the wrist, when the prosecutor himself, the Special Counsel himself?

COLLINS: I think it's a slap on the wrist. But don't you--

STEFANIK: It is not slap on the wrist, when they specifically say--

COLLINS: --don't you think that if Donald Trump--

STEFANIK: --we are not pursuing that prosecution.

COLLINS: But they talked, you know, a big part of this is that President Biden went and sat down with him, for two days, over the course of two days. Obviously, that's the interview that you're talking about, where they talked about his age.

Donald Trump hasn't cooperated. Don't you just think if he had cooperated he could be--

STEFANIK: Because it's a witch-hunt.

COLLINS: --in the same situation?

STEFANIK: This is at the behest of Joe Biden. It's at the--

COLLINS: But if you -- don't you think he could--

STEFANIK: No. No. No. First of all there is a difference, here.

COLLINS: --be in the same situation as President Biden?

STEFANIK: President Trump has -- according to the Presidential Records Act, he has declassification authorities. Joe Biden does not have that, when he was Vice President of the United States. Joe Biden also had classified documents, when he was a sitting senator. That does not -- that is not covered by the Presidential Records Act. So to say--

COLLINS: I've read the Presidential Records Act. It also doesn't give Trump the authority to just take documents and keep them in a ball room in Mar-a-Lago.

STEFANIK: This was a raid on Mar-a-Lago, Kaitlan, versus working with Joe Biden and saying he willfully broke the law, but refusing to prosecute.

COLLINS: But that's my point.

STEFANIK: It is selective prosecution.

COLLINS: That is my point.

STEFANIK: It is selective prosecution.

COLLINS: Because Trump did not hand over the documents--


COLLINS: --for more than a year.

STEFANIK: It is selective prosecution from the DOJ.

COLLINS: Jim Trusty could tell you that. He just--

STEFANIK: From Joe Biden's DOJ--

COLLINS: --he was on that team. STEFANIK: --ordered by Merrick Garland, not to prosecute against Joe Biden, even though it specifically found that he willfully broke the law. And on top of that the reason--

COLLINS: It was an independent Special Counsel.


STEFANIK: --the reason why they're not prosecuting is because they say he's mentally unfit, to put in front -- to pursue that. That is unheard of. And it is selective prosecution. And it's why people inherently know, across this country, if your last name happens to be Biden or Clinton, you get to live by a different set of rules than every day average Americans

COLLINS: I think Hunter Biden would disagree with that. And I will note Robert Hur is a--

STEFANIK: Hunter Biden got a sweetheart deal. Let's talk about that.

COLLINS: He's been indicted by the -- no, no.

STEFANIK: Let's talk more about the corruption of the Biden family.

COLLINS: Hunter Biden was indicted. And he's got a Special Counsel. This was a Special Counsel, who made this decision.

STEFANIK: And then got a sweetheart deal from Joe Biden's DOJ.

COLLINS: But I want to -- I want to talk about you, because I think, in a lot of your public appearances, and your public comments, and the resolutions that Republicans are introducing on Capitol Hill, that you're a part of, people want to know if you're auditioning, to be Donald Trump's Vice President.

Have you handed over any documents, or been a part of any vetting process, with the Trump team yet, regarding that?

STEFANIK: I'm proud to be one of the top surrogates for President Trump. I voted for President Trump in 2016. I was proud to work with him. I've worked with him on his impeachment defense team, when the first witch-hunt started against him, perpetrated by the Democrats and Adam Schiff. And I'm proud to be a top surrogate. I would proud to serve in a future Trump administration.

But we have a lot to do. I have a lot of responsibility, as the House Republican Conference Chair, and most importantly, as the Representative for New York's 21st Congressional District, giving them a seat, at the highest level.

And we're focused on the issues that matter to the American people. The border crisis, which is raging across our country. House Republicans passed a border security bill. Joe Biden has failed. In fact, he has caused this border crisis.

COLLINS: Well also, I mean, the Republicans on -- in the Senate. STEFANIK: We passed a border bill. We passed a border bill.

COLLINS: Right. One that was never going to pass a Democratic-led--

STEFANIK: We passed a border bill. And you and I both know how difficult it has been, historically--

COLLINS: --Senate and that the President was not going to pass.

STEFANIK: --for a border bill, to come together. And we got it done.

COLLINS: Yes. We just saw what happened with Republicans, on Capitol Hill.

STEFANIK: But we got it done. House Republicans passed a border bill--

COLLINS: But on--

STEFANIK: --that Joe Biden opposed, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: I want to talk about the Vice President.

STEFANIK: The Biden border crisis is because of Joe Biden's executive actions.

COLLINS: Yes. It was in turn too because--

STEFANIK: H.R.2 passed.

COLLINS: --he is a Democratic president.

STEFANIK: And Joe Biden opposed that.

COLLINS: Right, because it was Trump-era immigration policy. But--

STEFANIK: The reason why he opposed it is because he wants a wide open border, which is what his executive actions caused.

