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CNN Live Event/Special

CNN Projects Donald Trump Has Won The Nevada Republican Caucuses; President Biden Dismissing Criticism Of Memory Lapses. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired February 08, 2024 - 23:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: They seem poised to preserve Trump's name on the ballot. Now, you can call that a big win for the Trump campaign.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: And you can call this an in-kind donation for Trump. I mean, the Special Counsel says that Joe Biden did willfully retain classified materials, but why he won't charge him, pretty stunning, and will create all kinds of chatter about if Biden is still able to do the job he's running for again.

The reason, by the way, Robert Hur gave for not bringing charges in part -- in part, was that Joe Biden might be sympathetic to jurors and because his memory was not at its peak and might be far gone on certain areas.

PHILLIP: There's so much more on all of these stories in just minutes. But first, on to Nevada, where the caucuses wrapped up just a few minutes ago and where Donald Trump is anticipating a win, probably a big one, and 26 more delegates. Let's go straight to John King, who's over at the magic wall with more. So, John, what are we seeing? Anything coming in just yet?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: We are seeing the early votes come in, Abby, and to your point of what Donald Trump expects, guess what? He's going to get it. Look right there. You see Trump red starting to fill in on the map. Let's pop it out and show you Nevada.

It's very early. We have about one percent of the vote counted. The two biggest counties, obviously Clark down here, 75 percent of the state population lives in Las Vegas and the suburbs around it. Washoe County up here with Reno. Trump's doing quite well in both. You see he's got 96 percent of the votes so far.

Again, it's early, but this we expect a romp. We expect a romp tonight. In Vegas, he's getting Clark County, which includes Vegas, he's getting 99 percent at the moment. You come up here to Washoe, he's getting 96 percent if you round up the Texas businessman, Ryan Binkley, the only other person on the ballot.

So, to your point, Abby, number one, if you come out to the full map, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, that will make Trump three and O. That's never happened in modern times that somebody wins Iowa and then New Hampshire. Now, he's going to win Nevada, as well, the same candidate three and O.

You mentioned 26 delegates at stake. You need 1215 to win. So, Nikki Haley's right when she says, whoa, it is very early in this process. But here's another way to look at it. Coming into tonight -- coming into tonight, Donald Trump was winning 56 percent of the delegates. That percentage is going to go up because it's going to get if not a hundred percent, very close to a hundred percent of those Nevada delegates.

So, if you want to prove it's not Donald Trump's party, at some point you need to beat him. You need to beat him in the state so you can start to catch up in the delegate count. That is not happening at the moment. We will click to see if more has come in. Now we're still at one percent, but you can expect, Abby, this to continue throughout the night. Ninety-six percent of the vote for Donald Trump at the moment, three and O.

We go on to South Carolina next in 16 days. Nikki Haley says she's in, that's her home state. She says she's in for that and beyond. But Donald Trump made the argument even before that turned red. He thinks it's time for her to get out. There'll be some pressure. And of course, the anti-Trump forces, as you well know, Abby, will pressure her to keep in, stay on.

PHILLIP: So, John, I want to backtrack just a little bit for those who may not have been paying attention or are probably wondering why are we talking about Nevada for the second time in a single week? Who is on the ballot even tonight in that state?

KING: Right. And so, we're talking about it for a second time in a week. Let me go back in time. We'll go back to Tuesday. Tuesday, they had a primary. The state decided to have a primary, but no delegates were at stake. So, it's essentially a beauty contest, right? And so, Donald Trump did not file for that ballot. The state Republican Party said if you wanted to participate in the caucus, you can't be on the primary ballot.

Nikki Haley did decide to file for the primary ballot. Again, no delegates at stake. She didn't spend any money on advertising. She didn't campaign there. So she says it's meaningless. But it's embarrassing when none of these candidates get 63 percent of the vote and you get 30 percent of the vote.

Again, it doesn't count for anything, but she would have loved for this to be yellowed to say, look, thousands of voters came out to say they want me, not Donald Trump. That didn't happen. That was the primary on Tuesday.

This is where we are today. Only Trump and the Texas businessman, Ryan Binkley. Now, Ron DeSantis had filed for the caucuses. He's long gone from the race. He was going to participate, but he's long gone. So, it's essentially Trump at the moment.

And you see what's happening right there. And this is the one that matters. Yes, it can be confusing. Primary Tuesday, caucus Thursday, but in the end, delegates is how you win the nomination and all the delegates are awarded tonight.

PHILLIP: All right, John King, thank you very much. And now for a CNN projection. CNN projects that Donald Trump has won the Nevada caucuses. John King is still with us. John, we are so early in the night. But as you just laid out, this is a one-man race in Nevada.

KING: Yeah, and let me say, as we go back, let's just look more closely at the results. Just leave Nevada up so people can see it, in case more come in. And votes are starting to trickle in. This is a Republican Party event. They'll count as quickly as they can.

It was a foregone conclusion even if there were more candidates in the race. And I say that because the state party is for Trump. The state party organization is for Trump.


They structured these caucuses to be for Trump. You've heard a complaint from Nikki Haley that essentially the guy who keeps complaining about rigged elections stacked the deck here. People still have to show up. They still have to count their votes. Don't get me wrong about that.

But this was a process that was set up by Trump's friends in the states, including those who run the party, to help Donald Trump. And you see the results. He's at 96 percent right now. Is he going to stay that high? Who knows? But he's going to stay way up there, because again, he's running against the very long shot candidate of the Texas businessmen, Ryan Binkley, who's in the race.

You know, he campaigned quite aggressively in Iowa, actually. But he's in the race for name and attention right there. So again, we've now projected it. So, Donald Trump won Iowa, then won New Hampshire. That never happens, not in modern times. The same candidate winning Iowa and New Hampshire.

Now he's three and O. And again, Abby, yes, it's early in the process. And anti-Trump people will say, stop saying he's going to be the presumptive nominee with so many contests still to go. But my point is, this is his party now. And if you want to prove otherwise, you have to fill one of these states in, not Trump red.

I know it's only three, but South Carolina comes in 16 days. It's Nikki Haley's home state. If there's a place where you want to make a point that people are having second thoughts, you better do it at home.

PHILLIP: Yeah, you got to put some points on the board and as you pointed out, John King, Donald Trump and his campaign are trying to show that they are dominant in this Republican Party, not just in how he shows up in the polls, but how these primaries and caucuses are structured to his advantage. John, thank you as always.

KING: Thank you.

PHILLIP: We are still awaiting Trump to speak. But first, let's go to Laura Coates, who's in the Court of Public Opinion.

COATES: Tonight, we're taking you inside of our own virtual courtroom where our court of public opinion is going to hear legal arguments on the very big issues of the day. We're turning now to the Special Counsel Report on Joe Biden's handling of classified documents.

Special Counsel Robert Hur has released his team's report on the investigation into the mishandling of Obama era classified documents at two locations connected to now President Joe Biden. He did not charge Biden with a crime but the report painted a picture of a forgetful Commander-in-Chief who failed to properly protect highly sensitive classified information.

So, that could be a picture that President Biden does not want out there as he campaigns for a second term. An angry President facing reporters at the White House tonight.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: President Biden, something the Special Counsel said in his report is that one of the reasons you were not charged is because in his description, you are "a well-meaning elderly man with a poor memory".

BIDEN: I'm well-meaning and I'm an elderly man and I know what the hell I'm doing.


COATES: The question tonight, should President Biden have been charged? Here with the American public, things as two top lawyers lay out the arguments on both sides of that question.

Norm Eisen was White House Ethics Czar in the Obama-Biden administration. He'll be arguing that Biden should not be charged. And Harry Litman, former U.S. attorney and former deputy assistant attorney general, will argue that Biden should have been charged.

Then our jurors are going to weigh in. This is a diverse group of everyday Americans meeting tonight for the first time to share their opinions with each other and of course you.

Now, Trump was charged. Biden was not. Is there a double standard? First, we'll talk with Harry Litman and make his case. Harry, why should, in your estimation, President Biden have been charged?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen, in February of 2017, a month after leaving office, the former Vice President was working on his memoirs with his ghostwriter. He had a lot of classified documents that had been taken from the White House that there's no doubt about. They were strewn about carelessly in a garage. You've seen the picture.