COLLINS: But he said he was willing to--

STEFANIK: That is why--

COLLINS: --to shut the border down.

STEFANIK: And he has the executive authority--

COLLINS: But let's talk -- I want to talk about the Vice President talk. We're--

STEFANIK: --to do so. He has the executive authority to do so.

COLLINS: You're getting off-topic.

STEFANIK: No, I'm not.

COLLINS: I'd like to return to my question-- STEFANIK: I'm not allowing you to just say something that's factually not true.

COLLINS: --about the Vice President.

STEFANIK: He has the executive authority, right now, to end catch and release. He has the executive authority, right now, to close the border.

COLLINS: And Congress has the ability to pass legislation.

STEFANIK: And we did. And House Republicans did.

COLLINS: And let's talk about the vice presidency. Because you just said that you would be willing to serve in a Trump administration. Had you been Vice President, on January 6, 2021, what would you have done?

STEFANIK: I stood up for the Constitution. I believe it was in that--

COLLINS: No. What would you have done, if you were a Vice President?

STEFANIK: I would not have done what Mike Pence did. I don't think that was the right approach. I specifically stand by what I said, on the House floor. And I stand by my statement, which was there was unconstitutional overreach.

COLLINS: So you would have rejected the votes?

STEFANIK: There was unconstitutional overreach, in states like Pennsylvania. And I think it's very important that we continue to stand up for the Constitution, and have legal and secure elections, which we did not have in 2020. And the tens of millions of Americans agree with me, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Well, I would say the Supreme Court, in the State of Pennsylvania, said that that Republican past changes to their law was constitutional.

But it's notable to hear you say, given you're in the running to be the Vice President, that you would have rejected those votes. Come this election, when Vice President Harris is in that position, would you be OK, if she rejected the votes, if Donald Trump wins?

STEFANIK: Listen, we need to make sure the election is constitutional, and legal. We're talking about Democrats--

COLLINS: It was legal.

STEFANIK: It was not, Kaitlan. It was unconstitutional, when there was circumventing state legislatures, unilaterally changing election law. I stand by my statement, on the House floor. And again, tens of millions of Americans agree with that statement, and have questions about the validity and legality, and constitutionality.

COLLINS: Because Republicans are sowing doubt the elections.

STEFANIK: No. No. No. Because the American people have rightful questions, on the constitutionality.

COLLINS: Because Republicans are sowing doubt about it.

STEFANIK: And let me -- let me say this, for you. When it comes to this election, we are seeing the Democrats trying to remove President Trump from the ballot. That is not constitutional. That is not a legal and safe, secure election. That's literally what's being discussed, at the Supreme Court, today.

Because radical leftists can't stand the fact that Donald Trump continues to skyrocket, in the polls, and Joe Biden continues to plummet.

And when you get outside of CNN?

COLLINS: Let me ask you more about that.

STEFANIK: If you get outside of CNN, and talk to hardworking American people, like in my district, like across this country, they want to see new leadership in President Trump.

COLLINS: But can I--

STEFANIK: And that's why he's going to win.

COLLINS: You deleted a statement that was on your website recently, calling January 6, a tragic day. Why--

STEFANIK: It's publicly available on all my--

COLLINS: Why was it deleted though?

STEFANIK: I have all my public statements, from the current Congress. You can access all of my previous public statements from it.

COLLINS: But why was it deleted from your website?

STEFANIK: I only have the press releases, from this current Congress. All of those statements are available, since I was elected on multiple social media accounts, and you can access it there, just like everything.

COLLINS: So, it wasn't a retraction of what you said?

STEFANIK: I have every -- no, certainly not. I have press releases, for this current Congress. And the reality is you, as a journalist, can go through all of my official social media accounts, and find all of my previous statements.

COLLINS: The last thing I have to ask you about is you've referred to the January 6 defendants as hostages.

As someone, who was in Israel, for several weeks, after October 7th, and met with families of real hostages, don't you find that offensive?

STEFANIK: I've given those family members of hostages in Israel. We've hosted them and among House Republicans, and we continue to stand up, to make sure Israel has the right to defend itself.


And Kaitlan, you should be condemning the fact that the President of the United States called into question Israel, at his press conference today. Meanwhile, he misunderstood and confused the President of Egypt with the President of Mexico.

But I will continue to stand up for Israel's right to defend itself. And yet, you have a President of the United States, who issued a veto threat. I stand by my statement there.

And what people are seeing is an unequal Department of Justice where, on one hand, you have BLM violent rioters, who are not prosecuting--

COLLINS: You're not answering my question.

STEFANIK: --who are not prosecuting.

COLLINS: You're going off-topic.

STEFANIK: You have BLM violent rioters, who are not being prosecuted by the DOJ.

And you have non-violent individuals, who were in the Capitol, on January 6, but did not commit violent acts, who are being prosecuted by the DOJ, being held. That is unheard -- inherently un-American.