But in a recorded conversation in February 2017, then citizen Biden told his ghostwriter, and I quote, "He had just found all this classified stuff downstairs. I just found all this classified stuff downstairs." Did Biden immediately call up the archives and say, oh gosh, I've got these documents, I just found out and I want to return them to you?

No, in fact, he talked about them with his ghostwriter, who didn't have security clearance, and he used them to write the memoir. And it's a hundred percent obvious that he willfully retained classified material. You've heard evidence that he was more cooperative once it was found than Donald Trump was, and that's true.

But that's got nothing to do with the basic charge of willfully retaining the documents. Donald Trump was charged with obstruction of justice in addition, which we haven't sought to bring him here. At its core, this is a case about equal justice under law.

It was fair for Trump to have been charged, but by the same token, it's also fair to charge Biden. They both willfully retained documents. And to not charge Biden here would simply be to inflame the partisan tensions in this country that have so plagued us.


What's true for Trump is true for Biden.

COATES: Well, Norm, I wonder what your argument is. We're asking the question of whether Biden should or should not have been charged. Harry Litman says in this exercise that he should have been. What do you say?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Your Honor, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, Joe Biden should not have been charged because he committed no crime. In America, we don't charge people when they haven't committed a crime. Please do not take my word for it.

Listen to the words of Special Counsel Robert Hur, who spent over a year investigating this matter, reviewed thousands of documents, talked to a vast number of people. He stated, we conclude that no criminal charges are warranted in this matter.

Biden did nothing else than was considered normal for most of the duration of his long career. Again, as Mr. Hur, who was a Trump- appointed United States attorney who spoke from the podium in the Trump administration, in the Trump White House, here's what Mr. Hur had to say about that.

"Historically, after leaving office, many former Presidents and Vice Presidents have knowingly taken home sensitive materials. My distinguished opponent tells you that the President had materials in his house that he shared as he was reviewing for his book.

But here's what Mr. Hur says about that, that there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt and that they could have been stored by mistake and without his knowledge.

Mr. Hur would not have charged him. This is apples and oranges with the situation of Donald Trump, where there's ample proof that Trump knew he had documents, he refused to cooperate. Hur points out, Biden did cooperate, that shows criminal intent for Trump.

COATES: Jurors, you've now heard the two arguments about why they believe President Biden should have been charged and why they believe he should not have been charged. I want to turn to the jury now on this discreet issue. Do you think that President Biden should have been charged knowing that President Trump also was. What do you think? Number three?

DANIELLE CORNWALL, JUROR, LAURA'S COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: No, I don't. I think it's two different things. President Trump obstructed justice and then I think, unfortunately, made himself look more guilty than maybe he was.

And President Biden did cooperate. It's clear that there's a pattern of politicians taking home classified materials, often in many judiciaries or justice systems like crimes come before them and they make a decision on whether they think it's enough to prosecute or not. And in this instance, that's not the case. So there's no smoke here, just no fire.

LARRY MADISON, JUROR, LAURA'S COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: Yeah, I agree. Vice President Pence was not charged. He had documents. And it's unfortunate. It's happened over the years. But there is a precedent for not charging a President when there's a belief that some crime may have been committed.

And that was the Mueller investigation. He did not exonerate Trump, but he did not charge him. So, the issues, true, are different, but again, the end result is the same. So no, I don't think he should be charged.

COATES: Apples and oranges seem to be a theme. What do you say, jury number one?

ADRIANNE JAMES, JUROR, LAURA'S COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: I don't believe that he should be charged either. I think that there was also a difference in the personal documents. Some of them were classified documents, and some of them were his own personal notebooks.

And so, I think where he had handwritten notes, where he had written notes during meetings. And so, I think that we kind of look at that and you say, well, what's considered classified and what's not classified if it's someone's personal notebook and they're writing their personal notes from a meeting.