COLLINS: But you draw the distinction.

STEFANIK: That's inherently un-American and--

COLLINS: You draw the distinction, in the criminal defendants, and the people, who were raped and kidnapped into Gaza, correct?

STEFANIK: I draw -- I draw a distinction by the DOJ, the fact that they refuse to prosecute violent rioters, during BLM. And yet, they have an unequal set of rules, and go after non-violent individuals, on January 6.

CNN continues to struggle because you've continued to fail to understand the American people's frustration, with this two-tiered set of justice in this country.

COLLINS: I don't think that has to do with calling the criminal defendants, hostages.

STEFANIK: It has to do with a lot more than that. But that's one aspect of it.

COLLINS: Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, thanks for your time, tonight.

STEFANIK: Kaitlan, thank you so much.

COLLINS: And of course, just ahead, we'll also speak to the Secretary of State of Colorado, Jena Griswold. She's here to weigh in, on what she heard, in today's arguments.



COLLINS: More now on what happened today, in court, for Donald Trump, and what it means for the future of this case, as the Supreme Court seemed to be signaling that it is unlikely to allow the State of Colorado, to kick him off of its ballot.

There are many other legal matters, looming large for Donald Trump, of course. The question of whether the Supreme Court takes up the immunity appeal. His team is expected to file their emergency appeal, by Monday's deadline. Also, the four criminal trials that await him.

Here tonight, Colorado's Secretary of State, Jena Griswold.

Also back with us, Ashley Allison, Doug Heye, and Elie Honig.

COLLINS: Secretary, let me start with you, because we don't know how the Supreme Court is going to rule, or how soon. Hopefully we'll find out quickly on that. But what did you make of today's arguments, and what we heard, from people, like Trump's former attorney, who believe it was actually a pretty effective day for him?

JENA GRISWOLD, (D) COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE, CHAIR, DEMOCRATIC ASSOCIATION OF SECRETARIES OF STATE: Well, I think it's a significant day for democracy, where at the Supreme Court, just steps away from the United States Capitol, where congresspeople ran for their lives, where we saw our nation assaulted, and our democracy under attack.

And it was so striking to me, to see Trump continue to lie, to lie about his role in the insurrection, to continue to argue, he is above the Constitution and above the law.

So, I hope the justices see through his lies, and recognize that states have historically been able to keep disqualified candidates off of our ballots.

COLLINS: But they seem to be making the argument, Justice Kavanaugh specifically, when it comes to democracy, the reverse of that, saying that allowing states to make this decision would be problematic.

GRISWOLD: Well, I think one of the things, that is potentially problematic, is the court's focus on politics, their focus on the role of one state deciding a presidential election.

But ultimately, elections are within the state's jurisdiction to run. And just like we wouldn't put a non-natural-born citizen on the ballot, we also believe that oath-breaking insurrectionists -- insurrectionists are not qualified.

COLLINS: Elie, what was your thought of that, given the arguments that you heard, also from the plaintiffs?

ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. I wonder if you picked up on what I picked up on, listening to the argument.

It sounded to me like the justices were saying, this insurrection disqualification is different than age or residency or natural-born status, because the other three are readily ascertainable. Usually, whereas the question about whether someone engaged in insurrection, is highly variable, and can change a lot state by state. And they seem to have a concern with that.

I wonder what you thought of that line of questioning.

GRISWOLD: Honestly, insurrection is not something we see every single day. Some of the attorneys argued that it's an extraordinary event. And it is.

I think the justices were indicating that our legal systems do not work, that rogue Secretaries of State will be able to basically throw tantrums and scream, insurrection, to keep candidates off the ballot. And I just don't think that's how it would play out.

Ultimately, just like in Colorado, we had a five-day trial, at District Court. There was an appeal to the Colorado Supreme Court.

And now, we're at the United States Supreme Court. And the justices have all the ability, in the world, to clearly define what an insurrection is. But that does not, I would say, I would argue, allow them to pretend that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment does not exist. It is there to protect the country from insurrectionists taking office. It's there for this situation with Donald Trump.

HONIG: Was it any concern to you, Secretary, or is it any concern to you that Colorado is essentially alone, among the states, in having found that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection, and should be disqualified? Maine is sort of there. Your colleague in Maine has made that decision, but it's not in the courts.

But there have been two dozen or so of these challenges, rejected in blue states, red states and swing states. Does it concern you that Colorado is sort of out on its own?

GRISWOLD: No, because honestly, it is not atypical, for states to have different candidates, on the ballot.

Outside of this question, about Donald Trump, this presidential primary will have a candidate who is not a natural-born citizen, on some ballots, and not on other state's ballots. Like in Colorado, we said the person is not qualified. He's not on our ballot. So, I think that's a typical thing, in election administration.

And on top of that, I'm going to push back a little bit on, on your premise. Some of the courts that did not disqualify Donald Trump didn't even look at the question. And again, in a federalism, it's up to them.

HONIG: Yes. You talk about standing considerations. Just one more quick question from--

GRISWOLD: We're getting -- picking the case out on political reasons. It's a political question.

HONIG: Political question. Right.

GRISWOLD: We're not going to adjudicate.

HONIG: Some of Donald Trump's 2020 election challenges were dismissed on the same basis, however.


Real quick, your primary, speaking of your primary, it's Super Tuesday, May (ph) 5th. Do you think it's important for the voters of Colorado that they get an answer, from the Supreme Court before May -- excuse me March 5th?

GRISWOLD: Absolutely. And on top of that, our ballots go out next week. We're a vote-by-mail for all state. We have early voting, drop boxes galore.

I do think it's important that voters know if a vote for Donald Trump is going to count. I also think it's important, for the American public, to know, whether an insurrectionist can take the highest office again.

COLLINS: I wonder what you think of this, because she referenced there, the politics that the court is taking into account. I mean, obviously, they've waited into many politically fraught cases before. I think Justice Clarence Thomas is the only one, on the bench, who was there during the 2000 Gore -- Bush v. Gore.


COLLINS: But I wonder what you make of how they're considering it, and looking at it, through that lens?

ALLISON: Well, that was my first election I ever voted in. And so, it was -- it was disappointing, to see the Supreme Court decide what I felt like the outcome of an election.

And so, surprisingly, I might be in agreement with Doug, tonight, my Republican colleague here. I don't actually want the court to make this decision to take him off the ballot. I think that it will divide our country.

Do I think he is an insurrectionist? Absolutely. And do I think that American people should stand up and say we don't want him? No. Unfortunately, though, the Republican Party is not there, and he likely will be the nominee.

But that's why it's so important that he is defeated in November, because I don't think an insurrectionist should have the highest -- hold the highest office.

I am just afraid of what will happen, if he is removed, and his base -- they have already said threatening things. And Donald Trump himself has not said he would try and stop the violence, if people got upset when -- after the last time, he was in court, in New York.

COLLINS: Well, and also remarkable to hear Elise Stefanik, someone who is on the shortlist, may not ultimately be picked, to be Trump's vice president -- presidential candidate, if he wins, say that she would not have done what Mike Pence did, that she would have blocked legitimate, credible votes, that day, rejected people's valid votes, when she is certifying over at Congress, in a ceremonial role.

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Sure. I think if we've learned one thing about Donald Trump, Ronna Romney McDaniel -- Ronna Romney McDaniel is learning this, this week, is that loyalty to Trump is a one-way street.

And Donald Trump doesn't give points. He only takes them away one at a time. And so, you have to say whatever Trump -- whatever the latest Trumpy answer is, you go that route, and you go that route, to stay as long in Trump-world, as you can.

COLLINS: Even if it's unconstitutional?

ALLISON: That's the thing.

HEYE: That's -- that's the deal that you've made with yourself. And look, every movie, book and play that we -- that we've seen on this topic tells us that when you make a deal with the devil, it comes with a price. There has been a price that a lot of people have paid so far. And obviously, others may pay that price as well.

COLLINS: Did that surprise you? I mean, just--

ALLISON: Well, I--

COLLINS: --well I'm still just thinking about that moment that she--

HEYE: Well--

COLLINS: --that she just openly acknowledged that she wouldn't certify votes.

HEYE: My last conversation with Congresswoman Stefanik was in her office in 2016. And she said, we got to stop Donald Trump, he's terrible.

Obviously, she, like a lot of Republicans, have seen the light or changed their tune, however you want to define it. But nothing about that then surprises me. This is where the center of gravity, for the Republican Party is now. And it's unfortunate. But that's reality.

ALLISON: I mean, it's not surprising. We literally saw an issue that for President after President after President, people have said we need to solve. And we got so close. Not that the bill that was proposed around immigration, this week would have solved the whole immigration problem. But we got so close, in the most conservative bill possible. And

Donald Trump calls and said, nope. And it's over. And so, that's the world that we are living in, right now, that Donald Trump is literally the puppet-master, around all of these folks, who just are looking for a political future, and not for people.

COLLINS: Everyone standby.

Coming up next, here on CNN, we will get back to the breaking news, and go to the White House, to hear what they believe, how President Biden's impromptu news conference went, tonight.

CNN's MJ Lee is there. And she'll join us, alongside Van Jones and David Urban, right after a quick break.



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: More now on President Biden's press conference, tonight, hailing the Special Counsel, for saying he will not charge him with mishandling classified documents, and tearing into him for language in his report, about his age and mental sharpness.

CNN's MJ Lee asked him about it, specifically what voters make of the question.


MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Mr. President. For months when you were asked about your age, you would respond with the words, watch me.

Many American people have been watching, and they have expressed concerns about your age. They -- they--

BIDEN: That is your judgment. That is your judgment.