So, I think that some of the documents that Donald Trump had were actually documents that he was maybe trying to keep for something in the future, I don't know, but they were, those documents weren't necessarily from personal notes that he had taken.

COATES: So, when you look at this issue, juror number four, on a point she's raised, just the fact that

I think that was also the difference in that. I think the only problem that I have with President Biden is that he did use some of his personal notebooks for help with writing his memoir. And so, I think that some people may look at that and see that as, you know, well, what was he actually trying to do there? And did he really know that he had these documents all the time as he said he did or what?

So, when you look at this issue, juror number four on a point she's raised is the fact that and the manner in which the documents were kept in comparison to say how Trump's documents at Mar-a-Lago were displayed, and we've seen the filings for that.


Does that make a difference for you? Does the idea of the ghostwriter impact how you see this?

QUARDICOS DRISKELL, JUROR, LAURA'S COURT OF PUBLIC OPINION: It doesn't at all. Listen, Biden, we know, is a well-mannered, old, octogenarian man who apparently knows what he's doing. Clearly, there has been a history of politicians who have sort of been very laxed about classified documents.

Again, I think when we are comparing former President Trump and his classified documents in terms of the manner in which they were stored, the way he sort of went about using them are completely different here. And so, there's nothing really to sort of charge President Biden with, perhaps lack of judgment, but that comes along with the territory of an oxygenarian President.

COATES: Juror number two, you were nodding, and I do wonder for all of you in this consideration, you all seem to be talking about there being a pattern or a history of this happening in other contexts. Does that, to you, decide that we should never charge because it's happened before? What do you say?

MADISON: No, it just means Congress needs to do its job and tighten up on the laws, and then they need to be enforced. But Congress doesn't seem to want to do a lot for the last four years, except fight.

CORNWALL: I think this is just really indicative of patriarchy, white male privilege. Like they're used to being able to do these things. That Joe Biden has been in political office for a lot of years. He's used to having a lot of privileges. Donald Trump is a multi- millionaire. He's used to having privilege and doing these types of things.

And so have many of our Congress people, our politicians. They're used to having access to things that it's an old boys' network. And now, social media and the news and the way that we are now, it's more public. But this is not something that's new.

COATES: I'm interested that none of you have raised the issue of the nature of the documents. You've touched upon the idea of the classified. But I also wonder from the perspective of each of you, I would like to go down the line.

Does the fact that Biden was cooperative and alerted the DOJ and of course, the entity that was looking at this issue, yes or no, does that assist you? Does that make a difference that he cooperated? Yes or no?

JAMES: Yes, it does.

COATES: How about you?


DRISKELL: Yes. Absolutely.

COATES: Well, that seems to be definitive on that point and we'll see what Congress ultimately will decide to do now that we know that it will not be a charge for now President Biden. Thank you again to Norm Eisen and Harry Litman, and especially thanks to our jurors and our court of public opinion.

If you would like to be a juror on the next court of public opinion, get in touch with us at the address on your screen,

PHILLIP: Fascinating conversation there. Much more coming up next, the Chair of the Colorado Republican Party will join us to discuss that historic Supreme Court argument over Trump staying on the ballot.

Plus, one of the potential vice presidential candidates made her audition tonight on CNN saying that she would not certify the election on January 6th. And more from Nevada. CNN is projecting that Donald Trump has won the Republican caucuses.




PHILLIP: Tonight, the reality Republicans perceive clashing with the reality that actually exists. Elise Stefanik wants to be in the conversation about who could serve alongside Trump as Vice President. So, consider this part of her audition.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Had you been Vice President on January 6th, 2021, what would you have done?

ELISE STEFANIK (R) NEW YORK: I stood up for the constitution. I believe it was --

COLLINS: No, what would you have done if you were Vice President?

STEFANIK: I would not have done what Mike Pence did. I don't think that was the right approach.


PHILLIP: That's brave talk if you're an election denier, but Marc Short who was who was Mike Pence's top aide posted this on social media. This right here is a photo of Elise Stefanik cowering in the gallery. His question to Stefanik. "You mean, you would have hidden in fear rather than do your job?"

We're back with our panel here in New York.

UNKNOWN: Poached.

PHILLIP: Ana, I mean, it's no surprise. Look, if you want to be Trump's V.P., it seems like there is a prerequisite here that you have to disavow what Mike Pence did, because Trump is still hung up on that.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It almost felt like an episode of "The Apprentice", right, where you have these people competing for Donald Trump's favor and who can suck up the most to Donald Trump. And right now I'd say that Tim Scott and Elise Stefanik are neck and neck on the suck up award, gold medal.

You know, I look at Elise Stefanik and I wonder what happened. What in the world happened to this woman? Because I remember when she was first elected and youngest person -- youngest woman elected to Congress and she's, it's like she snapped and it's like the invasion of the body snatchers, right?

You see this person who's now comparing January 6th insurrectionists to hostages at a moment when we have been talking about hostages since October 7th, and we know what a hostage is, what it means to be beaten up and killed and tortured and held in tunnels, and she's doing that just to curry favor with Donald Trump.

PHILLIP: Because those are Trump's words. I mean, the question to what happened, she went from being a respectable young member of Congress to being someone in a conversation about being potentially Trump's V.P.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, her profile and star in the Republican Party is rising rapidly apart from the conversation about Trump specific stuff. Her performance at the hearing with the college presidents vaulted her and then the subsequent, you know, dismissal of a couple of them. It vaulted her into a whole different stratosphere in terms of the Republican grassroots.


She's long been a top surrogate, I think, for Trump. And even back during his impeachment trial was one of his biggest defenders. But that moment, a few months ago, when she took the reins of that committee hearing and put herself on another level, it has just dramatically increased her visibility and put her, I think, in the top tier for the conversation.

PHILLIP: Would she be a good pick for Trump?

JENNINGS: I mean, I think she's an extraordinarily talented person. She's an ambitious person. And I mean, the truth is Trump's got a lot of fairly good people to choose from, whether it's her or Tim Scott, who you mentioned. I mean, there's some talented young folks.

NAVARRO: To me, the irony of Elise Stefanik is, yes, I agree with you that I think the hearing on anti-Semitism catapulted her --

JENNINGS: Absolutely.

NAVARRO: -- to a different stratosphere. But at the same time, she is belittling what's happened in Israel, in Gaza, by comparing the January 6 insurrectionists to hostages at a time when hostages is something we equate with the people that are being held in tunnels for four months in Gaza.

JENNINGS: I don't think she belittled it any more than Joe Biden did tonight when he called Israel's response over the top in his press conference.

NAVARRO: Joe Biden has been working day and night, every single day since October 7th to get those hostages released and to make sure that this does not escalate.

PHILLIP: Joe, I want to ask you this, because if you saw Elise Stefanik on a, you know, convention stage with Donald Trump holding his hand up, she's his V.P., what does that say to you as a Republican about what direction this party is going in?

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It tells me President Trump is serious about closing a closely 20-point gap in women. It tells me that he has picked one of the sharpest minds in the political party. I think, look, there's a lot to unpack about what's just been said and even what's being said about Congresswoman Stefanik online.

Number one, I think holding up a photo of somebody who was a mother, who was a wife, who was a daughter, not knowing what in the world was happening on January 6th. None of us knew what was happening on January 6th. So, I think to hold that up and say that --

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I know. I watched it on television. There were people trying to come into the Capitol.

PINION: No, no. I'm talking about in that moment, obviously people didn't know exactly what was happening.

PHILLIP: You're saying that she didn't know that outside of the Capitol, Trump supporters had gathered.

PINION: No, no. That is absolutely not what I said. I said that we had an aide to Mike Pence take a photo of the Congresswoman hiding as many people were hiding in the midst of a melee at the Capitol where people were trying to use the flag of this nation to break glass at the people's house.

I think that is beyond the scope of what we should be doing when we try to have these conversations as it relates to whether Elise Stefanik should be President Trump's Vice President's pick. He would actually be to his benefit to pick Elise Stefanik. I think if you're trying to figure out what has happened to her, I'm

exhausted by people trying to pretend that Republicans have been taken out of something out of their body snatchers, that President Trump has laid worms in the brains of Republicans.