LEE: This is according to public polling. They express concerns.

BIDEN: That is not the judgment of the press.

LEE: They express concerns about your mental acuity. They say that you are too old.

Mr. President in December, you told me that you believe there are many other Democrats, who could defeat Donald Trump. So, why does it have to be you now? What is your answer to that question?

BIDEN: Because I'm the most qualified person in this country, to be President of the United States, and finish the job I started.


COOPER: MJ Lee joins us now.

Are you hearing anything, from White House officials, or sources, with the Biden campaign, about how they thought that press conference went?

LEE: Yes, one White House official was actually just texting me, no one can say that isn't a man in command, after that press conference. They do generally tend to like it, when the President is sort of fired up. They think that it shows his strength.

But Anderson, I think it's clear that he was kind of fuming about this, investigations, the conclusion that it drew, the way that it was conducted, some of the questions that Robert Hur asked.

You saw the President get particularly worked up, when he talks about being asked about the death of his son, saying, that's none of your business. What does that have to do with all of this?

And he clearly also just does not appreciate the fact that the report basically said that he was an elderly man with memory issues. You saw him get very defensive, saying that his memory is just fine. He said, I know what the hell I'm doing.

And I think they're just very aware that the repeated references, in this report, to the President having memory issues, recall issues, are only just going to fuel critics, who have raised questions about his age, his mental acuity.

And you saw there, in that exchange, when I started asking about that concern, shared by American -- American voters, he immediately cut in, and said, that is my opinion.

To be clear, that isn't my opinion. That is something that we see consistently in public polling.


But yes, I think -- I think there's also the moment, where the President didn't do himself any favors, by mixing up who the President of Egypt is. He made a reference to the President of Mexico.

So, all in all, I think the White House clearly wanted to get him out there, wanted him to say, in his own words, sort of a defense, of what was in the report. And I think we got just that.

COOPER: Yes. MJ Lee, thank you.

Joining me now, CNN's Senior Political Commentator, and former Trump campaign adviser, David Urban; also CNN's Senior Political Commentator, former Obama administration official, Van Jones.

Van, did the President do himself any favors today?


But listen, you had Donald Trump, couldn't tell the difference between Nikki Haley and Nancy Pelosi. People make those mistakes. And those kinds of things happen. I think the more important thing that people are going to remember tonight, is that the Supreme Court ducked its opportunity, and responsibility, to stop this insurrectionist, from being able to take advantage of the situation.

If Barack Obama had sent 10,000 Black men, to destroy the Capitol, and attack a Joint Session of Congress, Barack Obama wouldn't be in jail. He'd be on Guantanamo, right now. And we wouldn't be talking about Barack Obama, at all.

We shouldn't even be talking about Donald Trump. He should be facing the same justice, as anybody else would in this country. And that's the real story tonight.

COOPER: David, what is the real story, today?

DAVID URBAN, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Wow. Wow. I usually -- I usually agree with Van. We kind of -- kind of agree on some things. This one, we're 180 degrees out.

The story tonight is that Joe Biden is non compos mentis. America sees it. The Special Counsel wrote about it. He said, and Elie talked about this before, but for the fact that he is an older, nice old man with a bad memory, they'd have probably brought charge, they'd have probably recommended charges.

JONES: That's not the only reason.

URBAN: But they felt a jury would -- wouldn't see that.

COOPER: Well they also said he--

URBAN: No. No. Well it's one of the reasons, Van.

COOPER: --the fact that he cooperated was also something that was laid--

JONES: That's the main reason.

COOPER: --laid very--

URBAN: OK. But he goes -- but he goes on -- he goes out at this press conference here, and says there was no classified materials disclosed, when he's on tape talking about disclosing classified materials. I mean, it's--

JONES: Look, I -- if you are--

URBAN: He did himself way more damage.

JONES: Listen, if the qualification that you now are going to stand by is how well people equip themselves, when it comes to being smart and honest, about legal situations? I think Donald Trump should be right off the map. Listen, Joe Biden did not do anything remotely as bad as Donald Trump. Donald Trump took stuff, stole stuff, hid stuff, lied about it. Biden turned the stuff over, directly. And that's why he's not being prosecuted.

And again, this false equivalence--

URBAN: Van--

JONES: --between a Joe Biden, who is a law-abider, Joe Biden, who is -- who is competent, he's running the country right now, versus Donald Trump, who has memory lapses, just like everybody else, in that age group, but who also is an insurrectionist and steals stuff? It's ridiculous.

URBAN: I would encourage -- I would encourage all the viewers to go read the document, read the document yourself, maybe turn to page 61, where a junior military officer, working for -- working for the Vice President, at the time, says, I don't feel comfortable with the classified material containing the notes. Please don't involve me in anything going forward with this project. Taking herself out, she said I can't argue because I'm a junior officer.

There are people clearly knew where things were going wrong here. And they wanted to get themselves out of the blast zone. This is -- this is going to get worse before it gets better.

COOPER: So, Van, I mean, the President obviously, look, he is who he is. He is the age he is, and the way he speaks is the way he speaks, or misspeaks sometimes. What do you see -- what does this campaign look like to you, between these two men?

JONES: I don't think most Americans want to see this match-up. We've said over and over again, the vast majority of Americans don't want to see Donald Trump and Joe Biden, part three, part seven, the repeats of -- that nobody wants to see this. But it's where we are.

And I got to tell you. If Joe Biden focuses on what he's been able to accomplish, which is if he, right now, if he were to retire right now, he'd be on Mount Rushmore, when you look at what he's done on climate, what he's done on pulling us out of the -- of this economic tailspin, when you look at what he's done, even on stuff people forget about, marriage equality, anti-Asian violence. You go down the list, the accomplishments of Joe Biden, with a narrow set of majorities, is extraordinary.

And if you look at where he's trying to take the country, versus where Trump wants to take the country, with his revenge tour, and his promise of dictatorship? There's no contest.

COOPER: David, how do you say? I mean, where?


COOPER: Yes. URBAN: I was going to say, and unfortunately the polling doesn't show that, Van. The polling doesn't show right track, wrong track. Americans believe the country is on a wrong track. They believe they're worse off now than they were four years ago.

JONES: Partly because of Trump.

URBAN: Biden's popularity is at a presidential all-time low.

JONES: Hey, listen.

URBAN: Because of Donald Trump?

JONES: Yes, no, no, listen. I think you're going to be surprised.

URBAN: Look--

JONES: I think -- I think -- listen, you might disagree with me on this, David.


I think some of this right track, wrong track stuff has to do with the level of chaos that people feel, and the fear that people feel that there's a part of the country that just seems to be going off the rails, in some kind of a almost cult like worship of somebody, who's got 91 felony charges, and looks like a runaway train toward the White House.

So, I think that some of the discontent, in the country, isn't about the sitting president. It's about fear of the potential of a next President Trump.

URBAN: Yes. I think you're misreading that part, Van. I think there's 75 million Americans plus--

JONES: Could be.

URBAN: --that feel that the country is on the wrong track, because of the current occupant of the White House, not the previous occupant.

COOPER: Well it's David, Biden was -- I mean, he was obviously criticized, for his handling of the classified documents, in the Special Counsel report. The Special Counsel, who is a former Trump appointee, also said that what former President Trump did was worse.

So, I know you're saying this is bad for Biden. But is it really a game, politically, for the former President?

URBAN: Look, Anderson, the reason I--

COOPER: And who by the way, is--

URBAN: --I think it's -- listen.

COOPER: --I mean, he could stand trial, for this. URBAN: Right. If you're keeping score on, on the legal merits, right, I think it's a wash, right? Because the American voters are going to say, it is going to be an equivalence here. They're going to say, well, Biden had documents, people said it was bad.

What this -- what this report really shines a light on is the fact that you see that the -- the current president, not remembering pretty key dates, not necessarily the situation with his son, but when he became -- when he became Vice President.

When -- was I -- was I vice president then, he asks the Special Counsel. I mean, those are significant milestones--

COOPER: But David, it's a little -- it's a little--

URBAN: --in your life to remember than not remember.

COOPER: I mean, was there a reason to put those details? I mean, look, in conversations, I'm like, you ask me--

URBAN: Yes. There is. Anderson?

COOPER: --what year did I start, at CNN? I would stumble, or I think it was like 2001, 2002?

URBAN: Anderson, I do -- I do believe -- I do believe there's a reason he put them in there.

I think he put it in there, to support his claim that one of the reasons I'm not bringing -- I'm not recommending there be charges brought, when the President leaves, is because his lack of memory now is pretty bad. And it will be even worse in a year or so from now, when he's not President. And so, one of the reasons I'm not recommending there be prosecution brought is because he'll be seen as a nice, kind, older gentleman, with a bad memory. He says it clearly.

COOPER: Van, did it seem gratuitous to you?

JONES: It maybe seemed a little bit gratuitous.

But again, I'm sitting here. And this is some kind of bizarre nightmare mirrored -- it's like a "Black Mirror" episode, where we're sitting here, talking about a president, who is literally doing the job right now. The country seems to be functioning. And meanwhile, the Supreme Court apparently is going to duck out, on the opportunity to do their job.

This is the Supreme Court by the way, that when it comes to women's rights, oh, their body, is happy to throw a president in the garbage can, and attack a 100 million women, take diversity off the campuses, take voting rights away from people, gut this -- gut clean water. But when it comes time to disenfranchise one guy, who was a clear insurrectionist? They are running for the exits.

COOPER: All right.

JONES: Donald Trump is playing chicken with our--

URBAN: Van? It's a 9-0.

JONES: --with our institutions.

URBAN: It's going to be a 9-0 opinion.

JONES: And they keep swarming away.