That is not what is happening. I think Republicans writ large are tired of being dismissed, tired of being disrespected, tired of there being these shifting goal posts where on one day, Democrats are allowed to pretend that Ray Epps is a hero.

On another day, they're going to sit here and pretend that anybody who was even in the presence of January 6th is somehow the same as somebody who quite literally forced their way into the building, broke glass, defecated in the building, all these different types of things.

So, I just think we have to be very specific because where we are right now, where people in Congress are referring to Republicans writ large as insurrectionists, I think that's how we got into this place where the division has basically runneth over and gotten us to the rhetoric that has gotten people in a lot of trouble.

PHILLIP: Well, she is an unrepentant election denier at this point.

PINION: I disagree with that. She's an unrepentant election denier.

PHILLIP: I mean, she said it tonight.

PINION: What she said was that she wants to make sure that the process is legal. I think that is what --

PHILLIP: She said that if she were -- If she were Mike Pence, she would not have certified the 2020 election. That's what she said.

PINION: Well, I don't know the full remarks, because all we have is what we saw here. I will say this is not the first time that she has talked about the 2020 election.

She's had an interview with NBC where she talked about wanting to make sure that the process in 2024 was a legal one and that she would not have gone about it in the way of Mike Pence. She would have to ask the Congresswoman herself to elaborate on that. But I do think --

PHILLIP: Mike Pence had one role, and it was to say the election is certified. Certify -- the electors that came from the states. That was his one role. He did it. If she were to do otherwise, she would be -- she would be basically overturning the results of the state.

I mean, I want to give Jamal the last word, but I think we have to just put that on the table. She is not walking back that she believes that Mike Pence made the wrong call to do his constitutional duty on that day.


That's a big deal. SIMMONS: Well, it is interesting that she deleted all of her press

releases from the time around January 6th. And so, because the internet is undefeated, people are going around and finding those tweets and press releases and talking about how she was critical.

NAVARRO: Not people, Liz Cheney, right? Liz Cheney, who she kind of betrayed and shaved and got Liz Cheney's position in leadership now.

SIMMONS: So it is very, you know, the thing to me about all of this is people are shape-shifting in order to get in line with Donald Trump who has been indicted in 91 counts, right? It's amazing. I can't imagine that we could possibly nominate somebody, President of this country who has probably committed several crimes.

And we are probably on the verge of putting him just a hair's breadth away from the White House again after he gave aid and comfort to these insurrectionists on January 6th.

PHILLIP: All right, everyone. Stick around for us. Laura, back to you.

COATES: Really interesting conversation. Up next, more on the historic Supreme Court arguments about whether Donald Trump should stay on Colorado's ballot. We'll talk with the head of the Colorado Republican Party about that very point, next.




COATES: The highest court in this land, hearing arguments in one of the most consequential cases in our entire nation's history. They were expressing some deep concerns on the bench about a state's ability to disqualify a candidate from seeking national office.

Joining me now, the Chair of the Colorado Republican Party, Dave Williams. He is opposed to the decision by the Colorado Supreme Court wanting to disqualify Trump from that ballot.

Thank you for being here, Dave. We were all listening very intently to the Supreme Court, and I got to be honest with you. We can't always read tea leaves, but they seem to be on your side of not having disqualified him. What was your impression today?

DAVE WILLIAMS, COLORADO REPUBLICAN PARTY CHAIR: Yeah, I was actually in the Supreme Court chamber. I got to get a front row seat through it all. And it looked like the Supreme Court justices were pretty much skeptical of the petitioners and their claim.

At one point, you even saw Justice Gorsuch really bringing Jason Murray, the petitioner's attorney to task over some very critical points. So, I think it shows that the momentum is on our side and we're going to knock on wood, we're going to have a nine-zero decision in our favor. COATES: I'm not going to get bogged down on the legal arguments I

made and the idea of officer versus office, office of, office under. There were a lot of nuanced discussions happening today, but big picture here, Dave. If he were to be disqualified and taken off of the ballot, and just say the justices decided that that should happen. What's your biggest concern there?