COOPER: We got to go. Van Jones. David Urban.

URBAN: It's going to be a 9-0 -- 9-0 opinion

COOPER: Most people seem to agree with that.

JONES: Yes, we'll see.

COOPER: Next on that note, looking ahead, at today's historic Supreme Court arguments, the skepticism many justices exhibited, toward Colorado's case, and how they may rule, as David Urban said, is it going to be 9-0? We'll see. We'll talk to others ahead, in a moment.



COOPER: During today's Supreme Court argument, Justice Samuel Alito spoke of the potential consequences, of siding with Colorado, or the former President, not just for the presidential ballot in that state, but in all 50 States.


SAMUEL ALITO JR., ASSOCIATE JUSTICE: I don't see what is gained by using this term which is used in different contexts rather than directly addressing what's involved here, which is the question of who can enforce Section 3 with respect to a presidential candidate?

The consequences of what the Colorado Supreme Court did, some people claim would be quite severe. Would it not permit, would it not lead to the possibility that other states would say, using their choice of law rules and their rules on -- on collateral estoppel, that there's non- mutual collateral estoppel against former President Trump. And so the decision of the Colorado Supreme Court could effectively decide this question for many other states, perhaps all other states. Could it not lead to that consequence?


COOPER: We're joined now by Jeffrey Toobin, former federal prosecutor, and author of countless bestsellers. So, I'm hoping he knows what collateral estoppel means. Including "The Nine: Inside the" -- excuse me, the book "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court."

Also Alyssa Farah Griffin, former Trump communications White House -- White House Communications Director. So Jeff, what is Alito -- what was Alito's point there?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR, AUTHOR, "THE NINE": Well, let's just, in terms of the argument itself. Jason Murray represented Colorado. And I would say his argument was somewhere between a calamity and a disaster.


TOOBIN: It was, everything he was selling, they weren't buying. He didn't do a bad job.


TOOBIN: It's just that every argument? Whether Trump was covered under Section 3 of the 14th Amendment? Whether Colorado had the right to do this? Whether Colorado had used the right procedures?

The argument that Justice Alito was making there, it was related to an argument Chief Justice Roberts made, at another time, which was what happens with other states? Do other states feel they're bound by Colorado, and they have to throw Trump off the ballot? That's what Alito meant by collateral estoppel.

Chief Justice Roberts was -- made the point, what happens when red states start throwing Biden off the ballot? I mean, is that the kind of arms race we want to start?

I thought maybe Justice Sotomayor votes for Colorado. But it looked like 8-to-1, or 9-to-nothing, for me. And what it means, in real terms, is Donald Trump's going to be on the ballot, in 50 states. Period.


Listen, I think it's important that this decision come down quickly, but more important that the question over presidential immunity comes down quickly.

I think that the country is in a bit of denial that we're having the rematch from hell that nobody wants. Seven in 10 Americans didn't want a Trump versus Biden rematch. But that is the simple reality, right now.


And voters have a right to know to -- well first, we need the case to be able to move forward with it. Can't till we have--

COOPER: Right.

FARAH GRIFFIN: --till we have this immunity decision. But they deserve to know, before Election Day, if he's a convicted felon. And there's a possibility, with all the delay tactics, he can pull, that they very well may not. And I would also say there's also a possibility Donald Trump could be a convicted felon and still win. I think we have to be open-eyed to the weaknesses of both of these two major party candidates.

TOOBIN: The immunity case, which was just--

COOPER: Yes, let's talk about that.

TOOBIN: --decided by the D.C. Circuit? Was that this week? Gosh, it all happened so fast.


TOOBIN: That is, in many respects more important than this case. Because even if somehow Colorado won, the only states that would be thrown -- throwing him off, were states Biden -- Trump wasn't going to win anyway.

Immunity could decide whether Donald Trump goes on trial in Washington, D.C.

COOPER: How -- so what is the steps on that?

TOOBIN: Well, next week, the Supreme Court is going to have to decide, whether they issue a stay. And that's really almost more important than the outcome of the ultimate appeal.

COOPER: If they issue a stay, that means it's delayed?

TOOBIN: That means that Judge Chutkan, who is presiding in Washington--

COOPER: Right.

TOOBIN: --depending on how the stay is written, but it probably means that she can't do anything, until the Supreme Court decides the case, which would probably be June. And then, it really becomes impossible, especially if Trump is tried, in New York, as it looks like he will be, on March 25th, to stack even--

COOPER: And given the gravity of it, the Supreme Court wouldn't rule on that sooner than June?

TOOBIN: They take their time.


TOOBIN: They don't rush. I mean.

FARAH GRIFFIN: And keep in mind, the political calendar as well. July is obviously the Republican convention. There's always sort of these tendencies to not want to pursue things, in a highly political season. If this does not move quickly, it very well couldn't be solved by Election Day.

TOOBIN: Before we leave the Supreme Court. Just one more point we haven't talked about yet.