WILLIAMS: Well, I mean, this was talked about even during oral arguments, but there will be a cascading effect all across the country where Secretaries of State and other states would seek to disqualify Donald Trump and in blue states.

But there was also a potential for retaliation where Republican states might very well disqualify Joe Biden. And that's just something that we shouldn't want to see in our country. We should want these candidates to be on the ballot so that ultimately, the voters can decide.

COATES: There was a moment when I think Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson referenced, if there was some ambiguity in all this, why not construe it in favor or against democracy, thinking about the voters deciding this issue?

And I would note, several justices seem to be signaling that Congress has some role here. They have the power to decide really whether there can be this cause of action to be brought or even beyond the ballot. Do you think that this is up to the courts? Congress or the voters?

WILLIAMS: I mean, I think there are many different ways to look at this. Ultimately, in order to invoke the section three of the 14th amendment, I think you do need an act of Congress. In fact, you already do have laws on the books. Jack Smith could have charged Donald Trump with insurrection, he chose not to.

So absent that, I think ultimately it's got to be decided on that count by Congress. But when there is ambiguity, I think Justice Jackson alluded to this very eloquently, that we should leave it to the people to decide.

COATES: You know, this is obviously the gigantic elephant in the room is a general election come November, assuming Donald Trump secures that RNC nomination and is on that ultimate ballot. The attorney representing Colorado voters saying today that if the court sides with Trump, then their power may be done in terms of trying to remove him. Listen to what he had to say.


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 and whether to count votes cast for him under the Electoral Count Reform Act.


COATES: Gosh, if you were to follow that thread, I mean, are you worried about the potential chaos that that would cause?

WILLIAMS: I mean, ultimately I'm not. You'll see challenges during the certification process in Congress, but by and large, the majority of Congressmen and Senators usually certify the election. So, I don't see that being a big deal. Ultimately, democracy will prevail in this.


And if the people decide, both Houses of Congress will certify it.

COATES: Oh, I look forward to the days when certification is a given. Dave Williams, thank you so much for your time today. We know there's a lot at stake and this is a very nuanced and specialized argument. Thank you for joining.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

COATES: Up next, we'll go live to Las Vegas. It's actually behind me right now. We expect Donald Trump to take the stage any minute after CNN has already now projected that Donald Trump won the Nevada Republican caucuses. Stay tuned. We've got more CNN special coverage, next.



PHILLIP: Any moment now, the former President will take a victory lap in Nevada, where he just picked up 23 delegates, so far. CNN's Elena Treene is at the Trump headquarters in Las Vegas. Elena, how does the Trump campaign feel tonight?

ELENA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: They're feeling great, Abby. I mean, granted, this was a state they had expected to win. They knew they were going to likely sweep, especially given Nikki Haley. It was not on the ballot for the caucuses. She participated in the primary.

But they still are feeling very good about tonight. And part of that is because it's capping off a great day for Donald Trump. I spoke with some of his advisors and they argued it was one of the best days on the trail for him yet.

And that's not just because of winning the Nevada caucuses and also the Virgin Island caucuses earlier today, but because of what we saw play out on the legal side of what has been in wrapping Donald Trump, which is the Special Counsel's report from Robert Hur saying that Joe Biden willfully retained classified documents and mishandled classified documents.

Something that Donald Trump and his campaign have already seized on, and plan to continue to use against Joe Biden moving forward, particularly the language around Joe Biden's mental fitness and what Hur described as maybe being a poor memory.

That is really something already we've seen Donald Trump's team really try to push the narrative on, and I know they're going to continue to use that in the weeks ahead, especially as they pivot to a general election strategy.

But then you also had the SCOTUS arguments, so the Supreme Court arguments where Trump in his team really do feel like they are primed for a victory where it seems like the justices do -- seem prepared to side with Donald Trump over Colorado.

And so, I've got in addition to this big win in Nevada tonight has really emboldened them and emboldened their confidence that Donald Trump is going to continue to keep picking up the delegates that he needs to -- what they hope become the nominee by mid-March -- presumptive nominee by mid-March, I should say.

PHILLIP: All right, Elena Treene in Las Vegas, thank you very much. We are, as we just noted, waiting for Donald Trump to speak in moments, we'll be back.




COATES: Donald Trump to speak any minute now after CNN has predicted that he has won Nevada. Let's go to Harry Enton at the magic wall with the latest on the vote count. Harry, what are you seeing?

HARRY ENTON, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: And what are we seeing? We're seeing Donald Trump dominating in the Silver State, Nevada. Look at this. He's got nearly 97 percent of the vote.

Of course, I'll note that he only has 792 votes. Ryan Binkley, the only other guy who's competing in these caucuses, with 26, just two percent of the estimated vote is in, so far. We've got votes down from Clark County, which of course home to Las Vegas.

Look at this, Donald Trump way out ahead there. Also, Washoe County, which of course is where Reno is. I prefer Reno to Las Vegas myself. Look at this, Donald Trump way up there, 96 percent of the vote to Ryan Binkley's, four percent of the vote.

Now, you might be wondering, where is Nikki Haley on here? Where is Nikki Haley? And the reason you don't see Nikki Haley is because she decided to instead take part in the Nevada primary. Basically, the candidates had to choose, take part in the primary on Tuesday or take part in the caucuses on Thursday.

The caucuses are where the delegates are allocated, but on Tuesday, I think Nikki Haley had the idea, hey, maybe I could notch you in here even if I don't get any delegates. No, she in fact, lost to none of the candidates or none of these candidates. Nikki Haley just got 30 percent of the vote. But again, if you look at where we are right now in these caucuses, we

see that Donald Trump is well ahead here. He is leading in both of these counties. And I will also note, Laura, there was another contest that took place today and that happened right over here.

Let's see if we can get over there. There we go, the U.S. Virgin Islands. We have 99 percent of the estimated vote in there. And what do we see here? This was actually a match-up between Donald Trump and Nikki Haley. We see Donald Trump easily winning here, 74 percent of the vote to 26 percent.

Look, it's just four delegates, but you know what? Four delegates will certainly help Donald Trump as he's on his road. Right now, as we look overall, we see, look here, Donald Trump with 60 delegates, Nikki Haley with just 17.

Donald Trump should expand that lead tonight as we moored more and more delegates to Donald Trump based on the votes in this overstate, where, of course, we see Donald Trump absolutely dominating, even though there's two percent of the vote in right now. We'll keep counting, Laura. COATES: This breakdown is so helpful and also a reminder of why Nikki

Haley is not part of this in Nevada and that Tuesday that was that primary and here we are with this caucus which had all the marbles as you rightly point out in the delegate count. Harry Enton, thank you so much.

ENTON: Thank you.

COATES: We're going to take a bit of a break right now. We'll take a bit of Trump's victory speech when it comes out plus the other seismic news in politics. President Biden defending his memory after that Special Counsel report has come in, not from Jack Smith, but the other Special Counsel. And Donald Trump's Supreme Court hearing over whether he should, in fact, stay on the ballot.




PHILLIP: There is plenty of news tonight to go around. I'm Abby Phillip in New York, alongside Laura Coates in Washington. CNN projects tonight that Donald Trump has won the Nevada Republican caucuses, a victory that surprises no one. Nikki Haley chose not to compete for that state's delegates. The former President has now won all three Republican contests, so far, in this race, as he continues his march through the primary season.

COATES: And at the White House tonight, Abby. An angry President Biden dismissing criticism of memory lapses in the wake of the Special Counsel report that concluded that he willfully retained and disclosed classified documents, but will not face charges.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNKNOWN: Do you feel your memory has gotten worse, Mr. President?

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: My memory is not getting -- my memory is fine. My memory -- take a look at what I've done since I've become President. None of you thought I could pass any of the things I got passed. How did that happen? You know, I guess I just forgot what was going on.


COATES: Let's bring in Harry Enton back at the magic wall. Harry, now we heard President Biden defending his memory and his age. Frankly, earlier today, telling our own CNN, M.J. Lee, who cited polling about the concerns that she was wrong.