TOOBIN: What in the world was Clarence Thomas doing hearing this case? His wife was intimately involved, in the issue of insurrection, which is the -- which was the subject of this.

The fact that he has not recused himself, and the fact that no one can do anything about that, because the -- basically, the Supreme Court has said, unless you want to impeach us, we're free to do whatever we want? It is outrageous that he didn't recuse himself, in this case.

COOPER: It is remarkable, the standards that the Supreme Court has for themselves.


COOPER: I mean, they apparently can receive vans and trips and all sorts of gifts.

TOOBIN: It's the honor system.


Jeffrey Toobin, Alyssa Farah Griffin, thanks so much.

Coming up, another huge political story, tonight. The third official contest, in the Republican presidential race, is underway, right now. Nevada's 26 delegates up for grabs, in tonight's caucuses.

John King breaks it down for us, next.



COLLINS: Nikki Haley got a lot of grief, this week, when she came in second, in a one-person race. That was the Republican Nevada primary. Tonight, it's the Republican Nevada caucus, which is currently underway, and where there are actually delegates at stake. Two different races.

And I should note, Nikki Haley is not on the ballot, tonight. But former President Donald Trump is. And state party rules there forbid candidates from being in both.

John King is here, to break down that confusion, in the caucus, if you can understand that.

John, can you just explain, how Republicans got here, and what you're watching for, tonight?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, let's explain the race first, in general, the big race, and then this peculiarities, let's call it that, of Nevada.

We have Iowa. That's Trump. We have New Hampshire. That's Trump. He's 2-and-0. That has not happened in modern times.

So now, we're out in Nevada, tonight. No votes yet. The polls there close, 10:30. So, a little more than 30 minutes from now, the caucuses will close. And we just expect to get some results pretty quickly. 26 delegates at stake.

If you come back, Kaitlan, to where we are, look, the race for the nomination can be about two things. It can be about momentum. Trump has that. Or it could be about delegates. Trump has that. Very early, in the count, right now. But you see this 26 delegates at stake, tonight, in Nevada, Trump is expected to get all of them. So, he will add that to his thing.

You mentioned Tuesday night. Let's just go back and look at it. There were no delegates at stake here. Donald Trump was not on the ballot. It was Nikki Haley versus none of the above, none of these candidates.

She says it was meaningless. And it was, in terms of the math. In terms of that other thing, I was talking about, momentum, she hope to just see this fill in yellow, so she could say there are voters out there, who want me to be President of the United States. So this, no, it doesn't affect any delegate math. But it did not help.

So again, if you come back to where we are now, one, two and three, if Donald Trump wins, the first three, wins the first three, then we go to South Carolina.

And then what does Nikki Haley do from there? A flipside from 2020. Remember, Joe Biden lost the first three, and then he won South Carolina. Republican races are different. The times are different. However, if you're Nikki Haley, and Donald Trump is 3-and-0? You better win.

COLLINS: So, what does that mean, if Donald Trump's getting these delegates, tonight? I mean, how much harder does that make that path, for Nikki Haley, who is still in this race, to get the nomination?

KING: She's raising a lot of money, Kaitlan. She says she's going to stay in the race regardless of what happens in South Carolina.

But let's take this on a day-to-day basis. You've covered campaigns. You know how it works.

Just to go back in time to 2016. Remember, Donald Trump was new on the scene then. And he still won 44 of the 46 South Carolina counties. You see the lighter red? That's Marco Rubio there, and Marco Rubio down here.

I'm just back from a trip to South Carolina. They like Nikki Haley. But they love Donald Trump. That's her problem.

COLLINS: And so, what is her -- you're in South Carolina. You're talking to voters, as you have been, for the last several weeks. What's next for her?

KING: Well, again, can she pull it off here? The biggest challenge here is just two big challenges.

She has to convince a lot of people, who are planning to vote for Donald Trump, please don't do that. Reconsider my argument. I'm more electable. He has chaos. All of those things we've heard familiarly.

Can she do this in the state, where she was born, where she was twice elected governor? The challenge is she hasn't been on the ballot in 10 years. And Donald Trump has won South Carolina three times since then. The 2016 primary, the 2020 general -- 2016 general election, then the 2020 general election.


So, can she convince enough people to change their mind? Or Kaitlan, can she, as she says, she's trying to do, get Democrats and Independents, to flood the South Carolina primary? It's mathematically possible. Historically though, it has just never happened.

And if you go 0-and-4, come back to the 2024 map, if you go 0-and-4, one, two, three, four, then yes, she says she's going to go on to Super Tuesday. But just, yes, she has some money. But I mean, it's Donald Trump's party. You have to prove it isn't. Yes, the only way to prove that is by winning somewhere.

COLLINS: John King, at the map, thank you.

And the news continues, here on CNN. "AMERICA'S CHOICE 2024" The Nevada Caucuses, with Abby Phillip, and Laura Coates, starts right now.